Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday, July 30th, 2012

There was one normal basket harvest, but most were different this week. There are two things of note here. The first tomatoes were picked. I can't eat them (I can't eat any nightshade plant) but my townhouse mates enjoyed them. The second are my dried beans. Those didn't get into the tally. I'll weigh each variety once it is finished producing and once I take them out of their pods.

The corn harvest was my favorite. I did get two really weird ears. The husk didn't quite cover them and they weren't pollinated well. They still tasted fine though. Not very sweet, but very corny.

I've been complaining that I haven't gotten any zucchini. Well I did, but it was hiding under dying leaves. Once it got big enough to peek out I saw it. It will make some zucchini bread and some casserole.

It was time for my biweekly harvest this week. I kept about a pound for my own use and this time my townhouse mates took the rest to freeze. The harvest chard harvest peaked a month ago and has been going down about two pounds per harvest since. I'm guessing I ought to side dress them if I keep picking them. So far they have produced about 35lbs this year in about 11 sqft of space. And half of that space is shaded by the broccoli that I was going to rip out earlier but haven't. Chard is such an amazing producer and such a powerhouse of nutrition too.

The garlic had cured so I cleaned it up and put it in mesh bags in the basement. This year I got 8.9lbs of garlic. Last year it was 6 lbs. I did give more space to it this year though. The bulbs this year are better than last year. Last year I had a lot of rot in my bulbs, but I didn't get any this year. In general I got a lot of rotting diseases from all my plants last year with my new soil. But this year things seem to be in balance more.

The first of the mustards was harvested and winnowed out. I got just over half a pound of mustard seed. I want to make some homemade mustard later this year. I've never done it before.
  • Alliums 8.91 lbs
  • Beans 0.47 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.06 lbs
  • Corn 4.24
  • Cucurbit 7.31 lbs
  • Greens 5.25 lbs
  • Herbs 0.71 lbs
  • Tomato 0.69 lbs
  • Weekly total 42.76 lbs
  • Yearly total 298.46 lbs
  • Tally $391.43
Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Preparing for Fall

I get asked a lot of questions about how many hours a day I have to work to keep the garden up. I really haven't a clue, but most days I don't spend more than an hour in the garden each day and many days are much less. When it was hot out I just ignored the garden except to pick and water. In the height of spring planting I was good about doing no more than half of one of my long beds each day. So I only did one 4'x8' section. Yesterday on the other hand was different. The forecast called for on and off rain for four days and cooler temperatures. It was perfect weather for putting in some fall crops and getting others to germinate. So I spent several hours working in the garden. I was out at 6:30am and worked until 10:30am with just a short breakfast break. I was trying to beat the rain which was scheduled to start at 11am. If you look at the photo above I started with the half bed closest to the fence.

It had a nice cover crop of crab grass growing which I had to rip out. But what I wanted was a real cover crop. After loosening the soil up I thought about how I wanted to sow it. I wasn't sure which way would give the best germination, but I tried two ways. In the photo I took out some soil and then sowed the seed and covered it up by an inch. In the next four foot section I just scattered the seed and raked it into the soil. I hope that one works out best. It is a lot less work than removing the soil. At my last house I had clay soil and the raking strategy worked well. I was worried that it might not be enough for my sandy soil here. But we will see.

The cover crop that I sowed was a couple of years old. I did a small germination test on it to see if it would sprout. After two days I saw that the peas would sprout just fine and saw a few little root tips on the vetch and oats, so I figured I'd just see how it worked outside and not buy new.

The half of the bed closest to the path was weeded, fertilized, and loosened up. I sowed kale seed in this bed. I often start the fall seed indoors, but I figured I had enough wet and cool weather to get them started outside this year. I hope so. Sometimes the little brassica seedlings can just fall over and die when the weather gets too hot. I sowed three rows. One row of Dwarf Curly Kale. One row of a mixed kale which turned out to be mostly Red Russian. One row of Winterbor. I don't know if the dwarf kale will come up since it is old seed and I didn't do a germination test on them. I've got my fingers crossed. I put a row cover on it since I didn't want the "torrential" rain that was predicted last night to wash away the seed. Well we got no rain last night. But it will be good when they are small to keep the cabbage butterflies off. I want to give them a leg up before I take off the cover. Or maybe I'll be kind and put some supports on later and give them a real cover.

