Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday September 30

The winter squash have been curing for two weeks in the sun, long enough to weigh them and put them in storage.  It wasn't a great harvest but the bed was new and the soil needs improvement. 

Last weekend I removed one of the frames where sweet potatoes were growing and fished them out of the soil.  I really did not expect much of anything, this being the first year to grow them.  The frames were set on some very barren soil, mainly clay, and some topsoil and compost was put in them.  I had visions of the vines spreading all around the box but they never got very far.

It looks like some of the sweet potatoes could not penetrate the clay and twisted themselves into odd shapes.  Still there were some decent ones in the mix.  Considering the shabby treatment they got I'm pleased with the results.  Here they are on the drying screen with the winter squash.  They are Beauregard and Georgia Jet.

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans keep on producing.  Everything else is producing slowly but I'm getting something.  This is early in the week, with an ancho and a pasilla pepper in the mix:

And another picking of beans this morning.  Except for a few beans with pits the beans are larger than ever of late.

This week's harvest:  Beans 2 lb 2 oz, okra 6 oz, peppers 3 oz, tomato 10 oz, butternut squash 6 lb 9 oz, teksukabotu squash 6 lb 15 oz, total 16.8 lbs.  For the year 255 lbs. To see what other people are growing mosey on over to 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Progress on the Berry Bed

For years I have wanted to build a bed here.  It's the only remaining space in the yard that is level, more or less, and gets a full quota of sunshine.  But I kept putting it off every year.  When the tree stump came out this summer it seems like the scales fell from my eyes.  I extended the limestone terrace that was built four years ago a few more feet then made a right angle turn to end the terrace into the slope, encompassing where the stump used to be.   Now I could build a proper bed for berry plants.

I got some landscape stone from the big box lumberyard.  I knew that I was going to set stone on the terrace for one side of the bed.  But the stone that I bought was too large. Set on it's end, it was too tall to be stable, and set flat it was not tall enough.

Then I found some stone at the local hardware store that looked just right, and at half the price it looked even better.  This stone is a bit lower and wider than the other stone, and looks plenty stable on top of the terrace.  I laid out the ends of the bed, then stretched a string to mark the south side of the bed.   Those giant okra plants throw quite a shadow this time of year.

The sod was dug inside the string, and the large stones were set into the trench alongside the string.  I used a level to keep this stone at about the same height as the stone on the terrace.  That little digging tool that is on the grass is a very handy tool for removing or adding small amounts of dirt when setting in edging stones.

The new bed will be 15 feet long and about 2 feet wide.  I plan to put in red raspberries.  I like other berries, and blackberries will probably outproduce the raspberries, but I just like the red raspberries more, always have.  I'm also thinking about putting some asparagus at the far end of the bed.  This will be a really great addition to the garden.  When the bed is built I will put in a sheet mulch to prepare it for next spring. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday September 23

The cool weather of late has really slowed things down.  There's been plenty of sunny days but many of the warm weather plants just don't produce when the temperatures never get above 70 F.  At this point the cucumbers and eggplant have been removed.  The lone summer squash plant is healthy, but there's a half-developed squash on the plant that hasn't grown any in days.  At least the pole beans, okra and tomatoes are still making a bit of produce.

The peppers still look good, although they are not producing much either.  The jalapeno plant has set out a flush of peppers, and since they ripen quickly I'll have plenty of those to add to eggs in the morning.  I find that fall-ripened sweet peppers have better flavor than those of summer.

I picked this on Sunday.  It's actually a relief to get just enough beans to eat in "real time."  I've frozen a lot of beans and don't want any more.

Harvest for the week: beans 20 oz, okra 4 oz, tomatoes 25 oz, pepper 4 oz. Weekly total 3.3 pounds.  Yearly total 238 pounds.  To see what other people are growing and harvesting see  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Berry Bed

Finally, a good rain.  It started raining last night and the rain continued until late morning.  Only an inch, but it was a slow rain that soaked everything.  Maybe now I can stop pumping water out of the pond.

In 2008 I cut down two small trees to make way for the vegetable garden.  The ash tree was just north of the beds but its roots were sure to compete with the vegetable plants.  By this summer the stump had decomposed enough that I was able to push if over and remove it with its roots.  Last weekend I extended the terrace about four more feet then made a right angle turn at the end, sort of enclosing the space where the tree had been. 

With the tree out of the way I decided to build another bed in this space.  More to the point, a bed for berry bushes, probably red raspberries.  I'm not sure at this point just how the bed will look, how big it will be or exactly what I'll plant, I just know there's going to be a new bed.  This space is the only remaining space available in the garden area that gets a full quota of sunlight.  Below the terrace the ground slopes to the north toward the pond.  I laid out some stone on the terrace just to get some ideas.

