Thursday, July 11, 2013

Garden Update, early summer 2013

   A garden update is long overdue here. The first thing to note is that last fall I erected an 9-foot fence to keep out the deer. They had gotten increasingly bold over the past few years, to the point that despite my efforts to discourage them (noise, repellent, hair bags, and the 5-foot fence) they were jumping in and eating the vegetables, usually starting in early August. Their boldness was not limited to the garden, as they could be seen any morning or evening grazing in the fields, and when the house was not occupied for a few days they would graze on the bushes surrounding it, particularly the rhododendron. Last summer they chomped on the flowers in the window boxes right next to the house. 
   Why were they getting bolder? Some of my neighbors have been feeding them, and despite my efforts (and the efforts of some of the other neighbors) to convince them to stop, they have continued. Although feeding deer is illegal, it is not something that the game wardens feel is a serious enough offense to make much of an effort to stop; besides, the offending parties must be caught in the act (photographed, for instance) in order to provide sufficient evidence to fine them. I'm not going to stalk my neighbors with a camera. But deer are no longer afraid of people around here, and they have gone on a rampage in everyone's garden.
   Deer will not get into the vegetable garden now. After obtaining potato seed and onion sets from Fedco at the end of April, and cutting the potato seed and letting them harden back up a few days, on May 3 I planted them out: 2 rows of stuttgarter yellow onions, one row of Dark Red Norland potatoes, and one row of Satina potatoes. Each row is about 25 feet long. On May 6 I planted out one row with three varieties of beets: Detroit Dark Red, Early Talltop Wonder, and Red Ace, along with one row of Tyee spinach finished by Easter Egg Radish, and one row of lettuce (Red Sails, Anuenue, and Black Seeded Simpson). I transplanted out a row of broccoli and another one of cabbage on May 12. On June 5 I planted out several rows of beans: two rows of light red kidney beans, one row of Kenearly beans, and half rows each of Jacob's Cattle Gasless (an heirloom variety obtained from a seed saver a dozen or more years ago, who bred it for alleged gaslessness), Black Coco, Tongue of Fire shell beans, Black Jet soybeans, Black Valentine snap beans, and Golden Rocky wax beans. On June 6 I added a half-dozen brussels sprouts plants, and a dozen Ace peppers and a couple of dozen tomato plants (Celebrity, Sungold, Mountain Magic, and Juliet), as well as summer squash (Gentry and Saffron) and cucumbers (General Lee and Ministiro). I didn't plant paste tomatoes this year, as I thought to use Sungold for that, skins and all, as an experiment. The beans and squash survived the cool weather and heavy rains the following week, but the cucumbers washed out, so I replanted them on June 20, along with an additional half row of Black Valentine and Golden Rocky, and a quarter row of New Red Fire lettuce.
   Thus far the weather has been variably cool and hot, dry and rainy and foggy, but the moisture has come at the right times (if anything, too much of it) and as a result all the crops are doing fairly well, even though they are all a little slower than usual, except for the onions and greens. The broccoli heads will be ready any day now. Spinach was harvested and frozen last week, and a final harvest will occur in a few days. All the rest are coming along, with the first tomato and pepper blossoms showing now. Colorado potato beetles have been attacking the potatoes, but I pick them off once or twice a day and when I leave for a few days, I dust with an organic chemical that is supposed to kill them but doesn't seem to do the job. For some reason, the Norlands are more affected by the beetles than the Satina. 
     Last evening I heard an author on the NPR radio program, Fresh Air, who claimed that experiments have revealed that certain vegetables contain more phytochemicals than others, ones that are important for good health; and that except for root crops, they quickly lose these during the days after picking, so they should be eaten soon after harvest--preferably, right out of the garden. The leaf lettuce contains more of these good chemicals than head lettuce. Of course, we knew that vegetables were healthier the fresher they were, but the author's new book, Eating on the Wild Side, indicates that certain fresh vegetables are much better than others. The radio program may be heard at

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