Friday, July 25, 2008

The Harvest Exapnds & Other Observations

First it was lettuce (I've actually stopped picking lettuce for a while - one can have too much of a good thing), and now it is peas. I've been filling bowls with peas from the vines every day for over a week now (even in the rain). While the pods fill the bowl to overflowing, the actual peas, once shelled, are fewer, but it has still been enough to put ten containers in the freezer so far! Another three or so may go in tonight after I get home and go over the vines again.

Yesterday also yielded the first real broccoli harvest. I picked one head about three weeks ago, but last night I harvested four. The variety I planted doesn't get massive heads, but it was enough to fill two bags for the freezer.

And let's just discuss for a moment here the whole "soak your broccoli in cold salt water for 30 minutes to remove the little green worms" strategy. It doesn't work. I filled the kettle with cold water, dumped in a fair quantity of salt, and added the broccoli. About an hour later I found about three LGWs floating in the water. I plucked out a head and started to look it over...LGWs were still clinging to it. I can't vouch for the amount of life they had left in them, but I don't think they were all deceased. So, I cut apart each head and looked over each floret carefully (removing LGWs) before putting it in a bowl for blanching afterwards. Make you wonder how the "big companies" remove the LGWs from their broccoli. HM.

The squash, pumpkins and cukes are growing well, thanks to all the rain. They are all starting to put out blossoms!

The runner beans are also blooming. I have found them disappointing. For some reason in my mind the flowers were much larger. Still, the colors are nice, and if the hummers can find them, they should be happy.

Purple flowers are appearing on the pole beans, although I'm not sure if the bush beans are blooming yet.

As I came up through Warrensburg this afternoon I saw corn already with tassels. corn is barely reaching knee high. I'm thinking I should've risked cool soil and planted it sooner. Too late now, of course, but something to consider for next year.

Also, note to self: don't mix up all the herb and beneficials seeds together and then plant with the buckwheat. Buckwheat grows faster and gets rather tall and dense - the other don't stand a chance. Might not want to plant the crimson clover with the buckwheat next year, either.

Sunflowers are doing great - some heads are already starting to form! I love it when they all burst into bloom! I was lucky last year and the bears were not a problem. The sunflowers are closer to the fence this year, though, so it should be interesting to see if the bears become a problem when the seedheads ripen.

The nasturtiums started blooming this last week. No cosmos yet, though, or marigolds. This is the difference between planting the seeds outside "after last frost" and staring the plants inside a month or more earlier. These flowers are planted as companions to the veggies, ostensibly as encouragement to pollinators, so I'm thinking next year we start them inside again; I should have plenty of room since I am giving up on starting onions and leeks from seeds.

Had the first monarch caterpillar of the season just before this last week of rain - it was munching on some butterflyweed (which does VERY well up here). It was pretty good-sized; I'd guess it was at least a week and a half old. It's the only one I've seen so far this year, though. Few monarchs overall this summer. And not a single red admiral butterfly! Hm. I wonder where they are.

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