Tag Archives: Gardening

Tomato wars: Hornworm-0 / Wasp-1

As soon as the massive hornworm hosts the eggs of the braconid wasp, cotesia congregates, the worm, while continuing to live as feeding host for the baby wasps, no longer eats or even moves. Nature working for you, as it should be. The little red wasps are friendly. Be nice to them.

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Gardening weirdness

All the beans were pulled up yesterday, and all the corn. A couple of tomatoes.

Some of the corn was monstrous. I won’t be eating that.

I’ve been noticing weirdness in the past couple of years, with carrots, with corn, with squarrrsh. I’ve never seen such weirdness in my life.

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Army worms on the attack

My poor tomatoes.

Are you disgusted?

Jesus said about Himself (in our perspective) Psalm 22: 6-7…

  • “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me. They hurl insults, shaking their heads.”

Yep. That’s us, in our fallen human nature, if we are without grace. With grace, we already know that that’s who we are on our own, total idiots who don’t see God right in front of us.

If we don’t recognize that that’s who we are if we are without grace, we have zero integrity, zero honesty, zero humility. We are full of ourselves, and we’re full of **** as pictured above. That’s not the kind of person who goes to heaven. I wanna go to heaven. The way to go to heaven is not to congratulate ourselves that we are holy, having saved ourselves because we’re the ones, the only ones; the way to go to heaven is to recognize that Jesus is our Savior because He’s the One, the only One.

Oh, and we are to be happy to stand with Jesus in His trials.

That means that if we are with Jesus, we are also considered to be worms by the rest of the fallen world. Ready for that?

Just be to persnickety: It’s not so much “worm” in the biblical text, but rather more specifically, “maggot.” Baalzebul, however you wanna spell it, means “Lord of the Flies”, that is, The Lord of Death, so, rotting corpses, so, maggots, hence, flies. Satan is the murderer from the beginning. Jesus says, “I am a maggot and no man” (in our perspective). How far we have fallen.

Jesus is considered a maggot because we are fallen and that’s how we roll in self-protection: Jesus is bad and evil, not me.

Again, the cure to this, in Jesus’ grace, is a bit of humility, honesty, integrity, so that, redeemed and saved by Jesus, being in His grace, standing in solidarity with Him, we are also then considered to be maggots, the worst of the worst. And moreover, we’re happy about this.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Veggies, bees and beasts, edition)

This is the very first bumble honey bee I’ve seen this entire year. And it’s weighed down with pollen, finally taking care of the tomato flowers. There’s been a zillion flowers, but with no bees, there are very few tomatoes that develop, mostly because of the work of one or two of what I call tomato wasps. Here’s the result of their work, the third harvested so far this year:

I couldn’t get a picture of a bee actively busy with the October Bean flowers below. With these, the bees and hummingbirds can entrench in mortal combat. Quite the entertainment.

Right now, the October Beans have run out of fence, itself starting about 1 or 2 feet off the ground, and are reaching high up into the sky, a good six feet higher than the string beans, which themselves are a bushy two feet high.

I’m thinking that that’s no bumble bee, but rather an Italian version of the honey bee. They must have heard my complaint about there being no bees around, as they were here in great numbers this morning all over the string beans and squarrrsh:

Meanwhile: sqarrrsh:

Here’s one with a bee:

So far, here’s one of many of the results so far:

Another bee:

Oops! That’s a cicada. I was wondering what that hole in the ground, very deep, was all about.

Anyone else with a prepper garden? Or just a garden?

Either way, it’s good for the soul, and delicious.

And it’s a chance to say Hail Marys for the souls in purgatory.

A flower for you, Mary: Hail Mary…

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Initiative, edition)

  • “Hey, Father George. Can we, using our own money, have permission to put some flowers around the Immaculate Conception?”

I love my parish. They started the other day, and then made some progress:

I think Jesus in happy with that initiative. There’s another project pictured there, that steep embankment that stretches along the entire southern perimeter. Yet another volunteer hacked the tall growth down with an expertly wielded machete. In this parish, those are actually garden tools.

All this has been going on in Mary’s garden, which has gotten a radical sprucing up.

The name was changed as days went by to Garden of the Holy Family:

Then, many truckloads of trimmings were taken taken away from the front of the church. There’s another statue of Mary on the far side. More work to be done there. We’re thinking of replacing the Sacred Heart Statue. The flag is half-mast for obvious reasons these days in America.

