A post of Garden Pictures

A post of pictures – yes, a lot of pictures.

This morning I started making my rounds around the garden before it got too hot.  It is over 92 degrees outside now!

We haven’t had any rain in a few days (going to possibly get more tomorrow) so I turned the irrigation system on to the front garden and the garden beside the house.  The garden behind the garage was still soaked with water since it doesn’t appear to drain as well.

After doing that, I had to manually water the potatoes in the buckets next to the house since they don’t get any rain under the house overhang.  Same with the onions in the front yard and some flowers in containers.

I looked at the apple tree and I made the decision to remove most of the apples.  The apples were getting larger and it was pulling the branches down.  I didn’t want any more permanent damage done to the tree if it doesn’t need it.

Premature Granny Smith Apples

Kind of a shame – but they went into the trash.  Especially being Granny Smith apples, they are already sour – but since they were picked very early, they would be extremely sour.

After this, I picked a few peas; just four ounces worth.  The peas have just a few flowers left on them but most of them are just the vines without any peas.  This year it just turned too hot very quickly so the cool-weather crops suffered – like the peas and lettuce.

Peas

Next – time to pick the cilantro!  The cilantro has already began to bolt!  What does bolting mean?  Well, it means that the center stalk of the plant begins to grow exceptionally high compared to the rest of the plant and this is where the the flowers and seeds are formed.  Here is the cilantro plants bolting.

Bolting Cilantro

There are three in the above picture to the right and one small cilantro plant to the left.  You can see the difference in height versus the plants.

There isn’t much below the cilantro plants because they were harvested today – got about 10 ounces of leaves/stems from them.  Cilantro has a very soapy smell – and it tastes like soap too.  Not sure why it is so popular, but it is added to salsa.  This is what the goal was for this year – but the cilantro has pretty much finished up before the tomatoes have even ripened.  Below shows all of the harvested cilantro.

Harvested Cilantro

As I read other places, cilantro does have a large tap root.  This is why it does not transplant well.  It almost looks like a carrot.  The tap root looks to be just as long as the bed on the driveway was deep.

Cilantro Taproot

I didn’t want to put the cilantro in the dehydrator because of how long it took the basil last time.  So I took the stems and put them in bundles and tied them with a rubber band.

Bundled Cilantro

I had three of these bundles.  So I tied each of the bundles together and then hung them upside down from a small hook we have between the kitchen and the hallway.  This will allow them to dry.  Once they get closer to getting dried, I’ll take them down and might put them in the dehydrator for a bit.

Tied Cilantro

Alright.  All done with the cilantro-talk now.

I did use the dehydrator one other time this week – and that was to try dehydrating strawberries.  I wasn’t sure what they would be used for, but it was a bit of an experiment and to just use some of the strawberries we’ve been picking lately.  We picked four pounds at the beginning of this week.

Dehydrated Strawberries

The dehydrated strawberries filled half a herb container.  This came from just one tray of strawberries (out of the four total).  So two trays of strawberries would have filled this up!  But, the dehydrated strawberries are a bit crunchy and hydrate when you chew on them.  But if the strawberries aren’t very sweet, they will be just as sour after dehydrating them.

Speaking of strawberries – another three pounds was picked today!  That is seven pounds of strawberries in a week!

Tri-Star Strawberries

Moving on to the next produce for the day – more basil leaves.  First, here are the basil plants before the leaves were picked.

Basil Plants

Here is all of the leaves that were picked – amounted to around four ounces worth.  It took a good 20 minutes to go through the 15 basil plants and pick out the largest leaves again.  By choosing the largest leaves, you get ‘more bang for your buck’ when you pick them.  It also helps to open the ‘canopy’ and allow the sunlight to get to the other leaves that still need to grow a bit more.

Basil Leaves

This time I plan to leave the basil leaves out for a bit and then I might put them on the dehydrator – if they can be done in a day.  Last time it was way too much to let the dehydrator run for two days.

Now with all of the produce out of the way that was picked today, lets go on the garden tour again.

The usual side garden pictures.  Potatoes are in the bottom of the picture and all of the tomatoes are behind the TV antenna tower.

Side Garden

This sole plant is the Red Cherry tomato plant.  There are a few small cherry tomatoes that are yellow and just starting to ripen up.  This plant is now at the top of the THIRD tomato cage that I stacked.  Therefore, this plant is now well over my head – about seven to eight feet tall.

Red Cherry Tomato Plant

And the other tomato plants – one is a Roma tomato and the other five are Best Boy tomatoes.  Can’t really tell how many are planted here because they have all grown together.

Tomatoes Growing Together

Moving on to the back garden.  It doesn’t seem like too much is happening back here.  But this is where I am getting most of the peas – from the Sugar Snap pea plants.  The cucumbers were also planted back here as well and they are taking off.  Most all you see below is Kennebec potatoes covering everything.  There are some Greencrop green bean plants that are hidden under all of those potatoes unfortunately.

Back Garden

Here are the two largest cucumber plants.  This one has a nice bloom on it already and it is the Burpee Pickler cucumber plant.  I planted three of these.

Burpee Pickler Cucumber

Next is the cucumber plant that has grown to the top of the four-foot fence already.  This is the Straight Eight cucumber.  Also planted three of these.

