From Capp to Cardoon

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I was looking forward to a serene September. What was I thinking? A new puppy smacks serenity upside the head.

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The whirlwind of Capp’s puppiness descended on us full force–morning wake-up leg attacks, outside-inside-outside-inside-do-it-all-over-again, chew-chew-chew, bite fingers, nibble toes, tug-of-war with dress hems, cabbage kamikaze, eat-who-knows-what in the back yard, water slobbers down the hall.

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Capp loves cabbage, beets, and brussel sprouts

A messy, sometimes frantic, onslaught of new life–questing, exuberant, beautiful, excited, adorable, and a sponge for learning.

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Having a pup again has been tiring, but it’s such a sweet privilege to watch the development of this wonderful, intelligent new creature.

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Capp is an amazing bundle of loving dogginess and wasted no time in working his way firmly into our hearts.

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So, our September days were focused on pup training and preparing for fence installation for our back garden and orchard area.

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We are fencing almost an acre and George has been clearing along the fence line and putting in portions of the fence, over drains and our septic system, by hand.

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We will have help in digging most of the holes and hope to have it completed later this month.

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We are slowly getting things ready for winter. The bee season is wrapping up with a hive loaded with honey that I hope will bring the bees through the winter.

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The hive was surrounded by asters and goldenrod in September

We had a heavier Varroa mite infestation than I would have liked, but treatment seems to have brought the mite levels under control.

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The bees have thrived despite my clumsy mistakes. I actually dumped a hive body on the ground during the last inspection–I thought we had properly separated the middle body from the lower, but the sticky bee propolis brought the lower body along as we lifted the middle one and then as we moved it–crash–the lower body dumped on the ground. It was pretty exciting for a while as the bees let us know they were not at all happy. But aside from two stings on George’s pants, they let us put things back together and we all went about our business. This hive has the gentlest bees that I’ve ever seen.

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I let some of my vegetables flower for the bees.  This is wild bee on a purple carrot flower.

The fall has been warm so far, so I am just starting to ready the garden beds for winter.

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Some flowers linger in the gorgeous fall light.

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We still are picking cherry tomatoes and the cool weather crops, such as carrots, beets, kale, cabbage, and parsnips become sweeter as the temperatures cool. We had an odd summer for eggplants and peppers. They had such a slow start that I almost pulled them to replant with late summer crops.

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Then, suddenly in late July, they took off. Finally, in September, we had a wonderful crop of eggplants and peppers, that I’ve roasted and frozen. And, now, in October, they are still producing.

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We did not have any problems with deer this summer but, unfortunately, the raccoons got to our corn. We had about a week-and-a-half of daily fresh corn before they discovered the corn patch and then one morning–corn devastation. I managed to salvage some of the popcorn, but that was it.

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We tried growing a few exotics (for us) this year, including okra and cardoon. I thoughtlessly planted the okra in the shadiest part of the garden, which was a mistake. Two small plants each proudly produced one pod apiece. They were sort of sweetly pitiful. I will try it again next year in a really sunny spot and I think it will do better. The cardoons started slowly–just like the peppers and eggplants. And then they suddenly grew like weeds. They are related to artichokes, with similar flowers, but ours never made it to the flowering stage.

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Still, I was growing them for the stems, which have an artichoke-like flavor. The leaves are lovely and serrated, but have nasty little spines that need to be removed.

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After the spine removal, I peeled them,

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boiled them, baked them with parmesan, seasoning, and butter, and dotted with cherry tomatoes. They looked promising, but we weren’t very impressed with the flavor or the texture.

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They were not bad, but not great. Considering how much room they take in the garden, I doubt that I will grow them again. Or maybe, with all those spines, I could plant them around the corn to keep the raccoons away.

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September also brought wonderful skies, which promise to get even better in October. I’m looking forward to some serenity this winter. Ha.

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38 thoughts on “From Capp to Cardoon

    • Capp is adorable, incredibly smart, and affectionate. Zoe is a hard act to follow, so I feel very fortunate that we found this special little guy. But serenity? Not much. I steal a little at nap time.
      The peppers were spectacular. The hot ones did so well, we intend to plant more next year.

  1. I have to laugh about Capp…he is definitely ALL puppy…but SO darned cute. And I cannot believe how prolific your gardens are, that far north. I am amazed! Wonderful bee information. Thank you for another wonderful post.

    • We wanted a smart, inquisitive, lively pup and that’s exactly what we got. The breeder chose him well for us. He was my favorite pup from the litter, perhaps because he crawled right into my lap on our first visit. He’s such a lovely boy–he picks up training faster than any dog we’ve had.
      Maine is a wonderful garden spot. Less heat-related diseases and pests than further south, but a decent growing season. Our southeast sloping hillside also gives us a few extra weeks of growing time. I even grew melons this year!

    • I am more than pleased! I’ve been working the bees all year with no gloves and did not get stung once. Well, I did put the gloves on when I dumped the bees on the ground, but that’s it. Most of the bee forage here is wild, but the garden is a nice supplement for them. Capp’s little face is hard to resist.

