2015 Garden - Part 10

As we roll into July, the garden just keeps changing....

The potatoes and tomatoes seem to be suffering from some sort of blight - the potatoes seem to be worse. Yellow leaves with brown spots. At this point, I am just letting the potatoes go. When the leaves die off completely, I'll dump out the boxes and see what happened below.

The tomatoes are more worrisome. I have been picking off the yellowing leaves and the plants are starting to look a little "thin." Some of the plants have small tomatoes. Of those, half were damaged in a hail storm. All flowers seem to have shriveled up and fallen off. They definitely do not look as lush as I am used to and I am worried. This year, the garden is unmulched and I ran out of Fish fertilizer at the end of last season and have been using only bone meal.

Plus I started them all from seeds. Maybe they were stunted/ruined by the cold spring? Maybe heirlooms aren't as robust and strong as hybrids. Oh....let's hope not!

We have pulled up all the buckwheat - making buckwheat pancakes.
The bok choy seeds have been harvested - I realized they were ready when more than half were eaten by birds:

The bachelor buttons are just about to open:

The sunflowers are all dying off and leaving behind a scant amount of oily black seeds. I will not be growing dwarf sunspot again. They were not very attractive. they got ratty very quickly and they barely made seeds.
The sunflowers look good in this picture, but really small. They look far worse after the storm and after being eaten by random animals....
I killed off 90% of my strawberry patch. I tore out the old plants, shredded through the soil, added a ton of not-finished compost, and then left it there to rot. They were over 5 years old and not very productive anymore.

I will be adding finished compost, top soil, and a mulch soon. Then I will be planting these runners we clipped earlier this spring:

The peas are winding down. There are still flowers up top, but the bottoms are starting to die down. They are full of obese pods, being saved for next year's seeds.
 =The flax plants suffered irreparable hail damage. They refuse to stand, even with support. The seed bolls are starting to yellow/brown. I hope to get them and bring them inside before they get opened by birds (lesson learned from the bok choy!) Look at the disgusting sunflowers behind them!!
 I mulched around the strawberries with lava rocks to stop the slug attacks.
The radishes went to seed. Radishes are biennial so this doesn't make any sense. The only way it makes any sense is that we had frosts after the radishes were already growing. This must of "tricked" the radishes into thinking they went through winter. I kept two plants as they flowered and they both produced "pea pods." Apparently, these are edible. I chose to keep them for seeds instead. I did eat a few of the bok choy seed pods with no ill effects. They tasted like peas/beans/grass.
We ate our first fava beans (ever!) They tasted a lot like beans and smelled a lot like peas. They seem to create a lot of waste for very little bean.  The pods are ginormous, the plants are ginormous, and the "skin" around the beans is quite large. We cooked them with and without the skins and they tasted the same. In the future, I will not peel the skins. They are still putting out flowers (see the beautiful black and white flowers below.)

 We are no longer picking the fava beans and will be leaving all the rest for seeds.
I captured some wild purslane and put it in the garden. Since this plant "grows like a weed" and is considered a menace, it speaks volumes that I can barely get it to grow in my garden!!!

If I can get this beef up a bit, I will be eating it. I have garden purslane growing in my porch (so it wouldn't go wild and take over...lol!!) I have tasted both. The garden purslane is almost a dead wringer for spinach/swiss chard. The wild version tastes like spinach mixed with wood sorrel, a little sour.
cultivating wild purslane
If I can get this purslane to set seeds, I will try growing more of it next year. It requires 90 degrees F for germination. Oh baby!

The squash and cucumbers are finally starting to climb their trellises.
The yellow crookneck squash have started putting on little baby squash. The bunnies have stopped attacking the fence ever since I added big globs of cat hair everywhere. I kind thank you to our cat for the gracious donation!!

Yes, the cat hair looks horrid after rain and hail. But if it keeps bunnies away, it will be a regular garden feature!

