Cucumber vines growing so fast you can see them move

My cucumber plants are loving life this year.  I have never had such a vigorous crop!  Each of these groups of vines is growing out from 2′ x 2′ raised boxes.

Cucumber vines July 1st, 2014

Cucumber vines July 1st, 2014

I have already picked a dozen pickle-sized cucumbers.  Here's a baby fruit.

I have already picked a dozen pickle-sized cucumbers. Here’s a baby fruit.

Overnight these two vines grew together and started holding hands.

Overnight these two vines grew together and started holding hands.

My wife commented last night that as she sat on the porch swing, she could see these two vines growing towards each other.  The next morning, they had succeeded in a hug.

I made a half gallon of refrigerator pickles already from 12 or 13 of these cukes.  If I don’t miss the big flush during vacation I could have lots more to can.

Garlic conjoined via umbilical cord

Last year, on a hike, I found a new variety of garlic growing wild.  I’ll be growing this variety out for at least 4 years to see how large it can become, and if it turns out to be tasty.  I only had three cloves to plant.  One of them was smaller than my smallest fingernail and the others were the size of a grain of rice.  The big one and one of the smaller ones grew for me, but check out what came out of the ground when I pulled up the larger plant:

Garlic bulb with conjoined extra clove

Garlic bulb with conjoined extra clove

Did a root turn into a clove or is this the original clove I planted?

Did a root turn into a clove or is this the original clove I planted?

Hand for scale.  This is a small garlic bulb.

Hand for scale. This is a small garlic bulb.

This is new to me.  I don’t know if this happens with other garlic varieties.  I also don’t know if this is an odd root that decided to become a clove or mini-bulb, or if this is somehow the original clove that I planted last fall.  They were definitely joined together, as both came out of the ground as a unit when I pulled the plant.

If you know anything about growing garlic, please let me know your experience with this type of occurrence.  If you don’t know anything about growing garlic, please leave your theories!

The year of the cherry

2014. The year of the cherry.

2014. The year of the cherry.

Our two dwarf Northstar pie cherry trees have (probably) reached their full size this year.  We picked about two gallons of cherries from our in-town back yard.  We ate fresh cherries, we shared cherries with friends, we made cherry muffins and cherry pie, we even made cherry syrup!

2014-06-12 19.21.54

I planted these trees in the spring of 2009.

BPA in canning lids

I just learned that as of 2013 (or maybe it was AFTER 2013), canning lids no longer contain BPA.  Good news, right?  Yes, but…

20140607_215842it will be a while before I’m using them. I’ve got at least 25 dozen lid flats from 2012. They are cheap enough that I try to keep 2 years worth on hand in case they get scarce for some reason.


Roll Your Own (Tomato Cages)


I am in the process of making myself a set of extremely high quality, buy-it-for-life tomato cages.  As shown in the picture, they are a very heavy gauge of wire.

These tomato cages started life as “cattle panels”.  Here is a picture of some guy who is not me cutting some cattle panels down to size.  They are 50 inches high and 16 feet long to begin with.  I had to buy bolt cutters for this project and take them with me to the farm store parking lot because I don’t have any way to haul home a 16 foot long anything.

I cut each 16 foot cattle panel into three equal sections, which left each piece 4′ 8″ wide (plus the legs of the wasted section that got cut).  It was physically exhausting work to bend this type of wire into these semi-circles, so I only did 5 of them.  I also cut my finger and actually considered stitches, so I decided it was best to take a 3 day break.  I’ll get back at it soon and I’ll end up with 12 of these this year.

Math and pi tells me that these average 18 inches across.  They are a bit small for an indeterminate tomato, but my only other option was to make them 28 inches across and that, to me, was too big for my setup.  Technically I had other options between 18 and 28 inches, but they involved some waste, which I didn’t want to consider…mostly because I was paying $22 per panel.

Please wish me luck bending and rolling the rest of these monster tomato cages into shape.

Tomato Megabloom

When you get a tomato flower blossom that looks like is it made up of multiple smaller flowers conjoined together, you’re going to grow a rather large tomato.

The megabloom shown below is on a hybrid tomato, Burpee’s Steakhouse, and could potentially become the biggest tomato I have ever grown, judging by the way it looks right now.

Lots could happen to prevent this, but I’m going to keep my eye on this one.

2014-06-06 16.35.28

Community Garden

This spring my family and I have been volunteering in a community garden.  It’s not the traditional type where each participant gets an area to grow things.  This one is designed to get a neighborhood outdoors and talking to each other, and all the produce will be given away for free in the end.  Last night we were weeding and thinning things.

2014-06-03 18.21.49

They have put in a lot of work building all these bed frames, erecting and painting a fence, planting and weeding.

2014-06-03 18.21.35

This picture shows a bit of the outside of the fence. On fence-painting-day they encouraged everyone in this lower-income neighborhood to add their own name to a fence post slat. That was a brilliant move that will, very likely, stop any of the kids who signed it from later deciding to vandalize. So far, so good.

Finished a big winter project

One thing that I worked on this last few months just got it’s final coat of paint.  We added a built-in bookshelf to one side of our basement living room.  These two photos show it in-progress and finally finished.  We aren’t going to fill the shelves until the paint has been dry for two weeks.



If someone reminds me, I’ll post another picture after we put the games and computer and books on the shelves.

Also, there is a second half to this project that has been done for quite a while.  I’ll post that one another day.