Thursday, July 30, 2009

That Horse Shit Was Worth It!

Remember me posting about Reyes and Pat putting horse manure on the garden last spring? This was Pat's third try to get a good crop of corn. In the first two efforts he may have harvested six ears from the entire planting. Now he's a believer in horse manure (also extra nitrogen and side dressing with blood meal when the tassles form). We put up 19 pints of whole kernel corn and 24 ears of corn on the cob. If the entire crop had been planted in Bodacious corn, we would probably have had twice that much corn.

We planted two types of corn. Many years ago my Mom was enchanted by Iowa Chief corn. It was one of the first extra sweet corns she found. Not knowing which kind of corn to grow, I found that and planted it the first two years. Later Pat picked Bodacious from the Gurney's Seed catalog. We put in two rows of Iochief and 2 rows of Bodacious. Hands down, Bodacious is the one to grow! Not only was it sweeter, it outproduced the Iochief all over the place.

Besides corn, we have been busy with peas, onions, green beans and now tomatoes. I'm busy nearly every day canning or freezing what ripened the day before. I have never grown Roma tomatoes before, so it's an adventure figuring out how to process tomato sauces. I have put up two batches so far. One of classic tomato sauce (it came out pretty thick) and one of Italian Tomato Sauce. (runny, but full of carrots, onions , celery and other chunks. ) I have about 1/2 a basket of tomatoes to process today, so I'll have to see what recipe I want to try this time. The Big Boy tomatoes will be ripening soon. That's when I will put up diced tomatoes and tomato juice.

The green beans are going crazy! I have over 30 pints of beans put up and the beans are still producing. I thought they were "spring crops" that died off in early June, but the beans didn't, only the peas did. We will have beans until frost at this rate. I'm not complaining. Pat and I love green beans. Reyes doesn't get a vote -- they are on the table, so he gets to eat them. :) I don't think that's a problem.

The cucumbers went wild and I have put up all sorts of pickles -- Kosher dill pickles, dill pickle chips, sweet gherkins, sweet gherkin chips, as well as bread and butter pickles. I don't eat pickles, so I have to take the kids' word for it that they are good. Reyes and Lala smack their lips over the dill pickles. I do believe they could eat the entire quart in one sitting if they were allowed to do so.

I'm proud of the onion harvest, but frustrated, too. I can't grow large onions. I want them the size they come in the grocery store! Guess that will be one of my winter assignments: read up on growing large onions. Maybe they need something besides horse manure... I wonder if I can plant onions in a fall garden? As much as I'm using them for sauces and cooking, this won't be nearly enough to go through the winter.

The spaghetti squash is our mystery plant this year. My folks always planted one vegetable they hadn't grown before and didn't eat (yet.) One year it was globe artichokes. Another year it was peanuts. Okra became one of their staples after they tried it one year. [Dad had to harvest it because Mom was extremely sensitive to it's thistle-like nature.] So, for us, this year was spaghetti squash. It's doing great! But when do we harvest it? I've read that it is a winter squash, so I'm figuring it will harvest when the pumpkins do. I did pick one this week and cut it open. It was still green around the edges and the seeds weren't properly formed yet. I did cook it and the pulp did it's string thing, but we didn't eat it. I have time to perfect a good spaghetti sauce to eat with the squash.

We also have cantaloupe, two kinds of pumpkins and sunflowers planted. Reyes loves sunflower seeds, so he's been keeping a close eye on them. Next year I'm going to plant them against a building because every time we get a big rain, we loose another plant. We will be lucky to have 4 plants make it to maturity.

The pumpkins are Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins and one vine of Giant Pumpkins. The package said to pick off the buds and let the vine concentrate on producing one pumpkin to get the largest size. I let two pumpkins stay on the vine. I guess that means we will get two 150 lb. pumpkins instead of one 300 lb. pumpkin! It's going to have to hurry. Right now they look like light bulbs, not pumpkins. (That's it on the left.) The Jack-o-Lanterns have grown to be decent sized and LOOK like pumpkins, but those others, well... time will tell.

All in all we have a good garden and are enjoying it. This has been a good year for us.