Straight Eight Cucumber

Next is to the potato “bin” and the carrots.  Not really a potato bin since I am not filling it up like I did last year.  At least this year all six potato plants have survived and doing very well.

Kennebec Potatoes

And the carrots.  These seem to be filling in fairly well now and getting tall.  This are a mixture of Burpee A#1 and Sugarsnax carrots.  The Sugarsnax carrots seemed to sprout before the Burpee A#1 carrots and grew a bit faster.  Whatever got in and killed a lot of the carrots seemed to dramatically affect the Burpee A#1 carrots – and took out probably 50% of them.  It was less disastrous with the Sugarsnax and maybe 60 – 65% remained alive.

Sugarsnax Carrots

Let’s take a break from greenery and see some nice flowers.  The marigolds along the road in front of our house are very bushy and the flowers are coming along well this week.

Marigold Curb Appeal Project

While hard to see in the above photo, most of those are pretty large flower heads.

Flowers

And lastly – here is the Rose of Sharon “tree” in our landscaping between the driveway and sidewalk.  The white flowers with a hint of red in the middle is nice – but I would have liked them to be all colorful.  Oh well – we got the “tree” for free from the in-laws so we can’t complain about free.

Rose of Sharon Bloom

OK – so the last area of the tour – the front garden.

Front Garden

Most of the broccoli has been pulled out – except for two.  I’m hoping to maybe get some seed from them.  I’ve had another Ventura celery plant die this week; it seemed to have some kind of white-ish fluid down by the ground level and the stalks were split open.  With this hot weather we’ve had, I just don’t know whether I should be pulling all of the celery up.  Some also have some yellowing leaves as well.  We’ve had a substantial amount of rain to keep them hydrated lately – about everyday this week we had at least a half inch or more of rain.

Notice the difference with the corn?  Well, the Sugar Dots corn is on the left and it is a yellowish-green color.  The Silver Queen on the right is a full dark green.  The Sugar Dots have begun to put the tassels on and drop pollen.  There are around five or six plants dropping pollen – but only two of them have silks on them.  So I did my usual manual corn pollination by cutting all of the silks to an even length and shaking the tassels to get pollen into a bucket – then using a paint brush to paint the pollen onto the silks.  I then place a clothes pin up by the tassels with the date so I know to come back 20 days from that date and harvest it.

Closer view of the Sugar Dots corn.

Sugar Dots Corn

Closer look of the Silver Queen Corn.

Silver Queen Corn

It looks like we are going to have a decent harvest from the Silver Queen Corn – as long as the tassels don’t begin shedding pollen until the silks emerge (had that problem last year with the Peaches & Cream corn).  Most of the stalks all have two areas where you can tell an ear is going to emerge.  Yay!  Glad that the Silver Queen is going to put on two ears of corn so we’ll have ample this year (and will probably make up for what we don’t get from the Sugar Dots corn).

And the last photo is from a California Wonder pepper plant.  I would really think the peppers would be loving this hot weather.  But, it just doesn’t seem like the pepper plants are doing nearly as well this year as what they did last year.  But, this one pepper plant is doing the best out of all eight and it does have a few peppers on it.

California Wonder Peppers

Welp, after a post of lots of pictures, that is all for the garden tour.  I’m debating about making a YouTube video and just going around the garden and narrate a bite.  Some folks like to see videos with narration rather than reading and viewing pictures.

Garden Update / Drying Herbs (Basil)

Been a week since I’ve last posted a garden update.

Here is a lot of photos from the garden – then followed up by my first time drying herbs (basil) with the Nesco FD-80 dehydrator.

Starting off with the herb/lettuce garden.  I’m not too happy with Mother Nature this year.  It has turned off incredibly warm and therefore the cool-weather crops have suffered dramatically.  We’ve had less than two pounds of lettuce this year and less than a pound of peas.  Last year we had 12 pounds of each.  The hot weather has stayed in the upper 80s to lower 90s this week.  Summer this year is exceptionally hot!

The basil is doing well along with the cilantro.  I’m surprised the cilantro hasn’t bolted yet.  However, none of the oregano came up and the parsley is still very leggy and not doing well.  I even seeded at least five to eight seeds of oregano in each area – times 16 areas!  That is a lot of seed.  Oregano seed was so tiny; I’m amazed that something could even grow from that small of seed!

The potatoes in buckets are to the left in the picture below – and they aren’t looking nearly as good as those planted in the ground.  But, this is an experiment to see how well they do.

The basil is in the very back of the photo, cilantro in front of the basil, lettuce in front of the cilantro, and then the parsley at the very bottom of the photo.

Patio Herb & Lettuce Garden

Here is a closer look of the cilantro and basil.  I just plucked a good helping of basil from each of the 15 plants that came up and put the dehydrator to use today!

Cilantro and Basil Plants

Here is the old potato bin.  Now it just has potatoes in it and I didn’t build the bin up like I did last year.  What a difference.  All six potatoes are thriving and doing well.  I did build up the “bin” by an extra six inches and then filled it in with leaves – so this is like hilling up the potatoes.  The potatoes grow above the seed potato that you plant – so it is important to hill up or provide enough growing room for all of the potatoes.  If the potatoes get sunlight, they turn green and are poisonous at those spots.

