It feels like the end of summer at the Vassar Farm community gardens. Last weekend a row of 4 Port-A-Potties was installed at the edge of the playing field across the dirt road, and all week Vassar teams were exercising in the field within sight and sound of the gardens. ”Push-ups – Count – In Unison – ONE – TWO -…-FIFTEEN”. The amusing but sad part is that the dorms on the main campus are .5 -1 miles away, but all the students drive to practice.
“Out of sight, out of mind” – this saying is certainly true for crops hidden by a row cover. I planted my soy beans under a row cover and have only peeked under a few times very briefly: once to place a soaker hose, once to pull a couple of weeds that were taller than the soy plants and once to make sure the beans were pollinating under the cover. (Yes the pollination was as good as without a cover.) Because I mulched thickly before planting, and only moved the mulch aside a little to plant the seed, there were very few weeds.
Last year I lost most of my soy crop to the combined effects of Mexican Bean beetles eating foliage and Stink Bugs feeding on the beans through the pods. See the post here. The row cover solved those problems. A close look at the first picture (click any photo to enlarge) reveals at least one hole in the row cover (probably my fault – I managed to snag it a couple of times.) A bean beetle managed to find that hole, get inside and start laying eggs. I found and crushed both the beetle and several clutches of eggs during harvest.
Without seeing the plants, how can I tell when to harvest? I did the math: Planting date of 6/11 plus 78 days to maturity equals Aug. 28. I prefer my edamame on the green side and don’t like any beans to start drying so I usually harvest before the maturity date. I checked on 8/16 and the beans were full-sized and the raw beans tasted unexpectedly sweet. I started harvest Monday 8/19 and finished 8/21. The beans were fuller (noticeably more mature) on the last day of harvest, but I had too many plans to delay harvest by a few days.
Each evening I steamed the pods for 6 minutes, shelled out the beans, froze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then packed into plastic containers.
Soy was only the beginning. While sitting outside the garden snipping pods from the plants a neighbor came by to ask if I’d had anything stolen. (A: Not yet this year.) She’d lost a melon and an eggplant. By the week’s end there was news of several more break-ins – a garden stripped of tomatoes, two melons from another, a big sunflower gone, etc. I decided to harvest whatever I could carry on my bike each day.
The bags of edamame went into the bottom of each pannier – they conform easily to the tapering shape of the pannier. On one side my gardening clothing was next as padding with the tomatoes on top. The other side got the hard stuff – a spray bottle, the corn, Tetsukabuto squash, and carrots. Some stuff didn’t fit – the onions were hung from the back of the seat and my purse was carried as a belt pack.
My garden at home is also producing. I picked several pounds of pole beans but didn’t photograph. The 5″ of rain on 8/9 pushed production into a high for this year. Unfortunately we’ve gotten no rain since.
The three Summer Dance cucumbers pictured are the first of the sixteen harvested this week. Yes, I’m giving them away.
For the last several years we’ve had a bad problem at the community gardens with bacterial spot on peppers – so bad that my plants produced very little last year. This year I made an effort to find the varieties resistant to the most races of bacterial spot and ordered Vanguard & Naples from Stokes. The seed was expensive but the plants are doing fantastic. The largest of these bell peppers is almost a pound.
I prefer my peppers red ripe, but I’d rather have green peppers than loose the crop to stink bugs or thieves. So I harvested.
A typical daily harvest from Vassar Farm: 1-2 pounds of Sungold cherry tomatoes, two ears of Incredible corn (21 ears this week), and some bigger tomatoes. These are all Opalka, from a single plant. For some unknown reason the plant is dropping a lot of partially ripe tomatoes.
These are all varieties I’m trying for the first time. The three on the left are ‘Mountain Fresh’. That weird, deep stem scar seems characteristic of the variety.
Totals this week: 30 pounds of tomatoes, 64 pounds of everything else.
Total for the year: 353 pounds
It’s time to get off the computer and into a garden for more tomatoes and corn.