Garden Daybook 8/8/13

Where is the sun??! We have had clouds and humid days for weeks on end. The peonies have mildew and the vegetable garden is struggling to mature what it can before roots become too soft to function. The weeds, on the other hand, are screaming with joy and growing rampantly . . . . . everywhere. I cannot keep up with the weeds and I am at the point of giving-up. Well . . . . at least giving up until the soil dries out and the mosquitoes are less lethal. As my Dad used to say “Them mosquitoes are big enough to carry you off!” I keep Cutter mosquito spray in my garden basket but I just am not comfortable spraying it over and over to keep the critters off.

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I read somewhere that if you stick 3-4 Punk sticks into a pot of sand, light them, and keep the pot near you while you work in the garden, the smoke from the slowly burning sticks will keep the mosquitoes away. Has anyone tried this with any success? I found a handful of Punk sticks at a Fireworks store and tried to buy them. I was told that they were given free when someone bought fireworks. I explained that I did not want fireworks but wanted to try the sticks for mosquitoes and they gave me the ones you see in the picture. Supposedly each stick will burn for at least an hour. I’ll let you know if they help – right now it is thundering and RAINING so I cannot get into the garden to try them out.

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The constant dampness is causing problems in the vegetable garden. These are my pitiful Kennebec potato plants. I finally weeded the bed and several of the potato stems were so rotted they just pulled out of the ground. I couldn’t decide if I should leave the plants alone and allow them to stay in the ground as long as I could stand it – or dig the potatoes now. Or – – were there any potatoes at all? I finally dug the end plant and found . . .

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Not too bad for such a rainy, rainy year. The potatoes look healthy and are solid. The biggest potato weighs 11 ounces and the four of them together weigh 1 pound 6 ounces. I have not yet dug any Fingerling potatoes, but I can see a few poking through the soil and they look to be good sized. So . . . if the rest of the plants have grown similar potatoes I will be satisfied.

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This is the worst year in memory for tomatoes. At least half of the plants that were planted in the spring have never grown. The sad plant in this picture was planted in May and what you see is what has grown in the last three months. Gads!! Wet soil = no root growth = pitiful plant = no tomatoes! It is not a good year to be a tomato plant – at least not in my garden!

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This is a Principe Borghese tomato plant. I grow this variety every summer because it is prolific – to say the least. It is obvious that, even though the plant has not grown very large and the bottom leaves are diseased, the plant is still bearing a lot of tomatoes. Principe Borghese tomatoes are small, thick walled, and have few seeds. They cook down into wonderful sauces or tomato paste. They also make the absolute best dried tomatoes

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This plant is the only one out of 45 tomato plants that grew to any size. It is also a Principe Borghese and is full of tomatoes. It gets bragging rights in the tomato patch!

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Celery, on the other hand, is happy with the moisture. I always plant Tango celery, the only variety that grows dependably in my garden. I have already cut many of the outside stalks and they are sweet and crunchy. If you have tried to grow celery and not been happy with the results I highly recommend Tango.

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The okra is flowering and beginning to produce fruit. You can see immature okra in the center of the picture just about the flower. I thought that the plants were just beginning to flower but I took several pictures of the flowers and when I looked at them on my computer I saw okra growing behind the bloom! I went back out to the garden and found 6 small okra. My plan is to make a basic brine and pickle my okra.

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Naked Lily blooms tell me it is high summer in the gardens. The nights are filled to overflowing with insect sounds. I miss these sounds when winter cold turns everything to silence. If it were not for the mosquitoes I would sleep outside and soak in the sounds and fall asleep to their rhythm.

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Hey from the summer farm,
Fran The Kitchen Cousin

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