Tag Archive | vegetable gardening

Garden End of July

This spring was a rough start for my garden.  Right after I planted we had over a week of rain.  Many of the seeds must have just rotted in the ground.  I replanted the beans when only three sprouted and the second time got better results.  Slugs ate every one of my lettuce sprouts during the rain and something will not leave my basil alone.  Not sure if I will get any basil!

The mystery peas are doing the best of all the garden veggies.  The indian corn is also fairly happy with the frequent rain and hot days.  Lia is about 46″ tall.  The corn is well over her head and not tasseling yet.  Lia has discovered the joy of eating raw peas right off the vine.  She is very proud of the peas she helped plant.

Even the flowers I sowed in the garden did poorly this year.  I have a few zinnias and bachelor buttons, but not as good as previous years.  The rain was really hard on the seeds.  Beets and carrots suffered similarly.  The tomatoes are producing a few yummy fruits and the pumpkins that managed to sprout are coming along well.  The volunteers are all the sunflowers we have this year.  Not a single seed came up and I planted nearly 20.  Depressing.  Yet, the weeds always do so well.  Here are my first Early Girl tomatoes.

On a bright note, I saw a monarch butterfly on the 27th in the apple orchard when I was mowing.  Perhaps people’s efforts to plant milkweed are paying off.  This seems to be a good butterfly year, there are many varieties present in the gardens and on wild flowers.

Mystery of the Peas Solved

A few weeks ago I blogged about planting peas from a 5 lb bag of organic whole dried green peas that I purchased at the health food store last winter.  I bought them to sprout for salad but didn’t really like the flavor of the sprouts.  I’ve been rehydrating them and eating them like raw peas, which isn’t too bad.  I also made mushy peas with them and that was good.  So I decided to put some in the garden and see how the unknown, mystery peas developed.

Well, I’m amazed!  These are the strangest peas ever!  They started out as normal sprouts, but then began sending out extraordinary amounts of tendrils.  They didn’t make any leaves at all until they were almost a foot tall!  Just huge amounts of tendrils.  The poor things looked so desperate for something to grab on to that I ran strings on poles.  They grappled on and kept reaching for the sun.  In late June, these crazy peas started to bloom.  They had lovely creamy-white flowers in profusion.  Soon baby pea pods formed.  Still the plants climbed and produced profusions of tendrils.  I opened a couple half-ripe pods yesterday and the peas are delicious.  The plants are covered with pods and still making flowers.

I did a little research and discovered these are a new type of pea called hypertendril (good name!)  They are a natural hybrid developed from a mutation called parsley peas.  The benefits of the hypertendril mutation are, among others, the peas don’t require trellis support, they hold each other up, and the lack of leaves increases airflow to prevent mildew and other diseases.  They are also heavy producers and easy to harvest.  What a surprise for me!  I had never heard of hypertendril peas.

This variety is pretty amazing.  The minor support from the stakes and strings has made a wall of peas with pods hanging on both sides that are very easy to see and pick.  But as a sprout pea, hypertenrils are certainly not the right choice since they have hardly any leaves.  I serendipitously stumbled onto this type of pea and am glad of it.  There is a variety of hypertendril called magnolia blossom that has gorgeous pink and purple flowers.  Next year I’m going to try them in the garden.

Garden Bounty

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After weeks of drought, we finally got rain yesterday.  There is more rain forecast for today, so exciting!  It is very frustrating to watch thunderstorms go around or evaporate before they reach us.  The poor plants were suffering.  I had to water several times to keep the garden going.  The effort was worth it because we have a bountiful supply of vegetables.

I’ve been eating beet greens, have made some pickled beets and plan to make more soon.  There is plenty of lettuce for salads and sandwiches.  The wax bean harvest is in full swing.  So far I’ve canned ten pints of beans.  More beans are waiting for processing.g3

Growing the sweet peppers closer together in partial shade has really paid off.  The plants are big, full and heavy with fruit.  I got the first pepper last evening.  They are supposed to be red bells, but are delicious when still green as well.  I love peppers on pizza and there’s nothing like fresh pepper right from the garden for supper!  As can be seen, my half of the pizza is veggie.g4

The tomato jungle is not as thick as some years due to the drought.  There are still plenty of tomatoes being produced.  These are so sweet.  Sometimes I make a meal just from one big tomato with some salad dressing.g2

The bonus flowers that I grow along the fence in the vegetable garden are blooming beautifully.  It is lovely to cut a few for a fresh arrangement on the dining table.  The bright colors of the zinnias remind me of candy.   g5

Morning on the Farm

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It’s a beautiful July morning, sunny with a bit of a breeze.  The dew is still on the grass.  Time to do the farm chores.  When I step out the door, snapdragons and a heliotrope greet me.  The blue flowers have a wonderful, sweet fragrance.

