Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity

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The Old Guy's Garden Record

October 31, 2023

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Sunday, October 1, 2023 - The Race is On

Dave's Garden Frost Page for 47882Our Senior Garden - October 1, 2023The race to beat the first frost is on for us. According to data from the Dave's Garden web site, our average first frost date for this area is October 17. There's nothing I can do to change that date other than hoping this year's first frost will be a bit late. I can, however, try to speed the maturation of our fall succession crops with mulching and watering and weed and insect control.

Spinach row - October 1, 2023As I took some photos this morning, I saw a white cabbage moth visiting our brassicas. It didn't light, denying me a good shot of it. But I had Thuricide left in my organics sprayer and gave our broccoli, cauliflower, and kale a good covering with it. While Thuricide doesn't kill the moths, it does give the worms that hatch from the eggs the moths lay fatal stomach cramps.

Vinca and feederOne of the crops I thought might not beat the frost is coming through. I had to re-plant our row of Abundant Bloomsdale spinach, as the first seeding totally failed in very hot weather. From what I saw this morning, we should be able to enjoy spinach salad sometime this week.

After mentioning the absence of hummingbirds at our feeder yesterday, I saw one this morning. It was visiting our vinca blooms, but didn't light on the feeder. Our feeder will remain up for the migrating birds for about seven days after we stop seeing them.

Main raised garden bed Main bed - end view

For this time of the season, I'm pretty pleased with what we've got going.

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required FTC Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, Renee's Garden, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. Renee's Garden True Leaf Market

Monday, October 2, 2023 - A Weather Change Coming

Weather Underground Ten Day Forecast  - October 2-11, 2023We're looking at some true fall weather arriving later this week. While it was a lovely 80°F when I was out in the garden this morning, daily highs are supposed to drop into the 60s by the end of the week. Of more concern, overnight lows may get into the upper 30s, a bit too close to frosty weather. I'd love to be able to pick fresh, flavorful, homegrown tomatoes all month.

I went out to our main raised garden bed this morning to see if there were any pickable baby carrots. While the Mokum variety is supposed to have baby carrots at 36 days (54 full size), none had reach that point despite it being 55 days since their direct seeding.

Something I should have mentioned yesterday about late crops is that floating row covers can often give one a week or two more of a growing season.


Spinach leaves soakingI obviously won't need row covers to extend our spinach crop. I planned to pick baby spinach leaves this morning for spinach salad for supper. Instead, a lot of what I picked were full sized savoyed leaves. I re-seeded our Abundant Bloomsdale spinach on August 27. Today at just 37 days later, the 47 days-to-maturity crop was ready for a first light picking.

I rinsed the spinach leaves a couple of times. Then I ran them through our salad spinner and popped them into the fridge in a Debbie Meyer Green Bag. There was far more spinach than it will take to make two spinach salads.

ERS Red Peppers

As usual, our Earliest Red Sweet pepper plants are filled with red peppers as we draw near to the end of the season. I picked lots of them today, saving the largest and ripest of them for seed saving. It' amazing how much seed is contained in just six or seven peppers.

Row of ERS Pepper Plants Seed drying from just six or seven peppers

Burpee Seed Company

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Our Senior Garden - October 4, 2023Spinach SaladOur plans for a dinner of chicken portobello and spinach salad got sidetracked Monday evening. I'd laid down for a nap and awoke to the sound of the computer's backup power supply alarm. The power stayed off for several hours making cooking a big meal a no-go. So the chicken portobello and spinach salad got held off to last night's supper. I couldn't find my usual copycat recipe online for the Romano's Macaroni Grill version, but found a Texas Roadhouse copycat that turned out well, even though it didn't list amounts for the ingredients. And when I had trouble finding thyme in our cluttered herb and spice cabinet, I said, "Duh," and went out and picked some fresh from our herb garden.

The peppers I picked on Monday and didn't use for seed saving went with my wife to her weekly luncheon gathering. Her friends will also get some nice tomatoes and a few paprika peppers.