Next up were the carrots. I saw that some were germinating under their burlap. It took them only six days to germinate. I find they germinate much faster in the summer than in the spring. I didn't have the row cover up before because I wanted to be able to get in and water everyday. But now that they have started the row cover had to get up. Last fall the carrot flies really damaged my carrots. So this year they get covered. I might sow some more in another spot, but those won't get a cover. I only have so many covers to go around.

I've really let a lot of the weeds take over the beds that were going to get planted up soon. This bed had a mulch of composted horse manure. The weeds here were much different than in the rest of the garden. Regardless they all came down and the soil was fertilized and prepared.

I had hardened off my fall brassicas. I had some Brussels sprouts and a storage cabbage both of which I might have started too late for them to produce. Then I had some early cabbage, kohlrabi, and some Asian greens. I planted them all out. I think I might have planted them too close together. I hope not. After they got my last good row cover over them.

In the batch of seedlings I had some Summertime lettuce started. So I put that out in the lettuce bed that I seeded previously. In that bed the mustards were already coming up, but no sign of the lettuce yet. Hopefully it will be cool enough this coming week for them to germinate. But you never know. The forecasters have been terrible for my area. Yesterday it was supposed to be cool and rainy with a high of 79F. It barely rained and the high was 87F. We have had a lot of that this last week.

I did some other chores before leaving the garden. I did a little weeding. I did some harvesting. The harvest that took a while was the dried beans. I was shocked to find that there were some already done. Mostly the Tiger Eye had finished up, but I got a few Yellow Eye and Jacob's Cattle. I've never had dried beans be dry in July. That is just unheard of. And it wasn't like I planted early. They were planted mid May, which is pretty typical for me. Usually dried beans take about 90-110 days to produce which would be mid August to mid September for a harvest. I've grown Tiger Eye before and I don't remember it being that early. So I looked it up. Indeed the Tiger Eye beans were early last time I picked too so they must be a really early dried bean. They say 80-90 days, but for me it was 75 this year and 70 the other year. Though they aren't the most prolific bean, they seem like they would be great for short season areas. Or at least my version of the seed which seem earlier than the catalogs say.

The last chore before I came in was to take the garlic down from the shed. By this time it was drizzling. So I brought it in inside a garbage bag. Usually I would clean the garlic outside, but since it was supposed to be wet for a while, I did it inside and then cleaned the floors. To make the garden kitchen worthy I had to get the dirt off. So I clipped off the tops first, then the roots. Then I peeled the outermost layer off. Every layer your garlic has helps to keep it from rotting. But I don't like to have dirt brought into my kitchen when I'm cooking so I always discard the outer most one. I ended up with three piles of garlic. The biggest and best were saved to plant in October. Most ended up in a mesh bag hanging in the basement for future garlic. And the last pile were any bulbs that were damaged or didn't have the good covering layers of skin. I find that there are always a few were I can see the cloves. Those won't store at all. In addition this year I had a good amount that were bruised. I wonder how that happened. I'll have to be more careful next year. But this last group will all be used first.

You would think that I would be done for the day, but I wanted to take the beans out of their pods. I just love the look of the Tiger Eye. They are a fabulous bean as they are so tender when cooked. If only they produced more I'd grow them every year. But I'm starting to think I could do a rotation that would give me a chance to grow an early crop and a late crop since they will produce in 75 days. If I do that I'll have to save a bit of seed. I only had 25 seeds when I planted this crop so they only got a very small section of bed. If I want to do two 4'x8' beds of them, I'd have to save most of these seeds. But if the rotations worked out it would make this bean a very worthwhile bean. The only issue I see is that in both years that they cropped early were years of record heat. Both 2010 and 2012 were very very hot. In a normal year would it work? Or would they crop in 85 days in colder years? I always find pushing the seasons a dilemma. I don't want to sacrifice my main crop of things. But if I push it just a bit would my harvest be that much larger? Do you tend to play it safe or risky in gardening?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

Not much real preserving has been going on this week. I have been dealing with my alliums. The sweet onions were all dried so they were braided and hung in the basement. They will probably last two months, but it might be shorter. The garlic was dried in our bike shed and taken down today. This afternoon I'll be clipping and cleaning it for storage. The storage onions were harvested and spent one day in the sun to dry off and are now curing in the upstairs bedroom for a week or so. They really got quite dry in the ground this year, so I don't think they need a long time curing.

