rare clouds over our backyard
Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
a look inside the compost bin
A few days ago I posted that five of the six Black Prince tomato seeds that I harvested and planted had sprouted. The sixth joined the other five shortly after the that update post. They seem to be doing well.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
My tomato plants are really showing the heat's impact. I haven't noticed any new tomato production in about a week now. The growth rate of tomatoes already set on the vine seems to have slowed tremendously, with ripening occurring at a much smaller size. The plants themselves are still growing, but the fruit may be finished until cooler weather arrives. My dilemma is whether to try and keep the vines alive until Fall, or pull them and then set out some early producing varieties sometime in late August for an October and November crop.
While I'll try and grow a Fall tomato crop, I've decided against any further attempts at growing beans in this location. Back in late February, I planted several lima bean, green bean, and black-eyed pea plants. All the limas and black-eyed peas died before producing anything. The green bean vines, by contrast, grew like mad until the temperature consistently topped 90. After that they stopped producing any beans, and showed signs of severe stress. I think location played a role in this, as the trellis to which I trained the vines was very close (about an inch away) to a Sun-heated wall. Although I didn't realize this at planting time, this wall gets surprisingly hot during the mid afternoon. This added heat source greatly exacerbates the problem of plant overheating. As a result, the six surviving vines have produced a whopping total of nine bean pods.
Beyond the recent slow down in tomato production and the problems with beans, everything else seems to be handling the heat well. I'll keep you updated on both the tomatoes and these other plants in the coming days.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
A very hot plant
After cooling down for a couple of hours
Friday, June 20, 2008
The project actually turned out to be easier than I expected. I constructed the frame from 3/4" pvc pipe and hung a a 24" double fluorescent light fixture on chains and hooks. The light's height can be adjusted as needed by simply rehooking the chain in different links. For a little extra expense, you can also do away with the standard fluorescent bulbs and purchase aquarium bulbs such as Flora-Glo or Sun-Glo that supposedly increase plant growth.
All in all, the light has worked very well. It holds one large Jiffy seed starting tray perfectly, and is small enough to place on a table or workbench top. Most importantly, my plants really like it. They thrive under its glow as long as I keep the bulbs adjusted to within one inch or so of their top leaves.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Sunmaster (left), recently planted Heatwave (right)
Basil (second planting)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Last night, Marianne and I joined a couple of friends for dinner at a local casino buffet that shall remain nameless. I will say that this wasn't one of the ultra cheap buffets, but rather one of those that we only patronize if we have a two for one coupon. We had quite the experience.
Following the usual wait in line, we got our table, fixed our plates, and sat down to eat. At first, everything seemed fine in the world, as we enjoyed decent buffet fare and good table conversation. Then, Marianne began gazing intently at something she had excavated from her half-gone food. Of course by the time I recognized her Oh Sh*t look and heard her exclaim that there was a rather large bug in her salad, mine had long since disappeared with only the slightest scrutiny having been applied to it.
After we all looked at, studied, and confirmed the offending matter to be an insect in nature, Marianne called over the server who then passed the message (and the dead bug) along to the restaurant's manager. You would, and we did, expect the manager to come over and apologize for serving my wife dead crawly things with her dinner. Instead, we waited in vain for quite a while as nothing happened.
Finally, Marianne happened to bump into the aloof manager while searching for some other, non-infested, nourishment. After questioning him about the bug, his only response was that "people eat an average of 7 or 8 bugs a year." Marianne then asserted that she was vegetarian and preferred not to eat any bugs. On hearing this claim he surmised that, "in that case, you probably eat more bugs than the average person." Ultimately we did get a coupon for a free buffet out of the deal, but only for her. When she requested another coupon so that the two of us might return as a couple, the manager explained his policy of "one bug, one meal!"
Anyhow, all of this aroused my curiosity as to how many bugs the average person unknowingly consumes each year. After a quick Internet search, I came up with widely varying claims. A low estimate provided by a message board poster claimed that people eat approximately 50 insects per year with their food. A fitness blogger cited a recent issue of Woman's Health Magazine as support for claiming the much higher amount of two pounds of bugs per year. I suspect that if all restaurant managers react in the same lackadaisical manner of the one we encountered last night, the higher estimate is probably closer to the mark.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Well today, my patience ran out. I just had to know.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I'm assuming that some sort of early blight infected the plants or that they just couldn't overcome a short stretch of 105 degree weather we had in mid-May.So, a couple of days ago I decided to pull the plug on the smallest Better Boys, replacing one with a Heatwave and the other with a Sunmaster. While it may be too late for these to produce in the Summer, the mature plants will hopefully provide a good crop in the fall. I'm still undecided on whether to replace the taller plant immediately or leave it a while in hopes that its three tomatoes ripen.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
After looking up a few recipes, we decided that grilling was the way to go. We took some okra that I had harvested from the container garden in the last couple of days, skewered it, coated it in olive oil, sprinkled on some Cajun seasoning, and threw it on the grill for about 4 minutes per side. The finished product was very flavorful, tender, and devoid of that infamous okra slime. And to top it all off, the house didn't smell like a deep fryer afterwards. All in all, grilled okra makes for some fine eating!
Grilled okra with a homegrown Lemon Boy tomato
Monday, June 9, 2008
And earlier today, my wife stopped by a local In and Out Burger joint only to find that they too had sworn off tomatoes. It is also being reported that Winn Dixie grocery stores are removing certain varieties of tomatoes from their shelves.