Welcome to my garden this week where we’re a bit betwixt and between. I harvested the last of the peas today and pulled up the vines. As you can see, they were mildewed, and it was time for the carrots and cucumbers to have their moment in the sun. If you remember, I planted cucumber seeds in the same spot with the intention of using the same fence. I don’t have as many cukes planted because they are extremely prolific, and not enjoyed by everyone in the Red Dirt Family. This was a very good spring for peas with the unseasonably cool and wet weather.
The ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes have tiny fruit, but all of the others are in their growth period. I can see I need to get out there and tie many of them to their supports because they have grown enough to need it. My baby tomatoes, about which I worried so much, are doing great although they are still behind the greenhouse babes. I figure it will help to extend the season.
So far, the squash and melons remain untouched by either squash bugs or cucumber beetles, although I’ve seen the latter in the garden feeding off of flower nectar or pollen. I don’t know which.
The green beans are just beginning to flower, and in a few weeks, I’ll have fresh beans.
I haven’t mentioned the potatoes lately. I grew them in a totally different spot, the shredded leaf piles. They are doing splendidly, and as they grow, I’m spreading more leaves around them. Potatoes love leaf mold, and I didn’t want to do the labor intensive trench method, so I stuck them in a portion of the leaf pile. I forgot to take a photo while I was out there today.
Carol, you asked me in the last letter whether I ever grew corn. I used too. In fact, I even did the three sisters method one year, where you plant the corn stalk and then plant beans and squash around it. This also works with sunflowers, by the way. However, after a couple of years, the raccoons which abound in this rural setting, found my corn rows and stripped the corn cobs from the plants. Not only did it make me angry to lose the corn, I also hated the huge mess they made. Raccoons are cute with their little bandit masks, but they are a horror in the vegetable garden. After they finished the corn, they moved on to the tomatoes. Those were two very bad summers, and I haven’t grown corn since.
The other night I took Bear to her Tae Kwon Do lesson, and I heard an elderly man talking with another grown student about his garden. I waited until the student moved away and then engaged the older man in conversation. Wearing a ball cap emblazoned with an ad for an equipment dealership, he had the look of the venerable Oklahoma farmer, all suntanned, wizened skin and clear, blue eyes. I asked him questions about what he’d planted, and we espoused our views on a range of vegetables, ending up with our preference for crookneck or straightneck yellow squash (we both liked each of them). I then asked him what he did about the squash bugs.
He looked at me as if I were daft and said,”Hit ‘em with Sevin. Dust ‘em, and they’re not a problem anymore.”
I tried not to shudder. There was a time over 20 years ago when I hit ‘em with Sevin too.
Although I wished it weren’t true, I wasn’t surprised and I understood his feelings. He, like my grandmother, began gardening in a time when chemicals made life simpler and easier for the gardener. “Better Things for Better Living…Through Chemistry” was DuPont’s motto from 1935 until 1982, after all, and we didn’t know then what we do know now. Most of my neighbors still use Sevin and think nothing of it. They don’t have holes in the leaves of their green bean plants. Me? Now, I’d rather not grow anything than to hit it with a pesticide.
Growing vegetables in Oklahoma is difficult to do organically because our weather seems to really bring out the bugs, but it is possible. I promise.