I picked a watermelon months ago when expecting guests, and left it sit on my kitchen counter. The guests came and went, and I forgot about the melon till the other day. I noticed it sitting there very much out of place, and decided it sat long enough.
Many of the watermelons that grew this year were filled with water, and made a huge mess when they were cut open, so it was decided that the best place to cut it open would be outside. I had my helper hold the garden goodie for a photo before I opened it up.
When the fruit was exposed it looked good, smelled right, and so I had a taste. It wasn’t bad, and was a sure treat in the middle of December. It’s funny to think that this melon lasted for months on my kitchen counter, but only hours once it was cut open. The taste was great and we all had a big chunk. I even saved Babe (the pig) a little piece.
I made it a point to save all of the seeds from this melon. I’ll plant them again next year, and save the seeds from the melons that last the longest. If I do this year after year, it will encourage the melons that last the longest to survive, somewhat like natural selection. In time I hope to name these long lasting melons: “Winter Melon”
I’ll admit it, Saturday, I slept in, and really didn’t do much of anything other then take pictures for my sister. So when I awoke Sunday, I was rearing to go, and not in the mood to sit around. I got up and out early enough to catch the morning sun, finishing up with it’s daily burn off of the nights fog. You can still see some of the once all-encompassing cloud by the foot of the hills.
In the afternoon Sandy and Davie came over, and we finished harvesting the onions, and learned it’s a bit late in the season for them. Some of the Onion bulbs had begun to rot. Next year I’ll make it a point to finish picking them by the beginning or middle of August.
The string beans have collapsed half of the stick constructed trellis I made for them, and the beans shown are only about a third of the crop. Also shown are Okra, my least favorite garden food. The plants grew very well, and produced a healthy offering of seed pods.
The little Gardener’s Watermelons are just starting to ripen up. My sister Sandy discovered a great rule of thumb to tell when a melon is ripe: It’s ripe when the little worms and bugs just start to nibble a bit at the outer shell. Once they know it’s ripe, we should know it’s ripe. I also made it a point to show the 4 year old gardener that started these plants what he accomplished. When I asked him if he would do it again next year he said “No”, I replied “Why not ?”, to which he said “It takes tooooo long”. I guess the lack of instant gratification is a symbol of ones age.
At the end of the day, I decided to plant the Garlic a few weeks early. Garlic should be started early enough to give the plants time to build a basic set of roots before freezing temps set in. I’m hoping the early planting helps them grow nice big cloves. I’ve added several things to this soil to help out the plants, including bio-char and peat moss.
My father lived through the Great Depression, and often spoke about the daily struggle to find something to eat. At the age of seven his life turned from the age of prosperity which consumed the Roaring 20’s into one of despair. His father had a great job before the depression, and a nefarious one after. In the days when the bills demanded to be paid, his land lord forced him to sample home brewed beverages, figuring if my grandfather lived, it was well enough for sale. During the dark days of prohibition, this is how the rent was paid.
I tell this whole back story to help you understand a constant activity which my father employed, and one which I’ve begun to emulate. Dad constantly stocked up food, and had a years supply on hand at all times. When bad times hit, we always had enough, and when good times flowed, we were constantly refreshing the cabinets and closets. In the past people had their own pile of food at home, something I haven’t seen in a while. I personally did not stock food before this recession, but it’s something I have really started to focus on. I have lot’s of food streaming in from the garden, and cannot possibly eat it as quickly as it grows, so I’ve been stocking up what I can.
The cantaloupe we’ve harvested have been cut, bagged and are ready to be frozen. I’ve chosen to freeze them without syrup this time, but most recipes online call for the mixture. I’m not so worried about the economy while stocking up. I just can’t wait to see how good this food tastes on a freezing cold day in February, as I’m sure I will smile while eating it.
Today is my late day at work, so this morning, I met up with Kim to pick whatever was ready for harvest. When we got to the Melon Patch, we noticed many of the plants are turning brown, and decided it was time to try one of the Melons. Since we knew they would not grow any more, there was nothing to loose. I was quite surprised when we cut open a cantaloupe, and found a beautiful golden fruit inside. The taste was absolutely wonderful, and it made my Friday morning that much better.
In total, we gathered about four shopping bags full of cantaloupe and muskmelon. Soon more help arrived, including Sandy, Davie, Maurice, Jess, Jen, and The Little Gardener. That’s when I got the bad news. Jen asked me “Is this blight”, while holding a browned tomato. I looked, panicked, and ran out to the tomato patch. Late blight has found it’s way to dozens of my tropical plants. Everyone agreed that it would be best to pick the tomatoes green, and let them ripen indoors. Now it’s time for work, and I’m seriously contemplating calling in sick, so I can gather as many as possible before they are all mush. It’s not all bad thought. We have hundreds of green tomatoes, and I’m going to use this years crop to investigate methods to battle the blight. It seems like this will be a yearly affliction, so I’m going to learn all I can. Learning how to battle this blight might just be the silver lining to this ominous cloud.
