Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Changing Seasons

Well hello there! I've been very remiss in my blog duties this year - I blame my job. I've been having to work of all things. (Oh - I kid. Really. Mostly.)

Anyhoo - life in Hicksville has been hot and dry this year. We're in the midst of an extreme drought of Dustbowl preportions - complete with the appearance of haboobs. I think we have had a grand total of maybe an inch of rain since January, which has stressed my garden to no end.

This year, we decided to attempt growing potatoes and onions - you know - root vegetables that are 90% WATER. Yeah - not the greatest idea, but to be perfectly honest they're growing better than nearly anything else in the garden. Certainly better than my corn and green beans and black-eyed peas. Those have been plagued with being planted a bit too deep and not coming up (my fault), evil grackles coming along and pecking the seeds out of the ground when they weren't planted deep enough (evil birds' fault) and windburned because my heavens - the wind - it won't stop blowing. So I'm not very optimistic that I'm going to have much of a corn crop this year. Heck - at this point I doubt I'll be able to even can much in the way of green beans and black eyed peas. I think we'll have enough for meals once they start producing, but canning? Not so much.

None of my cucumbers came up. Neither did the cantaloupe, the honeydew, the squash or pumpkins. One watermelon that we intentionally planted came up. Luckily, we have volunteer squash and cantaloupe coming up by the corn & beans, and volunteer watermelon everywhere. But I was really hoping to make pickles this year. Hmph.

But hey! I have 102 onions growing, and 34 potato plants. If I can get at least a couple of pounds of taters out of each tater plant, I'll be happy. We decided to mulch around the tomatoes and peppers this year, using a thick layer of newspapers covered with landscape fabric, and we already have little green tomatoes. I attempted yet again to grow tomatoes from seed as well, and so far have around 12 that have survived and are just about ready to be planted and covered with a milk jug until they're big enough to survive the desert on their own. Unfortunately, the wind got my peppers. That makes me very sad.

This year, we also applied something called BiotaMax to the garden. An old buddy of mine from high school has a company that came up with it, and when he heard me blathering on about gardening on Facebook, he sent me a sample. I can't help but wonder if that's why my tomatoes are doing as well as they are in all this heat and wind, but it's too early to tell. Apparently it doesn't ward off those damn grackles. We applied it to half of the new strawberry plants we put in this year to see if we could compare. I'll show pictures at the end of the summer and let everyone judge for themselves if it made any difference. Right now, the strawberries are struggling to survive in this heat. Today it's only going to be in the mid to upper 90's. Tomorrow - back to the 100's for the foreseeable future. I like summer and I like the heat, but dang - I'm dreading July!

Now for the chicken update - one of the banty hens was setting for awhile, but apparently we messed with her eggs one too many times, so she up and said 'pfft' and that was that. No baby chicks this year. Although our bedraggled Rhode Island Red went broody on us this weekend. Poor darlin' - we don't have any full sized roosters, so she's sitting for naught. The hubs is supposed to be tracking down some fertilized full size eggs for her to set on, but hasn't located any just yet. I hope we can find some - I love baby chicks!

The boys are enjoying summer so far - sleepin' til noon, then playing video games all day. I can't really blame them - it's too hot to work outside by the time they get up, and it's not cooling off until 8 or 9 pm at night. E has his first job not working for a relative this summer - he's a sacker at a grocery store in Mid-Size City and loving not having to ask mom and dad for money all the time. (Mom and Dad are enjoying that just as much!) E still struggles with being accepted out here and right now the other boys are still boys. I'm not sure when teenage boys grow out of being little turds and embracing the mob mentality, but apparently it's not the summer after junior year. *sigh* Luckily J has embraced the "whatever dude - who cares what you think about me?" attitude and doesn't seem to be bothered by the mob. I'm hoping E does the same soon. He's such a smart, witty kid. Too bad the mob doesn't have the maturity to get that.

As for me and the hubs, we are slowly learning to adjust to life with boys that are fixin to be men. While we enjoy being able to do more without having to track down babysitters, I have to admit missing all the time we used to spend together as a family. Thanks to his work, poor E wasn't able to go with us to see the 1st three blockbusters of the summer movie season - and who knows when he'll be able to? We're lucky if we get a couple of dinners together as a family every week between E's job, and summer workouts and just life in general. And J is about to start driver's ed. I know it's just part of the season of our lives right now, but I still struggle with having to let them go.

Darn kids - who said they could grow up?