This has been a garden weather year for the history books. The cold freezing temperatures continued into April and May with relentless force. Two times I replanted the cabbages and onions and still the cold temperatures came with killing frost. The last killing frost came with a warning of frost in low lying areas two days after the frost free date for my area. My tomato and bell peppers were planted in five-gallon buckets 18 inches above the ground. They were barely to the top of the bucket and my backyard was on top of the hill so I thought I was good for not freezing.
Oh, contraire. As you can see this tomato plant, along with the rest, is toast. They might have made it, but I decided to replant and move on. I scoured the land far and wide, and it seemed that all the plant centers at home improvements stores, grocery stores, hardware stores had not heeded the warnings either and froze their delicate plants as well. As a last resort, I moseyed over to the the local nursery that had cover over all their plants, but alas the selection was a bit ragged to say the least. The season was coming to an end, and it was quite obvious why the plants there were left behind. I selected the best that could be found and replaced the sickly looking plants. In the compost heap they went.
The potatoes, cabbages, onions, lettuce, and radishes made it through the last frost OK. Life was good for about three weeks and plants grew with vigor.
This little cherry tomato plant was so grateful to be given a home that just a couple weeks after planting, it started blooming and now has small little green tomatoes. It's climbed up to the second rung of the cage and is reaching toward the top with leaps and bounds as cherry tomatoes do. The other replanted tomatoes are just on the verge of flowering.
I've noticed something over the years of gardening. When years like this happen, nature has a way of speeding up the plant growth so the harvest really isn't that much later in the season. I'm seeing that happen this year as well. Who would have thought that just a couple weeks after putting the transplants in the ground that blooms and small tomatoes would be present on the vines? I was one bell pepper short from the nursery so one of the plants from the seed starts was planted in the last bucket. It was a fourth of the size of the other nursery plants. Now after just three weeks, it's ready to rise above the all the other bell pepper plants. Quite an amazing thing to watch. It looks much healthier than all the other bell pepper plants.
I'm really seeing the benefit to having gardens several miles apart. We had an extreme storm come though three days ago with winds in excess of 100 mph and hail the size of softballs in some areas of the city. My backyard gardens were untouched by this storm, but Terra Nova Gardens nine miles away was a total loss. What I had planted, sweet corn and tomatoes, were stripped clean of every leaf with nothing but sticks poking up in the air.
Even the weeds around the perimeter of the garden were stripped of most of their leaves. My Rugosa Rose bushes that I planted last year were pounded pretty good but I think they will survive. They are supposed to be tough – Maine seacoast rugged. So let's see how they survive in Nebraska weather. Right now I'm thinking they wish they were back in Maine.
It's a good thing I over-killed on seed starts this year. Who knew that I would have to replant three times. The question now is will this be the last time. All my plants will be planted by next week. The season will be a bust if another extreme storm comes through. I'm glad I held back on the cucumbers and eggplants. But now it's get busy and get everything planted as there's only about 130 days left in the growing season. The way this year is going we will probably have an early frost.
I sprung a leak in one of the water storage barrels and had to empty the barrel with a bucket and dump it into the big tank. A fitting known as a bulkhead fitting was found at Home Depot, which is made just for such things as fitting a spigot on a barrel. So the spigot was taken off and the opening was enlarged to fit the bulkhead fitting.
Well, when arms are too short other methods have to be used to repair a leaky spigot. Everything worked out wonderfully well just in time for the last storm to fill it up. I could have filled up several more with the five inches of rain, but this is quite enough for now. So now I have three 55-gallon barrels filled as well as the big 400-gallon tank. With the bottom watering rain gutter system, this might be enough water for the whole summer. It really doesn't require much to keep all the buckets moist.
The potato experiment is struggling. Out of the eight hills planted, only five grew and one froze in the last frost of the year. The other four are doing great and the time is right to plant the second layer. I'm really going to have to plant the next layer this weekend. Boy, there's a lot of work now that the weather is definitely into the summer mode.
Memorial day found Grandpa and grandson out on the water at one of the local lakes.
In this picture we are exploring the head waters of the lake where the stream comes in to keep the lake filled with water. This is the best time of the year to explore this area as later in the year it becomes clogged with moss, algae and tall reeds. It was a perfect day for kayaking. Just a very slight breeze with nice sunshine kept us a little warm but not extremely hot. After about two hours of paddling around, Bradley was done. It's hard for a 9-year-old energy-filled boy to sit still in one place for that long. Fishing the next day was much better with being able to run up and down the bank, rock bombing the fish. We actually caught four fish even with the rock tossing going on.
I have to get a little serious on my parting comment, but I feel I must let everyone know about my situation. Some of you may already know this if you read my personal blog.
If you have been reading my blog for a time, then you know I had an appendectomy in January and recovered without issue. Every couple years I just have an annual checkup to have the fluids checked and make sure the blood pressure pills are still working. One of the tests that is run on the vials of blood taken is called a PSA test, which is an indicator of how well the prostate is. Four years ago the PSA level was 2.9, which is totally normal. Two years ago, it was 4.2, which is borderline for concern. This year it was 7.3. Because of the jumps, my regular doctor referred me to an urologist. He decided that we should really do a biopsy to see what was going on with the prostate. My prostate was short and fat. I know, too much information, but it turned out to be a good thing. Because of being short it only required 12 core samples instead of 24 and being fat the core samples were very good quality. The test results came back with just a tiny bit of cancer in one core samples. A doctor's visit has been scheduled on June 19 to talk about the options. I don't see this as a real issue because it's been diagnosed in the very beginning stage. It was so small that it could have easily been missed. So I suspect it's very curable. I'm not worried but any time the word cancer is mentioned people freak out. So don't do that, OK? I'll be fine.
More next time. Keep your paddles in the water and you will reach your destination soon enough.