September came and went without a single update here. We have nearly a dozen pumpkins sitting in the basement waiting for halloween. I thought this one was all the way orange — the bottom half was hidden in a thick jungle of leaves.
We have been using basil throughout the summer, but it was finally time to pick it all. Well, half of it. The other half ended up being lemon basil which isn’t what I wanted for pesto.
I picked all the leaves off and blended them with a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of salt. It’s delicious! We didn’t add the garlic or pine nuts yet, since it was headed for the freezer and the nuts supposedly don’t freeze well.
For a while we’d pick about this many tomatoes twice a week. We only got one ear of corn.
The garden is now all but done. There are some big fat mortgage lifter tomatoes still green on the vine but it’s anyone’s guess if they’ll ripen before the frost gets them.
Mostly I’ve just been studying and working. I did take two days last week and went duck hunting for the first time ever. I didn’t get any ducks, but I had a nice time. I went up to the Carlos Avery wetlands management area near Wyoming, MN. Duck season re-opens next week, hopefully I’ll get a chance to go out again and actually get something.
Both the big garden in the back of the yard, and this small garden are all out of sorts. I have taken on a couple of extra consulting jobs to save a little extra money before school starts, and the garden got the short end of the stick.
This morning I started working on catching up. Here’s the small garden as of this morning. The grass in the front-right is where Sophie threw a handfull of grass seed into the carrot plot. The bare spot front-left is where the onions were supposed to be growing.
We have been eating carrots for the last two weeks and they don’t seem to be growing any more, so I decided to pick them all, clean out the weeds, and plant a new crop of spinach.
Here’s the carrots, we also found a few tiny onions that were struggling to live.
Our initial crop of spinach went to seed really quickly, probably because of how hot it was earlier in the summer. We only got a couple of small salads out of it. I cut some of the dried seed stalks and put them in the basement near the dehumidifier where it would be relatively cool and relatively dry.
Today when I went to use them they were nice and crispy. It was and simple task to rub them off the stalks into a bowl.
I rubbed them off into a bowl, winnowed them a little bit so that it was mostly seeds, then planted them. I also planted a new crop of lettuce and swiss chard (someone gave me the seeds) along the path to the spigot.
The little garden looks pretty respectable again.
Despite the lack of attention, the garden has been doing pretty well. We have been eating as many beets as our kids can stand — about once a week. Here’s the final harvest. There’s no more in the big garden now.
We have had a couple small bowls of green beans (and purple beans), but today was the first big harvest.
We have been picking the cherry tomatoes every 3 or 4 days for the last two weeks and end up with a bowl about this full each time.
The two big sunflower in our garden were volunteers, and they were doing great at first — they grew to about 8 feet tall. The minute the seeds got ripe enough for birds to eat, the birds attacked them, and now they look like this.
I’ve still got a little bit of extra contract work to finish up next week, so I won’t even pretend that I’ll have lots of garden news. After those two gigs are done, I should have a short reprieve before school starts in September.
As part of getting back on top of my gardening, I took a tour of the garden tonight and looked closely at how everything is doing. Despite my neglect, some things are doing pretty well. Here’s the rundown.
Apples: The bagged apples that didn’t fall of are doing well. Looking nice and bug-free and growing well.
Basil: The basil didn’t sprout after planting the first time, but the second round of planting has sprouted strong
Beans: The pole beans I originally planted are doing great, and the bush beans planted recently have sprouted too
Squash: I hadn’t intended to plant any squash this year, but ended up with several volunteers from the compost. They appear to be doing well, and have no signs of vine borers yet.
Beets: I’m nearly positive that the beets have grown since we thinned them. They seem to be happy about the new space
Blackberries: We don’t have a lot of blackberry blossoms, but the bushes have grown a lot this year and the blossoms that did appear have large green berries in them.
Carrots: The carrots are doing OK since being thinned.
Horseradish: The horseradish is thriving. I look forward to making homemade horseradish sauce next year.
Marigolds: Planting marigolds instead of strawberries was a good choice for the driveway strip was a good choice. They’re hearty and don’t mind little feet and bikes running over them
Onions: Adequate growth
Peas: We’ve been eating peas as fast as we can. The new peas we planted after weeding have sprouted.
Radishes: The seeds for these radishes came from an emergency seed pack from 1996. They were packed in an airtight #10 can. Someone gave them to us when they cleaned out their basement.
Raspberries: It looks like this will be a banner year for the raspberries. Hooray!
Tomatoes: The tomatoes seem happy to be out of their starting cups and into the dirt.
Peppers: (No picture) Caroline and I planted the peppers outside last night.
Wildflowers: Many of them are blossoming. The ones that haven’t blossomed might be weeds. I can’t tell.
The Bad Stuff
Every year of gardening has taught me about one more type of bug or pest that will undo my hard work. Here’s what’s been a problem so far this year.
Black Rot on Our Grapes
Our grapes are looking sick. About 1/3 of the bunches look like this.
Turns out that it’s Grape Black Rot (Guignardia bidwelii). The fruit rots and turns into hard shriveled black things called mummies. According to this PDF from OSU if I trim the bad bunches from the vine, that will reduce the spread. The UMN says “Many organic growers utilize fixed copper or sulfur products to control black rot. Chemical methods include ferbam, mancozeb, captan, or nova.” with notes that the organic methods are much less effective.
I’ll head to Bachman’s tomorrow and see what they have and recommend.
The spinach isn’t as good as it was last year. There are lots of yellow leaves, and it has gone to seed already. The leaves still taste good, but there aren’t nearly as many as there were last year.
Strawberries Under Attack
Something has been eating our strawberry plants. Google suggests that it might be slugs or snails. I’ll probably pick up some slug/snail killer when I go to Bachman’s tomorrow.
And with that, I think I’m back on top of what’s going on in my garden. There’s lots to do (more weeding, for instance), but at least I know what’s going on, and knowing is half the battle.