Garden Rows

Tuesday, September 27

Scale-y Aloe

The scale is back.  Every so often I do battle with this pesky little bug.

Pretty good looking aloe huh?  Lets take a closer look, shall we.

Scale has armor that is too tough for just a spray attack.  I have to go in fingernail deep and get dirty.  Squishing these pesky things is the most effective way to actually kill them.

These little suckers attach them self to a spot on a plant and do not move (they are immobile) and stay there just drinking the life out of the leaves, one by one.

The tell-tail signs that scale have visited a leaf are shown above.  It looks like small holes have been burned into the leaf and it shrivels and turns yellow before finally dying and falling off.

Scale really like my aloe.  I have actually lost an entire pot of aloe to these tiny vampires.  Don't think I didn't fight!  I used a mild soap and water solution once or twice a week thinking they might suffocate (maybe I should have tried holy water).  I even re-potted with fresh soil and cleaned each individual leaf of each plant with neem oil. Eventually I was able to save one of the pots of aloe.

I found a few baby aloe plants today as I went pinching and poking my way through the armored bugs.  Some of the plants that had been fairly damaged were sending out roots towards the top healthy parts of the plants in hopes of survival.

I decided it would be in their best interest to not return them to the pot seeing as they are so young and juicy, they would make a delicious meal for a battalion of hungry scale soldiers.

If you notice you have a plant that has been invaded, get ready for battle.  Separate it from any other plants.  There are thousands of species of scale, and they vary greatly in what they can do and how they function.  Though the basic bit is that they suck the sap from the plant's vascular system.  While the actual scale bug is immobile (I think the female stays this way through her life) there are some (I think the male) that can move.  Infestations can spread quickly.  Be persistent, the moment you back down they will regain all the ground that took you so long to attain.  Web sites say to toss the plant if the infestation is too bad.  Hmm, how determined are YOU?

I got some info from wikipedia, and gardening know how

Thursday, September 22

Nostalgic Apples

One of the things I wanted to do on my birthday was go to Musgrave Orchards.  My Husband and I took it easy that day with out any real plan.  As the beautiful afternoon grew old we decided that we would save the orchard visit for the next day.  It turned out to be a good thing we waited until Wednesday because they are open Wednesday thru Sunday and we would have been sad to find it closed on Tuesday afternoon.

In a few weeks this porch will be loaded with pumpkins and hay bails and scarecrows and all those festive things that make us think of fall in Indiana.  I can vaguely remember making a trip or two to this sweet little  place when I was pretty little.  It might be more the feeling I get being there than any actual memories of a specific event.  Ah nostalgia!

When we walked in I was surprised to see only 2 big baskets of apples.  There was also a small selection of veggies.  The apples were Golden Delicious (well known by most due to over saturation of the market by two famous apples: Red and Golden Delicious) and Redfree.  I have never heard of Redfree.  Among the suggested uses on the sign was apple sauce.  The main reason I went.

I made apple sauce last fall and loved it!  I got a 1/2 peck of the Redfree for just over $5.  What a deal.  Local apples grown by local people!

Aren't they beautiful?
I thought since I was there and the sweet potatoes looked so nice that we might as well get a few for baked sweet potato goodness.

They are about a 1/3 the size of the monsters in the grocery store.  I kind of wonder how normal those giants are...

Feeling the festive autumn season we also got a few bundles of cute little multi-colored corn.  The ears are about 4 inches long.

Our lovely little bounty

This is only the beginning of my Musgrave Orchards season.  I will be back.  I love supporting a local farm.  Oh! We can't forget the cider!!!  We got a 1/2 gallon.  It is great cold, hot, hot and spiced, or with a splash of whiskey.  I suggest you check them out or re-discover them, whatever the case may be.  (no, I have not been paid to say these things :~} )

Random extra apple tidbits:

Here is an apple description website that seems handy-dandy.  

Last week I randomly watched a documentary about apple orchards in Washington state called Broken Limbs.  Informative and inspiring. 

Enjoy the height of Autumn!

Wednesday, September 21

Petite Potatoes

My garden gave me a nice birthday surprise.

The potatoes I planted earlier in the summer died back, so after setting the tent out to dry (the weekend camping trip was rather soggy) I decided to get my fingers dirty and dig into the potato pot.

I was not sure what kind of gold nuggets I would find.  The plants were pretty short lived so I did not expect anything like the size of the potatoes in a grocery store.

Not a bad harvest.  Potatoes for a small pot of soup!

You can make fun of me for keeping the ones that are the size of peas if you want, but they will still be good in soup!

