Saturday, August 31, 2019

August's Garden (2019)

August, my second least favorite month of the year (February is hated the most).  One more day and it will finally be over!  The deluge of rain last month has evaporated and now there is no rain.  The weather is back to southern Tennessee normal.  It seems all I do is water, pick, can, repeat.  It is time to begin planting seeds for the winter garden but my efforts have been focused on processing the harvest. 

The lushness is waining as the ingathering continues and the front part of the garden closest to the house is still lying fallow.

The Black Futsu Squash in the lower right corner was impossible to see when the beans and cool weather plants were alive.  It hasn't spread as much as I expected nor is it black yet.  It is supposed to have a "rich flavor similar to hazelnuts" when it is ripe.  I am beginning to suspect the seed company sent me the wrong seeds. 

The back part of the row has Sugar Pie Pumpkin which is growing toward the southern sun in the front of the garden.  The oldest section of the vine is dead but the newer part still has leaves and continues to thrive.  As it spreads it produces pumpkins, then the vine dies.

   Front half                             Back half       

The main root is dead but it sends down root hairs on the new stalks as it advances.  There hasn't been any evidence of squash vine borers so I don't know if this is normal.

          Original Root & Stalk                     New Roots                 

Six small pumpkins have been harvested even though it is still producing blooms.  

There are fewer cool weather plants alive because most have succumbed to heat, mildew, munching bugs and me stripping every little leaf I can find.  Salads during the scorching summer are few and far between so instead we eat other vegetables.

My first average frost date is October 15th so seven weeks earlier on August 22nd, I planted a few Six Week Purple Hull Cowpeas to see if they really do produce in six weeks.

   Six Week Purple Hull Cowpea    Broccoli                    Dinosaur Kale  

Some of the basil finally got harvested.  Both eggplants are producing adequately.  The peppers are plentiful because I purchased one of every kind I could find at the local stores in hopes of finding a new favorite.  It has been an interesting experiment but I haven't formed any opinions yet.

  Lettuce Leaf Basil            Eggplant                   Peppers        

Next is the short row of Reese's tomatoes with weird stuff behind it (this is a side view.)  It is impossible to tell what is growing on the fence.  Between tomatoes, cantaloupes and Malabar spinach, it is a tangled mess.

The Conquistador and Chinese Pink Celery in the section of odd things are not doing well, probably because the lemongrass is constantly shading it.  Cutting the lemongrass down doesn't help because it grows right is grass after all.  One thing that surprised me is how I prefer the flavor of Holy Basil to Lettuce Leaf Basil.  Of course, there is only one Holy Basil and a ridiculous amount of Lettuce Leaf Basil.  Next year that will be different.

Lemongrass                   Pink Celery               Holy basil      

The center of the garden has changed quite a bit this month.  There really is a row of Swiss Chard and White Sugar Beets on the right; however, they can't be seen because I have used almost all of their leaves.  A small watermelon plant and onions are at the far end of the row.

We pulled up the Dragon Tongue bush beans which are supposed to be popular with gourmet chefs. HA!  It was the first (and last) time they will be grown in my garden.  The leaves were covered in spots and looked anemic.  Never have beans done so poorly.  After being picked and shelled, there were only about two cups worth eating.  They didn't taste special compared to any other bean so it wasn't worth the effort to grow them.  The area will be used for better producers.

Bill plowed the row and I threw out seeds from the bag of saved assorted unknowns.  Why I bother to make plans in my garden is beyond my comprehension.  This spot will now be one of my winter hoop houses - ignore everything else I have said in the previous posts.  I am consoling myself with the knowledge that at least something is planted for the winter.

At the end of this row is the yellow squash plant that was kept under cover until it began to bloom.  For the FIRST TIME EVER, I HAVE A SUMMER SQUASH!  I did it!  I have been celebrating!  I don't know if it was because it was kept covered until it was too late for the squash vine borers to get it, or if they have already gotten it but it hasn't died yet - time will tell.  Until then, I am doing what everyone else around me can do but I have never been able to do, I am growing yellow squash!  (Feel free to be impressed.)

