These guys, in the tomato patch, go after Horn Worms.
And these guys pray, that is, prey on their prey, this time in the asparagus patch:
No pumpkin patch this year.
But there is a vineyard tended by ὁ γεωργός (georgos – George), the Tiller of the Ground, the Farmer, the Vinedresser. “I am the vine and my Father is the Vinedressor” (John 15:1).
So, some praying needs to be going on in this Garden of Eden turned Gethsemane.
It’s 5:15 AM on a Sunday. Usually up by 2:00 AM. But now it all starts:
5:20 AM Feed the dogs!
5:30 AM Run up to Holy Redeemer church in Andrews
6:00 AM Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (during which Confessions are heard). There’s also prayers such as a Rosary and the Breviary.
7:00 AM Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed by the Litany of Humility etc.
7:10 AM Race to Prince of Peace church in Robbinsville across the mountain
7:35 AM Set up for Exposition and Mass
8:00 AM Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (during which Confessions are heard while there is also a Rosary)
8:30 AM Holy Mass
9:30 AM Race back to Andrews
10:30 AM Confessions
11:00 AM Holy Mass
12:30 PM Chat with the counters
1:30 PM Head out for Communion Calls, Last Rites, etc.
About 7:30 PM more or less. Collapse, after feeding the dogs.
Oh, did I mention that the Fathers of the Church repeated many times that the seedbed in the garden of the Lord is watered by the blood of the martyrs? Yes. We thank them for their prayers and guidance.
PS: I suppose those using Covid-19 to smash down religious rights will be apoplectic about such admissions as are made in this post, perhaps until they realize that this is the smallest parish church ever.
This beast, hanging out underneath the leaves, is the manduca quinquemaculata, which, as a caterpillar, is the tomato-tobacco hornworm. No tabacco here, so they just have to eat my tomatoes. They turn into this, the five-spotted hawk moth:
“Hawk moth.” That’s rather a compliment. I call it a turd moth.
I’m still enjoying gardening. Finding out even about turd moths is a welcome break from the mayhem of the day, and here, in the drug capital of WNC, from the mayhem of the night as well. Still, I would rather eat the tomatoes instead of them.
“Instead of them…” That didn’t sound right. I meant I would rather eat the tomatoes instead of the horn worms eating the tomatoes. I didn’t mean that I would rather eat the tomatoes instead of me eating the horn worms. But there is some discussion of massive huge worms being an alternative source of protein. Just. No. Can’t do it. Even if it was all scientifically proven to be “good for you.” That would be like eating a… turd.
There are responses, like wasps and such, but you have to like having wasps around. They never really bothered me, so I’m good with them. There have been only a few. I don’t mind them, even though they do a bit of damage to some of the tomatoes. I just cut out the bad parts and eat the rest:
After the rains the tomato plants have really been growing, putting out many more tomatoes and much bigger tomatoes altogether, faster than any infestation of army worms can go after them.
Analogy with the spiritual life: we might have tons of weaknesses and such, but the love of the Lord by which He draws into the grace of His friendship, can grow stronger in us so much faster than any weaknesses and such, allowing us – if we so choose – to stay super close to Jesus, in all humble thanksgiving, thanking Him, with joy, that he would take us out of this fallen and ever so aggressive world with all of its aggressive monsters, usually with just two legs, and on to heaven. Thank you Jesus.
There’s but one remaining yellow caterpillar with black spikes (top center of middle leaf above), super destructive to the leaves of the yellow squarrrsh and the spaghetti squarrsh and the cucumbers, but there are still a zillion “lady” bugs, gathering on the last leaves, even more destructive than the caterpillars. Worse than the beasts was the white mildew. It’s like white paint sprayed over everything. It’s soooo humid here all the time. Grrrr….
The squarrrsh were pulled up a couple of weeks back, and I’ve now pulled up the cucumbers (having harvested the last offerings). All the spaghetti squarrrsh were harvested. Six of the ten were good, four having bit the dust to worms that turned them to mush.
The bucket of Sevin purchased in the Spring of the year was never used as the directions say to never use it when there are still flowers on the plants as it will kill all the bees everywhere. Well, well. This is my first time gardening and now I find out that squarrrsh of any kind and cucumbers flower throughout the season, as do the tomatoes, so Sevin can never be used. If I’m wrong on that, please let me know!
The tomatoes were also somewhat plagued by the “lady” bugs and yellow caterpillars, which are now pretty much gone as their main prey was the nearby squarrrsh and cucumbers. However, the tomatoes are now visited by horrible black caterpillars, which munch holes deep into the tomatoes even while they stay on the outside. Grrr….
