We have now entered the difficult time of year where everything’s growing merrily (particularly the weeds) and yet nothing is ready to harvest (except the lettuce, that’s still coming.) Maddening.
The back 40 garden looks good:
While we were away at Barbecue University, all the peas and beans came up, much to our delight, because it apparently rained really hard for that week. We need to focus on putting up trellises this weekend, and we’ll see if we’re still so pleased when we’re out there picking bushels of legumes in either the broiling sun, or the mosquito-infested twilight of August. Either way, likely to be uncomfortable while harvesting:
In other news, almost all of the seeds I sowed for herbs have come up. The dill has been a little difficult, but that happened last year so I’m not worried, plus I don’t use a ton of fresh dill in my cooking so what’s coming up will probably be enough. And another challenge is that I absolutely cannot tell the difference between the tarragon seedlings and the weeds. This should sort itself out in a few weeks, because the weeds will grow much bigger much faster. I think. I didn’t photograph it, because who wants visual evidence of their weeding incompetency?
I am currently reading The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden, edited by Thomas C. Cooper. It’s a series of essays by famous gardeners (not that I’ve heard of any of them, though) trying to articulate why they garden. Most of them can’t – they can trace the roots of their interest to a family member, or family tradition, or just an interest – but all of them are universal in their love for working with dirt and plants. It’s a mix of both vegetable and ornamental gardeners (and sometimes folks who are both) and an interesting read. Something to occupy my time while I avoid weeding the tarragon right out of existence.
We finished planting this weekend, in some of the hottest weather we have seen this early in June. It felt unspeakably hot to be out there yesterday, but we persevered. The tally:
125 Mr. Big Peas
120 Sweet Peas
100 Royal Purple Bush Beans
48 Pole Beans
2nd planting of Sweet corn
7 Sugar Baby watermelon plants
4 Moon & Stars watermelon plants
8 Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkins
9 Amish pumpkins (those mysterious pumpkins from the purchase 2 years ago in upstate NY at an Amish farm stand)
8 Jack-Be-Little pumpkins
7 Orange Smoothies
And it look like this:
…..which doesn’t look like much at this point. It joins the sweet potatoes, first corn planting (of a brand called Quickie; we’ll see if it lives up to it’s name) and sunflowers. No edible value to sunflowers, really (well, except the seeds) but we’ve always wanted to grow them so this year we finally got around to planting some.
This year we’ve fenced the entire garden. Last year we only fenced the peas, beans and corn, which worked out fine, but once the pumpkins, watermelons and winter squash had matured, something came through and sampled a little bit out of quite a few of the fruits. Plus, this year we have a turkey. We think it’s a female, but who can tell? (It could be a juvenile male. Only time will tell.) This turkey enjoys walking across the corn, and snoozing in the dirt mounds we created to plant the watermelons, squash and pumpkins. So up went the fence. Which works, because as I was finishing up the watering yesterday she walked out of the brush and right into the fence. Someone unhelpfully pointed out turkeys can fly. We’re hoping the dirt isn’t that appealing to her that she’ll fly over and end up stuck. Or knock the fence over.
….at least, that’s what I tell myself. I keep looking back at the time-lapse plant cam photos from last year and reminding myself (and J) that things really didn’t get going until mid July and serious harvesting didn’t start until mid to late August. Still, patience is a virtue, one I am sorely lacking.
It has been a really weird growing season so far. We got hit with some intense heat in April, bumping up the planting season by a good week or two. Then June was predominantly cool and wet, causing plant growth to stall.
Last week we got a couple of days of hot, humid weather which helped quite a bit.
The plants we put in during the original April heat spell (potatoes, carrots & parsnips) are doing really well:
As are the herbs:
Especially the herbs in the pots with the hops:
There is more hot weather predicted for this weekend and we fertilized the plants last weekend, so we might just have a chance of a halfway decent growing season. Our second planting of beans and corn are coming up, and I intend to stop talking about planting another two rows of carrots and parsnips and actually do it. Someday. We have zucchini starting and at least a half-dozen summer squash, which seems exciting now. Ask me again how I feel about squash right after Labor Day when I’ve been eating it for weeks.
Tomorrow is the 4th of July and I intend to harvest a few of our cucumber beetle-deterring radishes. They look like they might be ready. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about radishes – I don’t think I really like them, but I haven’t been eating them for a few years so I’m not sure. I did suggest that we plant another crop, just in case. I am planning to make a recipe from The Hungry Hippo that she calls “Delectable Radish Dip/Slaw” which Stella Caroline has also made and raved about. These are two smart women who are fantastic cooks, so if I don’t enjoy this dip, odds are good that I don’t like radishes.
I didn’t remember to photograph the main garden, because we were headed out immediately to plant the back 40:
From this angle, it doesn’t look so bad. Hunched over the rows, planting peas, beans and corn, it seemed like the worlds loooooongest field. Where you can see the furrows above, we planted corn in one half of the right hand side (we are planning a successive planting over the weekend of June 16-17 if the weather holds) and on the left-hand side, we planted 1 1/2 rows of pole beans, 1/2 row of green bush beans, 1 row of purple bush beans, and five rows of peas. I must have put in more than 200. J claims to like peas – we’re about to find out just how much. We left 2 rows empty to do successive plantings of green and purple bush beans. About the middle of the field you can see some very thin stakes sticking up – J planted barley in that area. Behind the barley is where we will be putting the pumpkins, watermelons, winter squash and radishes. We don’t actually like radishes all that much, but J read that they repel the bugs that eat squash and pumpkin plants, so hey! Let’s grow some radishes. I bet the woodchuck will love them.
Our newest concern is how often it rains. Unlike the main house garden and raised beds, there is no water source out by the back-40 field, and it’s quite some distance from the house:
Standing next to the field, looking back towards the house
In fact, you can’t even see the house from the back-40 garden. Fortunately today it is raining, and it seems like we got a pretty good soaking rain last night. We’re hoping the overcast/drizzly weather last through Thursday, as predicted, while J investigates the possibility of rain barrels for out back. Otherwise it’s a really long way to haul 5-gallon buckets of water, even if we put them in the trailer that attaches to the tractor.
Today I planted the potatoes. I love planting potatoes, it’s so easy:
Deposit in hole
Today’s temperature reached 92 degrees, which for April is a record breaker. It also makes us feel like we’re behind with our garden planting, even though we are not. I also planted the parsnips:
I did not expect the seeds to look like that, but they are way easier to deal with than carrot seeds, which are so tiny and fussy I did not even bother to photograph them, I just threw them in the shallow trench 1″ apart and covered them up.
In the end, our middle raised garden looked like this:
In other words, not much. But we’re a month ahead of last year, at least. And with 20 potatoes planted (to last year’s seven) we should see double the yield. Maybe.
I don’t remember meteorologists and reporters being so amped up about the weather when I was a kid. Or maybe they were, but because I didn’t actually own any property that could be damaged, I wasn’t paying attention.
This has been our best year yet for the garden, but Irene is on her way.
Thar she blows!
The projected path for 8 PM Sunday shows it going right over us. I am incredibly grateful we live nowhere near the coast, but the rainfall predictions and wind gusts do have me a bit worried about what the garden will look like in the morning. Perhaps we’ll learn at what wind speed tomatoes become airborn. It will solve the problem about what to do with all of our tomatoes, anyway, and doesn’t involve me making sauce.