SUMMER HEAT SNEAKING IN BUT ABDUNDANT RAIN MAKING A GARDEN POSSIBLE!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 07-06-2012

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What a month we have had.  It started with some of the Spring crops coming into harvest.  Collards, spring greens, beets, carrots, winter squash, kohlrabi  and bok choy which lead to an abundant crop of Blue Lake bush beans which everyone has enjoyed.  They are finishing up as June enters and we have plans to plant another planting in the same double-dug raised bed.  Our double dug beds have produced huge plants and crops and we will work all our beds this fall in the same manor.  I have never invested this effort in a bed before but one of the benefits in a communal garden is that there are a lot of backs to help with the drudge work.  And what a dividend it gives.  ATTENTION TO ALL GARDENERS WHO READ THIS BLOG!  Downsize your garden if you must but double dig your beds.  You will not believe the difference.  Kathy calls it our s–t sandwich as we turn in an equal amount of composted house manure to dirt.  I am in Columbia today and can’t take a photo of the difference between an eggplant in a double dug (dd) bed and those in a regular “productive”  bed but will later.

While the bush beans were producing baskets of produce, our “Garden of Eden” pole beans have been growing up their supports and are now ready to fill the void as the “Blue Lakes” slow down.  Let me recommend this variety (from Johnny’s Seeds) as the best bean I have ever eaten.

The cucumbers are yielding wonderful 6 inch fruit.  I don’t remember the variety but it is smaller and more delicate than most and very mild – no bitterness or tough skin.  I find that I eat many as a thrust quencher while in the garden.  We have picked over 4 quarts of black berries with many more to come and we are sharing them with the industrious Cardinals that find their way beneath our netting.

TOMATOES!  Yes we have tomatoes.  What a joy to find a dozen new ripening fruit every morning.  I must say that they disappear as fast as they appear but it looks like the 35+ plants will outpace us soon.  I must knock on wood as this is the second year that the tomato hawk moth has not appeared.  Oh!  Why did is say that?

The artichoke plants continue to grow ( I can’t wait for them to start blooming).  Our Malibar Spinach has sprouted and is waiting for the hot weather to climb the fence.  Onions are starting to swell and the Swiss chard continues to recover from our harvesting.  As we have had before, the many sweet peppers are painting our garden green, red and yellow.

Our summer okra, crowder peas, bush lima, and butter beans are all moving towards a bloom.  I have been told that if we wait until after July to plant our summer squash that we will not have a problem with the squash bore so I will try it.  I hope it is true as yellow squash is a favorite of all of us in the garden.  I have rotated some sweet potatoes into our “dd” beds following some of our spring crops in an effort to get a good harvest.  They make a beautiful plant and if contained should be a manageable crop in a raised bed.  I hope it will become one of our staple crops because it is such a good, healthy food.  I understand you can also eat the tops (leaves) as a green unlike a regular potato which has a poisonous green.

The wild mushroom (the Chanterelles) have appeared in the forest outside the garden following our recent rains.  I recommend to anyone who wants a special treat to harvest some and prepare them as I described in this blog last year.  They are easy to identify and Chris will tell you how good they are.

 

BEES

After a full year of working towards a good hive, we finally have one,  This should improve our yields substantially as we have no wild honey bees in the area.  Our new hive is one from a Texas breeder who has produce a strain of mite resistant bees (Bee Weaver).  Our hive is now expanding into a second deep brood box and will soon be ready to produce honey (Ross circles) with comb.  We will have a honey flow from the “popcorn” trees followed by a flow from the palmetto trees which should support our hive for both honey harvest and winter stores.  It is always easier to manage two hives than one (and three or more) so as to draw from a stronger hive what is missing in a weaker hive.  I have therefore another three lbs package from the same breeder in Texas arriving tomorrow and will hive it Saturday into a new hive.  That will give us two good hives by summer’s end.  My ultimate goal is to be able to work a strong hive into our top bar hive which we built a couple years ago but have been unable to keep a swarm in residence.  It is a pleasure to see bees feeding not only in our garden again but up by the house and in the forest.