ERS peppers Mixed tomato varieties Paprika peppers

I brought in about twenty-five butternut squash this morning. They went onto our drying/curing table in the garage, while four culls went onto our new compost pile. There are still a dozen or so more immature butternuts on the vines. Rainfall and our first frost will determine if they get to fully ripen.

Butternut squash on drying/curing table

As with lots of our crops this season, we got less and smaller butternuts than in years past. We've had up to a hundred butternuts from similar plantings. Again, I'm thankful for what we got.

Thursday, October 5, 2023 - At Last, A Rainy Day

Seed germination testsGloxinia about ready to bloomI'm not sure it will be a drought breaker, but we're getting some serious rain today. I also switched our house thermostat from air conditioning to heat this afternoon. We have some chilly weather in the offing.

With rain putting off any outside work, I started doing germination tests on our saved seed from this season. I'd previously started some tests, but a soil heating mat thermostat malfunctioned and cooked the seed tests.

I started eighteen tests today. Most of them got ten seeds on a brown coffee filter, as I try to avoid the possible bleach residue in white coffee filters or paper towels. For many of the tests, I recycled the pint Ziploc bags I'd used for the cooked tests. The tests got covered with some black plastic and went over a different soil heating mat set to 80°F.

The tests are essential before sharing seed on either the Grassroots Seed Network or the Seed Savers Exchange. I like to list the year our seed was produced along with a germination test number.

I received a postcard today from the Seed Savers Exchange reminding me that listings for the 2024 SSE Yearbook need to be in by November 15. It's nice that the new leadership of the SSE is once again acknowledging its base of somewhat graying seed saving members.

And to add just a little color to this posting, I'm sharing an image of a second year gloxinia plant getting ready to do its second round of blooming this year.

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Friday, October 6, 2023 - Pleasant Morning Surprises

A nice head of fall broccoli
Bed of mostly fall cauliflower

Young gloxinia in bloomI went downstairs this morning doing some laundry and was surprised to see one of the gloxinias I seeded June 20 in bloom! New gloxinias from seed generally take four to five months to begin blooming. My second nice surprise of the morning was finding a nice head of Goliath broccoli. The rest of our broccoli plants didn't make it, although the narrow bed is filled with very healthy looking Amazing cauliflower plants. If our first frost holds off a bit, those plants should produce heads in a week or two.

We received a half inch of rain overnight. That's certainly not a drought breaker, but it made everything in our garden and our lawn look a bit better. Our extended weather forecast suggests we might get more rain by this time next week.

With the weather front that brought in the rain, we now have some wonderfully cool temperatures with a breeze and blue skies. Annie and I sat on our glider on the back porch this afternoon just enjoying the day.

Renee's Garden

Saturday, October 7, 2023 - Making Sausage

AmazonGrinding pork for sausageI picked up a two pound on sale ($2.99/lb) boneless pork roast at the grocery yesterday. I cut up and partially froze the pork, as it goes through our old meat grinder better when somewhat frozen. As I ground the meat, I dropped in quarter inch chunks of leaf lard a friend had given us, as the pork roast was pretty lean.

I use A.C. Legg Pork Sausage Seasoning with a bit of our own ground sage for the sausage. It works well with either pork or beef. The seasoning packet only gives directions for using it for twenty-five pounds of meat. I've found that two teaspoons per pound of meat makes a nice, spicy sausage.

My efforts yielded a couple of one pound pint packages of frozen pork sausage for about five bucks.

We're enjoying another lovely, if cool, fall day today. Our eighty degree days seem gone for now. Daily high temperatures are predicted to be in the 60s for the next few days.

I mowed our lawn yesterday and had planned to mow the field next to us today. But laziness and a sore neck from the bumps in our lawn has me putting off that job for a day or so.

Best Buy

Monday, October 9, 2023

Melons on our new compost pileCompost pile with tomato plants and mulch addedI started off and ended my gardening day by working our new compost pile. I moved some over and underripe melons to the pile in the morning. Later, the pile got some grass clippings from a mowing of the field, followed by our Earlirouge tomato plants.

