First, let me explain that I’m no vegetable farmer. Actually, I am a tree farmer along with my sisters, but I’ve never commercially grown vegetables. But I have had vegetable gardens before along with a good harvest.
Around mid-March, I began a series of blog posts about a little vegetable garden that I planted. You can read about it here. I thought it might be time to give you an update because the little garden is now in its harvest phase.
Around the first of April, a large weather front came through here, and we had P-sized hail. The recently planted garden was down by the lake which is a nice walk down the hill. I watched the hail do its damage to my front flower beds and feared what was happening down there.
Fortunately, the garden did rather well. I was beginning to think that maybe no hail fell in that part of the yard at all, but then I noticed that all of the little grapes on the grape arbor next to it got knocked down.
I’m not sure why the garden did better, except that maybe it was because it hadn’t really begun to set its fruit yet. Thankfully, the grape vines were not finished. More tiny grapes formed later.
By mid-April, I was hoeing weeds. I also planted some okra which is why I was hoeing weeds. The okra needed to come up before I finished mulching the entire bed. I also got lots of exercise walking back and forth up and down the hill, during this phase.
The Harvest Phase
By the end of April, I began to harvest the spinach but noticed that my lettuce was not going to make it. Everything else was doing well–all the different peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and even the sweet peas that I planted just for something pretty.
The first week of May I was away for a week at a conference. I left Chuck in charge. When I came back, I noticed that cutworms ate up the cauliflower. I asked Chuck about it, and he said that he noticed but thought there was nothing we could do. Wrong!!
Up until this point, I used organic means to handle weeds and pests, but now the gloves were off. There were hundreds of cutworms, and I got out the insecticide. I left the cauliflower as it was because I thought that maybe the worm-eaten leaves could still provide a little nutrition for new leaves to form. I thought one cauliflower plant might make it because it didn’t get eaten up as bad. The good news, though, is that a lettuce came up while I was gone and now all the cauliflower plants are beginning to make new leaves. Maybe, I’ll get some cauliflower after all.
By the second week of May, we were fully harvesting. The secret was to check the plants daily for harvest, bugs, and weather-related problems. For example, one of the Better Boy tomatoes fell over during another storm. I spent some time trying to set it back up to re -spike it. Also, if you leave any vegetable on the plant too long, that plant quits producing. Everything is producing right now–tomatoes, cucumbers, custard beans, three kinds of peppers, and spinach. It takes almost a daily trip to keep up with the harvest. Also, except for the cherry tomatoes, instead of picking I cut the vegetables. Cutting keeps from damaging the bush.
A Garden Adversary
One day last week I walked town to the garden and almost stepped on a five foot long white oak snake stretched out like a fallen limb with his head underneath my little grapefruit tree. I amazed myself, having no idea that I could jump that high or that far. I left Mr. No Shoulders alone, giving him a wide berth; but later I realized that maybe this one is too big to keep around. When they are this big, they get real aggressive. They’re rat snakes, and rat snakes are territorial. They will chase you, and this Mr. No Shoulders strikes like a rattler. His bite will hurt bad.
So after I finished harvesting and went back to the house, I looked for Chuck. Later, I found out that he had been down at the lake, but when he came back up, he noticed a big white oak snake hanging out on my garden fence. Probably, waiting for a bird to light. Well, frankly that is all I had to hear. There is now a hoe hanging on the fence. If he gives me any trouble, he’s toast. Mr. No Shoulders has to go.
The Fruit of Our Labor
Lately, I’m getting an almost daily supply of cucumbers, but that’s ok. I love vinegared cucumbers. Next week I plan to post my grandmother’s vinegared cucumbers recipe and also how she taught me that a little vinegar can awaken the flavors in foods.
Monsanto sent me seeds for custard beans. I wasn’t even sure what I was getting, but these bush wax beans were easy to grow and I found a new way to cook beans. That’s another recipe I’ll share. I will definitely grow this cream-colored variety of bush beans again. They’re the best I’ve ever had. A big thank you to Monsanto for sending me these seeds.
My tomatoes are prolific, but I plan to fertilize them again next week to keep them setting flowers for the next crop. I’ll probably fertilize the entire garden for the same reason. I know I can keep tomatoes producing sometimes even into the Fall, but I’m less sure about the other plants. This will be an experiment for me.
So as you can see, we’re enjoying the fruits of our labor, or should I say the veggies of our toil. Speaking of fruit, though, the blueberries have been producing, too. I’ve been getting about a pint every other day. I’m thinking of adding some to either biscuits or scones. Yum! Or maybe a new type of cocktail made with muddled blueberries? The options are endless.