Monday, July 25, 2011

Life, Death and the Seasons, part 1

Sorry, it's been a while. It's not that I haven't been taking pictures or thinking of fabulous one liners for the blog. It's just that one, I have been too busy/worried/hot to even think about sitting down and writing out my thoughts and two, the story of the farm and its occupants has been moving along so fast I have quite frankly been overwhelmed with all the things I should have written down. I like data, but unfortunately for my science career I am a poor data logger. But enough about me, this is a garden blog after after all, on with the pictures and the highlights!
This set of pictures is from about two weeks ago. Maybe three? If I took a picture of it today, everything would either be twice as tall or dead. Some of the new plantings of beans and brassicas did not make it (damn you woodchucks), the cucumbers are still slowly but surely dying and suddenly the weeds have taken over the unmulched paths. But other than that, the place is pretty much going like gangbusters. And don't worry, I am trying my hardest to ensure bountiful fall crops. The broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbages have been replanted and a seeding of snow peas has replaced the lack of cucumbers. (Update: my second planting of kale and the fennel has been taken by the woodchuck family, double damn you.)
Pretty purple eggplant flowers are replaced by stunningly shiny, inky eggplants. Beyond the normal dark purple American type, I am also growing both dark and light purple elongated Chinese types, a Japanese variety that looks a lot like a dumpling, another variety that is white and green striped and ovoid and finally a miniature variety that has the fruit in bunches like cherry tomatoes. As you can tell, I like a lot of variety in my eggplant. It is such an old, widespread and under-appreciated veggie, I feel it's necessary to have its various incarnations represented.
The beans are in big time. The ones above are green and yellow haricots verts. I have the luxury of growing these finicky varieties because I can harvest them thoroughly and often. Without that, the beans quickly become overgrown and tough and the plants think they've done their job of making seeds and begin to go into senescence. I've been pulling bean harvests like this twice a week. As for rest of the harvest, I have been working through the remainder of spring plantings and am now coming into the summer stuff. The squash has come in hard and fast and even with their illness, the cukes have actually proven steady at harvest time. Oh, see that chicken wire at the bottom of the fence? That is the latest in my attempts to keep an entire FAMILY of woodchucks from eating more than their fair share of produce. The chicken wire goes most of the way around now.
When I took this picture I was very excited to see the first tomato ripening. This variety, Juliet, actually came in earlier than my "early" variety, Moscovitch. But now they are all producing except the late heirlooms. I've got a Striped German the size of my head that I am anxiously awaiting to ripen. The tomatoes have a little bit of something on the bottom of the plants. It's definitely not late blight, but a little troublesome all the same. I think the plants will still produce well, but I'll have to keep an eye on them.

Probably the view a juvenile woodchuck gets before squeezing itself through the fence. I wish someone had told me that baby woodchucks are just as voracious as their mothers but can fit through 2" holes. Next up, my musings about late July and August, a time when my mind is actually on the first frosts of autumn while knee deep (usually literally) in the steamy lushness of summer.

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