Everyone is bringing in their leftover Halloween candy to work. It's wonderful. We had our end of season ultimate frisbee tournament over the weekend, so hopefully I worked some of the extra calories off.
And, if you ever want a use for all the cabbage at the farmer's markets in the fall, I've become a big fan of making okinomiyaki ever since we got back from Japan. Here's the recipe I've been using. This year, we're headed to the Baltic, so hopefully I'll come back with some Swedish, Finnish, Danish, or Russian dishes.
Cayenne peppers are still growing in the greenhouse. I've also been getting herbs and dwarf citrus trees to put in there. We got a small space heater to make sure it stays warm enough. There's a lot more work to do in that room, but for now I'm really happy with it.
Next weekend marks the end of our frisbee season. And then we're in good shape for the holiday season. Christmas shopping is done. We've scheduled a winter vacation. I'm glad all of that is squared away since work is crazy busy. The good news is that I'm telecommuting more, so not having a commute is really nice.
Anyway, I'm still here. And I have pictures to put up from a recent trip up to Vermont. I just haven't gotten to it yet.
This is what I look forward to all year long. I want more tomatoes than I know what to do with. Which means, It's almost canning season. I'm excited to have more salsa and sauce for the pantry. I've also saved some tomato seeds, some lettuce seeds, and will have some green bean seeds for next year.
Next year, I will definitely grow more butternut squash plants. I will also plant the rest of the squash later in the year to avoid vine borers. And I want to plant fewer sun drying tomatoes and more paste tomatoes. Although I can't say I'm unhappy with all the sun dried tomatoes currently in our freezer.
There are winners and losers in the garden. The tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are very happy. The tomatoes have already needed staking. The leeks are doing alright. The green beans have some leaf damage but are overall okay. The summer squash are happy. The winter squash is being eaten, as are some of the cucumbers and the melons. I planted a large container full of radishes, carrots, and corn and that hasn't worked as hoped. The radishes have lots of green but no bulbs and have blocked the light for the carrots while the corn seeds were eaten by the birds. Some people thought growing container corn was a silly idea anyway.
We lost our main strawberry bed last year but the other beds are doing well and we're actually getting a decent amount of berries. The slugs and squirrels are getting their share too, unfortunately. The oldest grape vine looks like it will produce grapes for the first time. Our cherry tree will once again give us a few dozen cherries but no more. One apple tree will give us some apples. Our plum tree has developed black knot. This is very sad. We've cut out the infected parts and will have to keep close tabs on it to see if the problem persists. Hopefully, we won't lose the tree.
I'm still hopeful and we have a lot growing in the garden. But sometimes nature can show you how little your best laid plans mean. We'll see how the rest of the season goes.
Earlier in the month, we went to Cancun. We mostly enjoyed the sun and the beach, but we also took a trip to the Mayan ruins of Tulum.
Frisbee season has started again. It's been nice to get out and run around. We even had gourmet club last weekend and it was good to see everyone again. The theme was Jewish food in honor of Passover. I'm so happy it's finally spring.
The Japan trip was fantastic. I've posted pictures and will soon add captions.
And now that we're home, suddenly it's the holiday season and we're in the rush to get everything ready for Christmas and work done before the end of the year. I'm getting my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday just to add another twist to the month. Fortunately, most of my present shopping was done before I left, so there's one less thing on the to do list. Here's wishing you a very happy holiday season! I'll post again soon.
Yesterday was the first day that the breeze felt a little cooler and the sun seemed a little bit lower in the sky. The winter squashes have started forming on the vines. Fall isn't quite here but now I feel like it's on its way. Last week we went down to North Carolina to enjoy some time at the beach and then up to the Chesapeake Bay. I'll have to post pictures later. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to take a picture of Loki's first meeting with a crab, but her checking out fish is also entertaining.
That was the last trip of the summer and now I'm settling in to a weekend of canning. We have lots of tomatoes and peppers to be turned into salsa and sauce and the farmer's market has cucumbers on sale that are just begging to be pickles. Sadly, one of our tomatillos is just about dead so, without a partner to cross-pollinate with, its healthy companion plant may be putting out all those flowers for nothing. I'm already planning improvements for next year.
