Archive for the ‘Melon’ Category

Weekly Garden Update: 9/26 Post-Autumnal Equinox

September 26, 2010

The autumnal equinox has come and gone.  Deer have been eating our pea vines, butter bean vines, and actually nibbling on some pepper plants, so I sprayed deer repellant in the area, and the predations have ceased for the moment.

Tabasco Peppers

It’s been Six weeks and no accumulation of rain.  Weather reports say that it is gonna rain a lot starting.  … oh 12 hours ago, so I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.  Some friends of ours up in Stokes county however, got 3 inches of rain in one night – one of those instances when the cure is nearly as bad as the disease.

Somehow we're still getting Cucumbers

The moon & stars watermelon we picked last week wasn’t ripe.  I have no idea why not.  And some critter ate a whole charentais melon, once again a day or so before we were gonna pick it.

Butternut in situ

This morning we pulled up the eggplants.  We got a reliable 1 eggplant a week average on the ones we planted, and so we were happy with the production this year, which is a great increase over last where where we got no eggplants and only 1 plant that grew higher than a foot tall.  We also pulled up the tomatillos plants.

We harvested the big butternut-type squash (we noticed the seed packet actually says “Butternut rogosa Violina “Gioia” Winter Squash”, and noticed that one moon&stars had dropped from its vine.  It had darn well better be ripe.

Squash & Melon

We harvested lots of ancho peppers this week.  I dried almost 30 of them.  And the rest of the peppers keep tumbling in as well.  I guess I’ll make some more hot pepper jelly in the next five days or so.

Anchos!

Dried Ancho Peppers

We also picked butter beans, field peas, greens beans (3 times this week), and we have some greens ready to harvest already.

Field Peas

Butter Beans

Dutch Half-runners just keep on producing

While I write this, the other one is outside planting radishes, lettuces, carrots, beets, and more kale.

Growing under Cover

This week has had a minor revelation.  While we were gone last week, we were unable to eat the quantity and variety of vegetables that we have become accustomed this year, and it was a great relief to return home where we can partake of such bounty.  Times where we have needed to eat processed food (traveling can do that to you) we have noticed that it gave us a variety of symptoms, mostly feeling logy, or lethargic, or slightly sick, or gave us headaches, or made our skin “feel funny”.  I drank a regular soda with high fructose corn syrup and regretted it all afternoon one day.  One begins to wonder if our national “couch-potatoness” is not in some degree a side effect of what we’re eating rather than how much we’re eating.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Covered boxes

Happy Lemongrass

Peppers

Everlasting Basil

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9/5 Weekly Garden Update

September 5, 2010

Green beans

We are now clearly into late season garden phases here.  No rain for at least the past couple weeks (Earl notwithstanding) and there is none forecast for the next 10 days either.

Garden 1

Garden 2

The cursed deer ate my 6 apples on the other apple tree that was producing this year.  I would curse them less had I had a chance to have eaten just one from it.  They also stripped the tips of several limbs of leaves.

Garden 3

Garden 4

We have begun ripping out a few tomato vines, all the blue lake bush beans, and we plan to continue as items stop producing.

Garden 5

However we’re still getting harvests of cucumbers, tomatoes, Dutch half-runner green beans, field peas, butter beans, and all kinds of peppers.  I have enough picked anchos now to dry, and they should make the base of a nice chili powder.

Anchos, etc.

Melons, etc.

Charentais

We got 2 charentais melons, and 1 moon & stars watermelon.  We have more ripening of both.  The butternut squash is now putting more of its efforts into making little squashes, if it continues at this rate and we are able to harvest all of them we might get as many as 20 to store in the basement and eat throughout the winter.

Field peas & Eggplant

We’re still putting up green beans.  The last time I canned them, I had a rare occurrence, i.e., a jar that didn’t seal.  We warmed them up in the microwave and they were really really good, clearly the next best thing ever to having them fresh from being picked.  They beat the dickens out of the blanched and frozen ones we did last year.

Bucket o' Harvest

One day's pickins'

Voles are seeking to make inroads.  I keep trying to poison them as fast as they show new tunnels.  Sammie Squirrels are stealing tomatoes and running off to the woods with them, little orang- red blobs in their mouths.  Deer are starting to nibble on our green bean vines.  I seriously contemplate building a deer blind on my porch so that I can have some nice venison tenderloins, squirrel stew & barbecued squirrel.