Our Earlirouges this year have been a disappointment. Cold weather followed by drought conditions stunted the plants which produced only a few full sized tomatoes. The plants needed to come out, as the narrow bed they are in will get our earliest direct seeding next spring of early pea varieties.

Narrow raised bed cleared of tomato plantsTomatoes in our East Garden plotIn clearing the narrow raised bed of the Earlirouge plants, their cages and T-posts, I didn't have the heart to pull the flowers at either end of the bed. They'll have to come out when I work some peat moss into the bed. The hardest part of the job was pulling the T-posts which keep the tomato cages from blowing over. Lots of roots from a nearby maple tree made digging out the posts difficult.

We're still in good shape for fresh tomatoes. Some longer season hybrids planted late are coming on strong now.

The long line of tomato plants in our East Garden plot are filled with large, ripening tomatoes. We're blessed to have the space to try and plant lots of varieties. The image at right shows some Mountain Fresh Plus and Mountain Merits filled with ripening fruit.

Long line of tomato plants in our East Garden plot

Hoss Tools

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Clouds of dust and debris from combineOur Senior Garden - October 11, 2023A farm crew began harvesting the ninety acre corn field next to us late yesterday afternoon. While they made good progress, they're working this afternoon to finish up. With our dry fall, area farmers have made good progress with this year's harvest. One of the farm crew told me that they had all their soybeans harvested.

As a practical matter, I'm waiting to get my truck washed until the corn is in and the soybean field across the road from us is harvested. Just driving by a combine bringing in corn, or especially beans, leaves ones vehicle covered with dust. On the upside, our view to the west is considerably improved with the corn gone.

Yellow snapdragonVolunteer dillBeyond picking a few tomatoes and saving some zinnia seed, I won't be doing any gardening today. My efforts at mowing the field, cleaning up the melon patch, and taking out our bed of Earlirouge tomatoes on Monday has left me down-in-the-back. Aspirin, Doan's Pills, Ben Gay, a heating pad, and scotch have only slightly lessened the pain. I need to remember that while my mind may feel 40 years old, my body is 75.

So that your click on this site won't be wasted, I'm sharing some pretty photos I've collected over the past few days. Our flowers at the edges of our raised beds always put on a spectacular display late in the season.

After cutting out all of the dill from our herb bed, I discovered that the dill had re-seeded itself. Since we have lots of dill weed and seed in our spice cabinet, I'll just enjoy the smell of the dill when occasionally weeding the herb bed.

Our snapdragons tend to go a little nuts blooming in the fall. Ours are from some saved mixed seed and the Madame Butterfly varieties.

White snapdragon Pinkish snapdragon Lavender snapdragon competing with marigolds for space

Our vinca and petunias continue to bloom.

Vinca and marigolds More vinca Celebrity petunias

It's a fun time to be gardening. Or maybe, that's just the scotch talking.

Terracotta Composting 50-Plant Garden Tower by Garden Tower Project

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Drought Monitor for Indiana - October 12, 20231-800-Flowers Deal of the WeekToday's release of the U.S. Drought Monitor has us about where I've thought we should be. Almost all of Indiana is now in the "Moderate Drought" classification. We've watched shower after shower move just north or south of us on weather radar this month. I'm guessing that our drought condition here could well be "Severe Drought."

The Drought Monitor accumulates rainfall data through Tuesday morning each week and publishes the maps below on Thursdays. Note that the images below automatically update with each Thursday's new release of data.

Drought Information
U.S. Drought Monitor
United States Weekly Drought Monitor
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook
United States Monthly Drought Outlook
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook
United States Seasonal Drought Outlook
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Weekly Drought Monitor
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

It's been several days since we've seen any hummingbirds at our feeder. With cooler mornings, most of the tiny birds have started their migration south. I'll probably take down, clean, and store the feeder sometime in the next few days.

Botannical Interests

Friday, October 13, 2023 - Welcome Sights

First blossom on Sugar Snap vinesA2 Web HostingMy back is still on the mend, but I did realize what had probably done the damage. Pulling the T-posts from rock hard ground Monday most likely did it.