Having said that, the tomato plants are doing well (the in-ground ones better than the 5 gallon bucket ones). A couple of the plants are over ten feet high, vigorous as ever, lots of tomatoes.
Some have dozens of tomatoes, even after dozens were already havested:
The real tomato plague consists of tiny little what-looks-to-be red aphids. Wherever they are (everywhere) the leaves turn spotty and then yellow and then die. Grrr…
But the tomatoes are growing so fast this late in the season (lots of gentle rain) that they have kept just a step or two in front of these pests and have been putting out an abundance of tomatoes.
Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables? That’s not for a first-time gardener to know, but let it be known that vine-ripened tomatoes are really very tasty. Tomatoes go with just about anything.
My first time gardening (starting up during the most severe lockdowns of Covid-1984), was a welcome way to get outside in God’s good creation, a most wonderful way to get some exercise, the perfect distraction from that which necessitates some distraction (lots of drugs and violence in the neighborhood). Clearing the mind and heart of some of the hell of this world by walking with the Lord in His good creation is exhilarating.
But what about the “lady” bugs and caterpillars and worms and mildew you ask? When I mumble a “Grrr…” it’s much more in the sense of a challenge than in the sense of disappointment or frustration. I’m immediately thinking: What can I do next year to improve? I can’t wait to try!
In summary: gardening is good for the soul.
Oh, I almost forgot: here’s a picture of the asparagus patch in honor of my mom, who was a wonderful gardener and had a veritable forest of asparagus. Some green-thumb parishioners planted this forest for me a few years ago, using store bought roots. They’re fantastic growers. Of course, it’s been quite some time to let them go to seed, so they are now up four and five and seven feet. They will grow taller:
Out front, the lettuce boxes had their last harvesting, many months after they should have been done. The lettuce had no pests at all.
The wild wildflowers in buckets on the steps need to be put down on the ground and off to the side as they are growing a bit too tall. They are getting ready to explode into flowers once again.
450 degrees for @45 minutes in my oven at this elevation in the mountains… There’s about 1/3″ of filtered water on the cookie sheet. That will just about boil off by the time the squarrrsh are done, having some partially lightly browned shells. Careful when you open the oven door. Stand back immediately as a rush of steam will come out. Yikes!
Before starting, the seed rubbish inside was scooped out and frozen for next year. Drying the seeds is probably better. I’m likely killing them by freezing them, but no one tells me nuthin…
The squarrrsh were three pounds even and one pound 13 ounces. I had to harvest them early as they each had a worm hole and I wanted to cut that out. The worms only got in about a quarter inch just in the one spot so I was able to save the squarrrshes.
To cut them open without cutting myself, I took a butcher knife and set it on the top lengthwise for the knife and lengthwise for the squarrrsh. Then I tapped the top edge of the knife with a hammer. Works like a charm. This takes out the danger, at least for me. These veggies are as hard as a rock.
After letting the halves cool the “spaghetti” was scooped out and put in a plastic container to the brim for freezing. With about a cup left over, I put that in a small bowl, threw in a few fresh picked tomatoes also from the garden, added some double-sharp cheddar cheese shreds, salt and pepper. A perfect Covid-19 meal from a Covid-19 garden.
It ain’t Keto, which I want to start up again, but it’s a real treat super-fresh. God is good.
Here’s the deal: If it all hits the fan come November 4 because of confusion as to who is elected and a civil war erupts and food supplies are extremely limited, having a garden really helps, although we will, in the northern hemisphere, be heading into winter.
Whatever with that. I’m enjoying the garden right now and hope to put up a half-dozen or so spaghetti squarrrsh for future reference.
We trust in God, but we also want to be smart with the smarts He gave us.
These were outside on the driveway this morning. Fresh picked. But I just can’t take anonymous food. Let me know who you are, please. I needn’t tell anyone…
UPDATE: Great advice about how to freeze corn in the comments. BTW, that’s my tiny freezer that the corn is on top of. These all went, as is, in a plastic storage bin (they all fit), and that was tossed into the freezer. The squarrrsh is taking up a lot of room, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them in the dead of winter.
The Squarrrsh plants are getting tired even as they pump out the most squarrrshes and the biggest they ever have. I rip out the tired leaves. In the lower right you see the tomato plant I had to rip up as it has been weed-eated. I still got six tomatoes off of it.
In this picture you’ll note a draining ditch right in the back lawn in the extreme upper right of the picture. This morning, right along this little ditch there was a raggedy holster with a Crocadile Dundee-esque knife.
I had dropped my coffee and went out back because I saw various agencies of law enforcement swarming out back in their various cruisers and on foot, also in my back yard.