The yellow mustard got harvested and winnowed. Today I picked some rosemary. My dehydrator is running and it will soon be dry enough to put in a jar.

On the cooking front the most fun was probably the gooseberry pie. The recipe made a sour cream custard kind of a pie. It was so delicious. As usual the recipe wasn't followed exactly. I added 2 cups of gooseberries and 3 1/2T of flour. And I really wonder. Does the pie need a top crust? I think next time it gets made I'll leave the top crust off. Most custard pies don't have them and though the crust was tasty, I think it overwhelmed the taste of the pie a bit too much.

Head on over to Robin's place at The Gardener of Eden and link up to let others see what you've been using or preserving from your garden and pantry

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drum Roll Please

I present to you the first meal of homegrown corn. Is there anything better than a fresh picked ear of corn? I think not.

I was a bit worried about these ears. I had three that were earlier than the others. The others all either died or didn't germinate. But these precocious stalks of corn that germinated in the cold soil of spring grew well. The problem with having just a few is getting them to pollinate. Only a handful of stalks were giving off pollen when these ears needed it. I went out and hand pollinated on occasion. I wasn't perfect about doing it every day. Hand pollinating corn is easy. In the early morning go out and shake each stalk. You can see the pollen fall straight down. With wind it blows it one way or the other, but in the quiet of the morning it falls right on the ears.

You can see by the photo that it wasn't perfectly pollinated. But of the three ears this one was the worst off and this side of the corn was the worst too. The other side was beautiful and all filled out. And the taste? Well it was ambrosia. Really the variety is called Ambrosia. It is a very sweet corn, so if you don't like them sweet, you wouldn't like it. But both my hubbie and I both have a sweet tooth. It was warm inside so I grilled them along with the rest of the meal. BTW grilled green beans are heavenly too. Not quite up there with sweet corn but not far off.

If I can just harvest the other Ambrosia in the garden, I'd be a very happy summer gardener. I have Ambrosia melons growing. One so far has been killed by wilt. The other three seem fine. They are just starting to set melons. I'm praying the wilt stays off the others for long enough for ripe melons.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Onions and Mustard

Yesterday the plan was to harvest the onions and bring them directly inside since they had dried plenty in the bed. Most were dry enough as to almost be ready for storage. But Mother Nature decided it had to rain a tiny bit in the morning. Just to get everything wet. The weathermen were clueless about this or I would have harvested them the day before. So once the rain stopped. I laid them all down on the paths to dry.

I suppose there was one good thing about the rain. I could straighten up their foliage and let it dry straight as opposed to how it had dried which was all crooked. This will make it much easier to make braids.

I had four types of onions this year. The Ailsa Craig I harvested earlier. It did OK. There were no terribly large bulbs and with that variety there ought to have been. But still it was decent. The Copras (top photo) did very well. These are not a large onions so I didn't expect large. At 3-4" in diameter they turned out quite well. The Redwings (both photos, red onion) did OK this year. Last year they were larger than the Copras by a little. This year they might be smaller. But still last year they stored better than the Copras, so I'm glad they did at least OK. The Varsity (bottom photo) are another yellow storage onion, but they are supposed to grow large. They didn't. Most of them are smaller than the Copras. This is the second year they have not performed up to par. I think this will be the last year I grow them. The Copras are good tasting onions and store well. The Varsity onions are supposed to produce better, but if they don't, there is no reason to grow them.

