Jalapeño peppers galore

I picked a huge bowl full of jalapeño peppers today. There are still more on the plants, which is shocking to me. Over half of our plants were badly stunted by rodent damage, but with all this warm sunny weather most of them rebounded surprisingly well. Our last jar of cowboy candy (from 2 years ago) is in the fridge, so that is the destiny for all these new peppers.

Jalapeño peppers

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Pumpkins

I’ve got some pumpkins turning orange. Woohoo. I think fall is coming.

Pumpkin

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Seeing red … amaranth

I love growing amaranth because it’s so big, bold, and eye catching. Lee likes growing it for grain purposes. Right now we have three different varieties in our garden. One is a descendant from the Hartman’s Giant amaranth we grew in 2012. It popped up in the middle of a walk way and for some reason we let it stay.

Lee with Amaranth on August 14th

This volunteer plant has turned into the Eiffel Tower of our garden. We never watered or fertilized it and it’s determined to show off. The main stem is over 3 inches wide at the base!!

Amaranth

As a child I once got a free packet of Love Lies Bleeding amaranth. I remember staring at the picture on the packet and thinking how beautiful it was. I’m not sure why I didn’t try planting the seed.

This year I planted that same variety but somehow it didn’t live up to my childhood fantasy. How could it, when I have Hartman’s showing off its magnificent splendor a few feet away? Lee is pretty impressed with Love Lies Bleeding though. It would be low-yielding for grain, but the drooping heads are neat. The annoying thing about this stand is I had the bright idea to plant it right next to the tomato row. Now my tomatoes are a challenge to pick.

Love Lies Bleeding amaranth

The third variety we have growing is Oeschberg amaranth. Lee and I were disappointed in it because, well….Hartman’s. In the seed catalog it was described as resembling an “octopus waving its tentacles,” and somehow our mental image of that and reality don’t match up. Also, it’s a 3 foot variety and we were expecting another 8 foot variety. It is very pretty but the foliage always seems stressed. This area of the garden has a known symphylan problem so maybe that is affecting it a little. I think the picture below looks like the amaranth is futilely trying to hold back the tide of squash.

Oeschberg amaranth

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Dreaming of Flea Beetle deaths

Our garden is being besieged by Flea Beetles. It’s been going on for the last two weeks and the Flea Beetles are winning. We always have a problem with them, but this year has been different. They have been draping themselves in many victorious poses that all end with us cursing and them giggling. At least that is what I think is happening. They are very hard to hear.

We have sprinkled D.E. liberally many times and they give us the finger. We Pyrethrum them dead and they are parading in battle formation two days later. I’m not sure what to do next as they are decimating some of our plants. Does anyone have a suggestion for killing tiny beetles?

Annoying little turds

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Wild goose chase

Lee wanted to leg band our original four geese and their one stupid offspring before the current year’s crop of goslings grew up. You can’t tell who is who when they are adults as Toulouse geese all look alike.

The wild domesticated goose chase started with seventeen lumbering angry geese rushing towards me when we cornered them. It was a little intimidating, at least to me, so we decided to divide and conquer. That worked slightly better but the fatties were still too fast. Lee whipped up a makeshift crook from hazelnut limbs and wire. He managed to crook two of them and basically squished the other three on the ground so I could catch them. By the fifth goose I was a little sad we were done, as I was having a lot of fun chasing and holding them.

We used black zip ties to mark the geese because the feed store leg bands were too small. The two males were banded on the right leg and the three females on their left. (We mostly guessed at the gender based on size.) I believe Lee has plans this fall for some goose dinners. At least I hope he does, because seventeen geese is a little much.

Geese doing nothing important

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Dry gardened Red LaSoda potatoes

We dug up our Red LaSoda potatoes last week and they weighed in at fifty nine pounds. I’m thinking that is not a bad return on 3.8 pounds of spuds planted in a twenty five foot row (2.4 lbs/ft). We’ve had a super hot summer for Oregon but the dry gardening has not affected yields like we thought it would. The German Butterballs and Purple Peruvians are still growing so we have to wait on the final tally. Those are the two varieties we are most excited about.

Red LaSoda potatoes

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Rotten fence post

This past spring we noticed the fence post that our gate hung on was loose. By summer the whole post would swing wildly back and forth as we opened and closed the gate. We installed this fence five years ago to the month.

Lee finally dug a hole by the post so we could see what was going one. It’s rotted and about to break off at ground level. None of our other wood fence posts have displayed this sort of problem so hopefully it’s just a one-off. The posts are all from a small local business with a reputation for quality. We haven’t fixed it yet as we are mulling over how we are going to repair it.

Rotten post

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Big Daddy onions

I pulled my yellow onions yesterday and laid them out to dry. We subsequently read that you should wait for all the tops to fall over for maximum yield, but many of these Big Daddy onions are already huge. We’ll leave the red onions to fall over on their own.

Lee and I were pretty happy with our harvest until we realized it was less than a month’s supply for us. Onions are a staple around here. If we are going to become onion self-sufficient, we’ll need to plant at least 8 rows in the future. Better luck at catching gophers would help too.

Pulled onions

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Beauty and the practical beast

Today I put the sauerkraut I started at the beginning of the month into pint jars. The wine kraut fermented in a two-dollar two-gallon food grade bucket with an airlock. The regular sauerkraut fermented in a 10 liter Harsch crock with a water seal lid.

Plastic verses ceramic

Before we started the second batch of kraut, we needed a fermentation container. I really wanted another water seal crock but I didn’t want to spend the money for it. Harsch crocks are no longer available and the Nik Schmitt equivalent is even more expensive. We picked up the bucket and airlock at our local home brew store for under five dollars. I felt happy we saved money but bummed out because the water seal crocks are awesome.

After using both of them I was surprised at which one I preferred. The plastic bucket was easier to move, easier to fill, easier to clean and I didn’t have to worry about the water seal running dry. The down side was it didn’t have stone weights and it looks ugly.

The ceramic crock scratches the counter every time I move it (which will be a problem when we have nicer counters). The water seal gets slimy and ran out of water a couple times which made the brine inside evaporate a little. It’s a pain to move (HEAVY) and a pain to wash. I also chipped the lip a few days ago when I hit it with our glass flour jar. The only upside I can see is that it’s pretty–like leave on your countertop even when it’s empty pretty. It makes you feel equal parts posh hipster and authentic German grandmother.

The one difference I saw between the two sauerkrauts was that the kraut in the bucket fermented faster, so the kraut in the crock was crunchier. The ceramic crock has more thermal mass, so it seemed to stay cooler during the day and slowed the fermentation rate.

Kraut in the fridge

I’m loving the Wine Kraut I made. We have five pints of it and nine pints of regular sauerkraut. Some of our friends loved the sweet kraut I made last time, so I am anxious to see how they react to these new versions.

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The squash are taking over

We have two rows of squash that are trying to crowd their way into other rows. The rows contain a total of 12 plants: Jackpot zucchini, Baby cucumber, Tiny bottle gourd, Table Ace acorn squash, and two each of Marina di Chioggia, Galeux d’ Eysines, Silver Edge seed squash, and Tom Fox jack o’ lanterns.

Squash

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