Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden

Well, it is getting decidedly cooler when I do my morning rounds! Fall is just around the corner, but things are still holding out in the garden.

Here are the gourds growing on the south facing chain link fence. The yellow flowers that you see are the Ozark Nest Egg flowers.

If you look at the bottom right, you’ll see a white flower!

This is a Thai Bottle Gourd flower. The Ozark Nest Egg plants are going so well, they sort of hide that there is another type of gourd growing here. The Thai Bottle Gourd has leaves that are more rounded, while the Ozark Nest Egg leaves have points on them.

These gourds are not the only thing bursting into bloom.

This is the Crespo squash, recovered from critter damage and growing enthusiastically! I was not able to get all of it in this photo. All those arrows are pointing to flower buds, some of which are starting to open this morning. There are probably another dozen or so on the rest of the plant off the left side of the photo.

Hidden away in the middle, I found the first female flower!

I couldn’t get any closer because of the critter barriers, but that flower bud the arrow is pointing to has a baby squash at its base. Hopefully, it will get pollinated and not die off. Under the current conditions, I would hand pollinate, but that would require moving the critter barriers. Mind you, there’s no way any fruit that develop will reach maturity.

More on that, later.

There are only a few Halona melons left on the vines, but there are probably a dozen Pixie melons that have not yet ripened.

This is the largest of them. Since it has a hammock, I check it in the mornings by lifting it at the stem, to see if it is starting to separate, but it’s still hanging on tight!

The rest are more like these two.

I’ll have to double check, but I thought the Pixies had a shorter growing season than the Halonas. They are taking much longer than the Halona to fully ripen. I’m sure the drought conditions over the summer have something to do with that, but since we’ve started having rain fairly regularly now, I would have expected them to mature faster. Ah, well. We’ll see how they do!

This is the largest of the developing Teddy winter squash. This is roughly half of what it’s mature size is supposed to be, so they may still have time.

Our weird mutant Red Kuri is noticeably bigger! It makes me smile, every time I see it.

We’ve got a couple more that are getting bigger, too. This is what the mottled green one should be looking like, which is why I suspect it was cross pollinated with the Teddy squash.

Here’s something that is NOT getting bigger!

The one luffa gourd is just… stalled. The plants are still blooming, but also starting to die off for the season. I started these quite a bit earlier, indoors, and they should have had enough time to develop gourds and reach maturity, but this summer was so rough on everything, I think we’re lucky to have even this.

We even had something to harvest! Not every morning, but at least every few days. We even still had a few beans left to pick. In the photo, I’m holding one of the mutant green sunburst squash. 😀 I’ve been trying to let the sunburst squash have more time for the fruit to get bigger, but they seem to be developing more slowly than they did last year.

I just had to get a picture of the sunflower in the old kitchen garden. We can see it from the bathroom window, through the sun room, and it makes me smile, every time. 🙂

As the season winds down, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the long term forecasts. Yesterday was our first frost date for the area, but it continues to look like we are not going to have any frost here, for a while. Of course, the forecast constantly fluctuates, and different sources have different forecasts. My Weather Network app has a 14 day forecast, and with today being the 11th, that puts the 14 day trend between the 12th and the 25th. The lowest overnight temperatures I’m seeing is for the 25th, at 6C/43F, with variable cloudiness.

My Accuweather app, however, is very different. The long range forecast on that one goes up to October 5. Up until this morning, all the overnight lows were above freezing, but this morning, there is now a single night – the 25th – where it says we will hit -2C/28F. It is also predicting thunder showers scattered about the province in that day.

If that is accurate, we have only two weeks before frost hits (which is 2 weeks longer than average, so I’m not complaining!). If we do get a frost, that will be it for the tomatoes, squash, gourds and melons. We have no way to cover any of these beds, so if we get any frost warnings, we’ll just have to pick as much as we can the day before. We should get plenty of sunburst squash, but I’m really hoping the Pixie melons and winter squash ripen before then. The gourd and Crespo squash just don’t have enough time left. Except the Tennessee Dancing gourds. They are so small, we should have quite a few to gather before the frost hits. We may be lucky, though. Aside from that one night that one app is predicting will go below freezing, overnight temperatures are supposed to stay mild into October.

The sunflowers will be a lost cause, though. There is no way the seed heads will be able to mature in so short a time. So many haven’t even opened, yet. Starting some of them indoors would have made the difference (well… except for being eaten by deer), had they been under better conditions. Not just with the weather, but the soil quality where they are growing. Had our only reason for planting them been for the seeds, they would be a failure, but they were planted there partly for a privacy screen, partly for wind break, and mostly as part of our long term plans to prepare the area for when we plant food trees there. Which means we had a success with 3 out of the 4 reasons we planted them. I do want to get more of these seeds to try them again, elsewhere.

For now, every night we have without frost is a help.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest and first potatoes, makes for an awesome breakfast!

I finished off my rounds this morning by doing some harvesting in the garden. The beans in particular had plenty to pick. 🙂

I found a yellow bean, growing on a green bean plant!

It didn’t get picked. It felt completely empty. Any beans it might have had did not develop. I did find one other yellow bean among the green beans, on another plant, that did have developing beans in it, but it was super soft for some reason.

There as a big enough haul this morning to need two containers! 🙂

Among the sunburst squash, we have the one plant that is producing green squash instead of yellow, though some of the developing squash have streaks of yellow in them. An interesting mutant plant! 😀

The yellow beans are pretty much done. We’ll still be picking them for the next while, but just a few here and there.