Peppers

Sage

Mustard and kale seedlings are doing well!  Cabbages, broccoli and other brassicas are coming along.  The lettuce and carrots could not stand the heat and the desiccation we are currently having and will have to be replanted.

Seedlings

Seedlings 2

We put up another cover on a box.  This morning it was 67 degrees outside, fall is peeking over the horizon of Labor Day.

Irrepressible Basil

Squash & Melon plants

Parsley

Lettuce in a Box

Well that’s all for now!

Weekly Garden Update: August 8th

August 8, 2010

Wow, it’s August already!

In addition to the seedlings we’ve been developing, we did more fall planting yesterday:  Cabbage seeds were started inside, but we direct seeded a box of Cauliflower and Broccoli, and a box comprised of Chinese Mustard, Ruby Red Swiss Chard, and Southern Giant Curled Mustard.

The Chinese Mustard is courtesy of http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/.  Thanks!

Our Yukon Gold potatoes are flowering, perhaps we can harvest them by September.

Potato Flower

We harvested the last set of beans from the Haricot Vert, and pulled them up, thanking them all the while.  We got over 7 weeks of incredible production from these green beans, and are thrilled.  The dutch half-runner beans are hitting a production peak, and the blue lakes continue to give us a handful or so every week.  Hopefully I can put up some more beans soon.

Haricot Vert box

Tomatoes have slacked off a bit, but we still got half a box this weekend after I pulled everything red and did more tomato sauce this past Monday.

Boxes 1

Boxes 2

Boxes 3

Peppers continue to roll in.  We are getting red Marconi peppers now, and some of our jalapenos are turning red as well.  The only peppers not doing well are the El Chaco’s, which did superbly last year (helpless shrug).  Here are some Serranos.

Serranos

Butternut squash are getting female blossoms, and the second succession of cucumbers and squash seem to be doing well so far (keeping fingers crossed).

Butternut Blossom

We got 6 cups of Kaolin clay powder this week from our biodynamic farmer and we plant to spray it this week, if it will ever stop raining every other day.

Basil in Harvest Basket

Basil in Box

BASIL.  Yes, the BASIL is coming at us with a vengeance.  We made pesto yesterday, and have 2 trays to dry, and dried basil in the drawer, and oodles more in the garden.  We’re thinking of ramping down to half a dozen basil plants, or even less, next year.

The weather has been almost daily thunderstorms (which our dog hates), with 0 to 0.25 inches of rain almost every day.  Thank goodness it didn’t rain yesterday, and I was able to start mowing the hated grass.  I also mowed back our Kentucky Colonel mint.  The lime mint I planted last year has propagated this year an amazing amount, but I’m about to pull it all up and plant something else.  It tastes nothing like mint or lime, and it’s had plenty of time to develop, flower, or whatever else it wanted to do.  I felt like an idiot standing there chewing nasty leaves from several plants, for all the world like a Koala.

Harvest!

We harvested another eggplant along with all the other stuff this week.  We cooked the one we got last week.  I sliced it thin, salted it and let it sit for a couple of hours, washed the salt off, and dipped each one into milk, then into a cornmeal and bread crumb mix seasoned with sweet paprika, black pepper, dill, ground parmesan, and ground romano.  Then I cooked them in ¼ cup of olive oil spread out over my 16” skillet.  They were yummy, and we spooned our own tomato sauce over them on the plate right before eating.  I’ll probably do something similar this week.

Charentais Melon

Last, but not least, we harvest a charentais melon.  We are very excited, we just hope it’s ripe!

Green Beans!

Butternut

Field Peas

Cucumbers blooming

Butter beans

Weekly Garden Update: July 25!

July 25, 2010

Weekly Garden Update, July 25:

Eggplant

Wow, we’re having some record heat around here these days!  Yesterday we got up and were outside at 6:30 am harvesting the box of Kennebec potatoes, and doing weekly maintenance in the garden because it was only 77 degrees then.  Later it got up to 100 degrees, but we were comfortably ensconced inside by then.