I harvested my brown mustard two days ago. Yesterday I decided to get the seed out. I put it in an old pillowcase and tied the end shut. Then I stomped on it to shatter all the pods. As I took out the stems, I used my hands (in gloves this time) to make sure all the pods had come off. The pods that were green held on which is good. I've left them in a bag to see if they will ripen eventually. I wouldn't use them for seed, but my spices.

Mustard seed is easy to separate from the chaff compared to something like dill or even coriander. The seed is smooth and heavy. So I shook the bag and let most of the chaff come to the top. Then I just picked out most of it. The last layer had to be winnowed however so I wouldn't lose seed. The wind was spotty but with the addition of my breath it got pretty clean. I might try to clean it again later if I can get a good day with the wind, but it is pretty clean right now as you can see from the above photo.

And did you notice that it wasn't brown. I was shocked to find all the seed was yellow. I checked what I thought was the yellow mustard and indeed it is brown. So I mixed up which one was which. I'm glad this one was the yellow one though. I want more yellow seed than brown seed and the remaining mustard had more trouble growing. Lots of the plants died. So I won't get nearly as much seed from it. Each mustard had 14 sqft to grow in. I harvested 8.9oz of yellow mustard seed. As weight to space goes it is probably my worst producer.

If I look at its value, it isn't all that good either. And I'm not really sure how to price it. Usually I price locally produced things. No one grows mustard seed here. If I were buying it, I'd have to get it off the web. For about 8oz I'd be paying about $14 for organic and shipping. Weirdly if I bought two pounds I'd pay the same. So is growing mustard worth it in the home garden? Well if you planted 3 sqft and just wanted to fill up your spice jar, you are saving about $4. Which isn't good, not even as good as dried beans. If you are growing mustard seed to make homemade mustard it is even worse. Since you can buy two pounds of organic mustard seed for about $14, it would only be about $0.50 per square foot. However isn't making homemade mustard that you grew yourself priceless? Well at least if you have the room which I do. And mustard is a good fumigant for nematodes. If I grow my carrots here next year They ought to grow fabulously. At least I'm hoping.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday, July 23, 2012

I needed onions early in the week to make pickles. So I took a few that were drying.

Yesterday they seemed dry enough and I braided them and weighed them. Once they are in a braid they really can't be weighed on the scale anymore. they are too big. So I used my bathroom scale with me holding them. These are my Ailsa Craig onions. They are sweet and won't store well, but supposedly are better storage onions than other sweet onions.

The most exciting for me is my gooseberry harvest. It is the first year they have cropped. Most are from my Hinnonmaki Red, though Invicta gave me a couple of green ones. My Trixia gave me absolutely zero berries this year. My biggest issues was trying to figure out when to pick them. I picked them ripe - well I think. When is a gooseberry ripe? Either way they are delicious. And if you have never had a gooseberry pie, you are really missing something. Gooseberry pie is why I planted them in my garden. It is my all time favorite.

I picked all of the carrots. They were a disappointment this year. Last year the yields were about three times for the space. The nematodes are bad since I planted them after the solanum crops. The fall carrots I'm going to plant after the brassicas and maybe stick some in after the mustards. No nematodes can live with mustards. They do a better job of control than my Ground Control Marigolds.

I also picked the last of the spring beets. I immediately brought them over to my townhouse mates. They can eat them.

It has been a good broccoli week too. The side shoots are coming in. The Fiesta side shoots are fairly large. I keep a good amount of stem on since I like to peel and eat them. But I need to cut them about and inch shorter as the bottom most part is too woody for that.

Then there are the typical harvest baskets for the week. Cucumbers, beans, and broccoli. Basically that is what I've been eating for my meals. I have some cucumber salad for lunch and any leftover veggies cold and dipped into a yogurt dip. For dinner it is beans and broccoli. I really like having so much broccoli. It is the first good year for it. In a year where so many things aren't doing well, the broccoli is doing just great.
  • Alliums 15.88 lbs
  • Beans 3.01 lbs
  • Broccoli 2.43 lbs
  • Carrot 7.46
  • Cucurbit 12.10 lbs
  • Herbs 0.18 lbs
  • Beets 1.12 lbs
  • Weekly total 42.76 lbs
  • Yearly total 270.82 lbs
  • Tally $272.35
  • Fruit:
  • Gooseberries 2.6lbs
  • Yearly total 25.86 lbs
Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pulling and Planting

