Pollinators

There was quite a lot of activity in the broccoli patch this afternoon with stinging insects swarming all over the place! Well, not quite, but there was a lot of pollinator activity. I should note that those white butterflies were there as well… but they were mating so I gave them some privacy.

Honeybee

I don’t see too many of these girls around the yard. I am thinking about setting up my one hive someday so it is really nice to watch them do their work when I do find them.

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Wasp

I don’t care much for these however I hear that wasps are beneficial because their feed caterpillars to their young. So, that makes alright in my book as long as I keep my distance and do not provoke them to sting.

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Bumblebee

It is a relief to see bumblebees and not carpenter bees. We were “fortunate” enough to have a woodpecker alert us to the presence of carpenter bees underneath our deck a few weeks ago… and then again last week. I saw them flying around the deck earlier in the spring and summer but I didn’t think anything of it, assuming that I was looking at bumblebees. Boy was I wrong. I now know how to tell the difference. In short, bumblebees are more yellow and more fuzzy while carpenter bees are more black and less fuzzy… oh, and they like to live inside your deck!

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Bird Feeders

On the night of July 8th there was an attack on one of my backyard bird feeders. We found a large clump of animal poop in the yard, bark stripped from the tree, and the feeder on the ground, open, and its metal pieces scratched by claws or teeth. I suspected it to probably have been done by the raccoons, however the scratches in the metal seemed pretty deep… maybe a bear! But I doubt it.

It happened again on July 28th. I was sitting on the deck looking up at the stars while I heard a few faint thumping sounds in this distance and I heard a loud thud – the sound of something plastic and/or metal falling over. I knew right then that there was an animal causing trouble in the yard. Once I got my hand on a flashlight, I lit up the backyard and saw the bid feeder once again had been knocked down from the tree. I went out into the yard and pointed the flashlight into the woods, throwing a stick or two, and heard no further noises from the animal that scurried away into the night after I initially shouted at the noise. It looks like this will be a recurring incident. With family of raccoons showing up nightly on the game camera, its almost a certainty.

I checked the game just now and found lots of raccoons, possibly a fox, several squirrels, rabbits, and deer families. I was most shocked at the photo below.. .even more shocked then I was this afternoon when I looked up to see a fawn causally walking along the back treeline while I was pulling up green bean plants and throwing them over the garden fence… I can’t believe he didn’t see me! Anyway, back the to photos at hand. It appears that it could potentially be a deer that keeps knocking the bird feeder down because the evidence below shows that they are quite determined to raid my bird feeders at night!

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Carrots, Cucumbers and Corn

The three Cs of my garden couldn’t wait for the weekend update.

Carrots

I pulled a few carrots today so that I could check on their progress. They were growing deep and straight which is great news. If there was too much fertilizer or the ground was too compacted and rocky I would have roots that are shorter and less straight, even forked. I did not see any sign of damage to the leaves or roots which is also great news.

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Corn

I have quite a few posts where I show off the sweet corn… But this time it’s actually more interesting – the ears are forming! The picture below clearly shows an ear started to bulge out alongside the stalk!

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Cucumbers

I picked eight more of these guys today. I suppose if I stick them in the fridge for two days I will have twice as many to pickle. I don’t plan on canning many, if any, this year. I plan to focus on refrigerator dills so it would be easy to make a batch of brine and then reheat and use as needed for smaller batches. When canning, it’s best to fill up the whole canner with fully packed jars so I need larger batches of cucumbers when doing so.

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Update: I decided to make some refrigerator pickles using the Famous Dave’s Fire and Ice recipe. They turned out pretty well. They are sweet and have a little heat. After 12 hours in the brine they are still pretty “cubcumbery” in flavor. I think that next time I may boil the brine, pack the jars, and then pour the hot brine into the jars. This may help the brine penetrate the cucumber slices more quickly and infuse them with its flavor.

PS: cherry tomatoes are a daily occurrence

Salad Veggies!

I picked the first cucumbers and cherry tomatoes this evening! One cucumber was chopped up and added to a salad alongside the tomatoes. The other I sliced and placed in ice water with salt for a snack later on.

I also picked a bunch of green beans which are enough for a few fresh dinners and a few frozen dinners.

I am probably more excited about the cucumbers than I am the tomatoes, as their first harvest today foreshadows the labor intensive canning season that is soon to begin.

Corn, eggplant and tomatoes

I captured what I thought are some interesting photos of these growing plants.

Corn

I captured some pollination today. One of the picture below shows a pile of pollen laying on top of one of the leaves. The corn flowers are down below, with the tassel being the male flower and the silk being the female flower of the plant. For a fascinating read on corn pollination and kernel development, check out the following link: A Closer Look at Corn Pollination.

Eggplant

A few of the fruits are getting big. I’d say the first one to start growing is about the size of a tennis ball. There are also quite a few flowers on each plant, maybe half a dozen each.

Tomatoes

A see of yellow tops hear cherry tomato plants while bunches of small tomatoes rippen below!

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Cucumbers!

I saw three cucumbers worthy of pickling today! And, that’s just what I could see without poking around. Of course three isn’t enough for anything so I left them alone for now. They were only about 3″ long and I shouldn’t let them get any more then 5″ (or the height of a quart jar as a maximum) because they will get too plump. I also saw a honeybee flying around amongst the plentiful yellow flowers although I could not get a quick picture of her. With the temperature hanging around the mid 90s I don’t intend to spend a lot of time in the garden during daylight hours! It’s definitely time to take inventory of my pickling spices, vinegar, sugar and salt.

Weekend Update, 22 July

We are getting near the end of July and several vegetables are providing nice harvests. Big news? Yes! The corn is pollinating!

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Zucchini

This is the latest to produce a harvest for us. Just a few days ago we took the first two, and today, another three. Two more large ones are still out there right now, with more new flower buds than I can easily count.

Soybeans

The soybeans have pods starting to fill out and get plump. They take awhile to fill out, if I recall correctly, so I do not plan on eating edamame very soon.

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Green Beans

Still producing beans but not flowering anymore. I will be freezing another batch of these tonight.

Broccoli

I am surprised that I am still getting a harvest. I picked enough for dinner and there will be some left over to freeze. This is the burpee royal tenderette. It’s been in the high 80’s and it will be mid 90’s for next few days. Fortunately there are scattered thunderstorms forecast so the garden won’t dry out too much.

Onions

These are starting to fall over now. They grew longer than I had expected and I’m a little concerned that I will be pickling cucumbers before the onions cure. Of course, the dill is behind as well. I will probably be substituting dill seeds for fresh dill heads.

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Corn

The corn is growing as expected. Some of the summer squash, probably the acorn squash, which I planted among the corn rows is flowing and growing like zucchini instead of growing out a long vine. I don’t have a photo but I’m sure you can get a mental image easily enough (looks like a smaller zucchini plant). I took a second look at the garden later in the day and noticed something that I had missed earlier – the silk on the corn! The corn has that familiar silk sticking out from the stalks and it seems that tassels are also releasing pollen. It’s time for the wind to do its job and pollinate these corn stalks!

Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes are as tall as I am and have a few tomatoes turning orange! The super sauce tomatoes are getting pretty big in the center of their cages.

Potatoes

The kennebec potatoes started to yellow and fall over this week.

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Carrots

Still really green and leafy, I didn’t take a close look at the diameter of the roots.

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Cucumbers

The vines are getting longer, I’d say about 18″ on some on some of them. The picklebush variety is only supposed to grow 24″ or 36″ long. A few plants went up the trellis on their own. I picked up and set a few more on the trellis today as well. I need to space them out more in the future.

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