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Foliar Feeding with Vermicomposting Leachate

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That is a bunch of technical gobble-di-goop that means I made a liquid feed sprayed on the leaves of my plants using the liquid that comes off the bottom of my new composting bins. I am now using “Worm Factory Tray Worm Composter”. It has a spigot on the bottom that allows me to collect the liquid leachate or as some call it “Worm Tea” off of the bottom. Many of the gardening forums are kind of split on the value of collecting the leachate and some say it is an indication a system that is too damp. The design of the “Worm Factory” lets the liquid to drop to the bottom and out of harms way and I am good with that.

My recipe, not exact science, about a pint or so of leachate(liquid off the bottom), a couple of tablespoons of agri molasses and two gallons of water. I ran an aerator for 24 hours before filling the sprayer and applying the mixture as a foliar spray. An online reference says – “Foliar feeding is a technique of feeding plants by applying liquid fertilizer directly to their leaves. It has been known for many years that plants are able to absorb essential elements through their leaves. The absorption takes place through the stomata of the leaves and also through the epidermis. Movement of elements is usually faster through the stomata, but the total absorption may be as great through the epidermis. Plants are also able to absorb nutrients through their bark.”

I used an old beer fermenter that had some deep gouges on the inside…good place for bad critters to hide that can give your beer off flavors …. or worse! A small aerator with a small air stone I have used in my bait buckets provided the tiny bubbles. The molasses provides some food for bacteria to grow….the web has lots of don’t use molasses and some say use molasses and I just do what I want….sprayed the plants two days ago and none of them appear to be complaining today. In Houston….avoid spraying your tomato plants….it could increase the chance of disease. I just poured a litle on the soil beneath the plants.

Mixing bucket and my litle sprayer.

Mixing bucket and my litle sprayer.

Gate to may Garden

Gate to may Garden

Gate to my garden with the pole bean arches seen behind the gate.

Gate to my garden with the pole bean arches seen behind the gate.

A look back toward my compost bins and strawberry towers

A look back toward my compost bins and strawberry towers

The second round of the strawberry harvest is under way now. They tend to be a little smaller bur I think sweeter. The blackberries are ready to start picking. I should have enough blackberries to make some jam if the the birds and my wife don’t eat too may fresh of the vine! Tomatoes, yes, homegrown and vine ripe tomatoes are finding their way into the kitchen now. Life would so empty without “real” tomatoes, not the gassed store bought varieies! My peppers, Serrano, Poblano and Bell type are all doing well. I had higher hopes for my asparagus this year!!!! Not sure what is up with that harvest. Last year was outstanding. The pole beans are climbing and producing very well. I still have Swiss Chard that looks good even in the Houston heat.

Yesterday was a light day in the garden in terms of labor. I only soaked through two T-shirts! I am always pulling weeds, that is a given. I added some soil to a couple of the potato bins, i.e., grown above ground in containers. I will get a harvest in another 20-30 days it appears. I added some grass cuttings to my compost bin and then layered in some brown material from the other bin. I will check temperatures of the pile today. The addition of grass clippings really heats the pile up.

Heading out in a few minutes to pick before it gets “way too hot”.
TTFN
Bishop
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Beer Trumps All

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Beer and Growing are compatible!

Bishop's Beer Blog

I spent last week in California, more precisely, Coalinga, Paso Robles, Bakersfield and San Ardo.

In Coalinga we stayed at Harris Ranch Inn. Great beef, great ranch style rooms and good beer to. Tuesday night we shifted locations to Paso Robles, 27 minutes south of San Ardo oilfield. We were in the midst of some of the finest red wine growing and nearly 300 wineries, from little tiny to very, very big! Just a note, we should have had a 27 minute drive but due to cattle guard issues with a local rancher and some drilling activity we had to drive another 8 or 10 minutes north, hook back across the Salinas River and meander through some  lush produce fields adding 15 minutes to the drive. We witnessed seemingly endless vistas of vineyards, cattle grazing on the rolling hills, cabbage harvests and lettuce planting….This stretch of Highway 101, El Camino Real…

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Beer Trumps All

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Link to my beer blog post…..a mix of growing and beer! – enjoy
http://wp.me/1qlvz
TTFN
Bishop

The Other Garden “Ato” – the Potato

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I seem to celebrate the tomato as if it the crown jewel of the backyard farmer as many gardeners do. Tomatoes do seem to be a central theme with many garden bloggers, “how to” sites, mail order companies and farmer’s markets. That said, I would like to share my growing fascination with potato growing. I have tried barrel or basket growing in the past. This year I have a mix of conventional trenched and hilled in ground method, a barrel and two tubs.

I planted some Yukon Gold taters in the ground and the barrel at the same time. They are doing very well. I had a few leftover and a couple of weeks later I planted them in the Rubbermaid tub I had been using to house my vermicomposting worms. I need to add lots of soil to it tomorrow!!!! I planted another tub a week ago and the shoots have yet to break the surface.

