Our 2022 garden: gourds, ground cherries, and one. Just one!

While doing my rounds this morning, checking the remaining garden beds, I found myself giving the ground cherries a closer look.

They do have frost damage, but a lot of the leaves are still looking just fine. The entire patch is all leaning over, making it hard to reach to pick anything. I’ve found that the plants, as strong as they appear to be, are actually quite fragile, and branches break off easily. There are still so many green berries on there! I’m not too worried about missing any ripe ones that have fallen off, though. Part of the reason we chose this location, was so they could self seed and hopefully come back every year on their own.

With how big they got, and how easily they fall over, though, I’m thinking we will want to add a support structure of horizontal wire mesh. Maybe two horizontal layers of them, with a mesh of about 4 inches square. That way, the plants can grow through the wire mesh, and still be supported during high winds, or when the weight of their own branches start pulling them down.

Oh! I just remembered. I’d dug out a roll of fence wire from a shed last year. It has 4 inch square mesh. It would be perfect for the job! I’ll just have to figure out what to use for vertical supports.

But that can wait until spring.

I finally remembered to get a picture of this crab apple tree this morning.

It has SO many apples on it, and they’ve turned such an incredible red colour. They are like beautiful ruby ornaments! The apples on this tree are not really edible – at least not for humans. The birds and the deer like them, though. The apples will be left on the tree to freeze. Every now and then, in the winter, I hope to be able to get to the tree to knock some of the apples down for the deer. Otherwise, they stand up on their hind legs to reach, and end up breaking branches.

This tree still looks pretty healthy, so we will be able to keep it while we cut away the dead and diseased trees. It may not produce apples we can eat, but it will serve as a cross pollinator. We plan to eventually plant apple trees that are not crab apples, and they often need a tree like this nearby, to help with pollination. Of course, there is the one big crab apple tree that produces some tasty apples, still. We will be down to only two apple trees in this area, from the dozen or so that used to be here. They were planted way too close together, which certainly didn’t help. We just need to get rid of the diseased tree in particular, and hopefully will be able to keep the remaining trees nice and healthy.

After covering the eggplants and apple gourds last night, I went over to the trellis to check on the Ozark nest egg gourds. Having confirmed the vines were completely killed off by the frost, I decided to go ahead and pick them, this morning.

I am just so happy with how these gourds turned out! Like everything else, they had a rough start, and yet they still produces so many little gourds! A few are still more on the green side. Imagine how many we could have had if it had been a good growing year? We will definitely be growing these again, and I hope to have some seeds I can save from these.

I’d brought pruning shears to harvest them. Those vines are pretty spiny! I also harvested the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They snapped off their stems quite easily; no sheers needed. As I went around to the inside of the tunnel trellis to pick more, I spotted what at first looked like a little snake, hanging in the air!

There we have it. Our one and only Red Noodle bean. Just one! It’s about half the size it could have been.

I now have to decide if these are something I want to get seeds for and try growing again. Under better growing conditions, they should have done just fine in our area. I’d like to at least know if they are something we enjoy eating.

Here are all the gourds I gathered – and my little buddy, who kept me company the entire time! She is such a little sweetie.

I rearranged the chocolate cherry tomatoes to make room for the gourds to cure for a while. Eventually, they will be brought indoors, given a wipe down with a bleach solution, then set up somewhere to continue curing all winter. Probably in the old basement, where the cats aren’t allowed. It may get damp in there during the summer, but in the winter, it is incredibly dry, so that should work out.

The onions my daughter braided yesterday are so heavy, with such thick necks, they started falling out of their braid. I remembered the hooks I put up that held our lights for the seedlings we had set up over the swing bench, so after the gourds were laid out, I strung the onions on some sisal cord to hang them. Once they were hung up, I ended up adding two more cords to help hold the weight! These are definitely the heaviest of all the onions we grew this year!

I absolutely love those nest egg gourds. They are beautiful, and even a pleasure to hold. I have some ideas of what I can do with them. What I do end up doing will depend on how many fully cure properly. The greenest ones probably won’t, but I think most of them did get a chance to become fully ripe. This is from two or three plants. We planted four, one died, and one never fully recovered. They’re so intertwined, it’s hard to tell them apart, but I don’t think that one smaller plant ever produced any gourds. Eighteen gourds from two (possibly three) plants during a bad growing year is pretty awesome! I want to plant more next year. The Tennessee dancing gourds also did really well under the circumstances, and I hope to plant more of them next year, too!

It should be interesting, once everything is in and we can do an assessment of what we got, and use that to help decide what to do next year.

The Re-Farmer

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