I walked out to our raised beds this afternoon to see what was going on. I spied our first Sugar Snap pea blossom on the vines and then saw another and some very small ones. I also noticed some droopy leaves on the vines.

The 58 days-to-maturity Sugar Snap variety were a bit of a gamble when direct seeded on August 19. Adding fourteen days to the maturity date to allow for shorted daylight in the fall, and we might be picking edible pod peas towards the end of the month. That, of course, is if we don't have a frost by then.

My second welcome sight of the day was storm clouds in the distance. Again, most of the storm is predicted to pass north of us, but we might get a few tenths of an inch of rainfall around suppertime.

Storm clouds in the distance

The Home Depot

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Family Variety Batch Germination
Earlirouge 230728 batch


230817 batch 60%
230825 batch 20%
Moira 230904 batch 80%
Quinte 230904 batch 80%
230928 batch 30%
Crimson Sprinter 230808 batch 60%
Red Pearl (grape) 230916 batch 90%
Japanese Long Pickling 230827 batch 70%
230827 floaters 40%
Earliest Red Sweet 230801 batch 90%
231002 batch 60%
121010 batch  
Paprika Pepper
Mix 230815 batch 90%
Boldog 230902 batch 10%
Hungarian Spice 230903 batch 20%
Broccoli Goliath July & August 50+%
230812 batch 0
230921 batch 0
Not tested

Our Senior Garden - October 14, 2023We received a little less than a half inch of rain overnight. That's certainly not a drought breaker, but I'll take what we can get. It's lightly misting today. A downside of that is the cloudy skies will obscure the annular solar eclipse that will occur. Lacking any eclipse glasses for safely viewing the event, I'd planned to use the fold-out screen of my camera to observe and record the eclipse. Oh well!

I did a final read on the seed germination tests of our saved seed I'd started on October 5. The results weren't very encouraging and nothing like what we usually get. I attribute the seed failures to the drought, although I might just be doing something wrong.

I still have a batch of pepper seed I just froze this morning that will need to be tested. I find that pepper seed germinates better after some conditioning in either the fridge or the freezer. And with our current weather, there's still time to collect more Moira, Quinte, and Crimson Sprinter tomato seed for saving.

I'll be re-listing the varieties that tested well for sharing via the Grassroots Seed Network and Seed Savers Exchange with some improved pricing. The Grassroots Seed Network and Paypal had imposed some fees last year that left me subsidizing my seed sales, so I jacked up my prices. That issue has apparently been resolved, so I'll drop my seed sharing prices appropriately when I update my listings later this month.

A bright spot in my day was finding three more gloxinia plants in bloom or close to it under our plant lights.

Gloxinias in bloom on dining room table


Monday, October 16, 2023

Saving pepper and tomato seedVinca and Wandering Jew plantsI vegged out yesterday napping and watching football games. Because I wasn't satisfied with the quantity and quality of some of our saved seed, I did some picking before the first kickoff. Some Boldog Hungarian Spice paprika peppers were ripe as were some Crimson Sprinter, Moira, and Quinte tomatoes.

The pepper seed just had to be stripped out of the peppers, rinsed, and laid out to dry. The tomato seed, juice, and pulp went into canning jars to ferment for several days. The fermentation process helps separate the seed from attached tomato flesh and also helps remove the germination inhibiting goo that surrounds the seeds.

I also sadly took down our last hummingbird feeder. We haven't seen any of the birds for a week or so. The feeder got washed, dried, and stored in the basement. To fill the vacant hook on the back porch, I moved last year's kitchen tradescantia zebrina (Wandering Jew) plant into the spot. The poor plant hadn't received much attention since being moved from the kitchen to the porch in the spring.

I'm not quite done seed saving this season. Our Hungarian Spice paprika pepper plants are full of nearly ripe peppers. Of course, for seed saving, one wants the peppers to be really ripe. And ripening of nearly everything in our garden is going slow in our current cool weather.

