Organic Gardening



Here, I mentioned that Keith accidentally purchased 2 acorn squash seedlings. I had never had it before. I guess I never will. Read on.

Here, I braggingly showed you a picture of our little acorn squash doing quite nicely. (The other seedling never really took off.)

I need to let you know that it died. Gone forever. Kaput. Compost. (Com-pissed is more like it. I mean, what the hell?) Some fungus, powdery mildew took over the leaves and stems and so the stem with the squash broke off completely. Look at this picture. Gross.

 

And so, a lament for our dearly departed Acorn Squash, having perished too early in the twilight of his life (Team Edward!)

Acorn Squash, 4 mos.
Former DaisyPatch Farm resident, Acorn Squash, 4 mos., died September 22, 2011 in his garden bed. No service will be held.Mr. Squash was born May. 10, 2011 to Comstock, Ferre and was moved across the country, living in an Agway for a short period of time before being adopted by the owners of DaisyPatch Farm.
 
Acorn could accomplish anything he set his mind to do. At a very early age, he grew one leaf, then another, and continued to grow leaves, despite the loss of his infant brother and his cousin, Butternut in a freak dry spell.
 
Acorn served in the United States Squash Force during operation Zucchini. Mr. Squash spent more than 3 months in New Hampshire. He never married. He is survived by distant cousins, the Giant Pumpkins.
 
Condolences may posted here under comments.

Husk Cherries

Lots of Husk Cherries

Garlic Chives and lots of bees

Acorn Squash

Hanging in the sun



DaisyPatch Farm

Well, the pumpkin sex was successful. We can find at least 1 pumpkin on the 25+ foot pumpkin vines. (Oh, did you read that right? Did you read, “25+ foot”?  Yes, yes you did.) Expect more updates as our babies grow.


I just made bruschetta and want to share the recipe. Before we go there, however, we need a lesson on how to pronounce, “bruschetta.” I used to say “BROO-shett-uh.”  That is incorrect. After ordering a delish rendition of bruschetta at Dolce Vita in Boston’s North End, I have learned to say it correctly. (If you get the chance to go there, GO! Franco rocks, and sings to the crowd. Much fun to be had by all!) 

Ready? Here we go…”Br(roll that ‘r’)oo-SKETT-tuh.” Now, kiss all your fingertips (and thumbtip, is that considered a finger in an example such as this? I think it is, but, whatever, all five of them) at the same time, then pull your hand away and flare your fingers out into a jazz hand. This is a terrible, stereotypical gesture I have learned from movies and television and I use it here without shame.

So, here is the DaisyPatch version of the Dolce Vita bruschetta.

1 loaf Italian bread (I bought a fresh loaf that was soft. You can buy the crusty kind (is that French? Well THAT won’t work. This is an Italian recipe) but I avoid the crusty kind because it shreds the roof of my mouth. Like Captain Crunch. Ouch. That stuff was painful. How did that get on the market in the first place, I ask you? That cereal inflicted injury. Did I digress?) Slice and then toast in the broiler until just lightly browned (too brown and we’ll get that shredded roof of the mouth thing again.)

1 clove garlic, minced

3-4 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme – removed from the stem

1 shallot (or a teensy red onion), chopped

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

coarse salt

fresh ground pepper

*Note- I don’t measure. I completely eyeballed it, but I think that looks about right.

Mix the garlic, tomatoes, shallot, basil, thyme in a bowl. Add olive oil. Let sit.

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a pan over the stove until it starts to look thick. Cool. It will get a bit thicker as it cools. You want it thick like honey.

When you are ready to serve, put the veggie mixings on the toasted bread, salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with a little balsamic. Serve it up.

And say it with me. Bruschetta. (Don’t forget the hand gesture – kiss, pull, jazz). Molto bene.

(Author note: I am exceptionally proud of these. All veggies and herbs were ours. And they were delicioso.)


Welcome to sex ed. Of course, as soon as I say, “Sex Ed” in my mind, I flash back immediately to…you’ll never guess (unless we went to high school together, and, if we did, you’re thinking the same thing I am) Mr. Hummer’s sex ed class. Yup. The kids called him Hummer. I think his last name was Holmes. He looked like Terry Bradshaw, but with less hair.

