Garden Party: Pruning Squash

Sunday, I picked some veggies:

Squash and yellow are the themes of the day.

Squash and yellow are the themes of the day.

I did not mean to pick the pumpkin because I don’t know what to do with it. I was merely giving it a little turn to keep it from getting a flatter flat side. I heard a sharp snap and knew it was finished. So there it is, my first vine-ripened pumpkin of the season. Continue reading

Garden Party: Timing

This summer’s garden has proven a challenge in timing. The lettuce came up too quickly, the tomatoes took too long, I have no idea whether the beets will ever mature. The peas looked like they were doing well, but have started to dry out ever since I increased the watering time. Maybe they are drowning again? The bell peppers seem to be on target, and the lemon cucumbers continue to thrive. Continue reading

Garden Party: Pumpkins & Co

I am not sure I really planned to grow pumpkins this year. When I tossed the Halloween decorations into the back field last fall, it did cross my mind that I might get pumpkin plants this year. So I guess that is an indication of intent. That I got two very different types of plants, only one of which is producing pumpkins, is not what I expected but now I am glad that the zucchini impostors are making pumpkins because the plain pumpkins are not doing well at all.
Continue reading

Garden Party: Bells and Boys of Summer

The little bell pepper bed, looking so much more tidy than last year, when is housed cantaloupe.

The little bell pepper bed, looking so much more tidy than last year, when it housed cantaloupe.

The bell peppers are finally making real progress. I remember that they seemed to take forever last year, so I should not be surprised by how long they are taking now. On top of that, we have had some very odd weather recently. It has even set back the tomatoes. The Early Girl, after a fine start, has slowed down and only has a few oblong little fruits hanging now. Continue reading

Garden Party 2015: By Memory

This year, I have learned a couple of things, re-learned others and will likely have more to figure out. I have had good luck with seeds, in that they tend to be what the label says they will be. When it comes to plants, whether purchased at a store or plucked from a field, I should be more wary. In the case of the bought cucumbers, labels were swapped but in the end we have what we thought we bought: two burpless cucumbers and two lemon cucumbers.  I failed to segregate them due to the label problem, but it does not seem to matter.

Similarly, the zucchini and undercover pumpkins are planted right next to each other, thick as thieves, but they are still producing what they were meant to produce. Maybe the pumpkins will stay green but beyond that, I no longer believe that they are some freak hybrids. Apparently cross-pollination is not the problem I thought it would be.

The water issue is a little like an eating problem: too much always looks like enough to me. I need to work on moderation, but that is a lesson I may keep learning again and again. I only have to look at the fat horses to know that my eating habits spill over onto all I care for.

I started last year’s garden because I wanted to clean the place up for a party we were having. It was not the most efficient way to clean up, but once I started pulling weeds, the rest just followed. I had tended flowers for several years, but that was my first vegetable garden. I always enjoyed gardening, but it was only when I started growing vegetables that I began to recognize this as a family tradition. Continue reading

Garden Party: In my Absence

I had to leave the garden for five days and returned to find some interesting developments. Most obvious, there was some damage, probably done by an injured turkey that was trapped in the backyard:


Squashed squash plants.

The zucchini bed also took a beating but it bounced back nicely with a heavy watering. I am hoping that the yellow squash will survive. The damage to the plants did not seem to hurt squash production. Evidently, five days is much too long to leave squash unpicked, even if it is brutalized by large birds: Continue reading

Garden Party: Body Swap?

Last week I noticed that my lemon cucumbers were not turning out to be lemon cucumbers, at least in the case of one plant. This week, I noticed that some of my squash are also behaving strangely. The problem seems to be confined to one corner of the garden:

A: zucchini (?) plants. B: Cucumber labelled lemon but producing long green cucumbers. C: Runt lemon cucumber from two for one sale. D: Yellow scalloped squash.

A: zucchini (?) plants. B: Cucumber labelled lemon but producing long green cucumbers. C: Runt lemon cucumber from two for one sale, producing nothing yet. D: Yellow scalloped squash.

The zucchini’s behavior is the most bizarre. These are what I expect to find inside a zucchini plant: Continue reading

Garden Party: Still Water

Apple tree front, scrub oak back.

Apple tree front, scrub oak back.

Oddly, all that grief with the drip system made me want to try something more ambitious: a hose-less drip system. One, I would like to know exactly how much water I am giving to the peppers, and two, I would rather not have a hose running across the driveway to be abused by passing car tires. The plan would make use of a sad little apple tree that has mysteriously survived despite being overwhelmed by a sun-greedy scrub oak. I would hang a container of water on the tree and have gravity propel the water through cleverly arranged hoses to its proper destination.

The plan never came to fruition. The tree, upon closer inspection, seemed unlikely to be able to hold up more than a couple soda cans full of water. Then I realized that there is a perfectly good faucet in a stall at the back of the barn that would work for a drip system without the hose being run over every day. I went out and got a new drip timer, a fancy one with multiple settings and a digital readout. Then I realized I would have to work with the big hoses to set up a new system. I have not done that before. Valves and joints and things like that seemed daunting. Continue reading