Spring is upon us, and I’m behind (as usual.)
But contrary to all appearances, I’m actually still here, still trying new things and still full of intentions to make a better effort in posting updates this season.
The order of business today (a break in the rain for most of the day was a welcome ls development not to be wasted) included finishing and situating a Kenyan style top bar beehive and a little tomato cage sorting and repairing.
I pick my bees next week.
Window and “shutter” complete
Moved and leveled in a sunny spot
I thought eggplants were supposed to slack off after peaking mid season.
Apparently I was wrong….
The good harvest my three traditional plants were providing has turned into a ridiculous harvest. Raised beds, drip irrigation and a lot of sun had left me suddenly awash in eggplants. A few days ago a branch sheared off of one of the plants while I was outside; the three large fruits were undamaged but it motivated me to stake the branches later that evening.
After turning the plants into works of suspended engineering art somewhat resembling Maypoles, I counted 37 fruit between the three plants:
We really like them but can’t eat 37 eggplants over the next week or ten days, so if you are local and interested in taking some off our hands then please get in touch.
While listening to a football game on the sun porch, something unusual caught my eye on the back of the garden. A peek through some cheap binoculars I had handy confirmed what I thought I was watching, so I grabbed my camera and a 200mm zoom lens and stalked out onto the patio to see if I could get a picture.
Not the best of quality but under the circumstances, these are passable…
One of our local Red Tailed Hawks had snatched up a small snake and was consuming it while perched on the blackberry netting frame. He (or she?) tolerated me observing from 100 feet away and made quick work of the little “snack”.
And with that it took one more glance around then moved on.
I saw it again this evening moving about; I’m hoping it has discovered that my wildlife-friendly garden offers some very healthy tomato-fed squirrels and will become a regular visitor.
I decided to try to grow some parsnips this summer and in hindsight, I have no idea why.
I can’t say that I can remember ever even tasting a parsnip or a dish that included parsnip as an ingredient. Hopefully I like them; I guess that in a worst case I will adapt and find some tolerable dish or soup that includes them.
Anyway…. I learned that these need a long growing season and managed to get some seedlings out of the ground by early May. I also learned that it is best to wait until the first freeze to harvest, so by my calculation these would have something in the range of a 26 week growing season, a modest 10 weeks more that the recommended minimum of 16 weeks. (Hopefully there isn’t an issue with having too long a season; I suppose I’ll learn towards the end of October.)
OK on to the greens…
My expectation was that these would put up greens similar to what I have become accustomed to with the handful of carrot varieties I’ve grown over the years. The carrots all had fairly delicate leaves on stems that reached at most 12 or 16 inches above the soil line. By comparison the parsnip greens are colossal; the top of them come just beyond my belt line:
A friend asked me a while back if the greens were poisonous; she indicated that she’d heard they could raise blisters on some people similar to those caused by poison ivy. I had never heard this and didn’t think about it again until this afternoon… So I asked professor Google and yes, it seems some people are extremely sensitive to some types of parsnip greens.
As best I could gather from the scattered articles on the subject (most with graphic pictures), wild parsnips tended to be the culprit more so than most garden varieties.
I was up to my elbows in the greens this afternoon checking a few of the root tops for girth and thus far I haven’t blistered or raised any sort of rash on my forearms, so perhaps my tiny square of parsnip greens are not toxic.
First, the “good”:
The overall size & quantity of the first waves of Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter & German Yellow tomatoes has been above average; Mrs cohutt has referenced the “early pumpkin harvest” on more than one occasion.
Another “good” is the ample supply of eggplants we have been harvesting; the flea beetles are around but I’ve kept them at bay with an occasional light dusting of diatomaceous earth on the leaves at dusk. (I have rinsed it off in the morning to keep wind from spreading it where I don’t want it.)
Likewise, the first waves of soy (type “Envy”) have been good and more productive than last year’s initial try.
I have a serious tomato plant problem that is probably Fusarium or Verticillium wilt. If I confirm one or both of these is will have a serious impact on the garden over the next few years due to limitations of what can be planted in infected soils. (More on this in a future post, should I manage to figure it out.) Basically the leaves are dying very quickly from the bottom up- right now there are few if any live green leaves in the the first 4 feet of the plants. This has left little shade on the developing fruits so I have a lot of cracks and sun scalding on those tomatoes harvested so far. Unfortunately this will also limit or eliminate the 2nd large harvest wave that usually follows in September.
My garlic harvest was hit with onion maggots, which has given me the disgusting aroma of rotting garlic wafting everywhere as I have attempted to cull the infested heads. The worm is pretty much undetectable until the clove or cloves it has been eating tunnels through begins the inevitable hidden festering rot process. The nose knows first; rotting garlic has a way of letting the whole house know.
(If you are reading this @ mealtime, you might pass on the remaining pictures.)
The resulting damage:
No, Chinese red noodle beans, aka red “yard long” beans.
I believe “prolific” would adequately describe the initial yields these have delivered. Two modest bamboo bean pyramids are now well covered in the bean vines and they are providing this amount every 2-3 days right now. They will slow down a bit though once it gets really hot and the plants get through their initial burst of production.
On the vine, an eye pleasing contrast:
These are actually just a relative of the common summer cow pea and the peas themselves are pretty good fresh. This being said, the taste and texture of the pods prevent very many from making it that far in cohutt’s household.
They keep their color and do very well in a hot pan with a bit of oil. Yum.
Put together some burnout, writer’s block and some temporarily distracting medical concerns and what you end up with is 48 days without an update. Perhaps this is all behind me now and more frequent postings will be seen going forward.