He was the school wrestling coach and always wore gym clothes to class. He was a goofy guy who somehow, got the job of teaching sex ed. 

Anyhoo, back from memory lane, it is time for sex ed on the DaisyPatch. Gather ’round kids. I may require permission slips for this one, it gets a bit graphic.

These pumpkins continue to amaze me. I will measure to be sure (the PUMPKINS, I will measure the PUMPKINS, get your minds out of the gutter!), but it looks like the vines are over 10 feet long. There’s also an errant compost pile pumpkin. How did I throw one away? Keith thinks that a seed might have taken root from some of our judicious composting. I like that theory. More random surprises in the patch to marvel at. I was thinking about relocating it, but I’m unsure how to dig it up because it’s roots start at the bottom of the little hill I throw the compost down into. No muck boot tall enough is going to protect me from that gore if I were to try to scramble down and dig it up. I might leave it there for an experiment. Which does better?  The bat-shit, Tiger-Bloom, Sex-Panther-fertilized pumpkins (i.e. purchased fertilizer) OR the rotten-leftover, garden-scrap, grass-clipping-fertilized compost pumpkins. We shall see. (5 points if you caught the Anchorman reference. “60% of the time it works every time.”)

Anyway, where were we? Right, sex ed. Yeah, so, Mr. DaisyPatch has been doing some reading on what to expect from (and how to fertilize – see above) giant pumpkins. He found out there are male and female flowers. Huh? I mean, I took biology and I know that, if you don’t buy self-pollinating fruit trees, you have to make sure you get male and female (right? Ok, I just had to look that up to be sure so I didn’t sound like an idiot. Yes, some trees are just male and others are just female. Thanks to an eHow article by Danielle Hill, “Dioecious plants are those species that have male and female flowers on separate plants. By contrast, monoecious species may have male and female flowers growing off a single plant. For reproduction to occur, one dioecious plant must be growing close to another plant of the opposite sex. Read more here.) and the same with holly bushes to get the red berries, however, this surprised me. I don’t recall any other veggies having the anomaly. It might be the case, but, well, I wasn’t aware of it. (And, if I’m going to be brutally honest here, I have no f’ing desire to read about the sex life of plants. I mean, could anything be more BORING?) (Wait! I did just go and read about the sex life of plants! Shit…)

Apparently, the female flowers have, well, a bulbous sort of…ahem…thing under the flower. That is the baby pumpkin.

The male flowers (below) need to pollinate the female flowers in order for the baby pumpkin to grow.

Otherwise, after the female flower falls off and dies, that baby pumpkin on the vine will wither and die as well instead of continuing to grow into a jack-o-lantern. Here’s the fun part for the gardener. Ready?

If you don’t have honey bees to do the pollinating, you gotta get out there and do it yourself. With your hands. Smearing the male parts onto the female parts (how would Mr. Hummer have worded this? I can tell you that a similar act was described by him in sex ed class and I am STILL shuddering in horror and NOW it is happening in my pumpkin patch? I need to go to church and be washed of these thoughts. My mind is wandering now to a gritty pumpkin porn with a bad plot line and poor lighting. I am SO having nightmares tonight.)

So there it is. Pumpkin sex. Happening out in our yard, under our very noses. I am so grateful for honey bees. So grateful.


Talk about cukes! We’ve grown pickling cukes before, but not these regular ones. We have 6 plants growing up a vertical trellis. I’ve harvested 6 cukes so far and can count at least 15 more on the plants. My favorite recipe is pretty easy:

Make the dressing first. Put about 2 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup white sugar and a pinch of paprika into a sauce pan. Boil (it’ll burn your nose, trust me) until the consistency is like a thin maple syrup. Cool in the fridge where it will thicken up. It will be a nice mix of sweet and tangy with a tiny lingering heat of the paprika.

Cut cucumbers into 1 inch chunks. Cut tomatoes into one inch chunks. (You know, about the same amount of each.) When the dressing is completely cool, mix some into the tomato/cukes until just dressed (don’t drown!) Serve immediately. It isn’t really that great the next day.

