2016.10.15 Saturday.

It is time to clean up. Overall, the vegetable areas are not in bad shape, I tidied up some bits last weekend, and they are under control. Tomatoes and peppers are still ripening, a couple of zucchini plants are limping along, and arugula, parsley, and basil are still producing. The rest of the yard is a mess. I’m already thinking about how to arrange things next spring, but have not done anything to lock those decisions in place. In fact, it would be premature to say I’ve even made any decisions. Just thinking.


Here is today’s take. Mostly Fourth of July tomatoes and hot peppers, but also: a Big Boy (the ugly one upper right), a small Brandywine (the pretty one at the top), a small zucchini, a few banana peppers, and the only hazelnuts that the damn squirrels left on the bush  — and I’m sure it was not intentional. Lower right corner: American hazelnuts in their capsules.

Last week I picked this small watermelon:


Having eaten almost all of the 26-pounder myself, I was not eager to open this up yet, but I might be ready to take a look tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is overripe, with the seeds sprouting and mushy flesh.


2016.10.04 Tuesday.

Today’s haul.


That zucchini should have been harvested a week ago. At this stage, the interior is more like a light styrofoam than an edible substance, but the outer shell can be eaten. I made “spaghetti” and vegetarian lasagna from it.

Let’s get the picures out of the way immediately.

I started by scraping layers off with a spaghetti scraper. I don’t know if that’s what it’s called, but it’s like a cheese slicer with a serrated edge, and it cuts strings. Very easy to do with a club-sized zucchini. I steamed these strands, but next time, I would peel the outer dark green layer off first — it stayed tough. The inner parts were good.

Once there was a flat surface from scraping, I used a bread knife to slice off thin layers to use as lasagna noodles. In an oiled baking dish, I layered wide zucchini slices, thin slices of tofu, slivers of the red hot peppers, slices of green bell pepper, alternating the layers and adding some tomato sauce between. I think I used three layers, topped with one last layer of zucchini and more sauce. I covered the dish with foil and baked at 425 degrees for about half an hour — a little more than the time it took to boil the pasta water, steam the zucchini strips, and then cook actual spaghetti for the less adventurous member of the family. Then I took the dish out and stabbed it with a fork a few times and put it back in for another 5-10 minutes. So I guess 30-40 minutes total or until the zucchini is cooked through, easy to cut. That’s it. Serve it over your squash spaghetti and, if you want, top with grated parmesan. It’s very good.




2016.10.03 Monday

Contrary to expectation . . .


Tomatoes and peppers picked on October 3, 2016

There are flowers on some of the pepper plants and green tomatoes still ripening.


2016.10.01 Saturday.

Finally, it rained! And rained. And rained.

Summer is definitely over. You know it’s the end of the season when you bring in every single tomato, no matter the splits, bite marks, and bugs.

I took advantage of a full rain barrel to start washing out my seed-starting equipment. With this weather I may be toweling dry.



2016.09.20 Tuesday.

Did you miss me?


Maybe my garden did. No watering, no clearing away of dead and mildewed leaves, no timely harvesting. But plants keep growing, buds keep flowering, fruits keep falling to the ground and rotting . . . The garden perseveres.



2016.09.13 Tuesday.

Massing of the assassin bugs, mostly nymphs. Appropriate that they would be convening on red-hot peppers.


2016.09.10 Saturday.

Watermelon, continued.

The watermelon picked last week was delicious. I gave away half (maybe a little under half, I wasn’t able to cut it perfectly), and have been eating it constantly since then — almost done. Because the seeds were starting to sprout already, I figured I was safe to pick the next big one without cutting a trapdoor into it. And I was right.

This one was even heavier than the first. I immediately called the neighbors because I did not want to spend another two hours cutting this up so it would fit in the refrigerator. I found two willing takers, and am looking forward to picking watermelon #3 tomorrow.

Hmm, I might just have to have another bowl of watermelon . . .


2016.09.04 Watermelon!

Here’s another before, during and during post. This time about the uninvited but welcome guest, the watermelon vine. Maybe guests and vines (plural) is more appropriate. If you have been following this year’s saga, you will know that the watermelon vines sprouted from the compost I used to mulch the pepper bed,


Volunteer zucchini (upper left) and watermelon in the pepper patch

which is located between the Franklinia bed (to the left, below) and the “side bulge” (seen as a pile of brush towards the right).


West side of house with Franklinia and the side bulge, 18 June

By July 5, I had to peel the chickenwire back to let the watermelon vines escape. I had already transplanted the zucchini elsewhere (just to the left, in this picture, surrounded by a round fence).


Planted peppers and volunteer watermelon, July 5

And as you’ll see, the vines kept going . . .


Pepper bed with watermelon, 15 July

and going . . .


Watermelon heading towards the Franklinia, 15 July

and going . . .


View of the bulge with volunteer cherry tomatoes and watermelon vine, 15 July

and going!


West side of house with the Franklinia and the side bulge, 8 August

Up the hill and down the hill. And the cherry tomatoes were now mixing in. Tomatoes grow on vines, too, you know . . .


