14 July Weekly Update

Thievery!!

We *had* only ONE tomato that had started to turn red (notice the past tense there?).  In fact, it was so red that when I looked at it Friday evening I thought “I’ll be able to pick that in 2-4 days.”  Saturday afternoon, I go trotting out to the garden and my beautiful Opalka paste tomato is GONE!!!  I was so mad!  Those dang squirrels (the most likely culprit).  It makes me start thinking that squirrel stew isn’t all so bad…

Yellow squash & cucs

Yellow squash & cucs

Typical harvest

Typical harvest

Gnawed on Taters and other Bounty

Gnawed on Taters and other Bounty

A picking of the garden, and more gnawed potatoes

A picking of the garden, and more gnawed potatoes

Pickling Dill

Pickling Dill

Basil

Basil

Yes there is more

Yes there is more – after 2 days of rain

We’re feeling like broken records (wow, this dates us!) on harvests and gripes about too much rain.  This week we picked:  cucumbers, summer squash, green beans and haricot verts, tomatillos, celery, dill to make summer squash refrigerator pickles, and some basil for a pasta dish.  We also dug almost all of the potatoes still in the ground even though it was far more wet than preferred because we wanted the boxes for other “crops”.  We seeded more butter beans and cucumbers.  We’re trying Marketmore cucumbers this time and we’re going to stagger them in three phases (1/3 of the box each time) two weeks apart to hopefully draw out cucumber season as long as we can.  Later season cucumbers never do as well around here as earlier cucumbers due to more pests and diseases, but who know this year since the weather has been so atypical.

The butternut that didn't make it

The butternut that didn’t make it

Bottom of the butternut

Bottom of the butternut

Some of the potatoes had been gnawed on by voles, particularly in one box.  So we cut off the gnawed portions and will be making the parts that are still perfectly fine into mashed potatoes tonight.  On Sunday morning we also discovered that our only butternut was starting to rot at the bottom.  We have the worst time trying to grow winter squash!  I don’t really know what the problem is; last year, the main issue was the fruit detaching from the vine before it was mature.  This year, female flowers have been scarce and have produced only this one viable fruit which ended up rotting for some reason.

This is really late in the season for us to have no tomatoes – they normally start at the end of June or beginning of July – but the local farmers aren’t having much better luck due to the weather this year (and their limited success is probably attributable more to sheer numbers of plants when compared to our 24 tomato plants).  On the other hand, I’ve seen no SVBs in the garden this year and the summer squash are still going strong as a result.  In past years, we never had first-round summer squash at this point in July.

Speaking of summer squash, we canned 8 more pints of plain summer squash on Friday, bringing the total in the pantry to 16.  This is likely enough for our potential canned squash needs (soups and pasta sauces) until next squash season!  We also want to report that we opened one of the pickled summer squash jars this week to try them out.  To our amazement, they were actually better than “just edible”!  They were actually something we would gladly eat and tasted very similar to normal (cucumber) bread and butter pickles (since the recipe we used had some added sugar).  This has also inspired us to try making refrigerator pickles with summer squash – we’re making our first jar later today.  Over the weekend the “she” of “us” tried okra pickles for the first time ever and thought they were great.  This means there will likely be an okra patch in next year’s garden.

Local corn season is also upon us and when we saw they were selling Silver Queen corn (grown less than a mile from our house) at our nearby country gas station for $4 a dozen, we snatched up the 4 dozen ears we’ll need for the year, shucked them, cut the kernels of the cob, and froze 25 freezer bags worth (1.5 cups each).  They were beautiful ears of corn too; very consistent, nicely formed kernels with no bugs living in the cobs.  We tried growing our own corn the first year we started gardening but too many critters like corn too much to make it worth our while, so we just buy local corn once a year now and freeze what we need.  It’s worked out well for us.

Larger & Later Onions Cured and Stored

Larger & Later Onions Cured and Stored

We trimmed the rest of the onions that had been drying/curing and stored them in the basement for fresh use in the coming months.  We’re now using the “curing rack” to cure the potatoes that were dug from wet soil.  We also canned four pints of haricot vert and one pint of green beans on Sunday morning.  And we’re in the process of peeling this year’s garlic harvest in order to mince it and freeze it.  Busy, busy in the kitchen!

Spindly forgotten seedlings

Spindly forgotten seedlings

Unfortunately, we failed to check the Fall seeds we started last weekend in the basement often enough and on Friday discovered a number of them had germinated and were very spindly from growing in the dark.  The lights are now on and hopefully they’ll recover OK.

Other garden tasks accomplished this week were spreading Milky Spore throughout our yard (one more application to go in this multi-year program that’s a natural solution to control Japanese beetles) and spraying the tomatoes with a calcium-magnesium spray.  This is the second spraying (the first was two weeks ago) is an attempt to nip any blossom end rot problems in the bud.  We won’t spray cal-mag again this year unless BER makes an appearance on some of our tomatoes.  Japanese beetle season seems to be coming to an end and this year’s season was *far* less numerous/damaging.  Our beetle bag has hardly any beetles in it – perhaps the Milky Spore is already working.  Then again, maybe it was just the weather this year 🙂

 Winter squash vines could be healthier

Winter squash vines could be healthier

Volunteers - One melon & One Cucumber??

Volunteers – It’s looking like one melon & one Cucumber

Waiting to turn red

*Still* waiting to turn red

Sea of black-eyed susans

Sea of black-eyed susans

Evaded capture over 2 days

Evaded capture over 2 days

4 pints of Haricot Vert

4 pints of Haricot Vert

Eggplants & Haricot Verts

Eggplants & Haricot Verts

Field peas make it over the top

Field peas make it over the top

Eggplant plants

Eggplant plants – they could be healthier too.  They keep dropping blossoms, same problem as last year

3 types of potatoes curing

3 types of potatoes curing

3 melons starting to form

3 melons starting to form

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5 Responses to “14 July Weekly Update”

  1. Budding and Blooming Says:

    Squirrels can be so frustrating. Last year they ran off with almost all of my corn. I caught one running off with an entire corn stalk! My tomatoes haven’t done well this year either, but I also haven’t had any vine borers this year, which is very nice.

  2. cb Says:

    Great harvest! Too bad about the tomato. I agree the lack of ripe tomatoes is probably the weather. I feel your pain. We’ve had rain every day this month, over 36 inches so far. Saturday morning a storm dumped 9 inches per hour causing flash flooding, mudslides, downed trees etc. I had ripe tomatoes but that pretty much wiped out the garden. Hopefully the fall garden season will be better. For now I’ll garden vicariously through your posts and hope for some sun.

  3. Stoney Acres Says:

    We had the same problem with some of our first tomatoes last year. Just as they were getting ripe something would eat half the fruit and leave the mushy remains on the vine!

    Your garden is looking fantastic!

  4. Shawn Ann Says:

    All your Japanese Beetles must have come here because they are destroying my raspberries. Hopefully there season is gone soon! Your harvest looks good. Darn squirrel anyway!

  5. Barbie Says:

    I had a melon disappear this past week. I feel your pain. I see potatoes and squash I think a squirrel stew sounds lovely. 😉 As for the BER maybe some epsoms and a little crushed egg shell willhelp. Good luck! I hope it’s not too late int he season.

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