Kennebec Potatoes

Behind the potatoes are the carrots.  The carrots didn’t recover as well as I hoped they would.  Last year we had almost 17 pounds of carrots and I think we’ll be lucky to get 10 pounds this year.  I re-seeded all of the areas where the carrots died due to a disease (probably damping off disease).  Dozens of them came up – but the original carrots that survived damping off have easily fought the newer carrots for sunlight and most new carrot seedlings have been killed off from this.

Last year this entire 2 x 13 area was completely filled with greenery with zero dead spots.

Carrots

Going to the side garden.  There has got to be something in the soil over here!  These are the largest tomato plants that I’ve ever had!  The tomatoes were planted two feet apart from each other with a potato planted between each tomato plant (trying to use all the area possible).  The tomatoes have all completely grown together and the potatoes are vying for sunlight!

Side Garden

Look at that huge tomato plant in the above picture!  It is over six feet tall now!  That is the red cherry tomato plant.  Here is a closer look.

Cherry Tomato Plant

Here are some of the red cherry tomatoes on the vine:

Red Cherry Tomatoes

And some Best Boy tomatoes on the vine:

Best Boy Tomatoes

Now to the back garden.

The potatoes have the reign back here.  The potatoes were planted a foot apart down the right side of the walkway (which you can’t hardly see now).  27 total on that side.  They were then also planted on the left side – but only about 14 on this side to leave room for lettuce in the back.  There are green beans under the potatoes on the right sides of the board – but you simply cannot see them because of the potatoes covering everything up.

Back Garden

A view from the other side so you can see some of the lettuce (on the left) and some green beans (on the right).

Back Garden

And a side picture of the garden – where you can see the onions that were planted in the foundation blocks trying to fight for some sunlight against the potatoes!

Back Garden

Going to the fruit area now – here is the Flame Bunch grapevine.  This sucker is huge and has made it all the way to the end of the trellis (where the concord grape vine is – but isn’t doing nearly as well).

Grape Arbor

Did you catch the top of the photo?  There are quite a lot of bunches of grapes that are coming along well.  Here is a closer view.

Flame Bunch Grapes

The strawberry pyramids by the grape arbor are still full of greenery.  I cut off well over 50 runners from the two strawberry pyramids and took them to my parents house.  So they have quite a bit of strawberries planted in their garden now.  While you can’t see them in the picture, these Tri-Star strawberries are STILL producing!  We will have another picking of strawberries in a couple of days.  While the Tri-Star strawberries aren’t nearly as large as those huge berries you buy at the store, this variety does continue to produce fairly evenly throughout the year.  The large strawberries at the stores typically produce once in the year and that is all.

Strawberry Pyramid

Lastly for the fruit – the Granny Smith apple tree.  I’m going to have to provide some support for the limbs with apples on them.  This one is drooping quite a bit because the weight of the apples.  I’ve contemplated cutting the apples off (maybe seven on the tree in total), but may just get some support to tie the limbs together so we can have some apples.  The Japanese beetles are out already and one of them is on a leaf of the apple tree below.

Granny Smith Apples

Now for the garden in the front.  The neighbor asked me today when I was going to get the combine out to harvest the corn!  The Silver Queen corn is at least five feet tall now – but the Sugar Dots corn is still lacking by at least a foot – if not more.  I am wondering now if the Sugar Dots corn I bought online was tainted.  Last year the Sugar Dots corn was very short as well and the cob was quite small.  I ordered the seed from a website I’d never heard of before – so that is my fault.  It is possible that they somehow bred a short corn variety in which is causing it.  The Sugar Dots corn is in the front of the picture below; the Silver Queen behind it.

Front Garden

Also in the front garden is the Ventura celery.  It is still coming right along – but it doesn’t seem to be growing anymore.  I bet it is because of the very hot temperatures we’ve had.  I’m not exactly sure when I need to cut out the celery and start to use it (going to try and dehydrate some of this as well).  I know if I start seeing flowers or buds, it is time to cut.  Just hope that won’t be too late.

Ventura Celery

And one of the California Wonder pepper plants.  This has a few small peppers already started.  The pepper plants have been coming along way lately – but about four of the eight are doing well – the other four are still quite small.

California Wonder Pepper

I’m going to see if I can save some radish seed this year.  Here is a photo of a very tall radish stalk with flowers on it.

Radish Flower Stalk

You can see the old broccoli plants in the picture above.  I was hoping to maybe get some broccoli seed to try my luck at them – but I’m thinking I need to just cut most of these out – and maybe leave only one with some flowers on it.  They are just eating up the nutrients in the garden and it is much too hot for them to make any side shoots.  Plus, we have more than enough broccoli for the year with 12 pounds!

Here are the Copra onions in the front.  The onion “leaves” aren’t really growing anymore – but I have noticed that the bulbs are getting a little larger.  Still a long ways to go though.

Copra Onions

And lastly, a side picture of the Silver Queen corn.  The Silver Queen corn has many side shoots on them that almost look like a full corn stalk in itself!  I’d say that close to every Silver Queen corn stalk has at least one side stalk – and some have two!