Volunteer cherry tomato vines on the bulge, watermelon to the left, 8 August


And there’s an actual watermelon fruit in there somewhere. I can see it, can you?


Pepper bed with massive zucchini plant (also volunteer from the compost) and spreading watermelon vines on 12 August

Come September, and there are four actual watermelons (I thought only three up until this evening when I discovered another one behind the peppers). And the bulge is very weedy, and a storm might be heading our way. So it seems time to tidy up a bit.


The pepper bed again, 2 September


Looking up at the bulge, with tomato and watermelon vines plus weeds, 2 September

And clean up I did — today. Here’s the bulge with the tomatoes severely pruned back, most of the weeds pulled, and just enough watermelon vine to support the lone fruit on this hill.


The side bulge after weeding and pruning, 4 September

But is the watermelon ripe? Year after year, the first watermelon I pick is white inside. I looked back at past years to see when I picked the second, ripe, watermelon, and last year it was right around this time. The two biggest watermelons look good, sound good when I thump them, and meet the objective criteria of the vines starting to wilt, the little leaf near the stem being dry, and the bottom side being white . . .

But how can I know for sure? Here’s how. This is something I’ve wanted to try but have been too chicken.

I took a short knife and cut a trap door in the watermelon. Then, careful not to punch the plug into the melon, I eased it out.


Cut a square as deep as possible

And, this looks promising!


And pull it out

It’s ripe! Of course I had to taste it — I ate it right there.


It’s ripe!


If it were not ripe, I’d see if it would continue to ripen with the hole patched up

My idea for in case the watermelon was not ripe was to put the plug back in and patch it up with breathable plastic medical tape. I taped it up anyway because I didn’t want it to leak watermelon juice all over the living room floor if I happened to turn it the wrong way as I brought it inside. This was one heavy fruit — 24.4 pounds, more than 10 kilograms.


24.4 pounds


Beautiful, 4 September. Section where I cut out the plug.

This baby dwarfs my biggest glass bowl. I put half of it in the refrigerator without any processing. I wanted to bring it to my neighbors immediately, but I couldn’t get through by phone and it was already late. I ate a good bit of that wedge, and the rest I cut up into cubes. And that’s where the story ends. Watermelon, anyone?

2016.09.03 – green bean timeline


Here is my first attempt at tracking an entire season’s worth of pictures of a single crop. I thought about before and after pictures, but there were so many during pictures, this seemed a better way to do it. This season was a little unusual in that I planted on time or maybe a little early and then we had a spate of cool/cold rainy weather, so the beans did not sprout in the usual 14 day timeframe. They took almost a month to sprout, so long that I was about to sow more seeds. But they caught up. Had I not neglected them because of the heat and humidity, I could probably still be harvesting young beans even now.

March 31 — Preparing the bed


Center bed, now tucked in, and back bed partly filled


Back bed with chicken wire covering


Chicken wire


April 16 — Sowing the seeds


Holes punched for planting beans

May 23 — after a rainy cold April, beans finally sprouting


May 23rd, beans have sprouted

June 9 — beans are flowering


Garden beans flowering

June 17 — first harvest of green beans


Bean #1


Beans nos. 1, 2, and 3

Etc., through July . . .

Into August, when the effects of heat, lack of rain, and gardener neglect set in . . .


And I get to make a literary allusion

Until finally, the weather turns, a storm is predicted, and it seems better to cut my losses and harvest immediately rather than risk soggy beans that won’t dry out.

September 3 — cutting down the bean stalks


Straggly bed of beans (3 September)


A little over halfway done, time to find more containers


One plant, minus the roots


To be continued this winter . . .

The next phase is to pick out the edible green beans and let the others dry out. Then at some point later this fall or over the winter, I’ll spread out a sheet (to catch all the papery husks) and shell the mature beans. Then I’ll cook ’em up and see what they taste like.


2016.09.02 Friday.

Today’s tasks accomplished:

  • Mowed lawn — all of it
  • Sprayed asparagus with Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew (ready-to-use formulation of Spinosad, a bacterium) to control asparagus beetles, second treatment (noticed a difference after treatment #1)
  • Weeded a bit in front
  • Harvested the rest of the beets

Notes and observations:

  • Amost all the bell peppers on the side of the house have blossom end rot, and according to various garden sites, this is due to lack of available calcium.
  • Stink bugs are attacking the tomatoes in the front yard. Not all, but I am finding some damaged tomatoes with single marmorated stink bugs attached.
  • The corn is singed and not forming ears, but many stalks have tassled. No home-grown corn this year.
  • Broccoli tried hard to produce, but the elements were against it — between the heat and bugs (worms and harlequin beetles), it didn’t have a chance. Plant it somewhere else next year.
  • Fourth of July tomatoes are the best producers this year, and Cherokee Purple comes in second.
  • I probably do not need eight jalapeno pepper plants!
  • I do need more garlic, and I need to plant it where it won’t be smothered by plants with lush mid-season foliage.

Today’s harvest:

Today’s discovery: Assassin bug nymphs on the hot peppers! That’s a good thing. Assassin bugs kill harmful pests. But don’t try to handle them — their bite is painful (I’ve heard).

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