Every year the gardens produce new challenges and sometimes rewards. Two years ago, I couldn’t get corn to grow even after three plantings. Last year the popcorn was prolific but wouldn’t pop in the microwave or a pan of hot oil, but the chickens loved it and I still find dry cobs in the yard. This year in the adjacent bed, it is nothing but grass and about a dozen corn shoots about a foot tall in a 14 by 4 foot bed. Last year the peppers did nothing, but I was overwhelmed with cucumbers. Potatoes last year provided a little and volunteers keep coming up in the beds from the past two rotations, this year the bed is waist high in green tops, flowering, and hopefully producing plenty for our table. This year the cucumbers have not germinated, only three sunflowers germinated, but the peppers look great and are beginning to set small fruit and flowers. There were cucumbers and sunflowers in Jiffy pots on the back deck that were started a week or so ago and they were planted out as starts this evening.
The tomatoes and peppers were hand weeded this morning and after our walk, a hoe was taken to the corn bed and most of it was done. After dinner, a hand maddock finished the job. I know the crows didn’t get the corn seed because the bed has a welded wire fence laying over the top of the wooden box frame about 3 inches above the soil. It has been wet. We have had enough rain in the past couple of weeks to destroy our driveway. This upcoming week there are rain showers several days, so maybe the corn will germinate this time.
Peas and beans are thriving, sugar snaps ready to start harvesting to eat, blanch and freeze. Shelling peas will soon follow and the second planting has germinated nicely. No onions or garlic were planted this year, but garlic has been ordered for the fall garden. The asparagus are now as tall as I am, going into their summer fern stage so there will be more next year. Two quarts of asparagus pickles are in the refrigerator to enjoy until they are gone.
Last year, the deer discovered the daylilies until I put a fence in front of them. This year the fence was put in place before they emerged and they are just beginning to bloom, but the deer discovered other treats in the walled garden so the ones they are favoring had low fence erected around them. The deer population is heavy and they have no fear of our ancient pups, coming right up to the house to graze when the dogs are in, lounging under the pine trees even when the dogs are out as long as the dogs don’t notice them.
Each year, I change up what is in the vegetable garden with the staples of tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, and spinach. I really want a dent corn patch for cornmeal and chicken scratch, sweet corn can be purchased as desired at the Farmer’s Market, but success with corn has not been good. The freshly weeded bed was replanted with dent corn, but there is no more sweet corn seed here. The pumpkins were planted out today even if there is no corn, the seminole pumpkins make good pie, are nice for stuffing with rice and sausage, and they are good keepers.
The hydroponics were shut down and the parts that could go in the dishwasher were run through a cycle. When lettuce at the farmer’s market becomes scarce and the rest of our spinach bolts, the larger one will be reseeded for salad greens. The herbs were all planted out and that one doesn’t need to be reseeded until near frost time so there are fresh herbs for the winter.
The garden is rewarding, but the work to keep it up is getting more difficult.