Dear Gentle Reader, 

I took several photos before I left on my trip, and then more this morning.  So, I think I will compare before and after pictures. 

This was the corn the evening before I left.  As you can see it has grown over the PCP pipes I have for the winter cover.  The pipes seem to be helping to hold the corn up when it is super windy.  On this evening, the corn had begun to make tassels, though it is difficult to see here.  Also, some of the stalks were just beginning to show a little silk. 

Corn on June 24, 2010.

And here we are a week later, on the morning of July 1, 2010.  It is much taller, way over my 5’4″ head.  All of the corn has tassels, and most of them have tassels for an ear of corn.  How many ears of corn does a single plant get in any way?  One ear?  Two?  More?  Interestingly, some of the ears have white silk, and others have red silk.  The plants with the red silk also have some reddish coloring on their stalks and leaves.  Since this variety produces both gold and maroon ears, I am guessing that the white silk goes with the golden ears, and the red silks go with the maroon ears. 

Silk on a baby ear of corn.

Corn with red silks - a maroon-colored ear coming up? 

The cucumbers are all growing well.  First, lets take a look at the Mexican Sour Gherkins.  These plants are growing like gang-busters.  And they are covered with teeny tiny cucumbers.  The whole plant is kind of tiny (leaves, fruit, flowers) except that it grows many really long vines very quickly.  For those who aren’t familiar with Mexican Sour Gherkins, they are a bit sour (of course) and look like tiny watermelons (with the green and white stripes).  In the second photo, below, you can just begin to see the stripes on the little cuke.  They will make great pickles.  

Mexican Sour Gherkin Covered with Baby Cukes!

Baby Mexican Sour Gherkin

As far as the H-19 Little Leaf cukes, they are growing well, and covered with flowers.  But I have only seen male flowers so far.  Today, I actually planted three more H-19 Little Leaf starts, as I have only one vine on the trellis.  The others were munched by something.  Maybe Bambi? 

H-19 Little Leaf Cucumber on Trellis.

Is it a male or a female bud? We'll see soon.

I need to harvest the leeks this weekend.  They are looking kind of bad, as they were blown over in a storm a couple of weeks ago.  But, here you can see what the flowers look like.  It is kind of interesting, since they start out white and then turn pink. 

Old and new leek blooms.

The bees seemed to really like the leek blooms.  They were all over them.  I got a picture of this odd bee.  It was shiny metallic bottle green.  I thought that it might be a fly, but it didn’t have the fly eyes.  So I looked it up, and apparently it is of the genus Agapostemon virescens, a kind of sweat bee.  They are solitary bees, like mason bees.  I but up a mason bee house, but haven’t seen any activity there yet.

Agapostemon virescens having a leek lunch.

And finally, I wanted to show you the royal velvet okra.  It is a pretty plant, though the stem seems to be kind of spindly.  The leaves have lovely dark maroon spots, veins and stems. 

Royal Velvet Okra.


Dear Gentle Reader,

We returned home last night, just in time for me to run outside and water.  We had a wonderful, relaxing time visiting with relatives.  I look forward to another visit next year. 

When I went outside, I was amazed by how much my garden had grown.  I have to take more photos tonight and get busy blogging.  I had taken several photos, and had planned to blog while away, but I just never had the time.  So, I think I will be pretty busy catching up with a mammoth-sized entry (over the next few evenings).   I may not get too much done, however, as I have relatives coming in this weekend, and then the weekend after that we are going to a family reunion. 

I guess that’s all for today.  I hope that you all are having a great summer.

Dear Gentle Reader,

Tomorrow morning my family and I are off to visit one of my DH’s older sisters (and her family) up in Minneapolis Saint Paul.   Here is the general route.

We will be back early next week. While we are gone, I won’t be able to blog. So, I’ll see you next week. Hope you all have a good weekend! 🙂

Dear Gentle Reader,

I have to tell you how great the service is at Territorial Seed Co.  It is Fabulous!  Yesterday morning, I e-mailed them about the chocolate spot on my Fava beans, since I wasn’t sure what to do with it or if it was safe to eat them.  I got an answer later that very same day, from a nice person named Lori!  I was really surprised.  I hadn’t expected to hear back for at least a week.  Lori said that I need to remove and destroy the diseased plants, and that you can spray the remaining plants with carbendazim, which is a broad spectrum fungicide.  Unfortunately, all of my plants are diseased, so I need to get rid of them all.  I think I will put the plants in a clear plastic bag, in the sun, for about a week or so, to kill the fungus before I compost them. 