This morning I pulled all the Masai beans as they were done. They are in a 2'x4' area. So they have 8 sqft. They gave me 2.6 lbs in half a year. Not a great yield for beans. The Kentucky Wonder have about 5 sqft and have already given me 3.11lbs. Regardless I cleaned up the spot and replanted more to see if I can get a fall harvest or not. It would be nice to know for future years if I can get two beans crops out of one spot.

Then I went over to the spot I cleared before and fertilized and seeded some lettuce and beets for the fall. Usually I do rows. But this time I just tossed lettuce seed into the bed. And randomly pressed some beet seed into the soil. In addition I seeded with mustard too. This bed is filled with nematodes and the mustard out to help keep them at bay. The lettuce was really stressed this spring because of it.

While I was working on the lettuce, I noticed the brown mustard seed was starting to shatter. So I got some big paper supermarket bags and started to fill them up. After I had done a few plants my hands and arms started to sting. Whoops. The pods are furry and grab on to you and those little scratches combined with the mustard oils was not a good combination. So I washed up inside and then put on gloves. I tell myself I ought to wear them all the time, but I just hate them. I'd much rather have dirty fingernails and scratches on my hands. I filled up two large bags with seed heads. I'll let them dry a bit more in their bags then I'll stomp on them or something to remove the seed from their pods and winnow them out.

I still have the yellow mustard to go. It isn't shattering yet. It was entwined with the single tomato plant that I have. The tomato plant will make me sick if it gets into the mustards (I'm sensitive to nightshades), so while I had the gloves on I chopped the tomato way back. Then staked the mustards so they can't touch the plant. Tomorrow I'll be watering the garden and I'm hoping it washes off any contamination. Then sometime next week I'll harvest those too.

Then it was inside to the onions that had finished drying. I decided to braid them. Last year I harvested when the tops were green. So I could lay them all out flat and have nice flat tops for braiding. This year the onion foliage was half dead when I harvested. I think the heat and lack of water did that to them. But it meant that the leaves didn't dry flat. I was worried they would hold in a braid. But they seemed to do OK. I have two braids each about seven pounds each.

There is so much more to do. My main tasks are to harvest the rest of the onions and water the garden. I still need to get out and weed sometime, but Monday and Tuesday are going to be hot again. So I'll probably put it off until later in the week. Once the onions are harvested I need to seed the kale in that bed. I was going to do starts indoors, but I think I'll just try to direct seed this year. I hope it works.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Planting for Fall

I hadn't been out much since it was so dang hot. But with the front that came through on Wednesday, the weather has broken. With high 70s to mid 80s in the forecast for the next week, I'm a pretty happy person. What you see above is the bed that had brassicas and Asian greens. They had been pulled out ages ago. It was finally time to seed the carrots. I'm thinking it is cool enough by now. I put in 11 rows lengthwise, each 4" apart. They are covered with burlap to help them keep moist and cool. Half are planted in Mokum and half in SugarSnax. As soon as they germinate I'm going to put a row cover over them to keep the carrot flies out. Last fall they were terrible and damaged 90% of the carrots. I still had a good harvest as the damage was mostly skin deep, but I'd rather not have to deal with them.

The trellis is for beans. I decided to plant some more Kentucky Wonder beans. Usually my summer beans die early from diseases before the fall really hits. New bean plants will give me an extended harvest I'm hoping. Either that or I'm too late for it and I won't get anything. But I won't know until I try.

This bed used to have my carrots and peas. I harvested all the pitiful carrots earlier this week. It seemed obvious that the peas wouldn't produce anymore so I ripped them out too. So the pea experiment was a bust. The later planted peas didn't extend my harvest much at all. They did help with the wave issue in peas. Usually I get three waves of peas. And I'm inundated for the first wave. Then there is a lull. then I get a decent crop in the second wave with another lull. The third wave is usually pretty small then I rip up the plants. Well with the later planted peas, I had peas all during the lull. I'm not sure it is worth it though. The peas keep pretty well. And I can store the other ones through that lull. So I'm thinking it just isn't worth it to plant successions of peas in the spring. Or then again it could have just been the really hot summer that shut the later planted ones down earlier than otherwise.

