Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mid Summer Report

Midsummer roundup at Tiny Happy Farm:
I saved seeds from the nasturtium I had last year and started them in seed trays this spring.  The seedlings that I planted in a big pot all died during some storm or something early in the summer, and I was sad.  THEN three nasturtium plants sprung up in the garden, weed-style, right where the old one had dropped its seeds.  I let them be, and they recently started flowering - in three different colors!  The one I had last year was bright orange, but its babies are every shade between yellow and red.  Yay nature!
My watermelon plants have been the slowest growing things on the planet.  This one has been the smallest, and that vine off to the right represents a recent huge effort on its part.  Until recently it has been about the size of a dandelion, appearing healthy but unmotivated.  Two other watermelon plants are finally growing, but they seem to have no idea there is a deadline here.
The chickens get fluffier and fluffier :-)  No eggs yet.
The peppers are setting fruit in abundance, which is encouraging, as my peppers were mostly a flop last year.
CAN YOU SEE all those tomato flowers???  I don't thing this is even a cherry tomato plant!  I'm scared!
Now a midseason review of the Three Sisters Garden.  If you have been playing along you know that this is a Native American way of planting Corn, Beans and Squash in the same area.  The Beans climb the Corn and fix nitrogen in the soil.  Nitrogen-loving Corn is braced up and protected from corn-eaters by the climbing Beans.  Squash covers the soil with vines, which act as a living mulch to conserve moisture and shade out weeds.  That is the theory anyway.

I'm not sure if you can see it well here, but the beans are indeed vining right up the corn.  In some cases the beans are WINNING and taking the corn DOWN, but mostly this symbiotic relationship seems to be panning out.
One stalk of corn is about 10 feet tall.  I'll have to take another picture with me standing next to it or something.   Maybe it's just trying to outrun the beans...
Overall the whole thing is really pretty.  You can see the short spiky popcorn stalks in the front, and the taller indian corn is in the back.  At the beginning of the season this patch was REALLY REALLY weedy, as this is the first year that I have planted it, and I didn't do a very thorough job of preparing it.  And I have to say the living mulch thing is working well.  There are still weeds, but for sure they are having trouble finding anywhere to grow at this point!
 So mostly positive reviews from me.  One mistake I did make was planting Zucchini and other summer squashes in this patch, along with pumpkin and watermelon.  LOOK at this patch.  HOW IN THE WORLD am I supposed to find a Zucchini in there???  It will have to be the size of a volkswagon before I could possibly notice it.  Beyond that, the beans have yet to fruit, the corn is just tasseling, and the pumpkins have not set, so the final review is yet to come.


The chickens are enjoying their attached run.  I took this picture right at dusk; I looked out my kitchen window and they were just climbing their ramp.  By the time I got out there with the camera, they were all lined up on their perch.  At that point there is always a little commotion as they try to get underneath each other to sleep.  Then they remember that they are grown ups and they settle down for a nice night's perch.
The radishes really "took".
-The peas have come and gone with a great harvest, and now I'm thinking about a fall planting, which I have never done...

-Beets are just starting to plump up; I ate my first bunch this week, all at once, with predictably amusing results in terms of... output.  I also LOVE to cook beet greens.  I have never grown kale or chard, but I don't really need to because I have BUSHELS of beet greens.  With their beautiful red stems and veins they even look like rainbow chard.  If you are new to cooking greens, try sizzling up some chopped bacon with garlic, add a HUGE pile of greens and some white wine or stock, cover and cook for 8-15 minutes, uncover and let the excess liquid reduce.  It's like green candy.

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