Peppers Picked, Leaves Tilled In

This weekend was a little bit of garden cleanup time.

Yesterday – Saturday – I worked on mulching leaves that were in our yard and the neighbor’s yard.  Luckily, the neighbor had someone mow his lawn and his mower has a bag on it – so they just dumped the mulched leaves near the forest area behind the house.  That was perfect for me!  I’m kind of thinking that may be a good investment – because it would be much faster to simply mow over a big pile of leaves and have them mulched up in a bag – then using the leaf mulcher/blower and do it by hand – which takes hours!

So, the watermelon area and the side garden had a good helping of leaves all mulched in.  So far, that is the only area done.  I wanted to get the back garden done today.  Another neighbor has a huge pile of leaves with a tarp over them.  I thought the neighbor was saving them for her kids – but I was told otherwise.

Tilling in Leaves into the Garden

Today, I got all of the basil pulled out of the patio bed.  The basil plants were dropping their leaves and the plant was past it’s prime.  This year we only got a large spice container full of dehydrated basil – whereas last year, we got the same container filled – plus two or three smaller containers.

Patio Garden

Alas, all of the pepper plants were harvested as well (you can see in the photo above that the two Anaheim Pepper plants that were in the blue tote are no longer there).  There was only a pound and a half of Anaheim Hot Peppers (total of 28 harvested):

Anaheim Hot Peppers

And lastly, there were five California Wonder pepper plants that have always harvested very well in years past.  Unfortunately, three died shortly after they were put in the garden so that would have immediately reduced yields by 38%.  But, we got much less than that this year.  There were a total of 48 peppers that were harvested – totalling only 8 pounds.  For the year, that puts the number of California Wonder peppers under 10 pounds.  In years past, it seems we at least get around 50 pounds of peppers.

California Wonder Peppers

So, all of the peppers were bagged up in freezer bags and put in the freezer.  Some were put in the fridge so we would have them fresh.

I’m quite surprised this year.  We have not yet had a frost!  It has been pretty close (the past two nights were about 34 degrees) – but it has not yet hit the freezing point.  So, the garden still has the tomatoes and lettuce plants outside.  Some of the tomatoes are still in the process of getting a little bit of color on them.  It is always a shame at the end of the year when all you have left are green tomatoes – and it always seems like there is at least 20+ pounds of green tomatoes left.  We don’t have any use for green tomatoes.  Some folks do fry them up – but we haven’t acquired a taste for that.

The Last Watermelon & Almost Freezing

This week saw another huge crop of tomatoes!  We were gone for a little over a week and when we returned, a lot needed done.

For starters, we finally got a lot of rain.  The rain barrel system was completely filled up when we got back home – and no leaks – so everything was put back together well after the maintenance a few weeks back.  It was also quite windy a few days – and some of the deer netting in the front yard was down – and allowed some deer to get in and nibble on things.

The lettuce has taken off – and we harvested a little over two pounds of lettuce yesterday.

Assorted Lettuce

And here is the harvest:

Lettuce Harvest

Next was to pick the tomatoes.  There were over 15 pounds of Better Boy tomatoes, over a pound of Roma tomatoes (and they haven’t all been picked yet), and almost a pound of red cherry tomatoes.

Assorted Tomatoes

As you can see, they are not fully ripened up – but the weather is getting cold and I wanted to ensure they were picked before they went bad.  There are still TONS of green tomatoes on the plants.

Tomatoes

As for the Anaheim Hot Peppers – they still are going well – but they just did not impress me.

Anaheim Hot Peppers

Same is the case with the California Wonder peppers this year.  We’ve always had huge yields – but this year left more to be desired.  We’ve only taken a few peppers from the plants this year.  I think it is because they were too crowded  out by all of the tomato plants.

California Wonder Peppers

Believe it or not, the Ventura celery seems to have had a growth spurt – so there are a few of those remaining.  You can also see a Best Boy tomato in the front – although I didn’t stake it up so it has fallen over (and has been this way for months now).