 

SQUIRRELS

I’ve saved this for last as some of my gardening partners are not too keen on this subject.  Our squirrels seem to enjoy our garden as much as we do.  We can keep the deer and rabbits under control with our fences but I have found squirrels inside the berry nets, pulling the new bean seedlings from the beds and running back into the forest carrying a pear half their own size.  Our figs will bear their attack as well as our pecans and citrus.  It is never ending.  We can’t seem to plant more so as to have some left for ourselves as the squirrels keep multiplying.  I really don’t mind sharing but the squirrels don’t know what that means as they only see it as an incentive to work harder, run faster and bring in more family members.  I started a trapping effort (have-a-heart) last year.  It was very successful but I could not tell the difference in the number of squirrels.  You have to understand that the garden is in the middle of an 80 acre track within a 2000 acre forest.  That is a lot of squirrels.  There is an additional problem in that South Carolina law does not allow the relocation of a squirrel to another area after it is captured (a vermin for one man is a vermin for another).  I will not admit that any laws were broken but what do you do with a trapped squirrel?

Some of the garden members have come up with a partial solution which entails harvesting squirrel when the hunting season allows.  The plan goes like this:  selected members will wait in the early morning light enjoying the cool breezes and garden sights.  When a wild, ravenous and aggressive animal confronts a pear or vegetable, the member will “neutralize” the offender and place him in the freezer by the garden shed.  When 4 animals are processed in this manner, a squirrel bog will be created and shared by those of us who are not vegetarians.  I don’t know if this will take care of the squirrel problem but it will provide another harvest from the garden.

 

Recipe for Squirrel Bog

Skin and dress each squirrel and divide each into 4 sections.

Place into large crock pot with 3 cups of beef broth (bouillon).

Do not add salt as bouillon will provide the salt.

Cook on slow for 8 hours or until the meat separates from the bones easily.

Remove squirrel sections from broth and remove bones.

Place meat aside and discard bones.

Place into a 2 quart pan the broth, cut carrots, onions, celery and any other vegetable you want to include.

Add your favorite seasonings to taste.

Bring stock to boil and simmer on medium for 25 minutes.

Separate liquid from vegetables and add proper amount of liquid to 2 cups of whole grain rice and cook rice as instructed (you can add water if needed).

Combine all ingredients (squirrel meat, rice and vegetables) to large 3 quart pan and heat.

Serve.

 

The beef bouillon adds a beef flavor to the wilder squirrel flavor.  If you like a wild taste, add chicken or vegetable broth instead of beef.  I think you will be surprised at what a delicious dish this makes and considering its low fat content, a healthy dinner.

 

My sincere apologies to all the vegans  in our readership.

Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (4)

Always a delight to read up on what’s happening out in your world, Gordon. I must say, I’m green with envy regarding your bee hives. (I won’t even comment on my jealousy of gardening in the midst of such an expansive chunk of property. My entire vegetable garden could probably fit in your living room.) As for the squirrel bog, um, well, I’ll leave that to you. Luckily, my squirrels only tend to deplete the suet cakes we put out for our feathered friends, and with the exception of a stolen strawberry or two, leave our veggies alone.

Oh, almost forgot! Yes, double digging is the only way to fly! After every major harvest in our raised beds, we pull the old plants, turn the soil, then apply a hefty dose of manure, compost, maybe some peat moss, and a heapin’ helping of blood and bone meal. Our yields are usually quite spectacular, particularly with the cherry tomatoes. Besides our beloved Sungolds, this year we’re trying Sun Sugar tomatoes which supposedly beat out the Sungold in taste tests. We’ll soon see, as the first tomatoes are ripening as I type.

GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU RAY. YES, WE ALL ENJOY OUR GARDENS AND IT LOOKS LIKE I ALONE WILL ENJOY THE SQUIRREL BOG WITH SOME OF MY PARTNERS.

GORDON

Glad you are up and at it since I saw you a few weeks ago after your knee operation. Looking forward to seeing you again soon when I journey into Beaufort from my small Campbell “Plantation” in Dale. Now that you are back on your feet, I haven’t had a garden tour recently. I need some more ideas for winter plantings in my garden.

My sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and herbs have done well during the summer and fall period. The eggplants did similar to your co-op garden, lots of blooms, but little fruit. My new planting of asparagus with the old section is doing nicely, may get some to use the coming year.

I have the same issues with the squirrels, the reading was interesting as to an attempt at a solution.

Most of my summer plants are still surviving, and I have added cabbage and collards, just recently planted broccoli and calliflower. I have more room for additional plants in the raised beds, need ideas on what will work and where to obtain this time of year!

Take Care, Bob Campbell

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