The steep driveway has also gotten radical changes for the better, with all new plantings, except for the bush, which was just a twig growing out of a hacked stump. The previous bush was starting to block off both front and side steps and a view of the Garden of the Holy Family.

All for you, Mary. That’s what the whole parish says.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Medusa, edition)

This is a “volunteer” in the garden, next to the asparagus patch. In high school or in the early years of the seminary I wasn’t one to have much interest in Greek mythology, so, I have no analogies to make here except that it’s not Perseus who ends the threat of Medusa’s viper-hair:

Rather, it’s the Immaculate Conception who intercedes for the salvation of the soul of Adam’s wife.

Rather than be so grotesque, dearest Mary does a little dance:

This flower up top is wild garlic which is illegal to harvest on public property. But this is in my garden. In this case, I don’t want to harvest it as I’m hoping it will spread next year. Do I just let it alone, or do I pull it up, separate the cloves and plant those individually?

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Gardening exploits. Mighty mites might mollify. Attitude on purgatory.

I call them red cement bugs. These arachnids are quite harmless if they don’t get into the house. If they do, just make sure they have no food (live plants) or any water source (like from your watering the same plants) and you’ll be fine within a few days. They also calm down in serious heat. I’ve not seen any inside, but a zazillion outside on the very top of the experimental rocket stove. They invaded the tomatoes last year as there’s not much grass near that western edge of the house’s cement foundation.

Meanwhile, the garden is now fully planted with Potatoes, Spaghetti Squarrrsh, October Beans, Corn, Green Beans, Lettuce (two kinds), Spinach, Asparagus. The bulb-flowers are done already, so I planted some milkweed seeds that I got from the car dealership years ago. We’ll see if they catch on. I’m wondering about Marigolds to keep the varmints and various kinds of bugs away. Is there any kind of marigold that’s best for this?

So far, squirrels have eaten most all of one kind of lettuce, with the other kind not doing well. I’ll have to use cages next year. That was the plan for this year but it all got away from me. The one row of corn… well… I’ve never seen a single row grow well waaay back in the day. Remember the old days of non-engineered corn when the border rows would be quite short? My level of gardening still puts me waaay back in the day. It’s an experiment. That’s all part of it.

But who has time for gardening? Certainly not me. So, it’s just a little every day or a couple times a week with the major projects only once every month or so, starting in late winter. On a daily basis it’s just a matter of few minutes of watering and harvesting a half dozen tall-enough asparagi. But harvesting is part of food prep, replacing that time otherwise spent on grocery shopping, and so doesn’t count for gardening time.

And anyway, walking the perimeter is exercise for old geezers like me and one can fit in Hail Marys for the souls in purgatory. Just to be clear, praying for the souls in purgatory is also working in the vineyard of the Lord. Praying for the souls in purgatory is not an exercise in condescension. For me it’s more like an apology: “Sorry for not having prayed more for you during my own sojourn upon earth. Please, forgive me. Hail Mary…” Something like that. Otherwise, gardening is like being a mere red cement bug arachnid.

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Starting the rectory garden, and then the winds blew and the floods came

On the “Day Off”. Ten tomato plants planted. Those are deep holes of good potting soil. The buckets are to put over them when it frosts (another few times over the next few weeks). I learned my lesson last year: Don’t leave the buckets over them into the day!

Below, the seed boxes aren’t quite ready. The middle one will be spaghetti squash. The one nearest in the picture I’m hoping will be rhubarb. Mmm. The far one, not yet placed half in the ground with cardboard underneath (that stops the roots), well, I don’t know. I might move it toward the front to head up the line of tomatoes. Perhaps lettuce for that one.

Below was yesterday’s project, the garden along the driveway. Weeded and tilled, then Cooper-pooped (Cooper being the small horse next door, two wheelbarrows full, then potting soil). I think this year it will be a row of corn on each of the long edges and then a row of string beans all along the central trellis.

But not finished yet:

And, yes, that is Shadow-dog. More on that contraption above him in another post.

Meanwhile, the seed boxes out front need some lettuce:

Are you going to be doing any gardening this year? Any flowers? Any veggies?

