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August 4, 2021

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - More Green Beans

Don't you know that I danced, I danced till a quarter to three
With the help, last night, of Daddy G.

I actually wasn't dancing last night until a quarter of three, but the 1961 Gary U.S. Bonds hit was running through my head as I finished up canning our second picking of green about a quarter till three!

I got a bit of a late start picking the beans, not beginning until a little after noon. With a number of breaks built in to rest my protesting neck, I didn't complete the picking until suppertime. And that was doing the picking the easy way. Since we already had eight pints of canned beans left from last summer and eleven more pints from our first picking this year, I pulled the plants and picked the beans off of them. That made for a lot less bending and working on my knees, two things my body doesn't respond well to. Washing and snapping the beans delayed beginning canning until almost eleven o'clock.

Having mentioned the length of canning in a previous posting about canning beans, I wrote down the times from when the jars of beans went into the canner and then came out at the end. Each canning cycle for pints took about 80 minutes!

Donors ChooseWe got sixteen pints canned from the picking, but...six of the pint jars didn't seal. I'd gotten up early and moved the unsealed jars to the refrigerator. Then later this morning, I re-canned those six pints in different jars. Only occasionally do we have a canning jar not seal. I attribute the failure to using some old jars given to me that must of had imperfections at the rim that I missed. Even so, we now have thirty-five pints of canned green beans stored in our basement pantry. Of course, the beans in the last six canned may be a bit mushy from being twice canned. But with just Annie and I enjoying the beans, they should last us until around this time next summer.

Something I noticed when picking was that several bean plants had runners extending five or six feet out from the roots. That's not supposed to happen with bush beans. Since we don't save seed from our bush beans, the runners did no real harm.

Earlirouge Tomatoes

I picked more Earlirouge tomatoes today. Together with a previous picking, I had enough to can about seven quarts of whole tomatoes today. Unfortunately, I didn't have the energy to do more than wash and photograph the tomatoes.

Earlirouge tomatoes

I'll probably can the tomatoes tomorrow. And this canning won't be our last or even our best. When our other tomato varieties in the East Garden plot mature later this month, we'll be able to mix multiple varieties of tomatoes in a canning or two. That seems to improve the flavor of the canned tomatoes.



Monday, August 2, 2021

I cleaned up our gloxinias this morning. I trimmed off dead leaves and unpollinated bloom spikes and lightly fertilized the plants. There are only a few plants still in bloom, as most of the plants are putting their energy into maturing seed. I also moved several plants downstairs under our plant lights. I've already had three early blooming plants go into dormancy.

Gloxinias trimmed

Tomato seed fermentingSomewhat blue skies at lastLater on, I picked Earlirouge tomatoes. There weren't enough yet to can, but I did start a small batch of Earlirouge seed for seed saving. I'll let the seed and gel ferment for three to four days before rinsing and drying it.

Our main tomato canning probably won't happen until the tomato plants in our East Garden begin producing later this month. Like with multiple varieties of canned green beans, I think our canned tomatoes taste better with more then one variety canned. We have seven more tomato varieties there.

While taking the splashshot for today, I realized that I could see some blue sky between the clouds. Over the last few weeks, we've had lots of cloud cover, or on some days, smoke cover from the wildfires out west. We're also experiencing some cooler temperatures which is nice. I am, however, waiting for a really warm, sunny day on which to defrost our manual defrost freezer in the garage.

A Personal Note

I have a sister and a sister-in-law whom I dearly love who have resisted getting Covid-19 vaccinations. I pray for their health daily. But I think prayer isn't always an effective measure against the virus. If you're not yet vaccinated, let me urge you to get the vaccination. I had one mild down day after my first Moderna shot. Annie had a couple of tough days after her vaccination. But both her and my response to the vaccination were really no worse than a flu shot.

Let me urge my readers to get vaccinated. If not for yourself, do it for those around you whom you might infect.

Burpee Fruit Seeds & Plants

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Our Senior Garden - August 1, 2021
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Zinnias and tomato and pepper row in our East Garden - August 1, 2021
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After an unusual five inches of precipitation in July, it appears that things will begin drying out for the next week or so. I'm hoping it won't turn out to be our near annual, mid-summer mini-drought. But for now, we have all the soil moisture our garden needs.

Once the soil dries out enough, I'm hoping my neck will be healed enough to allow me to till part of our main raised garden bed for some succession crops. I have basil, parsley, broccoli, and cauliflower transplants started. I also hope to direct seed some fall carrots and kale.

I put on my hated neck brace and mowed around our row of tomatoes and paprika peppers in our East Garden plot this afternoon. After just a couple of passes, I was convinced that I still needed to continue paying some friends to mow our yard and the field.

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail

Something that caught my eye while mowing was all the butterflies and bumblebees visiting blooms on our long row of zinnias. I grabbed shots of a Tiger Swallowtail and a Spicebush Swallowtail. Several Viceroys were visiting blooms, but they were all pretty camera shy.

Paprika peppersI was happy to see that some of our paprika pepper plants had survived the weed pressure around them and set peppers. Since I used compost that hadn't heated well when transplanting them, I had to pull a bunch of volunteer tomato plants from around the pepper plants.

We're coming up on a second picking of our two rows of green beans. I've been waiting for our Bush Blue Lake and Maxibel varieties to mature beans for this picking. While I usually take three pickings from our green beans, I'm planning on just pulling the plants for our second picking, as we still have eight pints of green beans left from last year along with the twelve pints I canned last week.

As this month moves on, I'm hoping to can tomatoes and make bread and butter pickles and sweet relish. Our Earlirouge tomato plants are filled with ripening tomatoes,while our row of tomatoes in our East Garden are just putting on tomatoes. Our Japanese Long Pickling cucumber vines don't look very healthy right now, so I'm not confident about the pickles and relish.

Dead or dying apple treeWhen I looked out our bay windows this morning, I was shocked and saddened to see that one of our apple trees is probably dead. It's a young Stayman Winesap I transplanted a year or two ago. While I'm guessing that the tree is already well and truly dead, I sprayed it with a combo spray of Serenade biofungicide and streptomycin. I also gave it a soil drench of Serenade.

Our first apple tree here was a standard Stayman Winesap. It produced lots of tasty apples before succumbing to fire blight. We then just about lost a Granny Smith tree that survived the fire blight with lots of heavy pruning and fire blight spray. But it died from root rot a few years later. A replacement Stayman Winesap from Arbor Day only produced yellow apples. The deal was buy one tree and get another free. I ordered a red maple as our freebie. It turned out to be a silver maple. Obviously, I'll never order another tree from the Arbor Day Society after them going 0-2 on filling an order correctly.

CelerySo now we're left with a yellow apple producing tree that didn't set fruit this year, a very young dwarf Stayman Winesap, and a volunteer tree just off our property that sometimes produces small, but incredibly tasty apples.

With apple trees taking several years to produce fruit and me at 73 years old, I'm about ready to quit trying to grow apples. In addition to losing apple trees, we lost a bunch of pine trees to root rot and agricultural drift in the last two years.. It's frustrating.

On a more positive note, I cut our two celery plants yesterday. I didn't get them wrapped to blanch the stalks, so I fear the celery may be a bit bitter. But I'm happy at least to be able to have grown celery for two years in a row. I have a pot of celery transplants in the basement. But I fear that I may have drowned them yesterday when watering them!

So there's our kickoff for August. It's an iffy kickoff, considering my humbled physical condition. But I'm really looking forward to canning tomatoes and saving seed from several of our favorite varieties.

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

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