Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Catching Up

   Now the Evergreen State Fair is finished, my honey is harvested for the most part, and the garden is winding down. I feel like I can get caught up a bit on some of my remaining summer projects.  In particular I need to take out some of the stumps in the front yard and I need to make some significant progress on my stock of rough cut cedar boards in the garage while we still have dry weather.  I have some piles of firewood that need to be split and stacked and I need to get my bees ready for the winter. I also still have some food preservation projects looming on the horizon.

   Linda considers the stumps to have been one of my primary summer priorities and has accused me of being a slacker with the stumps. Little does she realize that the stumps are a fairly big priority for me as well. I'm actually looking forward to using a stump grinder. I've been told a stump grinder is even more fun than a chain saw.  I'm also looking forward to the expansion of our front yard vegetable garden into area currently occupied by stumps.  I'm just waiting patiently for the immediately adjacent vegetable garden to mature.
I know the beans look like they are dying, but they are also drying down at the same time.

    I am very pleased with results from our front yard vegetable garden. Sheet composting with a cardboard mulch worked better than I expected. The weed problems were minimal compared to a new garden bed prepared with a rototiller.  Linda thought the garden looked cute and was happy there was a little less lawn to mow. We've had a great bean year. The dry beans I planted seem to have done well and are in the process of drying down.  They should easily be ready to harvest before the rainy season starts. The pole beans have finally started to produce.  I'm going to try a new method of preserving the green beans and do lacto-fermentation rather than pressure canning.  The green beans are simply packed in jars after the strings are removed and a salt brine is added.  Its sort of like making sour kraut from green beans. The lacto-fermentation turns a low acid vegetable into a high acid vegetable.

    The sunflower plants I got from Rachel did very well. I have several large seed heads drying down.  I planted one sunflower in the middle of one of my green bean tipis and consequently, it is well hidden from the birds.  We did not have good luck with the lettuce plants she gave us. Cutworms took them out one by one, just as they were starting to look promising.  The broccoli Rachel gave us did okay, but I'm not sure I will grow it again next year. Linda doesn't seem inclined to cook it and it is fairly far down the list of my favorite vegetables.  We have a bumper crop of spaghetti squash (I counted fifteen of them yesterday).  I did a search on the internet to discover how to know when spaghetti squash are ready to harvest.  Apparently the tendril which is opposite the stem of each squash will start to shrivel when the squash is ready to be picked.

    I intended to experiment growing tomatillos this year. Somehow I ended up planting a Roma tomato instead. The lone tomato plant has done well, nestled among the dry beans. It has set a lot of fruit, none of which is ripe yet. The big question is whether the fruit will ripen before the dreaded late blight sets in.  That was the whole reason I wanted to try growing tomatillos in the first place. They aren't susceptible to late blight. The tomato was a transplant that I started from seed and I don't recall starting any tomato seeds. I gave up on growing tomatoes in Western Washington years ago.  I can only assume the seed packet was mislabeled. I will just have to wait until next year to grow tomatillos. That is a common mantra for both sports fans and gardeners.."Wait until next year."

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