What to write about? There’s been quite a bit going on since I last posted…. what, two weeks ago? The dogs have been fighting again, resulting in a lot of anxiety in the Brackett household. For some reason, this keeps happening, and we’re at our wits’ end as to why. This time, Cricket got a good puncture on her flank and the vet put three staples in to hold the wound closed. Cricket had two of them out within the hour. The third one took her an extra day to get out.
In other news, I recently got a reminder on Facebook that showed some of last year’s garden photos. I was surprised to see that I’m actually doing better this year than I was at this time last year. For instance, two days ago FB memories showed me a picture of the cantaloupe bed that I had posted exactly one year previously. The vines were just getting started, just beginning to fill the bed. This year, not only have the plants completely filled their bed, but we already have small cantaloupes growing. Some are a bit larger than a grape, others are about the size of a baseball.
Better yet, some of the Black Diamond watermelons are beginning to mature. So all in all, I suppose I’ve learned a bit since last year’s gardening attempts. I know I can grow the heck out of cantaloupe (and hopefully watermelon) plants. We’re also doing better with the tomatoes, though still not as good as I would like. I planted several varieties this year, but the only two that seem to be doing well are the San Marzanos and the Big Boy tomatoes. The San Marzanos are putting out all kinds of fruits, (although they aren’t yet ripe), and the Big Boys have put out only a couple of maters, but the plants still look nice and healthy. Some of the others may have put out one or two tomatoes, but the plants don’t look like they’re thriving. I’ll see how they do over the rest of the season, but so far, it’s looking like I should concentrate on these two varieties next year.
But while I may be doing better this year than last, I definitely still have a lot to learn. For instance, the garden tower that was such a huge success last year isn’t doing so well this year. I think I mentioned that I had devised a little automated watering system for the tower. I cobbled together some bits from the drip irrigation system repair kit I had, and was actually pretty proud of how it turned out. Every morning at 5:30, the little sprinklers would kick on for fifteen minutes. Then again at 8:30 at night, they would kick on for another fifteen.
Note to self – next year DON’T DO THIS! I now have white mold in the potting soil, and something called fungus gnats. On top of that, all my lettuce went straight to seed. (sigh) So this year the garden tower is pretty much a bust.
And the zucchini plants were doing great until a couple of days ago, producing a few zukes every day for us. Two days ago I noticed that two of them were beginning to wilt. Today, it’s four of them, and their productivity has almost completely halted. At first I thought it had to do with the fact that I had turned off the irrigation system for a few days. It had rained for a few days, and I didn’t see the need to keep irrigating them when Mother Nature was doing a much better job of it. But when I saw that things were getting worse today, rather than better, I ran a quick online search for the most common causes… then did a face palm when I realized what it likely was. Zucchini is a kind of squash, and squash plants are notoriously susceptible to squash bugs. I looked up pictures of the little critters to see what they looked like, then went out to see if I could find them on the plants.
Sure enough, I found what I was hoping NOT to see, but feared I would. Squash bugs are killing my zucchini plants. I can spray them with diatomaceous earth, but that will also kill any bees that come by as pollinators. I suppose I can try only putting it on the lower parts of the plants, but that’s going to be difficult to do with the wind blowing the way it is. I’ll have to think on it for a bit.
The rest of the garden is doing pretty well, with various bell peppers and jalapeños popping up. The cucumbers got off to a bad start, and I don’t know that they’re going to do much this year. But from what I recall from last year, my cukes didn’t really take off until much later in the season, so I won’t give up on them just yet.
And a couple of the eggplants are looking like they’re going to put up fruit in a week or so. The Anaheim peppers aren’t doing anything yet, but the plants still look healthy, so I’ll see if they’re just late bloomers.
And the comfrey! It’s going to town! I now have four comfrey plants; two bocking #4, and two bocking #14. I got the #4 plants last winter and overwintered them in buckets until early this spring and they’ve done well. I got a couple of #14 plants from a friend on May 24 of this year. That’s just six weeks ago. When I planted the #14s, they had two or three small leaves on them, and were about six inches tall. Today the one of them was a couple of feet tall (picture to the right), and I harvested leaves from it for the dehydrator. The second one isn’t doing quite as well as this one, but it’s still doing all right. I figure I’ll probably get another four or five harvests between the two of them before winter sets in. Plus I’ll get about the same from my older #4 plants. All in all, I figure I’ll be set for medicinal comfrey by winter.
And that’s about it for the Brackett Homestead Garden Report.
Now, on to writing news…
I got the manuscript back from the Severed Press editor, and edits are ongoing. We’ve also been going back and forth on cover art. So far, they haven’t sent me anything that really blows my socks off, but I don’t want to be a complete pita either. The latest concept piece they sent me wasn’t bad. I won’t say it’s amazing, but it’s not bad. Maybe I just got spoiled working with Streetlight Graphics. Unfortunately, going with a press means I don’t get to work as closely with the cover artist as I was used to with SLG, and I may have to compromise more than I’m used to. The main thing is to get the book out, and get some sales rolling in – get my name back out there after a much too long hiatus. And that’s what Severed is supposed to excel at. So I have to trust them with my baby at some point. Right?
So with edits ongoing (I’m about halfway through), and the cover design in progress, I’m guessing that the first Chucklers book will likely be out in the next few months. I’m keeping my fingers crossed anyway.
End Point Pangaea is on hold while I work on Chucklers edits, but it is going to be my main project as soon as edits are done. My goal is to have at least the first draft done before the end of the year.
And that’s about it. Time to get back to work. So stay safe everyone. I’ll see you next time.