Harvest

We pulled up the last of our yellow squash yesterday, the squash vine-borers got them.  We have enough yellow squash to eat this week, but as of August we’ll be out of them.  Strangely we have 2 volunteer squash of unknown variety coming up, so we’ll see if they live long enough.  And the cucumber plants we planted in June may do something as well.  Several older cucumber plants were removed yesterday as well, and we got the last of those cucumbers as well.

Harvest2

The Kennebecs produced the best of all our potatoes this year.  We got as much out of this one box as we did the other 1.75 boxes of potatoes we harvested.  And they were the largest as well.  Last night we boiled some of the smaller ones, and served them with parsley and butter at dinner, and they were delicious.

Some Kennebecs

Kennebecs

Our first butter bean pods are setting up!  Blue Lake green beans seem to be waiting for something, but the Dutch Half-runner green beans are trying to catch up with the Haricot Verts.

Butterbeans

This brings me to the 3.5 lbs of Haricot Verts I harvested on Thursday.  There were so many I just had to weigh them.  We strung them, and then I canned 5 pints of green beans and 2 pints of Dilly Beans.  There were beans left over, but not a lot.  Then we picked another double handful yesterday.

Peppers

Cayennes

Along with the haricot verts, we picked about 40 tomatoes this week, several dozen jalapenos, cayenne, Anaheim, and sweet Italian relleno peppers.  We’re even starting to get some small bell peppers, and harvested one of them.

Haricot Verts

Either today or tomorrow I’ll be making Hot Pepper Jelly out of the jalapenos, sweet Italians, and 18 Habaneros we bought.  Next year I’m gonna be growing either Habaneros or Scotch Bonnets – I just can’t see buying them in the future.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Melons

Tomatoes

tomatoes

Cayenne Peppers

July 18 Weekly Garden Update:

July 18, 2010

Inspired by the excellent post on composting 101 by Engineered Garden, I decided to include a blurb on our own composting set up.

I’m going to try not to repeat anything he said.  There are a variety of compost piles you can make, and not all of them need to be “efficient”, if you don’t need them to be.   I’ll even go so far as to say that when it comes to composting we are downright lazy.

Hardwire cloth compost

First I cut a length of 4’ hardware cloth fencing, and wired it into a circle.  Put that on the ground at the edge of the woods.  We fill this with grass cuttings, leaves, leafy branches, dead lawn and forest stuff, and rip-outs of pea vines, etc.  We never turn it, but it still cuts its own volume in half every 3rd of a year or so and I just keep packing stuff on top.

Earth Machina

We got an “earth machine” plastic composter from our county services cheap.  The thing itself was made of recycled this and that.  It has a little door at the bottom and a twist off lid on the top.  Dump kitchen compost garbage, and/or other dead or dying things whenever you please.  Shovel compost out of the bottom door.   We mostly use this as overflow for the worm farm now.

Early Picture of the Wormfarm

I built us a worm farm out of concrete blocks and a plywood sheet.   We are on very hard clay here in the piedmont of North Carolina, so I just dug a wee bit down to level the site and then I placed the concrete blocks in a rectangle the size I wanted it.  Our friendly county worm-farmer has something like this about 100’ long – we decided we’d start smaller (laughs).  You can feed the worms all the kitchen compostable stuff, wet newspaper, cardboard, leaf and grass cuttings – whatever you have.  They don’t like too much citrus, but they love your coffee grounds.  You never have to worry about ratios, they do all the work, and you don’t need one of those multi-level fruit-fly generators in your kitchen either.  I hinged the plywood lid in the middle so that I can open either half, and when one half gets full we dump stuff in the other half for a few months.  About once a quarter she harvests parts of it that are ready, checks on the worms, and that’s it.  If you want more volume of compost you can put in more worms, make it deeper or cover more area.  There is no mortar and the blocks are loosely jointed – it has plenty of ventilation and drainage.  The only thing I’d like to do at this point is paint the cover so it looks nice and lasts longer.  We get enough compost at this point to feed  our boxes, and that’s all we really need.

