Monthly Archives: September 2013

Harvest moon

In honour of the upcoming harvest moon, I thought I’d look back on some of the harvests of the season:

Red and yellow pear tomatoes. I think there's some dandelion under there somewhere...

Red and yellow pear tomatoes. I think there’s some dandelion under there somewhere…

It's as big as my forearm! And was mighty tasty despite its size.

It’s as big as my forearm! And was mighty tasty despite its size.

Zucchini blossoms bring some brightness to the green of the cucumbers, dandelion, beans, sage and chives.

Zucchini blossoms add a splash of brightness to the greens – cucumber, zucchini, beet greens, peas, mint, chives and thyme

All stages of the 5 colour Chinese peppers represented: purple, white, yellow, orange and red!

All stages of the 5 colour Chinese peppers: purple, white, yellow, orange and red!

Goodness from the roots: beets and carrots

Goodness from the roots: beets and carrots

Beet power!!!

Beet power!!!

Eat your greens!

Eat your greens – red romaine and kale from my uncle’s greenhouse, with some chives thrown in for good measure

One of the first harvests: onions, pear tomatoes, a cracked acorn squash, and some herbs

One of the first harvests: onions, pear tomatoes, a cracked baby acorn squash (my cousin hit it with the lawnmower by accident), and some herbs (sage, mint, chives, and thyme)

Feast-a-plenty!

Feast-a-plenty!

Happy harvesting!

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Putting the garden to bed

I did some much needed clean up this past weekend.

Finally pulled up all the zucchini plants. There were a few tiny ones on the gigantic plant that I thought wouldn’t reach maturity now that the temperatures are starting to cool off. I didn’t realize there was a large one hiding underneath all the leaves until I started breaking them off. A welcome surprise! The plants all snapped at the base when I tried to remove them, leaving the roots deep within the soil. When I tried to remove the the large zucchini’s damaged root (the one destroyed by the squash vine borer), it broke it half and dust and flies came out. A worm also oozed its way out of the stump and back into the soil. It was pretty gross.

I pulled up my eggplants as well. They haven`t done anything for weeks. I did manage to harvest some seeds which I’m really happy about. I picked the seeds out of the pulp using a paring knife and then rinsed them according to the Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook I saved on my Resources page (I only remembered to consult the handbook when I started getting tired of picking out the seeds. They’re so tiny! I did one eggplant and gave up).

From the back: dill (in the bag), something, calendula, morning glory, eggplant (in the plate), someting, okra, peppers

From the back: dill (in the bag), nasturtium, calendula, morning glory, eggplant (in the plate), acorn squash, okra, peppers

I saved some morning glory seeds to try growing them in containers next year. I found a site that recommends using a tripod setup for the vines to climb. I thought it was a neat idea. I noticed today that a house on my relatives’ street in Hamilton that had a few pots on the porch with the same design.  The plants looked really beautiful.

I couldn’t help but take some pictures of the grasshopper I saw when I was taking down the sunflowers.

Peekaboo! Think you can hide from me?!

Peekaboo! Think you can hide from me?!

You'll notice there's a beetle inside the the exposed branch

You’ll notice there’s a beetle inside the the exposed branch underneath the grasshopper. I wonder if he’s helping to decompose the plant from the inside. It was pretty dry and dusty when I cracked it open.

He looks suspiciously like my friend with the one hind leg.

From this side, he looks suspiciously like my friend with the one hind leg from the other day.

I managed to give myself a few good scratches from this rusty support. I’m going to tell my uncle to discard it. It’s not safe.

Rusty support

Good thing my tetanus shots are up to date

I tried to dispose of all the normally decomposing plants in the compost and the ones that may have had some disease or infestation I separated out as garden waste. It’s a tough call to determine what should go where because sometimes I’m not entirely sure what normal decomposition looks like compared to disease. I put the small zucchini and newer leaves of the plant in the compost and saved the older leaves and the root for the garden waste.

I also tried to leave most of the roots in the soil by cutting off the plants at the base. This was suggested by one of my neighbours at the community garden last year. He said the roots were beneficial for the bugs in the soil.

I left the tomatoes because there was no more room in the compost and frankly I couldn’t deal with the mess. I’m hoping that before the fall frost comes around October 6th that some more of them will ripen.

