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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two More Summer Delicacy Recipes

Marinated Creamy Cucumber Salad

2 large cucumbers sliced
1/2 t of dill weed
1 T sugar (or sweetener)
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c mayonnaise

Combine cucumbers with other ingredients and chill for 1 to 2 hours stirring occasionally


Marinated Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber
1/2 c vinegar
2 T of sugar (or sweetener)
1 onion
1/2 c water
1/4 t salt
Dash of pepper

Slice thinly the cucumber. Thin slice onion and separate rings. Combine ingredients and pour over cucumber and onions. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Soil Trouble

We figured out some of our problems with the garden.

Tomatoes, we are not still how it came down with some sort of fungus disease other then too much water and the leaves getting wet, but we also have black mold on our tomatoes. Most of our tomatoes we will not be able to use. Due to this problem, we are not going to be able to can any tomatoes from this years crop. Our new plants are getting the fungus disease already. I found something that is suppose to help prevent several types of fungus disease for tomato plants and we are going to try it out next year.

3 cups of compost
1/2 cup of powdered nonfat milk
1/2 cup of Epsom salts
1 tbsp. of baking soda

Sprinkle a handful of the mixture into each planting hole. For additional disease defense, sprinkle a little more powdered milk on top of the soil after planting, and repeat every few weeks throughout the growing season.

We also plan to test the soil to see if something is going on with the soil as well. This may answer some questions as to why one half of the garden thrives more as well.

Our corn did not grow very tall and therefore we have small ears of corn. This we found out was because of lack of nitrogen...too much water in the soil makes the soil lose nitrogen. The soil test will help for our corn next year as well. It's too late this year for these crops but we are trying to plan for better crop next year.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stuffed Banana Peppers

Another Summer delicacy of ours is stuffed banana peppers. Last year was our first year growing banana peppers and Todd came across a recipe for stuffed banana peppers. Oh what a treat they were. We definitely had to include banana peppers as a regular in our garden because nothing is better then fresh banana peppers stuffed.

Ingredients

1 pound ground sausage
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice 1 cup water 6 large/medium bell peppers
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
shredded cheese to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the beef until evenly browned.
  3. Slice down the banana pepper, remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membranes of the banana peppers. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. (Slice the bottoms of the peppers if necessary so that they will stand upright.
  4. In a bowl, mix the browned beef, cooked rice, 1 can tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper. Mix the remaining tomato sauce and Italian seasoning in a bowl, and pour over the stuffed peppers.
  5. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, basting with sauce every 15 minutes, until the peppers are tender. The last 15 minutes top the peppers with shredded cheese and sprinkle Italian Seasoning.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wascally Wabbits

This Summer we have a problem with rabbits. Our neighbor behind us has an owl posted. I'm not sure if this is one of many reasons why they are in our yard more then last year or what. I have seen several little baby bunnies crawling under our next door neighbor's yard. I'm not sure what they have on their side of the privacy fence, but I do know they have several gardens.

Last year's population was deleted some because one of the neighbors would shoot them with a pellet gun. Abrasive I know but it worked. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us.

The rabbits seem to love my new lily garden. I am not going to have the experience to view my Stargazer Lilies this year. My Casa Blanca was just about to bloom and they striped the entire plant and left only the stem. I have other lilies that the stem wasn't even left in tact. I'm afraid my Starfighter will be next. It's about to have several what I can imagine beautiful blooms too.

I did some research this morning to see how to rid these rascals. My Mom used to put my nephews hair throughout her garden. I came across that on the Internet. Hmmm...I just think that hair would not be attractive. I didn't like it in my Mom's garden back then either, it just takes away from the beauty in my opinion. I heard about blood meal, pepper, Tabasco Sauce but one will need to reapply said things when it rains and this late Spring and early Summer we have had too much rain. I thought about buying an owl as well. This will assist with ground squirrels too. I could put up the little decorative fences around it, but I really would like to do that as a last resort.

I stumbled across several plants that the rabbits do not like. Someone posted:
a = annual, p = perennial, zone 5
  1. lantana - a
  2. asters - a
  3. iris - p
  4. hosta - p
  5. violets - p
  6. eliotrope - a
  7. rhododendron - shrub
  8. pentas - a
  9. lunaria - biennial
  10. foxglove - biennial
  11. tomato plants - a
  12. rosemary - a
  13. lavender - p
  14. ageratum - a
  15. stokesia - p
  16. nemesia - a
  17. butterfly bush - p
  18. cleome (self-seeding)
  19. begonia - a
  20. azalea - shrub
  21. 4'0'clocks - a
  22. alyssum - a
  23. scented geraniums - a
I have never noticed any rabbits ravishing my hostas on this side of the shed years before, I understand why now. Thinking back, I only had problems with the flower bed in front of the shed prior to me planting the alyssums. I typically plant this flower as a border, but my seeds starters didn't take this year and I didn't want to buy the plants to plant since I was buying the actual flowers for other gardens. Next year this is a must. I also think that some of these plants listed above attract butterflies and they will be placed in that garden next year.

