butterbeans, More gardening

Community Garden Plots

The one in front has a fire ant nest where those inherited day lilies are and about a dozen Henderson bush lima bean plants, as well as one okra, one tomato of forgotten variety, and one eggplant. I’ll be planting something here soon. Maybe more okra to go with the big butterbean harvest I hope to get from those towering bean poles in the background. I picked a double handful and hope to get enough extra to freeze for the winter. Lima beans don’t flower when it is very hot, and I got a late start on planting these. We finally had a break in the heat so I hope to get a good fall harvest.

(When I refer to butterbeans, I mean small lima beans, preferably green. Not the big brown mealy ones I’ve seen referred to as butterbeans, ugh. It’s a regional thing, I guess.)

Back Forty, butterbeans, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, More gardening, Rebel stitching

Here we go again

(Note: I forgot to click Publish when I wrote this on Monday night.)

The week before fall semester classes begin is always a huge adjustment. It feels like going from 0 to 60 suddenly. Gone are the quiet days with few people on the hallway. Now I get to meet about 30 new people and do some public speaking. I’ve come to think of this as my “Sanity Box,” a little box of magic that I can take out during a lunch or other break and just hem squares or stitch them together. No major thought is going into this. Just doing.

A lot of veggies and figs have to be dealt with also. I am much better this year than I have been most Augusts. I attribute this to adding fish oil and vitamin D to my daily supplements. My therapist had suggested the fish oil, and I was vitamin D deficient for a long time. I feel better physically and mentally, although I still tire very quickly. The muggy heat doesn’t help. Yesterday evening I picked tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, and figs, then cooked for a couple of hours. I still have a lot of cucumbers and figs to do something with. I don’t want to get out the canning equipment – it just seems like too much for too little, and I am not a huge pickle or jelly fan – but I don’t want them to go to waste. This weekend I put some cucumber slices in with my tomatoes and peppers in the electric dehydrator. They came out wispy and delicate, like soft thin leaves. I might experiment with this more. Sandy and I are planning a repeat of making fig newtons this weekend. Last year he made some good ones, but he baked them on the wrong kind of pan. The filling was great, though.

The butterbeans are overwhelming at the UNCG garden. Very tall and thickly planted. There was a lot of Japanese beetle damage at first but I outplanted them, I think. Hardly any beans, though. I think that the intense heat wave in July stopped them from flowering. I hope they will produce soon so I can get some bean in the freezer before a heavy frost happens. I pulled up most of the eggplants and the lemon cucumber vines. I was tired of them and the eggplants were buried by the bermuda grass and peppermint that I lost control of very early on. Once the Roma tomatoes and one zephyr squash plant are done, which should be before the end of the month, I am abandoning that plot. However, I do think that the grass and mint may have helped hold in moisture during the dry spell when I was traveling.

Sandy and I walked downtown on First Friday, heard music with friends on Saturday, and went to the Greensboro Science Center and out to dinner with a dear out-of-town friend on Sunday. So we had a busy social time. This poodle at Gate City Yarns agrees that Sandy is great and tried to lick him clean.

Lord, I just want to sleep and play in the studio. Daydreaming about going to Ireland. All the books I want to read. Weaving with cloth strips keeps nagging at me to come back to it. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. How do people get bored at home?

Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, critters, Greensboro North Carolina, Lake Waccamaw

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot post

Before I start the series of posts about our trip to Idaho and Wyoming, I need to sweep out my brain of the things unrelated to that first. So I made a second pot of coffee.

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Looking at the remnants of Florence from the air.

First off, we were not affected here at my house in Greensboro by Hurricane Florence. There is some flooding in the Greensboro area, but our housesitter kindly put a tarp on our outside basement door and sandbagged it for us, as well as securing the stuff on the front porch and the yard. We have a damp basement but it did not flood, and not even many limbs down since we had the large maple tree taken down a few weeks ago. Good timing that, and one reason I wanted it done before hurricane season began.

