Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall is in the air

Howden Pumpkin

As I stepped out into my garden this morning, the feeling of Fall was in the air and as I started to peek around, I noticed that my garden was feeling it too. The earliest of our pumpkins are starting to turn that tell tale orange of Fall. 

Sugar pumpkin

Our final dose of strawberries are standing proud and ripening and the Orangetti spaghetti squash vines are dying down while the squash themselves are showing off a beautiful orangey-yellow hue.

Seascape Strawberries

Orangetti Spaghetti Squash

Patty pan

Who knew the vegetable garden would bring such wonderful color this time of year? Our zucchini, yellow squash and tomato plants took a serious beating a couple of weeks ago. We had 4 days of fog followed by 2 incredibly hot days. I think they went into shock. They were well watered, but the foliage just about disappeared. As, I walked around today, I saw that some of the plants were giving it another go. What a treat!
Cherry tomatoes

Black Beauty Zucchini

Crookneck Yellow Squash

Raising leaves here and there brought several wonderful surprises. Our acorn squash plants have about 7 little squash now. I am really keeping my fingers crossed for these since they are a family favorite. In addition, our Butternut squash plants are producing a few squash as well, but they haven't been doing the best this year so I am afraid that mentioning them will kill them off somehow. As a result, mum's the word. Our cucumber plants are happy and producing and this family cannot get enough of them so we are excited to see this crop flourish. Our little peppers are trying their best without the heat, but we are happy to get what we can.

Bush Acorn Squash



There is a little bit of comedy in the garden. Just this week, a cantaloupe popped up. Poor little thing probably doesn't stand a chance, but it was worth a try!!


Finally, the deer. At least I am assuming they are deer. The have moved on to some of my other plants. They did not heed my polite warning. Now they will force me to get creative...mwah ah ah ah!
Here are a few signs of their presence:

Chomped off strawberry leaves

Stripped raspberry plants

In August, the garden is providing more than food.  Our little space is giving the gift of change and color, new life and hope of a second chance, comic relief and a little grief to make the gifts richer and appreciated a little bit more. And now the sun shines.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Breathe in love, breathe out fear

As I was watering my garden today, I was counting my spaghetti squash: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8ish and hoping for more. Then I looked at my zucchini plants which have amazing little clusters of new growth, HURRAY! Over to the acorn squash and we have the first signs of an actual squash there...fingers crossed.

And then...I turned to look at my strawberry plants and the tops were almost all gone! What was previously a dense bed of leaves two days ago, now had only 3 or 4 leaves left and everything else had been snipped right off. What immediately came to mind were deer, which we DO have on the island, but we have NEVER seen in our yard. The crazy thing is that they only chomped on the Tri-stars, they completely ignored the Seascapes (which have strawberries on them!). They really had to do some fancy footwork to get back to the area where this bed is and now I am TERRIFIED for the rest of the garden!! This is my plea: Attention all deer, please stay out of my garden. We have had a wonderful balance living together in harmony and I promise to leave the berries across the street just for you. But, please, I am begging, PLEASE stay out of my garden. Thank you for considering this.

To add to this little nightmare, my son walked up to me and said, "Mommy I was digging and there is some wacky, icky stuff." Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath.  So I waddled (that is what I do) around the corner and saw all of the dirt out of my newly seeded flower bed. "I wanted to get the weeds out for you", said my lil' gardener. Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath. "Thank you for wanting to help lil' man. Can you please help mommy put all of the dirt back into the flower bed?" Bygones.

Breathe in love, breathe out fear. Grab a ripe cherry tomato, pop it in your mouth and call it a day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Game on!!

Yesterday, after having a minor meltdown about the state of the garden and finding footprints, I decided to go take a serious inventory.