UPDATE: I wasn’t able to publish this yesterday. I’m good with that. Yesterday was a good day. So happy to be a priest. We night came we had quite the rain storm, with strong winds. Temps got down to only about 60F. One of the tomato plants was severed at ground level. I gave the stem a slant cut and planted it again. Maybe it’ll come back. Meanwhile, all the buckets went flying round the rectory, banging into things. When you’re woken up by unusual crashing and banging, you might think of any number of things. Going back to sleep, I had a dream about those who, in the same storm system, were wiped off the map by the winds and the rain and the flooding. Hail Mary…

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Finally, a non-epic “Day Off”, preparing for Hanukkah and Christmas, et alia.

A million little projects. Just calm, at a million miles an hour, but a breather for sure. To start off, the Hanukkah and Christmas picture window display needed setting up. The lighting from last year, pictured above, was not easy. A simplified version was in order, which I like much better:

That was just for the picture, a trial lighting making sure everything works. I’ll change out the “Shamash” candle in the middle. I know, I know, it’s not even Advent, or even Hanukkah, or even Thanksgiving for that matter. Just preparing.

Hanukkah is all about God’s joyful intervention in assisting the celebration of the rededication of the Temple. Christmas is all about the Living Temple in the Body of the Messiah, the Lumen gentium, the Jewish Light of the Nations borne amongst us.

I totally get that the candles or lamps should be wax or oil. I mean, I wouldn’t use electric candles for the Altar for Holy Mass. But this is a celebration at home, which doesn’t have the same candle/lamp viability as does the church.

Hanukkah is super early this year (the lunar calendar thing), beginning Sunday Night 28 November, 2021, which coincides with the evening of the first Sunday of Advent. Hanukkah runs through daytime of Monday, December 6. Only the “Shamash” and the first candle are lit Sunday night, from right to left, night by night. The prayers the first night (from Chavad.org):

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בִּזְּמַן הַזֶּה

  • Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
  • Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לִזְּמַן הַזֶּה

  • Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion. [This one is just for the first night.]

Next up on the day off was the cutting of a rose bush out front (which was obscuring the picture window), then the ripping off the Jasmine from the inside fence of the backyard (lots more to be done there), as well as ripping up of the Jasmine that had been hiding “Brake-Man” since springtime. The asparagus forest was also knocked to the ground.


Next up on the day off was attaching the tiniest of all concealed carry holsters next to the standard shift of Sassy the Subaru. I rarely use stuff for what it’s intended. Benefits: availability-at-speed instead of struggling with the seat-belt over the open carry and now, almost winter, under a jacket (the concealed carry permit was just renewed). I can’t imagine concealed carry under a shirt, under a jacket, under a seat-belt. That would be worse than carrying non-chambered. Also, there’s a comfort factor while driving, however slight. But most people won’t carry if there’s the slightest discomfort. I’m no better than anyone else.

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The footwell of the passenger seat is a catchall for rituals of all kinds, Holy Water, a sacramental stole, the mail that day, other items of various projects. I don’t care what any ecclesiastical authority, say, in Rome, says about priests being forbidden to give Last Rites because of Covid-whatever, I’m always a priest and always have the right to provide Last Rites. That rebellious spirit applies over against any secular authorities as well. Going up against all the lawyers and upper-echelon admin of the hospital and going up against the governor’s office brought immediate positive results.

The bit of orange you see is a glass-breaker should the doors be wrecked and the electric windows fail. All the electrical in the car failed just the other day. Just sayin’. A left-over from years gone by next to that bit of orange is a really old wallet filled with cancelled credit cards and one dollar in cash. That would be given to any would-be robber who would ask for the wallet if the circumstances permitting that kind of deescalation and avoidance of conflict were present. It just buys enough time to leave a situation and have it resolved another way. We live in weird times. I’ve already been in a car-jacking incident helping transport a retired cop to the hospital. But that guy was apprehended on the spot by the police came screeching up with miraculously good timing.

  • “But Father George! Father George! You start off with the Temple and the Prince of Peace and wind up with guns?!”

Lol. Yes. That’s me. You might want to read up on the violent occasioning of the celebration of Hanukkah, the celebrating being brought about by God Himself. You might want to recall the violence occasioned in this world throughout time by Adam with original sin (see “Brake-Man” above) but the actual peace we will have in heaven, please God. You might want to remember that the second amendment is a service to one’s fellow man in violent circumstances. This is about just defense over against unprovoked and already being delivered deadly aggression. Statistically, where the second amendment is respected there is a huge decrease in crime. But there is always an increased risk for those who render the service of deescalation and defense of the innocent. There’s really so much good with Jesus intervening amongst us, but it helps us appreciate His entrance into this world when we remember why He came!