Anyway with the peas and carrots out I looked over the bed. I noticed the beets seemed to have sized up so I pulled them all. Then I ripped out all but one of the marjoram plants. I have enough dried already. The one will give me enough if I want fresh. The plan is to plant lettuce at the end near the fence. I'm a bit worried though. This bed is riddled with nematodes. Maybe I should interplant mustard in with the lettuce?

The part that is totally cleared has peas planted at the end. I'd better get that trellis up now before they germinate. The rest of the bed will get a row cover and will be planted in baby Asian greens. Well if I have enough seed that is. But I'll toss whatever seed I have in there. Along with radishes and turnips.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Putting the Garden Back Together

Remember the damage from the microburst we had two days ago? Well can you see it? All fixed up. Well almost. Each corn stalk has a bamboo pole holding it up. Some of the roots were ripped out. They may or may not recover. Some of the stalks were so strong that they didn't tip over. They snapped. I lost a few ears of corn that way. I lost some tops at the end of the row that will now not pollinate anything. So I went out and shook the nearby ones this morning to get the pollen to drift down. Anyway I've got my fingers crossed.

The bean trellis got four more supports to push the structure back upright. It seems sturdy again. I hope we don't get that kind of wind again.

I went out biking yesterday I blithely headed to the bike path. We are near the Minuteman Bikeway which is a very busy bikeway. Well not so much then. I think of all the places, that one had the most downed trees for any place I saw. Every ten feet there was another downed tree. Needless to say it was closed. So I wandered the back streets for as long as I could before getting on Mass Ave and I couldn't believe the devastation everywhere. One poor person had two beautiful trees taller than his house in his front yard. The trees were on top of his house. The roots ripped out. The concrete sidewalk was totally ripped up and sticking up into the air as it was stuck to the roots. The farmers market was open at the time and got totally ripped apart. Luckily they were more toward the edge of it and I haven't heard of any injuries. Yesterday the whole day all I heard were helicopters and chainsaws. As of last night there were still lots of closed roads because of power lines that hadn't been fixed. I swear every tree service was out chopping down trees. We got off pretty easy at our house. We didn't even lose power. And today seems quieter. I don't even hear a chainsaw.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

This week was a busy preserving week despite the hot weather. When the veggies are ready to freeze or can, you have to do it if you want them at their best.

In less than a week I had picked over 13 pounds of cucumbers (above is 4 pounds being washed). The first batch of pickles was bread and butter pickles, from the Ball Blue Book.

The recipe calls for salting the slices of cucumbers and onions. I used Ailsa Craig onions that I picked earlier and was drying. Slicing this number of cukes takes time, but not so much when I bring out my mandolin. The slices get ice put on top and then they sit for and hour and a half. That is just the right timing to run the dishwasher to sterilize the jars and heat them up.

These are hot pack pickles so the pickles get cooked in their brine. I love the color of the brine. The turmeric really makes it a pretty yellow color.

All done. The recipe said it made 7 pints. I found that it made 6 full pints and I had a quarter pint left over. I didn't process it but just tossed it in the fridge for current use.

Yesterday I made quick pack dill pickles from the same book. This time the recipe made more than it said. So I had cucumbers and brine left over. My pot only holds 7 pints so I made the others into refrigerator pickles. Also the cukes were about 5" long and the jars only hold things 4" long. I typically cut off a little bit of the blossom end and leave the stem as it is supposed to make the pickles crisper that way. This time I cut a whole inch or more off the cukes. I sliced some of them up and added them to the bread and butter pickle brine to fill up that jar. It will be interesting to see how they turn out uncooked. The rest of the ends I ate for lunch. Oh how I love cucumber season.