I’m suprised again ! This watermelon has been hiding out of sight, and I just noticed it last evening. I placed the pepsi bottle next to it to show just how big this melon has grown. There are a few more like it, but slightly smaller. I talked to the little gardener that started these amazing plants. He tells me they are more of a round watermelon then the traditional elongated melons. I still have a hard time believing my four year old nephew started all of these, with very little help. It was his idea, his timing, and his determination that made this melon a reality. I’ve simply watered them from time to time, that’s the only contribution I’ve made !
The melons (Cantaloupe and Muskmel0n) continue to multiply, but each melon seems almost stalled in growth. Maybe I’m looking at them too often to notice the change in size. I’m temped to pluck one of these, and see if they are ripe enought to eat yet.
Here’s the take from the second area of zucchini grown from seed. I have two locations in the garden where I’ve grown these from seed. The produce above came from the second planting of two rows. Tonight, I’ll take my duffle bag through four more rows looking for more of these beauties. I’d love to post of picture of me trudging through the tall leaves carrying a duffle bag full of produce. If I had a ski mask on, the photo would convey the odd feeling I get while picking these versatile food sources.
Finally, I wanted to show off the power of “Side-Dressing”. Above are some winter squashes just after adding a very small amount of Rabbit Manure. The plants were very small for the time of the year, and the heat was overbearing, so I had been watering them daily. The photo above was taken July 7. You can see just how dry the soil is in the very top of the photo. It almost looks like a sand trap, or desert.
Here is the same area on July 20. In 13 days the plants have mushroomed in size. This was due to daily water, lots of composted goat manure added as a side dressing, and plenty of hot sunny days. The squashes include Baby Blue Hubbard, Table Ace, Waltham Butternut, Spaghetti Squash, and a light tan colored winter squash that I saved seeds from last year. I’ve also learned these rows are too close as well. I think the plants will be alright, and produce a heavy crop, but it might be quite hard to harvest them without damaging the vines.
I haven’t been so excited to see rain clouds move in since I was a little kid. It’s been a very dry year in NW PA, and patches of my yard have lost all color. To keep everything growing well in the garden, I’ve been lugging around the hose, and a small lawn sprinkler. It’s not much work, but it requires constant attention. From time to time the sprinkler will freeze in one place, and require a bit of finagling to get it moving again. I’ve tried all manner of watering devices, and they all seem to fall short. My current setup includes several buckets strategically placed throughout the garden. I place the sprinkler on the bucket to add height, and allow the water to fly over the plants, rather then spraying into them.
I may soon invest in some heavy duty sprinklers, that come on a telescoping tripod. These must surely work better then the current system.
After the rain, the garden took on a beautiful glow, almost in appreciation to Mother Natures kindness. In the front are melons, and cucumbers, with a volunteer Mexican Husk Tomatillo marked with a stake. In the background corn grows. You may notice the ground covered in grasses. It’s nearly that point in the growing season when it becomes impossible to remove weeds. I’ve been pulling up the invasive ones, such as pig weed, but other then that, the garden plants will soon over take everything else.
Here is the section of the garden where most of the root crops are planted. These include carrots, beets, turnips, and potatoes. They too seem to glow in appreciation of the rain. In the background are more cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and lots of tomatoes. If your wondering just how many tomato plants are shown, I planted 361, and 4 have been removed due to an unknown ailment. There are also well over 100 pepper plants near the end of the garden, but they aren’t shown. You may ask “Why did you plant so much ?”, and my simple answer would be “Why not ?”.
This is not how I envisioned the watermelon growing. I figured one or two vines would take over, and choke out the other plants. I was mistaken, and I now know that these expansive plants need lots of room. Next year, I’ll give them eight feet of clearance between rows. I’m quite concerned that they will overtake my Endive, Carrots, and Swiss Chard . I’ve grown accustomed to the flavorful salads Endive and Chard are delivering, so I may need to put up a fence to keep back the invading vines.
They have grown quite a bit since last month, with their size at that time shown above. I never imagined they would grow so fast, and take up so much room, but it seems quite silly in hind sight.There isn’t even enought room for each vine to have one melon. I guess in my defence, I wasn’t expecting much growth from them at all. I tried to grow melons in this area last year with terrible results. I will need to keep this in mind for future growth. Once you fertilize the ground with good black bio-mass, it will make plants Pop !
The Boston Pickling Cucumbers have also exceeded my expectations. The picture above speaks volumes about the number of cucumbers I should expect, and this is just one vine. There are at least 6 or 7 rows of cucumbers altogether, so it should be a great year for pickles.
Pickles are something we really can’t have enough of in our valley. Last year I had prolific yields of cucumbers, as soon as cucumbers grew, they were made into pickles and as soon as the pickles were made, they were eaten…