Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wasp Invasion

This is one of close to 20 wasps -- about 2/3 alive and 1/3 dead -- we have found in our dining and living rooms in the past 24 hours. We can't find a wasp nest outside or (heaven forbid) inside, but they have been concentrated around the dining room windows, so we suspect they found their way in through a gap around a storm window and from there through the open window (now, of course, closed). We have been employing the drinking-glass-and-card catch-and-release method of removal, as I don't like insecticides and don't care to annoy wasps by whacking at them. We keep thinking we have found them all, but then an hour later another one or two will be on the inside of the windows. The University of Minnosota Extension has a good page on bees and wasps and points out that wasp nests can sometimes be underground or concealed inside a wall. I'll post an update if we solve the mystery.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

North Shore Revisited

Here, without further commentary, are some of my favorite shots from our August trip to the North Shore.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bee Heaven

On this newly planted sedum downtown, if you look closely (click on the photo for a larger version), you can see at least four bees. Below is the same photo cropped to zoom in on two of the bees. There were just as many on most of the dozen or so nearby plants as well. Given the bee population problems in the news lately and the implications for pollination of many of our major food plants, it was good to see them. Any kid who saw Bee Movie will likely agree.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

September Garden

These were my tomato plants last week in my unkempt, overgrown garden. The foliage went suddenly almost to nothing, leaving the many fruits even more evident than they had been. This was taken before I picked quite a few tomatoes and made sauce.

Above is a larger view of the garden taken today. The zinnias I started from seed and was so pleased with are still going strong at the left; autumn-rusty Joe-Pye weed (center) dwarfs everything else, and the burning bush at right is starting to show the first signs of its autumn scarlet. Click on the photo for a larger view.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Split Tomatoes

Most of the tomatoes in my garden, both cherry and slicing varieties, have split recently due to rapid swelling following the much-needed rain. This week I made a decent fresh-tomato-and-Italian-sausage pasta sauce, using up a lot of split tomatoes. I hate to refrigerate tomatoes, which causes them to lose a good deal of their prized home-grown texture and flavor, but if you leave them sitting around in the kitchen after they've burst they'll deteriorate quickly anyway and one can easily develop a fruit-fly problem. Having lived through a fairly serious infestation in the past, that's something I take steps to avoid. So after deciding I was going to cook them rather than eat them fresh anyway, I stuck them in the fridge until I could make the sauce.

Most sauce recipes ask you to peel the tomatoes, but with my thin-skinned varieties and a recipe that called for lengthy simmering, I didn't bother; it made very little difference to the end product and saved some time, not to mention the energy required to boil water into which to dip the tomatoes to aid peeling. I've never grown enough tomatoes to make big batches of sauce for canning, but I can see the attraction. Maybe next year!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Patio Garden Hits the Road

We moved this weekend, and the final step involved moving the patio garden - three tomato plants and one small bell pepper plant, mainly. I've decided not to be quick to use "patio" varieties in the future; what the term seems to mean, really, is plants that don't get very big and don't produce very well... but it has been such a dry summer, I'm sure that had an effect as well. I got about two tomatoes per plant, four or five small peppers (which is actually better than I usually manage with peppers) and no cucumbers. Some of the same varieties performed better in the big garden, not surprisingly.
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