Lots of rain

Well, it looks like the sale of the garden (AKA  the house next door)  is going to happen.   Barbara has to be gone by 10/9 and the new folks are scheduled to move in on the 11th.  I may get a cucumber or zucchini but nothing else.   The garden is really looking good this year and I hope they either agree to share it or at least farm it actively to take advantage of the high quality soil that I’ve built over the last 10 years.   It’ll be about 75% planted out by then.   Another loss to be dealt with as new neighbors move in is the burn pile.  As with the garden, we share a large burn pile where we both dispose of tree and brush trimmings.   Doesn’t sound like much but you’d be surprised just how much “tree litter” we deal with.  Up until now, this has been a good thing since the wood ash adds nutrients and mass to the compost piles – so eventually ending up in the garden.

I was more than a little proud of the gators almost beating Alabama.   From here on out, “almost beating” doesn’t get it.  I was hoping that the Jag’s would show up with a winner this season rather than pulling up the rear as usual.  So far, not so good.   Ditto the Dolphins.   I’ve never been a Buc’s fan but …………….

We’ve had lots of rain over the past week.  I’ve dumped the 6” rain gauge 3 times in the past week and the lake is the highest we’ve seen for several years.   It’s about 6” from overtopping Barbara’s dock.   The good news is that we’re past most of the hurricane season with no signs of anything to worry about.   Some of the green bean plants in the garden are looking shabby which I suspect has to do with excess water.   Their roots are probably deep enough to be in saturated soil – great for rice but not so great for beans.

Great, Great Grandfather

Of course the big news is the new great grandson.   Bay Joseph Carbone.  Congrat’s Amy and Simon.

Still no hard definition on next door – supposedly an acceptable offer has been proffered and the deal is at the bank getting a loan.   Barbara is thinking she’ll be moving the end of October.   Toward that end, she’s had a moving POD brought to her house which will be loaded with furniture etc and put in storage.  I wouldn’t think she would do that without feeling fairly certain that the sale will happen.  That means we may get to pick some beans and maybe squash and cucumbers but no tomatoes, peppers or greens.   Most of the seedlings have been transplanted to temporary quarters – aka yogurt cups – where they’ll grow some for the next 2-3 weeks.  I’m really happy with the green peppers.   They’re a hard crop but it looks like I got 100% and they all look strong.   One bad thing is that they’re a 90 day crop so it may be that the new owners get all the benefit. ditto the tomatoes.   I also planted some lettuce – way early.  Lettuce has trouble with heat but I decided to take a chance that it will cool down early enough to produce.  I have the seeds left over from last year so the worst thing that can happen is it doesn’t make it.  Time will tell.  Also, I still have plenty of lettuce seed so if we keep working the garden, I can always replant the lettuce.  One thought I had was to offer them use of our dock for parties etc in exchange for the garden.   Just a thought. 

The new computer is behaving so I treated it to more internet access.  The ATT personal hotspot gave us 3GB of data per month which was perfectly adequate pre I-pad.  The I-pad included plenty of data on the sprint network but we had frequent signal problems.  Never any ATT problems since we’re within a few hundred yards of the tower so we uptick’d the ATT hotspot to100GB.  

Change is on the way

Everything has germinated as of 9/1 except for green peppers and carrots.   That’s absolutely to be expected so all’s well.   I did something in the garden today that I had promised myself I wouldn’t do.   I thinned out the turnips and replanted the ones I thinned.  It’s a tedious job and you get a high loss on transplanting root crops.  But it was a coolish, overcast day with light rain forecast on and off all day.  Perfect conditions for the transplants.   Also, the soil where I planted the turnips is so soft that I can remove plants without totally disturbing the roots – at least that’s how I rationalize it to myself.   Last season we found so many ways to eat turnips that I’m putting a lot more garden space and effort into them.   Aside from mashing them with potatoes or carrots, you can roast them in the oven/Holland Grill and they’re really tasty.  Depending on size, peel them or not, coat with oil, season with salt and pepper, roast for an hour and they’re perfect.  I like to cook them with chicken or ribs that also take about an hour on the grill.

Update 9/3 – the green peppers started germination with about 6 plants popping out over night.   So the only question mark is with the carrots and that’s to be expected.   I’ve also moved all the tomato and cabbage starts from the seed beds to plastic yogurt cups.    I transplanted 5 different varieties for a total of 30 tomato plants.   Three varieties of cabbage for a total of 18.  The plan right now with the tomatoes is to eventually move 12 to the garden proper and the rest given away to Nancy’s friends and setting aside a few for garden fallout.   The cabbages will move to the garden in a couple of weeks with a few spares set aside for critter damage.

Now the real news – Barbara sold the house – aka the garden.  Not labeling the change as good or bad at this time. The timing details are not set yet insofar as when she moves out and the new folks move in.   I’m guessing 60-90 days as a reasonable transition time.   That should translate into me harvesting beans, squash, turnips, and cucumbers.   Maybe some cabbage.  No tomatoes, peppers or carrots.  According to Barbara, the lady of the house loves “gardening” but that probably means flowers and other distractions.  I have a lot of time invested in this season but very little money since I mostly had the seeds from last season.  It will probably be a month or so before I’d plant the peppers and tomatoes in the garden and by then I should know whether to go ahead as normal or buy some containers to grow them on the front porch.   Who knows, maybe the new lady will be a bridge playing quilter.

Seeds Germinating

After only 3 days spotted some germination of the new seeds planted directly in the garden.   The turnips and cuc’s had poked out.   I’m going to stay on top of the turnips this year and start thinning them out early on.  I let the crop last season get out of control and ended up with some getting way too big and pithy while others struggled for space.  That was all on me.   In the past I had trouble with turnips so last season I treated them as most probably going to crater anyway and gave them scant attention.  Subsequently we found several ways to use them and regretted not giving them proper attention early on.  

With respect to the cuc’s, last year was a disaster – poor growth, buggy etc.  That was a surprised since we had always had good luck with cuc’s.  I paid more attention to planting these seeds and prepared hills of pure compost.  I created 4 hills and put 3 seeds in each hill.   After only 3 days I was really surprised to count 9 plants breaking the surface.   I’ll let them go for a week or so and then thin to 4 plants.   Four plants will provide more than enough for us with plenty to give away.

8/29 update

Great germination.  Almost all the bean seeds, bush and pole, have popped out ahead of schedule.  Ditto squash and cabbage.   All of these germinated in well under a week.   The stuff that takes a week – 10 days, aka carrots, haven’t poked yet (and shouldn’t have).   I’m particularly watching germination because most of the seed I planted is 1-2 years old so you anticipate a reduced germination.  It’s of particular interest this time because at the end of the last planting season, I resolved to take better care of the seed until the next starting season.  Seed is getting more expensive and it’s much simpler to just use the leftovers than go thru the ordering process.  I found a metal cookie tin to store the old seed and kept it in the refrigerator veggie bin.  That should keep the seeds dry and cool – but maybe it will kill them.   So far so good.   All the seed mentioned above went through the spring/summer seasons plus the cabbage and lettuce and survived.   The jury is still out on tomatoes and green peppers.   These normally take 7-10 days and it’s been way less than that. 

Starting the fall garden

Well it’s fish or cut bait time in the garden.   As of August 28, no sale pending on Barbara’s house.   She says she has a prospect but ………….    I’ve put off actually planting seeds until now and been working hard on preparing the garden – weeding and turning the soil.   That’s been a tough job in this exceptional heat and has taken a couple of weeks to finish – but it is.  My body will be grateful.    This time of year I usually plant my “60 day” crop.   That’s the fast growing heat tolerant veggies where you are picking veggies 60-70 days after planting seed.   We can nominally get in a crop before the first freeze, forecast for Dec 20.  This includes squash, cucumbers and green beans.   I planted seeds for 4 different squash varieties, pole beans, bush beans and burpless  cucumbers.  Even put in a couple of 8’ rows of turnips and carrots.  In a couple weeks, assuming these have germinated, I’ll plant another round of beans to come in a little later.  At this point, my thinking is that even if a buyer surfaces now, it would take until Dec 20 to actually close a deal and move.  By then we will have picked enough to justify the activity.    

The other gardening that I’ll start this week is more delicate summer plants with longer time from plant to harvest.  Those I start in potting soil on the back porch and transplant to the garden if and when they look ready.   That includes tomatoes, peppers and cabbage.  I have lots of different tomato varieties but you never know which is going to thrive and which craters in the garden.  The weather is a large variable as is the creepy critters that eat the plants. Assuming these all germinate properly, they would be ready to transplant to the garden about the first of Oct.   If the house sells by then, I’ll transplant these to containers instead of into the garden.  In any event, we should be eating our own veggies this year.

Booster Shots

A crop I haven’t mentioned was the pineapple crop.    I picked a beauty the other day and we decided to make a pineapple upside down cake.   Without a doubt this was the best ever and it has to be from using the fresh pineapple rather than the canned slices we’ve used in the past.   I have about a dozen pineapple plants and I think six of them have fruit so I see more cake in our future.

We got our Covid booster shots.   It was simple to set up an appointment at Publix  on line. I did it myself so you know it had to be simple.   The only part that threw me for a setback was a question on the form that asked if I was a robot.   I thought it was a joke or something but it tilted my initial try.   The event itself was right on time and painless.   After about 6 hours we both had “sore” arms at the injection site but very mild.

Still wrestling with issues coming from the new computer and software updates.   Then to make things more confusing, AT&T got in the mix by upgrading the cell network from 3G to 5G – not related to the new computer but another tech “upgrade”.  I was perfectly happy with 3G so why rock the boat. They sent us a new interface box which should have taken about 1 minute to swap the old one.  I was smart enough to wait a couple days until Tom came up to mess with it.  Two days later, still not connected because of some password issues.   We’ve had the original box for about 15 years – flawless but our original account has all wrong data regarding things like email address.   The IT dept jumped right on it and I felt better after he wrestled with it for a couple of hours.  We’re waiting for some new code words from AT&T but so long as they don’t pull the plug on our 3G, we’re ok.   I wonder what folks without an IT dept do.

So far so good on the hurricane season.   Nothing even close.

Status Quo

Fingers crossed that the new computer is up and running for good.   Thanks Tom.  It’s much, much faster but is still taking a while to feel comfortable with it.

We’ve had a string of storms that brought a little rain – no wind at all – so the lake is as full as it’s been in a couple of years.  It’s looking like the next storm is heading for the NE so we’re likely ok thru August.   

We just signed up to get the covid booster shot and have an appointment for next Monday at Publix.   I signed us up online and had the normal amount of problems getting it done correctly.  One that set me back this time as an icon I hadn’t seen before asking if I was a robot.   Yeah, are you a robot?   I thought it was an ad for something and continued on filling out the form to the bottom of the page where it had a block labeled “continue”.   Nothing happened no matter how many times or how hard I banged the key.  Even yelling at it did nothing.   So I killed the form and tried again.   Same result.   Then for some reason, I looked closer at the robot icon and decided to click it – I figured I was heading down the rabbit hole.   Nope – it went right through and let me continue to the end.  Nothing is simple.   

Still no action on Barbara’s house.   I see an occasional looker and she mentioned some interest but no action.   I’m approaching the point where I have to make some garden decisions such as getting some seeds started and doing some heavy duty weeding.  I’m squeezing in an hour or so a day working the weeding problem – early before it gets too hot and getting my seed starting stuff together.   I already have enough seeds for some starts – so no investment necessary.  Dec 1 is my new decision date.

Hot, hot, and hot

I think maybe my computer problems are behind me.   Tom convinced me that an 8 year old computer needs replacing.  I dread that more than a colonoscopy or a root canal but the machine was getting too far behind the times to exist.   So we went to Costco and came home with a new Mac Mini.   Pretty much exactly like my old one except for all new software and main CPU chip and all semiconductor memory.   After a few hours of wrestling with new software downloads at Tom’s house, it seemed to work and we came home.   I waited a day before trying it here at the lake and was surprised that it came on and performed perfectly.   That is until I tried to open the Chrome browser.   That brought it all to it’s knees.   I called the IT guy, aka Tom, and between us we managed to get it back running.   I’m sure as I try new things, there will be new hitches but within a year of kicking and screaming, it will be just fine.   Maybe even posting the blog routinely will be possible.

The only thing left in the garden are a couple green pepper plants.   I’ve weeded it down to the tiniest weed and redid the walking paths between the garden rows so it’s ready to start thinking about next season.   The overhanging issue is whether or not somebody buys Barbara’s house.  I would hate to go to all the expense and trouble of raising seedlings only to lose garden rights.   It’s been on the market for the better part of a year with nearly zero interest but that could change overnight.   And who knows, new owners could grandfather me in on the garden for a crop split.

It’s hot, hot, hot but no fires – plenty of humidity, but no flames.   We’re keeping busy despite the covid’s – Nancy playing bridge (and winning) twice a week and me walking miles on the many jungle trails of Palm Coast.   I average more than 2 miles a day (says the fitbit) with a couple of 5-6 mile days thrown in.   On those bridge days, I usually end up at the library after walking – downloading movies onto the iPad.   I keep the jungle under control with 1-2 hours a day of clipping and trimming.

Kidney Stones

After a little prodding, decided to start posting again.   

The last couple of months were highlighted (for me) by the surgical removal of kidney stones – one of which measured 9 mm – which I guess is a substantial stone/boulder.   It was accompanied by a UTI so my system was screwed up for sure.  I ended up in the emergency room and then a urology surgical center.   After a few days recovery at home, things got back to normal quickly and all’s been well since.  The stone was of the Oxylate variety which is supposedly controlled by diet.   They gave me a list of what’s ok and not ok to consume.  The surprises on the list were green leafy veggie’s of the kind listed as super foods on all the dietary blogs.  Also blueberries which I buy in yearly quantities and have with cereal almost every day.  The big surprised was Draft beer.  Bottled beer ok (so I assume canned beer also ok).  Most of the beer I consume is while waiting for Nancy at her Bridge club and it’s always a draft, craft beer.   So I either have to get used to an occasional stone event or drop kale from my diet.  I don’t see any other place to cut.   One doc recommended I drink lemonade since that somehow interferes with the stone formation so I’ve done that.   I also dropped cranberry juice since it was on the bad list.   Interestingly some doc’s recommend cranberry juice for urological problems.  I tried avoiding draft beer for a few weeks and it just didn’t work for me.

After my hiatus from the blog, but unhooked from that, Tom gave me his old fitbit machine so I could keep track of how many steps I walk.   I kind of thought it would be up there but have been surprised to learn that I accumulate about 9000 steps a day half the time and 7000 on the other days.   I walk quite a bit on the days Nancy is playing bridge but even on the other days, I manage to accumulate more than I ever suspected just walking from the house to the garden, to the lake, to the mail box etc.   It also says that my heart rate is fine – which I never doubted.   I do think it’s screwed up when it comes to judging my sleeping.   I sleep just fine but the monitor has a different opinion.   Must be a tech problem. 

I’ve mentioned Nancy’s bridge club a couple of times.   It’s in Palm Coast, about 45 minutes from the lake, and Nancy plays for a few hours on Tuesday’s and Thursdays.   It’s a sanctioned game with typically 16-18 tables.   About a third of the players are life masters and most of the others are striving to achieve that level – so it’s a serious game.    Nancy is significantly handicapped  with her eyes and I think the fact that she  finishes in the top 4 consistently with an occasional first place blows them away.  It’s ok to be beaten by another life master but by someone who is legally blind………… While she’s playing, I either do a power walk at one of Palm Coast’s trails, go surf fishing, do some light grocery shopping, and/or visit the library – particularly on a rainy day.

The garden is basically done.   Not much can handle the heat, including the farmer.   I have a few bell pepper plants still producing but nothing else.   I normally use this time to thoroughly weed and unload the compost piles onto the main garden for the fall season.  About all I can handle is a couple of hours a day but that works just fine for me.   I’ll start thinking about the fall plantings and organizing my seeds late August.   Oh, the other thing I’m doing in the garden is digging up the new (renegade) tomato plants that spring up from last season’s dropped tomatoes.  I’ll have a dozen or so of those plants going by the end of July and they should produce mostly cherry tomatoes by October – if they survive.   

A new Crop

Another gigantic tomato sauce manufacturing operation going on today.  This is 3 giant pots and moves us past the half way point on tomato production.   What’s most interesting is that the only tomatoes I grew this season were cherry’s and plum varieties so you can imagine just how many tomatoes it takes to make a gallon of sauce.   We’re having a mother’s day gathering at the house so you can guess what’s on the menu.  To calibrate you, after the 6 of us ate all the pasta we could handle, there were 20 pints of sauce for the freezer.  More calibration – we use 3 pints of sauce with a pound of pasta and a pint of sauce for 2 pizza’s.   

Getting ever so slightly concerned about the lake level heading into May.   Although we supposedly got much less rain than average this past winter, the lake remains fairly high.  Seems like it never really dropped down to a typical winter level.   My concern is that we’re starting the wet season without enough space to handle a much higher lake level.   Wonder if I should be thinking about converting the garden to a rice paddy?

A crop I used to grow with great success in Utah was winter squash – acorn and butternut –  have failed on a regular basis in Florida.   Over the past 10 or so years I’ve tried several different varieties of each with zero success.   I get good foliage and plenty of blossoms but shortly after the fruit starts to form, they die.   I’ve tried so many times and so many different ways that I gave up.   We get the squash at Publix and that’s that.   But something interesting happened this year.   When I clean the squash(from Publix), I toss the seeds along with the shells in the compost pile.  For some reason, this year those seeds actually sprouted in the pile and as a joke project, I transplanted several to the main garden.   As in the past, great foliage and plenty of blossoms but, for whatever reason, the squash seems to be growing nicely and I’m about ready to pick a couple of Acorns.   I have no idea what variety I’m growing and the produce guy at Publix is no source of info on varieties.  

Having technical difficulties and the IT department has temporarily relocated to Chicago.