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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
I’m so sorry about the chickens. I’m keeping my fingers crossed to get female flowers blooming on my squash this year. No such luck last year because we didn’t have a lot of sun and had a more cool and wet spring than usual (apparently they don’t like such conditions).
Nola at the Alamo
Hope you didn’t wash away in those rains yesterday; too bad you can’t share them with us down here in the parched state of Texas! Your potager is so pretty, and it looks like it’s always been there!
My potatoes are looking good but a long way from harvest. There is nothing like the fresh ones, as you said. So sorry to hear of the chicken debacle. Those were attractive chickens. The rain makes everything look so fresh and clean doesn’t it?
We forget about the perils of Mother Nature. It is a wild place out there. Sorry to hear about your chickens. We had a wild pack of dogs break down the chicken coop fence on our Ohio farm once and they took out two dozen one night. So I remember what that was like. Anger didn’t help much. We did get a new batch of chicks and that helped. The garden looks beautiful and a place for good eatin!!!!
Lots of very useful information in your letter, Dee. My beans aren’t even blooming yet, and you are eating yours already!
Mr. McGregor's Daughter
I had a similar situation driving to Madison last weekend. I shut off the car’s vent because of a chemical smell coming from a farm field where something was being sprayed. It’s really disturbing. Sorry about your chickens.
I have been on squash bug patrol for about a week now. I planted Old timey cornfield and the the squash bugs really don’t bother them like they do the summer squash and they do make the best pumpkin pies. I was going to plant a couple yellow straight neck in with the old timey cornfield to see if I could confuse the little buggers.
I am really sorry to here about your chickens.
Hi Dee, I’m sorry about your chickens.
When I lived in Alabama our home and barns were next to a large cotton field. They sprayed that field from the air once or twice every year. It frightened me then but I’m even more afraid now since whatever poison they used has had many years to work on my body and produce who-knows-what diseases.
I’m with your hubby – no flat or fuzzy green beans! But I do love any variety that’s not flat and fuzzy – and lots of other veggies, too. Your post makes me long for a big vegetable garden of my own. For now I’m sticking to the flowers and getting the veggies from the farmers’ market. My in-laws grew all their own vegetables until they were well into their 80s. My favorite was the Silver Queen corn.
Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening
It is hard to keep chickens protected. Even if you lock the door, some of their enemies can wiggle through what seems like a too-small crack or other opening. As others have said, please don’t beat yourself up about them. I wonder what kind of beans Bill’s grandmother grew? Did you ever figure that out? I suspect it was something promoted as dual purpose but not really good for human consumption.
Gardener on Sherlock Street
Sorry about the chickens. Those sly foxes! Sounds like your vegetables are doing well. Love the story about the green beans. I’m on squash bug patrol too.
P.s. I mean I too am sad… stupid fast computer…
P.S. I took am sad for the loss of the Henny Hens!
Love the photos Dee! You have a new follower in Nick! Thanks for the mention.
As always, great info you are giving to us.
I just pour up a cup of coffee and sit down to read and feel like I have shared the morning with you. I enjoy the blog so much.
Rain has stopped here in west Edmond, but it will take time for the water to recede, due to our red clay soil. The plants will have to wait. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!
Your veggies look wonderful. It is good to avoid pesticides like Malathion. How interesting that there is a big link between pesticides and parkinson’s disease. I go the natural route. Just this weekend a neighbor from around the block,asked me how I could grow such healthy roses without spraying. I told him the good bugs eat the bad bugs. Invite the good bugs. Keep the soil around plants healthy. I don’t think he was convinced.
Lisa at Greenbow
I hate to hear that you lost some of your beautiful chickens Dee. Just think though that a den of little foxes had quite a feast. I just hope they don’t come back thinking there will be easy pickings again. Your potager is to die for. It almost makes me wish for a sunny spot to be able to make one. Hmmmmmmm
I’m very sad to hear about your three pretty chickens. Such pretty birds
Dee, I am so sorry about your chickens~That is sad~don’t beat yourself up about it. Okay!
Sometimes i want to take signs to the big box stores and post them along the pesticide aisles warning people of the health hazards~it makes me really mad that people believe commercials without any research. There’s one on the tube now that shows kids and dogs happily playing on a chemically treated lawn…Sigh! gail