More Produce

Pumpkin Crop, and Other Stuff

I finally picked our pumpkins today. I harvested our entire crop, seen above with a few other items I sliced off the vine this afternoon. So we have a whopping three pumpkins for pie, soup, what have you. That ain’t much. In past years we have gotten more pumpkins than we can eat, freezing most of them for use over the winter. We did get a few, indeed, but we’re not talking a bumper crop here.

We are still picking cucumbers. The cherry tomatoes are falling off the vine. I might pick a bunch of them and dry them. The second melon from our garden is pictured above as well. Hopefully it will be as good as the first. That first one was tasty when we busted it open and even tastier after the second half of it cooled in the refrigerator. We should be able to pick a few more of those.

Next up–onions, already drying out of the ground. Good food. We have much more to still harvest. The rain we will get over the next couple of days will help with that. It should drop below 90 degrees by Saturday. That might help as well.

Chilly. What Gives?

So in May we had temperatures in the 80’s for a stretch. I was ready to plant the garden long before the typical date. Now that my melons, which I have tried to grow three years running without success, have been in their beds for a few weeks, we have temperatures in the 50’s at night, every night. Today is was so chilly I wanted to light a fire. If I hadn’t have been too lazy to move the potted plant from the top of the wood stove, I would have.

The melons don’t look great.  They are sensitive bastards. They have not grown a whole lot bigger in the past month and one of them looks like it is ready to pass out. Maybe they have been staying up too late since they left the pot. Maybe I was too rough with them when I transplanted them. Maybe it is the cold. And maybe, and I shudder to put this in writing, it is the beetles.

I have not seen any cucumber beetles yet. Why would I? They are perhaps happily munching away at the roots of my poor little melons. Or they might be victims of the nematodes I spread this spring. I won’t be able to tell for a bit. The cucumbers don’t look great either, however. And the pumpkins’ growth has slowed. I was really hoping the beetles would be slain by these tiny little animals. I have not given up hope, but I am thinking the damn hole may not be plugged.

I worked at home today and shivered. I wore a hat–the winter variety. I drank hot beverages. I couldn’t get warm. That doesn’t help with the old productivity. But I got work done nonetheless. I made about a zillion phone calls and that kept me mostly distracted from the 50 degree temperatures.  Plus, it was overcast, then rainy, and windy. The highest temperature I saw was 63 degrees. Summer in Vermont.

On Friday night I will wake in the wee hours again and head up to the mountains to see if I can find some birds. Take two. It may be chilly then, but I will be prepared for that, and hiking tends to raise one’s body temperature anyway. The birds like it better when it is warm as well, but they are not as wussy as melons. A few cool nights, a few bugs, and those suckers just can’t take it. I’m going with the tough love approach at this point–no dessert until they start to green up their act. I’m the one whose a sucker when it comes to the birds. They sing to me and I’ll praise them all poet-like. If my melons would sing instead of produce fruit, well, at least then I would get something sweet.

Grow, Baby, Grow

I planted potatoes for the first time this spring. This is what they looked like last weekend, six days ago:

Potatoes, May 30

I was pretty excited that they were growing at all. I mean, I’ve never grown these tubers before. Here is what they looked like today:

Potatoes, June 5

The popcorn appeared today. This morning the green shoots were popping out of the dirt.

Popcorn Reaching for the Sky

I knew I had to get something to scare the birds or they would pull it all as it sprouts. When I first planted popcorn, the birds ate every kernal. So I replanted and hung some reflectors. That did the trick. I wanted to wait this time until the shoots were just coming up so the birds would not get accustomed to my little scare tactic. So late in the morning I rigged my reflectors. Between the time I discovered the seeds sprouting and the time I carried stakes and string out to the garden beds, one of those flying bastards had pulled half a dozen seeds. I hope that is all they manage to get.

I save CD’s over the year so I have a few to hang to keep the birds away. That they are reflective, and that they spin in even a slight breeze, seems to be enough of a deterrent. I add some flagging tape in there just to make things really wiggy. I need the birds to stay away long enough so they no longer want the just-bursting seeds. In past years, once the plants have become established they have done fine, and I am looking to repeat that pattern this year.

Better Than a Scarecrow

And that’s how things are growing these days. Most everything is coming up, although lettuce seems to be slow. I’m thinking it has been too hot. That is what you get for waiting. We have had some hot days and some rain so growing conditions are right on for most things. Although the basil isn’t doing well, which surprises me. But you can’t have everything. If the cucumber beetles are less of a nuisance this year then I will be happy. Cucumbers and melons instead of basil. Not ideal, but not a bad trade.

And speaking of nuisances, I haven’t seen the damn bunnies in a few days now. Maybe my chasing them around in old clogs was enough to scare them? Or maybe my wife watching me chase them, through the upstairs window, and laughing through the screen, was what really made them flee. Either way, I am glad they have decided to snack on more wild fare for the time being.

Too many critters to deal with, I tell you. Too many critters.

Stuff I’ve Noticed Recently

I hung up a bunch of old CD’s recently  over some garden beds, to keep out the birds.  This morning I looked out the window to see a robin pecking at the dirt at the edge of one of those beds.  Then it hopped right over the bed.  It nearly got clocked by the spinning disk.  It worked last time.

Our dishwasher has a whole slew of adjustable bars and rods, the better to efficiently stack all one’s dishware and cutlery.  One of them seemed to have lost its adjustability recently.  It flopped.  I removed it today to find that it had rusted right through.  The little rod was pointy, yet crumbly, with rust.  I took out one half and wrestled with the second for a while before deciding to leave it for tomorrow.  I figured a dishwasher is for lazy people anyway so I had good reason to be lazy with that task.

Our neighbors have a small pond, just over our property line.  What its intended use what I can’t say.  It doesn’t seem to get much human use at all–no swimming, no irrigation, no livestock watering.  It just sits there, leaking onto our side, home for ducks and frogs.  The bullfrogs are especially loud these days.  The groan and croak at all hours, but seem to especially like the hours just after dark.  All of us pretend to respond to them now and again.  Cracks us right up.

For Father’s Day I got a book of crossword puzzles.  I am pretty hooked on crossword puzzles and have been working my way through a book of 200 of them from the New York Times.  This new book is a little different.  One of the clues was this:  Royal mistake maker.  The answer?  Dumbshit.  Cracked me right up.

We have been watching old science fiction movies lately.  You know, the classics.  The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example.  Last night we watched the original 1950’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  It was pretty well done, eerie and even a little scary, but not gore-filled.  All of these movies have the year listed on the sleeve from Netflix.  Last night’s said 1956, but when the film opened it said 1955.  The other films have had this same one year discrpancy.  My guess is the the film posts the copyright date and Netflix notes the date the film actually was released.  I guess they used to do things a little slower back then.

We went up the road this afternoon to pick up our share of produce.  This was given to us as a gift again at Christmas.  Great gift.  As we walked out to the field to pick strawberries, the children found a mud puddle.  Well, maybe puddle isn’t quite right.  It was a mud puddle and had become a thick bowl of muddy paste.  The children were wearing mud boots so of course they slopped about in it until their footwear was gray and wet.  They had a blast.  Then they sat in their dirty boots and ate all the strawberries we picked while I picked some daisies to bring home.

The cucumber beetles are starting to hatch.  I have been slow to attend to them.  I hope to get some Neem and see what that does.  I have heard good things about it, that it makes the beetles go away.  I want them to go away.  I picked one off a pumpkin plant today and slayed it.  They are beautiful little bugs.  And I want them to live far away from here.  I want some cucumbers this year, dammit.