Thursday, May 29, 2014
Progress of the Family Vegetable Garden
Last year, my 'Honeycrisp' was loaded with bloom. This year not a single blossom. The crabapples and wild apples around me have blosssoms, as well as the probably 150 year old apple tree at the historic house of my brother. On further investigation, at the tips where I would expect a blossom are tiny dead dry dots which fall off easily when I touch them. My blossom buds from that night in April when the temperatures fell to somewhere around 9-12 degrees (F).
We like to make a lot of sauce, juice, and sliced apples and can them as a family.
The quality of the apples from my tree is usually superior to the unknown heirloom at my brother's. This year we will be scavenging for apples. My brother hopes to have sold his house by fall.
Also, the pear has just a couple dozen blooms, enough for a taste through fall. Not good.
The grapes are way behind. My grapes have just started to leaf out. This is something that typically happens early April. Two months behind at the get-go. For a crop harvested about two weeks before our expected frost date, this is problematic.
On a high note, even my son could see the strawberries have put out more bloom than either of us can remember. That Handsome Son noticed give you a good idea of the potential size of our harvest.
The family garden (on a separate piece of land not being offered for sale this year) is all but planted. If you could see the gardeners at work, you would appreciate this small miracle. I grow our transplants from seed each year, but my grow room is upstairs. At the time I should have been starting my seedlings climbing stairs loomed large as something I might not be able to do. Climbing stairs and turning lights off and on and watering small baby seeds was something at the edge of my abilities. I started just a couple dozen pepper and tomato seedling; two peppers, California Wonder and Sheepnose, and three tomatoes, Sweet 100s, Chocolate Cherry, and Roma.
Hedging my bets in early spring, especially seeing the price of produce after six months of not shopping for groceries, I planned on planting as much available space in my own yard with things I can can or freeze easily. The best thing I discovered a couple years back was how well tomatoes freeze whole in a ziplock bag. Remove the stem, wash, and dry, and then seal them in a bag and freeze. Zapping them in a microwave for 20 seconds renders them soft enough to chop or slice for sauces. I use them in fajitas like this on a regular basis.
The family garden "staff" consists of the now 5-year-old Twin Gardeners, 2-year-old Baby Gardener, and myself. A certain amount of the Twin Gardeners' time is taken up by requests by me to run and fetch this or that and dragging the lawn chair over so I can rest/supervise. Still, I have been able to doggedly rototil the garden, small sections at a time. This is probably a small miracle in and of itself. I have to say, the purposeful and exacting movement required to till has probably been the best physical therapy for my fractured acetabulum to date. But it does take a lot out of me.
The Twins have lugged all the tools, seedlings, seeds, hoes, etc. to the garden each day we work. I don't think their parents have expected much so far other than it gets the kids out of their hair for an hour or two so they can concentrate on prepping their house for sale. Other than tilling and supervising, the garden work has been done entirely by them. Planting the seeds, covering them, digging the holes for the tiny transplants and carefully mounding the soil around them has all been done by tiny hands.
Finally yesterday, the eyes attached to those tiny hands could see some of the results of their work. Our corn is starting to sprout/ The peas are 3-4" tall. The beans are working on their fourth leaves. The Twins were excited to be able to walk down the row and point out each bean to Baby Gardener, who mimicked their chant of "Bean, bean, bean..."
Will this garden be the neatest garden? Will it have the straightest rows or be weed-free? Probably not. But this year's garden might be the best garden I have ever had in so many other ways.