The barrel planted potato eyes were placed in the barrel with about six inches of soil. They took off. I think they benefitted from the warming effect of the barrel. The soil level is up to about 40 inches now and I won’t add any more. The in ground potatoes are also doing very well. The plants are 30+ inches above the hilled up mounds. I have high hopes for a good harvest.

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An old garbage barrel with  holes in the bottom. Potato eyes at the bottom, 30 + inches below support the lush green growth.

An old garbage barrel with holes in the bottom. Potato eyes at the bottom, 30 + inches below support the lush green growth.

The newest tub was planted with supermarket spuds that sprouted in the pantry. Supermarket spids are not the best choice as they are sometimes treated to inhibit sprouting. The Yukon Gold are actual seed potatoes purchased at Kingwood Garden Center. Helpful folks, lots of knowledge and support organic gardeners!

The tub as it appears when the potatoes are planted. About 6 inches in the bottom,

The tub as it appears when the potatoes are planted. About 6 inches in the bottom,

Soil in this one is up about 10 inches and needs quite a bit more this weekend.

Soil in this one is up about 10 inches and needs quite a bit more this weekend.

I am looking forward to filching a few “new” potatoes down a foot or so a little later in early summer. I will be watching closely….once they flower and the tops die back I will harvest. The nice thing about using the tubs and barrels is the no digging to harvest. Just dump the container and sort through bounty!

PS – lunch was tomatoes picked today used in a wilted spinach and fresh Chard salad with grilled chicken breast. Dressing was simply EVOO and a blackberry flavored aged Balsamic vinegar. A little fresh ground pepper and sea salt! Just perfect!

TTFN

Bishop

Tomato Heaven Has Opened It’s Gates in My Backyard

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May 10th 2013 I picked the season’s first red, ripe and redolent of traditional flavor – tomatoes – yes plural form of the word tomato, more than one – Yee Haw cowboy! The Sweet Million variety is the first to deliver the goods. My Celebrity plant will not be too far behind. My mouth will just have to wait a little longer to savor a BLT with one of MY red, ripe and redolent of traditional flavor – real tomatoes. I will have to admit that I am not so optimistic with my Mortgage Lifter tomatoes – at least so far this season. I have had blossoms, I put my bumblebee suit on and buzzed the flowers with the electric toothbrush but the blossoms close up and drop off! Another update – I have my wife to thank for having tomatoes to pick today….she was tempted yesterday…thank goodness they weren’t apples or margaritas!

(see- https://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2012/10/02/a-vibrating-garden-visitor/ ) I also planted some grafted heirloom varieties purchased from Burpee so maybe I will have some better luck!

The May 10th tomatoes picked in the dark. Dark at 10:30 AM. Yes AM - today's storm is very dark. 4 inches per hour of rain heading our way!

The May 10th tomatoes picked in the dark. Dark at 10:30 AM. Yes AM – today’s storm is very dark. 4 inches per hour of rain heading our way!

The asparagus bed gets better each year…I think it is on year 5 for the oldest root crowns. Sometimes the spears never make the kitchen……they are so good freshly cut! Last night I snacked on a few after my return from McAllen Texas, down in the Rio Grande River valley. I also savored a few Alpine strawberries and a few full sized berries off of my strawberry towers. The white Pineberries seem to be busy sending out runners…..I may have to snip that behavior and try to force it until later this summer.

Finger sized asparagus spear....flash photograph at 10:30 AM!!!!!

Finger sized asparagus spear….flash photograph at 10:30 AM!!!!!

My friend John and I have cucumber seeds in the ground ready to start up the trellis. He is a bit more limited with space so he is only growing a slicing variety. Me, on the other hand have slicers, Armenian long style and “picklers” planted in my beds. I will promise my family….no more attempts at making dill pickle. I can’t compete with your favorites! So, sweet or bread and butter types will be my focus. Several years ago I made a spicy, mildly hot bread and butter recipe….I liked it! If I remember I will share that recipe later on this summer.

I am pleasantly surprised, my quiet strawberry beds, resting after an early spring burst of activity, are showing lots of blossoms….again, Yee Haw cowboy! I really don’t think a person can have too may strawberries! The arches over the garden entry I built with Crepe Myrtle pruning’s are supporting several varieties of pole beans. The blossoms are heavy on some of the supports indicating a potentially bountiful harvest. Once the vines are filled in a little better I will share a photo. I have a mix of red, purple and white pole bean blossoms showing. Fingers crossed that the vision in my head is reflected in the end result of the planting.

The pole bean arches with some red blossoms.

The pole bean arches with some red blossoms.

Chard, Brussels Sprouts and some tomatoes

Chard, Brussels Sprouts and some tomatoes

My Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree has set a good number of lemons, some are approaching egg size right now. What is interesting though is that there is evidence of many new blossom forming on the tree now. Not sure if this is in the realm of normal behavior but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth….I will certainly take and enjoy any extra efforts by my little lemon tree!

Weather update….nearly 2000 lightning strike per hour in some areas just east of Houston. Flooding, hail and dark, dark skies! we are bracing for some very wet weather.

