On Saturday, my daughter and I were out in our garden, milling around, checking stuff out, they way we often do, when we saw our dog Chester over at the base of the apple tree. He was barking and acting funny. I thought maybe he treed something. Maybe the neighbor’s cat, maybe even a groundhog. For a second I was full of dread that maybe he had treed a raccoon in the middle of the day.
Upon further inspection we found that he hadn’t treed anything at all, but instead he was just alerting us to the presence of a strange visitor—some kind of carrier pigeon, taking a break from its journey from who-knows-where to who-knows-where. So of course I ran to get the camera. My daughter decided his name was Morry.
Our garden is looking pretty good these days. Raised beds, deep straw mulch, and trellises have made such a difference in the amount of work I have to do out there. In the past, this time of the year was make-or-break time. One false move, one slight hesitation, and the garden would be completely over run by weeds, crippled by under-watering, or overgrown by runaway cucumbers of squash plants. But this year, everything seems to be under control. The deep mulch takes care of the weeds; the raised beds with drip hoses and mechanical timer take care of my watering problems; and that trellis gives the cucumbers something constructive to do with their time.
We made our first jar of pickles yesterday. We’ve blanched and frozen 11 family-sized servings of beans. I planted potatoes in straw mulch which makes it really easy to just reach in a grab a few when you need them without disturbing the whole plant or digging up the soil. And the zucchinis are basically relentless. But what my family waits all year for are the tomatoes. Any day now.
The bean teepee is also a big hit at our house. It provides nice shady place to escape the summer sun. And as an added bonus, volunteer pumpkins are making their way to the top.
I nervously waited all week for my pumpkins to germinate. I thought for sure they’d be up by Thursday, but Thursday came and went and still nothing. I began to worry. I’m not usually a worrier, but I guess when it comes to my pumpkin patch, I am.
Whatever else it is—squash zone, gourd garden, cucurbit corner—I will always refer to it as my Pumpkin Patch.
Each hill consists of a wheelbarrow’s worth of screened topsoil and organic compost set upon a piece of plain brown cardboard as a weed barrier. The hills are about three feet in diameter and about a foot high. I planted about 7 seeds per hill and will thin to three or four of the strongest seedlings.
The next phase of the project is mulching between the hills. I’m going to cover the space between the hills with several sheets of wet newspaper and a very thick layer of old hay. I bought ten bales from a local farmer for very cheap.
I ought to consider some kind of row covers for my seedlings when they emerge.
Here’s what I planted: Small Sugar pumpkin, Butternut squash, Zeppelin Delicata squash, Jack-o-lantern pumpkin, Blue Ballet squash, Marina de Chiogga squash, Big Max pumpkin, Atlantic Giant pumpkin, and a smattering of little ornamental gourds.