I walked up to the knife just as a deputy walked up to it. He said that it belongs to the guy they’re looking for, a fellow by the name of […], whose got lots of felonies on his head. The deputy picked up the knife for evidence and asked if I had seen where he went. Situational awareness covers a lot of ground. I said the grass is soaking wet with dew. There’s his trail, I said, pointing to the grass with footprints through the heavy dew. He’s surely hiding over at […], I asserted about a business nearby. The vehicle of that business is forever seen at the druggy house where the knife guy is reigning over his kingdom of drugs and violence. In this case, if it’s true that he’s there – and that does seem to be the usual safe-house – then that would be harboring a criminal actively escaping from law enforcement. He’s got plenty of warrants out on him.
The knife guy is the guy who called himself “Pablo Escobar” and who “non-” threatened me just the other day. I’m not allowed on my own street, he said, as I don’t belong there, I don’t live there, even though I’m just a couple of houses away. It’s like, in the winter-time, my back yard is shaded by his trees in the afternoon.
Irony of ironies, he’s actually trespassing on my property, where he doesn’t belong. Hahahahaha!
Meanwhile, I had just given Shadow-dog breakfast, so he was busy and never saw the druggy intruder. Had the druggy guy actually jumped the fence, he would have met Shadow-dog much more personally, and then me, and then law enforcement.
Never a dull moment. :-)
Some have noted that I “carry” even while out for a few minutes in the back garden, watering the plants for the day and such. Well, yes, I carry. There’s a reason. Even at the break of dawn in an otherwise quiet neighborhood. Had I been out there thirty seconds earlier, believe me, this guy would have cut my head off had I not had the Glock with me.
We’ve had four beheadings in the area (for one of which I had to do the death notification to the family of the victim), plus lots of arsons, slashings and assaults and various and sundry other murders, yes, also on my “block”, just some houses away.
The 2nd amendment is great. Practice situational awareness!
Meanwhile, in the midst of mayhem, I’m always ever so calmly using that situational awareness first of all for flowers for the Immaculate Conception. More on that later.
Meanwhile, I have to laugh, as I cannot but recall a famous line in street-fighting: “You call that a knife? That’s not a knife. This is a knife:
Choanephora cucurbitarum. Yep. That’s what that is. But blurting out a fancy name doesn’t mean I know what I’m talking about. This spaghetti squash was about an inch and half long before being attacked. I gingerly picked it and tossed it out. I ain’t not wanting them thar spores overwintering in my garden no-how, nope, not ever. I don’t know what can be done about this when everything is still in bloom, or how to purify the soil for the next year…
And then there’s human error. A great friend with unlimited amounts of energy got a bit too close to a tomato plant. Surprisingly, a week later, the plant is still going strong. We’ll see. I might get some used tires to protect from innocent mistakes. My fault, too. I baited that weed-eating by not not weeding as I should, as is evident from the photo above. But what do I know? I know so little that it is unknown to me what the unknowns might be.
Donald Rumsfeld put it best:
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”
More unknowing from my first time gardening experience:
Placing spaghetti squash over the house supports instead of keeping them on the ground turns out not to be a good idea. The spaghetti squash will, of course, get huge, and perhaps break the vines, so that all is lost.
And then there’s this – what? tomato rust? – I don’t know:
Is that a bug which does that? Like this one? Also over on the cucumber…
I think this is what happens in the wake of such a beast:
But what do I know? And even if I knew, I wouldn’t know what to do about it.
It seems to me the Lord said something about this:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)
The Lord is so good. Despite the vast ignorance that is mine, I have been harvesting really almost too much asparagus daily for months, so much squarrsh that there is now about 30 one-pound bags of it in the freezer, heaps of cucumbers, multiple spaghetti squarrsh, at last count about 80 tomatoes, one of which I’ve already harvested.
The Lord makes it easy. We can survive. As time goes on we get more clever about it, and are more successful if we work together, lest we suffer from the thistles from the neighbor’s garden, he also suffering from the thistles from our gardens.
There is one known unknown, however, and that’s that we do know that the extent of the Lord’s goodness and kindness for us is almost entirely unknown to us. The Lord is soooo very good, soooo very kind.
When running out to the garden for something to eat it’s a great consolation to discuss such matters with the dear Lord.
That picture was uploaded from the garden June 1, 2020. I was amazed. Gardening is an encouragement to walk with the Lord, to be a co-worker in the garden He planted, as we read way back in Genesis, the Lord desiring that we till the ground, walking with Him.
