Melon Action

I have tried to plant melons in the past, with limited success. Last summer I saved some seeds from a melon we got from our farm share and planted them directly in the ground in spring. I guess we had a good combination of sun and rain, because I picked the first of what I hope to be several melons today.

I cut it up and we sat out on the porch in the early light and ate it together. The sun was not too hot yet on this 90 degree plus day and we savored the cool sweet flavor of summer.

Here is what it looked like two weeks ago:

Melon on the Vine

And here is the result from this morning:

Ready to be Sliced and Eaten

And on the inside:

Melon Guts

I picked up our farm share tonight and mentioned that I picked my first melon from seeds supplied by the fruit (ahem) of his labor. He was curious to know what it looked like. It turns out he planted hybrids, so the result of those seeds could have been anything. It seems to have worked out. That answers my question about the other melons, however. We have a couple of them that look different from the one I picked. I will be curious to taste those. They have smooth skin and no netting:

A Different Type of Melon

I have to admit I am pretty fired up to have grown some melons. I love those things. I already have seeds drying to plant next year. Maybe they will work just as well. I am hoping I get more from these plants as well. Summer has one more hit of heat this week (at least two more days in the 90’s!) and then we taper to fall. I want to taste it a little longer.

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Potato Harvest

The kids and I dug up all our potatoes the day before yesterday. It was like digging for buried treasure. They had as much of a blast as I did. Turn the soil and find some food.

There's One

I wish I had a scale. I have thought maybe 149 times that I could use one, but I have not taken the effort to get one. I planted five pounds of seed potatoes and all told, with the potatoes we already pulled from the dirt earlier this summer, we harvested 40-50 pounds of potatoes. That is a guess, of course, but probably close.  That paid off.

First into the Basket

We have two varieties–one purple and one white. Right after we dug them up we boiled some of the white one and ate them with salt and butter, along with the corn we bought. A simple and fine dinner.

Bucket of Potatoes

I plan to store a bunch of them so we can be eating potatoes at least into the fall. Hopefully I can make them last. I still need to pull the onions. They won’t keep as long but they will last for a couple of months. And I need to make pesto. And those melons are looking close to ripe. And pumpkins. We’ve got lots of food these days.

Creemee Musings

I painted the house for a while today and when I took a break for lunch was offered the idea of heading to the creemee stand for a cone. I did not want to disappoint my children, who have not had the pleasure of my company for such a foray for several weeks. I could not refuse. So after lunch, and a quick pop outside to scrape just a little more, we hopped in the family rig for a treat.

I chose to get something different, something unusual, something I have not had, as I mentioned to my wife when it emerged from the window, since I was about nine years old–a small vanilla swirled frozen soft ice cream delight. I never get vanilla, unless it is accompanied by its partner chocolate. I also mentioned to this same wife of mine that the last time I had a vanilla cone I did not refer to it as a “creemee.”  I just called it soft serve ice cream. So we discussed my transition, when I moved to Vermont, from “soft serve” to “creemee” as one worth making and full of portent for our once blossoming relationship.

The vanilla was, indeed, tasty. It was hardly plain for me, as it so rarely visits my palate, so I enjoyed it with gusto. My daughter had respberry. My son had maple. My wife had none, having succumbed to the urge to eat ice cream at home earlier in the day. There are six choices at our local creemee stand–vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, maple, vanilla and chocolate swirled, and maple and raspberry swirled. The maple and raspberry combination would seem to be the least popular, but many people like it. My wife compared it to raspberry pancakes with maple syrup; a good comparison.

I considered that this latter combination might be the least popular creemee flavor, but I could only speculate, so I went to the window, where the perky teenage server had helped us earlier, and asked her “What is the least popular creemee flavor ordered?” She did not hesitate to tell me, “chocolate, hands down.” She continued, “I’m not sure why; chocolate is my favorite and is pretty much all I get.” She told me that the two-flavor mix in question is actually one of the most popular orders.  And plain vanilla is probably right up there, although she wasn’t counting or anything.

