Tuesday, September 30, 2014

About that garden

I haven't posted much about the garden this summer, except for those two mutant crook necked squash : ) But that doesn't mean I haven't been gardening! In July, I added two new 16' x 3' beds north of the log cabin (Cedar) and filled them with our own compost. I transplanted Romaine lettuce into half of one of the beds, put green beans in the other half. They grew like crazy! The Romaine was wonderful and the beans renewed my hopes of a decent bean harvest this year. But it was too late for that; it turned cold 2 weeks ago, just as they were almost ripe enough to pick and the slugs moved in...we got enough for a few meals. Next year!

In the other bed I put short season carrots (Mokum), shell peas, and spinach. I haven't been able to get spinach to grow here at all. It won't germinate, and if it does, it stays small and stunted. Not this time! The seed was 3 years old, so I only got about 50% germination, but that was an improvement over my other plantings. But it grew like crazy; we've been cutting off it for about a month now—I actually need to cut again today. It's slowing down, but that compost made the difference.

You've seen my mutant squash, so you know I've been eating that. Last year I planted three plants each of patty pan, yellow crookneck, and kabocha (winter) squash. I got 2 patty pan squash and one very small kabocha. Not a very promising start! So, this year I tried again. Same number of plants, different location. And a helpful scooping of rabbit manure. I've been eating patty pan and crookneck every day since the beginning of August. I've given away at least 2 dozen and if it doesn't freeze, I've got enough maturing to last me until the end of October! Next year I'm only planting 2 each of the summer squash...

The kabocha are doing OK, but the slugs seem to like them when they are small, so I've only got about 5-6 total. But they are huge. People think I'm growing pumpkins when they see them. The plants are starting to die back because of squash wilt (or whatever it's called), so I won't get anymore than that. No problem, it's a start.

Last winter we were at a gathering where someone served a winter squash dish that Debbie just loved. She asked them what kind of squash it was; they said it was delicata. According to them, it was the only winter squash that did really well here. So I planted some. And it's doing great. Again, the slugs like them when they are small, so the harvest will be smaller than it might have been, but it's a start. Next year...

The really big success story though is the runner beans. We grew them last year on the west wall outside the garden, along the lane. All the guests loved the beautiful blossoms and we got enough beans to dry some for food and seed. (By the way, they are terrible as dried beans; they taste like mud!) So, I planted them again this year with my own seed. They did really well, taking over the wall even more than last year (of course, I added rabbit poop, so that helps). And the hummingbirds discovered them about halfway through the summer.

What a difference that made. Last year, they were loaded with blossoms—6-8 per spur—but we would only get one bean per spur. It started out that way this year, too. But once the hummingbirds discovered them, I've been getting 6-8 beans per spur! I pick them as immature green beans; they have a bit of a wild flavor to them, but we like it. So I've been freezing them like crazy. It turned cold yesterday, so they will slow down, but I still will probably pick again on Wednesday and freeze a gallon bag full. That's from about a dozen plants, so you get an idea of how well they are doing. I've let a few bean pods get large for seed saving, so I should be able to plant even more next year.

Can't beat that, can you? Beautiful red flowers on the gray fence, brightening it up, feeding the hummingbirds all summer. And all winter, feeding us with green beans. Of course, I've been snitching them all summer long, too. I love eating them raw, right off the plant. One bean is almost a meal by itself when they are mature.

Well, that's enough for today. I'll try to post some more later this week, but I've got cabins to clean...

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