UPDATE:  My celebration was short-lived.  It had been attacked by a vine borer and died a week later. 

The Speckled Dixie Butterpeas in the next row beside the freshly plowed strip has become a new favorite.  This is a side view with the tomato fence shaped like a scroll behind it.

Growing Tahitian butternut squash on the rolled-up piece of fence hasn't worked as well as expected.  It is all growing south toward the sun (left side of the picture).   Keeping the vines swirling around the spiraling fence was impossible.  They escaped while my back was turned and have invaded the row of Dixie Speckled Butterpeas and tomatoes.

There are only four squash hanging inside the coil.  Plants in my garden are never obedient to my plans.

Speaking of disobedient plants, look at the two rows of tomatoes in the first picture below.  Both rows have grown up over the fences and flopped into the center pathway.  I have to get down on my hands and knees, crawl under the vines and reach up from below to harvest the tomatoes.  At least I don't worry about birds pecking the tomatoes - they can't find them.

The second picture is at the far end looking south. The tomatoes on the northern end are behaving.

The last area beside the field just past the second row of tomatoes has Louisana 16 Inch Okra, Dixie Butterpeas, one Long Island Cheese squash, and sweet potatoes. It has grown so thick it is impossible to walk without stepping on anything.

This is the far end of the tomato and okra rows looking south.  The squash vines haven't made it this far yet.

The unknown pumpkin whose seeds were given to me as a gift has been identified as Long Island Cheese.  The Frisee Endive plant that bolted in the spring dropped seeds and are sprouting.  When they are a bit bigger, they will be moved to a hoop house area.

    Lousiana 16 inch Okra  Long Island Cheese Squash      Frisee Endive    

Almost all the beans in the back part of the garden are producing.  The Tromboncino Squash in the lower part of the picture is spreading but still no fruit.  Hopefully, it will do something soon.

The yard-long, Akasanjaku beans are about to drive me crazy.  They won't stop growing.

The back area in the shade under the trees where the groundhog devoured all the plants has been plowed.  Since the groundhog problem has been solved by Bill, I felt it was safe to plant more assorted unknowns, lettuce, and onions.  

Then a few days ago, I found dozens of holes all through my garden.  An armadillo has moved in so we have begun our all-night armadillo dance.  They are such extremely destructive animals.  If there is still a garden next month, and I haven't gone crazy, I hope to share better news.

Holes, holes, and more holes

The story of the arrival of the first armadillos

Friday, August 23, 2019

Whimsical Road Signs

Watching the road as I drive is not something at which I excel, as anyone who has ever ridden with me will attest.  Why watch the road when there are so many other interesting things to see?  Such as crazy street names.  Have you ever wondered (I have often) why a road is named what it is?

For example, Forrest Fields Drive - is it a forest or a field?  Is it a forest full of fields or a field full of forests?  It can't be both. Whoever named this street was quite confused and so is everyone else who sees it.

Wouldn't it be fun to live on this road?  Imagine every time you order something online and tell the clerk your address, "I live on Lover's Lane."  The jokes would never stop.

Other places that would elicit a chuckle.

Since when do pigs go to school?  I have heard they are the smartest animals in the barnyard so this might be the reason.

A bank should open a branch on this street! 

I expected but didn't see any drug dealers loitering on this corner.

Due West Avenue is close to where I grew up.  I, nor any of the other local yokels thought it an odd name.  Once while giving directions I heard myself say, "Go east on Due West."  The lost person questioned, "Is that possible?"

Aren't the humble and meek suppose to inherit the earth?  Since when is being humble a dead end?  Jesus might disagree with this sign.

First, I drove past a Long Road.

Then there was a Short Avenue.

To prove it was short, I took a picture.  Not only is this road tiny, but it is also boring.  

Dull and boring
 A place to be avoided.

We should move here because I love my morning coffee.  Instead of a land flowing with milk and honey, I would choose a creek branch flowing with coffee.

Other places for an impressive address.

If I could choose among all the roads I have passed this year, this would be my favorite.