Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Catching Up

Wow. Where to start? I have been getting out in the garden, but I've been forgetting to take photos and not writing in my blog. I'm sure I'll forget half of it. But I'll start with my fruit trees. I have five espaliered trees in my rock wall garden. So I spent some time tying them up and clipping off the unwanted foliage that had grown up in my absence. The figs were especially bad. They really are trying to take over. I have one at the top of its support, so snipped off the end. Hopefully those figs it carries will ripen but who knows. In the middle of tying the two figs up I went to get more string. When I came back I noticed the yellow jackets were all going into one spot in the ground. A spot I had been a few minutes ago. I had my hands tying up the vines within a foot of their nest.

I talked to my townhouse mates about it. Normally I would just leave a nest alone and in the spring they wouldn't be there anymore. I've never researched it but I always assumed they made a new nest every year because of that. My townhouse mates looked at it and said they didn't seem all that aggressive. They park their car right in front of the nest, so I'm a little concerned. I do know that they can become more aggressive closer to fall. It might be an issue when I wrap up the figs for winter. But for now the nest stays.

And speaking of interlopers. I had the first break in. Something broke into the garden last night. I have hardware cloth going down a foot all around my garden. But this one got in along the edge of my garden gate.

And whatever it was dug a hole in the garden. I strongly suspect the neighborhood skunk. It could be a small groundhog, but I know the skunk was out and active last night. When I woke up last night I could smell him. Someone had gotten sprayed. Luck for me at least, nothing in the garden was sprayed.

As many of you might know, I have a strange sensitivity to the nightshade family crops. I can't even touch them. Well onions have now become a problem. I can eat them just fine, but I can't breath their fumes. I was drying these in my dining room. I've done it before. Well this year my asthma started to act up. So I figured my allergies were the problem. I shut all the windows and turned on the air conditioning and my air filter. The problem only got worse. I guessed it was the onions, so did a test. I went over to a friend's house one day. After a couple of hours I quit coughing. Well at least I knew what my problem was. When I got home I threw open every window on the first floor and put a fan on so it would take the onion fumes out.

They had only had a week to cure and were definitely not finished drying. But I had to get them out of my dining room. My whole first floor is open so anything messing up the air there will get me all day long. I braided all the Copras. They were the driest of the onions. I put them in my basement to hang. The basement is at 76F right now and has a dehumidifier running, so it isn't cool and damp. I hope they dry well down there. I took the Ailsa Craigs and put them in the fridge. I'm wondering if this will keep them longer than their typical two months, or shorter. So it is an experiment. The other half of the Ailsa Craigs are still out in the garden. I'll use them as I need them. The Redwing onions were mistakenly put on the marble part of my dining room and didn't dry at all. They stayed too cool there. Some foliage was mildewing a bit. I cut that off and rearranged them so they were directly in front of a window. I put a fan there. I don't have any other good spot to put them. Right now the weather is good to keep the windows open. If things change they will have to move. Next year I'll have to find another way to dry my onions. I'm envisioning putting something over my compost pile. I don't have a lot of empty yard space. I could make something with a tarp over it. But that is something I'll worry about next year.

I've done a lot of weeding over the last week. I have it almost done except one corner by the compost. I'm sure when I finish that, I'll have to start again. I've also been trimming, clipping, and deadheading things to get them under control. I feel almost ahead of it. Almost.

The first beans were picked and shelled. Whoot! I had to pick those beans a bit wet. It had rained all last week on and off. So the poor dried beans weren't drying that much. I shelled them to get them out of their wet shells. They looked amazingly good considering the conditions that they were drying in. The rest of the pea seed was history though. I pulled up the plants this morning and found a mass of rotting pods and slugs. Yuck! And speaking of rotting, my basil ended up with downy mildew. Double yuck. I know it has been going around for the last few years, but my basil hadn't gotten it. The poor plants hadn't even been looked at in three weeks and when they were, it was pretty sad. I pulled them all.

After I'd pulled the peas (and some lettuce going to seed) I had the end of one bed cleared out. I sowed some Kentucky Wonder beans for the fall. Last year they produced quite well. I hope I'm not too late this year for it. I might be. I should have done it right when I got home. I didn't feel like building the trellis I usually use for beans. So I just pounded in some T-posts with some smaller ones for side bracing. I haven't strung it yet, but I have plenty of time before they are up and start to run.

I seem to have a lot of bad news. Well my winter squash have lots of blossoms, but so far no female blossoms have opened. I do see one (yes just one) that might open in a while. I really need that squash to get to it so I will be able to eat squash this winter. I wish I knew when my squash started to set last year, but I just don't remember.

I'll leave you on a positive note. Dinner was delicious. I grilled some freshly picked Ailsa Craig onion and my first medium sized zucchini with some pineapple. The grilled bread was brushed with an herbed butter with herbs from the garden (garlic, rosemary, and oregano).


  1. Sorry about the asthma attack. A couple of family members with asthma here, so I can relate. Your braided onions look amazing. I didn't think onions could look so pretty!

  2. Goodness, I am glad you were able to get your athma attack under control. You don't give up on things easily but that must be discouraging. Your braided onions sure do look pretty though. Yellow jackets and possibly a skunk! I guess I would rather put up with my little brown blob! lol Hope the rest of the week goes well for you! Nancy

  3. We had a visiting skunk last night, too. The doggy door was locked up to keep the animals in, and all the windows were shut, but I could still smell a faint odor of skunk in the house. I didn't see any evidence of it in the garden, but I think it might have been eating rotted crabapples from the neighbor's yard.

    Those braided onions are so pretty.

  4. Oh no asthma attach, hope it's under control.
    We've been lucky no skunk visit to our garden so far.

  5. That's terrible about the food allergies, I hope you are feeling better. My father did a similar thing drying his Bird's Eye Chili peppers, dad and his wife woke up with their eyes swelled shut.

  6. It sound like you have been very busy. I sure hope your reaction was the result of possible fungus on the foliage of the onions and not the onion itself. The braided onions look beautiful.

  7. My squash have been very behind this year too. No Zucchini yet and no female blossoms on any winter squash. It's been an odd summer.

  8. Sorry to hear about your asthma, from onions! I have the same problem with my squash, flowers but not female! Maybe the cooler temps....? skunk problem, now is that worse than snake problem? Yuck! We have snakes that slither a few feet from me now and then, I'm getting nightmares about them. Wondering if I should give gardening sometimes... :) I try really carefully to look everywhere before I step, which really slows down my pace (:

  9. My goodness you look like you have been very busy in your garden this week! That is too bad about the onions triggering your asthma! They look wonderful by the way. My squash are doing the same as yours, they are just not setting fruit at all! It's been a strange summer.