TTFN

Bishop

Kayaking On A Beautiful Day – With A Surprise

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Decided to take a day off from the garden and paddle on the river and lake by the house. I took my big lens, 80-400mm zoom and the Nikon D200. Just to be safe I brought it along in a water tight roll-up sack. I launched at Kings Harbor, right in the middle of our development in Kingwood, TX, 25 mile NE of Downtown Houston. There are an abundance of water birds of all types so my primary objectives were, 1. To paddle for a bit and 2. Take some photos.

Little Blue Heron....I did an internet search. Did I get it right?

Little Blue Heron….I did an internet search. Did I get it right?

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I was drifting up a little bayou on the southside of Kingwood Country club not 300 yards from the fairway bordered by some very nice homes. My friend John Hazle lives about a very healthy dive with a Big Bertha from where these photos were taken. I was following a Great Blue Heron and a Little Blue Heron when I spotted something odd!

I saw a tan lump, looked a bit hairy with black spots. I lowered the camera and drifted a little closer to determine what it was. Then it moved and attached to the lump was a pig snout. Oh boy! The wild hogs are creeping into the neighborhood! A moment later a big hog steps into the picture. He was big, he was ugly and he is way too close to home….albeit closer to Mr. Hazle’s home than mine. Yuk, yuk! My first thought to be honest with you was to figure out where I could set up a tree blind and put an arrow into one of the hogs….I also have to admit that seeing them active like this during mid-daylight hours is a bit odd.

The little tan lump I first spotted had friends!

The little tan lump I first spotted had friends!

Oh Yeah....A big ugly - could be a boar!

Oh Yeah….A big ugly – could be a boar but my guess, based on size, would be a sow with a couple of juveniles.

Anybody seeing sausage? Probably 40 plus yards away...too far for me to shoot. I need about a 20-25 yard shot to feel comfortable.

Anybody seeing sausage? Probably 40 plus yards away…too far for me to shoot. I need about a 20-25 yard shot to feel comfortable.

I paddled around to the back side of the island to see if there was evidence of more hogs but didn’t have any luck. I need to check with TPWD to see if bow hunting would be allowed in this area. If yes, I see a pig roast in the near future! I managed a few more keeper shots. I really need to do this more often. There so much to see along the river and lake shore!

Coming in to land.

Coming in to land.

Exploding up off the water.

Exploding up off the water. One of these days I will catch this in focus……it was close to being in focus!

Cruising and skimming across the water - another Great Blue Heron.

Cruising and skimming across the water – another Great Blue Heron.

A Killdeer and some young out of focus in the foreground.

A Killdeer and some young out of focus in the foreground.

TTFN

Bishop

Jams and Curds

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My pantry shelves a pretty well loaded with jams, jellies but, unfortunately the lemon curd has vanished. The last jar of the Meyer Lemon curd went to my daughter in California and shared with my grandkids. My granddaughter sent me a text message this morning after the gift package arrived  – “Please send more liquid gold….AKA lemon curd… It is amazing and I want to eat the whole jar but am required to share”. I shared with her a comment from one of my readers, Claire, a blogger from the UK. Claire’s favorite way to use and enjoy lemon curd is by the spoonful directly from the jar! I second that advice! See what Claire has to say and share. http://promenadeplantings.com/

 

On my shelf I do have some jars of rose petal jelly, beautiful in color but short on “rose” flavor. I made two batches of Pomegranate jelly, one from store bought juice and the other by extracting the juice myself….both were good but the home extracted juice gave the jelly a little more of a robust flavor. One jar remains of my Serrano Pepper jelly and one small jar of the Port Wine jelly with Rosemary. The Mother Lode is this year’s strawberry harvest. It is so good!

The last batch I chose to make in a chunky style. Chunky meaning I did not fully, completely, energetically mash and destroy the body of the berries. I like the results! My son does not appear to like it as well as the abused berry crushing approach! Why do I like it? It is more like enjoying the fruit as well as the jam. I always make the low sugar recipe version, i.e., 4 cups of sugar vs. the 6 or 7 called for in the full sugar recipes. I think the low sugar recipe allows more of the base fruit flavor to come through in the process. I can’t wait until the blackberries kick in.

Gently mashing the berries for the "chunky" jam.

Gently mashing the berries for the “chunky” jam.

The results. I the bowl is the foam scraped off before canning. My wife adds it to her oatmeal & egg white breakfast frittata.

The results. In the bowl is the foam scraped off before canning. My wife adds it to her oatmeal & egg white breakfast frittata.

My biggest berry of the season - a double butterfly strawberry.

My biggest berry of the season – a double butterfly strawberry.

Strawberries are still showing up in the garden, none of them make it into the house! I love to putter in the garden and snack on the fresh stuff. The sugar snaps, small asparagus, a carrot that escaped the clean-up of the beds. I had a couple of the miniscule Alpine berries this morning, two Pineberries and a few sugar snap pea pods. I also chopped up a cup of kale and added it to the blender with 6 oz. of orange juice, 1 cup of frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogurt, a tbsp. of ground flax and a dash of nutmeg. Very tasty for such a healthy smoothie. PS, I used 50% less calorie orange juice….still had a great taste.

TTFN

Bishop

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