Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harvest 1.1

Patty Pan squash


Late Blight Alert!
Late Blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans was found on tomato plants earlier this week on Tuesday July 20th and today July 23rd in Hadley Massachusetts. These are the first two positive diagnosis that has come into the UMass Plant Diagnostic lab this season and the first confirmed cases in Massachusetts. The source of the inoculum is unknown at this point but it is suspected that the spores came from long distance transport or a volunteer potato plant in the area. Although the disease is not known to overwinter in the Northeast as of yet, overwintering can not be ruled out. A sample has been sent to the North Carolina State University to detrmine the clonal lineage. This information may provide us with some clue as to where the initial source of the pathogen came from. Suspected plant samples should be sent the UMass Plant Diagnostic lab immediately (413-545-3209) for confirmation. We would expect to see late blight show up along rivers or where fog tends to collect. These foggy areas should be inspected closely and frequently. Conventional potato growers should now be using systemic fungicides on their fields. Tomato crops should be protected with fungicides specific to downy mildew and inspected regularly for symptoms of blight. For a list of recomended fungicides see this weeks full late blight report.

The murmur of blight is vibrating through the farms and gardens across the pioneer valley. It can obviously do some real damage to crops and farmers are advised to literally rip up and dig under any plant that looks infected.

This is what our alarming tomato looks like:

I am not really worried as of yet but only time will tell.

A great summer recipe

Fusilli with Creamy Zucchini and Basil Sauce

* 1 pound zucchini (with blossoms, if possible)
* vegetable oil to come ½ inch up the side of a skillet
* 1 pound fusilli (or any short, stubby pasta)
* 3 Tbsp butter
* 3 Tbsp olive oil
* 1 tsp flour, dissolved in 1/3 cup milk
* salt
* 2/3 cup roughly chopped basil
* 1 egg yolk, beaten lightly with a fork
* ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
* ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese

First, put a large pot of water up to boil. Slice zucchini and blossoms into pieces 3 inches long and 1/8 inch thick. Heat the oil and fry the zucchini sticks in batches, without crowding the pan, until they are light brown, turning occasionally. As each batch is done, transfer to paper towels to drain. When the pasta water comes to a boil, add 2 Tbsp salt and stir in the pasta and allow to cook while you prepare the sauce. Melt half the butter and all the oil in a skillet. When the butter foams, turn the heat down and stir in the flour-and-milk mixture, a little at a time, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add the fried zucchini sticks, ¼ tsp salt and the basil and stir gently. Off the heat, swirl in the remaining butter, egg yolk and grated cheese. Strain the pasta when it is al dente and toss it with the sauce in a large serving bowl and serve immediately.

thanks to the Kitchen Garden Farm

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Kind of elusive. A short tail and a small head. I love her anyway.

A dry july

Baseball bat zucchini. I used a small screwdriver for scale

I thought I planted muskmelon or some other kind of cantaloupe in with the other squashes and watermelon but this is what is growing there

This is a gord (no idea what kind) that is growing in the winter squash wonderland and now up and over the unstackable wood pile in the back yard. cute.

The sunflowers I planted along the foundation of the house got stunted and didn't grow as tall as I had hoped. I might have ordered the wrong seeds but I think that they were supposed to be at least 5 or 6 feet tall and these are barley 3. Another factor that might have contributed to their limited growth was the beetle problem at the beginning of the season. The beetles ate so much of the baby leaves of the plant it might have been hard to photosynthesize. I also wonder about the quality of the soil around the foundation. We have records of multiple termite treatments to the foundation before we bought the house. I don't know how water soluble the pest control is or how long it lasts but I am always wary of what chemicals do to the soil.

Friday, July 16, 2010

After the rain

sunset thunderstorms make for the best light. the sky was turning bright pink as the sun receded into the west and zeus the kitty made some good company wandering the garden catching the light.

Pumpkin Patch

this is not really a pumpkin patch as it is a winter squash wonderland. there were some doubts as to how well veggies would thrive in this corner of the back yard as it only gets afternoon light but as illustrated here, it is a very nice spot for squash.

mid day in july you can see the evolutinary survival tactics of the squash as they wilt to a scary degree in order to preserve energy. this has been such a hot hot summer so far I am glad they have a home where there is just a wee bit of shade.

this is how the cukes cope in the full sun of the front yard:

cukes are in the same family as the winter and summer squash/zucchini family (gourds technically): Cucurbitaceae
therefore they handle the heat in the same manner: sadly. not to worry as the heat of the day passes the leaves perk up. kind of shows how i feel mid afternoon actually...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Bitches

Dorothy still looks at me just like this. She's the white one. From left to right: Rose, Dorothy, Blanche and Sofia. (admittedly Rose and Blanche are kind of interchangeable.)

Asiatic Beetles

I hate these beetles. Gardening in the community gardens for years I was not exposed to these pesky well, pests. They have eaten my basil, zinnias, lemon balm, tarrragon, sunflowers and mint. They have an appetite for babies. They have invaded my house. They really are something out of a horror movie. In my naivety I accused bunnies as being the pests and was cursing them high and low until my friend Sarah B pointed out that the munching seemed to come from the center of the leaves out.

Being an organic gardener there is little I can do at this point to stop them. For the smaller plants I think row cover while they get established will be the best deterrent. It does seem like if the plant gets big enough it can handle a little munching as displayed by the two basils that were already established when I put them in the ground. I will be doing more research and updating my findings. For now my best plan of action is to let the chickens free range in the front yard in the spring and fall and see if they can eat up any of the eggs, which I think are grubs?

Mission Statement

The Garden Rag is an attempt to journal my home garden. I am hoping to create a place to save photos, ideas, successes and failures. The journey begins halfway through the growing season at my first home garden.