Sunday, June 17, 2007

Today's garden news ...

... is all about the fish! There's nothing happening with the garden anyway. It's very hot, and the tomatoes are just getting bigger. The beans are languishing, although the pots are very moist. Everything is doing what it's supposed to.
A friend of mine is visiting overnight -- we're leaving early tomorrow for New York, and it's easier for her to stay here than it is to drive to the airport from her house. So I've been cleaning like a madwoman. You know, vacuuming the window blinds, cleaning the windows, scrubbing the bathroom. She's only going to be here for a few hours, but I still want everything to be sparkling. BUT, at the same time I'm avoiding doing everything I need to finish, so in practicing said avoidance, I decided to strip down the aquarium and scrub it in an effort to get rid of the algae once and for all. I'm tired of trying to see the fish through green water, and I'm sure they're tired of having to live in it.
So I put the fish in their bucket filled with aquarium water and an airstone and drained the tank. I washed the gravel three times, until the water ran clear and not green. I scrubbed the plants, the filter intake tubes, the air tubing and the large rocks. Then I put everything back in place and refilled the tank. It's quite a shock to the fish to do things so drastically, so I've been trying to get rid of the algae without stripping the tank. No luck -- so drastic times call for drastic measures. At least now the tank is clean and sparkling. I keep to a pretty regular maintainance schedule, and maybe I'll be able to keep the algae away. In my research to see what's causing the problem, I read that when full spectrum lights get old, they don't work properly and that sometimes allows algae to get out of hand. If it comes back, I'll try replacing them. I can't remember when I set up this aquarium originally -- maybe autumn? I know it was before the holidays. I also put Algon in the filter, and maybe now that things are clean, that will help. It didn't do anything to clear up the problem over the last few months, though.
So now I have happy fish, or at least fish I can see, and I still have to finish cleaning. Better go!
PS -- That's Sushi on the left. She's camera-shy, and I usually can only get photos of the back of her. Her tail is gorgeous, so maybe that's what she wants everyone to see. The other fish is Anjin-san. I don't know why -- perhaps the fact that they're Japanese goldfish (Ryukins) and Shogun is one of my favorite movies? I've had them for over a year (their bodies were the size of a quarter when I bought them, and now Sushi weighs 15 ounces -- yes, I weighed them before I put them in the bucket). I assume she's a female since she's larger, but they haven't shown any breeding behavior. I don't think they're old enough yet. Once they outgrow this aquarium, I'm going to send them to live with a friend of mine who has a pond in his back yard. I don't have room for a larger tank. Hopefully that will be a while ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tomayto, Tomahto

However you may say it, I'm going to have some! In just four short weeks, give or take a few days, these little marble-size beauties will be red, ripe, sliced and slathered with mayo (fat-free, of course) on whole wheat bread. And possibly bacon. Too bad my lettuce didn't last longer ...

It's blasted hot out there today. I'm glad I got all the garden chores done early yesterday morning. Such that they were -- I'm so used to spending hours weeding, planting and watering that the hour I spent outside yesterday morning tending to my pots seems almost a cheat. Can I really call this gardening?

Why yes, I can!

This morning I congratulated myself on the fact that I went to Wally-World and only spent $80 -- a minor miracle. Then I stopped at the grocery store to pick up the things I couldn't get at WW and spent another $80. Sigh.

Other weekend news -- well, there's none. I spent an hour or so gardening yesterday, came in and took a nap, cooked the beans and some corn on the cob for a light, vegetarian dinner, cut out and mounted some rubber stamps and called it a night. Today I shopped in the morning, put groceries away, took a nap and just looked at the clock and realized it's almost 6:00! No wonder the pups are pestering me to go out!

Hasta la vista, baby! (remember Terminator?)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My first harvest

Here they are -- 2-1/2 pounds of beautiful yellow and green beans, destined to become part of my dinner tonight and tomorrow night, and then bean salad for lunch the next few days after that. Aren't they pretty?

This particular type of yellow bean is called Soleil. They all mature at the same time, and it doesn't look like I'll get a second harvest because there were no further flowers on the plants. Many of the plants were finished, so I cut them off to allow more air and sun for the other plants. I didn't pull them out because I didn't want to disturb the roots of the plants that are left. The green beans have more flowers, so I'll get a second smaller harvest from them in a few weeks. In the meantime, I have another container of yellow beans with many flowers that will turn into ready-to-pick beans in about two weeks.