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“You know you have tomatoes growing when…” – JLK

  • “You know you have tomatoes growing when you see three or four in a bunch.”

So said my neighbor to the hermitage of yore, many times over the years, as he patiently tried to teach me some gardening. Each time I see three or more tomatoes I think of him. The best thing he taught me about gardening (which was the whole point of teaching me about gardening) was that it was to be a time to walk about with Saint Joseph and the Lord Jesus.

When I saw these six tomatoes in a group above (if you look closely you’ll see another hiding behind, top center) I knew I had to put this up on the blog, which he follows from time to time. I know it’ll make him smile. And that’s good.

He’s a good teacher. I’ve tried to learn how to grow tomatoes, and I’ve begun to learn to recognize being smacked down by my guardian angel so as to know that Saint Joseph and the Lord Jesus is with me. It couldn’t be clearer that this is the case when I see a new flower for the Immaculate Conception to put up on the blog. No matter what chaos is happening in the church and the world none of that matters, because salvation is with us, the simplicity of being with the Holy Family.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (gardening, edition)

This is a bumble bee, as we called them when I was a kid. But there are also now honey bees that have discovered the garden with its myriad flowers. The bees and the wasps and the humming birds vie for October Bean blossoms (above), making for quite the entertaining playing out of strategies of warfare, you know, among Flowers for the Immaculate Conception. It’s only July, but the beans are getting big:

The Spaghetti Squarrrsh also have their battles on their flowers though they don’t bother me at all, as they are all too busy:

The promises of Spaghetti are being fulfilled while other promises are being… um… squarrrshed… Here’s a picture from a while back:

Today, that too close proximity resulted in this happening:

The Tomatoes, having not been helped by my incapacity, have nevertheless bounced back. The tiny tomato flowers are wildly fruitful now.

Just one tomato plant has fully 28 tomatoes on it, helpfully, at different levels of development to be sure, but, I mean, 28! You can’t count them all here. Some are tiny. Some are hiding behind leaves.

The Morris Rose has experienced another blossom then no blossom cycle, and is back to blossoms:

I don’t know if there will be anything for something like rose-hip tea.

The asparagus patch has a zillion tiny flowers, which will turn into red berries. Some of the plants are foresting already at just under seven feet high:

Meanwhile, the few minutes I take to pull a weed there, tie up a vine there, or perhaps ever water the plants is an extremely welcome break from the chaos in the world and, right now, ferociously in the church. I believe that grabbing a few pictures of flowers in honor of the Immaculate Conception is a wholesome, restorative activity, and I do not believe that this is despised by our Lady, even while she has much to do while the chaos continues. Hail Mary…

In that spirit, just for nice, for the Immaculate Conception:

And another interloper out front with squarrrsh:

But my favorite flower for the Immaculate Conception is the most simple, pure, a Jasmine Cross. Do you see it?

The Jasmine is growing over “Brake-Man”, an image made out of brakes, an image of Adam, who put the brakes on grace with original sin, but he now being given the gift of being able to give such a simple gift to the Immaculate Conception, that little white cross.

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rectory gardening volunteer voluntold

Even when it was just little, I couldn’t bring myself to rip up this weird grass, because, well, it just didn’t look like grass, and, what if something really cool? So I let it grow. It still looks like weird grass. It’s now pretty tall, measuring a good couple of feet. A neighbor said, “Hey, that looks like garlic!” I have no idea, but I would like this. In future years, this would mean that the “driveway garden” would be overwhelmed by garlic. I love garlic. We’ll see. I don’t see any spears coming off, no strange seed tops, not yet, anyway. The neighbors have a patch of garlic. Somehow some bulbs must have gotten into their miniature therapy horse poop hill in their back yard. They let me take wheelbarrows of that for my gardening ventures. But, we’ll see. Maybe it’s just grass. But maybe not. Be open to volunteers. It may be just what you want.

Meanwhile, “Brake-Man” below is has his usual complement of flora that has been there for years. He’ll soon disappear, turning into a mountain of green.

The lettuce in the seed boxes on the front steps is struggling, as everything is all dug up pretty continuously by squirrels looking for black walnuts that they buried last year. But maybe some will survive. I should get smart and cover over the tops with a dome of chicken wire that I can sneak a hand under for weeding but which will outsmart a squirrel.

The rose bush – very old now – hasn’t yet put any buds out, but they will soon appear. These will be Flowers for the Immaculate Conception.