There is a nice turtle shell type of texture to the skins of these little guys.  I have no idea why that happened, but the skins do not seem extra thick, so I think all will be fine.

A nice birthday gift from the garden.

Tuesday, September 13

A Sip of Nectar

I was out on the back porch with a glass of tea (with watermelon ice) poking around on the camera when I heard a familiar little chirp.  I slowly looked up only to miss the tiny hummingbird flitting away.  When she came back for another sip of nectar I was ready!

It was a bit breezy making the flower sway about, so she had to take a little rest.

It is difficult to get a good picture.  These little guys are on to the next thing before you can hardly catch up to the first!  She was trying to perch on the blossom, but the breeze was a bit much.

I know there are two that visit sometimes.  I have tried to figure out how to make a hummingbird feeder because I have been too cheap to spend $16 on one in the store.  Kohl's sent me a $10 gift card for my birthday, maybe I will see what they have.  If I get one out soon I can help the tiny things fatten up for their trip South in the next few weeks.

Doesn't the Hibiscus just look appetizing?

Speaking of tiny things, have you ever noticed how sweet and dainty catnip flowers are?

On a completely unrelated note: my banana peppers have started turning purple on the bottom.  Like they were dipped in purple powder.  Remember the purple jalapeno?  That guy turned green again before I picked it.  Apparently it was too close to the sweet red pepper and cross-pollinated.  It was the sweetest jalapeno I have ever had!  I will see what happens with the banana peppers, though I do not think it is a cross-pollination issue here because the closest sweet red pepper plant is about 10 feet away.  Then again, the bees do get around.

I noticed the same thing is happening at the joints of this plant also.  It is kinda cool looking what ever the cause.

Tuesday, September 6

A Blue Secret

I did it again.  I made another orchid purchase.  This one seemed to be in better health from the start, time will tell.  Oh, by the way, it's BLUE.

I have been eyeing the blue and purple ones for a while, but felt they were too expensive.  This guy was half off, imagine.  The plant and root system looked healthy enough, and it was in a pot with drainage holes.  Major improvement from the plants they had earlier in the summer.

I have been trying to decide if they are blue naturally or if something is done to make them blue.  All the joints on the flower spike have a blueish cast and even the leaves had some blue along the center vain or if there was a slight injury.  I tried to get pictures, it just does not show very well.

The other day I noticed a rather large hole in the side of the flower spike.  There was a suspicious saturation of blue in this area.  I feel my confirmation came this morning when I put the (now 2) orchids on the bathroom counter while the shower was running so that they could enjoy 10 minutes of humidity.  As I was checking out their general state of being I touched the flower spike near the bored hole and my finger turned blue.  There was a bit of blue condensation.  Yep, confirmed.

My heart is not broken (though my husband may be sad).  Based on the colors, I bet it will look much like the first one I bought only larger.

What ever color it ends up being, I will just be happy if I can keep it alive until the day it blooms again.  I will leave you with one more nice blue picture.

Monday, September 5

Garden Visit ~ Klein Parents

It's hard to believe that it was last Tuesday that my husband and I piled the dog, our toothbrushes and a nice little gift into the truck for a trip to Indy.  My one and only nephew turned 1 last week!  He is a giggly red headed little guy! It was a sweet party.  My brother, the proud papa, made an awesome carrot cake.  I brought my camera with me but forgot to take pictures.  oops

We packed our toothbrushes so we could stay the night with the Klein parents and not have to drive back home that night.  So the next morning after breakfast, I pulled out the camera to take pictures of the back yard.  I know, less exciting than a 1 year old birthday party.  But this blog is about gardens.

I got a few seeds from this Cana lily.  Hummingbirds like the bright red flowers.

The Klein parents have always had a fair amount of plants and landscaping around the house.  I think they got more adventurous living in Florida.

I remember there being a few orchids hanging on the lanai when they lived in Florida.  I thought that it was probably the best environment for them since it was hot and kinda humid.  Really, they can be grown anywhere as long as the conditions are right.  Theirs have been hanging in trees in the back yard this summer.

This one put out a flower spike and is now growing a new leaf.

This one is also putting out a new leaf.  There is a regular afternoon rain shower/sometimes storm in FL in the later part of summer.  I guess despite the lack of consistent rain this summer the orchids have adjusted to Indiana!

This summer my dad has been working with Geist Nursery.  I think this is why they have tomato plants coming out their ears.  50 or so seedlings on a tray does not look like too much really . . . but once they grow up a bit and need their own space, it's another story!

Moses thinks he is hunting down what ever it is that keeps eating all the tomatoes just before they turn ripe.  This bed is along the garage.