I found flowers on both green and purple bean plants! Just a few, but still a surprise, this late in the season. We’ll be having plenty of those to pick for a while, from the looks of it. Lots of little ones developing on the plants.

Our first potatoes! We could have picked potatoes earlier, but we’ve been leaving them for now. This morning, I decided to reach into a few bags and dug around until I felt a potato and pulled it up. These are the yellow Yukon Gem and red Norland potatoes. I did not try to pick any of the fingerlings, yet.

That’s a pretty good harvest for the day! There are enough beans there to do another bag for the freezer, if we want. 🙂

I used a bit of everything when I made breakfast this morning. 🙂

I made a hash using all three types of beans, a couple of sunburst squash, a zucchini, and one of each type of potato. I also used onion and garlic that we harvested earlier. Even the oil I used to cook with was infused with our chive blossoms, and the dried parsley on top is from last year’s garden.

It tasted great, too! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: evening harvest

While doing my evening rounds, I was able to gather quite a substantial harvest from the garden!

The yellow beans are, as could be expected, winding down right now, but there was still quite a lot of them. There were plenty of green beans, too, but it was the purple beans that stole the show! There were so many ready to pick this time!

I picked a few sweet corn that seems like they might be ready, just to see how they were. Though their silks are drying, they are still quite immature. My expectations are on the low side for these, given how nitrogen poor the soil is, but we shall see as time goes by.

I was really happy to have so many sunburst squash and zucchini! I also had to straighten up a lot of the support poles, as the wind had blown them over somewhat. However, I can definitely say it was much easier to find and harvest the summer squash grown vertically! Last year, I was picking sunburst squash and zucchini pretty much daily, but this is the first time we’ve had a substantial amount to pick. They did not get eaten before we could get to them! The cayenne pepper is definitely working!

I applied more over everything after I finished picking things. The rains would have washed it all off by now. We might get more rain today, then off an on over the next week, but I don’t expect to get much here, so I wanted to make sure the garden beds had their spicy protection.

There was enough picked that we could blanch and freeze some more, but this time I’m keeping them for having with our meals. In fact, I’m enjoying some of those beans with my lunch as I write this, sauteed with our Purple Stripe garlic (crushed and chopped) in butter, then braised until tender, then seasoned and stir fried with rice and some of the grass fed beef we got with the package we ordered a while back. It turned out very well!!

It may almost be the end of August, but we’re finally getting to where we can probably eat from our garden every day. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: so many beans!

For the past while, we’ve been harvesting a handful of beans, every couple of days. Just enough for the day’s meal, really. It would mostly be the yellow beans, with a few greens, and maybe three or for purple beans.

This morning, we had our biggest harvest, yet!

It is still mostly yellow beans, but they are on the bottom. It’s remarkable to me how, the plants that are the smallest and having the hardest time in this heat, is producing the most right now! Not for long, though, I think. There are LOTS of immature green and purple beans hiding under the leaves. We should start getting hauls like this more often, soon. 🙂

This is the first time we had enough to make it worthwhile to preserve them. Not enough to make it worth breaking out the canner or doing some quick pickles or something, but enough to fill a bag for the freezer.

After trimming the ends, then cutting them to more equally sized pieces, I was able to use the blanching pot I’d found in the storage area of the kitchen, while trying to cat proof it (it’s right up by the ceiling and hard to get to!). This is the first time we’ve been able to use it. 🙂

All those ice packs we have to help keep our food cold or frozen when we do our city trips are coming in handy. I used a bunch of them to make an ice bath to chill the blanched beans in. We don’t typically make ice with our well water, and the ice we do have is purchased, so I didn’t want to use any of that!

This variety of purple beans turn green when cooked or blanched. They are a somewhat less bright green; you can tell them apart in the foreground.

The blanched beans were laid out on a couple of trays and are now in the chest freezer, to be bagged later.

One thing about freezing produce. It’s very fast! I still hope to have enough to pickle or pressure can, so we have shelf-stable beans, too. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: first taste, and getting big!

This evening, our first real harvest of beans was prepared to accompany our supper, and did a taste test. Though we’d picked a few beans before, they were so few, they just got chopped up and added to a hash.

For these, they were first steamed until almost done, then pan fried in butter with fresh garlic (our own, of course!), then seasoned with salt an pepper.

The purple beans turn green when cooked, and I made a point of tasting them individually, to compare the flavour.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference. As far as I could tell, they tasted the same! 😀 Which was very good, I might add. 🙂

I forgot to follow up on how the Dorinny corn tasted. We had those last night, wrapped in foil with butter, salt and pepper, then roasted in the oven, next to a ham.

I really liked the Dorinny corn. If you’re a fan of really sweet corn, it probably wouldn’t be your thing, but it had a good, solid corn flavour. It was also wonderfully toothsome. As much a pleasure to eat as to taste. I don’t think we’ll be able to save seeds from these, there are so few of them, but I will definitely want to pick up more for next year’s garden. In fact, I think I will get two packets this time.

While heading out to check on the gravel pit, I paused to look at the cucamelons and had a lovely surprise.

Hiding behind some leaves are some really big ones! Not quite big enough to harvest, but very close.

Yes, this is “big” for cucamelons. 😀

So awesome!

The Re-Farmer