Silver Queen Corn

Lastly before going into the dehydrating, the curb appeal project with the flower bed is growing very well.  Many marigolds have the flower heads on them and a few have opened up already.  The marigold plants are very large – and it has competed most of the ornamental pepper plants out of the sunlight!

Flower Curb Appeal

Here shows a marigold flower open (reddish and orange color flower) along with another flower that is still open.

Marigold Flowers

That is all for the garden update!


Dehydrating Herbs

This is the first year that we are dehydrating herbs.  We got a good deal on a Nesco FD-80 American Harvest dehydrator.  The nice thing about this dehydrator over others is that it is square-shaped and not circular!  Because it is square-shaped, it gives a lot more room for putting your items you’d like to dehydrate!  We purchased this at Amazon several months ago for $45 with free shipping.  At this moment, they are currently selling for $58 with free shipping.

The Nesco FD-80 dehydrator came with four trays with the one we received.  I picked a lot of basil leaves today to try my luck at dehydrating basil.  The basil plants are quite large so it was time to thin them out a little bit.  I just took some leaves here and there from the plants – but mostly the largest leaves.  The smaller leaves will continue to grow and get larger, but the larger leaves are at their prime and are ready to be used.

My first bit of luck was picking just enough basil to fit on all four trays.  I could maybe fit a few leaves extra on the trays if I really scrunched them together, but overall I picked just the perfect amount!

Dehydrating basil

I washed all of the basil leaves first to get any dirt off of them and then placed them on the trays.  They all are spaced well and do not overlap each other.  You don’t want to overlap as much as possible – otherwise those areas won’t dehydrate as well and will require more time.

The Nesco FD-80 dehydrator has a good heater and temperature control right on the top of the unit.

Nesco FD-80 Dehydrator

Very nice!  Right on the top it says to dry herbs and spices at the lowest setting – 95 degrees.  Perfect and easy without having to consult the manual.

The question is – how long should you dry them?  Well, this is very experimental.  You just need to check on them every now and then (about once an hour).  Once they are done, they should crumble easily – which means they are fully dehydrated.  If they don’t crumble easily, wait another hour and check again.

How long did it take this batch of basil?  Well, the book that came with the dehydrator said it should take between 20 to 24 hours.  Nope.  Not even close.  It took about 48 to 50 hours.  I then started taking the basil off of the top tray and crumbling them.

Dehydrated Basil

Wow!  Much smaller than the were when they went on the rack eh?  Yep.  When I got a couple of trays down, I noticed there were some larger leaves that were not fully done.  So even 48 – 50 hours wasn’t enough!  How much basil came out of a full four-tray dehydrator?

Dehydrated Basil

Not a lot.  Disappointing to say the least.  It managed to only fill a standard herb container up by about 1/5 or less.  So, after all that electric used on the dehydator, I found that it wasn’t worth the drying of basil in a dehydrator.  I’ll probably just put the leaves in a mesh bag or something for a week and see how they do next time.

Gobo Alignment Problem with DJ Lights

Recently I purchased four Chauvet Intimidator 1.0 lights.  Three of them I purchased from someone on eBay and the other one I purchased through the company that we ordered most of all our DJ equpment through – Entertainment Systems Corporation (ESC).  I’m still awaiting the one from ESC – which is due Tuesday, but that doesn’t stop me from playing with them!

Chauvet Intimidator 1.0 Lights

I managed to pick up the three Intimidator 1.0 lights on eBay from someone for $225 – including shipping – and including the Chauvet CH-X blackout controller.

I then had to order some DMX cables to link them together in master/slave mode and also ordered some extra bulbs.

Well, the three lights came in and I got them mounted.  First off, I noticed a problem with one of the lights – which the guy on eBay told me about already.  One of the lights had a problem with the up/down movement of the scanning mirror.  It seemed that the mirror would be almost horizontal to the lens on the light – and therefore the light would shine right back into itself.

I first thought this was a problem with the motor – because it would go “one click” above that horizontal location, but wouldn’t go any higher.  After further investigation, the mirror assembly was put on WRONG!  There is a metal bracket that holds the mirror to the up/down mirror.

Chauvet Intimidator 1.0 Mirror

So above shows the bracket held onto the motor with two screws.  You will see a circular-looking thing in the bottom left corner of the motor.  This is a screw with some rubber on it that prevents the mirror bracket from going into a horizontal position.  Well, the above photo shows the mirror assembly in the correct fashion.  What happened was either a manufacturer defect – or someone that took the mirror assembly off – put it on backwards.  There is a little notch up at the top of the mirror assembly and it was down at the bottom in the wrong location!  Because of this, that notch was allowing the mirror to go in a horizontal position in comparison to the light’s lens.  Well, this apparently confused the light because it wouldn’t move up normally.  But after turning the mirror bracket around, all is fixed!

So I’m playing along with the lights… and I notice another problem!  It seemed that one of the lights was putting out a combination of two gobos at the same time.

Gobo Alignment Problem

Yeah, that is ugly!  It seemed that it was showing about 3/4 of one gobo and 1/4 of another gobo.  It was annoying to say the least and really made a dent in the “light show”.