Enjoy!


My pumpin haiku…ahem…

Crazy big pumpkins

Can our garden contain you?

You’re freaking me out.

We’ve never grown pumpkins before. We’ve grown zucchini, however. I always need sugar pumpkins for my Thanksgiving pies and end up wanting more, so have to go out searching. Well, it’s less “wanting” more because I usually only need 2 pumpkins for my pies. I usually need more. One year, I left them outside and they froze. I didn’t want to use them after that, the texture was weird. The next year, I didn’t want them to freeze, so I kept them inside on the windowsill and they rotted. We decided that, this year, we’re going to grow our own and bought some organic, heirloom seeds (gotta start out right!)

I was a bit late in planting the seedlings and they were root-bound and not-so-great-looking. Same with the cucumbers. Keith picked up some more pumpkin and cuke seedlings for me at the garden center, you know, just in case (so thoughtful!) He also picked up 2 acorn squash by accident. We’ve never had that.

So, everything is doing great. More than great. The plants are large. Feed-me-Seymour-large. Shall we analyze the hows and whys? Yes, lets. Because Mr. DaisyPatch has access to the internet and he knows how to use it. He’s been reading up on the best fertilizers for each phase of the life of our plants (that sort of sounded parent-ish, like our garden will be fed Gerber Graduates or something. Now is not the time for psychoanalysis, thank God! Moving on…). We have all sorts of organic fertilizers that have numbers and pictures of veggies all over them.

Needless to say, the shit seems to be working (oh, and we did, of course, use guano, aka bat shit, when we planted, so that shit is working too). The thing about it is, um, how to word this, I think we’re sort of screwed. He also bought giant pumpkins in that little trip. Yeah. I guess the plants are giant too. There are three very long branches, (tendrils? stalks?) and, so far, at last count, over 20 flowers. Yipes.

These are just the giant pumpkins. I’ll save pictures of the cukes, etc. for the next freak-show-post. OH, small DaisyPatch update. The Edamame is dead. I repeat. The Edamame is dead. I’m pissed. I shouldn’t be. I knew it was going to happen. But still, I’m pissed. That is all.


As I sat at the breakfast bar watching Keith prepare an evening snack last night (carbs were necessary, we were still recovering from the New Year’s Eve party), I was hit by a sudden thought, “It’s January 1st, 2011,” I said. “Yup” was his reply.

It was a short exchange, but full of meaning. Interesting, I didn’t ask it as a question. I just said it out loud as I realized it. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, I do not stay up until 2AM drinking champagne with best friends very often (although, hm, that sounds sort of nice. Add that to the resolution list!) 2010 flew by. It brought many ups and many downs, but overall, I am grateful and thankful for all that we have – health, home, friends, jobs, each other (yes, I am a sap and just choked up a little as I type this. Those who know me will not be suprised. Those who are just getting to know me through this little blog – let me introduce myself. My name is Jenn, and I am a sap. When Mr. Brady scolded Marcia for sneaking around when she was grounded, but she actually was mailing her nomination for him for Father of the Year, I bawled like a colicky infant. If someone gets engaged, even in a movie, forgedduboudit! Get the tissues.)

As I look forward to the new year in front of me, I find myself doing what I always do at this time. You know the resolutions, every magazine in the grocery check-out aisle around this time of year feeds to our desire to change, “Lose 10 Pounds in 7 Days Just by Changing Your Shampoo” or “Pluck Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You With These Revolutionary Tweezers” and of course, “Reduce Stress Like a Celebrity, Only Legally. Page 79 Shows You How.”

These aren’t the type of resolutions I want to make (although, one too many cookies has been ingested, so perhaps meneeds to rethink this…)

Anyway, changes will be along the lines of frugality and self-sufficiency. We plan to expand our little homestead, hopefully being able to build the coop and get chickens this year. (Yes, it’s definitely about eggs and meat, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that a small part of me wants to say “Dorking Cock” on a daily basis. It makes me giggle.)

I think I’m pretty good at it, but I would like to continue to recognize the beauty in every day and be thankful for what we have.