Many tomatoes won't ripen

The tomato plants are sagging under their own weight

I can't believe it's finally growing!

I can’t believe it’s finally growing!

Seeing this parsley in the dandelion pot made me thinking that maybe it’s not too late to get some greens growing before a serious frost kills them off. In fact, I hear some greens taste better after a mild frost. I can probably make good use of the greenhouse once it really starts to get cold.

Kale, collards, and spinach seeds

I planted kale, collards, and spinach seeds. Sure hope they grow.

I put them in the greenhouse today. It’s supposed to dip down to  single digits again overnight.

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Critters: mimics, camouflage, and more ugly

In the last weeks of August, I probably spent more time photographing critters than doing any actual garden maintenance :). It’s amazing how much you can see when you walk around and just quietly observe. It’s like the whole garden wakes up before your eyes.

I was in the garden one evening a few weeks ago when I noticed this crazy-looking grasshopper sitting on a butternut squash leaf. I ran back inside to get my camera and take some shots:

Grasshopper on a butternut squash leaf

Looks like he would camouflage best in rocky areas.  I thought the raised areas of its head and thorax were interesting. He almost looks like a tank.

I think the pictures are blurry because it was early evening. Using flash just washed out everything. I should really learn the settings on my camera.

Another angle

Another angle

The next day I saw another grasshopper, a leaf mimicking insect, and another insect that I at first thought was a lacewing (because of its lace wings), but it looked nothing like the lacewings I found on the net.

Nearly stepped on this guy in the grass. Caught up with him on the fence.

Nearly stepped on this guy in the grass. Caught up with him on the fence. He jumped pretty high and far for only having one hind leg!

Saw this guy hanging out on my giant zucchini.

Saw this guy hanging out on my giant zucchini.

I really harassed the leaf insect. I kept poking his wings from behind, just to see what he would do. Most of the time he would just walk away until he finally got fed up and hopped out of sight. It sounded as if I flicked my finger against the zucchini leaf or a taught piece of tarp. I was surprised that something so small could make so much noise!

Had to get a good angle

Look at those eyes!

I have no idea what this is. He was camouflaged in the sage leaves.

The body looks too big to be a lacewing, yet it has lace wings. Hmmm....

The body looks too big to be a lacewing, yet it has lace wings. Hmmm…. Check out the antennae!

Back to the usual uglies:

I was upset when I discovered that these brightly coloured beetles, which I labelled as harmless flies, were the dreaded squash vine borer!!!

Squash vine borers on one of my zucchini plants

Squash vine borers on my zucchini near the strawberries

If I had known what they were, I would’ve killed them. No question. I was even more upset when I discovered from a University of Minnesota article that after the worm destroys the root, it bores its way into the soil to pupate and reemerge next spring! If I had known this, I would have pulled up the giant zucchini plant it had invaded! Well… it would have been a tough call. This plant produced an abundance of fruit despite the serious damage it sustained.

Squash vine borer damage

Look what it did to my giant zucchini! Absolutely shredded!

Earlier this summer when I looked closely at the big white patches on my beet greens, I noticed worms burrowing under a thin layer of the leaf’s surface! This was the first time I’d ever seen the leafminer worm. Although it’s really neat to see it underneath such a thin layer of the leaf, I kinda wish I’d never seen it. It’s pretty gross.

The dark stuff in the tract is poo or frass

The dark stuff in the tract is poo or frass

This guy has made a mess of this leaf!

This guy has made a mess of this leaf!

Leafminer eggs

Leafminer eggs

At least I know what the eggs look like now. I’d seen them earlier this summer when I was washing the greens for my family. I just washed them off. If I had told my sister what they were, the greens would have ended up in the garbage.

Not sure what this is. A spider perhaps?

Not sure what this is. A spider perhaps? I like the colour contrast against the leaf.

Cricket!

Cricket! These guys don’t stick around to be photographed.

Such a tiny guy made such a big hole!

A baby cabbage worm. Such a tiny guy made such a big hole!

Cabbage moth

Cabbage moth –  the final developmental stage of the cabbage worm (and the producer of more eggs) – on an acorn squash leaf

Leafhopper

Leafhopper – these guys suck the juices out of plant leaves, leaving them mottled and distorted

Cucumber beetles

Cucumber beetles mating in a zucchini flower

 

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