Now of course, this will indeed void your warranty – so only do this if your warranty is over.  I didn’t have a warranty since I bought them used, so I opened up the thing.

Here is another look with the lens of the light off – looking down into the light.  You can see that two gobos appear.

Gobo Alignment Problem

I’m not going to go through everything I tried to fix this, but I played with it for at least three or four hours before I finally figured out how to fix it.

The gobo wheel is attached to a motor inside your unit.  On the bottom of the gobo is a round disk with a shaft pointing through.

Gobo Alignment Problem

Up above you see the black lens on the very right side.  Then the round cylinder in front of that is the gobo wheel motor.  Then to the left of that is the gobo wheel – very thin so it is hard to see.  Near the back, you will then see a small shaft – looks kind of like a needle.  Below is a closer picture of that piece – although blurry.  The camera didn’t do very well in that tight spot.

Gobo Alignment Problem


Update – June 13th

So the gobo began slipping again after a little bit of use.  I suspect that it is because when the fixtures start up, they bang the gobo wheel against a screw to reset the location of the wheel and so the fixture “knows” what gobo is showing up (blackout by default).  Since I was able to just hold onto that shaft/needle with some pliers and move the gobo wheel, it makes sense that this occurred because the wheel is loose.

So, I had to actually super glue the bottom of that shaft/needle where it goes into the cylinder that screws onto the gobo wheel.

I would advise you that you had better get it set correctly the first time around – otherwise you cannot move it and make changes!

Here is how I did it.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this procedure.  Take the full gobo wheel out along with the metal bracket it sits on.  Do not disconnect any of the wires though.  If you have to disconnect the two red wires connected to the metal bracket (for grounding), ensure you hook them back up after you get the gobo wheel removed.

Now reapply power to your wheel.  You will see what I mean with the gobo wheel having a tab that bangs up against a screw with some rubber around it.

After the fixture has set itself, ensure that the tab on the gobo wheel is right up against the rubberized screw.  After you are absolutely positive that it is set correctly and in that spot, pull the power plug.

Now take a little bit of super glue and drip down the shaft.  There is a depression around the cylinder that the shaft comes out of (the cylinder that is screwed to the gobo wheel.  This provides a good seal for the super glue to hold to.  After about 30 minutes of curing, add another couple drops of super glue around that area to ensure a good fit.

Let it sit for a few hours and then put everything back together.  If you’ve done everything right, the gobos will be perfectly aligned and will stay that way permanently.

Now, run your lights until it gives you the double-gobo look and pull the power plug.  You will probably then need to take the lens of your light off so you can see down into the top of the gobo wheel to ensure you get the wheel aligned correctly.

Now, take a pair of pliers or something that has a good grip on it and put down into the light – and clamp down on that little shaft/needle under your gobo wheel.  After you have a good grip on it, move the actual gobo wheel with your fingers until the gobo is perfectly aligned through the hole above the gobo wheel (again, you’ll have to look through the lens area to see this).

Once you have it aligned, unclamp the shaft/needle and then plug your light back in.  It will go through the reset mode.  Play some music or just tap on the top of the light fixture and see if that fixes the problem.  It took me a few attempts to get it just right, but it is as good as new!

So, not bad.  Three Intimidator 1.0 lights for $225 including shipping.  Two of them had problems – one was easy to fix with the mirror, and the other required a little more detective work.

At this rate, I should just go in the business of repairing lights!

Why You Should Have a Garden

Why should you have a garden?  Well, let me show you.

Today I picked quite a bit out of the garden.

Let’s start with the broccoli.  I planted eight Green Goliath broccoli plants – and seven survived (the other seemed to be a runt with very thick leaves and never grew after it was transplanted.

I picked the broccoli a little late; I should have picked it yesterday but I got too caught up in other things.  So it was picked this morning.  There was a bit of yellow and some of the flowers opening up on the head, but that is fine.  Out of all seven Green Goliath broccoli plants, there was a total of 12 pounds, 3 ounces of broccoli.  Yes – a huge amount.  That is up by quite a bit compared to last year when I planted the same variety and all eight made it.  Last year I got just over five pounds of broccoli – this year it has more than doubled!

Why the difference?  I am kind of wondering if the compost tea spray really has made a difference.  All of my plants are growing exceptionally well this year with spraying compost tea on the leaves once a week.

Green Goliath Broccoli

Here is the largest head that weighed in at two pounds, 8 3/8 ounces by itself!

Green Goliath Broccoli

The broccoli filled up five one-gallon freezer bags.

Green Goliath Broccoli

Moving on to the next produce – more lettuce!  A combination of Simpson Elite, Buttercrunch, and Red Salad Bowl.  As I’ve said previously, I most likely will not grow Red Salad Bowl again because the production just isn’t there compared to Buttercrunch and Simpson Elite.  However, there is 15 1/2 ounces (just shy of a pound) of lettuce that was plucked today.

Lettuce Harvest

And a few Crimson Giant radishes were picked; four total weighing in at 7 3/8 ounces.  These radishes are huge and quite pungent – just the way I like them!

Crimson Giant Radishes

And lastly, a few peas.  I’m not too happy with the peas this year.  There was over 12 pounds of peas last year and so far this year, I’m well under a pound.  What was picked today is only 2 3/8 ounces worth.  There is one Super Sugar Snap pea below (the very big plump one) and all the others are Dwarf Gray Sugar peas.