Unfortunately, I can't save what was eaten, nor will the lilies spread next year since they didn't flower, but next year alyssums are definitely back in my garden as borders.

Oh, I also read that the rabbits do not like cocoa bean mulch. I like my red mulch because it goes so well with the trim, but if the alyssums don't work, then I just might try changing the mulch.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Harvesting...What's for Dinner


Today we harvested 3 large zucchinis, 1 yellow squash, yellow wax beans, a handful of sugar peas, and 1 green tomato. Oh and 1 onion.

I don't think we will have more then 2 more zucchinis this year because of the Squash Vine Boar. They killed our entire plant of Spaghetti Squash and Butternut Squash. This was our first year planting them and I was so looking forward to the Spaghetti Squash.

I believe our Tomatoes have early blight disease. Still checking into it. We may not have more then one crop of tomatoes this year.

It's been such a disappointing season so far with our garden. We planned and looked forward all winter long and to lose so many things and the rain working against us with our peas, corn, and tomatoes.

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We took advantage of the yellow wax beans for dinner... I am wanting different recipes for the beans and I am in hopes of finding a good one. Tonight's dinner I just fixed them very simple by boiling in salt water for 4 minutes.

I also made our first summer delicacy...fried green tomatoes. Here again I use a very simple recipe. One green tomato, flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. I tend to go light on salt and pepper because each person has their own taste and they can always add more to their taste buds. You slice your tomato. While you are slicing your ripe green tomato, you should have a skillet with little vegetable oil heating. When the oil is hot enough, you coat both sides of the tomato in your flour mixture and place into the skillet. You want to pay attention so your tomatoes do not burn. You will need to fry both sides of the tomato. I have found that using tongues is much easier then a flipper or spatula for turning the tomato. When both sides are lightly browned, it is time to remove from your skillet. Season once more with pepper and salt. We have used an egg wash before dipping in the flour. The outside of the tomato is a little more crisper. We have also added Wheat Germ to the flour before as well. This gave it a different taste, it was still good.

Tonight's Dinner was grilled tomato basil chicken ka-bob, veggie ka-bob, small yellow potatoes, yellow wax beans, and fried green tomatoes. What a summer treat!

Pest...You Darn Rascals! You will get yours!

I have never been a bug fan. In 7th grade we had to collect bugs as an assignment. Icky, I hated it. Now I find I'm not bug fan in many ways. The pest are killing some of our crops and I need to educate myself on this. Todd has so much more knowledge then I do, but he has been very busy with the new Communication Center that he hasn't been able to work in our garden as he normally does, well that and the weather. Every day off he has it rains, so I am going to attempt to help as much as my knee will allow.

I have been reading up on Squash Vine Boar bugs and Squash Beetle. They have taken a good portion of our squash this year. Here is what I learned about these pest and ways to help prevent.

Squash bug adults are approximately 5/8-inch long, dark brown or mottled, and hard-shelled. They have a long, shield-like shape and membranous-looking wing tips. They give off an odor in large numbers or when crushed.( I haven't noticed this, so maybe we are safe as in not having them in large numbers.) Nymphs are delicate, with bright orangish-red heads, legs, and antennae; the abdomen is green. As the nymphs age, they become grayish-white with dark legs. They range in size from 1/10 to 2/5 of an inch. Squash bug eggs are easy to identify. The orange-yellow eggs are each about 1/16-inch in length. Eggs appear in neatly ordered rows on the underside of host-plant leaves. They gradually change to a bronze color as hatch nears. (I think we are in trouble here. I found several eggs on one of our leaves that are bronze in color. )

Squash vine borers overwinter as larvae or pupae in the soil. Adult moths emerge in the spring and deposit eggs on the plants. Disk-shaped, dark-reddish-brown eggs are laid singly on the plant near the base. After hatching, the larvae penetrate the plant stem and burrow toward the base. An individual adult can lay from 150 to 250 eggs. (That is a lot of bugs.) Occasionally, small borers may also enter leaf stems. The burrowing larvae destroy the whole plant or the invaded runner to wilt and die. Feeding may continue for four to six weeks. A sticky gob of excrement (which resembles wet sawdust) typically marks the entrance site. If a vine dies before the borer has completed its larval cycle, the larva can migrate to a neighboring plant and resume feeding there. The squash vine borer larvae are whitish, wrinkled, brown-headed worms that can grow to about 1 inch in length. The adult moth, a member of the clear-winged moth family, has clear wings with metallic green-black and orange colors on the body and wing fringes. The moth is a day flier, and looks like a wasp. Generally, only one generation per year is produced in northern state.

