Potatoes grow fast and huge, here. The frame can hardly contain them.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
One of the benefits of getting to one's vegetable garden first, before summer's work begins in earnest, is not having to think about the garden at all when you are knee deep in summer's work. It grows itself, mostly, with an intensity only paralleled by the solstice's long day.
One of the beauties of growing garlic is that it's harvest hardly coincides with any garden task other than weeding. By now, the first of the garlic is near completely exhumed (briefly hesitated to dredge up this word), and like any darkling, it mustn't be cast into the bright light. The first pulling is in the shade of the porch, but the full harvest is likely to be dispatched to the cellar. Here, in the midst of harvest, is Xian, a Turban strain, and one of the best for flavor and earliness. Turban's lodge, or fall over, as a way of telling unsuspecting gardeners that they need help -getting out of the ground.
At about the same time sizeable beaks are swirling above the Asiatic strains -here Asian Tempest and Japanese. These will be harvested next, not long after the Turban strains, and sometimes before.
Meanwhile the Porcelain strains have had their scapes (flowering stalk) cut, ready to be pickled or grilled or sauteed or...just don't leave them in the fridge too long before doing something with them. Behind the Porcelain are the Rocambole (shorter in the middle) and Purple Stripe.
The French Grey shallots have also been pulled. I find that the height of the crabgrass is a useful indicator for timing the shallot harvest. Left behind are the Artichoke and Silverskin strains, those hardy bulbs that we use through next winter and deep into the following spring.
Broccoli? Yes! And from seed no less. In spring? Yes! And no cabbage moths to boot. A quick, small-headed variety seed-started on May one and hardly two months later boom -broccoli. Go figure. I've got some of those very same starts in their deep cells holding back growth inside the greenhouse. They'll be put into the garlic beds as they clear.
In fact the deer are warming up for BBQ season by snacking on our Speckled Roman plum tomatoes. I grew these at the Beach Farm, and deer aside, expect them to do really well here.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
In distress? I hope not. We love our dragonflies, a larger relative of the damselfly. They fly around eating all kinds of insects, sometimes landing on our shoulder, and sun themselves in the morning on the side of the house. Since damselflies are diminutive compared to their larger cousins they can easily go unnoticed. Because they are particularly fond of the arching leaves of our garlic, I see them quite readily. Today I took a close look and found that they came in three colors.
There are roughly 5000 species in the insect order Odonata of which Damselflies and Dragonflies belong. A good way to tell the difference between the two, other than size is the way they rest. Dragonflies rest with their wings spread while damselflies rest with wings together and parallel to their body. Each has incredible visual acuity -80% of their brain is used for visual analysis (the giant eyes). They are also incredible fliers able to fly quickly forward, backward, and hover. Few insects that can make you feel like you live in a magical environment, but these do (butterflies being another), especially when they arrive by the hundreds.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
The vegetable garden, June 4. Peas growing in the same bed with broccoli and recently planted romaine lettuce. I had so many lettuce starts that I plunked them into nearly every bed. The next bed is green beans and a spot for upcoming chard seedlings. Third row has eggplant, peppers, and a basil patch. The following two rows are Red Pearl grape tomatoes (same as last year and magnificent), five Speckled Roman paste tomato plants, and four heirloom types that includes Striped German and Brandywine and two others I cannot recall. Our starts were from Shady Acres Herb Farm or started in our own greenhouse.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Our two woodland sloughs have been steadily filling with more and more water, often independent of rainfall. It is an unusual occurrence that we feel may be connected to the partial filling of the gravel pit adjacent to the west side of the property. Rex was concerned that this change would raise the water table, and his concern appears to have been legitimate. In the back slough, nearly every tree has died -there is one old, large ash surviving the inundation. All the shrubs that were green in prior years are grey. The trail that was always accessible along the western edge is now completely submerged and invisible so that a new path will need to be cut much closer to the property line.
We do not want the trees in the middle slough to die off from inundation or fall in a storm because of soggy soil. The increased sunlight will advance an army of buckthorn well positioned on the south slope and already making headway in the middle slough. If it does not begin to drain we are likely to dig a drainage, or rather enhance the drainage that already exists. Any action of this magnitude will have consequences, but we cannot consider our woodlands as anything but altered or unalterable -it is a place completely transformed.