Monday, August 31, 2020

August's Garden (2020)

The garden has worked hard and produced magnificently. There has been plenty of rain which is unheard of for the month of August and as a result, the plants have not gone dormant.  I too, have worked hard, produced a magnificent stocked pantry, and now feel like going dormant for the winter!

The first row is a combination of many things. Malabar Spinach is traveling up the shepherd's crook. A volunteer tomato plant is being supported by a fence post. One Blue Curled Kale is still alive from this past winter's hoop house. The Purple Hull Peas on the outside of the short fence are almost all picked. Three volunteer bean sprouts have appeared in with the sugar beet seedlings (the one in the walkway will be removed).  The cucumbers at the far end have died but more have been planted on this upper end and will be trained up the short fence. 

Toward the left is the second row as it appeared on August 6th, before the two rows of beans were harvested.  It was my first time growing Jacob's Cattle Bush beans (on the right) and October Bush Beans (on the left).  The green leaves covering the dead bean vines belong to three Waltham Butternut Squash plants.  

Each row had about ten bean plants and this was the harvest.  I am not impressed with Jacob's Cattle Bush beans on the right.  

Jacob's Cattle tasted like mild pinto beans and were good but the plants did not produce enough beans for the amount of space they used. I will plant the remaining seeds next year but don't plan on buying anymore.

The October Beans looked beautiful when shelled but lost their color when cooked.  Their flavor was unique - a buttery, creamy mild flavor so they will be grown again.

These are the Pink-Eye Purple Hull Cowpeas on the short fence before harvest.  This is the quality of production I expect (demand) from bean plants.

This is the second row today.  The bean plants are gone and the three Waltham Butternut squash plants look anemic.  They were supposed to cover the whole area and produce a bumper crop; however, altogether they only have six average size squash.  Compare them to the Tahitian Butternut plant beside them on the left.  It was planted later, has grown to the end of the row, and is already covered in very large fruit.  The Waltham plants will be removed, the area plowed and winter crops planted.  They did not meet the production quota - they're fired!

The seed for the Tahitian Butternut Squash was planted on the left side of the picture which is the beginning of the row.  It is growing down the row to the right or toward the back of the garden.  The older leaves become diseased, die off and new leaves form as it grows.  The green leaves on the right are the new ones.  There are still a few Detroit Red Beets swallowed by the leaves but I don't know if I can find them now.  This single plant will devour my garden and produce a massive amount of squash.

This year another volunteer squash sprouted in the compost pile in the back corner of the garden and is spreading down the fence.  It looks like a Waltham Butternut squash.  It has three squash fruits on it which are already twice as large as those on the anemic vines.  I don't know if the larger size is due to the rich dirt in the compost pile, or if it has crossed with something else, or if the anemic ones need fertilizer.

The center of the garden looks worn out from producing and is tired (like me).

These empty spots will be plowed this month and will be prepared for the winter hoop houses.

The watermelons and the seedlings from the bag of assorted unknown greens are thriving in the back area. The watermelons haven't been picked because there is no room in the refrigerator.

The crazy trellis in the back of the garden in front of the shed is disappearing under the foliage. 

On the left side are three vining squash - two spaghetti from the seeds of a store-bought squash and a Long of Naples. The spaghetti have climbed up the arch and two have been harvested. They were delicious.

More are forming under the leaves.  When I crawled under it to take a picture, I discovered hidden unpicked Lima Beans - they are sneaky like that.

The Long of Naples vine has not done well at all.  It slowly ran a few feet up the arch but then stalled. I noticed it had roots forming along the stem so I meticulously untangled it out of the bean vines, put it on the ground, and then the vine began to grow better.  I don't know if that made the difference or if it just wanted to be beside the sweet potatoes.

This is the back row of tomatoes closest to the shed.  Behind it is a tightly squeezed row that was designed to efficiently utilize the thin space.

The row behind the tomatoes is the last one in the garden.  It is a few inches in front of the short wire fence, is shaded most of the day, and is squeezed into a small space.  At the beginning of the row is one vining squash - don't remember what it is, just stuck a seed from a bag in my hand into the ground as I walked past.  It is spreading under the taller okra plants and is going toward the field at the far end.

