Thursday, July 30, 2009

No corn for me

I've been watching the original six corn plants grow. Slowly, they started to tassel out at the top. Then the little pink hairs started to form where the corn cobs were going to grow. And lo and behold, there were corn cobs starting.

I've watched them get fatter and fatter. They were getting so close to being ready. And then the rains came.

After a couple of days of heavy rain, I noticed that a couple of stalks had fallen over after each one. Cursing the storms, I just looked longingly at the other cobs growing.

Then, in the middle of a rare 2-3 day stretch with no rain, I noticed that another stalk had gone down. Upon closer examination, I realized that some little bugger had nibbled down the stalk and swiped the corn.

There was one stalk left with two cobs growing. The little pink hairs were almost brown, but not quite. The cobs were firm, yet not quite firm enough. I was waiting with baited breath.

And today, they are both gone.

I don't know whether to laugh, cry, scream, swear or what.

I've been trying to figure out what has been eating them. At first I thought perhaps the deer that randomly showed up in the city and ate my tulips this spring had returned. But I've not heard of nor seen it around lately.

Now, I'm blaming it on the squirrels. As entertaining as they are to watch scurrying around in the tree, they are slowly but surely making my crops disappear. I've watched them playing with my tomatoes. And I noticed that the stalks have been dragged down the sidewalk a bit in the direction of the tree. It's gotta be them. And it would make sense, being corn and all.

I also have been noticing that not a single squash has grown. I had purchased a plant with numerous flowers on it, thinking it looked like a prolific producer. Every time it looks like the flower is about to turn into a vegetable, something eats it. Same thing on my other pot.

I also have a huge strawberry that was starting to ripen. When I went looking for it today, it was also gone.

I'm so sad.

And I'm holding out hope for the other corn plants, but not holding my breath. Now to figure out what to do differently for next year.......

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bugs are not my friends

I know that bugs are essential to the well-being of the planet, and are good for the garden, and all that jazz. But this week they definitely are NOT my friends!

Let's start with a spider bite. On my face. Ok, so that happened a few weeks ago, but there is still a mark.

Then the other day, I was digging in a flower bed, doing a clean-out job for someone. Suddenly I come across a ground bee nest. I beat the honeycomb with the larvae in it and move away quickly because the Queen Mama isn't happy. The lady of the house nicely sprays the area, where there were only a few bees actually buzzing around. I count my blessings, as I've never been stung before, and keep on working.

Karma catches up the following day.

I'm working at the job where I am pulling out a ginormous amount of pachysandra. Suddenly I feel something pinch my leg. I look down, and there is one damn ground bee. No other ones are around, which tells me that I hadn't actually disturbed a next. I feel nothing for a little while, but then when dirt gets into the sting, it starts to hurt. A lot.

By the time I am home a half hour later, the area surrounding the sting is bright red, and about 2.5 inches in diameter, and is black and blue on the top edge. I clean it out, remove the stinger, ice it, and apply benadryl cream and antibacterial ointment.

A couple of days later, it is hot and bright red, but now is doing somewhat better. I can't believe it took me almost 32 years to finally get stung by a bee.

Then I'm at home walking around looking at my lilies. These damned orange beetles are absolutely DECIMATING my beautiful flowers! I hurry and run around with my Neem #12 spray that was given to me from the greenhouse, but to no avail. It holds off the little bastards for about a day or two. I finally had to pick up the heavy-duty stuff that is bad for kids and animals. But I've invested way too much in those lilies to let them be massacred.

That brings me to today's fun. I'm working at another clean-out job for a family who is getting ready to move. Toward the end of the shift, I sit down because I am tired, and I am on a hill, so I want to maintain my balance. I feel something bite me, and I figure it's another darn mosquito flying down the back of my jeans. The lady comes out to talk to me, and I realize that I have been sitting on top of an ant hill.

When I was a kid in Ohio, I used to have those little black ants crawling all over me, and had no problem. But these bastards in NY are nasty! They bite! So here I am, literally with a bunch of ants in my pants.

The lady was kind enough to let me come in, shake out my clothing, and wash up. I literally shook out two dozen ants, that I wiped up with a tissue and flushed down the toilet. It brings about new meaning to gardening being a pain in the a$$.

And because my darling psychotic Siamese ripped holes in my screens, and I refuse to use AC, I have flies in the house and can't get rid of them.

At least it's not poison ivy like I had the last two years! (Click here for that horrific tale.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fresh from the garden dinner!

The Rochester weather has been crappy and rainy lately, living little to no time for paying in the dirt. When it has been sunny, I'm usually engaged elsewhere.

Finally, yesterday, after spending numerous hours working for others in their yards, I came home and started wandering around my own. My produce has been taunting me, growing bigger and bigger, but not yielding anything. And finally last night, I hit the jackpot! Sort of.

My red raspberry bushes finally had a bunch of ripened berries on them. There is nothing better than a raspberry eaten straight off of the bush! The ones that you get in the stores are simply picked too early and don't have that same ripe, sweet taste.

The original pea plants, which I had thought were finished yielding pods, are starting to flower again. There were two actual pods that were ready. The green bean plants also had a ton of beans that were over 6 inches long! So, I ended up with a nice bowl full of beans, peas, and berries to eat for dinner.

I steamed the peas and beans. I don't think I have ever had peas that were so sweet! And the beans were so tasty and sweet as well! I wish I had better adjectives, but I don't!

I have newer peas and beans starting to flower, and even more that I had planted later, so I should be getting crops all season long. I can't wait! The handful tonight was a little small, but I should have enough for tomorrow's dinner.

The other fun bit was, as I was harvesting the peas and beans, I checked out the corn. And the first set of corn stalks that I had planted are now almost as tall as I am and have corn silk!

So far there are four sporting silk on four of the plants. One is still a little dwarfed by the pea plants, and the sixth one looks like it is getting ready to sprout some silk. You can actually see the little cobs starting to form! I'm so excited!!

The other 24 corn plants I had purchased are slowly but surely growing, as well.

My smaller tomatoes are growing better than the larger varieties. I'm hoping to have some ripened cherry, grape, and pear varieties later this week!