Archive for the ‘‘Round here’ Category

Rain rain rain

For the last three days, it rained.  I mean non-stop, continuous rain.  It was never hard, just constant, and we got a little over three inches.  The garden certainly  needed it.  I don’t irrigate (except when things were just getting started) so all my plants were looking incredibly sad.  Except the weeds, which have won the battle of the garden this year.  Sigh. 

Because of the constant rain, I haven’t harvested anything in four days.  I did run out and pick a few zuchs and some okra, but my poor beans are the size of my forearm.  I hope they don’t stop producing.

Along with the rain came cool weather- I don’t think it’s been over 68 degrees since this weekend, and I actually had to shut my windows and put an extra blanket on the bed for the last few nights.  HELLO!  It’s AUGUST!  Pair that with the sudden and shocking realization that I was looking out into the woods and seeing yellow and red trees and I’m pretty bummed right now.  This year has been frustrating in the garden, but hopefully the next few days of warmth and sun will kick everything back into growing mode.  I’m not ready for the garden to be done with yet…


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Last night I got home late from work and went to do my usual scan through the garden walk.  I was shocked- shocked– to discover that five of my full-size tomato plants had ripe fruit on them!  First of all, pretty crazy that 5 plants (and 4 varieties!) all ripened on the same day, but y’all- it was on July 15th!  This is so early for us.

Most of the fruits were pretty small, and since we got something like 3.5 inches of rain the day before, all but one of them had split, but I’m still pretty psyched!

Here are the ones that ripened:

Black (Which had lovely striations on it and was quite large)

Black Sea Man

Arkansas Travelers (these were the ones I predicted would ripen first, as they set a really remarkable amount of fruit early on, but they have been very slow to redden.  The one I picked was very small- about the size of a ping pong ball.)

Azoychka (Which had two plants with fruits on them.  One was small but the other was the size of the palm of my hand and pristine- no cracks, no ugly bits!)

I guess something can really be said about the Russian varieties in our cool climate, eh?  I wish I could do a taste test for you!  Maybe I’ll get Chef Jeff to come over and taste them so I can do a writeup of the taste differences!

And my Sungolds are going to be gangbusters in another week or so.  Fruits are starting to ripen on multiple sprays off of the same plant now, and holy cats are they rambly.  I’ll have lots of those soon!

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I’m sure it is somehow my fault, but this has been a weird year in my garden,  to wit:

I harvested my first tomatoes at the end of June, and I have yet to pick a single squash or bean.  Soooo bizarre.

Look:  Tomato:

And my beans:

Look up at the top of the image- this one is only now sending the first climbing tendril out.  What is up, beans?

Well, actually I’m pretty sure it is because my tomatoes look like this:

while my beans are lost in the weedy mire off to the right and they look like this:

At least they did.  Yesterday I spent a hot, sweaty hour doing some weeding and mulching, which is why that first bean looks so pleased.  I think they will be much happier.   At least they better be, ingrates!

And while I have yet to harvest a zucchini, I will very, very soon.  This 8-Ball looks almost ready…

I have to confess.  The weed situation is OUT OF CONTROL.  It is not easy to reclaim a garden not used for 5 years.  The tomatoes got the earliest TLC, while everything else languished.  The squash, peppers, and eggplants are in bad shape still.  And the weather has been hot, hot, hot these last few days, so I haven’t been able to spend more than half an hour out there during any given block of time.  This is the crunch time, I suppose.  When the weeding and the trellising and the pruning and the harvesting all smashes into you at once and you think WHY O WHY DO I DO THIS?!  Then you eat your first sauteed zucchini or bowl of green beans and you go “oh yeah…”

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Anyone who lives in New England remembers what last summer was like.  May was cold and wet.  June was cold and wet.  July was wet and cold.

The only thing that I grew that did well was potatoes, and several things just up and died like my eggplants and corn and lima beans and okra.  Admittedly, most of that was probably due to neglect, but the cold weather certainly didn’t help things.  It was a challenging year to grow hot-weather crops, and combined with the late blight that spread quickly and wildly all over the eastern US, it spelled disaster for a great many Solonaceae.   Our CSA had an embarrassingly small tomato crop last year, but we were luckier than some neighbors, who had to pull up their entire tomato crops.

