Thursday, August 21, 2014

An August Garden Walkabout

An overview of the garden from the vantage point of one of our wee apple trees.
The garden grows.  We're eating from it daily for which we're very grateful.  And happy.  Having a plate full of freshly picked, homegrown goodness makes us so happy.  Its been a more challenging year than last year with multiple hail storms, insect invasions, a pesky rabbit, and a wedding that put us behind schedule from the get go.  But all things considered, the garden grows well.
Squash in the foreground with corn behind it in right bed.  Tomatoes with tomatillos in the rear in the left bed.
We've been overrun with earwigs this year.  They've never bothered us in the past and I always considered them fairly harmless insects, but I stand corrected.  The peppers are looking amazing, but the earwigs are quick to pounce on them if I am even a day behind in picking them.  I don't enjoy having earwigs inside my peppers.  Not really at all.  From what we've read it may have to do with our mulch.  As with everything its all about balance.  Too much mulch and the earwigs are in their ideal moist, dark, habitat of decaying organic matter and so they can thrive.  Not enough mulch and we must use much more water and spend much more time weeding.  I guess we'll have to work on finding that balance.  Even with the earwigs the peppers are amazing.  I am in spicy pepper heaven with lots of jalapenos to eat now and cayennes just starting to hint at changing color for later.
Jalapenos in the foreground, cayenne peppers in the rear.
Big, beautiful jalapeno peppers.
Cayenne peppers not yet turning red.
We picked corn at the community garden for the first time this season and ate it for dinner last night.  It got planted in a more timely fashion there.  Our corn patch in the home garden is just now starting to tassel.  Oh boy do I like sweet corn, especially on the cob.  We'll freeze some in the coming weeks to have on hand over the winter.  Frozen freshly picked sweet corn in the next best thing if you can't have the real deal and freezing it is so simple.
Tassels in the home corn patch.
There is a rabbit that is driving Matt bonkers.  He's chased the rabbit out of the yard a dozen times and is starting to talk about more drastic measures.   Fencing doesn't seem like a feasible option and we don't really want to kill the little thing.  I think I have a friend with a live trap.  We may try that.  We've been hoping to just discourage by chasing him out every day, but the food is too good apparently.  Not that I can blame the rabbit for thinking that!   The rabbit has a particular fondness for beans, it seems.
An overview of the garden from the vantage point of the other apple tree.
Three kinds of beans:  Red Mexican, Yellow Indian, and Hutterite Soup beans.
More of that striking and unusual dew pattern, this time around the edges of the cabbage leaves.
The rabbits also took to the sunflowers this year, mowing them down nearly as fast as they sprouted.  As a result I didn't get as many flowers as I'd have liked, but some survived.  I intended to replant a second sowing, but, well, that never happened.  The volunteer sunflowers along the side of the house and at the foot of the drive way pretty much compensate for it though.  One of the volunteers is by far the prettiest one of the season.  The petals are ringed with a lovely orangey, rusty color.
Isn't it wonderful?
Most were a more standard, and still lovely, solid yellow.  The bees sure like them.
We're eating the last jar of tomatillo salsa from last year as we watch the tomatillo lanterns growing in size.  What a unusual and interesting plant.  Its fun to grow and makes some fabulous salsa.  The tomatoes are coming on, too, and we've enjoyed that very much.  Neither Matt nor I much enjoy a raw tomato, but oh, do they make everything fabulous.  We grilled some the other night and oh my, were they sweet and wonderful.
Little tomatillo paper lanterns, each hopefully growing a fruit inside.
We grew a variety of heirloom breeds of tomatoes with an emphasis on pastes since we make so much of our tomato harvest into tomato sauce.
The DIY tomato cages are holding up very well.  They're so sturdy and its still easy to pick the fruit.  We stored them nested inside each other behind the shed covered with a tarp to protect them from the snow.
The fruit trees we planted earlier this year all seem to have taken to the planting well.  Even the apricot which  was nearly defoliated by the deer seems to have rebounded.  The current bushed produced a dozen very tasty currants.  The blueberries didn't do much, but they're still growing so there is still hope.  We transplanted some Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes) we got from our friends Hannah and Erik as well as a handful of irises from a member of our community garden.  I like the idea of adding at least one perennial per year and so far we have been.  Strawberries and raspberries the first year, blueberries, currants, and a Russian lilac the second, fruit trees, sunchokes, and irises the third.  And I suppose that leaves out the perennial herbs!  Perennials are where its at, if you ask me!  Especially perennial food crops.
Our neighbor, Pam, is a crazy flower gardener the way we are crazy vegetable gardeners.  Her yard is amazing, quite a sight to behold.  This year she added an ornamental pea along our shared fence.  I like it a lot.  It compliments the earlier blooming clematis that grows along the same fence.  She probably helps bring loads of pollinators to our neighborhood with all those pretty flowers!  She inspires me to learn more about flower gardening myself.
And of course, it wouldn't be our garden if Matt wasn't trying to grow at least one sort of oddball crop.  That was how we got turned on to the wonders of the All Blue potato years back.  We didn't know it was so reliable, prolific, and tasty--though that's certainly a plus!  Matt just wanted to grow a potato that was purple all the way though.  Well, this year the odd crop of choice is an orange watermelon.  Growing a normal, red watermelon would be challenge enough with our relatively short growing season, but hey, why not try an orange fleshed one, too.  I gotta say though, the photos in the seed catalog did look pretty darn cool.  In person I can't vouch for that yet, but the leaves are cool looking.  Almost oak tree like.  There are some small fruits forming, but none yet bigger than a grape.  We're going to cut off the ends of the vines to encourage the fruits to grow bigger.  We never do that because it seems so ruthless and we just like to see things grow, but we'd rather have fruits than vines so we're going to give it a whirl.  We can be ruthless, if we have to be, I guess.
The watermelon vines.  They're in our front bed with the herbs.
And so the garden grows.

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