To make the dill pickles I had to pick some dill heads. I don't have many this year. Usually I'm inundated with them. But I did get enough this time. I hope I'll get enough for more batches of refrigerator pickles. I also picked some marjoram. But this wasn't for the pickles. I dehydrated it for winter use.

And last but not least. I froze a batch of Kentucky Wonder beans. In the past I've tried freezing them on cookie sheets and putting them in a ziploc. This time I put them in small ziplocs and got all the air out. I'm hoping for better frozen beans this year. In past years I haven't been happy with the results.

Head on over to Robin's place at The Gardener of Eden and link up to let others see what you've been using or preserving from your garden and pantry

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

I had been hoping for rain all July. We hadn't gotten more than 1/4" all month. Our Average for July is 3.5". With the heat things were so dry. So today our lack of rain ended. I was jumping up and down after the rain went over half an inch. Then all hell broke loose.

The previous rain was just fine. Not much wind. It was pretty much going straight down. Then a microburst hit. Ouch. I looked out the window and could see the bean trellis bend. I was wondering if it would come down all together. I'll have to reprop it up, but it held. The soil underneath had given. That is why it is leaning. that side is pressed into the soil.

The corn didn't fare quite as well. It is flattened. The taller corn got hit too. I'll have to go out tomorrow morning when things dry out a bit and stake them all with bamboo.

You can even see the wind patterns in the sweet potatoes. The wind was so weird. In one part of the garden it is flattened in one direction. In another it is in another direction. Not just a little either. One patch of corn is flattened one way and one bed of sweet potatoes is flattened in exactly the opposite direction. The rain which had been falling hard even broke up into mist in the wind. This is the second microburst I've experienced in this house. I don't remember one in the last house.

We cooled off about 20 degrees from before and we did get our rain. About 1 3/4" of it. So the plants that didn't get hurt are happy. There are lots of branches down. Mostly small. I saw one huge branch missing (about a foot in diameter) from the pine trees that line one side of the house. I figured our roof would have taken the impact as it is right under that. But the branch isn't even in my yard. I'm guessing it is in my neighbor's.

I'm going to have to be more specific in my wishes from now on. Rain yes. Microbursts no.

Update: Wow. Fire trucks and police all over the place. The end of our street is blocked by a tree that is down. Since we are at the end of a dead end, no one can get their cars in or out anymore. My neighbor said he saw seven down trees on his way home (half a mile away from the house). And the branch that I couldn't find in my yard, well we couldn't find it in the neighbor's yard either. It must have blown pretty far.

Second Update: One street over a tree came down and took out a door and some power lines. Supposedly there are a lot of power lines down. Streets are taped up so people won't go down them. And one tree fell on a bus. Ah the neighborhood gossip mill. Everyone is out talking about it over their fences.

Third Update: Though I said we had a microburst, it wasn't official until the weather service said so, and they did. Our town issued a warning last evening to avoid our area of town because of the downed lines and trees. They wanted the roads clear so they could clean up as fast as possible. Though we didn't get hail, some places in Massachusetts got golf ball sized hail, which might have been more damage to my garden if that had hit. BTW the bean trellis in the first photo really doesn't do the wind justice. When I looked outside during the wind it was bent over at a 45 degree angle. I'm shocked it stayed in the ground especially with all the trees that got flattened. And the helicopters are out this morning. I'm guessing the local news. I was hoping when I opened the window this morning to hear the birds, but nope.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This and That

Today I harvested some of my marjoram to dry. I've never grown it before. It smell is interesting to say the least. Enticing but kind of a more chemical smell than most herbs. Rosemary is kind of like that too, but a very different smell. It was in bloom when I picked it. I'm wondering about the flowers. Can they be dried and eaten too? The scent is stronger with the flowers than the leaves.

I noticed powdery mildew was starting on my zucchinis. Usually it only starts after a borer attack, but the zukes have been covered since before they came out. So I removed the cover and found out that my attempt to foil the borers was unsuccessful. Was I too late in getting the cover on? I checked the stems before I put it on and couldn't find any of the eggs. Did they get under the cover somehow? Well it is frustrating to say the least. I really want my zucchini this year. I have barely frozen any yet. I was hoping for zucchini bread all summer long and enough saved in the freezer for lots in the winter too.

