We’ve kept the sheep out of the front garden enough to be able to see the clematis bloom for the first time since we got the sheep. I’d like a gold star, please. (And I’d also like Murphy to look away. There’s nothing to see here!) There are also black-eyed Susans, bee balm and purple coneflowers in bloom too. Yay! (The beds are weedy as hell, but I’m still working mostly in the vegetable garden. I really need to cut back on my perennial flower beds, sadly. I have some ideas about how to do that.)
The weeds in the vegetable garden are still mostly under control, so can I have another gold star, please and thank you? Frank helped me tie up the tomatoes the other day, which was very helpful. I found it astounding that he could tie them up and not weed at the same time. Huh? I sometimes wish I could be that single-purposed, but I do ADHD farming. On the way to do one thing, I’ll do 4 things instead, and sometimes never make it out to what I set out to do.
Today I tied up the cucumber plants, which worked pretty well. I was thrilled to see tons of blossoms with tons of honey bees all over them. I think we are down to two jars of pickles left and no dilly beans or pickle relish at all. Grow, cukes, grow! The yellow squash and the zucchini near them looked really good too, full of blossoms and bees, leaves in good shape, and doing so well that they’ve shaded out the weeds all by their lonesome, and yet are still contained nicely in the raised bed. Score. (I don’t think I get a gold star for that, do I? Self-sufficient beasts.)
We have a trellis for the sweet potatoes that I tried to convince the plants to climb. I had better luck with some varieties than others, and need to find out which one was planted where. (Did I keep track of that? Surely I did. Dang. Frank says no, that he planted them and tried to put name tags but they’ve since gotten lost. Oops.) One variety in particular had really long vines that almost reached the top of the trellis. Other ones were still pretty bushy, not viney, and I didn’t realize that would be the case. I think we picked the right year to grow these, though, because it’s been so hot. I heard on the news this morning that this past June is the hottest on record, everywhere.
The peas are still going really well. I am throwing them into salads all the time, and also just eating them with a little bit of butter and salt, lightly steamed. I remember my Aunt Barbara used to think my choice of late-night snack was weird. “There’s no accounting for taste,” she said. But I’d far rather have a bowl of just picked peas than potato chips or something like that. Mmm. Peas. Despite planting lots of them this year, we should double the crop next year. I want to try for a fall crop this season too, and I have the seeds ready and waiting. I get a gold star for that because I wanted to do that last year and none of the local places had seeds for fall crops. (??) This year, we ordered enough for both seasons. Even if they won’t produce peas for me, I like the leaves, shoots and tendrils almost as much as the peas themselves. They are great lightly steamed with butter and salt, and also great in a stir fry, especially with some ginger and soy sauce.
Despite the heat, we are still getting a salad’s worth of lettuce for each of us each day. I can’t believe it hasn’t bolted or dried up in the heat. I definitely want a gold star for that! My theory on why is that this balcony only gets direct sun at the very end of the day, and I’m also harvesting it pretty heavily. I also water it by hand every time I harvest, so I’m not forgetting to do it. This mix of lettuces is just lovely. In the evening, I often pick two bowls worth, then add some broccoli and peas from the garden, then whatever meats I have. Last night was one of our chickens that I had in the crockpot all afternoon. Then a little cheese and some dressing and that’s a quick, cool and lovely dinner, all zero-mile meal. We are really enjoying it.
Speaking of broccoli, we are really enjoying this heirloom variety that I’m trying this year, so much that we are letting it bolt and are going to attempt to save seeds and then replant. I had tried it last year from someone at the Keene Farmers Market, and it’s just lovely. It doesn’t head up at all, really, but has long stems with little heads on each end. The stems sort of have the texture of asparagus, and the flavor is awesome. Frank usually doesn’t understand my love of broccoli, but he says this stuff “isn’t broccoli because it’s really good”. ha. Must grow more! I hope we get a second crop, because despite growing an entire bed of it, it wasn’t enough and I hardly blanched and froze any, because we ate it as fast as it grew.