Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Fair Season!

We recently went to a local town fair. I love this time of year when the ferris wheels start popping up and the smells of fair food fill the air!

A stop by the livestock nursery is always one of mine favorites things to do at the fair.

This little lamb was so talkative. He was a friendly little one who came up to all who visited him as he enjoyed a pat on the head. "Bah, bah, baaaaahhhhh!" He keep announcing loudly.

This mama goat and her kid were nestled in for evening. How sweet!

I don't know a thing about livestock, but this guy sure had a lot of hair.

Here's a girl who is very comfortable around cattle. Isn't this cute!

A little affection from one little baby to another.

Look at that huge eye!

There's nothing quite like fair food.... so bad for you but so good!

I have to eat fried dough when I go the fair or it's just doesn't seem right.

I'm a big chicken when it comes to rides - especially ones like this, but it's so pretty at night.

More pretty lights....

Wow look at all these colorful prizes!

What do you like best about the fair?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spinosad Strength

I'm squash giddy!

I just can't get enough of them this year. (I know some of you must think I'm nuts as you probably can't give the stuff away.) But I have a reason to be happy. You see last year we had a bad case of vine borers. So bad in fact that I lost all of my squash, pumpkins, and melon plants to it. Those evil borers killed every single last one.

So in effort to find a solution for the following year I did tons of research on the best organic pesticides to control these little devils. BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) I knew was an option, but it had a few drawbacks - one being that it didn't last very long and had to be applied often. Then I found spinosad and it was like a beam of golden light started shining on my garden (Ok... that's hokey and I'm exaggerating but you get my drift).

Perhaps the best thing about products containing spinosad is the safety factor for use around people, animals, and beneficial insects. Spinosad is safe even to use around adult butterflies and many insect predators and parasites. Spinosad keeps killing for up to 4 weeks instead of the one or two days residual you get with BT. In addition, spinosad kills thrips, which Bt doesn't faze.

I buy the Monterey Garden brand, which I order from Planet Natural.

Here's the product description:

Spinosad is a relatively new insect killer that was discovered from soil in an abandoned rum distillery in 1982. Produced by fermentation, Spinosad can be used on outdoor ornamentals, lawns, vegetables and fruit trees, to control caterpillars, thrips, leafminers, borers, fruit flies, and more. Spinosad must be ingested by the insect, therefore it has little effect on sucking insects and non-target predatory insects. Spinosad is relatively fast acting. The pest insect dies within 1 to 2 days after ingesting the active ingredient. Will not persist in the environment. Sunlight and soil microbes break it down into carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Classified as an organic substance by the USDA National Organic Standards Board. Organic active ingredient produced by fermentation. B.T. replacement, more effective pest control. Can be used on vegetable & fruit crops, ornamentals, and turf. Controls caterpillars as well as beetles, leafminers, thrips and more!

Early in the growing season I applied spinosad on all my veggies in the raised beds. It prevented the usual onslaught I get with leaf loopers on my broccoli and cabbage. It also prevented the tomato worm. While my neighbors broccoli was filled with leaf looper holes I had none - well I did have holes but those were from the slugs - which is another story.... *sigh*

With all the rain we got I missed a spraying I would normally do a few weeks later. Then on one sunny day I came out to see this...

What you see here is evidence of a vine borer. You can't see it in the picture but in person you could see what looked like saw dust around the stem, which was also cracked and soft - this wasn't a case of normal stem splitting. I knew spinosad works and that the only reason I had this problem was because I missed a spraying. The good news - there was a solution.

Usually once the borer is inside vine itself there isn't much you can do except try to slit the stem, cut out the borer, and bury the stem in the dirt in hopes that it will take root and survive. But, with spinosad there is another option that works much better and that is to inject the pesticide directly into the stem.

I did this by mixing up the spinosad concentrate with water according to the package directions and then pouring a small amount into a plastic cup so I could draw it up easily into a syringe. (The product directions are for mixing up an entire gallon so be prepared to use the rest to spray your garden with because the mixture can not be stored). You can use any type of needle or garden syringe to do this job. I used an insulin syringe that I had when we cared for our diabetic cat a few years back but if you don't have a medical syringe you can order a garden syringe online - it doesn't have a fine needle point but works just a well. After filling up the syringe I injected the pesticide into the affected stem (I even injected into the stems of plants that weren't obviously infected just for good measure). The result - 3 weeks later my squash plants are still thriving and there is no sign of active vine borers. Each and every stem is sturdy and hard, and even the one that had the borer in it has has recovered - amazing!

If you haven't tried this product you may want to give it shot. I really does work.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wine Tasting on a Rainy Day

What do you do after 4 days of rain, only a brief half day respite of sun, and then back to more cool misty weather? Well you go wine tasting of course!

Surprisingly, along the coast line of New England are quite a few local vineyards. It's not Napa Valley, but there are some really good local wines. Today we visited Newport Vineyard in Newport, Rhode Island. The winery, founded in 1978, is family owned. Paul and John Nunes, whose local roots date back to 1917, purchased the winery in 1995. Since that time, the winery has grown to 50 acres of varietal and hybrid grapes.

A colorful mural on the wall.

The fermenting vats.

The store and wine tasting area was packed today. I guess since we are not having beach weather everyone is drowning their sorrows.

Today we sampled 10 different wines (each of us tasted 5) from their nice selection of local vintages. I enjoy the drier wines while Andy's palette tends to prefer the sweeter ones.

The patio, which is usually filled with visitors, is empty since everyone is taking refuge indoors.

Off in the misty distance is a farmhouse peaking through the fog.