Maple is not a regular flavor for creemees, even in Vermont, but is all my son wants. He isn’t alone, despite that most maple creemees are not made with real maple syrup. The ones that are–whoo baby!–that is some fine gustatory enjoyment I tell you.

Whoda thunk chocolate would be the least popular flavor? People will eat anything if it involves chocolate–coffee beans, ants, gummi bears (I mean, come on people, gummi bears?), bacon. I guess I was more in the main stream with my vanilla cone than I would have thought. I know vanilla is popular, but I would have thought chocolate would have been more popular. I don’t know doodly. Apparently.

I did enjoy the vanilla cone. Next time, however, I’m getting chocolate, or at least vanilla and chocolate. Call me a maverick. You might as well, since you won’t be able to call me plain vanilla.

Garden Chores

I got out to the garden today (too rainy to paint, although I did bust out the pressure washer to clean the porch deck) and took care of some business. First check out this bounty I picked, including tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and onions:

Basket o' Tastiness

The popcorn is growing well, with tendrils melon plants creeping up the stalks:

Happy Corn Plants

And speaking of melons, I just may be successful this year. I don’t want to speak before I actually pick and eat a ripe melon, but we are close. I saved seeds from a chanterais we got from our farm share last summer. They started off well, they blossomed and a couple of fruits started growing. Now, a couple of them are close to ripe, good sized, and healthy. Seeking carefully under the corn plants, I found ten of them in various stages of growth. There are still more blossoms but those late bloomers will likely not make it at this point. If we eat one or two tasty melons I will be a happy camper gardener.

Check Out That Melon, if You Know What I'm Saying

And I did finally pull the garlic. I could have yanked it all sooner, but today was the day I got around to it. I harvested 19 remaining bulbs. I already used one of them to make some pesto–OK, a lot of pesto–and I will need to save maybe five of them to plant this fall for next year, but that leaves 13. Not bad, considering how much I already used.

More Than Ready for Harvest

Drying in the Sun

So it was a good day for fresh food. We ate pesto pasta for dinner with tomatoes, cucumbers on the side. I need to dig up potatoes next. They are ready to make it to the table now as well. Right now I plan to have another slice of zucchini blueberry bread. It is still warm.

Garlic and Onions

This past fall I planted two varieties of garlic. One was ready before the other and that I started using, then pulled and braided so I can use it over time. The other variety has been ready to go for a couple weeks but I have not taken the time to yank it from the dirt and cure it to store it. Every day I think about it and tell myself I will get to it, but so far no dice. Tomorrow I hope to dig it up and start drying it. Seriously. Tomorrow.

I picked my first onions a couple days ago. I planted Cippolini onions–flat and sweet. They are tasty but hoo-ra! Those puppies do a number on the old tear ducts. When I chopped half an onion for my first salsa yesterday, I had to set down my knife. Dicing with eyes closed is hazardous. Luckily it was windy. I opened the window and it was enough to clear the air. I have gotten used to mild onions so I was surprised by this once typical occurrence. I will be ready next time. Seriously.

I need to pull more of those onions. They don’t keep well so I will have to use them fairly soon, but I might have some into the fall. Unless I use a lot of onions, which I tend to do in the fall especially. The bummer is how few onions I will get. I planted 48 small pots in late winter. Most of them sprouted, but I transplanted them too late–so goes my theory. I will have maybe 20 onions if I am lucky. The leeks also didn’t fair as well as I would have liked. Again, I think I planted them too late in the spring. They just wanted to get outdoors earlier. I can’t blame them. Last year I had a forest of leeks and only three onions, so I guess it all balances out.

Tomorrow I need to muck about in the dirt. I made some serious progress on painting the house today so the garden chores got delayed. Tomorrow, however, rain showers are forecast for the whole day. That means other projects might get some attention. I need to sort through our tax returns for the last 15 years. We don’t need to keep all of them, do we?  That task, however, will take a back seat to pulling garlic and maybe to making a batch of pesto. I guess I prefer food over finances.