Peas

So, the above pictures is why to have a garden.  It is quite satisfying to see what you can grow yourself – and know that you are the one that grew it from start to finish.  You also know how you grew the plants – and whether you used any kind of pesticides (I don’t use any myself).

Moving on to some other pictures.  The tomatoes are coming along very well.  Below is the Red Cherry tomato plant and you can see all of the blooms on it.  There are several little tomatoes already started on the plant.  The plant is already as tall as I am!

Red Cherry Tomato

Below is one of the Best Boy tomato plants.  You can see the tomatoes coming along well.

Best Boy Tomatoes

The Granny Smith apple tree has some apples on them that are still going strong.  Unfortunately, the tree just can’t take the fruit an they are still very small.  In the end, I’m going to have to pull these off shortly before it does damage to the plant.  I have finally managed to fully keep the deer out and away from the apple tree with the netting.

Here is the full side garden showing all of the tomatoes, potatoes, and peas.

Side Garden

Granny Smith Apples

The flower bed in the front yard that was my “curb appeal” project is growing rapidly.  The marigolds are growing very large – which I am happy about since it is helping to fill in all of the space.

Flower Bed and Marigolds

A photo of the front garden.  This is where the broccoli was cut out this morning.  Although the main head of the broccoli was cut out, this year I plan to leave the broccoli in place so that side shoots can develop and we can harvest those.  The onions are still hanging in there and the corn continues to grow.  Still, you can see the difference in the corn on the left and the corn on the right.  The corn on the left is Sugar Dots and the corn on the right is Silver Queen.  I’m not fully sure why the corn growing on the left is slower.  The same variety is in some buckets and they are doing just as good as the corn on the right.  The soil in the buckets is the exact same soil that was used to fill the bed on the left in March.

Front Garden

Moving to the back garden.  I cannot walk through it anymore!  The potatoes on the left have covered the walkway so it is pretty hard to walk through now.

Back Garden

The green beans – which you can barely see some of the white flowers in the bottom of the photo above – are doing much better than I expected.  Why?  Well, look where they are placed!  They were placed just to the right of the walkway and the potatoes are almost completely smothering them out.  This is why I planted more Greencrop green beans in the front garden between each corn stalk.  So far about 40 of the 50 beans in the front have come up.  But, below is a closer photo of one of the Greencrop beans with several flowers on it.  We sitll have a few freezer bags of beans from last year and we’re going to start getting more soon!

Greencrop Green Beans

That is all for this garden update.

Uneven Corn Growth & Other Pictures

What a nice break from the very warm weather we’ve been having!  It is only going to warm up to 76 degrees today and 79 degrees tomorrow.  We had some strong storms come through the area last night – but we didn’t see but a couple drops of rain from it.

I got the pressure sprayer out and sprayed down the foliage on all of the garden plants with some compost tea again.  I failed to do it last week – so maybe if I can remember, I”ll make this a habit to do every Sunday.  I do believe that the compost tea spray on the foliage is helping – although I haven’t been watering anything with it.  I am thinking I might be doing that soon with some of the corn in the front yard.

Below you can see the uneven corn growth.  The corn on the left is the Silver Queen corn; the corn on the right (and in the buckets) is Sugar Dots corn.  The Silver Queen corn has really taken off and is doing well – but the Sugar Dots corn doesn’t seem to be growing as quickly.  Both varieties of corn mature around the same time (around 90 days).  They were both planted at the same time as well.

Front Garden

The broccoli is still growing!  I am going to need to cut some of the heads soon I think.

Green Goliath Broccoli

Green Goliath Broccoli

The Copra onions in the front bed are doing very well too.  I took a picture of the base one of the onions.  Last year when I used sets, the bases didn’t get nearly this large – so hopefully these onions will start bulbing up soon and make some huge bulbs!

Copra Onion Base

The California Wonder peppers are not doing very well.  It does seem about four of them are doing alright, but they just are not growing very quickly.  A couple of them seem very stunted and have yellowing leaves on them.  Below is a photo of one of the stems of a pepper with a few flowers.

California Wonder Pepper

The carrots are still moving right ahead.  The carrots that survived the odd weather are growing well – but the recent carrots I planted about a month ago are still small and just getting their first set of true leaves.  I think the original carrots are going to suffocate the new carrots for sunlight unfortunately.

Carrots

The Basil and Cilantro are also growing very well.  The Cilantro had a problem staying upright and anytime I would water, they would flop over.  The Basil has at least doubled in size in the past week.

Herb Garden

The lillies out front are completely all opened and in full bloom!  These just continue to make more blooms each year.  Just four years ago, there were only two of these.  Now there are dozens!

Lillies

Going to the side garden.  The Red Cherry tomato plant is almost to the top of the second tomato cage that I stacked on top of the first one.  The Roma tomato (next to the Cherry tomato) is working its way into the second tomato caged stacked on it as well.  The five other Best Boy tomatoes are just to the top of the first cage.  This variety doesn’t seem to grow as tall as others (if I remember right) but does put on quite a good crop of tomatoes.

