Archive for August, 2013

Peanuts and Cucumbers

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My Virginia peanut plants appear to be growing well at least above ground. They are the plants in the middle of the above photo with the pea-like leaves.  It will be interesting to see if they produce any peanuts. The peanuts form underground and are harvested in late summer or early fall by pulling up the whole plant.  So I can’t tell yet if any peanuts are growing underground.

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In the same raised bed that I am growing peanuts, I am also growing straight eight cucumbers, which are above the peanuts in the top photo. The cucumbers are growing well and producing more cucumbers than we can eat. Cucumbers are possibly one of the easiest annual edibles to grow. I have grown them several years in row. I planted about 30 cumcuber seeds in May in this raised bed. I didn’t fertilize them or give them any special care other than regular watering. The vines grow rapidly along the ground and don’t require staking. They have about 15 large ripe cucumbers now, and I have already picked about 5.

August 25 2013 | Cucumbers and Peanuts | No Comments »

August Peaches

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The O’Henry peach tree in our yard is dropping ripe fruit this week. Although some of the peaches on our tree are small, most of them are large this year, which I attribute to thinning the fruit in May and the age of the tree (11 years old). I’ve noticed that the larger peaches taste better than the smaller peaches. The large peaches are juicer and sweeter than the small ones. So it seems that thinning not only affects fruit size, but also flavor, at least with our peach tree. In general, the peaches that have fallen so far are sweeter and more flavorful than in the past few years. The flavor of the peaches from our tree seems to vary from fruit to fruit as well as from year to year and is partly weather dependent.

The peaches from our tree tend to fall off as soon as they are ripe. Because they are large, they usually get bruised as they hit the ground. I have bird netting arranged on the tree so that the peaches are captured by the netting as they fall. This way, most of the peaches don’t get bruised hitting the ground. Instead, they have a soft landing into the net.

Although I prune this tree twice a year, it has grown large for a peach tree. It is about 12 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. I cut off its lower branches years ago, because I thought I wanted it to look more tree-like. But now most of its branches are up high, so I need to use a ladder to harvest the fruit. If I had used better pruning techniques when it was young, I would have topped the tall branches above about 7-8 feet and allowed the lower branches to grow so the fruit would be easier to net and harvest.

August 20 2013 | Peaches/Nectarines | No Comments »

Winter Squash

As I mentioned in a preivous post, I am growing three different types of winter squash this year. The three photos below show the three different types: spaghetti squash (first photo), butternut squash (second photo), and sugar pie pumpkins (third photo).

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I am growing winter squash directly in our dry clay soil. I added compost in a few of the holes when I planted the seeds, but the plants that got planted with compost are not growing any better than the ones that did not. I am watering each group of plants near their roots almost everyday with automatic microsprayers. Regular water seems to be critical to getting winter squash to grow long vines and large fruits. Everyday when the vines are exposed to direct sunlight for several hours, the leaves droop down. Watering doesn’t make the leaves perk up until the vines are shaded again. Other than lots of water, our winter squash doesn’t seem to need much care. I have not fertilized them. But because our soil is so dry, I don’t need to be concerned about the fruits rotting on damp soil.

Some people have commented that winter squash takes up too much room, because the vines can grow to 10 feet or more. I am growing winter squash in between our fruit trees. The vines grow around the fruit trees, and so they don’t take up much additional garden space. Although I have to be careful not to step on the vines when picking fruit.

August 01 2013 | Pumpkin and Squash | No Comments »