14 July 2012

The Mid-Season Farm Report, Part 1

For the past week or so, we've been treated with sunny days with temperatures reaching up to the mid-90's.  While this has the negative effect of making sweat roll down my neck while standing perfectly still, and my feet to sweat so much that I slip right out of my sandals, it has also given the plants the boost they really needed. 

The potato plants have started flowering!  These are russet potatoes, and we'll start digging up the new potatoes at the end of the month.  Potatoes like cooler soil, and ours will probably stop growing pretty soon.

The heat has also caused our onions to bolt a little earlier than I expected.  These are actually last summer's onions that kept growing through the winter.  The stalks are over three feet tall.  I'll be pulling these up over the next few days (no guarantees....it's finals week for me).  We will save and dry the flower heads for seeds to plant at the end of August for spring onions next year.

We're growing three varieties of pumpkins this year.  These are the fairytale pumpkins and are really easy to identify because of their white veining.  Pretty leaves, but they make even prettier pumpkins...slightly flat, deep lobes, and the neatest color, a kind of light brown-orange-gray. 

This is also a pumpkin plant...this variety is called "Spooky."  It's the classis Halloween pumpkin....medium sized, bright orange, and round.  Perfect for Jack O Lanterns.   I am also growing a knobbly variety called "Knucklehead."

Raspberries!  These take a lot of patience to grow because you won't get a decent crop at all for the first year or two.  This year I planted 2 second year Summits, 4 bare root Killarneys, and one bare root yellow raspberry plant.   Have you ever seen a bare root cane?  It's just that...a twig with a small tangle of roots at the bottom.  I planted 5 Killarneys, and one day Mimi ran up to me with a familiar looking twig, snapped in half in her hand:  "Look Mom!  I picked a stick!"  Back to the store for another.  The funny thing is that the bare root plants are doing better than my second year ones.  Three of the 5 bare root canes already have raspberries. 

These are baby sugar bush watermelons.  Cute, small, sweet, dark greenish black rinds, And this is my 4th AND FINAL attempt at growing them this season.  Let me list my failures.

1.  First ones were late to germinate, and then the natural fiber containers molded after I forgot them outside during heavy spring rains.

2.  Second ones germinated beautifully indoors, and then died within a week or transplanting.

3.  Third ones were sowed directly into the ground during a heat wave in May, and only started to sprout after I gave up and cultivated the plot and planted carrots over them.  The 2 seedlings that did grow were transplanted into Grandma Glenda's garden. 

This 4th set of seeds were sowed direct in mid-June.  Fingers crossed on these, as it takes about 80 days to reach maturity in perfect conditions.  Watermelon like sun, which we are lacking up here.  Any given spot only gets at max about 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, so I have found that plants take about 50% longer than the seed packet says to reach full maturity.   I'm hoping to get a few by the time October is here.

Salad greens:  We've already harvested the first round of spinach earlier this month...it was getting hot and it had started to bolt.  We're growing more spinach, mesclun, arugula, two types of leaf lettuce, and in the photo above, rapunzel. Mimi's new favorite....when I pull a couple leaves out, she practically yanks them out of my hand. 

Sage, sage, and more sage.  Last year I only grew 1 sage plant, and was able to dry enough to last us about 6 months, and we use sage in everything....braised chicken, stuffing, anything with pork.  This year, I grew 30 plants from seed, and I kept the best 18 for transplanting....one ended up in my mother in law's garden. 

Peas, sweet peas, and snow peas.  These are the sweet peas.  We're growing about 25 feet worth of them, all trellised.  We love stir fries with peas, but we're having a hard time harvesting them since we're eating them right off the vines. 

Four kinds of tomatoes:  Big Boy, Cherry, Roma, and these, Violet Jasper.  They look like tiny watermelons. 

Last picture for now.....and something I did not plant.  We have a dozen or so serviceberry trees on our property, and this one is right by one of our raspberry patches.  Serviceberries don't have much taste, and ours aren't very sweet, but Grandma Glenda says they make a good jam. 

That's all for now.  Part 2 (Mid-Season Lessons Learned) to come soon. 

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