Wednesday, July 12, 2006

White spotted beneficial!

In my last post I metioned a rare beneficial I found in my garden....this one was colorful, large and covered with white spots. I learned recently that it helps fight all bugs but most especially Japanese Beetles. I was most interested in this since they are eating my pole beans and I am not likely to get any for my own table. It seems that this beneficial leaves a white dust on the plants that the Japanese beetles are attracted to....they eat the dust and then when they consume water they explode. I have seen the part where they eat the dust but I have not had the pleasure of seeing the little explosions....but I can just picture it in my mind....little "pops" all over my garden and small puffs of smoke rising into the air....I wonder if I can hear it in the still of the night.

Here is a picture of the beneficial right after "dusting" all the plants with the powder...also known as self-rising flour :) Isn't it the CUTEST bug you have ever seen? One I definitely plan on keeping! It is amazing to me that this little 8 year old "bug" was able to cover himself as much as the plants when he walked down the aisles using my battery powered sifter (hey when you bake as much as I do you LOVE the battery powered sifter!)

This has probably turned into Elijah's favorite job...right after picking flower bouquets, squash, cherry tomatoes and bugs!

He is a handy helper in the garden and I am thankful for the many things he does - especially the squishing bugs part!
His brothers were stringing up tomatoes during his flour
frenzy and I was busy cutting back the cukes that were overtaking their neighbors!

This next picture gives you an idea of the ring left around the tub after this bath - quite a combination of black and white! He is inspecting my trim
job on the cukes - and encouraging me that I have done a good job. Elijah is the exhorter in our family - he always has something nice to say to everyone...good job, great meal, delicious dessert, nice must be a gifting from God because I have never seen anything like it in the natural!

I look at this picture and TRY to assure myself that he didn't stand directly under the sifter.....but I am not quite able to convince myself :)

I have also decided that I know what bug family he came from - stink bugs! Oh, not because he has an fact he has the most delicious smell in the world....I think it is more the resemblance to the species...check out this last picture and tell me if you don't agree that you can just see the "stinker" in him!

Next post....... Mullein!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More of My Garden....

Here are some pictures of the rest of our this first picture you see four raised beds. The one on the far left is my hot pepper bed - I have 110 Red Fresno Peppers plants along with jalapeno, habanero, and cayenne! I use the Red Fresno peppers to make a killer wing sauce! Needless to say we like spicy food :) These plants are now about a foot tall, bushy and blooming.
Last year I planted 1/2 bed in Fresnos and it wasn't enough so this year I doubled it. The other hot peppers are at the end of the bed that contains our regular peppers - green, red, yellow, sweet Italian frying peppers....yummmmm! We use fresh during the summer, slice and freeze for stir fry after the season and ddehydrate for salads during the winter! I even stuff some with a rice and cheese mixture and freeze for quick and easy dinners! The next bed over contains several varieties of dried beans - these are being pulled up this week and when dried we will have a shelling evening!

Next is carrots and onions - these have all been pulled and processed and the new plastic mulch is down and we are getting ready to plant pumpkins there.

The last bed has lettuce, snow peas, cucumbers, herbs and 2 varieties of cherry tomatoes. Both of our cherry tomatoes are hybrids - each year I try several heirlooms looking for a sweet cherry - this year I have tried Resintraube and Glacier....I'll let you know how they are and I would love suggestions from those of you who have found your favorite heirloom cherry tomato! I would love to eliminate another hybrid from my garden...the only hybrids I grow are the cherry tomatoes and a few Early Girl tomatoes each year - because I am impatient for those home grown tomatoes :)

This next picture is of my pole beans....I wish they still looked this good. This is the only thing that I grow that the Japanese Beetles destroy - I am thinking about tilling them in and replanting in hopes of a crop after the beetles have gone....I don't think I will get any from this planting. The beetles not only destroy the foliage...they eat the beans!

I grow Rattlesnake beans each year - very sweet and very prolific -it is an old southern heirloom.
This year I was also trying Fortex....hopefully I will get them replanted this week. What a disappointment...but thankfully we seem to have less and less problems with the beetles. A great suggestion to make your Milky Spore go a long way (it is very expensive)....pour it throughout your compost pile and let it inoculate the entire thing - then next year you can treat your whole garden for a fraction of the cost!

This picture is a shot down our lettuce aisle on one side and herbs on the other. We grow our lettuce under our peas and beans - this keeps it cool and protects it from the hot sun. We are still harvesting lettuce for salads and sandwiches....amazing considering we have had some very hot weather for weeks. The herbs on the right are in a border that rings the garden. We are still adding to that border and hopefully will have it completely full in a week or two.

