Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heat Wave

We've been busy in the garden, but with no rain for a few weeks, it has definitely become unbearably hot. The heat index has been in the 100s. It wouldn't matter so much if we were "early birds," but anyone who knows us well, knows that we are NOT morning people.

One can only water with the hose so much between rain. The plants and flowers are showing their suffering. The giant sunflowers are all blooming and making the bees very happy. Their petals are shriveled and scorched though.

We have learned a lot thus far. The largest lesson of the summer is:

100 feet of cucumbers is too much!

We have cucumbers everywhere! Mom and I canned a few jars of pickles, we gave away a ton during Vacation Bible School, gave away a large rubbermaid to an assisted living facility for a pickling project (which tasted much better than mine--I need their recipe!) We also sold about 10 ice chests-full at the farmer's market.

Speaking of the market...
We initially agreed to join because
1) I was worried that without enough participation, it would fold in the first year
2) and I wanted to help boost the number of vendors
3) as a way to get rid of our excess veggies

The market hasn't helped all that much though. It's only 2 weekends a month, so we only get rid of excess every other weekend. I've already "put up" as much as will fit in the freezer, so now I suppose I'll be putting zucchini on neighbors' doorsteps in the middle of the night!

Our biggest hit at the last market was the zinnias. I picked and picked the morning of the market, but with 4 kids decided it wasn't worth my time to strip the leaves and make arrangements, so...

I dunked all of the flowers (leaves and all,) into big buckets. I provided scissors, a trash area for leaves, and SOLO disposable cups filled with water. All of the little girls who tagged along with their parents on Saturday enjoyed making their own bouquets. The SOLO cups were the perfect size to fit in their car cup-holder for the ride home. We sold out of zinnias, potatoes, cucs, squash, zucchini, bell peppers, and okra. We made enough money to cover the garden portion of the summer water bills, but more than anything, it was nice to meet new people in the community and encourage other people to begin gardens of their own. The kids enjoyed it too.

Tomatoes. I don't think we have a red thumb among us. Stink bugs ruined the first ones that turned. We sprayed them like normal, to no avail. Hubby eventually used SevenDust and the most recent tomatoes are looking (and tasting) better. Part of the problem is that I simply picked a random variety of cherry tomatoes when I bought seed. The skin is much tougher than I would like. Jerry and his wife (the booth next to us at the market) have tomatoes with skin like a grape. His are delicious! Ours are only good cut up in a salad. They're a little tough for snacking.

Our larger tomatoes are pretty good. We waited until after Easter to plant, so they're just now turning.

The corn is plowed up. We sold a bunch at market, and I blanched about 400 ears, stir-fried and put up about 300 ears, gave away some, and froze a bunch whole. All of our local co-ops and feed stores are completely out of sweet corn seed, so my aunt in MS mailed us some from her co-op. We'll plant that where the potatoes were.

I guess that's all for now. I'll try to remember to include pics of the baby chicks in a future post. So far, our rooster (son of Puff-Daddy) has sired 15 chicks. We also have about 20 pullets, and another 24 ordered from Murray-McMurray scheduled for July delivery. Hopefully the repairs to the coop will hold and these new chickadees won't become another possum or raccoon's midnight snack.