July Garden Pests

Things are well underway on the Ridge. Planting is completed (for now) and weeding has commenced. We lost our source of wood chips so we’re battling weeds again. I have been hand-weeding around plants while hubby keeps between the rows neat with the mini tiller.

This year has been a struggle with cucumber beetles. We lost most of our first planting to beetle damage. Last year friend introduced us to a product called Tanglefoot and  I purchased some Tangle Trap and put it to use when I replanted squash and cucumbers.

Since cucumber/squash beetles are drawn to bright yellow squash flowers, I painted a few sticks and waited for them to dry. Then I coated them with Tangle Trap and stuck them among the squash and cucumbers. They seemed to attract more than beetles but the it definitely seems to be helping the beetle population.

I noticed some eggs on the leaves of the plants so I also dusted with diatomaceous earth. I hope that takes care of the problem so we can enjoy plenty of squash this season.

Squash Season!

We LOVE squash! Zucchini in the summer and butternut and spaghetti during the.winter months.

Did you know their are two kinds of squash-summer and winter? Summer squashes are soft and cannot be saved for long periods of time. Yellow crooked neck and zucchini are two kinds of summer squash. They taste great fried, spiralized, added to stir fry and even raw. We eat summer squash almost every day during the summer season. This year I even tried to preserve some by dehydrating- I add it to meatloaf or soups. I also juiced some and froze the juice for winter juicing. We have friends that dry their zucchini into powder and add it to smoothies during the winter. But it is best when it’s fresh. Pick at various sizes-tiny for raw munching, medium for “lasagna noodles” and larger for spiralizing….zucchini is great!

Winter squash is hard skinned and can be kept most of the winter if you cure them by leaving them outside drying in the warm fall sun for a couple of weeks. After we cure the squash, they spend the winter in our unheated garage and we enjoy fresh squash most of the winter. If I start to see signs of mold or softness, I steam them to remove the skin and put them in zip bags in the freezer. We can keep eating squash all summer until the next crop ripens.
One of our winter staples is butternut squash. Each week I steam and puree a large pan full. We love pureed squash instead of mashed potatoes and we also like butternut squash soup. I am going to try a butternut squash lasagna. I have had squash made like scalloped potatoes but I’ve never made the lasagna recipe.

 

We like spaghetti squash too-not as much as spiralized zucchini  but it works as a winter replacement to pasta in many casseroles and even in place of noodles in chicken noodle soup, if you’re counting calories or going grain free. 

Time for me to get busy…this week’s pan of squash is waiting to be prepared. What is your favorite kind of squash?

Until next time, Paula

Let the gardening begin!!

Another beautiful morning on The Ridge. It was a bit chilly when I went out to feed the animals, but the sun was shining and it was getting warmer.

After breakfast, I went out to weed the strawberries and blueberries….we have ten 20 foot beds of small fruit. I was pleased to see the new strawberries, that we planted in the fall,  had survived the harsh winter…I even found a few volunteer plants that I transplanted into the places where there were gaps.

Because we build our beds using the lasagna method and top dress with wood chips, the weeding is very minimal…mostly those pesky dandelions that defy all efforts to eradicate them. I’m thinking we may have to eat some of them one of these days. Hubby likes dandelion greens.

I took a break for lunch but made it quick because the raindrops started falling…Hubby took a break too and raced outside to run the mini tiller through a few beds so I could plant early crops. We don’t till for weeds, we till to mix our beds up and loosen the soil. Plus, the tiller makes two perfect furrows, evenly spaced so that I can just drop in the seeds and be done. I planted two 50 foot beds of peas and a few spaces around the garlic with spinach, lettuce and radishes.

If the rain stops, we’ll work on tightening up the fence so we can let ALL of the goats outside.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you the surprise!

Spring is FINALLY here!!

Probably the longest winter I have ever experienced is finally over!! When I posted last month, we were still dealing with snow and freezing temperatures. The past week, the weather took a turn for the better and we are now able to work outside and enjoy some pleasant days.

