2017 Garden Updates: Getting Cranked Up!
Ohhh boy! The volunteer plants are showing out in 2017!
Clint’s volunteer Roma tomatoes and butternut squashes have graced a dinner or two.
Did you see those brilliant blackberries ripening at the pond?
My volunteer pumpkins have already turned that vibrant Halloween orange.
Last year’s Moon ‘n’ Stars Watermelons will be ripe soon. I love how the melons and the leaves are dotted!
We’ve already pulled off a couple of delicious cantaloupes that sprouted from the remains of some compost! You saw the cantaloupe plant earlier this month climbing on the umbrella trellis I made here.
Some of you will remember how I complained about spousal interference last year after Clint removed every single piece of cardboard I’d painstakingly laid out in the garden to stifle the weeds because “it stinks.”
It was supposed to stink–it was rotting!!!
We couldn’t agree on who was supposed to be watering the garden. His pumpkin patch hardly made it out of the ground, after HOURS planting at least 500 seeds. I think it maybe rained twice last summer?
Do you know what doesn’t need much water? WEEDS. They crowded everything out.
I spent hours-at-a-time a couple of Saturdays hand-weeding the 2,600 square foot garden, but it was hopeless. Our squash were destroyed by militant regimes of squash bugs, sometimes six of them in a bloom at a time.
It was a cruel, cruel summer, indeed.
Do you remember when I suggested that this year my husband and I split the gardens and run them our own way? Do you remember when y’all laughed and told us to do it?
Check this out:
Her 2017 Garden
I’ve got to show you these Marketmore Cucumbers–they’re going wild! With several ten foot runners, all covered in blooms, we’re looking at the makings of a glut!
Can you see the Desi
squash growing with the cucumbers? I totally didn’t notice that either until it started putting out blooms wayyy bigger than cucumber flowers, but I never turn down a volunteer plant! Do you?
I must have dropped a seed. Let’s just call that a happy little accident. Note to self: put these babies up at the fence next time–they are fierce climbers!
As an additional bonus, the cucumber leaves are shading the lone surviving Great White tomato plant that I failed to keep mulched very well. (Note to self: need better compliance from self in mulching my transplants.)
The four Desi squash in the middle of the garden are blooming and have a few 3″ lemony green squash already. This is the variety that supposedly goes from seed to harvest in 40 days–like a radish!! How crazy is that? Can’t wait to try these! If they produce a real bounty, I’ll send them to market with Clint.
I LOVE SQUASH!
Also doing well are the other varieties of squash I planted directly in the ground after I lost my transplants (is this going to happen EVERY year?!): spaghetti squash, summer yellow (straight neck), butternut squash, adorable green patty pan, yellow crookneck, and blue hubbard, which truthfully, is more like a green-blue pumpkin.
There are so many happy hardworking bumblebees! Some of them are crowded in, two to a bloom!
The squash bugs that totally defeated me last year are hard at work again this year, but I’ve been pretty good about nabbing the leaves with their shiny red eggs, spraying soap water on surrounding leaves, and crushing their ugly little bodies, and then leaving their carcasses as warning for their brethren to find other sustenance. Not today, bruh.
On to the next!
Peppers: the Spanish Mammoth Pepper plants are getting large, but we’re still waiting on blooms. Two pepperoncini plants have survived to date, but they’re still quite small–will they produce this year? And I have four jalapeno plants, but even if those don’t produce, a friend has already provided more than enough jalapenos for trying again next year.
The sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange) came from a bag of peppers from Aldi. Don’t you just love Aldi? Apparently, those are rather robust, because I must have at least 11 of those babies out there. Surely, we will have plenty.
AAAH! SEEDS! I love how a tiny, tiny thing can produce so much beauty and food.
(Remember, you can download our saved seed labels here.)
The tomatoes, I’m hoping, are going to be the rag-tag bunch of underdogs that turn out to be showstoppers.
The Great White tomato is shaded perfectly at the cucumber tower. The two-or-three Cherokee Purples are holding their own. The cherry tomato plant looks really strong, but didn’t have any blooms yet, as of yesterday. If they each produce just one tomato, I can save the seeds and promise to do better next year!