Fresh Salsa

Finally today I was able to make the salsa I have been hoping to make this summer. I had wanted to make it fresh, with ingredients I grew myself. I almost succeeded. I tossed together your classic pico de gallo. This calls for just a few ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, onion, pepper/chiles, cilantro, salt and lime juice. I do not have an active salt mine here at the house, and limes just don’t grow well here in the northeast, so those were added, but all the other ingredients were my own.

And it was, I don’t mind saying, delicious. Of course, fresh salsa is pretty dang good food anyway, but this had the benefit of being near and dear and personal and all that business, so I thought it was particularly tasty. I brought it to a potluck party and it did all get consumed, so there must have been something more than my own eager ego at work. I will make it again if the cilantro pulls through. I picked pretty much all of it from one small plant. This plant had been munched to nubbins more than once by our friendly neighborhood Silvilagus, that cute little long-eared mammalian rascal. Several other cilantro plants are happily growing now, but they are small. I need time, I tell you. Last year we had lots of cilantro but no tomatoes. This year the opposite is the case. Timing is key and that isn’t happening in my garden.

I will make the stuff–pico de gallo–again. I may have to find some other cilantro, however, to make it happen in the near term. Did you know that pico de gallo means “rooster’s beak” in Spanish? What the hell is that all about?  Maybe I’ll just call it salsa.

Back from Busy

We have been out and about for a couple of weeks now, so no posts here on Mercury on the Move. We travelled to New Hampshire and Maine and returned for some R & R from our R & R. Our garden has gone crazy, despite the minimal rain. The garlic all needs to be pulled now. Potatoes are ready to be dug up. Basil has filled out and should be pesto-ed. We have a few zucchini that are way too large. Those things grow like nuts, I tell you. We even have a couple of melons that are looking good, and the popcorn is maturing nicely. My daughter picked some carrots today (despite the “don’t pick anything until you ask” rule). So our garden has been doing well on its own. No need for a gardener for a couple of weeks.

We ate sandwiches tonight for dinner–cucumbers and lettuce and tomatoes. Our tomatoes are finally weighing down the vines with ripe fruit. And they are tasty as can be. The bonus this summer is that we have some cilantro that is ready now as well, as are some onions, so we can make fresh salsa with ingredients mostly from our garden. Maybe tomorrow.

I borrowed a power washer from a neighbor this morning and, after a couple of hours of trying to get the thing to hold pressure, I managed to wash the west side of the house. It looks mighty clean, even though lots of paint was washed off in the process. I hope to get at least started on painting that side tomorrow. I did put in some good work today, as I had to do some hefty trimming of trees and shrubs to get at the wall to wash it. The weather keeps holding for me as well, so I may be able to get that side completed before the summer ends for me.

The wild card here is my eye. I managed to poke myself in the eye with my sunglasses a few days ago. We drove back from Maine with my eye tearing and blurry and, worst of all, in lots of pain. I drove right to the doctor who told me I indeed tore my cornea. It has to take some time to heal and I am smudging this petroleum gel goop into my eye to ward off infection as well. Today it felt decent, but I do have to wear glasses instead of contact lenses, so bright sun is a bear. Luckily the side I need to stain next gets sun only late in the day. If I get started early, and I am careful enough to avoid dripping paint on my glasses, I should make some progress.

We have one more small adventure planned for the summer, but that is only a couple of days. I might just get my project done after all. I did decide to leave the north side of the house for next summer. Why stress about it? We want to apply some funky spray to the house to keep the cluster flies at bay this winter, and painting is a no go after that happens. I will, I admit, be happy to have three sides stained, plus the porch. That is a fair amount for one guy for a summer. I’ll call it good.

I will also enjoy some fresh salsa while I’m at it. And some pesto. And other good stuff. Fall will be fine.