Mary's Veggie Garden

August 26, 2013

Harvest Monday 8/26/2013

Filed under: Beans,Cucumbers,Tomatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 12:43 pm
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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.

FAQ: what is under that white thing and why?

FAQ: what is under that white stuff and why?  A: It is a floating row cover with Edamame Soy growing underneath to prevent insect damage

“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.

Tohya edamame soy: a great pod set.

Tohya edamame soy: a great pod set.

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.

Tohya Edamame Soy pods.

Tohya Edamame Soy pods. Harvest total = 15.62 pounds.

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.

Tuesday 8/20: how am I going to fit this stuff into my panniers?

Tuesday 8/20: how am I going to fit this stuff into my panniers?

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.

The gardener arrives at home...

The gardener arrives at home with bike fully loaded

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.

Cucumber: top Summer Dance, bottom Salt & Pepper

Cucumbers: top Summer Dance, bottom Salt & Pepper

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.

Naples (tapered peppers) and Vanguard (bell peppers)

Wed. 8/21: Naples (tapered peppers) and Vanguard (bell peppers)

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.

Thursday 8/22

Thursday 8/22

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.

Friday 8/23 slicing tomatoes

Friday 8/23 slicing tomatoes from my plot

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.

August 5, 2013

Harvest Monday 8/5/2013: Cherries!

Filed under: Cherries,Fruit — marysveggiegarden @ 4:25 pm
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This is a first for me: cherries harvested from my garden! I’ve been harvesting these little beauties for about a week now – straight from the bush to my mouth.

Bush cherry harvest: the berries are a smidgen smaller than a dime. Seeds are the size of those in sweet cherries.

Bush cherry harvest: the berries are a smidgen smaller than a dime.

The plants are bush cherries: Prunus jacquemonti x japonica  ‘Joy’ and ‘Joel’. I have one of each variety and I don’t know which is which because the labels got separated from the plants early in their life. Two varieties are necessary for pollination.

Bush cherries in bloom 3/26/2012

Bush cherries in bloom 3/26/2012

The bushes blossom profusely in the early spring: the last week of March last year in the mid-Hudson Valley. There is a heavy fruit set – almost every blossom must set fruit.

Young bush cherry fruit  5/29/2013

Young bush cherry fruit 5/29/2013

Last year I had a problem:  all the cherries disappeared while still green.  It happened gradually but by late July there was only a hand full of berries remaining. Last year there were lots of chipmunks – three or four all summer. I blamed them (I know they were eating all my cherry tomatoes) and resolved to net the bushes this year.

This spring I feared the worst. While planting peppers in the bed next to the cherries I found several clusters of 15-20 seeds buried in the soil.

Green bush cherries found planted in the garden.

Green bush cherries found planted in the garden 5/29/2013.

Comparing the buried seeds to the green cherries on the bushes, I am certain a chipmunk (or possibly a squirrel) was helping me by thinning the green cherries and planting them for later consumption.

Well, I never did get around to netting the bushes. But this year, at least, it doesn’t seem to matter. Both the squirrel and chipmunk populations seem to have crashed and there is only one chipmunk lurking in the garden. (Yeah, Coopers Hawks!)

Bush cherries ripening August 1.

Bush cherries ripening August 1.

Flavor: these cherries are mouth-puckering tart if harvested early. The cherries should be left to ripen to dark red on all sides when they develop their sweetness. If the cherry pulls off easily it is ready – and will be sweet-tart, good to eat. The cherries at the 9-11 o’clock positions in the first picture are under-ripe. I should have looked at the bottom before harvesting.

The two cherry bushes  fill a space about 10' wide.

The two cherry bushes fill a space about 10′ wide.

Growing: The bushes seem happy where they are growing. I planted them in a part of the garden that is too shady for most vegetables, next to my east fence where they get shade until 11 AM.  The soil is a loamy clay with a pH of 7.0-7.2.

Problems: Clearly something is nibbling on the leaves – but it isn’t severe enough to bother me. Of more concern are the shriveled cherries in the picture below. (Click on the picture to enlarge.) It could simply be a watering problem. July was very dry, trees are near by, and I haven’t been watering the bushes.

Shriveled cherries - too dry or a problem?

Shriveled cherries – too dry or a problem?

I looked at these berries with a magnifying glass. It doesn’t look like brown rot so I’m hoping better watering will solve the problem next year.

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