HARVEST update –

Haricot Verts

This week we were engulfed by haricot verts, and I canned 5 pints of same while we ate others.  I canned 6 pints of tomato sauce and we are eating tomatoes daily.  We got more cucumbers, in fact I’m in the process of canning 4 more pints of pickles at this moment.  Yellow squash, anaheims, Italian sweet rellenos, cayennes, jalapenos are plentiful.

More harvest

We have pimentos, bell peppers, and several others making rapidly now.  And we have an actual purple eggplant – something that evaded us last year.

Cayennes

Pimento

Bell

There is a charentais melon growing along with our moon and starts watermelons.

Melons

Melons

The kennebecs are definitely ready to harvest now, and the new Yukon golds and russests are springing up nicely.

Yukons

New russets

Our seedlings in the basement germinated this week and are happy under their lights – fall broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

We sprayed fish emulsion this morning.

Blue Lakes

The blue lakes and the dutch half-runner beans are making — we should be harvesting both this week.

This week we lost our 2 zucchini plants and the rest of our acorn squash plants.  One of our farmer friends told us that he starts his squash early inside, then sets them out by April 20th in order to get production before the plants are gone, so we will try this next year.  And we’ll be picking up that kaolin clay this next week and will report on results when we have them.

Eggplant!

As I write this it is 94 degrees and 98% humidity outside.  We’ve gotten enough thunder storms in the past couple of weeks to keep us from having to irrigate from the well, which is very nice.

Field Peas

Weekly Garden Update — Independence Day!

July 4, 2010

Tomatillos

Tomatillos Hang / Glowing Paper Lanterns Grow / Shine Your Light on Me

It’s July and we’re having record lows.  It got down to 56 degrees this week one morning and didn’t get above 75 that day.  Today it is back up to a more normal 84 degrees.  Lack of rain required that we water the garden early yesterday morning.

In the Jar

We’re already having a lot of fun with the pressure canner.  Last weekend we did the 3 pints of haricot vert.  On Friday I did 4 pints of salsa (see link for Preserved Salsa in the recipe column on the main page).  The fun thing about the salsa was that we got to use tomatoes, onions, garlic, tomatillos, jalapenos, Anaheim, Serrano, and el Chaco peppers from the garden, along with our own basil and oregano.  The fresh stuff tasted great, and we’ve already opened a sealed jar to nibble on.  It tastes great, and has a lot of depth and complex flavor.

Making Salsa

Yesterday we made dill pickles out of some of our cucumbers, plus one of her workmates at work gave her 3 cucumbers we threw in as well (whee)!  We used the recipe from the Ball Blue Canning Book for “Dill Pickles” and followed the instructions for making them “kosher style” in 4 of the jars.  We got 6 pints of pickles from this, and they are sitting on a countertop now all sealed and happy.  While they were cooling I went to go look at them and one went “plink” right in front of me, making me jump.  They look great from the outside, but we’re supposed to wait!?! 6-8 weeks for them to season, oh sigh.

Kennebec Box

We had a potato harvest this week.  We harvested all the Yukon gold, caribe, carola, red Pontiac, and the single Nikola potatoes we planted.  The nikola plant had excellent production.  It was a freebie that the potato company threw in.  The caribe, not so much.  But the Pontiacs, Yukons, and Carolas did fine.  I’m mad just thinking about how many Yukon Golds we would have gotten had the voles not eaten 75% of that box.  We have one full box of Kennebecs left to harvest.  The new box of Yukon golds is looking great, and we’re putting in a box of organic russets this week.

Potatoes

More Potatoes

Nikola Potato

We also harvested all the onions this week, some of which are curing in the basement.

Onions

Speaking of voles, we had a single vole hole and a single celery plant get attacked.  We laid down claymores on the perimeter (mouse traps) and napalmed the tunnels (Kaput) and no sign since.

Box 1

Haricot Vert

Tomatoes, haricot vert, and yellow squash keep rolling in.

Butternut Squash

We lost one acorn squash to unknown causes, possibly from heat wilt during more than a week of 95+ degree temperatures.  The same period saw the mesclun mix on the side porch die as well.  I harvested herbs again this week, and dried most of them.

Stored Garlic

The garlic is all cured, sorted, bagged, labeled, and stored in the dark cool of the basement.

