Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Eating from the Garden and Eating of the Garden
Truthfully I have not found any one good indicator for ripe water melons. I have tried looking at the little spoon leaf but found it is not at all uncommon for it to be shriveled up and the fruit still not be ripe. I have tried the thumping method but they all sound about the same to me ripe or not. Supposedly when you roll em over and the underside is golden instead of cream they are ripe as well but I have seen some pretty golden creamy bottoms. Other methods include when the sheen goes dull and supposedly when they just pop right off the vine as I mentioned earlier.
I am getting a bit better at choosing a ripe one but it must take some incredible practice to get that skill to work with any certainty.
Tonight's desert was half a small Ice Cream White Melon. It was tasty and sweet and had juice pouring out of it. I also picked some random tomatoes although between the blossom rot and the tomato fruit worms I don't have many yet to harvest. Bugs really have been bad this year, much worse than I first thought. I haven't used any pesticides and to date I never have, mostly because I am afraid my bees will carry it back to the hives. usually I just deal with the bugs and wait until the garden is producing so much the bugs can't keep up.
The squash and zucchini are still going strong but I know the squash bugs are multiplying by the millions in there. Not much I can do about them but squish em and the eggs up whenever I see em and hope their preferred food stays viable long enough to keep em off my pumpkins and melons.
With the terrible apple and peach crop this year it looks like water melon jelly is about all I have to make. The Strawberries are recovering nicely but they were so damaged from the moles who invaded last year that we didn't get much of a surplus this year.
Back to bugs. It's amazing how each year spawns a different bug problem. I am pretty sure the Japanese beetles are here to stay as they have been slowly building up each year but the other bugs seem to tag team off year by year. Three years ago it was the army worms and corn cut worms along with cabbage lopers. Last year it was the blister beetles and tobacco hornworms this year it is the tomato fruit borers and stink bugs and now it is looking like a grass hopper plague is building. The grass hoppers consumed a huge patch of tanzy over night and now seem to be looking at the corn hungrily.
Of course there are always the Squash bugs and cucumber beetles. They never seem to go away but the cucumber beetles are easily distracted by the pig weed I allow to grow.
As I mentioned though I have noticed that usually by about this time the garden begins producing more than the bugs can easily consume.
Same goes for the other critters. As usual the garden becomes the nursery of choice for the local wild life. I am not certain how they manage to avoid the cats except I think the cats that go in to the garden are so well fed they don't bother hunting. The cats usually limit themselves to chasing each other through the tomato vine maze and running through the corn while the local wild life babies hide in the melons.
Today I came across two turtle dove chicks hiding in the pumpkins. The parents were not happy about that. There were two baby rabbits nibbling on the musk melon vines and they ran into the extra thick cucumbers to hide and nestled way down under the squash leaves was a hen and about 8 baby quail chicks. The quail chicks looked like little fluffy ping pong balls with tooth picks for legs running around under there. I hope they are eating the squash bugs!!!!
So as you can see the garden becomes the center of the Small-Hold universe about this time of year. I freely admit I plant much more stuff than I and the wife can keep up with or even manage to give away but I don't care. It allows me to feed a variety of local wild life as well and I may need them someday too.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!