Thursday, September 09, 2010

Garden Journal 9/9/10: Dealing with a Doodlebug, I'm on Twitter (sort of), and What's Coming Up

Molly Doodlebug basking in the greenhouse heat
My favorite kind of garden pest: cute, cuddly, and prefers meat over vegetables.

Realization of the Day:
I started tweeting but forgot to tell you.

Since I'm always behind replying to e-mail and comments (thanks for your patience!), not to mention garden blogging in general, tweeting isn't such a good idea for me. But for the last several months I've been announcing each new blog post on Twitter—mostly on time, though sometimes I still forget to do it. You'll find In My Kitchen Garden on Twitter here, and Farmgirl Fare here.

This summer has seen record number of In My Kitchen Garden visitors (welcome, new readers!), and I couldn't be happier. It seems gardens—and gardeners—are sprouting up everywhere, and about 20,000 inquisitive growers are finding their way here each month. Between that and our recent slight drop in temperatures (at last) I'm so inspired, both in the garden and on this garden blog.

My new goal is to write shorter posts, and post a lot more often. Summer may be winding down, but there's still all sorts of stuff going on in the garden, and always so much to share. Before we know it, the seed catalogs will be arriving! These are some of the things I'm planning to write about in the coming weeks:

Molly Doodlebug in the greenhouse herb garden

—Herb action in the greenhouse, and not just the thyme being flattened by Miss 15-year-old, 3½ pounds of attitude Molly Doodlebug, as seen above. The reason she looks a little ticked off is because for the first time since I moved to Missouri 16 years ago—and for the first time in her life—we have fleas. And they're terrible. I'd never even seen a Missouri flea until this summer.

Doodle in bucket of diatomaceous earth

Smart girl that she is, she's been spending the past few hot, sunny days in the greenhouse, I assume in the hopes that the horrible little heat seekers will jump off of her—and because until she went in there, the greenhouse was flea free. We've been using all sorts of natural remedies, plus two types of pills, and we've dusted all the cats, as well as the entire inside of The Shack, with diatomaceous earth. (Oh, that's another thing I want to write about—diatomaceous earth.) In this photo, she's actually sitting in a bucket of the stuff.

—How to grow arugula from seed in less than a month. Did you know there are actually several different varieties of arugula seeds available? I didn't until recently. In the meantime, you'll find my previous post about growing this wonderfully peppery, cool season member of the brassica family (you know, the one that's so good for you) here.

If you already have arugula in your garden, you might like my recipes for Arugula Pesto, Roasted Leek and Potato Soup with Arugula (so good) and this Arugula Cottage Cheese Dip/Spread/Sauce I can't seem to get enough of lately.

—What else you can start from seed now for fall crops, besides my beloved Swiss chard of course. Hint: think Popeye, stir-frys, and some really nice salads.

—Why you don't want to leave your garlic in the ground too long, as well as tips on planting and harvesting garlic, including the best time to do both. (Find some good garlic for planting and start preparing some garden space now!)

—The big basil comeback after I destroyed my first harvest, and why I'm hopeful for yet another crop. Got basil? Check out my favorite pesto recipe (which is lower in fat than most and includes fresh tomatoes and roasted almonds) and one of my favorite ways to use it: this Savory Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Pie with a Foolproof Biscuit Crust.

—How that sweet pepper bed I didn't plant until June 20th is doing.

—Identifying pests in the garden.

—The latest garden/laundry/everything totes I'm in love with—affordably priced and made from recycled plastic!—along with my two former favorites that I'm still fond of, too. (I'm the kind of girl who can never have enough buckets, totes, bowls, and bags—and I don't mean designer purses.)

—What variety of cucumber I fell in love with this year (thanks to our Amish neighbors) and will definitely be growing next year, along with those miniature white cucumbers I raved about a while back and my old standbys that never disappoint, lemon cucumbers.