The terrace was made from rejects from a nearby limestone quarry.  I guess the color is off but they look good to me, especially at a penny a pound.  The blocks on top are colored cement edgers from the big box lumberyard.  I've always had some concern that the nearby hop hornbeam tree (behind the picnic table) could send it's roots into a bed here, so I'll stop the bed some distance from the tree.  I think a raspberry bush should be able to hold it's own, considering that the tree is a slow-growing and rather small tree.

I can never plan something like this and execute the plan quickly.  I have to make a prototype of sorts, come back to it the next day, maybe change it a little more before I can finally settle on the design.  Given time, the right plan always seems to emerge.

The other tree that was cut down five years ago, a tulip poplar, had also rotted to the point where I could remove the stump.  This tree's root system left quite a mound and I've been trying to dig the rest of it out.  It's not going as easily into that good night as the ash tree.  One thing I've noticed is that the dead trees impoverish the soil around them, possibly because the rotting roots use up the nitrogen in the soil.  I'll be happy to see the rest of this removed so the ground can be leveled.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday September 16

Around southwest Indiana this time of year I see a lot of gardens that have mostly been abandoned.  The tomatoes have been picked, the squash is done and most of the plants are diseased and dying so why bother?  There’s more than one reason to invest some late season work in the garden.  There’s still a lot of production to be had from plants already established and it’s well worth doing to continue to get fresh vegetables. 

Some varieties of tomatoes will finish up early and some will continue bearing until frost.  The Supersonic tomatoes have usually been reliable bearers for me until frost, as many of the modern hybrids are.   The Silver Queen okra hit its stride about the end of August and has been producing heavily, although the recent cool spell slowed it down. 

The Genovese summer squash plant has produced only about a squash a week this year.  Most of the summer it lived in the shade of a very large Honey Bear acorn squash and was kept in check.  That was fine with me.  I like small doses of summer squash but do not want great quantities of it, and there are other vegetables I prefer.  Now that the acorn squash has been removed  I redirected the summer squash, just lifted it and pointed the stem back into the bed.  Now that it has the sunlight all to itself it has put on a growth spurt.  Since the other vegetables are winding down a few more summer squash each week will fill the gaps.

The butternut and Teksukabotu squash were harvested this week.  They were grown in a new bed in the barrens near the pond – ground that had been scraped clean of topsoil to build the pond.  The bed was a terrace, two 2x4’s set against stakes with some soil piled up on the high side.     

The plants grew well in early summer then stopped growing.  They produced a few squash but it looks like I’ll have to improve the soil if I want a better harvest next year.  The butternuts were small.   I’ll let them cure in the sun for a few more weeks.  Not much for eight plants but they are a bonus, coming from space that was not used previously.   I'm anxious to try the Teksukabotu squash.

The beans have really slowed down with the cool weather.  About one month ago I planted three rows of Tendergreen beans, the last patch of bush beans for the year.  Lately the Mexican bean beetles have been shredding the leaves, the first time I’ve seen the beetles this year.  I sprayed them with pyrethrins a few days ago.  The beetles came back and I had to make a decision.  I could let the beans grow in the hopes of getting a few more beans, knowing that I could not spray them once they set beans.  If they grow they will be incubators for next years bean beetles.   I decided to remove them.  The few beans that would come from that patch aren’t worth it when weighed against the potential insect problems next year.
I remove any plant that is finished and compost it.  There’s no point in letting a spent plant remain in the garden and serve as a host for they myriad fungal diseases that take over this time of year.  I used to pull up the plant, but now I cut them off at the soil line.  Let the roots decompose in the soil where they will add organic matter. 

Here’s the harvest for the week.  First beans, okra and squash.  I wanted some brussells sprouts and picked a few from the base of the plants.  

Later in the week some Scarlet Nantes carrots (the carrot on the left is a New Kuroda) were pulled.  The long red pepper is a bullhorn, the blocky lobed pepper is Cabernet, and the small heart-shaped pepper Lipstick.  They are all very good.  The ancho peppers had been sun-drying for two days.  

The Honey Bear acorn squash that were picked last week were entered into the tally.  Not a bad yield from one plant – nearly 10 pounds. 

For the week: okra 22 oz, summer squash 2 lb, brussells sprouts 12 oz, snap beans 13 oz, eggplant 5 oz, carrots 2 lb 4 oz, tomato 10 oz, peppers 1 lb, acorn squash 9 lb 10 oz.   Total for the week 18.8 pounds, for the year 235 lbs.