Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Latest "Goings On"

Between finishing up some of the summer garden tasks and getting started on the fall ones, things here have been pretty busy.

Over the past few weeks, The Great Melon Experiment has progressed quite a bit. My melons, grown from seeds collected from hybrid plants, have been ripening, and I've been making decisions about what seeds to save for next year for my de-hybridizing project.

There has been some argument with the local chipmunks over whose melons these are, but we've worked out an arrangement. They get most of them; I ended up with enough to work with (the five pictured here, plus a couple more), but even a couple of those were pretty hotly contested -- note the scarring and other damage from little chipmunk teeth.

At first, I (naively) thought I'd probably save seeds from the earliest and biggest, but tasting the melons changed my mind about that pretty quickly. The earliest and biggest melon was plenty sweet, but other than the high sugar content it didn't have much in the way of flavor, and the texture was a little gritty -- not like sand, but not smooth, either.

After tasting the first few, I was wondering why I thought this multi-year breeding project was such a great idea, but then I tasted the little three-pounder. Oh my. It was sweet but also flavorful, almost buttery, and the texture was creamy-smooth. Deciding which seeds to plant next year suddenly became a "no brainer," and my original enthusiasm for the project returned in full force. The packets of seeds saved from each melon are marked with date of harvest, size at harvest, and flavor notes, and they are dried and tucked away for next year's garden.

Also completed is this year's popcorn harvest. Corn is probably not the smartest choice for a gardener working with a small space, but this really is a beautiful harvest:

Not only have I already cleared the old stalks away (chopped up and layered into the compost pile), but I've also been able to get the kernels off the cobs. These are pint-and-a-half jars, which means my little harvest has provided a quart and a half of popcorn.

The tomatoes and okra are still coming in at a fairly steady pace, along with an occasional eggplant, and the peppers are still rollicking along as though they were in their prime. I suppose they could actually be!

For fall crops, I have quite a lot of greens in flats, and root crops have been seeded directly into the ground -- if you don't count that the carrot seeds were first "sown" onto some paper towels to make wide-row seed tapes. Beets and winter radishes seem to be doing pretty well, in spite of the heat.

I've also planted broccoli and cauliflower transplants that I bought at a local store. It's been hot for their first week in the ground, but rain and cooler weather will be here, beginning at about 2 o'clock this afternoon, when the first rain-bearing bands of tropical storm Lee are expected to arrive. Already it is cloudy, and we are looking forward to the break in the drought and the heat. We are hoping, though, to avoid flooding!

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