Sunday, October 19, 2014

Forget all that pumpkin spice talk!

...it's apple season!

After going orchard picking with friends from work last weekend, we've got a bunch of apples to eat up!

Mid week I made a new recipe - apple upside down cake (not shown here), which went over really well.

Last night we were making pizza and Brett suggested a dessert pizza as well, so I found a brown sugar cinnamon recipe, and for a quarter of the dessert pizza also stirred in some of my "apple pie in a jar" that I recently canned.  Baked and then drizzled with icing?  Yum!!

And today I started off with loading up the dehydrator (my niece recently put in a request), and then made an apple pie.  And since I wanted to try something a little different, I made extra filling and loaded some up into the re-rolled dough scraps and made mini crostatas.  That's basically freeform pie...you put the dough on the baking sheet, put pie filling the center, then pull the dough up around it, leaving the filling exposed in the center.

Butterfly weed bug

I've been seeing more and more of these bugs around the garden, especially at the back of the property where there are more wild butterfly weed plants growing this year than any year I've noticed before.  When I started noticing the bugs on the butterfly weed I got suspicious - it didn't look like they were targeting the aphids also on the plants, and there would usually be one or two to a pod.

I learned my lesson with my first year gardening - "oh aren't you cute - I'll leave all you little baby bugs alone and see what you turn into" turned into an invasion of squash bugs and zero squash.  Now if something catches my attention,I try to look it.

These are butterfly weed bugs, they mostly pierce the plant seed pods and suck out all the vital stuff the plant needs, and they concentrate the toxins in the plant in their own bodies so anything else that chomps them gets a bad taste and/or throws up.

Fun!

Aside from all that, they're not a bad bug.  But if you want butterfly weed, you absolutely don't want these guys.

Unfortunately, that means none of the other garden critters are gonna touch them, and I can't even flick them into the pond for the fish.  (Fish puke -ew.)

So I scraped them all off and stomped them real good!

These pods, the first to dry on the plants and start having some seeds tease out, are going to the guy I buy eggs from.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Caged skeletons

Decided to try something a little different with the Halloween decorating this year...  The tomato cages got pulled out of the veggie beds recently, but hadn't yet been put away yet...so why not give them a more sinister purpose in the front yard?

Brussels palm trees?

After whacking off the tops of the Brussels sprouts a few weeks back, they've been pretty odd looking.  Since this bed is being converted to the blueberry bed, the soil has been heavily amended, and thanks to a very generous neighbor,I have a ton of pine needles for mulch.  I've read conflicting info on whether pine needles actually acidify the soil - they certainly won't hurt!

What they DO do, however, is lend sort of a strange beachy look to the bed, making the Brussels sprouts look like weird palm trees....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wrapping up raspberry season

Each year I forget what happens as we get later into the raspberry harvest. After stirring up a nest of yellow jackets this summer and getting nailed by one, I've been real cautious around them where ever they cross my path in the garden.  I don't have to worry as much about the ones that are making such a mess of the raspberries - not only are they really focused on what they're eating, but they also seem to get intoxicated, or maybe it's just stuffed.  Just think about how much they're eating (and all that sugar!) in relation to their body size!  Imagine if you stuffed your face into something so sweet and juicy and ate a serving the size of your head.  (Mmm that reminds me - it's almost thanksgiving!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Speaking of apples

Even though we picked a ton of apples at Stotlers today,I have to say I was more excited with my homegrown Golden Delicious - the ONLY Golden Delicious I got from my trees this year thanks to some unknown critters.  Initially I assumed it was just deer, but after the next to last apple disappeared even with chicken wire draped over the tree in a way no deer could get in there, I'm wondering if a possum was also helping itself to my growies.

This apple may not look real pretty, having had zero spray/pesticide/fungicide, but it sure tasted great. 

2nd annual apple picking

We met up with a bunch of friends from work today for our second annual apple picking.  The weather was perfect, and the apples plenty.  We got Johnagolds, Ida Reds, Golden Delicious, Mutsu and more... Time to get back to the pie making again.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

I've made my beds...

Two beds have been readied for winter.  One bed is now permanently dedicated to blueberries, so it got amended with peat moss, cottonseed meal, greensand and more, then mulched with ramial wood chips and grass clippings.  And because I'm impatient and couldn't wait till next spring for those amendments to settle in and do their thing,I picked up two end of-season clearance plants (Brigitta and Bluecrop).  I'll pick up two more next spring - and hopefully won't have to replace either of the two already planted.

And the other bed is the garlic planted for next season.  I decided to give up keeping the different varieties separate, tossed them all together, and planted the mix.  I have to say it's a bit freeing...Now we'll just have "garlic", rather than wondering which variety is better or more hardy, making sure to save enough of each variety to plant again in the fall, etc.

Two big fall chores- done!  (Also got spring flowering bulbs planted today - I'm pooped!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Butternut

Over in the new flower bed I put in this spring, other stuff popped up.  Lots of weeds, especially bind weed and mint, but also some good stuff - most likely from the compost.  Check it out:


Not one, but TWO butternut squash have developed.  I don't even remember if I ate butternut last year - I sure didn't grow it!

Green beans at the end of September

Woo hoo - the beans are coming on strong!  I picked 3lbs in one harvest!

Pumpkins

Even with all the garden clean up, things are still growing in the garden.  A number of the pumpkins rotted out - either they were somewhere too moist, or the vines died off...who knows.  But then you get the odd balls like this really cool dark speckled one, hanging from sunflower stalks.  The pumpkin still feels a little tender, so I'm worried it won't finish ripening/hardening before frost hits....we'll see.  And there's another pumpkin in the background.


I really hope this one makes it - so funky looking!


Turns out there's two hiding out in the background!


And this is the same variety, but a pumpkin that developed earlier.  This one seems more dry, and like it has a better chance.  The colors faded, but I think that's expected as it is closer to harvest-ready.