The okra were planted late because the seeds didn't germinate and it was hard to find more.  Now they are at production capacity and must be picked daily.

Further down the row is the tall arch which held the yard-long beans last year.  This view is from the back of the garden with the woods behind me looking toward the house.  Lima Beans are spreading over the arch, okra is under it, a mix of beans are below the okra, and the vining squash plant slithers along hunting empty spaces. The Lima Beans go up, the okra occupies the middle, the bush beans are down low, and the squash grabs what is left so no ground or sunlight is wasted. The beans will be finished before the okra becomes so tall there is no light left and the squash vine will get more sunlight when it reaches the walkway. 

The beans are mixed because it took multiple plantings to get them to sprout in the spring.  Being in the deep shade makes them spindly, they prefer full sun but surprisingly they are producing a few beans.  I would rather get a few beans than a bunch of weeds.

At the far end of the arch looking back toward the woods is a single okra plant.  It was placed between two Lima Bean supports in the original walkway after it was blocked by the short fence.  If I had gotten the okra out earlier, I would have put something under it also.  When an empty spot appears it gets a seed.

The Delitaca Squash from saved seeds was planted at the beginning of the middle row of tomatoes and spread under the tomatoes as planned.  When I said earlier something was wrong because the vine and leaves were too large, I was right.

This is not a tiny, three to six-inch Delicata squash because it has crossed with who knows what.  It looks like a Delicata but is too large.  Obviously, I am not good at saving squash seeds. 

Right now work on the fall and winter garden has begun.  Will a small garden be all we need or will I be feeding the neighborhood when another disaster hits?  Will the world settle down or will the insanity of 2020 continue?  Bill says it will get much worse before it gets better.  I think he is right.  Production quotas are going to be increased.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Welcome Back, Dear Deer

Since the horses have been gone for a while, the deer have returned to enjoy the overgrown fields and deliver their young.  This week I caught Mama Doe in the woods behind our house munching on weeds.  I was happy to see she had a tiny new one with her.

"Blind woman!" huffed Mama Doe.  "I have two new fawns, not one.  Put on your glasses!" 

"I'm scared said Tinest One."

"Stand still" ordered Mama Doe.  "Don't fear.  The lady human is not dangerous, just boring.  Her life is spent pulling delicious weeds out of her garden and tossing them in the corner compost pile." 

"Pose, let her snap a picture then she will be gone. We have made her day."  

Deer Family Chronicles

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

An Irritating Expectant Mother and Her Family

As I walked to the shed to get my garden tools to begin working in the garden, I noticed Scooter acting oddly.  He was on high alert sniffing around the rat hole in the door.  That behavior is a sure sign something is amiss. Carefully opening the door, (living in the country means anything can be inside), I was startled and jumped back screaming.

Out flew the irritating expectant mother inches above my head!  Every year she returns to outsmart me and build a nest in the most inconvenient spot she can find. This year she chose my shed and built on top of my gardening tools.  It seems none of the flower pots nor Dustin's workboots on the front porch met her high standards for homebuilding.  There was no way to get my tools without disturbing her Highness so it required a trip to the hardware store to buy more. 

For the next few weeks, she will own our shed and we will be second class citizens.  The door will stay shut and our tools will be left outside in the rain.

Scooter and I slowly backed out the door and we returned to the house.  As we started climbing the back steps, I noticed something new under the deck on the support beam.

We slipped over for a closer look and discovered the irritating expectant mother is now a grandmother!

The next generation has wisely chosen an out of the way place under the deck which won't disrupt my lifestyle.  These tenants appear to be more accommodating. 

Maybe there will be less irritation in my life.  Feeling positive, we continued up the stairs and then realized something else was wrong. Scooter began tracking again. Something nefarious has been sneaking around on the deck.

Sniff, sniff, sniff.

Oh no! Another hungry squatter.

I think I am doomed to always be irritated.

The story of her arrival