Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011

Drying corn stalks bundled into shocks
make way for Fall vegetables
 A total of 34 melons have ripened since mid-July, some were better than others depending on where they were attached on the vine; a few more will ripen one at a time through this month, and new fruits are setting that will last into October - one of the nice aspects of gardening with a long growing season.  Garden activity has slowed to a trickle - literally - because late summer heat quickly absorbs moisture out of the ground, and soaker hoses have been a necessity.  By the time we head outdoors to pick vegetables, a bold orange sun has slid behind distant trees, and evening air is permeated with that heavy August scent of musky grass mow, drying corn, and ripe vegetables. 

We are four weeks out from planting Fall crops, and our Fall/Spring vegetable patch will be located where sweet corn was this summer.  To create open space, we pulled up half the corn stalks and bundled them together.  White potatoes are still sprawling on the outside edge of the corn patch, some with vines up to four feet in length.  We were careful to leave them alone, although we have dug some new potatoes already.  Brussels sprouts seedlings were transplanted into individual pots, and will be slowly adjusted to outdoor conditions after they strengthen.  Cabbage seed was sown indoors.  We will soon till and prepare soil for carrots, lettuce, and other cool weather crops which will be direct-sown into the garden come the first of September.
The vegetable garden in August

Tomatoes are still coming a plenty, though not in the volume we saw in July.  Anything we harvest this month is considered bonus.  August is a good month for seed-saving:  old lettuce plants with branched and feathery seed heads, heirloom tomatoes, even carrots that sent up stalks with flowers.  To keep birds from eating sunflower seeds, we use the old nylon hose method, stretching fabric across the heads we want to save.  We make sure to leave lots of sunflowers for our feathery friends, who love to perch on top of a drying flower to peck out a nutty meal.

Jack-Be-Little pumpkins on the pea fence

Pumpkins are ripening but will be left on the vine until their stems turn dry and brown.  Each orange gourd cures in the sun, toughening its outer skin, to help it last through the Autumn season.  The gourds we do not sell or eat often keep for 8 months until next Spring.  These mini pumpkins sell for $1 each at the annual Pumpkin Festival in Pumpkintown, SC, second Saturday of October.

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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 (