What’s In My Garden

German-Queen-Tomato

So far, this month has been pretty decent as far as harvest goes. We’ve been able to collect corn, several varieties of tomatoes (we’re still trying to figure out what one plant is) okra, carrots, cucumbers,  green/yellow/red/orange/sweet peppers, some strawberries that the beetles haven’t gotten to, and lettuce. The tomato pictured above is a German Queen tomato – an heirloom variety that ripens in a pink shade rather than a red. They weigh up to 2 pounds although I haven’t been able to produce one that large…yet. I also haven’t told you what’s in my garden in a while, so here goes. 

Okra-Flower

Okra pod and blossom

 

Isn’t it awesome that almost every single fruit or vegetable we eat, comes from a flower first. I think that one of the most beautiful flowers come from the okra that I’ve planted. I planted some burgundy okra last year, and was pleasantly surprised at the flowers that accompanied it. These plants now are taller than the ladybug, and she loves walking into them and pretending that she’s in a jungle of sorts. I love the large leaves, even if they kind of look shifty, and the fact that okra seems to pop up overnight. Honestly, I’ll go out one afternoon and see the start of a pod, and seemingly the next morning, it’s ready to pickSo far, I’ve been using two different methods to keep the pods that are coming in at about three to four each day. I’ve been slicing and freezing some, in order to make fried okra later in the fall. They supposedly taste just as good as if we picked them and fried them during the summer, but without any of the frostbite that sometimes comes with the packs that you purchase from grocery stores. They are a bit of a pain to pick if you aren’t wearing gloves though. I’ve gotten a bit ambitious with going out to just remove a few, and end up with a couple of nicks to my fingers. Of course, I focused on the stem of the pod because…amateur. 

Okra pod

 

Best thing that I’ve harvested so far? Corn! Mostly because I didn’t think that I would be able to grow corn this far north. Call me crazy. When I was younger, you only saw corn after you got onto 57 South, and left the city limits. When you’re a kid, and not the kid of a farmer, you just tend to think in these ways. In my older age, I’ve KNOWN that corn could grow up this way, but I didn’t think that *I* could do it. 

Sweet corn in our garden

 

If you take notice of the lower left hand area of the photo, you’ll see another set of silks erupting from this particular stalk. We didn’t have a chance to have corn sex with that silk, so, no ear of corn will be produced. No worries, I’ll speak of corn sex is another post this week, so that you’ll understand that we’re not freakazoids over this way. I’ve harvested eight ears of corn this season, which lets me know that we need to plant way more seeds, and we need to make sure that they are all located reasonably close to each other so we don’t have to hand fertilize as much. 

Sweet peppers.

 

Now, to these beauties that I wasn’t sure of when I planted them, because I ended up pulling them up by accident and replanting. They are sweet peppers, and they seem to be doing very well. I believe that they are also rainbow colored (like the carrots that I forgot about) but I won’t know for another day or two I think. Speaking of the rainbow colored carrots, this is what I pulled up – purple, orange, yellow, and white carrots. All ripe. Their tops didn’t pop through as orange, so I mistakenly left some of them in much longer than I should have, and they were eaten at the very bottom, so I discarded them. 

Rainbow colored carrots.

 

What is a garden without creatures? We’ve had two different types of caterpillars in our garden this month – tomato hookworms and monarch butterfly caterpillars. We found a total of 10 of these tomato hornworms on various tomato plants and picked them all off. I did pull some leaves, because we were trying increase air circulation anyway. Plus, the ladybug doesn’t like when I kill the garden animals. These all ended up being infected with the braconid wasp anyway, and popped out these worms that then cocoon into rice looking format. 

Tomato hornworms

 

Tomato hornworms infected with braconid wasps

Tomato hornworms infected with braconid wasps

 

The monarch caterpillar has been welcomed into our garden because we had some surprise milkweed pop up in our front garden, and we found these guys on them later. Did you know that if you find one of these caterpillars with three sets of antennae, it’s a queen monarch (which can be male or female) and they tend to have a smaller chrysalis than regular Monarchs? That’s your bit of education for this post. The ladybug is really getting me out of my comfort zone when it comes to all things crawling. Her thirst for knowing the how and why  behind all of them often sends us to google, or the library to figure out what’s going on. 

Monarch caterpillars

Monarch caterpillar

 

This plant is the one that has been the most elusive. The Crimson Sweet Watermelon plant. It vines like crazy, which is what I didn’t know when I planted four of them right next to cucumbers. Oy! I’ve had a TON of flowers, and no watermelons as of yet. I’ve had three start, but then they were knocked off of their vines by something. I’m not going to say that I think that a child, or an adult did it, because I don’t really know. They seem very fragile to be something that will soon grow to be 20-25 pounds. As of today, we have 5 melons growing, but I’m not holding my breath. So you all can do it for me. 

Crimson sweet watermelon

 

After this very lengthy post, I’ll leave you with my harvest from one day last week. I may have gotten a bit light-headed as I saw everything being put into this box. The weather is HOT, but I know that is one price to pay in order to get a beautiful bounty like this. 

One days worth of harvest from the garden of Houseful Of Nicholes