—The legume (at least I think it's a legume) I'd never heard of, let alone ever eaten, until I saw them growing last year in my Amish neighbors' garden (can you tell they're my new best garden pals, or what?) but can't wait to try growing from seed next year.

—Why you should grow sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) and how ridiculously easy it is to do so, which makes the fact that I've been planning to tell you about them for at least a year and a half that much more embarrassing. I'll also share my favorite ways to eat this wonderful, diabetic-friendly member of the sunflower family.
—Two celery substitutes that are easy to grow from seed.

—Why I desperately need a new potting bench—even more than I need an Amish cold frame.

—A simple composting tip that could change your life—or at least your garden—for the better. (What can I say? I get really excited about organic soil amendments. You should hear me go on about manure. Oh wait, you already have.)

—Why you shouldn't panic if your garden is still full of green tomatoes.

—And finally, five very worthwhile kitchen investments for gardeners (and anybody with access to a good farmers' market). It's not too early to start putting together that holiday wish list!

Phew. Excited? I am. I know, wish me luck with these ambitious posting plans. I really do love sharing gardening information, especially if it means I can save you time, trouble, money, frustration, and heartache. You know I'm perfectly willing to publicly share all my stupid mistakes learning experiences, no matter how embarrassing they may be.

Unfortunately right now I need to go climb into my rain gear so I can finish up evening chores and check on some very soggy sheep and donkeys, but I promise I'll be back soon. In the meantime, if you have a surplus of green or red sweet peppers, a little freezer space, and about 5 minutes to spare, you can follow these easy instructions and save your summer bounty for a snowy day. It takes even less time to freeze tomatoes the really easy way.

And if you're minding the moonsigns (you can read more about how that works here), right now we're in the first quarter, which is a good time to sow seeds for above ground vegetables and other annuals. According to my handy Gardening by the Moon Calendar, the best fertile days to plant are today (except for the fact that it's been raining here all day—woohoo!), tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, although according to some moonsign minders, Sundays are barren days and should only be spent weeding, controlling pests, etc., and once you get that kind of information into your head, it's kind of hard to simply ignore it. At least it is for me.

The second quarter looks pretty bleak, with Sunday the 12th being the only fertile day. (Here's where the whole moonsign thing starts to make your head hurt, trying to decide which of the 'bad' planting days is less bad.) Update: Oops! I read the calendar wrong. Tuesday and Wednesday, September 21st and 22nd, are also good 'above ground' planting days in the second quarter.

So what's going on in your garden these days? Still harvesting summer stuff? Any fall planting done yet? Making plans for next spring already? (I know I am!) Anything you'd like me to write about—or ask other gardeners for advice about?

©, the drenched but happy foodie farm blog where we've had over 3 inches of nice, steady rain today. I can't remember the last time that happened. Of course now they're posting all sorts of flood watches and warnings, but all I care about is that the cool season grasses in our fields should start growing like crazy any minute.


  1. Welcome to Twitter. Sorry to hear about fleas. Yuk! Fall is definitely here.

  2. Wow. That is ambitious. I look forward to reading it all, even though I've been sort of depressed by my garden this year, which, although it did produce lots of food, also produced so many damned weeds that I fear the seeds from them will never be banished.

    I need a hired man, like they had in the old days here. My husband doesn't count.

  3. I am new to your blogs but love them both. I am really considering starting a garden in my backyard but am not sure where to start at all, I think your blog will be helpful!! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  4. My cherry tomato trees (Yes, trees. They are taller than my fence and falling over into the neighbor's yeard)are going bananas! Or tomatoes! Or whatever you want to call it. I harvest at least two handfuls every night and the flowers keep blooming and the the tomatoes keep coming and coming and coming.

    But it's going to frost at some point. Any uses for green cherry tomatoes?

  5. I keep thinking about all the seeds I need to start for fall veggies, but I never seem to get around to planting them.
    But here's what I'd really like to know. Why don't carrot seeds like me? I've tried so many techniques to get them to grow, and I only ever get a few pathetic, yellowish ones to surface. Nothing else escapes my green thumb like carrots. What the frilly heck am I doing wrong?

