Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Heat and Winter Omens

If the old maxims are true that "as high as the weeds grow, so deep will the snow be" and " many berries in the woods foretell a severe winter", then we are in for it this winter.  The weeds are nearly as tall as I am, or even taller, and I have never seen so many berries.  Get your wood piled high and fill your pantry!
The horrible heat has devastated the garden.  Despite my watering and the couple of heavy rains we had, hardly anything sprouted.  No carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac, beans or rutabegas.  I thought the Mandan Bride corn would grow well with the heat, but it grew misshapen:  the stems are pencil thin and about an inch above ground solitary ears grew; the height of the plants to where they flowered was no more than 4' tall and they looked stunted.  Very strange looking.  I pulled out most of the stalks and in their stead planted a short season hybrid variety of sweet corn that I found in my seed bin.  The weather is strange enough this year that the new planting may be harvestable. The potatoes have been devoured by potato beetles and insect predation is horrible altogether.  I have to say though that the Jerusalem Artichokes are massive and beautiful; the leeks and onions looks good; the mustard greens are bug chewed but growing; most of the sunflowers have had their heads chewed off by the deer but they are still growing; the Blue Hubbard squash actually look pretty good even though I had to break down and spray them because of the squash bugs; the New England pie pumpkins are not happy but hanging on; and the melons despite needing to be bug sprayed look fairly happy.

Back at the house in the garden boxes all the lettuces and Wong Bok chinese cabbage bolted.  I tried growing Red Burgundy okra for the first time and that is grasshopper chewed and looks stunted.  It is a pretty plant and I would like to try planting it again.  That is another variety I thought would do well with the heat.   A different variety of mustard greens and early planted beets and carrots  managed to get enough top growth on them to shade the soil before the heat torched everything and are doing well.  For some reason these are the only veggies that are not bothered by insects.  I don't understand it.  None of the herbs I planted sprouted, but I am hoping that cooler weather and a thin mulch over the seed bed will make them decide to grow.  I pulled the garlic and am tieing bunches together to hang and cure for a couple of weeks in the garage. The heads are on the small side, but ok otherwise.

Sweltering in the Northwoods
Tonight I pulled everything that bolted and tossed it onto the big raised bed I'm building in the forest garden where I transplanted the horseradish, some rhubarb, and garden sorrel a couple of weeks ago.  You know, it's almost impossible to kill horseradish, and sorrel is just a weed anyway, so I don't worry about it either. As it turns out, they don't seem to mind the weather one bit and love their new location.  (I made some horseradish with a few roots and was it ever good -- milder than expected and tasty.)  I planted beans and beets where the bolted items were and hope for some kind of fall harvest.

I found deer poop right in front of one of my Haralson apple trees out in the forest garden, so I have been working on my fence.  Fortunately, all the fruit trees have been spared any nibbling and I hope that tightening up the fence will keep them that way.
Just look at how healthy this Hudar pear tree is without any spraying in this permaculture garden:

Hudar pear tree
There's no doubt.  Nature is the best farmer.

Be safe, Everybody!

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