The ground cherries have finally started growing larger and even have little cherries on them! Woo!!! I just need enough to taste them and save a few seeds. Come on baby!!
One of the severely damaged and left for dead scarlet runner beans has made a resurgence. It is trying hard to out grow the destructive flea beetles that have decimated every last bean sprout! I have planted 4 - FOUR - separate tranches of beans in an effort to get any harvest. I am out of seeds and will have to save a bunch of whatever harvest we pull in for seeds next year. Imagine if we had to survive on our own garden! I tell you what we'd do... we'd find a way to eat all the pests! Watch out flea beetles, I'll find a way to eat you!
We stopped by  the only currant farm I have ever seen and bought a few of each variety. We had never tried currants (in any form) prior to today. It turns out...black currants taste like poison and there is a HUGE variance in the taste of the white/red/pink varieties. Even still: the reds, pinks, and whites are all tolerable out of hand and will probably make excellent jams.
Even better, they are hardy in our area and I completely understand how they grow - thank you years of learning how to prune blueberries and grapes! I finally get it!!

And so, after making a deal with the farmer.....
 I took home 7 plants for $12.

We planted 3 gooseberries, 1 red currant, 2 white currants, and 1 pink currant. I also have wild gooseberries in our forest garden and will taking better care of them going forward. I'm kind of master at pruning now.... It only took 8 years. Man, I'm a slow learner!

When I got home, I googled how to preserve/use currants. In my search, I found that most people agree that black currants taste like medicine/poison. It's just that, black currants are full of all sorts of good antioxidants. It turns out they taste good when they are cooked. Maybe. The same thing was said of Sunberries and they tasted like poison to me when they were raw and cooked. And cooked with a ton of sugar!

I like the red/white/pink currants. I don't love them like raspberries or blueberries. But I like them. I could eat them in an emergency. I could save them for a rainy day. I could cook with them and make them great. So I am happy with my purchases.

I also tracked down a hardy apricot (YAY!!!) and hazelnut (not my favorite but I could grow to at least appreciate it) tree. Once I find a place for those, I think my own garden will be complete. I simply do not have anymore room. Oops...I have to find room for a few dwarf cherry bushes. Dang it!

In other news....

Deer chowed down the strawberry bowls and I planted more buckwheat, bush beans, and basil seeds. Still no seeds or sign of flowering on the amaranth, leading me to think it may never seed...

I also found 3 full grown juneberry (saskatoon) trees in the forest and stalked the plants until the berries ripened. I ate a bunch of them. I'm still alive, lol. They taste like very apple/pear blueberries. I like them. So do the birds. The day after I ate a few handfuls, the birds had stripped the plants clean.

I read that they ripen off the bush like pears. I took a few red ones home and they mushed up after a few days but did not continue to ripen. If I want juneberries, I will have to beat the birds each year. Good to know in an emergency situation!

More articles from this year's garden:
19 Tomatoes and counting
Growing Heirloom Tomatoes without electricity
2015 Garden Part 1
2015 Garden Part 2
2015 Garden Part 3
2015 Garden Part 4
2015 Garden Part 5
2015 Garden Part 6
2015 Garden Part 7
2015 Garden Part 8
2015 Garden Part 9
Growing Potatoes from the Grocery store 
Growing Espalier Grapes on a Fence
Can Tomatoes Survive temperatures below 28 Fahrenheit?

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A full list of the edibles in our garden as of July 2015:
Aronia chokeberries
Walking onions
4 Varieties of Blueberry
3 Varieties of Red Raspberry (2 summer, 1 fall)
Red, White, and  Pink Currants
2 Varieties of Gooseberries
Black Raspberry
Dill, Sage, lemon balm, thyme, parsley, cilantro, basil
Garlic chives
Onion chives
6 Varieties of Tomato
2 Varieties of Potato
2 Varieties of Grapes (1 red, 1 white)
2 Varieties of Strawberry (1 june, 1 alpine)
Fava beans
Bush beans
Snap peas (2 types)
Butternut squash
Cucumbers (2 types)
Bell Peppers
Sweet Corn
Pineapple Ground cherries
Crookneck squash
Swiss Chard
Bok choy
Purslane (2 varieties)
Golden Flax
Scarlet Runner Beans
Honeyberries (2 varieties)


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