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.

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Pole Beans? Onion Seeds?

Storm clouds right before some much-needed rain.

This last week has had quite a bit happen.  I finally have a fully functional riding lawn mower and it only took me six months.  Mowing an acre and a quarter with a push mower takes a little more than a day.  The week also gave us just over an inch and a half of rain.  I am very grateful for this as it gave me a bit of a reprieve from watering the garden manually and it also refilled my rain barrels.

Turns out the pinto beans are pole beans.

Well, it turns out that the pinto beans I got from the whole foods store in town ended up being pole beans. Growing these beans has been rather interesting as the source of these was a package labeled for food purposes and not seed. No instructions or information about the pinto beans.  Within the past two or three weeks, the bean plants have put on flowers, started making bean pods and started growing vines out the top of the plants.  The last part caught me off guard as I only had a handful of bamboo stakes to use as poles for the beans.  Thankfully, the tree in my back yard where I keep the dogs likes to grow somewhat straight branches which I helped myself to.

A line of small pinto bean plants.

This past week, I also planted the last of the beans I will be starting this year for food.  If I end up planting any more beans, it will be as a green manure cover crop to provide fertilizer for next year.  Unlike all my previous pinto bean plants, these were planted directly into the garden rather than be started in the greenhouse.  It has gotten so hot in the greenhouse, up to 113 degrees farenheit.  The seeds don’t like it that much and are not germinating very well.  Because of this, I have stopped using the greenhouse for germinating seed and have put everything away until the fall if I decide to try some fall crops, or next year if not.

An onion seed head. Perhaps I will have better luck with these than I did with the packet I found in the shed.

The previous owner of my house left a lot of things here when he left. Among them was an onion in a plastic pot sitting next to the greenhouse.  I haven’t paid much attention to this plant until recently when it flowered and then formed a seed head.  I believe this is a yellow onion, but I will be waiting to check this until after I have collected the seeds to use for next year.

First Strawberry, Tomatoes plus a Storm

Today, I noticed that the strongest of my strawberry plants has its first fruit.  This is the most successful of the plant starts I got from my grandparents, via my mother.  They are offering me lots more strawberry starts as well as lots of irises.  My grandparents raise and sell irises and I think they have  several dozen varieties.  Anyways, this plant has one strawberry already turned red and at least three more fruits on developing.  The plant has also sent out two runners and I will likely be getting at least three new plants from it.  After they have developed a bit, I will transplant them to a better spot.

Green tomatoes. And here I was thinking it was going to be another month before I saw any…

After I noticed the strawberries, I noticed that several of my tomato plants have put on fruit. All told, there are currently seven green tomatoes growing and several more flowers that appear to have been pollinated and will be setting fruit soon.  As a side note, tomatoes are botanically fruit, but are considered vegetables by chefs, cooks, and the IRS.

The anvil of a storm that is moving in from the west side of Oklahoma.

It looks like there is a storm on the way here. Not that this is any out of the ordinary here. I am hoping for rain so I can stop using well water to irrigate the garden.  The rain barrels in the greenhouse and the one next to the house are extremely low, to the point that I cannot draw any more water from them.  The garden hose doesn’t quite reach everywhere in the  garden, even at a hundred feet long and even if it did, it is very cumbersome to use in the narrow rows in the garden.  For the most part, I’ve been using a pitcher to water the plants.  It more walking than a hose would be, but lets me use a rain barrel to water the plants and only the plants.