garden woes


IMG_1592 (1024x705)This is my harvest this month so far.  That’s right, not today, but for the month – and actually for the last two months!  Serious lack of pollinators.  This is from EIGHT zucchini plants, 8 tomato plants, and an entire envelope of bush beans – a picture of the plants themselves below

IMG_1593 (768x1024)Two of the tomato plants gave me these teeny 1” tomatoes rather than full size.  Not the garden’s fault, genetics at play.  Still a disappointment

IMG_1594 (768x1024)This is happening with the indeterminate San Marzanos. 

IMG_1595 (768x1024)This is a different plant, same species, same results.  Blossom end opens and tomato just withers away.  Not a bug, or it would be happening to all the others which are right next to them.  Any ideas?

IMG_1596 (768x1024)This is the bush bean patch.  usually would get enough from a planting like this for several meals plus!  Not this year

IMG_1597 (1024x768)On the other hand,These are potatoes grown from store bought, commercial red potatoes!  Yup, they start to sprout in the pantry, so into the dirt they go.

IMG_1598 (768x1024) Hoping by next fall this avocado will be ready to go into the front yard along with an almond tree I’m nursing along from seed.

Posted in grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, potatoes, prepping, self-reliance, squash, tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the unusual


IMG_1554 (600x800)  IMG_1556 (800x708) Turmeric – greenhouse

IMG_1555 (557x800)Ginger – greenhouse

IMG_1558 (413x800) Avocado.  Rooted a seed and hopefully will plant this in the front yard this fall.  Have an almond seed that started last year for the same purpose.

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still cooking with the sun


IMG_1553 (800x600)Found this cool GLASSBAKE casserole dish at the thrift yesterday.  Its really a perfect size for cooking for two, PLUS you can see how well everything is doing.  Its over 300F in there and the juices are boiling away.  Will have to watch for more glass bakeware for the Sunoven.  The enamel ware is lighter, but  like being able to see without having to open everything up.  Especially when we get to cooler weather.

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where have the insects gone?

Don’t know about anyone else, but suddenly we have no insects – AND – no birds.

Not that both have totally disappeared, but say a good 90-95% of them have!  had sort of noticed that there were fewer insects around the garden plants, and then realized the neighborhood mulberry tree still had plenty of fruit on it.  In other years, it would have been picked clean by the birds within a few weeks of the fruit first starting to ripen.

My tomato plants are standing with loads of flowers, but no fruit is setting – both inside the green house and out!

Without insects, of course the birds would move on.  We have a large variety of birds here and the mulberry trees bring in the cardinals, the orioles.  This year have seen no orioles, few quail – although we have noticed their numbers are seriously declining here – few doves and usually hear lots of them starting to wake up as I walk the dog in the mornings – coo cooing everywhere.

Bats too have been declining.

But right now, this is downright scary.  We live near national forest.  So while I know the city uses chemical sprays on the weeds in the right of way, we are outside of that.  But here we are.

actually, thinking about it, am seeing less spiders and haven’t even seen a live snake this season. Just some dead ones in the early spring before it got warm.  They tend to go lie on the road for the heat which is not a good place to be . . . .

Anyone else have anything like this happening?

Posted in bees, container gardening, fruits, gardening, homesteading, organic, permaculture, prepping, self-reliance, tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

more sun baking


IMG_1548  IMG_1549  Got the oven good and hot, kept it well aligned, did not fasten down the glass.  let these cook for about 75 minutes.  tops lightly browned.  bottoms not.  Last time let them go for 2 full hours and it was too much.  looks like another 15 minutes might have been perfect, but not worth taking it all back out there for some more.

The tarts are strawberry rhubarb with some dried apple included to thicken it all up and some brown sugar.  The rhubarb was having its best year ever, and needs to be picked to keep going strong, so I did.  and in the few days since, there is lots of new growth already showing.  made some of the preserves into a crisp and had enough left over for this. 

Can see that I can easily make a couple of dozen tarts with this dough, making it a little sweeter for perfect gluten free fruit tarts.

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and summer begins


IMG_1530My favorite lillies.  The color fades fast in the harsh AZ sun

IMG_1532new planting of bush beans

IMG_1533have been eating string beans from the greenhouse already, while the peas in the garden are just starting to bloom and set

IMG_1534These potatoes are from supermarket, commercial red potatoes.  do better with them than I do with official “seed” potatoes.  Of course, I’ve used only those that have started to sprout in the bag.  This is my third grow bag of potatoes


IMG_1536volunteer.  Its been years since I’ve had this hollyhock anywhere near the garden.  Will absolutely be saving seeds. Hollyhocks are among my favorites

IMG_1537more roma tomato plants

IMG_1538you have to look carefully to see the pipe that is the attachment to the olla.  And this is why I’ve got them, so I can easily refill and keep these plants strong

IMG_1539gophers have gotten into this section of garden.  It was supposedly sealed, but they found a weak spot and have tunneled all round in here.


IMG_1541This is a relative of Oregon Grape and supposedly the fruits can be made into a jelly.  They are tasty, very small with a BIG (relatively) seed.

IMG_1542 strawberries.  as they rest on the ground though, little insects get the first bites!  next year they go UP into the air somehow.

IMG_1543Boysenberry coming back strong.  You can barely see the rhubarb, best year yet for it!

IMG_1545the fig and both grapes.  The grapes keep reaching over to the wooden fence supports and dying on contact. stuff must have been treated. its my neighbors fence so all I can do is work to train them up.  There is, so far as I can see, one single fig developing on the tree

IMG_1546blackberries are looking good, but soon am going to have to cover that fruit if I want any

IMG_1547of the four cantaloupe planted, these are the only two that survived and one obviously doing better than the other.  Proof that within nature, nothing is equal.

Posted in container gardening, fruits, gardening, greenhouse, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, potatoes, prepping, tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

more cooking with the sun


IMG_1529 Since I didn’t have a nesting pot, made one with aluminum foil.  Brown basmati Rice at the bottom. Followed directions for proportions and added 1/4C of water more.  The other is two chicken thighs.  Put a little aluminum foil around the edge of the cooker after putting the lid on to keep moisture condensation to a minimum.  2 hours in the sun – quite windy today.  Rice was perfectly cooked.  Chicken was tender, moist, and falling apart good

Then put some other chicken thighs into seasoned water and back into the solar oven to begin making soup.  Kept the oven from being turned dead into the sun to keep the temperature down to about 150F for simmering.  2 hours.  Will skim the stock, cut up the chicken and add veggies and what ever else I want to add, and back into the oven it will go to finish up.

When the soup base came out of the oven, put in a couple of slices of quiche to heat for dinner.  its been nearly 2 hours, so they are probably more than adequately hot . . . . warm, not hot.  Had left the lid unlatched so never got HOT in there. but good temperature for eating

BTW – when working with a solar oven:   (1) always wear sunglasses (2) good protective gloves are a must (I’m using my leather winter gloves) because all parts of the oven are HOT and (3) long sleeves because even the edges of the reflector panels are HOT

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