  2. We remember those mad puppy days. the world is so exciting for them and they have so much to explore! I’m glad your bee keeping didn’t end in a disaster apart from George’s bee stings! Your crop of vegetables is very impressive. Sarah x

    • Yes, it’s a good reset to view the world through the eyes of a puppy for a time. He keeps us hopping. As for the bees, they are a lovely forgiving bunch. I hope I can get them through the winter, which is predicted to be a harsh one.

  3. Yes, I’d be worried about the size of those feet too! But seriously, he looks gorgeous. We had Labs at home all the time I was growing up, they are such characters.

  4. I had heard of cardoons but never further than that. They’re so similar to, actually look exactly like, artichokes. The two photos at the end taken from the same spot of completely different skies, just lovely! Capp is gorgeous, such a Maine dog! Am really impressed with and envious of your pepper crop. 🙂

    • I was excited about the cardoons because I love artichokes and thought these would be less fuss to grow. They were kind of like artichoke-flavored celery–not too exciting. And we only got one meal out of a giant plant. I may try real artichokes next year. But I won’t grown the cardoons again. I was stunned by how well the peppers did. I had a pretty good crop last year, but this year they really took off in our long hot spell. Can you believe, I’m still picking peppers and eggplants and no frost is in sight? Capp is a Maine dog for sure. We’re taking him up to Lake St. George for his first swim tomorrow! And in another week or so, we’ll bring him to the ocean for some beach swimming.

    • I saw that you had some flowers on yours, but missed some of your blog posts so don’t know if you tried eating the cardoons at all. Did Mrs. T grow them just as ornamentals?

  5. Capp looks like a delightful bundle of puppy mischief. I’m sure he’s a big “help” in getting chores done. 😉 Raccoons in the garden are never delightful. Here is Michael Pollan’s comment (from Second Nature about their raid on his corn: “Compared to the cat burglaries of deer and woodchucks, this looked like the work of the Manson family.” (p. 167)

    • The Pollan quote is hilarious–and spot on. The berserker raccoons worked their way down our road during the summer, from one corn patch to the next. None were left untouched. We are devising a defensive strategy for next year. No more Helter Skelter.
      Capp has been a big help to George in putting in the fence. He attacks the rake to make sure that it behaves properly.

  6. Capp is so gorgeous. The joy of watching a puppy at that age is that he or she is so interested in everything. And of course there’s all that energy. You’re going to have so much fun with him.
    Your bees sound lovely. Propolis is such a nightmare to deal with. I’ve often lifted one thing up and found that something else comes too. I love your description of exciting when the lower body ended up on the ground. It’s the sort of exciting that beekeepers know too well when the bees start buzzing around! My bees aren’t so good tempered as yours, I’m wondering if it’s the location and the impact of local farming practices here i.e. there can be forage in the field for a while and then it vanishes overnight when it’s harvested.

    • We took Capp for his first swim today. What a delight to see a Lab discover the joy of water and the ability to get around in it. He loves to munch on flowers and I’ve been having a heck of a time keeping him from chomping down on a flower with a bee on top. Also, our resident wasps are in groggy fall lounging-about-mode. I expect it’s only a matter of time before Capp gets stung on the mouth.

      You made me feel better about the dropped hive body. I felt like such an idiot marauder at the time. But this is such a forgiving bunch. I couldn’t believe they let me get away with it. Although they let me know they were displeased–all those buzzing agitated bees got my adrenaline pumping. Perhaps you are right about the boom and bust forage in your area. We don’t have any large farm crops within my bees’ forage ground. Rather, they have a pretty reliable succession of blooms. No huge amounts, but no huge slumps either. Maybe it keeps them from getting hangry. Then again, these might just be exceptionally gentle bees.

    • Oddly enough my zucchini and summer squash didn’t do well this summer. Can you imagine? I’m usually overwhelmed with them. Also, my brassicas got decimated early on by cabbage worms. But other than that (and the raccoons) we had a wonderful garden, despite the drought. You are right about Capp, that face just melts me. Fortunately, he’s a good boy and wants very much to please. He does love to chew, though.

  7. Oh, puppykins is utterly adorable! Rather you than me re puppy antics though, it’s fantastic watching them grow, especially at this wide-eyed wonder stage but can be, as you point out darn hard work!!! Mine are finally starting to settle down a little now they’re nearly five, one day my plants may recover. It will be such fun for us watching him grow! That fencing sounds like a job and a half, good luck with that. Gentle bees eh? Thank goodness for that! How lovely seeing all those peppers etc laid out, what a grand crop, you’ll be busy cooking and freezing, if Capp allows it! Loved that last shot, how dramatic!xxx

    • It’s been twelve years since we had a pup, so we’re quite enjoying it. But I did forget how all-consuming it is. I suspect that Capp, like your bunch, will be about five before he settles down. I see lots of hiking and swimming in our future! George is doing most of the fence work. I’m ready to put my gardens to bed, plant some bulbs, and turn my attention to some cozy indoor pursuits (spinning, weaving, quilting, music, reading … winter has its own pleasures).

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