Ventura Celery

And lastly – today (Sunday) – I did some yard work.  The lawn was in desparate need of being mowed (mostly because of the weeds) – and I finally got the weed-eater out for the first time this year to trim around everything.  While doing so, I also tore out the Crimson Sweet watermelon plants and took down the big of fencing between the house and garage that protected that garden.  The final Crimson Sweet watermelon of the year – and by far the largest – weighing in at 19 pounds!

Crimson Sweet Watermelon

Well, we at least have been spared from freezing temperatures for the next week.  On Thursday and Friday of this past week, temperatures got very close to freezing (about 34 degrees) – but didn’t cause any damage to the plants.

Rain Barrel System Repair

This week was a strenuous week with having to work on the rain barrel system.  If you recall, I added a whole second part to the rain barrel system that allowed the system to double in size – going from six barrels to 12 barrels.

When I put  up the first part of the system, the posts were dug in and concrete was then used to backfill the holes.

Unfortunately with the second part of the system, I was cheap and filled the holes back in with dirt.  That bit me pretty good.  Early in the spring, I came home from work one day and saw this:

Rain Barrel System

While that picture doesn’t look too great, the whole top part of the barrel system shifted to the left and was on the verge of collapse.  Back then, I emptied the barrels and got a few bags of fast-setting concrete mix to try to back-fill the areas around the posts.  Unfortunately, this just didn’t work well and over the summer, the system slowly began shifting again.

Just a few days ago – on Thursday – I then started work on the barrels.  I had to empty all of the barrels, take down the boards that held the barrels up, chip away all of the concrete I had put around the posts, then remove all of the posts.  Believe it or not, gettin the posts out of the ground was fairly simple because they had moved around so much.

In the below picture, you can see where I’ve removed everything except the posts.  See just how far those posts are leaning to the left?  Even with the concrete I put down, it wasn’t enough.

Rain Barrel Repair

Now, I have all of the posts pulled out – and this is where I stopped for Thursday.

Rain Barrel Repair

On Friday, I then dug out the post holes again and made them fairly large sized so there would be plenty of concrete to hold the posts in place. I didn’t take any photos on Friday – but did take a few on Saturday.

On Saturday, I had the intentions of getting the posts in place and all level – then put the concrete in.  But, the weather wouldn’t cooperate.  It is said that you shouldn’t pour concrete or let it sit in temperatures lower than 42 degrees if it is not cured.  Well, Saturday night into Sunday morning was going to get down to about 34 degrees.  Yes, 34 degrees already!  Heck, the tomatoes and peppers are still outside trying to ripen fruit and it is almost freezing already!

So – Saturday just saw me getting all of the posts all leveled and straight – then adding the braces across the top and bottom.

Rain Barrel System

Amazing.  Look how much straighter those posts are now – and the barrels are snugly hugging against the side of the garage.  That is how it should be!

Below – I got a close-up of the holes that were dug.  Not only did I dig the holes, I also made a trench between the two holes that can also be filled with concrete.  By basically allowing the concrete for the two holes to be connected through that trench, that will give even more strength.  I think I’m over-building this a bit – but I certainly do not want to do this again!

Rain Barrel System

Bright and early on Sunday I got outside and starting putting in the concrete.  Well – the first hole/trench area (very left of the picture above) took 5 bags of concrete – all by itself!  I only bought 6 bags from the store.  Made my commute up to the store to pick up another 10 bags of concrete (luckily it was on sale for 4 bags for $9).  Upon arriving home, the other two holes (middle one and right one in the picture above) took about 4 bags of concrete each.  So I have two extra bags left over now.

But, I don’t think this is going to be moving anywhere from now on!  Weather man says we won’t have any rain until next weekend – so that gives the concrete a good week to cure and harden up before weight will begin being applied to the barrel system.

Rain Barrel System Repair

Rain Barrel System Repair

Rain Barrel System Repair

Well, the only thing left to do will be to put the compost tea making barrels on the boards running along the bottom of the posts.  I most likely will get that done later today.