On this side we have stevia, feverfew, calendula, lemon balm, Greek oregano, curry, high mallow, echinacea, comfrey, tansy and counters are full of colorful drying herbs and I have quite a few "bunches" hanging from the ceiling in my house drying...what a blessed bounty!

This last picture is of our squash and zucchini beds. They are still producing but not at the rate a few weeks ago - thank goodness! But they are succumbing to the squash vine borer as they do each year....if they are attacked too early in the season we inoculate with BT by using a hypodermic and injecting the base of each plant. This year it wasn't necessary - I may do another small planting of squash to take us through to the first frost - we love it for fresh eating and Mom dehydrates it for winter use - wonderful for soups, stews and we even dehydrate some with a light sprinkle of salt - better than potato chips!

Thank you for strolling through my garden with me! I wish you could join me for a cup of tea or some lavender lemonade.

My next post will have some fascinating pictures of a strange white spotted creature that I found in the garden this year - and it turns out to be beneficial :)

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

A Walk in My Garden!

Life has been so busy! Between gardening, canning and classes, I can hardly catch my breath!

I have finished putting up pickles, strawberry jam and hot strawberry jam and the colorful jars are lining my pantry shelves. We picked the last of the onions and my Mom dehydrated them - along with a large quantity of squash and zuchinni. I also shredded squash and zuchinni and froze them, pre-measured, for zuchinni bread throughout the winter. In the midst of all of this I am still harvesting and drying many herbs both for cooking and for medicine. Comfrey, chamomile, chives, mullein flowers, st. john's wort flowers and leaves, lavender buds, tarragon, thyme, calendula, rosemary and the list goes on! It seems my kitchen counters are always cluttered with something in the process of preservation!

I thought I would share some pictures of the is our little potato patch. We planted about 50 lbs. of seed potatoes. Last year we did 75 lb.s and harvested over 400 lbs. of potatoes! We gave a lot of potatoes away and still had plenty through the winter. We lost quite a bit because the basement just wasn't quite cool enough. We will try keeping them in a frig this year and see if they last longer. Since this picture was taken, they have been weeded and hilled more than once! I am thankful for my boys and their strong backs and arms as they tackle this task!

This is our small corn patch. Our corn did not do well this year. That seems to be a problem here locally. A very wet and cool spring caused a lot of seed to rot in the ground. We will have some for fresh eating but nothing for freezing this year.

Here you are looking at beds of dried beans (several varieties), cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatillas, and okra. I was sure we would be harvesting watermelon for the 4th of July but we went out a week ago and all the vines were wilted.....a disease of some sort evidently. I don't know if we will get a single melon this year...we are VERY disappointed. So far the canteloupe bed is doing well - we are praying that it continues to do so. It is time to start taking the dried beans up and hanging them to finish drying. We will shell them one night around the table while we "tell tales" on each know the "remember when Jeremy...."always followed by lots of laughter!
Here you are looking at beds of zuchinni, squash, dried beans (more varieties), pole beans (2 varieties) and on the other side of the pole bean bed is a bed of peas which is being turned under this week and will be planted into winter squash. I haven't grown winter squash before but am looking forward to it this year. Butternut is my favorite!

We will also be turning under our onion and carrot bed and planting it into pumpkins. We love the meat for pies and the nuts for snacks. Last year at our family harvest dinner, I hollowed out a pumpkin and filled it with a hearty beef stew made entirely from our own garden. The pumpkin made a beautiful centerpiece/bowl! It was a lot of fun :)

I have been busy teaching classes on using herbs as medicine. I have had a lot more men taking the class this year and a lot more people from out of is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and have a lot of fun.......and I never have to leave my kitchen! This Saturday I will be teaching again (probably my last class for the summer!) and I have a few spaces open, so if you are in my area and want to learn more about using herbs as medicine then email me for more information!

I am looking forward to a long rainy day when I can catch up on reading all my favorite blogs and on my correspondence with dear friends (I am sorely behind...sorry Marlene and Christina!)
but the weather man keeps forcasting hot and dry.....

Next post I will share more pictures of the garden....but now I must be off - I need to be in my garden at 7:00 am to beat the heat and there is much to do inside each morning before I can get to the garden...I'll be enjoying a cup of my Sleep Easy tea in just a moment....Night all!
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