Spring clean up and pre-planting has begun. This past weekend we moved the laying hens and our two roosters from the big coop to the orchard coop in preparation for the arrival of 125 meat chicks. The orchard gives the layers plenty of room to run and scratch…with the added benefit of the chickens gathering bugs that are attracted to the fruit trees.

orchard

 

 

I was able to do some garden cleanup last week. I weeded the asparagus beds and several empty beds…soon it will be time to plant peas. The garlic is up and I found some spinach that wintered over and is greening up nicely. YUM!!

spinach

 

The daffodils are really beginning to open up and add some color to the flower beds. It’s always a delight to finally see green and growth after all these long months.

bigdaffodils

 

smalldaffodils

 

I’ll be posting more on our 2015 projects soon…keep watching for updates on the goats, the new garden beds and a surprise addition to the Ridge.

Peonies Lillies and Tulips – Part 2

Some pictures of the (nearly) completed flower bed work.

Paula got a lot of work done on the herb beds, too.

It was great to have the grandkids to help!

East drive looking east

Looking west

Herb beds

Peonies, Lillies, and Tulips

Things are starting to bloom at Big Oak Ridge.

Mulching the peonies and lillies

Today we were blessed with another day of reasonable weather. We mulched around the peonies and lillies that form a border around the front drive. We also cleaned the “big coop” in preparation for the arrival of new chicks soon.

the second photo is a view of the fountain in front of the house and the flower beds. Tulips, grape hyacinths, jonquils, and daffodils are in full bloom this week.
Fountain and Tulips

Little info about our Strawberries

Nice rainy day project…

We certainly have had a LONG winter here in NWPA and now April is bringing its promised showers…it sure makes it difficult to get anything done outside. Kenton was able to clean up some of the flower beds on Sunday afternoon (his stress relief). We have mini jonquils and grape hyacinths blooming…the purple and yellow combination makes a cheery show after so long a winter.

Tonight it is raining AGAIN and Kent is working late AGAIN…so I decided to transplant the seedlings in our planting rack. I put over 70 broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts in paper cups. I also planted a flat of tomatoes, peppers, basil, chamomile and tossed in some nasturtiums for fun. I also sowed a bit of lettuce in the planting rack to see if I could get greens to grow in the rack. Then I planted squash, melons, cucumbers and zucchini in cups. I planted 125 cups tonight and the rack is clear full!! I’ll try to add some photos later but right now I think I’ll have to mop the floor 🙂

Next Experiment: “straw bale” gardening

This year our gardening experiment is going to be “straw bale” gardening I think – provided, of course, we can get some straw bales. We have been “reading up” on the process and it sounds like it would work well as an adjunct to our regular “lasagna gardening” technique.

Here’s a link to a story about how to get started.

Here is a picture that illustrate different ways of building these beds:Check out this How To demonstration. This video is six parts…be sure to watch them all. It is very thorough.

I was also curious if bales could be conditioned without chemical fertilizers. Another site I found said to use manure tea during the initial watering phase.

As usual we’ll try to keep updates posted on this project.

Always an experiment…

I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting this year:

Tried starting my seedlings in cups (see previous post) instead of flats. I was not impressed with the ease of using pots and the health of the plants…so…I replanted my cruciferous veggies in the flats this weekend. I think I will do the vines in cups but not the tiny ones I have.

I made some blueberry bread…used wheat bread dough and rolled it (like for cinnamon rolls)…I crushed the blueberries into paste in my little food processor and smeared them on the bread and rolled it up.  It needed a bit more cinnamon and possibly a loaf pan to keep it from spreading…but it was yummy.

I made a second batch of yogurt and added a tsp. of Knox gelatin to the heating milk…it was awesome!! Thick and sweet like Greek yogurt…it didn’t need a sweetener, we just sliced strawberries over the top of it.

Today I am trying a raw sauerkraut recipe. It is made in a quart jar on the counter and uses the whey from my yogurt. It should take three days to ferment. I’ll keep you posted.

Still thinking about the 100 Mile Challenge but that is a serious commitment and requires tons of research and effort. I’ve quit buying grapes from Chile and peppers from mexico