Weird things are afoot and I need to start doing a little bit of research. The older leaves of my zucchini and spaghetti squash are kaput; however, they do have quite a few new leaves coming up. This gives me a little bit of hope. 4 of my baby spaghetti squash were punchy and soft. I cut them off and chucked them into the "compost pile". The roller coaster of emotion is wreaking havoc on me. I did harvest 4 healthy-sized zucchinis, 2 yellow zukes and 1 crookneck and noticed that more were following, so that crop isn't completely out of commission, yet. The spaghetti squash look like forgotten Hollywood starlets, tapped out and wilting. Join me up the roller coaster track. The pumpkins are doing very well and my crazy hybrid spaghetti squash is thriving.  We haven't tasted it yet, that will come after the fair.

There is a lot going on in this picture. 

1) Do you see the tomato plant that is at the bottom left of the screen? Yes, that is all ONE tomato plant and you are only seeing half of it. Next year our tomato plants are going in the ground. They will not be in containers. 

2) Do you see the bamboo scattered all over the top half of the bed? These are there to keep the raccoons off a la "Whale Wars". They won't jump up into protruding sticks will they? I mean they might, but then the noise will be so crazy that it will wake me up (I am a very light sleeper and currently up most nights thanks to the bambino in my belly) and I can run out there with my flashlight and yell at them like a crazy lady. I know the neighbors are looking forward to this display; my husband will sleep through the entire thing. You probably see the pinwheels as well?!? Leftover toys and party favors that kept the birds away from my sprouting carrots! 

3) Along the bottom and the bottom right, you can see my sad squash plants. I tested the soil and the moisture level is ok. What do these poor things need?

4) What you can't see in this pic is that there are hundreds of little seedlings under all of that bamboo!! Turnips, parsnips, spinach, pole beans, lettuce and carrots. My inside window seat is filled with 10 broccoli starts and 10 cabbage starts that are flourishing. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

So "Game On"! This is all a learning experience and we are already planning for next spring. Raccoons don't scare me and I will keep on planting even when I don't get the yield I dreamed of in the spring. The fresh summer squash, peas, lettuce and tomatoes make it all worth the time and energy. As Lewis Grizzard said, "It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." Oh yes, and wish me "good luck", I entered some garden photos at the SJI County Fair. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Heat and pests

The garden has been flourishing and we have been appreciating the bounty of summer squash, chard, lettuce and cherry tomatoes for a couple of weeks now. However, the heat of summer finally came and my garden completed wilted. There was water! There were nutrients! Our summer squash is losing it's zest for proliferation. What is a girl to do when she was just hoping that she would have an endless supply of zucchini?? There has only been one batch of zucchini bread made and the rest has been grilled and eaten!

Also, we have had some visitors in our garden as you can see on the left side. A cat or raccoon is my guess, which is not good. I will have to cover it VERY soon to keep these guys out. Every other space is too prickly for them thanks to the squash. Ok, just looking at this picture is making my skin crawl.  I have to go investigate and make sure they are not using my garden as a LITTER BOX!!! Ugggggh!!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Planting again...

Sunday was a busy day in our garden! We opened up our Purple Viking potato box and filled our son's shopping cart with about 20 little potatoes. This is more than we thought we would get from this box since the vegetation took a serious beating from bugs and then heat. Cole was happy about each and every one and celebrated by gently placing them in his cart.

We have also crossed over from "enough zucchini to grill some every 2-3 days" to "Holy #$# we have zucchini!".  The first sign of this is that I made zucchini bread today and we are having some grilled tonight.

After we added some complete fertilizer to the open beds and removed the old trellises, I planted some more snap peas with "teepees" in place, bush beans, parsnips, turnips, spinach, carrots and lettuce.  We also have 5 each of the following starting: purple sprouting broccoli, fiesta broccoli, chinese cabbage and tundra cabbage. BUSY BUSY for a Sunday!

In addition, I also updated my gardening journal. I hate to say it but it has been a LONG time since I made an entry. So, I sat in the garden for about half an hour and looked from bed to bed to see what had changed since I had last updated. Quite a bit to say the least. The last time I had written anything was June 1! Yikes!

And now for the big garden mystery...  

We have huge spaghetti squash that are VERY green. Hmmmm. I have been trying to figure out if we bought a plant where the seeds were a cross. This seems most likely. Do you have any ideas?