Last post for October — long winded as it may be!
BATTLE OF THE MITES
There’s a serious battle going on right now in the garden, a battle against the spider mites. This year we experienced the worst infestation we have ever seen since we began gardening (due to the unusual wet winter). We are not alone in this infestation. Other gardeners in the area, too, noticed an increase in disease and “bad bugs” this year. Time is critical–we need to destroy these pesky nemeses before they over-winter and survive to live another year and ruin yet another growing season.
These tiny mites are still attacking the tomatoes. The predator mites don’t seem to be doing too good a job at eradicating them (no decrease in the spreading of the mites after releasing hundreds of their predators ). We rarely spray any organic insecticides, usually allowing nature to balance itself out but she’s needing some help this time. In a pinch when we do spray and don’t make our own we have used ‘Safer Insecticidal Soap.’ But with this infestation this brand soap hasn’t done anything! A friend, and local nursery man, told us “this stuff is so safe, even for the ‘bad bugs’!”
So, it’s time to bring out a weapon of mass destruction and a natural born killer – neem ( a tree of many uses). Justin sprayed the infested plants on Friday. We notice an odd smell in certain parts of the yard; however, it’s not too bad a smell. Really hopes this works to kill all those little buggers!
The fall crop of beans has been productive. We harvested 5 lbs on Friday which provided us with more meals made from fresh garden produce. Yesterday for dinner, we ate a huge bowl of tender steamed beans with limas (all from the garden) over rice – simple, but yummy. We’ll enjoy more beans again today!
If the weather keeps up, we’ll be eating tomatoes, peppers and beans through November — perhaps December? The snow peas are chest high and blooming, so their sweet pods are not far behind. As for the sweet potatoes, we should harvest them in a few weeks time. The salad greens are filling out the raised beds like a carpet (“square inch gardening” is what we like to call our method of sowing ), providing us with salads all winter and spring. Crisp and spicy radishes are ready and they add another wonderful flavor to the salads. We are, however, craving fruit. Especially apples. So I will keep my eyes peeled for organic, California grown ones in the market.
In the meantime, to satisfy our fruit cravings, the pomegranates were harvested today which will be a great vitamin C boost to our diet. The guavas (pink and red) will be ready soon. I am quite sure that they are ripening much later than they did the previous year. The citrus trees (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange and tangerine) are filled with green fruit, awaiting the right mix of temperatures to turn color and ripen. The passion fruit vines are dotted with little green fruit and those, too, should ripen very soon. If they all ripen at once we shall be enjoying tropical fruit through the holidays.
A few disappointments in the garden this year were, again, the humongous kiwi vine. This year we were hopeful in spotting first ever flowers. Unfortunately, those flowers failed to produce fruit. Don’t know how much longer to give these three vines ( 2 female, one male) more chances. The vines are over 4 years old now, time enough to be mature to give fruit. The vine is stunning, yet a waste, if not producing – especially in such a small growing area where productive space is vital.
The animals are doing well. The ducks are still producing eggs. These two are certainly dependable layers, more so than chickens (don’t have to deal with female chicken tantrums, otherwise known as broodiness). The chickens are, sadly, finished laying. No more “sunshine eggs” as we like to call their eggs. Since they are bantams they don’t lay for very long. They lay for only 3-4 years and, since we got the chickens in 2002 (that long ago already!), the ladies are nearing old age. Lucky for them, we don’t eat/use many eggs and are vegetarian so there is no danger of them ending up in a stew pot. So, they happily live out their retirement years, hanging with the bunny and ducks and scratching and digging to their hearts’ content for bugs and other crawly things in the soil.
Jordanne and I have finally started work on the new PTF site. Having finally finished tweaking the template, we are now putting the pages together with text, links and photos. The process of redesigning the site has been going slower than expected due to our having to learn a new web design program – Dreamweaver. The new site will certainly be easier to navigate with more detailed info on steps we have taken in our journey – more documentation of our steps. Jordanne’s been working on the photo gallerynew header logo(still has yet to link the top menu bars as she works to figure out how to tweak the coding). Besides that, there seem to be problems with viewing the gallery with Firefox – darn all those different browsers! Doesn’t make our job any easier.
We splurged a little and we are getting a few more oil lamps for the home. I did score on Ebay, getting three old oil lamps for $8! Going to be placing them throughout the house to give us light during the winter months.
The nighttime and morning temps are in the mid 50’s now. Yet, for us, it’s not really cold at all since a few of us are walking around the house in bare feet still. At least it’s a crisp cold and the sun is out (big plus!). At night we still sleep with a few windows open. The front and back doors are kept open to let in fresh air in the morning and left open throughout the day. Soon it will be time to bring out extra blankets for the beds and dress in layers (and put on socks!). Over the years we have become hardy, acclimating to the change of seasons and temps (think our camping experiences help). Our old house is/was only heated by a gas floor furnace which we haven’t used for many, many years.
Instead, we have a small electric heater that we plug in and only when necessary in rooms that in are use. It’s not worth heating the whole house if you only are in a couple of rooms for a few hours (just like it is with unnecessary lights).
When the days get cold and damp (and we do get those sometime around January and last till about March) we do use the heater to get the chillness/dampness out of the air and, oh, can this old houses be downright cold somedays. Of course, that is when our bedrooms feel like Siberia (in my room especially– we jokingly say that we can hang meat in it) but once you get under the covers, who really cares? Lucky for us it’s really cold a few months out of the year, so what’s toughing it out for a couple months anyhow.
Thankfully, we have a huge south east facing window in the dining room which allows the sun to heat up the most used living quarter. And, as for the living vines that provided the house with shade during the summer, it’s time to cut them back, allowing the sun to shine back in and warm the place. This year, however, we are looking into replacing the electric heater with an oil one since we heard they were more efficient. One day, perhaps, we’ll get our roof fixed so we can use the fireplace. In the meantime, we find ways to keep warm.