Showing posts from July, 2011

Best use for a turkey deep fryer

We bought a propane deep fryer to use as an outdoor canner after seeing our friends Richard and Jan Farris's setup at their farm. It was inexpensive, used, at a garage sale, but had to be taken to the car wash to get all the grease unstuck.  Today's project is quarts of pie filling.

Water efficiencies

In a normal year, summertime watering is a time to take a look at your plants, pull a few weeds and notice problems to address.

Drought and extreme heat make watering more of a necessity.This year we have to pay attention to shrubs, trees and perennials as well as annuals and containers.

Shrubs and trees do not have to be watered every day or every week. In fact, regular, shallow, watering can cause roots to grow to the soil surface where hot sun will scald them. Hand watering is the best method of caring for plants. And there are many hand watering tools to help with the chore, including bubblers, adjustable spray guns and sprinkler attachments. Unfortunately, for busy people, hand watering is too labor intensive and time consuming, so other methods have to be used.

There are several ways to water a garden include flood, drip and sprinkler.

Drip irrigation is one of the most water-efficient but it requires set up and maintenance. For many home gardens, flood watering is a good alternati…

Snake - can you help me identify this visitor?

Sitting on the couch with my first cup of coffee this morning, I looked out the door and saw a visitor.That little back deck gets all kinds of visitors including, birds, all manner of bugs, lizards, frogs, turtles but this morning's snake was the first to actually come to visit so close to humans. The photos on Snakes of Oklahoma's site (here) make me think it is a juvenile Black Ratsnake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta.

The Herpes of Arkansas site (here) has info  on our entire population of alligator, lizard, snake, turtle, frog and salamander friends.

 From the photos and description on the Herps site, another guess could be the Prairie Kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster). Take a look at the photos here.

It is clear that this visitor was not happy to see the long lens pointed in its direction! If you can help me identify my new friend post a comment or email me please

Euonymus Scale on heat stressed plants

Our Euonymus fortuneihas enough water but can't overcome the extreme temperatures to protect itself from Euonymus Scale. And, the poor thing has a bad case.

The ladies are the brown bits and the gentlemen are the white ones.

The University of Kentucky Ag site has a good summary and advice for treatments.
Since I won't spray poisons during butterfly season, I'll cut it back to the trunk and do harsh water treatments to remove as much as possible until I can do more in early winter.

It can become invasive ( in some areas such as PA - also zone 7, but it has not in our yarden.

Spellchecker has some amusing alternative choices for Euonymus ;-)

Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants by Richard Mabey

Weeds must be the most adaptive plants on the planet. No matter where you garden, weeds quickly move in.Shade, baking sun, soaking soil, wind – none of those conditions can prevent weeds from planting their feet in soil that few other plants would tolerate.
Richard Mabey, England’s favorite garden writer, thinks we should love weeds and even respect them.His new book, “Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants” is a good read, even though it probably will not convince many gardeners to embrace weeds.
One of Mabey’s friends says that he never weeds his vegetable garden because weeds provide shade and moisture for the roots of his vegetable plants in the heat of summer. And, maybe we could all relax a little about our gardens’ uninvited plants.
In many neighborhoods there is a mixture of landscape and garden styles. Some have a lawn of native plants or weeds and others have carefully planted and tended grass. Gardeners remove weeds from flower, vegetable and herb beds. Lawn owners …

Trombetta di Albenga Squash is Curcurbita moschata Duch

We are enjoying the Trombetta Squash.
Male flowers have no fruit at the base.
Here's the problem with growing squash - squash bugs.
They lay an endless number of eggs that have to be removed every day.
The reward is watching these little trumpets grow.

You can grow this squash on a trellis where it will hang but our plants are crawling on the ground like a winter squash. It is tender and flavorful - good eats.

Sunday Tidbits and Links

In Terrebonne Parish, LA, the BP oil spill is producing a silver lining of sorts. reported in an article today that if it had not been for the oil spill and subsequent clean up, BP would not be paying to have archaeologists and scientists research pre-historic Indian finds.

In the 100 sites of buried pre-historic Indian settlements, researchers have found 1300 year old bones, pottery and weapons. The evidence indicates that the now sandy area was a deer and elk filled woods.
Full article here.

The Journal of Weed Science reported that the over use of herbicides is resulting in herbicide resistant weeds. Reported in Newswise.

"At least 21 weed species have now developed resistance to glyphosate, a systemic herbicide that has been effectively used to kill weeds and can be found in many commercial products. Some weeds are now developing resistance to alternative herbicides being used"

By the way, the Weed Science Society of America sends out a really interesting e…

Lead Plant - Heat Loving Amorpha canescens

One shrub that blooms no matter how hot it gets is Amorpha.

