Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011

A corn shock stands guard over late-season tomatoes.
August's full moon (Saturday the 13th) is sometimes referred to as the full "corn moon" because it coincides with corn harvest in the Northern Hemisphere.  Our sweet corn is long gone - in fact we pulled some out of the freezer recently to try what we froze on the cob.  It looked like garden fresh, and though it was soft, it still had that homegrown flavor.  Hard to believe the next full moon will be the "harvest moon" on September 12.  If the moon has any influence on seed sprouting, our future cabbage crop will attest, because the seed packet said germination takes 12 - 14 days, but it was up in 2!

By now we're trying to invent new and interesting uses for vegetables that are growing a little old from overuse to the palette.  Many garden vegetables have come to a stop, however, and we can begin some clean-up.  The summer season has ended for lettuce, onions, garlic, broccoli, melons, cucumbers, corn, beans, sunflowers, and some of the annual herbs.  Tomatoes are no longer coming in large quantities, but sweet and hot peppers are rejuvenating after the hottest part of summer and will bear again in September.  Zucchini is becoming a steady producer while we wait, and in the meantime a carrot crop sits underground if we want a change of pace.  The majority of our summer harvest is gathered and preserved, so as we take a little break for the present we can look forward to next month's pumpkins and winter squash, apples, grapes, late season raspberries, root crops, and sweet potatoes.

Close-up of Roma paste tomatoes ripening on the bush.
While we're thinking of garden clean-up, it is time to begin securing cardboard boxes to use as mulch.  The weed problem this year turned rather severe in our first-year garden, so all efforts will be directed at smothering it as soon as our old plants are out of the way.  Lawn clippings and fallen leaves can be piled on top of cardboard to make a fairly impenetrable weed mulch through which we can plant next Spring.  Does your community lawn and garden store carry cover crop seed such as red clover and winter rye?  Depending on where you live, September or October is time to plant.  Now is a good time to call and order if necessary.  Garlic for fall planting can be purchased from mail order catalogs, or, wait and buy common white garlic from any grocery store; if left in a warm room it may begin to sprout, and individual cloves can be planted out in October.

Our goal this weekend was to till so we can begin preparing soil for fall planting.  Brussels sprouts plants are being conditioned to the outdoor climate starting in a shady spot.  It's time to check that compost pile and give it a turn after adding a summer's worth of imperfect vegetables, rinds, and cobs.  We will soon be filling it to the brim with discarded vegetable plants.  Have you ever stopped to notice how much activity there is in a garden this time of year?  While pausing to wipe our brows, we saw hundreds of dragonflies, large green-brown locust, chirping black crickets, and several varieties of bees and butterflies in constant hum over our plants.

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (