It ought not to be…

Hi there. This is my domestic arts blog and newer poetry and tiny story spot, now rolled into one. I needed to simplify, and it occurred to me that the name of this blog is sort of perfect for all my various doings, season by season. Today I have the garden on my mind.

Currently, during what is generally the coldest week of the year here, it is 60º in southeast Cincinnati at noon o’clock. That is just about 15º for those of you playing the C game. Here is some attractive info from Weatherspark about what it’s typically like here, or was. If you are now just fascinated by my climate, click here and scroll down to see what a cloudy cloudy spot this is. I’m not adapting well to that.

But the rest of it is a guessing game at this point, and these pictures demonstrate the result of that. Liliesindistress
The second photo is garlic shoots. There tend to be a few which appear a few weeks after planting in autumn, then they die back til spring. But they are in a different kind of limbo this year.

None of this should be growing or green right now. We had a warm winter in 2013, when the lemon balm came up early. This past autumn it never even fully died back, nor did many of the other perennials, and the ones which start greening in spring began doing so in December, instead. The years between 2013 and 2017 have each had their own set of extremes, as well.Frontstuff
Since December we’ve had several actually frigid days (below 15ºF/-9.44ºC,) but they’re mostly just punctuating weather more typically seen in early March. So even my late season pansy plants never died. They aren’t blooming, of course, but are behaving like perennials instead of annuals. I think maybe it feels like this in winter in the south of England, or South Carolina; I don’t know. I’m not well-traveled.

I super hate cold weather. Not because I’m particularly cold-natured, though cold is pretty bad for the asthma. I hate having to wear coats and shoes and not getting to sit in the yard and grow things, and I hate the bitter evening wind when I’m out trying my best to keep from doing nothing but hibernating until April. So I felt pretty darned good out there this morning wearing jeans, a sleeveless top, and my garden clogs, taking these pictures and checking things out. But it’s unsettling, and I am worried for my grandchildren, rather than maybe just for theirs, as I was in the past.  

What we see now are more extremes. Wild temperature swings, tons of rain followed by no rain at all, and a sharp beginning and end to summer, with the rest of the seasons all just drifting into each other. Here along the middle-middle latitude, gardening recommendations keep changing and there are more microclimates; tiny pockets with more heat than surrounding areas, than there were a couple decades ago.

Your superficially labeled binary politics aren’t that interesting to me, as an aside. I’m just reporting here: what I see, what I’ve known, and what I fear might now be the way of things, which, in the span of a single human lifetime, seem like they ought not to be. If this season looks to continue as it has been, though, I guess I'll take advantage of it and plant some lettuce, and put a few things in the plastic greenhouse next month instead of in March.

I already did plant a butter lettuce stump yesterday and put it under the plant lights. To end this with a photo, which is nice to do. Lettuce

First of October

After a rather cold summer, September was hot and dry. There are nine more German Queen tomatoes starting to ripen as a result, and many more hot peppers. However, with the weather change at the end of the week, I will probably take all the tomatoes at once, regardless of color. That one cold night, if it comes, could turn them to mush. October

I took some pictures today; with limited success. The camera app which was a lifesaver on the bonkers version of my phone is actually giving me trouble on the replacement. I have to decide what to do about it, read about why it focuses like a nutball. (It might be that I have to turn off the stable shot function.) The orange mint photo, for example, was meant to be a foxglove photo.

Settinggarden Chard Poblanos Jalapenos Jalapenoblossoms Zinnias  Purplepeppers
Autumndaisies Orangemint Snapbeans

Weekly Photo Update

July never felt like July here. It's disappointing because we spend a certain amount of time and money to keep our rented pool in top shape, but haven't been able to use it. And the season wanes. 

But the garden enjoys these cooler temperatures. Not my best year, far from the worst. Which was last year, by the way. I've had tremendous snap bean yield, and quite a few cucumbers. The onions did very well, the leeks look great, the chard is still charding along. Peppers are slow, but much better than last year, when it was too hot too early for them to set fruit. It would have been a banner year for tomatoes if not for the septoria leaf spot on half of them, but I have had plenty to use however I like.

I won't have many tomatoes for salsa once the peppers are fully ripe, because those six plants can't continue to produce, but there'll be some. There was an absurd amount of eggplant to use. And the butterfly and bee garden has been a riotous joy to watch.

Four varieties of tomato, onions, cucumbers, zucchini

The German Queen is a magnificent lady.

She is ripening slowly. Okay by me.

My favorite plant this year appeared by accident. This seems to be a Super Sweet 100, and I don't know how it got to growing there, spreading out all over, except that Nature keeps taking the victory, and I am glad.

The last of the snap bean variety pack.

Conditioned for fall lettuce; snap peas thrown in behind, among the zinnias and cosmos.

The End of the Tomatoes

Tomorrow night will drop below 40 after a day of clouds and rain. By Monday night there looks to be actual frost, so why delay any longer? It's time.

Last year at this time I had two large bowls of green and ripening tomatoes. This year, I could hardly have filled one of those bowls all season. So it isn't a bad ending, considering the rest.

In this picture from left to right, a Mister Stripey, two small Early Girls, and two Yellow Brandywines that are ready for action.

And in this picture there are more of each of those, plus a couple of Purple Cherokees and a Rutgers. I could force some of them to "ripen," but I think I'll use them all green.

Wrapping up the garden on the last warm day for now...

I rarely used this blog page this summer because it was a very odd and disappointing garden season. I understand this was so for many people. My soil isn't tired, the weather was a little strange, but not terribly so. I don't know. Next year I am planting more varieties of flowers among the vegetables to see if that will help. The flower gardens were actually pretty great this year.

But you see, then in early September, everything took off. If summer began then, I'd have had a normal tomato and pepper crop, and probably more other things, as well. Because of course, there's only so much to be expected from autumn tomatoes and peppers. I've had more in the past month than all summer long, but not like it could have been had they gotten going two months earlier. Of course, the leeks and chard grew like mad this whole time; if you can't get those to grow and produce, you have to choose a new hobby.

The photos here are from one of the garden patches and a few things on the deck.

The two pumpkin vines grew and grew, produced two fruits, and one survived. It dropped off the vine in early September, though, with a diameter about half normal size for its variety. Only a couple summer squashes appeared from three plants; none matured. There were three undersized eggplants. Two Brussels sprouts plants grew tremendously, but only one has sprouts on it and they are probably not going to mature. The winter squash had only a few blossoms and no fruit. And the cucumbers had a short early season, not as prolific as last year, but not bad.

Of all the varieties of peppers, I got two-three each until recently. Four of them began producing last month, and I've had several bell peppers and Marconis to enjoy, but I've been picking them under-sized. I don't even remember the pepper variety that is in the bowl with the bells; they aren't full-sized, but also, it's the first I have seen of them all year, and I'd never planted whatever they are before.

Three strange and sudden occurrences; the tabasco pepper plant began producing about a month ago. Now, that just doesn't like to be too hot, but we really didn't have a huge heat wave this year. There is a second wave of blossoms on it, but later this week they will probably drop off when the nights turn cold. I'll have to pick the peppers undersized and unripened, and drop them in a jar of vinegar.

As well, two tiny mysterious tomato plants appeared among the leeks. It's a mystery because only one of their varieties were planted in that area the year before; the Jetstar, which produced half a dozen tomatoes in the past month, two of which ripened nicely. But also a yellow Brandywine appeared, and though it is tiny (Brandywine plants trend huge,) it produced three beautiful full-sized tomatoes which ripened on the vine, and there are two more still out there.

The Purple Cherokee, Early Girl, and Mister Stripeys all have a couple tomatoes each on them, after producing almost nothing all summer. (Actually, there were a few purples, but a chipmunk kept taking one bite out of each.) I did have quite a few of two varieties of cherry tomatoes to enjoy, but that was all. Today I picked three Early Girls and a Mister Stripey that looked mature enough to ripen on a window sill, and I'll pick the rest as soon as there is a frost advisory.

Also today as I was clearing away some vines, I found that a small Thai basil plant had grown, apparently from seeding itself last year. That's pretty crazy, man. Growing basil from seed on purpose is hard to do. I think I will pot it and see if I can keep it alive. I potted my Greek Columnar basil already, and I'm pretty sure that will be okay through the winter. It's kind of an amazing variety.

Marigolds seeded themselves everywhere. That'll probably be fun next Spring.

Summer days, drifting away...


What am I going to do with all this Swiss Chard? No one eats it but me!

12 - 1 (1)

These tomatoes (sorry it's unclear) were all picked green two weeks ago, and sat on this table ripening. 


A few are left in this bowl, but I cut up most of them to roast for soup today, along with a few peppers that were growing soft. I will talk about roast vegetable recipes on the cooking page, today or tomorrow.




Here are more tomatoes I picked last night in advance of the first frost. They will mostly all ripen here over the next couple of weeks.


And I picked the last of the leeks. There was too much clay where they grew; even though they'll have a new location next year, that area needs more amending before I grow something else there.