I would like to waste less. If we don’t eat it, it’ll go in the compost pile to be used on the garden. (And, yes, dear Erica, this does mean I plan to wash more ZipLoc bags than ever. I am NOT crazy, I just can’t stand the thought of all that plastic in the landfill just because I wanted convenience.)

I want to try more things…new plant varieties, new sports, new hobbies. I tried stained glass last year, but Keith tried to get me on the mountain bike with no luck, maybe this year is the year.

I am not going to go overboard here. I am realistic. These plans sound pretty good for now, although, maybe I’ll go get some of those tweezers…Happy New Year. Thanks for visiting the Daisy Patch.

*******

For those of you who need pictures, here are a few…

Basement Basil

Pineapple Sage

Flower Bud on a Christmas Cactus

DaisyMae


I woke up early yesterday morning. I’d like to say it was the rays of a new day on a bright, sunshiny dawn peeking through the curtains and warming my face that did it, but, the truth is, I had to pee.  It was kind of drizzly and grey out actually – not a good hair day. After the bathroom, I put a bathrobe on, slipped on a pair of flip flops and went to the Chef’s Garden to pick some strawberries.

I have been hitting traffic every morning and so have been leaving earlier and earlier each day – taking away my favorite garden time. I’ve also been working late each night, so, alas, poor garden has been neglected by me. It is overgrown with weeds (or are they beets, carrots and parsnips? See here for more on that) and I figured there were a few strawberries I could pick before heading to work.

I guess there were a few strawberries! There were  over 100! Some did have slugs on them, but the DE we’ve been using really seemed to do the trick, I think, because last year, every one of them would have been munched on by a slug when I picked it. These are beautiful, right? Then why am I like, “Shit!” instead of “Hooray?”  Well, lately, we’ve discovered that Keith has an allergy to strawberries. He gets a rash if he touches them. That means that these strawberries are not going to magically turn into jam some day while my back is turned (he does that, I’ll pick up ingredients and then come home late from work to a freeking masterpiece that he just “made up!”) My sister is coming over to visit this afternoon and she’s staying until tomorrow. I’ll wash them up and I guess we’ll just pick at them as snacks while I kick her ass in a game of WAR.

The parsley has gone to flower already. Not a big deal, we don’t use parsley that much, I still have an entire ziploc bag of dried, crushed parsley from last season. (If you do not know about my hoarding habit, you must start at the beginning of this blog and catch up, I have quite a penchant for stocking up.) After picking the strawberries and bringing them in the house (still in a nightgown, bathrobe and flipflops I might add), I went back out with a pair of scissors to cut the parsley flower stems and found this creepy crawly visitor. That is about actual size.

 Oh, and 6 of his brothers, all hanging out on different stems of the parsley. I don’t know what it is, but I can bet they were eating the plant. Great. We have another problem, I don’t squish bugs. I don’t. It’s gross (insert involuntary shudder here). It goes back to my childhood days in New Jersey where we had these fat, black crickets, (not those skinny green ones, these were very fat). They would get into the house and chirp and chirp and chirp. Well, one day, I squished one with my bare foot. I didn’t mean to, but it was in my shoe. There was white bug goo mixed with black bug legs and uck in between my toes. (Insert involuntary GAG right here and throw in an involuntary sphincter clench for good measure, that is how fresh and how gross the memory of this is with me.)

So, needless to say, I do not squish bugs. That is a problem. If you don’t kill them, they’ll come back. So, what did I do with these 7 caterpillers? I cut the branch of the plant off, carefully carried the branch with said bug still hanging on, over the the compost pile and threw them down the hill into the pile. I then looked the other way and did that 6 more times.

