I finally snapped a picture of a cucumber forming on Friday. These small veggies were hard fought for, and late in the season. To get this photo I had to battle two foes. First the ever present and hungry cucumber beetles. Second, furry ground hogs which are the size of a small beagle, with an appetite that would put a hound to shame.
Now that I have the chance to see a cucumber I’m left wondering about those tiny spikes on the edges. I’ve tried to do a search online to find their meaning, with no luck.
Spikes or not, I was quite happy to find this larger cucumber latter in the weekend. It’s big enough for salad, and it was quite good, perhaps even more so because it was hard fought for.
I stopped in at my sister’s house this weekend, and as usual, I wound up taking a bunch of pictures. Sandy and Davie didn’t plant much last year since they were helping so much with my garden. After missing their backyard buffet last year, they made their garden a top priority this season, and it shows. In the center of their garden they have a row of old tires with lettuce, herbs and chard, with a plum tree at the end closest to their driveway. The four tires shown provide all of the salad they care to eat, and then some. These plants seem to grow very well due to the warming effect the black tires have on the soil.
Sandy’s herbs are doing great, with basil and parsley stealing the show above. There are chives growing very well on the left of the picture, but they are hidden by this monster of a basil plant. Also included in the tire: an artichoke plant. When I brought over the herb plants from the greenhouse, I added a artichoke plant in the mix, and somehow Sandy and I must have had a case of miscommunication. She thought the little plant was sage, and added it to the tire of herbs.
Sandy and Davie have used a unique system of trellis to hold their cucumber vines up off the ground. The trellis is constructed of two parts, with the bottom section forming a upside down V, and the top portion standing above the V.
The cucumber plants will then climb up the v portion, and the cucumbers themselves will hang down from the trellis as shown.
The celery is also doing great, nearly twice the size of the celery in my garden. Since these plants are from the same seed starting date, I can guarantee that this mulch or soil is to blame for the distinctive vertical differences.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Sandy’s house without posting a picture of one of her many animals. Here is her last chicken, the grand-paw of many a colorful chicken, and father of my rooster.
On August 19th, I worked the soil, and planted some Cabbage and Broccoli. The timing is something I’m a bit unsure of, and I wanted to make note of it for next years planting. It’s also been very dry lately, so I water these tiny plants every day or so after I finish up my other chores.
I got a little creative when I took the picture above. I wanted to capture the leaves from a different angle, as the two different types of seedlings have very similar starter leaves. Now that I got a good look at the picture, I can’t help but notice just how much this micro environment looks like a desert. After seeing the lack of moisture in the soil, I’m contemplating adding a layer of hay or stray to keep the water from evaporating away.
Finally, I thought it appropriate to show how my cucumbers planted at the beginning of August are doing. These plants are not cold tolerant, so I’m hoping to get some really late cucumbers, just before the first frost. The plants are looking pretty rough, but I remain hopeful, as the ones that are growing, are growing fast. Perhaps it’s time for some more manure…..
I’m trying a second planting of Cucumbers, as the plants that went in from seed this spring have stopped growing, and the vines are dying. I have way too many cucumbers at this point, but soon, they will either be pickled, eaten or they will wither away. In the past I’ve mainly tried to extend the season by starting early, but this year I am trying to build on my skills by pressing the boundaries of fall. I’m hoping the plants will grow cucumbers up until the fall frost takes them away.
Here is an Okra plant, complete with the potential for three vegetables. I have learned that Okra originated from Africa, and is grown in three major areas: South Asia, Central Africa, and to a lesser extent, Europe. I was a bit disappointed to find out that Okra cooks into a slimy texture, but I’m still eager to try it out. Here’s some more information for those interested.
The season is in full swing, and with it flows the bounty of all the work invested this spring and summer. The cucumbers are setting what may be their final pickles, as the vines are beginning to wither. They have worked very hard to preserve their seeds and genes for the future, so I’ll make it a point to select a few particularly good specimens, and save the seeds from them.
The tomatoes are starting to ripen, and you can find nearly ripe ones all through the valley in our window sills. This is an ideal location for nearly ripe tomatoes to fill in there color and taste. It’s also particularly handy when cooking. Simply find a tomato that looks good, and slice it up.
The Zucchini is still piling up well. I’ve been slicing it up and freezing it, hoping they will lift my spirits in the dull winter. We have also been shredding zucchini, to make winter cooking easier. I’m really amazed by the Zucchini plants, as when you pick them, the vine is damaged a bit, but they just keep producing like nothing happened.
The potato plants seem to be dying, or at least turning brown. I know the Late Blight is not to blame, as my tomato patch is still very green. I think the plants have simply ended their growth cycle for the season, as they are a cool weather crop, taking between 8-15 weeks to grow. This seems about right, as they were planted in early June. It’s simply crazy how this summer is slipping by.
There are also some yellow pumpkin looking squashes appearing in the late garden. I’m not sure what these things are, but I don’t remember planting them. There is another photo of them here. If you can ID this squash, please let me know what it is. They grow very well in the valley, and one has weighed in at 10 + pounds !
My nephew just got a new Iphone, I believe it’s the 3GS version, but I can’t be sure. This phone has an amazing camera, and I asked Nate to take some pictures for my blog with it. Above he got a very nice shot of some pepper leaves with the greenhouse out of focus, too cool if you ask me.
There’s my sister Kim. She came over for the morning to help pick the Zucchini which is growing like crazy. Everytime I come out of the garden, I either have an arm full of Cucumbers or Zucchini. In the past I had good yields, but nothing like this. I decided to plant more seeds to increase the amount of produce. Once again, all of the effort invested last winter spreading fertilizer has really paid off.
Finally, a shot of some cucumber leaves. There are four rows of plants in this spot, but walking between them has become nearly impossible. Next year I really need to space these plants out much more. The rows are about 20 feet long, and with 3 additional rows in another part of the garden, the cucumbers need to be picked daily. Not a bad thing, I love Pickles.
Bet your wondering why I have a fridge full of Cucumbers….. It all started last Thursday, when we were preparing our first market offering. I delivered the produce to my neighbors house as we had agreed. No one was home at the time, so I stacked the produce on the porch, and left a note on the door. In hind sight, I should have taken the day off. My neighbors had left for vacation earlier in the week, and didn’t think I would have anything ready yet, so they neglected to tell me. I even stopped by earlier in the week to confirm our plans, but they were not home then either. I really should have known better, but if there is any chance of miscommunication in the world, I will find it…..
It’s not all bad though, a few friends have relived me of some of the cucumbers and zucchini, and I’ve placed the rest in my fridge. I’ll save them for the next market, this Friday. This time I’m not dropping it off without face to face communication with the seller. I’ve also received permission to set up a small stand on a major road running near the garden. I plan to run the stand with the honor system, something I think will work in this small town.
So the outcome of my first market offering lead me to help some great friends, sell some produce to co-workers and I now have a place for a market stand. As the british say “Cheary-O”. That worked out well….