A garden update

I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row, while waiting to find out if I got the financing I applied for (and lining up potential alternates if that doesn’t come through), because once Sept 6th hits, it will be 80-hour weeks for 3 months. I’m doing a 60 hour week now to get the prep work done in time and am already feeling like, wow, I’ve got so much free time compared to what is coming. So here is a little bit about the garden and plans for it. I’ll do an update on the kitties (and about the one we’ve just lost) as one of the next posts. I need a bit more of a remove before I do that one.

This summer has been really strange with the garden compared to last year. We had a huge bonanza harvest of stuff in May — lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and eggplants coming out of our ears. We’ve had smaller amounts of tomatoes ready for harvest all the way up to this week (we harvested only 12 cherry tomatoes and one slicer this week and, while we are getting tomato fruit set this week, it will be about a month before we harvest anything significant in the tomato department). It is unusual to get tomatoes after the last week of June/first week of July and so we’ve been blessed in that department. In terms of our major summer crops though, it has been a bust.

I posted a picture last year, in early August, showing our okra plants towering around me at about 10 feet high. I was hauling in bucket-loads of those expensive little things every week. This year, the okra I planted in April got eaten by something overnight so far down to the ground that you had to dig to find the remaining stems. I replanted and the same thing happened again about 4 weeks after they had sprouted. It was only in mid-June that some (like 5 out of the 20) of the seeds I planted again managed to sprout and survive to become real plants. They are only about waist high now and are just starting to produce in any significant number. We’ve been getting maybe 10 pods in a week off those 5 plants — a seriously paltry amount compared to last year. The ones I planted in early July all survived the plant-eating something but they are only now just getting to “I might flower soon” stage — they are about low-thigh in height. At least there are 15 of them. Hopefully, we’ll start getting some significant harvests in September through October. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a seriously cold and early winter, so I don’t think we’ll be harvesting them into December, as we did last year.

Our eggplants busted a seam in May, June, and into early July. Our August harvest, though, is going to be significantly lower than this time last year. We have grasshoppers. They’ve been chowing on the eggplants this past week. I woke up this morning to find a 5-foot tall Gypsy Pepper plant stripped of nearly every leaf on it. It was lush, flowering and bearing fruit yesterday! It is nearly just stalks today. Some of the new green bean plants are similarly decimated.

Today, I am starting 30 lettuce seeds and 30 cabbage seeds. Next Sunday, I’ll do the same again. I’m not going to have the luxury of waiting 2 weeks between starting the seedlings. I’ve got to get those seedlings into the ground by Sept 5 or we won’t have a fall harvest of them. I’m going to be getting up, several days a week, in the fall at like 4 am in order to harvest and keep the garden in order.

The gift of the Malabar spinach plants has really proved to be a g-dsend. Dinner tonight is going to be a soup made of the 3 eggplants, 6 okra, 2 peppers, basil, and Malabar spinach leaves I harvested yesterday and this morning, seasoned by the green onion I harvested and froze back in the spring.

I’m hoping the serious amount of rain we’ve been getting this past week (and at least for the next 3 days, it looks like) is going to spark some serious garden productivity. I’ve got to find a way to deter the darn grasshoppers, though. A few more days of them bellying up to the garden buffet will see no garden at all!


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