Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quick Tour July 26

At this point the name of the game is keep the plants alive.  Most of the work in the yard consists of watering.  So far I have watered about two days out of three, usually in the evening.  Watering in the evening gives more time for the water to percolate into the soil without any direct sun to pull water the wrong way.  The sustained watering campaign has paid off as most of the vegetable plants look healthy now.  Production is mostly on hold -  I’ve picked only a few peppers and no squash, beans or tomatoes for several weeks.

The only reliably producing green vegetable right now is the cucumber.   The Diva plant thrives in this heat.  I counted five cukes that will be ready to pick shortly.  Last year I lost all the cucurbits except the butternut to bacterial wilt.   After a year without them it’s good to have that fresh snap of a cold cucumber back, especially when I’m not getting much of anything else. 

Except for the lone Rosa Bianca eggplant, everything in the solanacae bed looks well.  There haven’t been any tomatoes since mid July after the extended hot spell (four or five consecutive days over 100 F) and an early bout with blossom end rot.  The Supersonic tomato is loaded with green tomatoes right now and the Black Krim has a few of its own.  The pepper plants are also doing well.  The Carmen and Ancho pepper plants are nearly as tall as the tomato plants, and the Carmen has lots of green peppers.  It looks like the Ancho pepper plant will produce a lot of peppers in a burst, which is fine since I’ll dry most of them.  It looks like things are on track for some salsa in August. 

The parsnip and okra are doing well.  I know okra is a true hot weather plant, but the parsnip (Lancer) doesn’t mind the heat a bit.  When the okra really starts producing I plan to pickle some of it.  The potato bed in the background has one cage of Red Pontiacs remaining.  I just dug up the blue potatoes a few days ago.  It will get a planting of beans.  Beans are the one vegetable I can eat anytime, and they are good frozen.   

The small patch of beans at the end of the bed has made just a few beans.  I noticed a cottontail around it a few days ago and it’s made some trips back since then.  It hasn’t eaten any beans closer to the house.  I’ll have to put the cages back over those beds tonight. 

The squash have taken a beating since they wilted in the last heat wave.  I pulled out the Honey Bear Acorn and Cocozelle plants.  Another Cocozelle was seeded about two weeks ago and it is growing fast.  The Butternut has partially recovered and if we can just avoid any more one hundred degree weather like yesterday it may snap out of it.  It’s setting new vines and has set a number of butternuts.

The tulip poplars are under a lot of stress.  Most of them leafed out too early in the warm spring then lost all their foliage to a hard freeze.  Then the tulip scale set in and sucked away more energy (and made a mess in the process).  Add to that the heat and drought and many of them are not looking well.  I consider tulip poplar almost a weed tree anyway so I won’t get too upset if I lose this one inside the driveway.  

I’ve been watering the brownest patches of lawn just to save it.  If the turf dies completely then weeds will take over.  So far the grass still has a few blades of green in it so it should recover with some rain.  It got me thinking about how I maintain the lawn.  Right now I close mow about 12,000 sq feet of lawn regularly and high mow another 8,000 sq feet with the brush cutter about four times a year.  I asked myself why I am cutting (or was cutting since the grass hasn’t been cut since early June) all that expanse of lawn when it’s not used for anything. 

I decided that the next time I mow, and who knows when that will be, I will make a diagonal cut across the large rectangle of lawn in the picture and mow inside the cut.  In other words the triangle close to the woods will then be high cut and the triangle close to the house will be close cut.  That should transfer several thousand sq feet to the high cut category, saving me time and fuel.  You might notice that the high cut grass is in much better shape than the lawn.
The expanded high cut area will have the potential to be used for animals.  Right now I’m looking into raising pastured rabbits in this area. 


Noel said...

Thank you for the update; it's nice to see others' gardens making it through the heat wave with alacrity!

kitsapFG said...

You are doing very well at keeping everything alive and growing in your drought conditions. I think your decision to put more of the grass area into the high cut category makes alot of sense - especially since you are also considering raising pastured rabbits!

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