Not only that I made a zucchini casserole last night that I just loved. I still have to tweak the recipe more, but it was delicious. If I actually get enough zucchini to try a couple more batches and changes, I'll post it.

The cucumbers are starting to get bacterial wilt. I've never had it before. Or if I had it was after the powdery mildew was so bad it wasn't an issue anymore. The cucumber beetles have been swarming over all the cucurbits. I've never seen so many before. In the past I find a few, but not many. I'm going to cry if we have such a hot summer and no melons. I've found only a handful of leaves killed but it seem pretty obvious. At least I ought to have plenty of cukes for making relish and pickles before they die. I have one Halona melon set. None of the others have yet. They better hop to it. The beetles don't seem to like the winter squash so they are growing just fine.

And how can I not mention random things without mentioning the weather? In the last three weeks of massively hot temps we haven't even had an inch of rain. I don't ever remember having a heat wave that lasted as long either. Today will be our sixth day and tomorrow might make seven. (Heat waves in Boston mean 3 days in a row over 90). Today has a chance of hitting the triple digits too. I watered last Friday. I'm watering again today. Usually I try to only water every 5 days if I don't get rain (or six if I'm waiting for a predicted storm). But I watered four days ago and the plants really need it again. I haven't pulled my spring carrot crop yet, just a few early ones. I'm wondering if they will be bitter. But the forecast has the heat breaking on Wednesday afternoon as a cold front moves in. So we will be back to more normal temps (average for today is 82F historically). Well, it will still be a little above average, but at least it will be close.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday, July 16th, 2012

When I got back from my camping trip the broccoli side shoots had started up. One was a bit too gone and I tossed it, but the rest were delicious.

The first zucchini was a huge one. The first beets were given to my townhouse mates as I hate beets. I love how they look so I grow them anyway. It could be those are the last few trickles of peas. The heat has been so bad that the later planted peas have not produced even a second wave yet. And it was the first of the beans. These are the Masai beans. They look lovely. But normal beans just don't seem to impress me. I've yet to find a bush bean that I like.

The huge chard harvest happened again this week. I gave most of it away to a neighbor though I kept some for the week and gave some to my townhouse mates.

Earlier this week I showed you the first cuke harvest. Well the second one the next day was bigger. I'm growing two varities. Calypso has put out 18 cukes so far and Cross Country has put out 4. But Cross Country wins the taste test. Well taste is really a misnomer. Cucumbers are all about texture. I grow the pickling type to both pickle and eat fresh. Last year I grew Littleleaf and hated it intensely. The skins were tough. They pickled just fine, but weren't good for fresh eating. And even not that good for refrigerator pickles. Calypso is good for fresh eating, but Cross Country is great. The crispness is fabulous and the skin is totally unnoticeable. I'm hoping its production ramps up. It is an open pollinated variety so it would be nice since I could collect seed every year.

The other harvest in that basket is my beloved Kentucky Wonder beans. I love them with a passion. They don't taste like any other bean, but they appeal to my tastes. I made up a batch for dinner and made enough for two meals so I could have them cold the next day for lunch. I ended up eating the whole bowl. Now if I could just find a bush bean that had the same flavor, I'd be all set. I could grow a fall crop then. Maybe I'll try to put up a second planting of these. I've never done that before and don't really know the timing that I'd need.

I harvested two more zucchini. This time they were of a normal size. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with them. I used to love to make zucchini lasagna where the zucchini is the noodle. But since I can't have tomatoes, I'll have to think of another way besides zucchini bread. I'm going to have to search for zucchini casseroles. Maybe with cheese. Or make up one myself.
  • Alliums 0.43 lbs
  • Beans 2.14 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.74 lbs
  • Cucurbit 9.38 lbs
  • Greens 7.97 lbs
  • Peas 1.53 lbs
  • Beets 1.57 lbs
  • Weekly total 23.77 lbs
  • Yearly total 228.05 lbs
  • Tally $177.23

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.