Saturday, July 26, 2008

Damage Control

Well, this morning the sun is steadily rising and the sky is a deep, endless blue. And the local radar confirms it! Couldn't say the same for earlier in the week. Wow, what a set of storms to roll through here. How did your garden make out?

We suffered a lot of wind damage with the corn and tomatoes taking the brunt of it. Today we'll be adjusting stakes and re-mounding.

I don't know if there is anything to do to prevent this. Perhaps a fence around your garden that's planted with something like peas or beans might act like a wind shield. Does anyone have any success with this or some other type of screen?

BTW -- picked up the first native tomato this week from one of the many roadside stands in town. One word: Mmmmm. Can wait for all ours to start ripening on the vine.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Bee Well; Beetles Be Gone!

What a great weekend in the garden. More squash, zucchini, and cukes. Speaking of cukes, there was such a symphony of buzzing with all the bees doing their due diligence to help pollinate everything. Thankfully, we don't seem to be experiencing the same disappearing act that so many have witnessed with bees. It makes me want to explore bee keeping for the honey and wax (for candles). Anybody have any experience with that?

And what a year for the Japanese beetles! Out of control! They have taken a toll on our pole bean and sunflower leaves. Now they are moving on to the corn and concord grape. In maintaining our organic standards, we will not spray. Rather, it's a great activity for the kids to go around scooping them into a jar of soapy water. They love it!

Oh, by the way -- the Mystery Squashes have been identified. Both are acorn. Beautiful fruit blossoming. What a great surprise, we love them. And there should be plenty to store away for the fall.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When life gives you cucumbers...

...make pickles? My mom and I spent the morning canning pickles, dill pickles to be exact. We used this recipe, my first attempt at the dill but second time around pickling. Next harvest: bread & butter (my favorite).

oh and mom - they all popped!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rhubarb is In; Mystery Plants?

Over the last two weeks, we've bought a couple of rhubarb plants at the Sakonnet Growers Market. $4 -- you can't beat it. We've wanted rhubarb for years knowing that it will take a few seasons before you can really harvest (you just can't beat strawberry-rhubarb pie and jam from scratch!). We put the plants in a new area of the yard close to the raised beds; cut back some low-hanging branches for even more sun. Tons of compost in the holes. Now we wait.

OK, now for the mystery plants. First up, the Mystery Squash (at least it looks squash-ish). This was one of four plants to pop up out of the compost (didn't get hot enough to kill the seeds). Look at that "tail" coming off of it! Wish I had a trellis! See the fruit? Any idea what it's going to be?

Finally, the bane of my existence: This weed. You see it everywhere around here, especially on the sides of roads. It has crept -- more like assaulted -- this side of our yard. In a simple way, it reminds me of a spreading bamboo; it spreads via rhizomes under the ground. It grows 10+ feet high. No matter how much I pull the shoots or dig out the root 'balls', this thing keeps coming back with vengence. Not to be stymied, I've planted the pumpkin patch here hoping to drown it out. I pull dozens of shoots every day, trying to give the pumpkins a fighting chance.

Does anyone know what this is and how to eradicate it?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mid-Season Kickoff

Welcome. It's the third week in July and the garden is in full swing. So we're a tad late in launching this, but that's OK. No better time than the present. Here's the highlight reel of activities so far this year:

MARCH -- After three summers and the sporadic pots of flowers and vegetables, we make the decision to go for the full-blown vegetable garden. Buy seeds and start tomatoes (roma and beefsteak), eggplant, broccoli, peppers.

APRIL -- Build four 4x8 foot (10-inch high) raise beds in the back yard. Fill with loam and homegrown compost that had been cooking all winter. Plant peas, spinach, and mesclun

MAY -- Plant more spinach and mesclun. Plant first crop of lettuce (baby romaine and buttercrunch); zucchini, summer squash, pattypan squash, pole beans, carrots, and cukes. In a different section of the yard, we plant four Jersey blueberry bushes and four raspberry vines. Lament over not getting any asparagus crowns to plant.

JUNE -- Transplant tomatoes (adding a couple of mounded beds to accommodate the volume), broccoli and a couple of rogue squash-looking plants sprouting from seeds left over in the compost; plant a few rows of silverqueen corn (this is a true experiment). Plant cauliflower, more carrots, and new peppers (the seedlings never took off). Harvest lettuces. In yet another section of yard, start a pumpkin patch with three different varieties. Cross fingers in hopes of enough sun hitting that patch...

JULY -- Keep everything going. Think about what more we could get in the ground for a late summer and fall harvest (beets anyone?). Buy a couple rhubarb plants from the Sakonnet Growers Market.

Whew... that was a lot. But now you're up to speed. Already so many lessons learned (lots of notes in a notebook).

We hope you enjoy some of the pictures...