This is about the ripest tomato I saw that was not a miniature variety.  Apparently the squirrels have been getting to the fruit before any people have a chance to pick a ripe tomato.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?!

Here is the row along the driveway.  The are pups patrolling the perimeter.  Izzi loved spending the night with these two!  The odds are pretty good that we will look for another pup soon, I think I had as much fun watching them play as they had playing.

Cute little tomatoes along the driveway.

These little gems are on a "bush" at the corner of the house.

This huge plant is over 6 feet tall.  There are 3 steps up to a door on the right side of this picture just to give you an idea of scale.  The little plant in front of the tomato bush, er-uh, I mean tre . . . plant is a green pepper.  My dad has hooks screwed into the side of the house to tie this monster to so it can stand up.

Izzi found something growing in the back of the yard.

It is a squashy sort of plant spreading out to it's hearts delight.

There is a little baby acorn squash.  That will make for some yummy autumn/winter dinner!
I hope you have enjoyed the tour through the first guest garden.

Sunday, September 4

Ice cream (part 2)

We all have a favorite flavor of ice cream.  Even I, the girl who will enjoy any flavor, am partial to vanilla.  Boring? I think not!  My husband on the other hand is not obsessed like me, but he does like ice cream. We can only find his favorite flavor in one place.  The Chocolate Moose makes an ice cream called Grasshopper.  I have no idea where they came up with the name because there are not any bugs in it!  Grasshopper is a mint ice cream with oreo cookie chunks.  So good.

I have a few varieties of mint growing in pots.  Pineapple mint, regular, and catnip.  That's right, catnip is part of the mint family.  More about that later.  I thought I would attempt to make some Grasshopper ice cream.  I got some oreo's, milk and cream, cut some pineapple and regular mint and went to town.  I used the Scoop Adventures Double Mint recipe plus cookies.  I put the oreo chunks in the ice cream maker in the last 10 minutes of churning.  The paddle beat the cookies into smithereens leaving me with a batch of brown mint ice cream.  Not too appetizing really.  I added some more cookie chunks and a bunch of green food coloring as I put it in the container.  It helped.  I learned somethings and tried it again!

This time with 3 mints . . . including catnip.

I wanted to make a double batch and did not quite have enough regular mint, so really that is the reason I threw in a little catnip, just to make up the difference.  If you want to try this, just be aware, catnip seems to be a strong flavor and nearly overpowered the regular mint.  Catnip has a little more earthy flavor, but still lightly minty.

This time I made the ice cream and added the cookies as I spooned it into the container.  My husband helped with this part.  The result is a mint ice cream with oreo cookie chunks.

Well, it's melting, gotta go!

A bit about catnip:
If you drink mint tea, check out the ingredients list.  Some teas actually have catnip in them.  There are many uses for catnip.  Are you anxious, have a migraine, or an upset tummy? Try some catnip!  I am not suggesting that you will be instantly cured, but you might feel a bit better. There are some chemical compounds that are actually used in things you might be taking for some of these afflictions.  Here is a website that may provide more info if you are curious.

Ice Cream (part 1)

I am a big fan of ice cream.  Not sure I have mentioned that yet.  I found a fun blog called Scoop Adventures.  It is very pretty, and the recipes are really good.  I have made a half dozen or so and have modified a few others to fit the ingredients I had that day.  How does ice cream connect to a garden you might wonder, flavors of course!  The Scoop Adventures author is in the south where some kind of produce is in season most of the year, and people have papaya, fig or lime trees in their yards.  Yes I am a bit jealous of that.  Someday I will have a brown turkey fig that produces fruit in central IN, I promise.

Back to ice cream and gardens.  My friend Alex and I went to the Farmers Market on a mission to get a watermelon.  We got a nice medium sized red seedless from a vendor that has had amazing watermelons this summer.  The next day we made Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet.  I knew it would be good, but tasting it once it was done was better than I had hoped!

We decided we better double the recipe (you know, so there would be enough for both of us,) but there was not quite enough lemon juice.  We decided it would be a good idea to make sure there was plenty of lemon zest to make up the difference.  We did not measure, I just eyeballed it.  I really have no idea how much zest there was in the end, but there was certainly enough, in a good way!

This is what was in the pan above: lemon juice and zest, sugar and corn syrup.  So simple.

I made sure nothing went to waste, the lemon remains went into a pitcher of tea as a refreshing ice cream morning beverage.

And the rind, well, Izzi likes watermelon, too.  (This is actually from an orange watermelon that I ate and did not use in the sorbet.)

A few hours later there was some amazing sorbet being removed from the ice cream maker.

For the recipe, visit Scoop Adventures Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet.