Sunday, August 23, 2009

End of Season Chores

I spent some time pulling weeds this morning. Pulling weeds is good for the soul. It can get rid of a lot of frustration. After the weed pulling, I started a not-so-enjoyable pulling chore. I had to pull up and throw away the blight stricken tomato plants.

It was a sad chore. They were loaded with blight stricken tomatoes in various stages of growth, cut short by disease. Yesterday I picked ripe and green tomatoes that were not affected by blight. We had a big pan of fried green tomatoes for supper, yummy to be sure, but not what I had intended.

I also pulled up the white and zucchini squash vines this morning. They were no longer producing and it was time for them to go into the compost pile. The tomato plants were not compost bound, they went on the brush pile. There is no use spreading the disease by using the sick plants for compost. The early cucumber vines are also composting.

I love to make compost. Made from the discarded portions of plants; peelings, dead leaves, grass clippings, rotting vegetables and fruits, it turns into something necessary for the life of plants. Rich compost added to the soil is nature's fertilizer. It is full of nutrients and useful bacteria the plants need to grow up healthy and strong.

I think it just goes to show that even the awful, rotten things that happen to us can be recycled into positive, useful things. We just have to put them in our personal compost pile and let them provide the fertilizer (knowledge and wisdom) for future growth.

Friday, August 21, 2009


It is apparently inevitable that blight will get my tomatoes before the end of the season. It must be on every grain of soil at Shady Hollow, for no matter where I grow tomatoes it always strikes just as they start ripening.

I noticed the signs of a blight attack earlier this week. Leaves and fruit turning black. Leaves wilting and fruit rotting on the vine. The attack is in full swing now. I'm saving what I can. Tomorrow I will probably make fried green tomatoes from what's left of the fruit.

The tomatoes are in a location where I've never grown them before. I had held out hope they would remain blight free. Next year, I will begin spraying them with anti-fungal spray when I first set them out. I'll keep you posted as to how that works. but for this year, they are gonners.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Bottle Tree

I made a bottle tree this summer. The idea is not original, apparently it is something that has been done all over this country for years. I had never seen one until I stumbled across one on They have a forum called Garden Junk which allows readers to showcase junk items they have recycled into garden ornaments. That same forum is where I came up with the idea for turning an old grill we had into a planter.

The bottle trees I looked at made me think of the wine bottles we had saved because they were so pretty and because for a time Jim made incense burners from them. He would sandblast an image on the bottle and a small hole near the base for air circulation. They are beautiful and make a nice way to burn incense without getting the ash everywhere.
He can no longer get to his shop (downstairs) and the bottles were just sitting there.

I found some long nails and a hammer and set to work on my stump. I hadn't been at it for very long when someone asked me what was I doing. I looked up from my work to see my neighbor, Rodney, and his dog. He had the strangest look on his face.

I thought that I must indeed look strange. My hair was down instead of in its usual ponytail (it is waist length) and in disarray from my bottle and nail gathering expedition in the basement. I was hammering nails into a rotting stump and had a basket of wine bottles sitting nearby. Yep, Rodney was probably thinking I had stopped taking my medication.

"I heard you hammering and wanted to see what you were up too," Rodney said. He had an even stranger look when I told him I was making a bottle tree. "OK", he started backing away. "Is Jim around?" Jim had just came out onto his ramp and Rodney went off to talk to him. I figured to ask if I was OK.

Due to the poor condition of the stump, I had some trouble with my bottle placement. The end result is fairly decent though. I have another stump at the bottom of the garden and the fairies have assured me that it is OK to make them a bottle tree. I just have to find more colored wine bottles.

And, my status as the neighborhood eccentric has been assured for at least one more year.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Harvest Update

The little veggie patch I planted has surpassed my wildest dreams. We have given away vegetables and I am now freezing some for our future use. I planted in the pottager style and included vegetable plants in among my flowers this year. The result has been fantastic as far as yield, but has had some unexpected results as well.

For instance, the tomato plants next to my garden shed have outgrown their cages and spilled into the path leading up to the shed. It is going to be nearly impossible to get the lawnmower out without damaging the tomato plants. This last weekend it made a perfect excuse not to cut grass, but sooner or later I will have to get that mower out.

The yellow squash I planted in the front bed are completely surrounded by flowers, making it difficult to find the little squash. Its like an adult Easter Egg hunt among the flowers when I go harvesting.

The only real "failure" I've had so far is with okra. A few plants came up, but they have never done well. I'll try again next year, but will have to visit our local farmers for okra this year.

The flowers are fantastic. The cannas on the deck and by the shed are healthy and happy. At this point about half are blooming with the rest to bloom within the week. These are all new to me, some purchased, others given to be by a dear friend, after mine failed to survive the winter. This picture is of one called "Princess Di." I'll take better measures to protect them this winter.