Garden Going Strong

The garden has a lot growing in it right now.

The garden has a lot growing in it right now.

The garden has really started to pick up recently.  All the plants are starting to fill out nicely and in some areas are so dense that weeding is no longer needed.  This is especially true under the radishes and the pinto beans.  I’ve made better use of the garden space this year than I did last, but I still think I could easily squeeze in double what I have now if I were to plant more densely and start succession planting.  This is quite evident where the peas were.  I’ve harvested all the peas I will eat and am saving the remainder as seed.  However, if I had planted beans in the rows by the peas about two weeks ago I would have small pinto bean plants already up.  The main reason that didn’t happen is that was about the same time I caught something that the remnants of are still plaguing me.  Also, while the lettuce I planted by the perennial flowers is doing quite nicely, there is still ground that could have been planted.

Peas and buckwheat seeds.

Peas and buckwheat seeds.  Both were very easy to save.  Just let them dry out on the plant and for the peas, to shell the pods.

One of the things I want to do with my garden is to become mostly self-sufficient with seed.  This obviously requires that I become familiar with saving seeds from all my plants.  Last year, I saved seed from the pinto beans, the onion, some mint and a pumpkin.  This year, I have added buckwheat and peas to the list and I am planning on adding radish, sunflower, lettuce and okra to the list.  I’m still waiting on the sunflowers to bloom and the lettuce to bolt.  In the mean time, I’ll be battling the caterpillars that started appearing on the sunflowers a couple of days ago.  My main plan of attack is to knock them off the leaves into a gallon-sized freezer bag and freeze them to death and also preserve them for David to use in his aquaponics system.  Since my tomato plants never made it in the ground and David’s are doing amazing, I might be able to get a tomato or two in exchange.

The Zucchini Plants Are Dead

Squash borers eating the stalks of the zucchini plant. I just thought the wind had knocked over the plant.

I was planning on writing about the onions I dehydrated over the last two days.  I use dehydrated onions in many dishes, so I was very glad to have made grown some myself.  I even got part-way into writing the post.  But I couldn’t finish it.  All I got was a couple of sentences.  That is because I discovered that all my zucchini plants are dead or dying today because, in addition to the squash bugs that I am constantly killing, squash borers ate out the stocks and killed the entire plant.  So I killed all the grubs I could find and pulled up the plants.  So the two zucchini I harvested will be the last of this season.  This just reminds me of how much I still need to learn about growing food.

Zucchini, Pumpkin and Squash Bugs

The two zucchini I picked today. My hand for size reference.

Today, I harvested the first two zucchini from my garden.  One of the two I probably should have picked a couple of days ago, but at least it is done now.  I weighed them together in my spring scale and got 0.91±0.07 lbs.  Figuring out that amount has me questioning the accuracy of my scale calibration.  It is still better than no scale at all.

A nice-sized pumpkin.

I found that one of the pumpkins is growing very well.  I have no idea if I will be able to get any food from these.  The pumpkin the seed came from was used as a jack-o-lantern.  The whole plant was an accident as I never intended to plant pumpkins.  There were some pumpkin seeds in the compost I brought with me from my previous residence that decided to start growing out of the compost pile.  Next year, I will be putting them into a more convenient location that doesn’t get in my way when I try access the compost pile.

Squash bugs on my pumpkin plant.

I found some bugs about a week ago on one of my zucchini plants.  Today, I found some on the pumpkin plant.  In both cases, my response was to squash all the bugs I could get my hands on and to remove any eggs I found.  Turns out these are squash bugs.  For now, my response to these pests will be to squash all the bugs I can get my hands on.  If it gets beyond my ability to keep up with them, I will probably get either diatomaceous earth or pyrethrin.  Both of these are almost non-toxic substances.  The first is fossilized shells of microscopic organisms and the latter is extracted from the seed pods of Chrysanthemums and both are safe for use around bees.

My First Zucchini!

My first zucchini. This is the heirloom “Black Beauty” variety.

This morning, I was out in the garden checking on things.  The tomatoes are still growing and at last count there was thirty-seven tomatoes visible without looking up into the withering flowers, but none of the tomatoes are turning red yet.  The big surprise today was that I finally have a zucchini growing.  I’ve been awaiting this for the past month or so, especially after the tomatoes and beans started coming in.  I have a few more zucchini other than the obvious one.  A little bit disconcerting was that one of the other zucchini plants was pretty much covered in small stink bugs.  I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes removing them from existence.  I am glad that I have yet to use any synthetic chemicals on my garden.  I can’t claim I haven’t used any chemicals at all, because even water is a “chemical”.  But I know I haven’t used any industrially manufactured chemicals.

Apricots in syrup before being placed in the hot water bath for canning.

I got a handful of apricots from my neighbor a couple of days ago and I was starting to worry that I would not be eating them before they went bad, so I canned them.  I definitely see an apricot tree in my future.  They were a dream to prepare for canning compared to the cherries.  Add to that the fact they taste pretty good, and it makes for a good fruit to can and eat.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had almost two inches of rain here.  I am very grateful for the rain.  Hopefully the rain continues to come regularly and keeps us out of drought this year.  It makes me happy to have full rain barrels and being able to skip manually watering the plants.