Italian Rellenos

This morning we added compost to 4 boxes and reworked the boxes.  We turned the compost and opened up the right hand section of the worm farm to adding fresh compost.

Celery

And we are harvesting celery.  Some of them are showing signs of giving in to heat, and we have decided to harvest that part that we want to blanch and freeze.  90% of our celery consumption is in soups, roasted meat dishes, crock pot dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes, and other dishes that are cooked.  We really only eat raw celery in the chicken, tuna, or ham salad repertoire.

Eggplants

We are putting up tomato sauce as I write this, and harvested another 5 or so pounds of tomatoes that will go into more sauce later this week.  We reset some trellises.  All boxes of tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, and melons got trained.

San Marzanos

A duck is brining in the refrigerator, and later we’ll be boiling it and then roasting it for dinner.  And to think yesterday I told my father “We aren’t doing much for the 4th…”

Wheee!  Happy July 4th!

Butter Beans

Crowder Peas

Melons

Overlooking

RAIN.

May 19, 2010

We have almost 4 inches of rain in the big gauge from the past 72 hours.  Over 3 inches of it on Monday, enough to put a gully through the mulch at one place, and another gully down the driveway.

After only having 0.75 inches in the previous 45 days, we certainly needed rain.  It came down in sheets, thick enough to obscure the green forest around us in a blur, drumming on the roof in that thick quiet hum, like standing in the middle of a power station, feeling the electricity thrum through you.

The garden loved it.

A couple of weeks ago, right after we put the peppers in, it got down to the upper 30s at night two nights in a row.  It seems to have halted the peppers’ growth a bit, hopefully they will pick up again now.

Snow Peas

We direct seeded Greek and Genovese basil this past week to augment the container plantings, as we harvested some lettuce plants (enough for 2 weeks of eating).  There is still at least a month’s worth of lettuce out there.  We harvested all the spinach we had left, as it was starting to bolt.

Lettuces

The haricot verts are growing well, as are the cucumbers.  We filled in a few gaps where some seeds didn’t germinate with new seed.

Lettuces

Spinach

This is our first really successful planting of snow peas.  We have tried them 3 times before, and were about to give up on them in this environment.  Lo and behold, they are growing up to 6 feet high, and we’ve now harvested 2 meals from them, with a lot more coming.  The blossoms are lovely on them.

Snow Peas

Taters

Some of the potatoes are blooming.  Apparently voles ate 8 of the stalks coming up, ruining at least 4 hills of our potatoes in the lowest box and 2 hills in another box.

Our onions are doing waaaay better than last year.  The sets are still much farther ahead than the seeded ones, but one of the varieties of the seeded ones are far ahead of the rest.  Hopefully they will make this year.  At this time last year we already knew the onion crop was a failure.

Carrots

Celery

Carrots are happy in several box locations.  The rabbit has not been caught again leaping over the 2 foot high fencing.

We started 9 each of the watermelon and charentais melons 3 weeks ago.  Only 4 charentais and 3 watermelons germinated.  We will direct seed once we put them out in place of where the sugar snap peas are now.

Tarragon

There is apparent deer nibbling on some of the potatoes in the box at the edge of the woods, but they must not have been a meal of preference because it has been relatively minor overall.

Two of the 8 eggplants have been lost to voles, as have a few more celeries and 2 ancho peppers.  I’m stunned that they’re attacking eggplants and peppers, and it brings out the Marvin the Martian in me (“I hope you realize that this means war”).

Traps have gotten 2 of the little you-know-whats so far.  We’ve disseminated mothballs in the mulch and down some of their holes and placed mouse traps out for them.  In addition, we gave up and bought some warfarin.  Warfarin has the least risk and rate of secondary poisoning (things that eat things killed by it).  I am limiting it down their holes in boxes with fences and covering netting.  We don’t want to be killing hawks, and I don’t want the dog, or even the rabbits and squirrels to get at it.  On the other hand, we really need to get the voles, or they are going to destroy the garden.  We’ve never cared if  voles or moles or anything dug in the yard, but the count is up to over 10 celery plants, 6-8 potatoes, peppers, eggplants, and sugar snap peas.  We don’t have the space, the inclination, or the resources to afford to house a vole colony, though we don’t like putting down even controlled bait stations.  When even the resident rabid animal welfarist says “kill them”, I know it is time.

