Dear Carol, Mary Ann and all of our gardening friends,
A huge thunderstorm is roaring through much of Oklahoma this morning, and our weather station shows six inches of rain so far. I have the windows open because at 66F, it is wonderfully cool.
Potager in torrential thunderstorm with raindrops on the camera lens
As for the veggie garden, the potager is turning out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. Because of its height, I find it very easy to harvest and weed. I just sit on the edge and do most of the work. Being a group of raised beds they warmed up quickly so the vegetables are ahead of schedule. Being deep, they retain moisture. It’s a win-win.
Barring any disaster, this should be a great tomato season. I have loads of little green tomatoes. In a few weeks, they will ripen, and I can’t wait to try the bruschetta recipe Joey posted. Hers is with wheat, but she also searched out a gluten free version.
Lots of green tomatoes
Of the new vegetables I’ve tried so this year, Dragon Tongue bush beans are my favorite. With their purple stripes on green pods, they are very pretty on the plant, and they cook up to be a “meaty” green bean. I’ve used them in stir fries and more traditional preparations, and they are a keeper.
I have a funny story about green beans. When Bill and I first married, and I was selecting beans to grow, he assured me he didn’t want any of them. “They’re flat and fuzzy,” he said, “I only like ‘Blue Lake’ green beans in the can.”
It took awhile, but I discovered his grandmother only grew flat and fuzzy, prolific, but unpalatable green beans on the family farm. Therefore, Bill was adamant about not eating any green beans I planted. I pointed out canned ‘Blue Lake’ green beans started out in a garden somewhere, and I told him I would find those seeds. I did, and when I served them to him, he was elated. Now, we grow numerous varieties of green beans in our garden including the famous ‘Blue Lake’, but nothing flat or fuzzy.
That’s what gardening does. It expands our horizons.
In the other garden, I dug most of my potatoes last week. Have you ever eaten a potato straight from the garden? It has a buttery texture unlike those in the store. This year, I planted both red and white varieties. I’ve grown a lot of potatoes over the years, including some blue ones, and I still love the red skinned Red Pontiac best. Oklahoma State University’s HLA-6028 fact sheet on potato production profiles other varieties which perform well in our state.
Entry way to the school. It looks exactly the same.
Last weekend was my 30th high school reunion. Go Knights, Northwest Classen! I saw lots of old friends and made some new ones. I want to give a shout out to Dana’s husband, Nick, who is an avid vegetable gardener. We talked for quite a while Saturday about squash bug patrol and control until our spouses begged us to stop. He’s promised to stop by RDR and comment once in a while.
Here at RDR, we are on full squash bug alert. The garden must be checked each and every day even if it rains buckets. Rain will not drown squash bugs. They will simply hang on the underside of the leaves. Oh, and after this rain, we’ll need to reapply diatomaceous earth judiciously to the plants. Don’t get it anywhere near the blooms so your pollinators can do their thing without being hurt.
I’m also getting assistance from a mighty predator, the Assassin Bug. They are voracious and will eat anything. Just don’t smash them, or they will give you a nasty bite. I find them to be really creepy especially when they get bigger and fly, but I must admit they are a help with all types of “bad bugs.” Here is one on Echinacea ‘Coconut Lime’.
Assassin Bug hanging beneath Echinacea 'Coconut Lime'
This week, I received an email from a fellow garden clubber, Janet, who was worried about DE and her earthworms. Yes, if you work DE into the soil, it can hurt earthworms. I only put a bit around the plants and on the undersides of leaves where I actually see squash bug nymphs. I use a plastic hair coloring bottle to apply it exactly where I want it. Just because something is organic doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful so always read package information.
Another friend asked me this week about malathion for control of a pretty innocuous pest, and I discouraged her. In our Facebook discussion, her husband wasn’t convinced malathion is dangerous. If you’re also on the fence about what we pour and spray onto our gardens and lawns, check out this 2008-2009 report from the U.S. Department of Health, National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. As Bill and I drove through Arkansas last week, we saw crop dusters powdering the rice fields. Since it was white, I don’t think they were spreading manure, and both Bill and I found it alarming. I often feel like a voice crying out in the wilderness, but we must become more aware of how chemicals affect our bodies over long term use.
Male squash flower
On a happier note, the squash are just starting to bloom with male flowers. As you know, male flowers bloom first, and the females, with their tiny ovums at their base, begin blooming right after. I’ve already seen two, withered unfertilized squash which indicates pollinator activity is down. I will probably strip a couple of male flowers and fertilize the squash myself. This summer, I also want to try fried squash blossoms as I’ve never eaten them.
Barred Rock beauty
On a sad note, we lost three Barred Rock hens this week to a fox. Apparently, the three bedded down in the other pen, and we didn’t know. The door was open, and Mr. or Mrs. Fox got all three of them. I can’t tell you how I sad I am, or how bad I feel.
Well, that’s all for this week. Hope things are growing great in your world too.