Lake Waccamaw is a whole different story. It took a direct hit. We won’t know the full extent of the damage for a while yet because the houses that belong to our family are on Canal Cove Road where the lake has merged with the canal and swamp behind it. Not only does that mean that there is 2-4 feet of water inside those houses, but that there are trees down under the water and alligators and cottonmouths and mats of fire ants enjoying a new range. My sister and brother-in-law prepped as best they could for several days and evacuated to Chapel Hill, where fortunately they had not sold their house yet. They know that the pier may be wiped out and the pontoon boat came loose and has been floating around bashing into stuff. Her furniture including antiques from my mother’s house are almost certainly ruined. The pier is not insured. The house and boat are, although the boat is really old and not worth that much. Fred and Weezer’s house, where we love to stay and I have written about many, many times, is underwater, as it was during Hurricane Floyd.

I have not heard from my brother in Lumberton, but he is not on the side of town that floods. My cousins are. I talked to him on Friday and they were hunkered down. I think that the main concern for him will be the farm. It backs up to Ashpole Swamp which backs up to the Lumber River near Fair Bluff. He leases most of the acreage but raises a few cows. It is beloved place for him, as the lake is for me.

So. I will update when I know more. Waters were still rising down east the last time I checked, and hopefully they will crest and go down soon. After Floyd it took two weeks before the roads were passable and Florence was worse.

The tomatoes and basil were looking rough, and what figs ripened seem to have been eaten by birds and ants. I cut the basil back hard and will make pesto and freeze it in an ice tray for cubes of flavor during this winter. I harvested two huge trombincino squash and one is actually a little past its prime. We’ll see whether it is just as good with a good peeling. The cheese pumpkin doesn’t seem to have been attacked by critters (fingers crossed). The vines have taken over our small back yard and would be producing like crazy but the fruit is rotting on the vine at a very young stage. I suppose this is blossom rot and will amend the soil if I plant these again. I have a new small crop of butterbeans and some banana peppers. A monarch butterfly laid eggs on a variety of milkweed I planted and the caterpillars have eaten up the plants. I don’t know what they will do now. I hope that they eat other plants. I collected seeds and will replant more next year. (I didn’t even know that these flowers were a variety of milkweed!)

Our application to install solar panels on the roof has been approved. We are waiting to make an appointment for a site visit. I know that some extra rewiring will need to be done in the attic first, and I’m hoping the same company can do it.

We came back from our wonderful vacation and went straight to work the next day, so it took a while for me to catch up on work, laundry, groceries, garden, and personal emails. Sandy is working again today and so I will have uninterrupted time to blog about our trip, if you are fond of my travelogues.

Also, as usual, I hope to get back to weaving this weekend. I have a frame loom waiting to be warped for a fringeless tapestry, and loads of inspiration.

Back Forty, butterbeans, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Labor Day

You know, it’s ironic how many people have to work on Labor Day. My husband volunteered to work, like he often does on holidays. He likes the holiday pay and we rarely do anything special on holidays anyway. But I remember retail work, and I salute those of you in retail and restaurants and other service work who do not get a choice. I welcome the four day week after the stress of the beginning of the academic year, but it ain’t nothing like the stress of my old jobs.

Plenty of Roma and cherry tomatoes are ripening and I’ve been drying and cooking sauce every few days. There wasn’t any bicolor corn at the market this Saturday and I am rather spoiled for that, so I didn’t freeze any this weekend. I gave in and bought fresh shelled butterbeans (little green lima beans) for the first time maybe ever and was shocked at the price. It was fair, just as the price of shelled pecans is fair for the amount of work, but those are two food items I never had to buy before this year since either my mother or I grew them. I bought bell peppers and dried and froze them in strips. A friend is giving me his okra from his CSA bag, so I blanched and froze some and put the rest in my butterbeans. Half of the butterbeans were blanched and frozen and saved for Thanksgiving. I hope that I will have a second crop soon that is much better than the first crop was. The Sugar Baby watermelons are producing, but I am not impressed. So many seeds in such a small fruit. Also picked arugula that had been sheltered by the potato vines.

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My big garden success was this tromboncino squash. It’s rare that I get more than a squash or two when I attempt to grow them because of squash borers and my laziness in combating them. This is the second one – the first was eaten by bugs. I picked it at exactly the right time. The rind is tender, the seeds undeveloped, and it is delicious. I sure hope I get some more. I sliced up the neck thinly and dehydrated the slices. Just tasted one and I was surprised at how tasty it is. The rest will be cooked in a casserole with vidalia onions and cheese and crackers today. There is a second vine growing along with this one that looks to be either the candy roaster squash or the cheese pumpkin that I expected. They are taking over the back yard!

