Thursday, August 31, 2017

August's Garden (2017)

August has been an unusual month this year. For the first time since I have been gardening, and I have been gardening for a long time, we had rain. This caused everything to be lush and productive. It is much easier raising vegetables when it rains. I think I like it!

This month's garden update will begin with the area of the garden which is beside the field and furthest from the house. The first row is okra, the next is white rice beans, then two rows of Henderson Lima beans with "Karen's" (named after the lady who gave them to us) field peas at the end of the lima bean row.

The okra must be picked every other day because it is growing so quickly it will get too big and tough.  If you think the White Velvet okra plant looks like a bean vine, you are right.  The beans planted under them have decided to run up the okra plants.  It is something I tried to save us (OK, save Bill) the effort of putting up poles for the beans, so far it is working.

The White Rice beans are tiny and fit perfectly in small areas.  They are easy to grow since all I do is wait until they form the bean seed, let them dry, then pick them.  

White Rice Beans
At the first of this month, the lima beans finished bearing and the old leaves began to die off.  They were replaced with new growth which is the lighter colored green leaves.  In last month's July's Garden updateI shared pictures of the beans after they were shelled.

Henderson Lima Beans beginning to produce new growth.
It has been four weeks since the above picture was taken and in the picture below the new growth has covered the old growth.  The new beans are beginning to form.  I usually get two harvests each year before frost.  Some of them will begin bearing in a few days so I will be back to picking beans at sunrise. 

At the end of the left row of lima beans is Karen's field peas.  They are looking ragged but are putting out a second harvest.  There is not as many as the first harvest but I am pleased.  This is the first time I have grown them and I am glad they did not die after producing the beans.

This is the row where I had last year's winter garden hoop house and now I am using it as a place to stick an odd assortment of things.

Last month this was listed as a mystery volunteer plant which I needed to identify and now I have.  It is sesame seeds!  How it got there is a surprise to me.  I have grown them before and somehow it reseeded.  The pods hold the seeds and when they dry, they will pop "open sesame" when they are ready.  I originally grew them to see if I could and was curious since I had never seen a plant.  I am glad this one decided to return for a visit.

This is a cucumber plant intertwined with a melon plant. The cucumber has given us enough to eat fresh, but not enough to make pickles. I forgot what kind of melon is growing but will be able to tell when it fruits. I only plant what I like so I have given up trying to keep up with everything.

I have lettuce scattered about and a few basil plants desperately needing to become pesto.

The strawberries went dormant in the heat. I trimmed them back, thinned them out, mulched them with grass and now they are beginning to grow again.  The berries are ripening but won't be good until cooler weather.  The birds seem to know it so they don't bother them.  I will put the netting back on them when they become delicious again.

Next are two rows of peanuts on the left, tomatoes, then sweet potatoes by the yard and a huge sunflower blooming in the middle.  In last month's update, the sunflower was two feet tall. 

Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now.
I just now found a peanut, found a peanut just now.   

In front of the peanuts on the right in what was an empty spot, I planted a yellow squash after the other one died from a squash vine borer.  This one is doing better, maybe??? I am not worried about it because I am drowning in other squash.  We will see.

I haven't gotten down on my knees, lifted the vine up to look and see if it a squash vine borer has attacked, I just don't care.  Perhaps not caring is the answer. 

This is the last row with tomatoes on the left and sweet potato vines on the right.  The peppers are mixed in with the vines and they need to get cut back before the peppers disappear.

We were late planting the tomatoes but they have decided to try to catch up anyway.

The sweet potato vines are definitely taking over everything which is what I expected. Bill mows down the outside when he cuts the grass which keeps them in the garden, and I snip them as they try to take over the tomatoes.
Last week I discovered the leaves are edible so I have experimented cooking them.  So far I have boiled them but waited too long thinking they would be tough since the leaves were thick.  They ended up being tender and became mush.  Next, I tried sauteing in olive oil and it seemed to work better.  The smaller, newer leaves were fine in a salad.  I need to continue experimenting because I have PLENTY to harvest!

I haven't discussed this area because it looks so bad.  It will be my winter garden.  To the far left is Ashwagandha, an herb which we will harvest right before frost.  The far right is carrots and the empty space in the middle is kale and Swiss chard.  Since it is on the back of the garden beside the woods, it has been dinner for many critters.  It has not bothered me because I have plenty of other things to eat now.  They are growing their roots deep which is what they need to do.  Soon I will be planting more seeds and will cover the area with hoop houses.  I just wanted to show how it looks now.  Not impressive, I know, but hopefully this winter it will be great.

This is the White Cherry tomato growing with the Malabar Vining spinach.  Both sprouted beside each other so I let them both grow up a shepherd's crook.  I was concerned because I haven't noticed many cherry tomatoes.  It should be loaded but I only saw one bunch.  I looked under the big spinach leaves and found the cherry tomatoes hidden.  The birds have not bothered it since they don't know they are underneath. (Ha Ha) This is a success; I will grow them together again.

And now for the excitement, everyone has been update on my AWESOME compost pile.  I will brag.  It has continued to perform at excellent levels, even though it is quite disgusting looking.

This month a new bean vine sprouted and is covering the blocks which are waiting to be used to rebuild the fire pit when the weather cools.  It has twined itself around the handle of the shovel which sits there to give the illusion I turn the compost pile from time to time.  I don't.  I wonder what kind of bean it will produce?  I can hardly wait.

In last month's July's garden update,  I shared about the Tahitian Butternut squash that sprang up in my compost pile and different ways to use it.  Now, a month later, the Tahitian Butternut squash has grown further out of the compost pile, down the fence row...

flowed beyond the back fence...

and is attempting to take over the field.  It might do it if the weather stays warm.  I still think it is only one plant.

I cut the leaves so everyone can see what is growing underneath.  A bit scary I will agree.  The plant is covered with squash bugs, which don't bother it and I have yet to see a squash vine borer due to the hard vine.  It is delicious tasting so it is amazing more people don't grow it, except now I think I understand why.  It is a bit, bounteous.

Usually, I save my epic fails for last but this month I decided I don't have any. After seeing the heartache of our fellow countrymen in Texas this week, I have no complaints.  

"I disagree with Mom and have reason to complain." huffed Scooter.  "Last Monday it became evening in the middle of the day due to the eclipse.  I watched it get dark through my window with Reese.  No one bothered to feed me!  I always eat when it gets dark; I missed dinner!!!"

"On second thought, maybe things aren't so bad after all. My life is really good.  Ahhhhhhh."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Three Horsepower Lawnmower

It is a three horsepower lawnmower cutting the grass in their front yard!

No wait, it is a FIVE horsepower lawnmower cutting the grass in their front yard!

Wrong again. It is a FIVE horsepower lawnmower cutting the grass with the help of a chicken.