The potatoes (on the right side) are doing good.  The Dwarf Gray Sugar peas behind it all along the fence are flowering fairly well now.  However, due to the cool temperatures we had through April and part of May – and then the extremely hot temperatures, it doesn’t seem the peas are doing as good.  Last year I was out picking a lot of peas by now.  So far I’ve only picked a single Dwarf Gray Sugar pea and three Super Sugar Snap peas.

Side Garden

Then there is the back garden – it is getting overgrown with potatoes and is hard to walk down the path!

Back Garden

The view from the other side.  Here you can see some of the Greencrop green beans on the left side of the boards with lettuce on the opposite side.  We picked another approximate seven ounces of lettuce yesterday evening.

Back Garden

And a picture on the outer-side of the back garden showing some of the onions.  The onions are really struggling to contend with the potatoes that are growing into their turf.

Back Garden

And lastly, here is a nice clump of potato flowers from the back garden.

Potato Flowers

 

Can You Eat Broccoli Leaves?

Yesterday I harvested some Crimson Giant radishes out of the garden – and some broccoli leaves.  The radishes were from the first batch that were planted in the garden.  All of them were pulled up except one; I’m hoping it will go to seed so I can save some radish seed.  I’m just about out of radish seed already, so I want to have a supply for next year.

Radishes

I’ve also noticed that the celery planted between the broccoli and the peppers that are to the north of the broccoli have been stunted and are small – and this is because they are not getting enough sunlight.  So each of the seven broccoli plants were given a trimming yesterday.  That opens up the “canopy” a bit and will allow sunlight to get to the celery and peppers.

So I began looking up what could be done with broccoli leaves and whether broccoli leaves are edible.

Well, they certainly are edible – we’ll put it that way – but I don’t recommend it.

The large leaves have a huge “stalk” that connects it to the main trunk of the plant.  I thought this would be perfect because when you cut broccoli heads, the stems of those are edible.  Not for the leaf stalks!  They are very fibrous.  They do taste like broccoli, but they are more fibrous and stringy than eating celery.

Therefore, I ripped off all of the leaves from the leaf stalks and tried one of the leaves.  Well, the uncooked leaf pieces wasn’t too terribly bad – again, it tasted like broccoli.  But it was tough.

I’d read a few recipes and entries online where folks used broccoli leaves in dishes – so I was going to give it a try.  I got out some cut carrots from last year’s garden from the freezer and added a package of bacon to it.  I then put the carrots and broccoli leaves in a large pot filled with water and let it heat up on the stove.  I then cooked the bacon in another pot so I could keep the grease and drizzle it over the broccoli leaves and carrots after they were strained.

The broccoli leaves turn to a nice, dark brown color after they are cooked – exactly what the other posts I read looked like.  After everything was added together, I put in quite a bit of garlic salt and added some basil.

Now for the taste test.

Not too pleasing.  Maybe it is because I overloaded the dish with broccoli leaves.  I did have a very large pot of leaves and carrots – and of course the bacon didn’t go very far.  I had hoped the leaves would mellow out a bit and become less tough after cooking, but that was not the case.  It still had the same broccoli taste but it also had a bit of a sour twang to it.  The broccoli leaves were also still quite tough and required a lot of chewing to break down.

I didn’t even finish all of the leaves on my plate because there were so many!  I of course ate the carrots and bacon though.

Welp, I suppose that is an idea I won’t continue.  I just hated to throw the large broccoli leaves into the compost tumbler thinking that surely they would be edible – since they are part of the cabbage family.  I’ll know now that it isn’t worth the time and effort to rip the leaves off of the leaf stems nor going to any of the extent to make use of the broccoli leaves.


Here are some photos I took around the garden today.  The first one shows the marigolds and ornamental peppers coming along very well.  I have to keep after the weeds though because they love to grow in this soil!

Marigolds & Ornamental Peppers

The Flame Bunch grape vine is growing huge!  It has completely surpassed the growth rate of the Concord Seedless grape vine  which is on the other side of the grape trellis.  The Flame Bunch grape vine is now only about one foot away from the end of the trellis.  I’ve also wrapped the vines around to the width of the trellis as well since I’d rather have this full to really fill the trellis in and look nice.  Later on if the Concord Seedless vine starts growing well, I can cut back the Flame Bunch vine.  Here you can see several bunches of grapes that are coming along well at the top of the trellis.

Flame Bunch grape bunches

And lastly, I picked one Dwarf Gray Sugar pea today and three Super Sugar Snap peas.  The fencing is four feet tall – twice as tall as last year – but the Dwarf Gray Sugar peas are already past the two foot mark and are beginning to put on a lot of blooms.  The Super Sugar Snap/Sugar Snap peas are growing very tall as well – with a few vines already past four feet tall – but they simply are not flowering nearly as well.  The Super Sugar Snap peas are plumper and they are very crisp and have some sweetness to them.  The Dwarf Gray Sugar peas must be picked before they get plump – otherwise they turn stringy.  They also have some sweetness to them, but are not nearly as crisp.  I think next year I may have to put up six-foot fencing or more to support these things!

