Tag Archive | gourds

Roadside Farm Stand

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There, I’ve got my little roadside farm stand of excess garden produce all set up and open for business.  So far, one sale.  It is a very nice day with temperatures in the 80s.  Most people are not likely to be thinking about buying fall decorations.

I’ll open the stand up on decent weather days when I’m around and once there is a chill in the air, more customers should stop.  Most years the farm stand is fairly profitable.  The pumpkins for Halloween carving and the dried corn stalks are always the most popular.  I only have a few of each so it won’t take too long to sell out.  There are so many extra gourds that most of those will probably go to the horses and chickens. They seem to enjoy eating them.

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First Autumn Harvest

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The autumn harvest has begun!  I found eleven big field pumpkins in the garden this year, lots of small Jack-Be-Little pumpkins, several winter squash, and a great yield of indian corn.  Some of the squashes and corn are still ripening, phase two of the harvest will be in a few days.  The gourds are very plentiful.  h3I won’t know how many grew until I can get onto gourd mountain after the first frost kills back the leaves.  The strange hybrid crosses between squashes, gourds and pumpkins are providing plenty of excitement with their unusual shapes and colors.  h2All are gourds, meaning inedible, except the large flattish orange ones near the pumpkins in the photos may be good to eat.  I think they are a cross between pumpkins and winter squash.

The tomato jungle is still producing and I must pick tomatoes again.  A frost can not come too soon for the tomatoes as far as I’m concerned!  Also, it is time to pull the carrots.  Think I’ll have my 2-year-old granddaughter, Lia, help me with them tomorrow.  She loves to see the carrots come out of the ground.

Gourd Mountain

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This spring I dug several small holes in the manure pile and planted a packet’s worth of mixed gourd seeds, then stood back.  The gourds took off until they covered the entire pile and spread out twenty feet in all directions.  The rich growing medium allows the plants to form huge leaves that over shadow any weeds.  gourd2It’s hard to tell how many gourds will be produced, the vines are too thick to allow much searching.  gourd3On the outer edges I found at least three distinct types:  round, warty, green and yellow striped, long-necked, warty white and green with yellow stripes and round, warty white with yellow stripes.gourd4There may be other kinds, the seed packet showed many varieties such as white horned gourds and white, necked ones.  Harvesting gourds is always fun due to the great variation of fruits and the surprise of finding something new.

Since I feed my horses and chickens any excess, damaged or too large squash and pumpkins, there are always volunteer plants around the barnyard in the spring.  This year there are some unusual combinations, formed as the bees cross-pollinate.  gourd6One (photo to left) appears to be a mix of patty pan summer squash and white and yellow warty gourd.  The fruit are held on a bush like the summer squash and are flattish, but have the striations and warts of a gourd.  These will not be edible, but will make fun decorations. The horses and chickens will eat them, as well.

Another mutant volunteer, photo below, looks like a cross between a patty pan summer squash and a dumpling winter squash.  gourd5The fruit are huge, 8″-10″ across and still growing. These may be edible, we’ll find out.  They will make pretty fall decorations.  I might even save some of the seeds and see if they breed true next year, they are very unusual.  The color of the squash is white skin, paler than the photo shows, with green lines and mottles. The skin is hard like a winter squash.

In a couple weeks, the first light frosts will kill the leaves making it much easier to find and harvest the gourds.  After harvest, gourds are cleaned of dirt, washed with a weak bleach solution, and allowed to air dry for several weeks.  After some drying, they can be polished with floor wax to bring out a nice shine.

In The Garden

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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.a2  With a bit of practice, the tiller can be driven very close to the garden plants with no danger.

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Radishes and six surviving bean plants

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.

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Brandywine tomato

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Tomato planting

 

 

 

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.a9  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.  a10I 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.

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Bachelor Button

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Jerusalem artichoke

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.a14a12a13