Got out my trusty little Mantis tiller and ran it through the vegetable garden to kill the first crop of weeds. The Mantis came from a local auction for a very good price and it’s perfect for my needs. In less than a half hour I can weed an area that would take several hours by hand. With a bit of practice, the tiller can be driven very close to the garden plants with no danger.
All the vegetables I planted are growing nicely with the exception of the wax beans. Just as last year, the first planting failed. It rained too much and the seed likely rotted in the ground. Six bean plants survived from the first seeding. I’ve replanted, there is still plenty of time for bush beans to mature. Hopefully they will grow better this time around.
A free package of radishes was included with something I ordered this spring so I threw them in the garden and have already harvested some nice little radishes. I plant early crops, like radishes and bush beans, in areas that will later be covered by pumpkin runners. By the time the pumpkins are that large, the early crop will be harvested.
The tomatoes are looking great. There are six Early Girl plants and five Brandywine plants. Early Girl has always been a star performer for me, maturing very early, sometimes yielding fruit by mid-July. This variety has medium sized, very tasty, red fruit. Brandywine is a first time plant for me this year. An old variety now considered heirloom, this tomato produces large, somewhat irregular purple-red fruit that has an unbelievably delicious, sweet flavor. Whenever I find Brandywine tomatoes in the market, I snap them up. It will be fun to have some of my own. This is a late maturing variety, requiring nearly three months. I planted them the third week of May so I should get some fruit before frost.
The Indian corn is coming along very well. It should be more than knee-high for the Fourth of July, knock on wood. This starchy corn is not for fresh eating, but is beautiful for fall decoration and can be used as animal feed, ground into cornmeal, or even popped. I like to place a cob in the microwave to pop then eat the popcorn right off the cob, yummy!
The pumpkins and squash took a while to sprout due to the extensive rain, but they are all growing nicely now. I have field pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, mini pumpkins for fall decorating, and acorn squash, a storage squash for winter eating. I also planted a packet of gourd seeds on the horse manure pile and several of those have sprouted and are getting big. The largest threat to young cucurbits is insects, especially cucumber beetles and squash bugs. They can quickly suck the life out of a young squash plant. At the first sign of these bugs, I apply organic insecticide, or kill by hand any that I find.
For some color and fun, I planted bachelor buttons. These members of the carnation family make great cut flowers. The mix I planted has several different colors. A bunch of seedlings have sprouted so I should have some nice flowers in a month or so. The Jerusalem artichoke has emerged, stronger and more numerous that last year, their first year. Members of the sunflower family, the sunchokes produce an edible tuber and lovely, yellow flowers that are great for cutting.
I also have several decorative sunflower plants sprouted. These fast growing plants provide quantities of burgundy, orange and yellow flowers on tall stalks right through first frost. The seeds are black oil type sought by song birds putting on energy for the long flight south in the fall.
The Siberian iris is coming into full bloom, with the purple slightly in advance of the yellow flowering plants. The last few days, many yellow swallow-tail butterflies have been visiting the irises. There must have been a hatch.