Garden Backlog

Another ugly Gator win. They have to be the worst 8-1 team in the nation – for sure the luckiest. I thought for a while I was going to have to spend a full year hearing about the game from little Tommy. The way it ended was perfect – I get to claim a real victory and Tommy can go the moral victory route.

Before leaving the beach, Tom and I tried a few hours of morning fishing to top off the week. The only action turned out to be chasing down the cooler top which had washed into the surf and having a large manta ray bump into one of the lines and get tangled for a few seconds. Did have a good breakfast though. Our local early morning joint had scrapple on the specials board and I can never resist that – Philadelphia genes kick in.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in the garden after a week’s absence. George assured me that he kept it well watered and picked plenty of green beans so I was sure things would be fine. First thing I did was head for the beans to see if any were left. Not to worry – I picked what must have been 15 pounds of 3 different varieties and by the looks of the plants, they will continue coming for a good long while. It wasn’t supposed to be like this because I had stagger planted and picked varieties with different maturation rates but for some reason they are happening simultaneously. We’re going to buy a special tool that French cuts beans and then go back in the vegetable freezing business. Aside from the beans, there were some nice peppers and a significant load of eggplants so the total haul was impressive. Nancy right away decided to make a large pot of vegetable soup which put a small dent in the harvest and I decided to use the peppers and eggplant in my world famous cacciatore tonight. Probably nobody cuts up ravelli eggplant in their cacciatore but it was sitting on the counter just begging to be part of the action.

There were two small surprises. I had planted a row of peas which should have popped up while we were away. Nothing. In fact I was suspicious since the seed was two years old and they actually should have been showing before we left. I was smarter in this case and had bought a packet of fresh seed just in case these didn’t germinate so I planted those right away. Should be picking in early January. I was also surprised that onion bulbs I put in the day before we went to the beach were 100% up and doing well. Much faster than I expected.

I had a large backlog of seedlings to transplant-40 plants in all. They were too small to transplant before we left and I was reluctant to put them out with George in charge since young plants need a little TLC for the first few days but they were perfect and looking good in the flats today. It was a mixed bag of lettuce, cabbage including Chinese cabbage, a heritage Italian broccoli and a variety of cauliflower that is a mint green color instead of white. These days you can get cauliflower in just about any color you want – orange, green, purple – with new ones popping every year. I ended up having to yank out a couple of aged eggplant bushes and pepper plants to make room for the new winter plants. They were way past their prime and will add some flavor to the compost pile.

So by the time I caught up with all the gardening, I was pooped and late for the start of the Sunday football games. The only thing I didn’t get done that was on my list was planting some beet and spinach seed. Tomorrow will be just fine.

My generation was smart enough not to reelect Jimmy Carter.

A great fishing week

Just a few more fish pics from Friday. It was a good day with some real monsters hooked and lost. I’ve got to come up with a more secure way to attach hooks to wire leader, avoiding snap swivels. I said that last year and then just put it out of my mind until I lost the first fish and hook this year.

The shark is about 3′ long and a variety I’ve not caught before. Not sure what kind it is but it has a thresher style tail and the slick skin and look of a Mako. Then the blue. Caught maybe half a dozen. The whiting is medium size and would be a keeper if I didn’t already have my freezer load of blues. I only kept one small whiting to use as bait if needed Saturday, the rest are out there swimming their little hearts out. Caught the whiting on sand fleas and the rest on cut pieces of the ladyfish from Wednesday.

Small Shark
Small Shark
Small Bluefish
Small Bluefish
Small Whiting
Small Whiting

This year marks the return of the sand fleas. They had disappeared from the scene a couple years back but have returned big time. In the past I used to catch them by digging in the sand as the waves receded but now they seem to be hanging out right at the edge of the trough so they’re easy to get at low tide. Nice to have them back as a source of bait.

Tom came up Friday night, just in time for Happy Hour at JT’s. We’re going to get an early breakfast and then close the week out with a few hours of AM fishing. I sure hope the good fishing holds up for him.

Beach Reports

Wed. Got up this morning and was on the beach casting by 9AM. Perfect fishing; not so much for the catching. I hadn’t bothered to pick up any finger mullet for bait since it wasn’t clear the surf would ever return to normal on this trip so I rectified that after we hit the Java Joint for breakfast. The fishing was awesome. Lost track of the number of blues I caught but used a dozen mullet cut in half so had at 24 hits or misses over 4 hours. Nothing large but I decided to keep one small one to cut up for bait and one ladyfish for the same. That’s the long, skinny one amongst the blues. I kept another 6 blues to smoke and turn into fish dip. Please excuse the shadow in the picture. My hands were slippery and I kept dropping the camera so decided to quit while I was ahead and the camera was still in one piece. Capped off the day with happy hour at JT’s Fish Shack.

Catchin' Blues
Catchin' Blues

Thurs. The ocean is like a pond. No waves, no currents. There are large schools of mullet, the bait fish of choice, cruising north to south less than 50′ offshore. That usually bodes well for fishing. Nancy is off to Palm Coast to the bridge club so I’m totally on my own to beach bum. Got my heart started early on with two quick bluefish. I was using the cut up lady fish for bait and was pleased that the blues seemed to that as well as the mullet yesterday. Never got another strike in the next 4 hours. It was fun on the beach, just enjoying the ospreys and mullet schools, but nothing more on the blue fish. Capped off the day with happy hour at the Golden Lion.

The highlight of the New York problem for me has been watching Mayor Bloomberg give his updates to the press. I’m completely mesmerized by the sign language person standing beside him. She gives a full body, facially expressive sign out like no one I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen one of his updates, try to find one. She’s so good that you’re totally tempted to tune him out and try to figure out what she’s saying.