Friday, June 19, 2009

Garden bounty begins

We appear to be in a drought. In June, we usually get 4.3 inches of water, but so far we have only gotten .3 inches. Ouch! This explains why I spend 20 minutes every morning watering the garden, but the plants are only doing so-so. I don't mind watering, it's exercise and I like being out in the garden even though the mosquitoes enjoy dining on my blood. I definitely need some chickens next year!

Last week was dedicated to picking peaches, and this week is dedicated to processing them. Yes, it's that time again. Every year, I curse my poor peach-thinning abilities. Although I attempt a tough-guy ruthlessness throughout the spring, I always fail to pick enough of the little marble sized peach babies, and end up thinning several more times, up until summer, when I realize the branches are about to crack. Last week I picked about 4 1/2 5-gallon bucketfuls, and many more are on the tree or the ground.

Peaches a la carte

I also curse my lack of spraying knowledge. I have tried to create a diverse habitat in the front yard to attract bees and beneficials insects. But aside from that, I just let the night-flying moths attack my little peach darlings, and many, although not all of the peaches, get infested. I've come to the conclusion that I need to spray SOMETHING, but I'm not sure what. I heard on the NPR garden show that a clay-based spray was effective, but I haven't tried it yet.

The bush beans are yielding nicely. Purple and gold varieties are fun to pick and fun to cook. I didn't plant enough to can, just enough to dine on two or three times a week. Last week I cooked Great Green Pesto Pasta and Thai Tofu and Green Beans. Both recipes are from the cookbook Simply in Season, which has really helped me start eating more seasonally. I hope that the pole beans I planted around our home-made been teepee will pick up the pace once the bush beans start to peter out.

Three-legged Bean Teepee

I harvested my little batch of garlic - probably 15 bulbs total. After I set them on a screen to cure for two weeks, I put them in an old oatmeal container in the pantry by the back door. For a week I smelled garlic whenever I came in from the garage! They were pretty easy to raise, and I plan to plant them again in September or October. Next year I will try to braid them instead of cutting off their tops. Although I barely water them, the onions that I have distributed throughout the garden are still alive, and we harvest them sporadically.

Curing the garlic harvest

I have spotted two baby butternuts, some little zukes, and the okra are starting to flower. The sunflowers are getting HUGE! The pepper plants are a little puny, but I've eaten a few Grape tomatoes already. Unfortunately, three of my seven tomato plants have evidence of spider mites. I have been spraying the undersides of the leaves (where the wee mites live) with a full-blast of water in the mornings, but so far no improvement. This always happens whenever the summers start to get hot. They tend to recover later in the year and deliver a bounty in September.

My major frustration is the kiwi trellis. Despite the heroic efforts of my husband (who has done all of the work while I watch our toddler), the trellis is not complete due to various design flaws, lack of proper parts, and a particularly irritating incident wherin a certain big-box store shorted us 15 feet of trellis wire. At this point, it's a $150 boondoggle just sitting there laughing at me. Worse, the arguta kiwis don't seem to be exhibiting the incredible growth spurts that were advertised. Even worse than that, the male kiwi seems to have bit the dust from the heat. Will this be a kiwi trellis or just a massively overbuilt clothesline? Check back in a month and I'll let you know.


Aimee said...

Lucky you, with peaches! I am salivating over here. No local peaches for me, but I do buy a crate a year from a guy who hauls them from the east side of the mountains and sells them by the side of the road. It's a little guilty habit, but it's just one crate a year!

Sena said...

Two Suggestions:

--We had about 3wks of drought conditions right when I was just getting the garden started. Watering every morning was just barely making it. Then I put down a bit of wetted newspaper as a weed-barrier and a nice thick layer of straw. Dropped my watering to every other day and everything took off! If you're not already mulching, try and see if that helps.

--spidermites: Make up a foliar spray of 1 tsp Neem Oil, 1 tbsp dish soap to 2 quarts water and spray liberally on plants, above and under. From everything I read it should get rid of them and it is both non-toxic and won't harm beneficial insects. Kind of smells like peanutty-garlic.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Aimee - Did I mention the peaches are all buggy? But they are delicious.

Sena - I have a newspaper straw mulch down everywhere but in the bean patches (they are too close together). So I usually water 1/2 garden one day, then the other 1/2 the next day. Still watering every day but not for as long!
Thanks for the spidermite suggestion, another friend also recommended neem oil, I will have to try it.

Wendy said...

While I would rather have our weeks-of-rain-without-stop than a drought, I do have wish that I could give you a little rain and you could give me a little warmth and sunshine. From what I understand the strawberry yield this year will be sad due to too much cool, rainy weather this month.

Wish we had peaches ;)

On a positive note, the peas are very happy ;).

Anonymous said...

hope you figure out exactly what is getting your peaches so you can spray the right hing and not just SOMETHING!

June said...

I've heard Surround is good for protecting fruit trees against some things (don't know about spider mites but it's worth some Googling). I was going to try it for our cherries this year against the Japanese beetle. But the deer got there first: stripped the limbs bare. It is heartbreaking. But your peaches look delicious, bugs and all.

KiwiGrower said...

Sorry to hear about your kiwi plants. The trellis is quite an investment and most of my plants are still young too. They have a shallow root system and are sensitive the first couple of years, so they always need deep mulch and that first summer in the ground the could use some shade. Don't give up: I want you to realize that dream of sitting under the kiwi arbor and reaching up to pick delicious berries in the fall.

Nice big peaches! We had the same buggy problem with our peaches and plums and most dropped off early. I sprayed some other anti-"plum curculio" organic stuff on them and saved a few of the plums, but will use "surround" at the right time next spring.

Good Luck!

Mrs. Money said...

I am so jealous of your peaches. They look amazing!