  6. How are you feeling now? With all this work I'm guessing you are back to normal. If not, please take it easy. Don't make me sound like my mother!

  7. We discovered Melrose Italian frying peppers by chance this year. I'll be hunting down seeds for next year. I'm not leaving it to chance. They are easy to sauté in olive oil and so delicious that it didn't seem to matter how many I fixed they all got eaten.

  8. Wow, that all sounds wonderful. I hope you're feeling better now...sounds like you're more or less back in the saddle. I hope you know that your posts bring a grounded, earthy joy to those of us who haven't found the means to start our own farm girl adventure yet. Take care and keep up the great work!

  9. Hey Everybody,
    Thanks, as always, for all your comments. I apologize for being pretty absent from the comments section here lately. One of my goals is to stay more caught up answering questions, etc. Wish me luck! ; )

    Yeah, have you ever noticed that in old movies about farms and ranches there are always a bunch of able bodied guys with names like Lucky and Dusty and Slim, just hanging around, waiting for something to do (or happen)? What happened to those guys? I need them over here! ;)

    Welcome to the farm and garden! Yes, yes, yes, definitely start a backyard garden. Start small. Start with Swiss chard. Everybody knows how much I LOVE getting people to grow Swiss chard. :)

    Your cherry tomato trees sound fabulous. Normally I suggest using your green tomatoes to make my Salsa-Like No Sugar Green Tomato Relish, but I think if you made it with cherry tomatoes, there might be too many skins in it.

    The good news is that green tomatoes will ripen and turn red (or orange or yellow, depending on what variety you're growing of course) indoors. Just bring them inside and put them somewhere not too warm, but above 55 degrees F.

    I've been meaning to write a post about this since last fall. There are all sorts of tricks and rules people say you must abide by, but I'm usually so busy and lazy that mine end up sitting in a colander in the pantry, and they ripen up just fine. A few might go bad, but it's no big deal.

    They won't be as flavorful as vine-ripened, but they're much better than nothing, and taste really good roasted - yet another blog post on the To Post list! ;)

    Ah, once again I've rambled on too long for Blogger. To be continued. . .

  10. Taylorgirl6,
    Not sure what's going wrong with your carrot growing efforts. I'm no expert, having grown them only a few times, most notably last year, when I didn't have much luck and decided that they weren't worth my trouble - and garden space - since I can buy perfectly sweet and tasty organic carrots year round for under a dollar at the grocery store.

    I wrote about my carrot growing adventures here and here, and then did sort of a recap, talking about my favorite variety of the types I tried growing here.

    And of course the baby carrots were very cute! :)

    Some people have great lucking growing huge carrots. I know you need to have nice soft soil, because the carrots won't be able to push into hard ground and will end up growing wonky. Other than that, I'm afraid I can't offer much help - except to maybe give up and focus on growing something else. You know, like Swiss chard. ;)

    Hey CJ and Tracey,
    Thanks for asking about how I'm doing. I'm definitely back in the saddle, and very glad this hellish summer is coming to a close. I'm not 100% back to speed yet, and the dr. said it'll probably be a year before my ankle stops aching and swelling when I spend too much time on it. Lovely.

    Meanwhile I'm trying to kick the painkillers and other meds because they make me feel lousy, while trying not to overdo it - which I pretty much do every day! :)

    Your peppers sound great. But you don't have to hunt far for the seeds - simply save the ones inside the peppers you're eating. Yep, it's that easy. Unless that's a hybrid variety - then you'll need to purchase more seeds.

  11. Good luck with your ambitions! The world needs more garden posts, and yours are lovely.

    I've been setting similar goals lately with some luck. Also did a huge push to follow more Twitter folks lately; we'll see if I get completely overwhelmed or not. ;-)


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!