Saturday, July 31, 2010


Chilly night last night. The thermometer at work told us of a low of 44*F. That was here, where it is sheltered. At home, where things are much more open, it was probably even lower. I don't feel so silly now for lying there in bed last night wondering if I should've covered the tomatoes, beans, and squash! At this rate we just might have frost in August!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Crop Updates - an Evening in the Garden

My heart has simply not been in the garden this year. The weeds and pests have taken over, and I can't seem to get myself to care. It's the whole job thing - will I find a new one (and be moving), or will I be on unemployment come winter? With the former, I won't be able to reap the benefits of my veg garden, with the latter, a garden's worth of produce will surely be welcome if there is no income! I waver between the two. Some days I'm out there weeding and mowing, but most days I just don't seem to care. It's been a strange year.

I finally gave up on the peas. The freezer is full and the plants were slowing down. The pods that remain I'll let dry and then harvest for seed.

Still, other things should be ripening, so it was time to tour the beds and see what was what.

The garlic will be ready for harvesting pretty soon. The tops are turning brown, which is usually the indicator. I pulled up this one to check size - not too bad. I'll give the rest another week or two.

Ah - the Haralsons are starting to redden! I'm very excited about the apples this year. Only Haralsons and Jonagolds, but there are several fruits on these two trees.

As you can see, these runner beans are still refusing to grow up.

The pole beans are just not robust this year, either. Only now are they FINALLY starting to fill in, but even so, they are Spartan. Reasons? I have a few possibilities: these are the same beds in which I planted beans last year; I didn't use any innoculant this year; we had a cold snap early in the season; we had a lot of rain in June, and very little rain in July; and the soil is generally pretty poor. Take your pick.

But, the beans are blooming and that's a happy thing. The hummingbirds are content - between the beans and the bee balm, there is finally food for them in my yard.

The first two blossoms here are runner beans (scarlet and painted lady); the others include Cherokee Trail of Tears, Rattlesnake, and Blue Coco, among others.

Beans are starting to form. I imagine in a week or so I will start picking and freezing.

Look! A tomato!

The zucchinis are doing well - lots of blossoms and some fruits already, which something seems to be enjoying.

I picked these last night and after some judicious trimming, they became stuffed zucchinis. Rice, sausage and tomato sauce.

After a slow start, the cukes are now loaded with blossoms!

I admit, I have been a poor gardener this year. Not knowing if I was staying or leaving, my heart just hasn't been in my garden. So, I did not patrol for pests, and here is why one wants to keep on top of CPB infestations:

The leaves were completely gone from the spuds and the plants were brown and dead. Still, I was hopeful that there might be some potatoes underground, even if small, so I dug in with my hands.
Voila! Not a whole lot, but better than none at all. These are, I believe, purple majesty potatoes.

Scrubbed up, they are a beautiful purple-black color. It almost looks like a pan full of very large black olives!

The inside, as you can see, is a beautiful deep purple.

And look! Purple smashed potatoes! I know, some folks will turn their noses up at this, but I think they are lovely. And they taste just wonderful.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunflowers Galore

I was on my way to Marcellus for a job interview yesterday when I passed this field of sunflowers somewhere west of Utica, along Route 365.

There was a field on each side of the road. How could I not stop and photograph them?

Meanwhile, back in the home garden, the peas are finishing up. I have discovered that peas ripen rather predictably: first you get a handful, then for a couple days a bowlful. The next two days you get a fairly good harvest, followed by one day that is a whopper. After this, the harvest slows, with a couple smallish batches, then maybe a bowlful.

Now you can miss a day without worrying you've let too many get giant-sized. Soon you think, "Do I really need to harvest any more? Maybe I can leave the rest and save them as seed for next year. Think of the money I'll save!"
All told, it's over in about a week and a half.

It's a happy thing to have filled the freezer with peas for winter, but it's equally a happy thing to not have to blanch anything more for a while - especially when the weather is so hot and humid.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's Sea Season!

I harvested the first peas a few days ago, but last night (actually, that would be two nights ago, now), in the 90-degree heat, I picked the first real batch - almost a half bushel. Most were snow type peas - the kinds with the edible pods. These include the sweet golden peas (new this year - found in a market in Inida - that's what all the descriptions in the catalogues say),

and the Schweitzer Reisen, which are HUGE.

The humidity is a killer, though - I had rivers of sweat running down my face while picking. Things were made even worse in the house later that evening as I blanched the produce for freezing. It took HOURS for the fans to pull out the heat and humidity and bring in the cooler air from the wee hours.

Still, it is great to have the summer harvest officially underway.

The spinach bolted...before it ever reached edible status.

Most of the greens fed the slugs. I think I had them too close to the peas this year, for they never really thrived and the peas over-topped them. The cool, shady, damp microclimate was perfect for slugs and snails.

It seems like most of the carrots never sprouted. One batch is doing okay (needs thinning), but the others are so Spartan that thinning is not required. Most of what you see are weeds. When the weather breaks, I need to go out with the cobrahead and do some weeding.

Some of the beets are up...they need some thinning, too. I've never had luck with the beets, so maybe this year will be a first.

And the spuds, well, the CPB are lovin' them!

Hooray! The pole beans are finally starting to climb! I knew all they needed was a little heat, although this heatwave is a bit excessive. Feast or famine, that's the weather in these modern times.

The runner beans are blooming, but are barely 6" tall. Maybe they are really crawler beans.

Only one bed of squash is thriving. The rest of the pumpkins and cukes are struggling, and I don't think the melons are even remotely in evidence.