Ok, all you gardener followers are shaking your head at me, while my non-gardener followers, especially those of you with a low creepy-thing-tolerance are thinking that sounds like a good plan. Well, I am not naive.  I know these things will 1) come back and 2) lay eggs which means 3) make more. Guh. I started looking through the “Insectipedia” to figure out what it was and how to kill it organically, but the site is listed alphabetically by name of bug, so I had to open the link to each bug to see if it was the right one. Yah, that isn’t happening, ewww. So, if I see another, I’m going to drown it in something. Or, maybe I’ll put it on a rock and then, from a distance so I don’t hear the squish, I’ll throw big rocks at it until I think I got it. Gross, I am so skeeved right now, I have to change the subject. If anyone knows how to kill it without a squish, please do let me know. Moving on…

After moving said buggies into their new home to happily munch away on my discarded food scraps (THAT’s the solution, keep feeding them, Jenn! Shut up.) I decided to head out back to check on the tomatoes and husk cherries. Keith had mentioned that some husk cherries had ripened (almost a month early, thanks to starting them indoors early! Look at us!) and he had eaten a few, so I wanted to see how far along things had progressed back there. As I head down the side hill toward the back yard, something moved in the distance. (It’s a small yard, it wasn’t too distant, it was basically at the back of our property, but I’m building suspense, work with me here.) Just beyond the trees something very large was definitely moving. Thankfully, it was moving away from me. Now, remember, my wildlife interactions usually happen when I am poorly dressed and today was no different. How am I going to outrun a vicious coyote or a rabid raccoon in flip flops I ask you? I wrapped by bathrobe tighter, and crept in closer with a strong predatory instinct, playing with danger because that’s the kind of girl I am – brave, bold, MIGHTY! (It was still a bathrobe, but it may as well have been a cape, really. I think I will knit myself one. My friend bought me a kit for superhero goggles, perhaps I will make those up and have them at the ready next time.)

The beast still rustled through the woods. It was large, I could tell it was as tall as my waist. It made no noise except for the sound of the earth and twigs being crushed under it’s weight. I just couldn’t see what it was. The hair on the back of my neck raised up in tense alert. Danger was only feet away. (Where’s my gun? (Read here) Oh right…)

Then I heard it, “BABE!”  The good neighbor was walking through from his yard calling for Babe, his pig who had gotten out of the barn. It was Babe the pig, cute Babe, the piggie I had fed kitchen scraps and scratched behind the ears. Babe was in the backyard. Of course. “He’s over here, I yelled.” Making sure the bathrobe was cinched (greeting a neighbor is not the time to have wardrobe malfunctions), I met him at the back of our property and pointed to where I had last seen Babe. “Do you have a rope? How are you going to get him home?” I asked, memories of using Daisy’s leash as a lasso the last time Babe got out. (My niece and I chased this same pig, much smaller a few years ago, across the street and up the hill, trying to keep him from getting onto the main street. We finally caught up to him and looped Daisy’s leash around his neck and kind of led/trotted him back to his barn.)  “Food,” he answered, holding up something from a take-out box.

I told you he wasn’t a small pig! We tried to gently convince the Good Neighbor, when Babe was still young, to have our friend Popper (www.poppers-sausage-kitchen.com) take care of him when it came time. He looked at us in horror, Babe had already become a pet. I understand, he is all cute and cuddly in that, “Please don’t step on my toe or you’ll crush it” sort of way.

Anyway, who knows how far Babe might have gotten without my keen senses and predatory instinct. Now, if only I could be that brave around bugs.


Last year, not having ever grown carrots from seed, I inadvertently weeded many of the carrot seedlings. What can I say? They looked like little strands of grass.

Now that we have new varieties of things I’ve never grown from seed before – Cucumbers, Beets, Broccoli, and Parsnip, I’m afraid to weed anything. Needless to say, the garden beds look pretty messy.

 Carrot? Weed?

Meanwhile, the tomatoes in the backyard look great. I must say, we haven’t seen a slug yet. I’ll credit Keith’s eggshell-coffee side dressing. We’re also using  Diatomaceous Earth on the beds. If you are a gardener and haven’t discovered this product yet, here’s the deal-e-o.

Diatomaceous Earth, the fossilized remains of a single-celled algae, works the same way as salt on slugs. It basically dehydrates them. (Die sluggers, die! See here for my comments in The War on Slugs.)

So, the season is off to a good start. We’re trying our best to grow organically. Everything looks lush. I just hope lush equals food and we can soon stop playing this game of  “Is it a Weed, or is it What’s for Dinner?”

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