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Otto and Holly tag along.  They love to follow me everywhere.

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The fig tree has four good-sized fruit with many more small ones on the way.  Time to give this tree some fertilizer to help ripen the crop before frost.

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My new yard centerpiece, impatiens on a log.  They actually sit on the septic tank clean-out cover, marking it so nothing heavy (like a tractor or horse) goes across it.

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Day lilies and bee balm brighten the garden beneath the crabapple tree.

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Vista and Maddie, hard at work mowing the orchard.  Cheap laborers who love their job.

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Kai and Cary are out enjoying a little morning sun before their major nap of the day.

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The black raspberries are ripening!  Time to make some jelly.

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Black-eyed Susans make a lovely wildflower accent beside the iris bed.

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The recent rain has spurred the garden to exuberant growth, both vegetables and weeds.

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Finally made it to the barn!  The first and third chick hatch eat together peacefully.  The second hatch is too busy catching bugs and hasn’t responded to the breakfast call yet.

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Little guys and big sisters share the water dish.

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Someone else would like to have breakfast with the chickens.  Two chipmunks live in our barn.  They were being pretty decent little guys until one decided to chew the nozzle off a gas can.  Not sure what the attraction was, hydrocarbons?  Maybe it’s time to bring home a Barn Friend cat from the Humane Society to send the chipmunks packing?

With all the distractions, it’s a wonder I ever get the barn chores finished!

 

 

What’s New in the Garden

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At the beginning of September, the weather still is in high summer mode.  Yesterday was nearly 90F with high humidity and today won’t be much cooler.  The garden plants are taking full advantage of these few remaining warm days, ripening their fruits and grains.  Today I will pick the wax beans and hope to get enough for dinner.  I leave the plants in the ground as long as they want to blossom.  They still produce some, just not the abundance of their main crop.

gar2The tomatoes are producing well.  I harvest them before they are completely ripe to stay ahead of rodent varmints that eat holes in the juicy red fruit.  Most of the foliage has disappeared from the tomatoes, I suspect hornworms have been at work.  They can strip the leaves overnight.  With the fruit so close to maturity, the foliage is not that important any more.

gar4I counted six big pumpkins ripening!  Plenty to fill our Halloween needs. The largest pumpkin must weigh about 15-20 lbs and is just starting to get an orange cast to the skin.  As temperatures cool the orange will spread quickly.

gar7gar8There are also winter squash, an acorn variety, and Jack-Be-Little miniature pumpkins coming along. It was a slow year for squash so there are less than usual. I planted seeds on the manure pile from a mutant squash that volunteered last year.  It was a cross of a pumpkin and summer squash.  Some fruit is visible, growing quickly.  Will have to wait and see what is produced.

gar6The Indian corn is loaded with large ears thanks to hot and humid days throughout much of July and August.  It looks to be a good harvest.  I will cut the corn in mid-September as soon as the ears ripen fully.

gar3I am happy to report three peppers grew! One has already been consumed–it was delicious.  This one is getting large and there is one more very small pepper coming along.  Next year I will grow peppers differently. They will be set closer together, better mulched and well watered during hot spells.

gar5The Jerusalem artichokes make a gorgeous display, all covered in yellow blossoms.  Here the horses graze the lawn in the background.  I am planning to move the artichokes from the garden.  They are too invasive and require excessive space.

From their humble beginnings as a few bare roots and stems pulled from an abandoned strip of grass near a stop sign in Waterville, these plants have become a major success story.  They will be established in an area that allows for their aggressive spreading.  I am convinced the plants emit chemicals into the soil that retard the growth of other plants.  Carrots growing within two feet of the artichokes are struggling.  This plant will hold it’s own against grass and weeds in a different part of the farm.

Another bright yellow, tall flowering plant, the sunflowers bloom in profusion.  They are visible in the background of the first photo.  Little birds visit the plants all day.  They clean the black oil seeds from the flower heads as quickly as they form.  The birds need this rich nutrition to get in shape for their long flight to warmer winter quarters.