In the meantime, Chris and I are busy planning our trip to Japan. I'm trying to learn Japanese and just finished a book on kanji. I'm hoping that the more I can learn now the more I'll get out of the trip. I'm also planning to read the Tale of Genji, which is considered by many to be the first modern novel and depicts life during the Heian period.
Supposedly the heat wave has broken. It's still hot out. The garden seems to like the heat, though, as long as we turn on the water every now and then. So far we've picked about a dozen cucumbers, 6 japanese eggplants, 3 yellow summer squashes, and 1 cayenne pepper. We have a number of tomatoes that are in the process of turning red but aren't there yet. It's late for them. Last year, we had tomatoes in June. But this year we have corn! The corn hasn't grown very tall yet but it does have ears on it, which is very exciting. I'm just hoping the harvest keeps coming.
When choosing perennials, I tend to go to the garden store and choose the largest and healthiest looking plant I can find in the size pot I can afford. It has done me well. However, this past weekend I went to the garden store to fill the holes in my vegetable garden caused by cut worms, suddenly wilting tomato plants, and other casualties, so my perfect plant search followed different rules.
With veggie transplants, bigger is not better. If it already has flowers, pass it by. It has taken me a while to admit that this is true, but these annuals have a life cycle and you don't want a plant that is already at the flowering and fruiting stage. This will result in a smaller plant and less fruit in your garden. Look for small and healthy. Vine plants should only really have one true leaf before transplanting. That way, they aren't root bound yet and will thrive once in the garden.
So I looked at the poor picked over veggie plants and chose the best ones I could find. They were 40% off, so I got a few extra, just in case. This morning, it looks like they're settling in well. Let's just hope no more calamities strike my garden.
And the garden issues for the year are forming. The cucumbers are looking a lot better after I pruned and sprayed them to treat their case of powdery mildew. On the same day I also picked 5 cucumbers, so I'm hopeful they'll get through this. But now a few of my tomato plants are wilting with no reason and growing lots of extra root initials (I think from stress). I pulled out 3 plants and got rid of them. Maybe that will save the rest. I haven't even gotten any tomatoes yet!
Peas just aren't worth it. They're a pain to trellis, the pods are hard to spot, shelling takes forever, you have to plant a lot to get a decent side dish, and they need their own space since they come just a little too late for me to want to harvest then replace with a summer veggie.
Bell peppers aren't prolific enough to justify the space. At least they haven't been in our garden. Ditto with eggplants.
Melons do not succeed in our garden, for whatever reason. I blame the bugs.
Cabbage and other cool weather crops don't like DC weather and get eaten by bugs.
Potato plants also don't give a whole lot for the space they take up. But they are fun.
Fresh lettuce is great but cleaning the leaves is time consuming and starting them from seed can be tricky. Some of the seedlings will die for no apparent reason.
The garden is coming along nicely. I picked our first cucumber on Sunday. I'm already picking the raspberries and wineberries and the blackberries in the park are turning pink. We have lots of green tomatoes and lots of flowers in the garden. Now, I wait.
Yesterday, we went out to see the parade of the tall ships out of Baltimore harbor. Unfortunately, we were not in the right place to view the parade and only one of the tall ships came our way. It was still a beautiful day on the Chesapeake Bay. I'm a bit sun burnt this morning.
Now is the time when the garden is promising and exciting. Everything is growing! There are cucumbers and tomatoes just a week or to from ready to eat. Any time now a groundhog should attack or who knows what. For now I've stopped the cut worms so they've eaten some but not all of the corn. I've wrapped the vines with tin foil so the vine borers can't get at them. And I've sprayed the leaves with a homemade organic bug spray. And now we water and wait. I want a tomato!
Yesterday was the 5th annual Post Hunt. I've been looking forward to this one for a while because we had to miss the last two. This is a zany puzzle-solving scavenger hunt that draws thousands of people for a fun afternoon and is one of the best events all year. We had a great team and really enjoyed the hunt, although there was a lot of ground to cover this year. We scoured the streets for 10 foot tall bowling pins, found the dreaded red number, went to the web (well part of the team went and part of the team found a really nice shady bench to sit and wait), used our knight moves, and found the palindromic number, with time to spare to stop for lunch. We were off to a great start. However, after finding the right page in the magazine for the endgame, there were a few mis-counts that led to frustration and we did not win $2,000. If fact, although we eventually counted accurately, we didn't even get as far as calling or texting 202-degrees. Ah, well. There's always next year.