Sunday, September 6, 2015

Harvest Time

    I had to harvest my corn a little early. Some enterprising bushy tailed rats (often called squirrels) were starting to raid the corn patch.  Also the weather turned rainy just as the corn had started to dry down.  I can't imagine the stress of someone growing these crops on a larger scale and depending on them for their living.  I grew Mandan Red Clay Parchiing corn this year. I'm not unhappy with the results, but I'm not sure it would be suitable for a serious field crop.  First of all it sends out numerous tillers (side shoots) that tend to fall over onto one another.  It sent out ears inconsistently, that is not all at the same time, such that I had more partially filled ears than I like. Pollination might have turned out better with a larger patch, but I'm not sure.  My corn patch was ten feet by thirty feet this year. The filled out ears of lavender colored corn are quite pretty.  I'm not sure I will grow this variety again. I guess the ultimate test will be when I eat it.  I have several other short season corn varieties I still want to try out.

Mandan Red Clay Parching Corn
Dill slices

    My cucumbers have been quite productive, way beyond my ability to keep up with them.  I grew three kinds this year, a regular slicing variety (straight eight), an English variety (tall telegraph), and a German pickling variety (Vorgebirgstrauben).  Try to say Vorgebirgstrauben just once, let alone fast three times. I sent a box of pickling cucumbers home with my daughter-in-law and I've done several dozen quarts of dill slices. I given lots of the slicing cucumbers away as well.  I've also dumped several five gallon buckets of overripe cucumbers into my compost pile. On one hand I hate to see any of them go to waste, but it is very hard to find them all when they are ready to pick in my jungle of a cucumber patch.  Especially when I am busy and don't have the time to search the cucumber patch on a regular basis.  On the other hand, it is so much easier to find them after they are oversized, overripe, and have turned yellow.

Canadice seedless grapes

    My grapes are also ripening.  The Valant (a type of very early concord) and Canadice ( a red seedless variety) are ready to pick.  The Interlaken (a green seedless variety) are not far behind them and should be ready soon. Usually I am juicing grapes around the time of General Conference.  Thanks to our overly warm summer I may be done with the grapes by the time I'm normally just starting. I'm going to try dehydrating a larger percentage of our grape harvest into raisins this year. Our home made raisins are very good, just a little tarter and less sweet than store-bought raisins. We actually use quite a bit of raisins as Linda and I both like to put them into our oatmeal. I love grapes for a lot of reasons.  They require so very little care. They have minimal pest problems. They are wind pollinated such that they always set fruit. Grapes put down really deep roots such that they don't require watering in our climate.  The biggest chores are pruning and the harvest. Turning the harvest into grape juice is also a pretty easy task with a steamer juicer.

    One thing I really love about grapes is that they are so very easy to propagate.  Most grape varieties can easily be rooted from cuttings.  If anyone who reads my blog (within the continental United States) would like to get into grapes I would be happy to provide dormant cuttings when I prune them during the winter.  I have had very good success just sticking them into the ground and using them as a trellis for my peas. By the time the peas are done most of the grape starts have roots and leaves.  The three varieties I listed above are  very early varieties that will work in the Puget Sound area. If you live in a place with warmer summers you have a lot more options available than what I can offer.  Lon Rombaugh, is a table grape expert who lives in Aurora, Oregon. He has written a book titled "The Grape Grower" which I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in growing grapes. He also sells cuttings for about 100 varieties of table grapes.

Potimarron Winter Squash

     We did very well on winter squash again.  The Potimarron I planted in the front have produced about 25-30 squash. I planted them next to the corn so they rambled throughout the corn patch. The number is approximate as I won't have an exact head count until after I finish removing all of the corn stalks. It is a bit of a treasure hunt. I also have one Oregon Sweetmeat and about 8 spaghetti squash.  I was very pleased with the Potimarron. It produced every bit as well as the Red Kuri I grew last year.  It is a Hubbard type so it should be a good keeper. The size is also similar to Red Kuri in that it is appropriate for smaller families.  The squash aren't so large that it takes weeks to eat one squash.  I can easily get several pies, or make soup and one pie from one squash.  I guess the ultimate test is always in the eating. We'll see if I like the flavor as well as the Red Kuri. This is a French variety. The name translates to "Brown Squash"  They are quite pretty, not brown at all,  and will look nice piled up on the porch for a few weeks.  I have a lot more than Linda and I will eat so I am very happy to share them if some of my readers need more squash in their life.  However, unlike grape cuttings, they are not a convenient size to put into the mail.



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