Later today I will pick all the ripe or near ripe tomatoes and perhaps clip a few lovely zinna flowers for decorating the table.moth4

Garden 2015

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The garden this year went in about the same time as usual.  It was all planted by the second day of June.  We had lots of chilly, wet weather this spring so the planting was somewhat delayed.  I like to get the garden mostly done by the end of May.  Since I don’t plant many cool weather things like peas or radishes or broccoli, I don’t have to bother with April garden tilling.  This year would have been too wet to work the soil that early.

indian corn

indian corn

baby bib lettuce

baby bib lettuce

For plants I have indian corn, field pumpkins, mini-pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, Boston bib lettuce, sunflowers, tomatoes and sweet peppers.  Also put in marigolds, zinnias, strawflowers, and bachelor buttons.  Of course, the Jerusalem artichokes occupy one corner.

sunflowers

sunflowers

bachelor buttons

bachelor buttons

These photos were taken several days ago, right after the carrots sprouted.  Since then we have gotten more rain and a few warm, sunny days.  The sunflowers have nearly doubled in size since the pictures.  These sunflowers volunteered from seeds left in the garden last year.  I transplanted the seedlings to the edge of the garden before tilling.  They all survived nicely.  Many of the bachelor buttons are also volunteers from last year’s seed.  Some are now beginning to bloom.  I loved these flowers so much last year that I planted several more flower varieties to enjoy.  They go well with the vegetables and add some color to the garden.

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sweet peppers

This is the first year in some time that I have grown peppers.  These are sweet green, turning to red if left on the plant.  Right after I put the seedlings in the ground, something devoured most of the leaves on one plant. Not sure what did this.  There were no tracks so maybe a flying creature or something very small like a vole. Why just one plant?  I don’t know, but I’m glad they left the others alone.

wax bush beans

wax bush beans

The wax bush beans are struggling.  Since this photo, several more have sprouted.  I will have to replant some of the rows if I want many beans.

tomatoes

tomatoes

I planted six Early Girl tomatoes, my favorite variety.  They are growing well.  I have to mulch the tomatoes and peppers to improve their growth rate. Something I hope to do today.

It’s nice to have photos of the plants when they first start out.  As the garden develops I like to go back and look at how much the plants have grown.

September Garden

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Garden with second hatch (June 3) of Ameraucana chicks.

The Harvest moon has passed without a frost and the garden is still booming in September.  The fence has worked well so far this year.  No chickens or other undesirables in the garden.  Above, the 15 young chickens from the second hatch run by the garden with no thought of the juicy tomatoes and squash inside.

g10g8Things are beginning to wind down, the bean harvest is finally over.  I pulled the plants yesterday. We have 19 pints of wax beans put up for winter.  As I uprooted the bean plants I also weeded, and the area looks nice and neat.g11g7  My horses enjoy bean plants and were happy to provide their unique composting services. While the string beans produce one major harvest, and several smaller ones, they continue to bloom up until frost.  If left in the garden, enough beans for a meal form every week.  The winter squash plants are visible on the side of the photo to the right. They are nearly ready to pick.

g13g5Bachelor buttons are about done for the year. They were so pretty. The Jerusalem artichokes are in full bloom.  The heads of flowers are so heavy they weigh the tall plants down, causing them to lean.  Maybe I will proved them some support next year.  The sunflowers also are finally in bloom.  I lost one tall plant to high winds, snapped off at the base, so I have three plants.  All are yellow.  I was hoping for some orange or burgundy.  Oh well.

g3g4Indian corn has ripened and is now ready to harvest.  The husks of the ears are drying and shrinking back from the tops of the cobs.  Unfortunately this exposes the corn to hungry birds and insects so I must pick all the ears soon.

g12The tomato jungle continues to pump out fruit.  I can not keep up with production.  Many go to the chickens and horses, but that’s ok.  We have plenty of tomatoes in the freezer and all the fresh ones I can eat and give away to unsuspecting friends.  Most years I mulch the entire tomato patch with lawn clippings.  I never managed to finish the job this year.  The mulch is good for keeping dirt off the fruit and weeds down, so next year I will try harder to get this chore done on time.

g2The carrots have recovered from their second thinning and are growing nicely.  Harvest time is right around the corner for them.

g14Also ready for harvest are the pumpkins. We have 9 large field pumpkins, many tiny Jack-Be-Little pumpkins, but no pie pumpkins.  Those apparently failed this year.  The gourds on the mountain look to be a plentiful harvest.  I may have to open a little roadside stand on one fine weekend in October to unload some of the excess squashes and Indian corn.  We live on a high traffic road.  On a warm, sunny fall day sales can be brisk.g9