BTW, however much walking with the Lord is mocked, that walking with the Lord, such as to Emmaus, is not bad and evil. Gardening, walking with the Lord, can be a very fruitful time with the Lord during the day, in the evening, in the morning. Walking with the Lord does not necessarily imply progressivism or anything dialectical, or any kind of tolerant-of-all-mortal-sin-so-called-accompaniment”. We are to pray always. Always means always.
The Lord said that to enter into the kingdom of heaven we are to be like children. To be thankful to the Lord for His creation takes the heart of a child. In this violent drug town I’m quite sure that there are very few who see the paradise in which we live, the mountains and streams and national and state forests and stunning biodiversity.
Meanwhile, the three squarrrsh groupings have continued to grow, edging on 4 feet high and 12 feet wide:
I’m guessing they’re starting to give up as it’s now mid-July and they’ve really been pumping out the squarrrshes, requiring harvesting twice a day. If it’s your first time gardening, this is a good first plant to plant.
Meanwhile, the spaghetti squarrrshes are getting way to heavy for their own good. I’m taking the advice of hammocks for the ones which have gotten themselves into impossible situations. And, yes, those are tiny zip-ties. :-)
The 5-gallon bucket tomato plants are doing well, relatively speaking. These were grown from seeds. There were five seeds thinned out to three plants for each bucket, still too many… but now I know. If you can see them, there are seven tomatoes from this bucket at the moment. These plants are only 1/3 the size of the store-bought seedlings transplanted and given tomato cages. Here’s one of those, also seven tomatoes:
One of my gardening parishioners laughed when he found out I was taking a census of tomatoes on the plants, saying that they would soon be uncountable. It’s only mid-July and there is a tomato, an early girl, already turning color:
I know. I know. Gotta do up some weeding, which is not work, btw, if you’re “walking with the Lord.”
Sixty years old. My first time gardening. Mistakes are bound to be made:
Never having planted squarrrsh, I didn’t know how expansive they are, how much they hog the sun, putting up an impenetrable canopy. Pretty much all my cucumbers have bitten the dust, planted too near the squarrrsh. Cucumbers can climb. They don’t mind being in seed-boxes. So, they’ll get the seed boxes next year.
The squarrrsh are doing… um… waaay tooo well. Unlike the cucumbers, they don’t need to be near a fence. And now I know they do NOT do well as they could if they were NOT to be in seed boxes. The branches break off at the edge of the seed boxes, exposing the wide-open tunnels of the inner branches to all sorts of critters. So, next year, no seed boxes for squarrrsh.
The tomatoes are doing well. There is still one without one tomato. Others have half a dozen already on the way, some tiny, some tennis ball sized. The tomato cages I put over the just planted plants were put down… um…. upside down! What do I know?! Obviously nothing. Such beginner mistakes. But barring plagues and moulds and rust and such, it looks like I’ll be getting at least some tomatoes. There are, among my 14 plants, some just a few feet high, some over five feet, now some 55, make that 60 tomatoes. But my neighbors laugh at my upside down cages. :-)
I planted a squarrrsh plant right in the midst of the asparagus forest, making it about impossible to see the new asparagus. But that will be corrected next year. The cucumbers will go with the asparagus. It’s a space thing.
The October Beans never appeared at all. The seeds either didn’t germinate because I planted them way too deep, or rotted for the same reason, or were eaten by critters for the same reason. There’s a reader of the blog who asked for such seeds years ago… if he hasn’t planted them — Hey! — send them back! I’m gonna try to grow these again next spring, which isn’t that far away. 82 Third Street; Andrews, NC, 28901, USA!
The biggest mistake was experimenting with spaghetti squarrrsh seeds. I dumped the seeds in the ground with no fertilizer, no extra care, no special soil. Nothing. They exploded are now huge, taking over the house. As you can see from the picture above, I’m guiding them along the top of a two-foot high wire fence. Just in that picture you can already count three spaghetti squarrrshes. They get huge, like a small watermelon, weighing in at four to eight pounds each. Yikes! My question: should I rip these vines off the top of the fence and place them on the ground? And actually, it’s already too late, as some lengths of the vine itself is woven into the fence and can’t possibly be removed. A huge mistake? or is this still alright?
Besides the Squarrsh (two “Rs”) and Cucumbers and Asparagus, there are some 40 tomatoes at last count on the tomato plants, none of them anywhere near being ripe yet.
Watering and harvesting takes but a few minutes. And for me its a chance to unwind a bit, walking with the Lord in His garden, being thankful to Him. Is that a prayer as well? Yes, it is.
I recommend gardening, even inside if you have no outside space. It’s beneficial on so many levels. We were created to be co-workers with God in His creation. Adam is to “Till the ground”, as his name indicates, being the verbal form for the soil itself. It’s just right.