The Atkinson tomatoes are a variety we also found at our local co-op, so they must be fairly popular and good for our region (7A). Additionally, I planted Hillbilly tomatoes, Mortgage Lifters, Yellow Brandywine, Beefsteak, Roma, & Yellow Plum tomatoes, and they all have at least two plants that have survived to date. I cannot wait to see all these rainbow heirloom tomatoes ripening at once. You’d better believe I’m going to be ready for this glut.
Let me tell you, though: I’m most surprised by the Ace 55 tomato plants.
Who ever heard of them? I had not heard of them until I found ’em in my 2017 ten-pack of tomato lovers’ seeds from dollarseed.com, but they seemed to spring up first, grow the most vigorously, have the thickest stems, and be the hardiest of all the seedlings I planted. We will see about taste soon.
Also, somebody tell the deer I saw the two tomato plants they snacked on already and I don’t appreciate it. Just for that, I’m putting some hair in the garden, straight off my hairbrush. I’m coming for the rabbits again, too. Clint saved me all the slivers of his Irish Spring soap and I’ll just grate that back around the edges like last year. No soup for you, bunnies!
My one wildcard has to be the four serpent melons I planted. These are supposed to taste like cucumbers, but they are stripey and grow long, with twists and turns. This is the plant I hope to take to market just to show off something special. I did try to start the seeds indoors twice, but couldn’t get it long past the seedling stage. These direct-sow seedlings look so much better. Fingers crossed.
His 2017 Garden
Looking over in Clint’s garden, his row of Brandywine and Cherokee Purple tomatoes dwarfs mine, and most of them may very well be at the same stage as mine, or larger, regardless of starting his at least three weeks later in the season than mine! Maybe they didn’t have as much transplant shock being planted when they were smaller.
It’s a sprawling un-trellised field of luscious green leaves and standard yellow flowers. If this doesn’t bring all the bees to the yard, I don’t know what will. So happy! I asked him what he was going to do when all of THOSE started coming in, and he said he’d take it to market–will somebody please tell him how he is about to have cucumbegeddon out there?!?! My five cucumber plants are handling ALL our household’s cucumber needs…I have a feeling that Piggy Smalls is going to get some bellies full of cool refreshing cucumbers this summer.
The beans, like the cucumbers and tomatoes, are growing in the old goat pen. They are standing about 15-18″ tall right now and have dark glossy leaves. They’re gorgeous. But for the life of me, I have no recollection what they are. Surprises, I suppose!
This is some of that peaches ‘n’ cream corn that the hubs picked up at the co-op. The kernels were coated in some strawberry pink colored stuff that was supposed to give it a fighting chance. I haven’t noticed any critter decimation and the corn that he picked has been delicious.
We got such a late start and corn is one of those 90-100 day crops, that we decided to hold off until next year on the Glass Gem, Pink Popcorn, Silver Queen and other varieties we picked up this spring. Next year, though…
They were so pretty, and grew to the clouds, and then all of a sudden, they were brown and sad. What could have happened to them? Obviously, some of them got pecked by birds, but that’s just nature. The other sunflowers in town are still perfect. Maybe it’s just the variety he planted.
Butternut Squash (volunteer)
The volunteer butternut squash is a colossal plant that has already produced one of the largest squashes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. There are a few more beasts ripening on the vines now. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of these. They’ll be great frozen and then creamed & eaten when it’s cold, or pureed and snuck into soups and sauces.
Roma Tomato (volunteer)
Just a few of the iconically shaped ‘maters. Bruschetta. Makes me want bruschetta real bad.
I thought about doing a video tour of our gardens for you, but figured it would take forever to walk the grounds between them all, and it’s blisteringly hot outside.
Maybe we’ll do some short Facebook Live spots so you can see up-to-date progress. Today on Facebook, you saw the snake I murdered before it could take out any of our little chickens.
(Heads up if you’re squeamish.)
After looking at what all we planted, I’m wondering if maybe we didn’t plant enough variety. But we did just cut the last of our swiss chard, and the spinach went to seed forever ago, and the garlic was harvested.
I know what this means…we need to be putting in for some fall crops! How about another run of carrots? Definitely more greens! What are you putting in right now?
What’s your garden looking like? Any problems this year? Any runaway successes? Tell me about it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
Talk to you soon,
Here’s what’s coming up next on Burton Farm:
Debt & Net Worth Progress Report and 2017 Super-Ambitious Goals Mid-Year Check-In.
Then, next in the Frugal Gardening series, we’re going to talk about Managing the Overwhelm of the Glut: Cucumbers.