Peas

Migrating Links from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5

Recently I just upgraded my Joomla installation from 1.0 to the 1.5 release.  Yes, late I know – but the site just “worked” and there is no reason to fix what isn’t broke right?

During the upgrade, I used the Migrator component – which takes a snapshot of all your content items, menu items, modules, and other “main features” from Joomla.  However, it does not migrate over third-party plugins.

On my site, I have two plugins that are used.  One of them is to allow comments to content items (like this one) and the other is the Zoom Media Gallery.

After installing Joomla 1.5, I re-installed the old comment plugin – and then did an export of those specific tables for that plugin – and then imported them in the new database.  Perfect – worked like a dream.  Just ensure you turn on the Legacy plugin if you are using old templates or non-native components for Joomla 1.5.

I had a little more difficulty with Zoom Media Gallery.  I was able to install the component just fine – then exported the tables from the old database and imported them into the new – no problem there.  However, when I tried to view the gallery or even the configuration, it was nothing but a white screen.

Luckily someone made a “patch” for this.  I uninstalled the Zoom Media Gallery component and installed the patch – which makes very little changes to the original component – but it worked.  Re-imported the tables again – and I was in business!

So the site was converted over to Joomla 1.5 in a day.

Next problem – woops!  I posted many links on forums around the Internet with the old way that Joomla made use of the mod_rewrite Apache module.

It went from links like this:

  • http://www.bsntech.com/content/blogcategory/41/281/
  • http://www.bsntech.com/content/view/1301/281
  • http://www.bsntech.com/component/option,com_zoom/Itemid,261/
  • http://www.bsntech.com/component/option,com_zoom/Itemid,261/catid,2/

To links like this:

  • http://www.bsntech.com/bsntech-blog-mainmenu-321/computers-mainmenu-281
  • http://www.bsntech.com/bsntech-blog-mainmenu-321/computers-mainmenu-281/1301/
  • http://www.bsntech.com/index.php?option=com_zoom&Itemid=261
  • http://www.bsntech.com/picture-gallery-mainmenu-261?catid=2

See the big difference there?  Wow – I quickly made a backup of the new Joomla 1.5 installation, zipped it up, and reverted back to Joomla 1.0 until this problem was fixed.  Why?  I don’t want to lose my Google Page Ranks – and I certainly don’t want to lose all of the visitors on those forums where I posted direct-links to my blogs or specific content-items!  This would have been dreadful and would have left all of my users upset that the links no longer worked – and would reduce my visitors by at least half (if not more)!

What I needed was a Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5 Link Converter.  Yeah – no such thing available.

Instead, I remembered that there was a file in the root directory called “.htaccess” – which allows the Apache mod_rewrite module to function.  So, this was the key to getting all of those links to work and automatically redirect to the correct site.

After probably 12 hours of attempting to work on this, I just opted to go to the Apache mod_rewrite documentation and look through this.

While not all of the pages are going to direct using this function (unless you make a rule for every single specific site on your main page), I only redirected the pages that are most-used through search engine hits and the like.

So here is the glory that was added to my .htaccess file.  It was added just under the line that says:

########## Begin – Joomla! core SEF Section

And for the code that was added to allow those links above to work:

RewriteRule ^content/blogcategory/51/301/$ /bsntech-blog-mainmenu-321/gardening-mainmenu-301 [R,L]
RewriteRule ^content/blogcategory/41/281/$ /bsntech-blog-mainmenu-321/computers-mainmenu-281 [R,L]
RewriteRule ^content/view/(.+)/301/$ /bsntech-blog-mainmenu-321/gardening-mainmenu-301/$1 [R,L]
RewriteRule ^content/view/(.+)/281/$ /bsntech-blog-mainmenu-321/computers-mainmenu-281/$1 [R,L]
RewriteRule ^component/option,com_zoom/Itemid,261/$ /picture-gallery-mainmenu-261 [R,L]
RewriteRule ^component/option,com_zoom/Itemid,261/catid,(.+)/$ /picture-gallery-mainmenu-261?catid=$1 [R,L]

After testing for a while, this fully took care of the most-used content on my site.

The first two lines above simply point directly to a blog category – such as when you click “Gardening Blog” or “Computer Blog” on the top of the main page.  With these two lines, it was an immediate conversion – there were not any dynamic numbers or anything to throw in.  You’ll noticed that it says “^content……/$”.  The caret in front indicates that this is the beginning of the line and the $ sign indicates the end of the line.  It will only accept this as input – any deviation from it and the redirect won’t work.  In addition, at the very end, there is [R,L] – which means Redirect (so the address bar in a user’s browser changes to the correct link) – and L – for Last.  This tells the mod_rewrite module that if this line item matches, do not process any other lines below it for comparison.

In the other lines, you’ll see a “(.+) inserted.  This tells the module that any number of characters can be inserted in this portion of the URL and is stored in the $1 variable.  Hence – that is why there is a $1 at the end of the redirect link on those lines.  Now of course if someone just types in junk in that area, it clearly will get a 404 – because it passes it directly to the way the new links are setup.  You can’t enter number 1500 if a content item with that ID doesn’t match.

Well, that takes care of the dynamic conversion of links from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5.  The site is functioning well and I believe it is very close to being fully supportive of the old link style in Joomla 1.0