There are 15 species of Amorpha that are native to North America. They grow in dry prairies, scrub and sandy ground as well as woodlands and riverbanks. Amorpha’s native habitat ranges north and south from Canada to south Texas, New Mexico to Louisiana and Wyoming to Minnesota. They thrive in zones two to nine.

Amorpha canescens shrub has small, gray, aromatic leaves and tall racemes of small, dark violet flowers. It grows to about 3 feet tall. The common name is “lead plant” and one writer speculated that it was found growing on a lead mine and another said that its presence was thought to indicate where there was lead underground.

One seed source, Lorenz’s OK Seeds in Okeene, (580) 822-3655 and, says it looks like it is covered in white lead.

The flowers bring bees and wasps for nectar. The caterpillars of Colias cesonia (Dogface Sulfur) and some moths eat the leaves. In turn, the insects feed the …

Dill pickle day

It happens once a year. Jon makes his enormously popular dill pickles. The ritual includes a few trips to Conrad Farms in Bixby while we anticipate the perfect size cucumbers and the bucket of fresh dill.

On our third trip Sunday, the stars aligned. The cucumbers were the right size and the dill was fresh. Today was the perfect day for his pickle adventure - I was out for the day.

When I returned home, the pickles were canned and the leftover dill was a source of amusement.

It was reassuring to know that the dill had not been sprayed with pesticides - do you see the swallowtail butterfly caterpillar? It is now outside on the fennel we grow for swallowtails.
And, ta da, here is this year's pickle production. And, I didn't have to do a thing!

Catch Me if You Can - Hophornbeam Copperleaf - Threeseed is Acalypha ostryifolia

It seems that every state extension service I checked this morning is talking about a weed/pest in my flower beds. I don't think I've ever seen the infestation so bad as this year. Of course, I blame the heat because I'm blaming the record breaking heat for everything right now.
The topic of my dismay is Hophornbeam Copperleaf.According to the Plant Encyclopedia online, and other references, it has many pretty relatives including Chenille Plant.

Here's the Illinois post on Acalypha ostryifolia

Hophornbeam copperleaf is a summer annual species in the Euphorbiaceae family. This plant family, also referred to as the Spurge family, includes several other problematic weed species, many of which have a milky sap. Hophornbeam copperleaf, however, does not contain the characteristic milky sap of other Euphorbiaceae family members. It is indigenous to Illinois and most commonly found in the southern third of th…

Don't eat these plants!

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are well known by gardeners and hikers, especially those who are unfortunate enough to be allergic to them.

Hemlock is a famous poisonous plant that blooms freely in open fields and ditches alongside Queen Anne’s Lace and Black Eyed Susans.Hemlock looks like a carrot when it is young and resembles wild carrot when it flowers.
Common Vetch, a small vine with purple flowers, is toxic, as is Bleeding Heart, a popular shade garden plant.
Many grasses can become poisonous if they are infected with the deadly fungus ergot. Ryegrass is especially vulnerable.
Jack in the Pulpit, Green Dragon and other members of the Arisaema or Arum family are also entirely toxic. The corms, leaves, stems and flowers contain bundles of calcium oxalate that pierce mouth and throat tissue. Skunk cabbage is another member of that family to avoid.
Jimsonweed or Datura, sacred thorn-apple, is grown for its beautiful flowers and grows in the wild. All parts of the plant and all …

Cacti photos from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru

Via an email posted on Cacti (, Sherrah Adelaide, in Australia, mentioned that he uploaded his cacti photos to
and with his permission, I am passing along the link. Gorgeous photos. The notes below are from the site.

The photographs are accessed from the LOCATION INDEX hyperlink.


Then select state/province lists which are linked to place names which are linked to albums of the photographs. If you don’t know the state that your location is in, refer to the species list which lists country, state, location for each species. With this information you can navigate to the location.

The date order list is provided to give a guide as to what can be seen at a leisurely place if you are travelling by car. This and the species order list includes species and some locations for which photographs haven’t been included. The records are included for completeness and you can find …

Whats Growing On Here

It was either 103 or 106 today, depending on the thermometer we consulted. This summer will break some records for temperatures and water usage. Here's some of what's growing on at our place.

It's blackberry time. We cleaned out the bed last year, removing all the sucker plants (100 of them!) so this year's harvest will be considerably smaller but still enough for us.

This smart box turtle comes to the front door every morning to chow down on the insects that were attracted to the porch light overnight. There is a turtle at the front door EVERY morning. Same one? Who knows?

Our garden isn't large enough to put in very many cabbage family plants but I try a few every year. The cabbage was a success. I bought 4 seedlings and got 4 heads - a much better return than the Brussels sprouts.

I grow a few eggplants every year, mostly to make eggplant caviar to can. Now that it's ready to put into jars we can eat the rest of the crop in other dishes.

We put in 200 cloves o…