Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zucchini Plant Pests: Vine Borers

This year was my first year with enough room to grow zucchini.  I was excited to be able to plant 7 plants.  However, thanks to a pest unknown to me at the time, I'm now down to 4 plants with one in the Garden Emergency Room as well.  Thanks to the quick and extensive reach of google search, I was able to diagnose my zucchini problems as a pest called Vine Borers.  They hatch and eat the plant, and later become a type of moth.  Here's the Garden Doctor's findings:

zucchini leaves suddenly yellow or the plant suddenly dies....CHECK
upon inspection, the base of the plant has been chewed away....CHECK
you can see the nasty little white borers right there in your plant stem or eggs under the leaves.....CHECK

Several Bug insecticides are available in powder or liquid spray.  Look for one that lists vine borers on the label.  Apply every 7-10 days for two or three treatments.  You can also bury the stem under soil after killing the borer and the plant may be saved.

Recovery & Prognosis:
Caught soon enough, it's possible to save the plants.

Next year I'll be on the lookout for these little buggers much sooner!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dust Bowl: Slow, Simple and With Love

This morning I caught the end of a story on the Weather Channel.  They had been interviewing an older gentleman about his childhood during the Dust Bowl.  It sounded rough and my heart goes out to our Midwest farmers in the midst of a modern day drought.  He explained the economic hardships for his parents and vividly described the landscape of their farm at the time.  However, he ended  with the most “take-away” part of the story.  He said, “However, life was slow, simple, and we had a lot of love.”  Wow.  Then the weather correspondent ended with a comment that had a wishful tone to it and how he longed for those days. 
How sad that we feel those days are out of reach.  Yes, we live in a fast society where I can type, hit a button, and instantly anyone around the world can read my words on this blog.  It’s quite amazing when you think about it.  And I wouldn’t trade that rapid-fire communication for the days of Pony Express.  However, we also have the power to make our family life slower and simpler.  And it’s certainly in our power to add MUCH more love. 
Summer is half over and I’m glad that we have had a slow, simple summer in our family.  Each kid got one week of VBS camp, we’ll have a family vacation to the beach, and the rest is unplanned days.  Sure, we have day trips, but they’re usually planned the night before.  And yes, there’s lots of time at the pool.  But if tomorrow my kids wake up and say, “let’s go to the rope swing” we can do just that.  We’ll take a lazy stroll down the path that leads to the creek and find other school buddies already jumping off the swing into a muddy creek.  Those are the slow, simple days we create and they’re always filled with love.  At least that’s what I hope my kids remember about their childhood.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Zucchini Invasion

So if you were ambitious, like me, in planting several zucchini plants, then you're now realizing that you may have more zucchini than you can eat!  Thanks to the fox tramping around our backyard, two out of the 6 zucchini plants have been snapped at the base and died.  However, the remaining plants are cranking out zucchini faster than we can eat them.  Truth be told, we're not a family big on cooked veggies.  My husband is the cooked veggie type, but the rest of us prefer ours raw.  So other than the zucchini patties I made last week--which were DELICIOUS dipped in maranara sauce--I've been trying to bake my zucchini into muffins, breads, etc.  However, with the heat wave(s), I am not the least bit interested in standing near a hot oven and our a/c would not appreciate the oven either.  So what to do with all the zucchini?  Freeze them!  I'm shredding and bagging zucchini as I pick them for a later/cooler date.  Maybe even much later.  Imagine having zucchini muffins in the middle of the winter.  Mmmm!  So for now they're tucked in freezer bags (1 shredded zucchini per bag) in the freezer right next to the homemade strawberry jam and frozen carrot slices I froze after the carrot harvest.  Nothing like having homegrown veggies on hand long after they're gone from the stores.

So don't despair at the abundance of zucchini you may have.  The plants are great at producing.  That's why we grow them.  Just harvest and freeze.  Or better yet, give some away!

The zucchini cakes with maranara sauce can be found at Life's Ambrosia.  Of course, I didn't have nutmeg so I skipped that.  And I didn't have Panko crumbs so I used regular Italian bread crumbs.  And in the interest of time, I skipped the fresh garlic and just used garlic powder from the spice rack.  Dip it in maranara sauce while still warm for a yummy side dish!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Let the rains come down

"He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills."
Psalm 147:8

This morning I woke to a sound that was unfamiliar in recent weeks.  I heard the pitter patter of rain on the window!  Normally, it would signal the start to a day stuck indoors with the kids.  But instead, in my sleepy state, I was thrilled to know that God was using his giant watering can to bring down rains on our withering gardens and browning grass.  Then my mind quickly turned to the Midwest and wondered if they were so lucky.  This past week with the kids, we prayed for rain for the farmers out there.  I explained how it was up to God to bring them rain since their fields are so large that they can't just pull out a hose and water their crops.  Yes, there's talk of prices at the grocery stores going up because of the drought in the center of our country.  However, beyond our own wallets, there are farmers trying to feed their own families, who count on these crops as their salary, and who need the rain so much more than my tiny garden in my backyard.  God, bring rain to our midwest farmers as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Minecraft Gardening: Where computer kids come to garden

Just one of the many creative gardens on Google
My oldest son has never been much for getting his hands in the dirt.  He's also the last to come join me in my garden.  Recently, though I noticed he had a new interest in the gardens and even wanted to harvest some of the vegetables.  Occasionally, he'll even stroll with me to see what's growing.  I was excited that I had somehow influenced him to come grow until I realized the real source of his gardening education:  Minecraft!

For any parent with a child into computer gaming, Minecraft is most likely a source of struggle for limiting screen time.  The computer game is one where the player creates his whole world and all that's in it.  For my son, he created me a garden of roses.  It even had a sign that read "Mom's Garden".  What Mom wouldn't be touched that while her son was mindlessly playing too long on the computer, that he thought to build me a garden?  Oh, maybe that was his butter me up so he could play longer!  

However, this past week he showed me two other Minecraft gardens (one even enclosed in glass!) where he was growing watermelons, wheat, and cantaloupes.  I was surprised to find that not only did he have a nice garden, but the thing actually grew!  He needed to provide water, light, and lots of patience while the plants grew.  And then he had to come back to harvest it all.  It might be virtual, but my son was finally getting a gardening bug.  When I asked why he was growing the wheat, he said he only needed a few more stalks and then he could make a cake.  Ah, it's all about the sweets.  Back in the real world, he did eat quite a bit of the chocolate zucchini bread I made this week.  So virtual or real, garden on!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Deck Appeal: makeover a deck bed for under $100

As important as it is for your house to have curb appeal, the reality is that "deck appeal" is really the area that is for your pleasure.  The curb is for those passing by your house.  The deck is for your own eyes (unless you have a deck in the front yard.)  So don't neglect your deck beds and deck appeal.  

That said, our deck bed is finished and I love the new brick edging!  No heat wave (think heat index at 100) was going to stop this gardener from cranking out the new flower bed edge.  Gone are the 1980s-style wooden beams with huge railroad ties.  The rectangular shape has been removed for a more flattering rounded corner and shape.  Best yet, I did it all for just under $100.  Yes, we still need to have the deck stained so we don't have the zebra effect between the old and new boards.  That is coming soon, hopefully!

Here's the breakdown:
red brick edging:  $2.15 x 28 bricks = $60.20
Fill dirt for the rounded corners:  $1.25 x 2 bags = $2.50
Mulch:  $3.33 x 3 bags = $9.99
Rose bush (discount plant store):  $12.00
Balloon flowers:  $4 x 2 plants = $8
TOTAL = $92.69 + $5.56 tax = $98.25
Another angle
I love how it highlights the daylillies!

Mixing vegetables into a regular flower bed: Zucchini plants

When I first placed the newly painted children's chair into my flower bed, it was early spring and not much was green or growing up around it.  I envisioned some pretty summer flowers eventually surrounding it.  However, I soon found that I could maximize my vegetable growing by adding some plants among the bushes.  Zucchini plants are just the right plant!  Among the holly bushes and burning bush, I have 4 zucchini plants growing.  They blend right in and add a nice filler of green.  Plus, I already have 3 small zucchini's growing!  Who says you need a raised bed or official garden.  Plant where you have space!

June 2012