Here's another drawback to this type of garden. In my earth gardens, I had produce all summer -- enough to freeze so that I could have beans of all sorts, squash and fresh tomato salsa and sauces into the winter. I could never freeze enough for the entire winter -- my freezer wasn't that large. That certainly won't be the case with what I'm growing now.

While I was picking beans this morning, I was looking over the other plants and finally discovered what's been eating at the crazy-daisy buffet. Two Japanese beetles were snuggled cozily among the petals. Not for long! I used to think Japanese beetles were beautiful when I was a child. I still do, only now I know how destructive they can be. I knocked them off and stepped on them, only cringing slightly at the rather loud crunch they made under the heel of my shoe. So there Daisy-Eating-Beetles! And I dare all your friends to munch on my flowers!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It's a jungle out there!

Literally! The beans are spilling out of their container and trailing bean vines all over the patio. The tomato plants are as tall as I am -- already! I found more flower bracts today, so I really think I'll get a decent crop of tomatoes. I can't wait!

Good organic fertilizer and a constant water supply -- and look what happens! Scott, you really need to buy some of this fertilizer!

I didn't downsize the photo, so you'll be able to click on it to enlarge and see the actual beans! I'd like to put text on the photo to direct you to what I'd like you to see, but my photo program doesn't do that.

I pulled out the wilty lettuce and planted the snapdragons, parsley and chives I brought back from PA. I cut off all the blooms and placed them behind the tall zinnias so that they'll get some relief from the afternoon sun. I'm sure the snaps will bloom again in a few weeks. I really like the way snapdragons smell, but these smelled different than any others I've ever grown before. Their scent reminded me of black licorice. I'll let them reseed at the end of the season, and between them, the daisy, the herbs and the ruffled coneflower I plan to buy next year for this container, this pot will take care of itself. I'll just have to keep it watered and add fertilizer during the growing season. You have to love perennials!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Why, hello Miss Daisy!

Isn't she pretty? She isn't even fully open yet. I love Shasta Daisies -- especially the Crazy Daisy variety. The others shastas are a bit more reliable bloomers, but they don't have the personality of Miss Crazy. The petals go this way and that -- some are thin and some are wide. Too bad they don't have a scent.

The dogs are recuperating nicely from their trip (as am I). We napped most of the weekend away, and I went to work refreshed and ready for new challenges. I have another group of pattern books to get started on, but only three instead of ten. I'm actually looking forward to working on them! Planning the designs is my favorite part of putting pattern books together. I love it when the plan comes together and the book looks like I think it will. Sometimes when working with multiple designers that can be a bit risky. I have a 2-day photo shoot scheduled this week, and a 2-day trip next week and the week after -- this month will be busy!

In other garden news, the beans are getting beans! Some are ready to pick now, but I'll probably wait another few days until I can pick enough for dinner. These varieties aren't supposed to get stringy, so it's fine to wait a bit. The anticipation of eating them is almost as good as actually eating them! The lettuce is just about ready to pull out. It's been hot here, and while it hasn't bolted, it stays wilted most of the time. I brought a flat of snapdragons back with me from PA, and I'll plant them there. If I cut off all the blooms, they'll bloom again when the weather cools off a bit. The tomatoes doubled in size while I was gone. Each plant has a flower bract, and one of the flowers has a tiny tomato inside. I'll probably be able to pick them in early to mid July. All of the herbs are growing nicely (despite being planted in self-watering containers -- so there, self-watering-container-book author whose name I can't remember who said they wouldn't do well with a constant water source), and I brought back parsley and chives to plant. The lavender is still a no-show. I'm pretty sure I did plant the seeds -- the packet is empty. Lavender is just difficult to start from seed.

The only thing I have left to plant is the trombocino squash, which I'll try to do one evening this week. It's getting ready to storm and my pizza was just delivered (thank you Papa Johns), so I won't do it tonight. Squash is a summer plant, and we still have a long summer left, so I'm not worried about planting it late.