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Our Senior Garden - October 19, 2023Sugar Snap pea bloomsWe received another quarter inch of rain this morning. It seems that we're getting about that much each week. General gardening wisdom suggests one needs about an inch of rain per week for good growing. But our fall crops are hanging in there despite this week's U.S. Drought Monitor saying we're still in a "Moderate Drought."

Our August 19 seeding of Sugar Snap peas are now beginning to put on several blooms. This planting was one of several gambles on us having a late first frost. So far, that seems to be working out. Along with the Sugar Snap gamble, I have a bunch of Amazing cauliflower plants that haven't headed as yet and some carrots still too small to dig. If we have a danger of frost, I'll probably cover both with floating row covers.

I cleaned up the tomato seed I'd started saving and began germination tests on it and some pepper seed today.

The gloxinia seed I started in June doesn't seem to know that first year seedings generally take 4-5 months to begin blooming. I brought three more plants up from the basement to our dining room table today.

First year gloxinias

Sam's Club

Saturday, October 21, 2023

A foggy Senior Garden - October 21, 2023Portuguese Kale SoupWe started out today with a little fog. After grabbing a shot of it at around eight, it burnt off just a few minutes later.

I haven't done much gardening of late. I'm waiting for fall crops to mature. And I'm also trying to take good care of my wife, Annie, who has tested positive for Covid. I heat a pot of Portuguese Kale Soup each morning for us. Like chicken soup only more so, the soup has lots of vitamins and minerals along with the beneficial amino acid cysteine.

I break out the kale soup whenever one of us feels ill, especially with colds or flu. But looking at our downstairs pantry, I probably won't be making kale soup this fall for the first time in years. We have plenty left from last year...and it's really delicious.

equity alarm clockClonex Rooting GelInstead of outdoor gardening, I've kept busy with several little jobs. On par with watching grass grow, I recharged batteries for our Equity Night Vision Alarm Clocks yesterday. These dandy clocks have a soft glow at night...until their batteries run down.

I also worked a bit at separating our recently saved Moira, Quinte, and Crimson Sprinter tomato seed. The seed sticks together after having the tomato flesh and goo washed off of it. I rub chunks of seed in the palm of my hand to separate the seeds.

I started rooting three geranium cuttings. I use Clonex Rooting Gel along with some old powdered rooting hormone to get the cuttings going. While they're currently over a soil heating mat and covered with a clear humidity dome in the basement, they'll grow in our sunroom if the cuttings take. I'm pretty shy about bringing plants into our plant room that have been outside where they may pick up bugs or diseases. The rooting also had me making another batch of Sterile Potting Mix.

I've failed to give a good reminder lately for folks to order garlic sets. Sorry about that. Sellers have run out of a lot of favorite garlic varieties by this time of year.

For the first time in about ten years, I ordered some fresh garlic for planting. I got some Purple Glazer (now out of stock) and Chesnok Red (in stock) from the Territorial Seed Company. We've gotten very good garlic from them in the past. Beyond Territorial, we've successfully purchased good bulbs of garlic for planting over the years from Botannical Interests, Burpeeicon, and Johnny's Selected Seeds. I have plenty of elephant and softneck garlics for planting from this year's crop.

Conventional gardening wisdom for this area is to plant garlic after the first frost in October. As sometimes happens here, we may not have a frost before the end of the month. But garlic planted in November usually does well for us. And our garlic area for next year still has Sugar Snap peas growing on it.

Our how-to, Growing Garlic, may prove helpful to first time garlic growers. I began the how-to with the sentence, "Garlic is one of the easiest, most trouble free and productive crops one can grow in a home garden." It really is.

Burpee Gardening

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Weather Underground forecast through October 31, 2023Well, there it is! A predicted first frost in our Weather Underground extended forecast!

As we work toward predicted frosts the mornings of November 1 and 2, I need to decide what we can harvest, what we need to protect with floating row covers, and what to let go.

Both our kale and carrots are fairly frost hardy. The late James Underwood Crockett wrote in Crockett's Victory Garden that kale tastes better after a frost. While we have spinach, lima beans, and Sugar Snap peas trying to mature, I'll probably first cover our two rows of cauliflower. The plants are large, but haven't as of yet put on any heads. Given an extra week to mature, we may just get some nice fall cauliflower.

I again have a pan of Portuguese Kale Soup on the stove this morning. My wife's fever has broken, and I'm not showing any Covid symptoms.

Hardware World

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Positive Covid TestTrue Leaf MarketWell, shit! I guess it was my turn. I tested positive for Covid yesterday. I'd been wearing a mask when out shopping since Annie tested positive last week, so I hope I didn't spread the disease before I had symptoms.

Annie has recovered quickly from a relatively mild case which required lots of sleep and lots of Kleenex. My symptoms are similar, but with some sweats and chilling. And for both of us, we've been totally worn out almost all of the time.

Once I'm back up and around, there should be lots of stuff ready for harvest. I'll need to hustle, though, as the frosts predicted for the mornings of November 1 and 2 are to be followed by a hard freeze (24°F) the next morning. That should pretty well wrap up our gardening season.

West side of main raised bed Earliest Red Sweet peppers

But before our gardening season ends, the flowers in our raised beds put on their usual show of fall colors. The flowers along the west side of our main raised bed, not visible from the house, put on quite a show. And our row of Earliest Red Sweet peppers are filled with small red ripe peppers.

Flowers along the east side of our riased bedsThe flowers along the east side of our raised beds, visible from the house, also put on quite a show. It's a lovely, if short, time of year.

The tree line along the field next to us is also giving us some nice fall color.

View of treeline behind our house

David's Cookies

Thursday, October 26, 2023

I'd really hoped both Annie and my infections of Covid would be mild because we'd both been fully vaccinated. While we're apparently not in any danger, we do wear out quickly and are both sleeping more than twelve hours a day! It appears that we'll both be out of any gardening or yard work action for another week.

During my too few waking hours today, I read some germination tests, updated and printed seed packets, and updated my seed sharing listings on the Grassroots Seed Network and the Seed Savers Exchange. The drought and other conditions this season really limited my listings. Missing this year are Abundant Bloomsdale Spinach, our favorite tomato variety, Earlirouge (available from the Turtle Tree Seed Initiative), kidney beans, and butternut squash.

Three MoirasQuinte tomatoesOn a more positive note, our Moira and Quinte tomato plants produced lots of deep red flavorful tomatoes. Our Moiras (66), a Jack Metcalf variety, have been a longtime favorite variety of ours for their excellent flavor and deep red interiors. GSN SSE

Our Quinte Easy Peel (70) tomato plants have produced unusually large tomatoes in great volume the last two years. Quintes are another Jack Metcalf variety. As with most of his releases, they are an early, semi-determinate, open pollinated plant. GSN SSE If you garden in New England, you might want to get your Quinte seed from the Turtle Tree Seed Initiative who've grown out our strain of the variety for sale. Their seed might well be more adapted to your growing conditions.

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Underripe Crimson Sprinter tomatoesCrimson Sprinter Tomatoes (65) are an early, medium sized Canadian heirloom slicer developed by Professor Thomas Graham at the Ontario Agricultural College. It is said to be “the earliest cultivar to carry the famous crimson gene for high lycopene.” Its semi-determinate vines filled and overflowed our five foot tall tomato cages this year and produced lots of delicious ripe fruit with deep red interiors. GSN SSE

Our how-to, Growing Tomatoes, tells all about how we grow our tomatoes.

Loaded red pepper plantEarliest Red Sweet Peppers (65) - The Earliest Red Sweet bell pepper variety produces peppers a bit smaller than popular hybrids. But what its peppers lack in size, it makes up for with an incredible volume of peppers, especially late in the season. We're currently overrun with small red peppers. GSN SSE

Here's a tip from our Growing Peppers how-to that suggests a solution if your pepper plants don't perform well for you. For years, our pepper plants looked good right up until the time they set fruit. Then they'd languish and eventually die. On a luckshot, I began adding a little Maxicrop soluble seaweed powder to my transplant solution for the peppers. Our pepper problems magically vanished. Apparently the seaweed had some necessary element in it that our soil lacked. Maxicrop is a bit expensive, but it doesn't take much of it to do the trick.

Japanese Long Pickling cucumberLots of Japanese Long Pickling cucumbersJapanese Long Pickling Cucumbers (60) - I'd grown Japanese Long Pickling cucumbers for years. But after a five year hiatus from gardening after I lost our farm, I found that seed for the excellent variety was no longer available. I did, however, still have a few seeds preserved in the freezer over the years. Just one seed germinated, so I began saving seed and propagating the variety. Things went really well for the long, thin cucumbers for several years before we ran into inbreeding depression. So I bred in some cucumbers of the same name from Reimer Seeds, only saving seed from our cucumber plants. The crossing revitalized our strain of the excellent cucumber without changing our strain's excellent characteristics.

We use JLPs for pickles and pickle relish. They're also good for slicing, although not quite as good as pure slicing varieties. Note that JLPs require trellising, as the vigorous vines grow over five feet tall. Since we grow our JLPs as a succession crop after our tall, early peas, they get to grow between a five foot tall double trellis the peas grew on. GSN SSE

Cranberry Tiger/Double Brocade cross gloxiniaFirst year gloxiniasGloxinias - Our gloxinia seed was derived from crosses of the Empress, Cranberry Tiger, and Double Brocade varieties. It produces a variety of colors in single and double blooms. I started some gloxinia seed in June and have been surprised at how quickly the plants have come into bloom. Of course, first year gloxinias don't produce blooms like older plants do. GSN SSE

Update: I added three paprika varieties to our listings in November.

Our Gloxinia blog tells all about how to grow these beautiful flowers.



I realized at some point last year that I was getting eaten up by Paypal and GSN fees along with the cost of postage and seed envelopes, not to mention the cost of producing the seeds. So that I wasn't subsidizing people's seed requests, I jacked up the price of all of our seed offerings to $6.50 a packet postpaid (even to Canada). Saner minds have prevailed at GSN and our seed packets now run $4.50 each.

And while I'm running at well less than half speed, I did step out and grab a shot of a pretty evening sky.

Evening sky - October 26, 2023


Friday, October 27, 2023

First fall carrotsMaturing Sugar Snap pea podsAs we head toward some season ending frosts and freezes next week, there are encouraging signs in our fall garden. Out of carrots and wanting some to cook with a meatloaf tonight, I dug a few from the close end of our double carrot rows. While the five carrots I dug will be enough for dinner, they're also all of the Bolero variety, the longest season carrot I planted. I'm hoping the rest of the row will be more mature. And a bonus with such carrots, they only need to be washed and scrubbed a bit instead of peeling them.

While out and about overdoing things, I noticed several pea pods on our Sugar Snap vines. I resisted picking and snacking on one raw that was almost mature.

I also found four mature heads of Amazing cauliflower. I didn't cut them today, as they may grow a bit larger in the next day or so. All of the heads still had good leaf wrap to protect them from bugs and sunlight.

Soaking trays and pots in bleach waterSage plants to overwinterWhen mentioning overdoing things, I started soaking some trays and pots in bleach water today. I had about seven of the expensive but durable Perma-Nest trays along with some standard 1020 trays and various pots I needed cleaned and disinfected before storing them for the winter. That's just one of the many jobs I write about in End-of-Season Gardening Chores.

I had to replace all of our perennial sage plants this year, but still had two, very healthy sage plants left over. I moved them today to our sunroom where we've successfully overwintered sage plants in the past. Since the plants had grown outside on our back porch, they got doused with insecticide before coming in. After a disaster with the INSV virus killing all of our gloxinias in 2014, I no longer bring plants back inside to our plant room.

In addition to my gardening activities today, I had to make a "masked" trip to town to pick up a necessary heart prescription. My overdoing today has left me sweaty and running a low grade fever. Trying to come back from Covid too fast is a really bad idea.

Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies

Saturday, October 28, 2023

My timing certainly could have been better. While it was a nice day outside yesterday when I started soaking/sterilizing some trays and pots in bleach water, today turned out to be cool and cloudy. Fortunately, there's not a lot of wind as I dry the trays and pots just by letting them air dry on the lawn.

Trays and pots drying on the lawn

Whether completely dry or not, I'll need to collect and store the trays and pots around sundown before some predicted rain comes in this evening.

Donors ChooseWater CharityI also emptied my three sprayers and moved them to the garage for the winter. I use separate sprayers for organic products, insecticides, and Roundup.

My cart of beach water will remain in place. When the predicted frost/freezes arrive, they'll take the last of our annual hanging basket plants. Their pots will need to be cleaned before storage.

One other job today was moving some tender chemicals to the basement. A large jug of Serenade and another of Not Tonight, Deer were the first to go downstairs. I try not to let biologicals such as Serenade and Thuricide freeze and thaw over the winter.

Burpee Herb Seeds & Plants

Sunday, October 29, 2023

I cut four lovely heads of cauliflower this afternoon. The leaves that surround and protect the heads had opened on two of the plants. With just a possible light frost tomorrow morning, I left four smaller heads to cut tomorrow.

Fall cauliflower

Unlike broccoli that produce sideshoots after the main head is cut, cauliflower is one and done. But the heads grow incredibly quickly, going from small to large to overripe in just a few days.

In cleaning the heads, I found three cabbage worms on one head and none on the others. The plants had been thoroughly sprayed with Thuricide, yet some worms slipped through. Probably due to our cold weather, the worms had done only minimal damage to the cauliflower.


Monday, October 30, 2023

Our fall, 2023, cauliflower
Almost six pounds of fall cauliflower

Cart full of cauliflower leaves and stemsI cut four more heads of cauliflower today and cleared the leaves and stems from the narrow raised bed they were in. Three cauliflower plants with very small heads and one broccoli plant remain in the bed, although tonight's freeze will probably take them.

Our total cauliflower haul weighed in at five pounds eleven ounces. Of course, once I cut up the florets, blanch, and freeze them, the weight will be a bit less. But it's still a fantastic fall harvest for us.

The huge cauliflower leaves and stems filled and overflowed our four cubic foot garden cart.

Red oakWhile messing around in Facebook today, a meme that suggests broccoli, cauliflower, and others were originally bred from wild cabbage. Not sure if that is the case, but it's an interesting idea.

We supposedly have two red oak trees in our front yard that until this year have never showed any serious red leaves. But the younger of the two trees is trying to put on a display of red.

We have four mornings of freezing, frosty weather coming up. I've not covered anything in our garden, as it really is time for the end of the season. Our kale and carrots should be okay through the cold, but our lima beans, Sugar Snap peas, and spinach will probably all die from the cold. USA, LLC

Tuesday, October 31, 2023 - First Frost

October, 2023, animated GIF of our Senior GardenHPS Seed Catalog CoverIt somehow seems appropriate to me that our first frost occurred on October 31 (25°F). With at least two more mornings of freezing temperatures, our gardening season is just about done. I'll still be harvesting some hardier crops such as carrots and kale, and I probably have some more butternut squash to bring in. But my focus will shift to cleaning up our garden plots and getting our garlic planted.

First Seed Catalog

Our first seed catalog for 2024 arrived in today's mail. This was one I've not seen before from Horticultural Products and Services. While an attractive catalog, I may wait a year to order from them as their Dave's Garden Watchdog rating is just so-so. But they get a mention and a link here for being first.

Freezing Cauliflower Florets

With temperatures hovering in the low 40s with 25-30 MPH winds, I pretty much stayed inside today. Instead of going out, I worked on cutting our heads of cauliflower into florets and freezing them. After cutting all the heads, I did a quick "Duh" head slap, realizing that I needed to blanch the florets before freezing. Two or three minutes in boiling water followed by a quick cool in ice water kills some bacteria on the cauliflower and extends it's flavor for freezing.

Cutting cauliflower heads into florets Cauliflower florets blanching in boiling water Cauliflower drying before freezing

BTW: Our fall cauliflower were all of the appropriately named variety, Amazing.

Fruit Bouquets

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