To prevent future outbreaks of chocolate spot, Lori recommended to fertilize before planting, don’t plant too closely together, keep the leaves dry, and practice a 4-year crop rotation.   Well, I planted the plants too closely together, since I have been doing the square-foot gardening, and the leaves have been wet quite a bit, due to the constant rain and/or my watering.   BTW, I also read up on Fava beans, and apparently they stop forming beans when it gets too hot (e.g., about 70-degrees).  No wonder they stopped making beans.  It has been very hot here the last several weeks.  I should have planted them as soon as the ground was workable (e.g., February).  Live and learn.

So, I am going to pull the plants out and replace them with zinnias.  They will grow well  during the summer, and at least I will have some flowers to cut.

Next year, I am going to try out a smaller/shorter version of Fava beans, and plant much earlier, in the next garden box over.  I will give them more room, and maybe spray them with copper on a weekly basis.  Also, I will do some more reading up on them before then.

Update 7-1-10: The Fava beans got torn out.  Still need to plant.

By, By Favas. You were fun while you lasted.

Dear Gentle Reader,

I haven’t been able to do much gardening lately, as I am still having back problems.  Anything requiring bending over is difficult.  I’m hoping that I overcome this problem soon.

I went out to check the garden this morning, and noticed that some of the bean pods have black spots on them.  In some cases, it is very severe.

It is very hard.  Not slimy.  I did a little searching on the web, and found that it is called Chocolate Spot (Botrytis fabae).  But I haven’t found any information about what to do about it.  Any suggestions?

Dear Gentle Reader,

I checked out my garden this evening, after I got home from work.  It rained once again.  So it’s hot and humid.  It looks like there is a lawn in the back yard, but it is a trick.  When you walk around, your shoes squelch in the mud, leaving sloppy foot prints.  Hippy Skippy. 🙂

The leeks are growing well.  I should have harvested them a couple of months ago, but they started making scapes, and that was interesting.  So I left them, and now some of them are 3-4 feet tall.  The flower buds are huge and starting to open.
The fava beans are coming along.  Some are getting pretty big.
The tomatoes are even making tiny little fruits.
And the corn is standing tall.

Dear Gentle Reader,

1. Plant Something:  It has been raining at least every other day.  On top of that, it has been in the upper ’80s.  So, I haven’t gotten to do too much in the way of planting.  I did do a lot of weeding.  And every time we had a big storm, the winds knocked everything down, and I tied it back up.  So, the fava beans have been tied up several times.  Saturday I staked off the corn.  Yesterday I staked up the cherry tomatoes.  This morning I staked up the slicer tomatoes. 

I planted four pots of H-19 Little Leaf Cukes (from Highmowing Seeds).  They are pickling cucumbers.  I picked them because they are resistant to Angular Leaf Spot, Anthracnose, Cucumber Mosaic Virus, Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, and Scab.  I am hoping that they do well, but I have only one in the garden.  I planted some others, but they got eaten by Bambi.  I also transplanted a Mexican Sour gherkin into a large pot.  I found that you can get all kinds of FREE growers pots at the nursery.  They have a huge bin where people drop their used pots off for recycling.  So, I picked up a bunch on Sunday.  Yay! 🙂

2. Harvest Something:  Garlic scapes.  A bunch of mint and a bunch of thyme.  It was great on pan-seared lamb chops.

3. Preserve Something:  nothing

4. Waste Not: Picked up growers pots for free from recycling at my local nursery.

5. Want Not: Still working on my sourdough bread baking skills.  I started adapting the sourdough recipe to oatmeal.  The first try was ok, but it needs work.

6. Build Community Food Systems:  Investigated which orchards and farms are actually near me (within the surrounding counties).  I e-mailed an orchard not too far away from here, and they still have PYO cherries for only $2.50/lb.  Is that a good price?  I’m not sure.  They also have apples, blueberries, raspberries, and asian pears.  So, I need to get my family geared up for some picking.

7. Eat the Food:  More sourdough bread; mint and thyme