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We have a house sitter for our trip and I am so happy about that! Our neighbor does a great job in feeding and visiting the cats (he likes our front porch too) but we have a friend who is selling her house and needs a place to stay, so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

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Here’s what I chose for the tapestry diary for the months of June and July, now that my weaving block is broken and my brain is back from circling the hole. I have to weave a little at a time and walk away but I am enjoying it. I got a massage yesterday and she was surprised that I didn’t hurt more than I did and recommended rest for the rest of the day yesterday. There’s a funny English word with two meanings: rest. Anyway, I have to get back to doing my stretching exercises regularly and when I get back from our big trip I’m going to start taking a yoga class again to keep me on track.

I bought CBD oil balm this week and have been using it on my elbow. So far, so good. As long as I don’t lift anything or hold a book or a Kindle for a long time in my left hand, my elbow is fine. After a few weeks of trying this I’ll report back.

We are still waiting to hear about our application to the city to install solar panels. Turns out that they either didn’t get my first fax or lost it and it didn’t get on the agenda for the historic district commission. The city planning office has been great to work with, however, and I was told that they may be able to approve it on their own based on other applications that have been approved. I’m excited about the prospect.

It’s possible that my next entry will be from Idaho, Wyoming, or after I get back from our next big adventure. I have a lot of house cleaning and prep work to do before then, and I am going to weave this afternoon.

Back Forty, butterbeans, More gardening, Permaculture, Slow Food

Back Forty Update

Hugelkultur bed with garden balsam

Lots of flowers are growing in this new hugelkultur bed in the front at the end of my driveway, along with lots of volunteer “mouse melons,” tiny watermelon-like fruits that taste like cucumbers. I’m using them as a ground cover – did not plant them. I believe that is a Juliet tomato there that I didn’t have room for anywhere else so I just popped it in there. It might be a Roma. There’s not any fertilizer in this bed. There is mint and parsley and feverfew and calendula. I’ve pulled out the ageratum in this photo. For next year’s bloom there is hollyhock and evening primrose, and the garden balsam blooming now which should reseed freely.

So many cherry tomatoes! And a few Roma tomatoes, although quite a few have blossom end rot despite me putting Epsom salts in the planting holes. Maybe I forgot on that particular one. We have had so much rain and it has been muggy hot, so the new garden bed in the back is lush. I gather tomatoes every day and I try to pick them just as they start to ripen to keep them from splitting, and so that they don’t tempt hungry birds and critters. The ground cherries don’t make it indoors. I eat them on the spot.

Herbs and flowers

^^^Ageratum grows everywhere, and I like to keep some to bloom for the bees in the fall, but it’s one of those plants that is selfish and wants all the land for itself. Now that I’ve pulled out most of the ageratum, this bed is devoted to herbs this year. There are three kinds of basil, mint, feverfew, tarragon, borage, and parsley (which was overwhelmed by the ageratum and did not grow well this year). In between there are a couple of dozen foxglove seedlings that volunteered from last year, and a few rudbeckia that survived the groundhog attack by hiding in the ageratum. The celery and kale did not survive the critter attack. The motion sensor spraying device there is out of business, and didn’t work except on humans. There are a few lamb’s quarters left in there that I eat for greens. Next spring this bed will look awesome with foxglove flowers and the bees will love it. Herbs will be shifted somewhere else next year.

Candy roaster squash

^^^If I get any candy roaster squash from these vines (I see the harbinger of doom in the back of the photo) they will be huge, like pumpkins but oblong. Right now they seem hellbent on Back Forty domination. No squash in sight so far, just flowers.

Butterbeans!

^^^Butterbean Survivor – there are a few bean vines that survived the groundhog feast, and some of the damaged ones are trying to play catch-up. I’m picking beans now, but only enough to add to other dishes.

Rudbeckia survivor

^^^”Rudbeckia Survivor – The groundhogs think that these flowers are very tasty so I’m proud of this tough little survivor that made it to full bloom.