And if one thinks this to be superfluous in desperate times of Covid-19 insanity lockdowns, of Marxist rioting, of anti-Police defunding, on and on, such normalcy of gardening, if you will, is one of the most practical things one can do.
The most practical thing one can do is pray. Yes. Oh, Confession too.
I would never have started gardening if not for the Coronavirus and lockdowns. I do exhaust myself with religious activities that are possible in these difficult times – putting a zillion miles on Sassy the Subaru – but there is also a moment here or there as the days turn into weeks and months.
I would never have started gardening if not for Keto. It’s not that I will be growing anything that is necessarily Keto friendly, it’s that I was so overweight previous to Keto that I just could not do up something like gardening. Never.
Weeding and then weed-eating around Brakeman and the Papal Flag. The flag is a bit disintegrated at the moment. An analogy there. Meanwhile, Brake-Man, appropriately, continues to represent now rusty mankind in all of the effects of Adam’s original sin, putting on the brakes on everything. He’s made out of brakes by my artistic and mechanically minded neighbor to the hermitage of yore. He stands next to the day lilies roaring back to their springtime glories.
Planting Spaghetti Squash seeds next to the rose bush. Who knows…
Constructing seed-boxes – with bottoms – for the top of the steps to either side of the door, in front of Mary and Anthony of Padua. The wood is left over from the hermitage. These are for leaf-lettuce. I’ll be off the Keto diet by the time this gets ready to pick.
Cutting down dead branches from the Ceder trees out back and constructing Tepee style bean poles. My neighbor to the hermitage is graciously going to supply me with enough October Beans to take over the front of the rectory. October beans are loved by humming birds as a fierce battle ground. The beans are so big that you only need a handful for soup.
Still planks left over… I know!
The storm we had the past couple of days flooded the creek to overflowing, which brought water and debris throughout the rectory lot, lapping up against the foundation of the house, but these seed-boxes might just be high enough to keep their future contents from being washed away.
All the seed boxes are half-filled with the manure of Cooper-the-Therapy-Pony, who lives in the neighbor’s adjoining back yard. Cooper is only about twice the size of Shadow-dog. The rest of the seed boxes are filled with potting soil and then mixed up. These are spread out along the fence for a reason. There are two mounds in each box, six altogether. Three will be for straight neck yellow squash; three will be for cucumbers. The vines are long, but there is plenty of room for them. They will also mature when I’m off the Keto diet.
I’ll have to “ride fence” daily as the vines start to grow to length, making sure that they are tied up to the fence, making the lawn available for easy mowing.
More things to do:
Mulch for the front around the October Beans and Day Lilies
Perhaps some flowers for the front steps on either side, effectively hiding the fronts of the boxes and honoring Mary and St Anthony.
I’m thinking of tomatoes… Perhaps Early Girls… They would actually go in the carport… a peculiar setup there… We’ll see…
As some parishioners know, I didn’t put any lime down, no fertilizer, and the weeds were like trees. No matter to this asparagus. In the Spring it was watered daily. I gave that up in July when I stopped harvesting so let it rest and concentrate on sending down stronger roots. Nine feet. Next Spring should see daily harvesting. A Psalm (104:20-23) to recall:
“Thou makest darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they get them away and lie down in their dens. Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening.”
These were just 4″ high yesterday morning. 8″ this morning. Wow. 4″ a day. You don’t want them to go beyond 8″ though, as they get woody. There were more but I’ll wait until tomorrow to harvest them. Gardens amaze me. Really tasty.
Today I had a pan full of asparagus sprinkled in olive oil to warm up just a touch and then slightly sprinkled with salt. They push themselves up from the soil I know not how. I go out and look at the stalks with amazement in the evening, knowing that the next morning they will already be tall enough to harvest. So quick.
Someone said that lettuce would be a good idea. I second that. As it also grows in abundance. I’ve tried a dozen times to eat salad stuff from the supermarket and always with disastrous E. coli O157:H7-esque consequences. I love salad, but I’ve totally given up on supermarkets.
And then there’s squWaRsh, as it’s pronounced here. And tomatoes. I think that would do it for me. But even with these four. But I’ll have to think about all that. It’s quite the project to have a garden. I shouldn’t forget that I wouldn’t have the asparagus without generous parishioners haven’t dug the bed and planted 2-year roots. I weeded the asparagus bed this morning and that was pretty exhausting (such a tiny patch!). But I suppose that indicates that I really should have a bigger garden.
My hesitation also comes from the typical life of priests. Once you just move into a parish you’re ripped out (painful) and you set to start a new adventure (exhilarating). But you can’t live on what-ifs, can you?