I was certainly a little nervous to be growing primarily crops that need lots of hot, sunny weather to thrive, but I didn’t need to.  This has been a GLORIOUS spring and summer for hot crops.   Lots of days of very hot (for up this way, at least…) weather, full sun, and the occasional soaking rain.  It’s been wonderful, and my plants are very happy because of it.

ALL of my tomatoes are fruiting, the big standout being the Arkansas Travelers, who have set a truly startling amount of fruit, even so early.  And yesterday I noticed the first ones making the change from bright green to mild yellow.  I’ll be seeing red soon!

The ones that will ripen first are the Sungolds, of course.  We’re supposed to have hot, sunny days for the rest of the week.  If I get lucky, I’ll be picking the first of these by the end of the week, I bet.

The biggest tomato so far is actually on a surprising plant- one of the last ones that went in the ground.  These little guys are still quite short- just under 2 feet (the vast majority are up to about 3.5 ft high at this point!), but this Black tomato is biiiiig.  I was tempted to pick it off green, since I should be letting this plant put energy into growing, not setting big fruit, but I couldn’t help myself.  I want this one to ripen- and ripen early!

(I know, I know…I shouldn’t be touching wet tomato plants- but this was the only one that got handled and then I left the garden!)

Other things are happy, too.  Check out my Serrano Peppers!  These guys have grown like crazy over the past two weeks, and are dripping with flowers and eeny little peppers.  These are the biggest of all of them.

And my first potato flowers!  YAYYYYYY!  I cannot WAIT for fresh potatoes!  Soon, my sweets…soon…

Someone’s been gnawing on them…haven’t seen any buggies on these though- guess I need to take a closer look.

How’s about all that GREEN!?  Isn’t it glorious?  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

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Garden Truths

Another undeniable lesson learned in the garden:

Deer are jerks!

This pepper plant was lucky, but the eggplant that they trod into the ground and the tomato they knocked over were not as unscathed.  Eggplant was a lost cause, but the tomato (a Black Sea) deserved some TLC:

A tomato sling.  Hopefully it will support him long enough to perk back up and throw out a few more roots!   C’mon little guy, you can make it.

I do appreciate the fact that the seem to no longer be munching on my tomatoes, but at least they could watch where they walk- sheesh!  And maybe do a little weeding?  Is that too much to ask?

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One of the BEST things about this little farm is that there is already a lovely berry patch that is well-established.  I don’t have to to anything- just walking through it occasionally while wistfully sighing about the prospect of fresh blueberries.  It’s hard work being a gardener, let me tell you!

The blueberries are covered with rapidly-growing fruit:

The raspberries are laden under their bounty:

And the ENORMOUS Concord grape vine has so many fruit clusters on it I am honestly worried about the strength of the branches:

And if all of this wasn’t enough, the entire swath of plants along the side of the garden is wild blueberries- probably a parcel about 400 x 20 feet.  It is a sea of tiny, delicious bundles of joy:

I have so much to look forward to!

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I had high hopes for the weekend!  The weather was going to be gorgeous, rain is predicted for this morning- the perfect weekend to plant.  Also, I have onions and potatoes that are practically screaming at me to put them in the ground, and I hate the sound of screaming vegetables…

We’ve been having issues with the tiller.  For about two weeks it has been at the shop in need of a new carburetor, so I’ve been pacing back and forth eager to have it back so we can bust up the sod that is covering my lovely little field.  Well, we got it back this weekend, so I was all excited to be able to finally turn over the soil and get those plants in the ground!

And it didn’t work.

I don’t mean the tiller- it worked fine.  What didn’t work was it being able to bust through the sod.  Even Britt, who has gardened over here for a couple of years tried it, and she said she’s never seen the grass so sturdy.  All I can think is our very wet and recently-warmed spring has thrown everything into high gear and the grass has grown thick and lush.  Lucky us!  The tiller just laughed and skittered along the top of the sod, doing nothing.

Ann suggested that we go a few houses down and talk to the neighbors.  Apparently their son just got a new plow for his tractor and he is itching to use it.  He wasn’t there when we stopped by, but his dad assured us that he would LOVE to plow for us, so hopefully he’ll be able to stop by some afternoon this week and give us a head start.

And then- MAYBE- I’ll finally get to plant these potatoes!

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