We wrapped up our day by having diner at Cooke House on the marina.

We sat in the lower level tavern. Our table was right by the windows.

In the lower portion of the photo you'll see a caution sign warning people to be careful of the slippery stairs, which are wet from the humidity of this foggy day.

I thought this room was so cheerful with the pink stripes. It's on the upper level of the restaurant and much more formal (with a different menu and higher prices there are far less people sitting up there).

The view from our table - it was like sitting right outside on the dock since the windows slide back into the wall. Even with the rain we enjoyed watching the boats come in and out.

I had the sea bass - it was delicious atop a celery puree with morels mushrooms.

Andy had the penne chicken with a creamy almond basil sauce.

With full bellies we went for stroll to look at the yachts. This one was huge and it was privately owned - by whom I don't know but it came with a large crew.

As the darkness of evening fell upon us I admired a gorgeous hydrangea (the picture below is untouched - it really was that color). If only there was more light I would have photographed the entire garden that was next to an old inn we happened upon. It was lovely and worth a return visit.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Still No Red Tomatoes!

After 4 days of rain I was finally able to go out and do some harvesting. Sadly I still have no red tomatoes. The plants look great with no signs of disease or pests - so that's the good news. The bad news is that we've had so many cloudy and rainy days this summer that the darn green tomatoes just aren't ripening due to lack of sun. Last year by now I had already been harvesting for at least 2 weeks. If I don't get a nice juicy, red freshly picked tomato soon I'm gonna go bonkers!

OK... enough about the tomatoes. At least I got a basket filled with some summer squash, zucchini, and lettuce.

And, another basket filled with bush beans and broccoli. I should get several more weeks of harvesting out of the beans I planted. And more happiness... the liatris in my perennial bed is so abundant I decided to take a few cuttings to enjoy indoors.

Yummy shallots - can't wait to cook these up with the summer squash and fresh dill.

To get myself out of a tomato funk I decided to do a little shopping. There's nothing like a great deal to raise my spirits. Look at this cute little aqua table I picked up for $12.00 at the Christmas Tree Shop. At first I put it outside in the garden.

But then I decided that I loved the color so much I brought it inside to enjoy (probably a wise move considering the current weather pattern we are having).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fertilizer Friday Blooms and a Bud Vase Collection

It's Fertilizer Friday! Please join me and our host Tootsie over at Tootsie Time to see what's blooming on a mid-summer's day.

I like to take my photos for Fertilizer Friday towards the end of the week so you can see what is really happening in my garden for that week. However, for the past few days we've gotten quite a bit of rain and yesterday when we had a brief respite I was so excited by the baby robins hatching that I only photographed a few blooms.

Here's Pentas Butterfly Sparkle. This one is in a container but I usually plant these in the ground and they seem to really take off late summer. Of course the monarch butterflies love them.

I love the color of this red zinnia. Wouldn't that make the perfect toe nail polish color?!

I purchased some daylilies from Brecks in June. They arrived very healthy but really small. I didn't expect any to bloom this year but they are (they are not putting on a big show yet, but just wait until next year when they are more established). I have them in all different colors and varieties, but all are rebloomers. I'll tell you in another post what I have planted, but for now here's the first bloom I got.

Here's a proven winner wave petunia. I know I've shown this before, but I love the color. I have these in my containers.

I love my coral bells heuchera. It's huge and does so well in my island bed. The deep green and purple foliage is stunning.

A close-up of a coleus. I hope these stick around until Fall because they'll look fabulous next to some pumpkins.

Since I don't have much more to show you this week I thought I'd share with you my bud vase and miniature container collection. I'm always scouring thrift shops and antique stores looking for the next one to fall in love with.

Here are some glass vases I have.

I love the way they look with a single leaf from the garden - such as a hosta leaf. The glass vase in the back of the display with the burgundy coleus in it is actually a candle stick holder. It's deep enough to put a little water in it and some colorful leaves (after all who says a candlestick holder has to actually hold a candle). There's also a milk pitcher that I've filled with cut licorice plant. The metal butterfly in the lower right corner of the picture is made of copper and then oxidized. I made it myself.... in another life I used to do quite a bit of metalsmithing but don't have much time now.

Blue is my favorite color and I'm always looking for small blue vases. These are tiny and sit atop a vintage luncheon tablecloth circa 1950s. I'll have to show you my vintage tablecloths another time - I've got tons of these too.

For a colorful, contemporary graphic statement why not put red, black, and white vases together on top of a cake plate.

The cake plate is made by Mikasa (purchased from Home of my favorite stores). The white vase is vintage milk glass - I have 2 others like this one. They look lovely running down the center of table or perched on the mantel. The black vase is Murano glass and is vintage. The small red vase was purchased new last year from Micheal's. It's a great color and I have several of them in all different sizes. I've use them to decorate during Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Fourth of July so I've gotten a lot of milage out of them for not much money spent.

I love vintage silver. I don't usually polish it because the patina is so gorgeous.

Don't these little petunias look cute spilling out of the sugar holder?

These remind me of my grandmother. She had bud vases like these in her bedroom. The ivory ones are made by Lefton and the blue one is Wedgewood. These are all vintage and look sweet in our guestroom.

I think this pottery bud vase was hand-made - maybe in the 1970s.

An amber Murano glass pitcher. It's tiny only a few inches high. I've put mum blooms in this one during the Fall season.

Another tiny vase.... vintage, but no name on the bottom. Asian inspired. I'm thinking an orchid would be pretty in here.

Well that's a small bit of my collection. I hope it inspires you to look for some yourself next time you go thrifting.

Happy Friday!!!