The tomatoes are starting to produce:

I planted the tomatoes too early, and some were killed off by the hard frost and the bucket I had over them to protect them, or so I thought. I moved what I thought were dead plants to an unused part of the asparagus patch, hoping beyond hope that they just might come back. I am amazed. They all lived. There are actually five strugglers in this picture below, all relocated way to close to each other, but we’ll see what happens. I was really careless and rough with them when moving them. I guess they thought it was just fine, as they get more sun next to the asparagus patch. This will be an experiment about planting them way too close to each other. I’ll have to get better at weeding, I know.

I am tempted to use insecticide and fungicide this year…. Any advice on that for the tomatoes, and for the spaghetti squarrrsh if they grow? I don’t think anything else will need such things.

The asparagus doesn’t care about any insects or fungus. They just grow like crazy. It’s the moles and voles that can be a problem. Any advice about those critters?

Is this a weed or a volunteer carrot?

Meanwhile… OCTOBER BEANS! These almost died bringing them home. They got white mold on most of the leaves and were totally wilted. I ripped off all the infected leaves and got them good soil and plenty of water. They look much better now. I hope these aren’t poison ivy!

I hope these produce some beans that I can plant next year, and maybe even enough for some soup. You only need six or half dozen for a great soup dish, so big are they. Maybe I’ll have enough to give some to my gardening neighbors. It’s always, always good to pass around the blessings.

The spaghetti squarrrsh from last year are only now on the menu. They have kept very, very well. The seeds are being planted round about. We’ll see what happens to them. I’m experimenting with preparation. Instead of heating up the house with a super-hot stove for 40 minutes, a half or quarter is popped into the microwave for five minutes. I found them to come out al dente, and not all watery and steamy and hard to deal with, with a much better texture with all the flavor. Butter and salt is what I like. Delicious. No squash this year. Enough of that! It’ll all be spaghetti squash.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking about getting chickens…

MEANWHILE: In another garden, the Lord’s vineyard, there will be total mayhem at the church tonight for the vigil Mass in Spanish. I told everyone to take pictures as it will be obvious to the diocese that we need a bigger church. But, this will be a bit of an exception because of people coming from far and wide. We have four baptisms, eleven confirmations, and four first Holy Communions. Of course, there will also be Confessions before. Hopefully no Last Rites needed! We love the sacraments in this parish, in this garden of souls. :-)

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Watering the garden

In back of the rectory above. In front of the rectory below.

The doghouse is up on blocks, but the water was only about an inch away from the bottom.

Under the rectory there’s a lake. Water didn’t get into the house, except for the outside storage room, but nothing hurt there. The asparagus and tomatoes seem to be doing well. Everything is watered rather sufficiently.

So much water. And – hey! – we also have a number being baptized in some days, so, watering the garden of the Lord, so to speak. So, it’s all good.

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Asparagus… Keto!

There are ten in the picture above. Can you see them all. I shouldn’t be the gardener who counts the fruit of the soil, but I can’t help it. I hope it’s not like King David with his census.

Asparagus is Keto friendly, as are most green vegies. I’m enjoying it while I can. More on that later.

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2021 rectory garden dining begins today

A week after weeding the asparagus patch a half dozen sprigs of asparagus popped up. This one was ready to pick today. For measurement, that’s a USCCA (special) pen I tend to carry with me.

Meanwhile, the other day 10 tomatoes were planted about six weeks before the locals say the last frost will take place. So, a risk. I’ll be watching morning temps like a hawk, ready to cover the plants if necessary.

Meanwhile, two types of lettuce were planted in the front steps planter-boxes. A few have sprouted up about 1/4″. Lettuce loves cold weather. I think I could have planted the lettuce months ago.

Meanwhile, a stick I ripped off a pear tree while leaving the hermitage the last time has sprouted leaves.

In Venezuela, by far the richest country in South America, now the poorest, people are eating dogs to survive. This is what the Demoncrats are doing to our country. Be prudent. Plant a garden. Oh, and it’s healthy. And it’s super delicious. No vaccine passport to go to the grocery store? No worries. Pick something to much on from your garden.

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Organic gardening: more beasts & preying or praying?

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.

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Organic gardening: Now it’s horn worms on my tomatoes with a zillion eggs

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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.

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Army worms? Tomatoes don’t care. I don’t either. Analogy.

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.

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1st time garden: end of season evaluation

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.

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Spaghetti Squarrrsh just in: yum yum!

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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…

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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.

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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.

 

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