Iowa State University Organics Research Program conducted trials of various control methods for squash bug and squash vine borer. Researchers found that mulching with newspaper and hay, combined with tightly secured row covers on the plots, provided very effective control of both weeds and squash bugs. Todd did the mulching with newspaper and hay last year in the main garden. This year I think we should do the same to our squash beds.

Other options to help prevent diseases are:
  • Row Covers~physically exclude pests and prevent them from reaching the plants in large numbers. Uncover about the time the female blooms are about to bloom.
  • Plant later in the year, about now. The bugs are less active in July to mid July.
  • An experimental technique for squash bug control is companion planting with repellent plants such as catnip, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, or marigolds. I have a huge box of marigolds. I recall many gardens with marigolds in it. I guess this flower assists in many ways.
Striped cucumber beetles larval stage only feed on roots of cucurbit plants. Overwintering adults feed on the pollen, petals and leaves of early blooming plants, especially flowering plants in the rose family, in spring before migrating to cucurbit fields. Adults also feed on the leaves and
flowers of corn, beans and peas during the growing season and on goldenrods, sunflowers
and asters later in the season. However, both species of striped cucumber beetles are known as specialist feeders because the beetles highly prefer cucurbit plants and fruits. The beetles produce one or two generations per growing season in northern regions.
Cucumber beetles injure cucurbit crops by:
  • Direct feeding by larvae can injure crop roots and disrupt plant growth. Direct feeding by adults can stunt seedlings and damage maturing fruits.
  • Cucumber beetles transmit bacterial wilt, which causes plants to quickly wilt and die. Bacterial wilt is a major problem for many vegetable growers.
Plants that the Cucumber Beetle prefers: (listed as greatest to least)
  1. cucumber
  2. cantaloupe
  3. honeydew
  4. casaba melon
  5. winter squash
  6. pumpkins
  7. summer squash
  8. watermelon
Row covers can make a difference between harvestable crop and crop failure. However, row covers will need weed control because this will create a favorable environment for weeds. The first 30-40 days the cover can be on or until blooms begin. However it is during this time that it is critical to have no weeds. During this time a weed-suppressive mulch would be great such as plastic mulch, straw, hay, and paper. This is great for cucumbers even if the row covers are not on the seedlings, however this creates a perfect environment for the squash bugs

Most importantly for all pest is to cultivate and residue removal this can help reduce over-winterizing populations

Predators...bats, hunting spiders, web weaving spiders, and especially tachinid flies and wasp.

Information for us to think on and possibly act upon for next year's garden.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Worry, Worry, Worry!

We have had an exceptionally wet and humid Spring. Humidity is great for the garden but all this rain! I am afraid we are not going to have a very productive garden this year. Our peas are only knee to hip high. This time last year they were nearly 6-8 ft and needing a trellis. They are producing peas now too. This concerns me with the plants being so short that we will not have nearly as many peas as we did last year.

Pepper plants are stunted in growth compared to last year. Our banana peppers and hot peppers are producing peppers, the peppers themselves are nearly as big as the actual plant.

Our bush yellow wax beans, seem to be doing well, but I don't have anything to compare to since this is our first year growing them. The pole beans are doing great and we are seeing green beans now. A little earlier then last year, but I am not worried about them since they are still growing.

Tomatoes started to produce tomatoes early and the bottom leaves are yellowing from all the rain.

Corn, the first 4 rows of corn are about shoulder high, very comparable to last year, however they are starting to have tassels, this is a lot earlier then last year and at a shorter height. I don't know if this should be a concern or not.

Cucumbers the burpee are doing well so far, but we are seeing a lot of cucumber beetles and they wiped our cucumbers out last year. The Divas we had luck and we have a good two plants growing. We need to get out and put something around them to protect them from the beetles. Divas are a special breed, they can self pollinate and we don't need the bees, so we might get a good cucumber crop.

The zucchinis are producing but we lost a lot of yellow squash and the spaghetti squash to to the squash boar bug. I have done some research and will have to see if we can prevent the larva from developing for next year.

The cauliflower, doesn't seem to be doing so well, again nothing to compare with this one as well since it is our first year growing cauliflower. The broccoli seems o.k. so far and the cabbage the outer leaves have been destroyed by some sort of slug but the heads seem to be fine so far.

I am in hopes to get some pictures this weekend only if we are able to take care of all the crab grass and weeds. We haven't been able to get into it due to the rain.

We are seeing a lot of Japanese beetles again and they are eating the leaves of our green beans. I found an article and next year, I plan to plant poppies on the boarder of the garden. Japanese beetles do not like this flower. Hopefully it will take care of them.

I'm giving up on strawberries. My pot didn't thrive again this year. I think I will just go to a strawberry patch and pick them next year. I haven't been able to make strawberry jam yet.

Now I have to find something to keep the bunnies and chipmunks away from my lilies.