Garlic is looking like it should.  We plan on grabbing a garlic every week and eating it, not only to enjoy the fresh green garlic, but to monitor the grow of the bulbs.   Summer and winter squash seedlings are spreading their big leaves, already you can see the variegations in the leaves from the house.  The tomatoes are growing like there is no tomorrow.

We have achieved broccoli!  We have 4 heads of broccoli making.  This is the first broccoli we’ve started ourselves and we’re very excited.  The cauliflower is looking indecisive.  The (mostly) early heat this year may inhibit this spring’s crop; several of the farmers I’ve talked to have indicated that all the field broccoli looks fairly stunted in this county.

Broccoli

We’re trying to figure out why stuff we’re growing in containers inside and on the porch don’t do as well as things we put in the boxes.  It’s the same dirt, and we try to treat them the same.  The only thing we can figure is that maybe the containers dry out faster than we think.  They all look a bit leggy compared to the same stuff in boxes.  I’m going to seed some more mycorrhizal fungi into them; maybe that will help.

This update is late because of the weekend goings on, see the previous post.

Weekly Garden Update 5/9

May 9, 2010

Attack of the Varmints:

One day this past week we saw:  rabbits, hummingbirds, deer, bluejays, a hawk, squirrels, and cardinals all in the space of about 15 minutes.  That was a lot of fun.

What is not so fun is the very large rabbit who has decided that he wants to be clever.  He has patiently nibbled his way through the plastic green fencing in at least 2 boxes so that he can just hop through into them.  After we thwarted this effort, we saw him this morning jump over the 2 foot fence into a box with carrots, not realizing that we had a thin black plastic chickenwire netting on the top.  It freaked him out a bit, but not enough, and by the time I got downstairs and out the door he was sitting happily amongst the carrot greens.  I yelled, “get outta here, you pernicious thieving little sneak!” and he ran away, but only to the edge of the yard, where he sat arrogantly.  When the dog ran outside, he went further, but I suspect we are going to have to take more severe action against him.  Maybe I can do a post on my braised rabbit dish.

The real problem however is the voles.  They have just ruined one 4’ section of beets, and are starting to steal our celery plants, like eating one every other day or so.  Now they are attacking our sugar snap pea roots as well.  We are trying some organic repellants that don’t seem to be working, and have placed some mouse traps out that they aren’t going for.  We knew that putting mulch around the boxes had the potential to be a two-edged sword, but the pros seemed to outweigh the cons.  Something has to be done, and advice is welcome.

The two most recommended things to do are things we probably can’t:  get rid of the mulch, and buy a cat.  Our dog doesn’t play nice with cats, alas.  There are a lot of products out there that claim to help take care of the problem, from high-pitched rodent sound repellers to in-ground traps to poisons, etc.  I hesitate to leap from one idea to another unless I know that someone else has actually had success.  We don’t really want to put down poison unless we can find one that doesn’t have significant risk of secondary poisonings for pets and hawks, and we have no idea if the sound things work or if they would drive the dog crazy as well as the voles.

Other things in the garden are going well, though we had the driest April on record (120 years of record).

In the orchard parts, we have blueberries on the bush and apples in the tree.

Apples

Blueberries

The potatoes are growing so tall I’m starting to worry about their ability to support themselves; two blew over in the wind the other day.

Potato Box

Potatoes 2

We planted our eggplants under a hoop cover.  I made the hoops out of pex piping, held them to the box by using nail-on pex clips, and secured the cover with the same clips.  We have 8 eggplants and 2 thai peppers under the cover.  Flea beetles are death on eggplants in this area, all but one of ours was eaten last year they were so bad.  So this year we’re growing them under cover, hoping the additional heat will also help their growth.  We’ll be doing more of these covers over time, particularly for wintering various species that need just a bit more warmth.

New Hoop Cover

End View

We planted charentais melons and moon & stars watermelons.  They have germinated and are growing nicely, almost ready to put out.

Happy pepper

Broccoli

Haricot Verts

Snow Pea Blossoms

A tomato

Box 'o Tomatoes

Celery

Even more potatoes