Quick Update, Mostly Pictures

Garden = good.

Life = busy.

Lots of big decisions and important things happening, especially at church.  Say a prayer for wisdom and discernment if you would.

Quick update:

Melons of all kinds are good.  Love what is growing right now.  Harvested two delicious Old Time Tennessee melons and got to share them with lots of people that I love.

OTTM carnage OTTM halves

The coloring was incredible.  Definitely the prettiest melons I’ve grown.  Incredible aroma, even while just watering the garden.  They literally TELL YOU when they are ready.

Other harvest continues, although slowing down just a bit.

harvest

Had our first Desert King Watermelon.  No pictures.  Couldn’t see it in the melon patch because of all of the vines and leaves.  I figured it was about 10 lbs.  When I went to harvest it actually weighed in at 14 lbs.  Great flavor, sweetness, and juice was EVERYWHERE.  Our small group thoroughly enjoyed it.

Orangeglo is getting big.  Other than a mutant shaped melon, this is the only orange glow growing right now, but it looks like a good one.  Very large already.  They are supposed to be about 25 pounds.  if that’s the case this will be the largest melon I’ve grown.  That’s kind of cool.

orange glow wm

Banana melons have popped up in all kinds of hiding places.  None have ripened up yet, but I’m excited to try them.

banana melon 1 banana melon 2

Grapevine doing great, but no grapes yet.

grape vine

Corn is looking good.  No pictures.  Everything is still vertical.  Lots of ears and they are starting to plump up.  Muy bien!  Way to go AWESOME CORN!

That’s it.  I hope you all are having a great summer.  I am more and more convinced that as long as there is plenty of water, the desert is the place to grow things!

God bless!

 

***Update with corn pictures***

This is one of my four boys.  He’s 10 and tall for his age.  Most of the corn is over 6 ft, with some more than 7 ft.  The ears are plumping up nicely.  :)

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Melons Are Rolling In… Slowly

The temps never got CRAZY hot. The expected 120s never really materialized like they normally would at the beginning of July.  I’m hopeful that the rest of the summer won’t be too bad.  We are in the thick of monsoon season.  A couple of showers here and there but nothing real substantial at our place.  The temps are down around 105, with high humidity (it’s not always a dry heat).  Not nearly as oppressive as 115.  Actually, it’s pretty nice.  Night time temps are in the 80s.  Wahoo!

It’s that time of year when everything is competing for total domination!  Melons are certainly making a fair go at it.  Squash are the clear front runners though producing around 30 lbs of yellow squash and zucchini combined a week.  Cucumbers are still doing well and producing nicely.  Peppers are still small, but producing.  Corn is 6+ feet tall, silks are out on lots of the stalks and I’m shaking the tops on a regular basis to make little pollen clouds.  It’s still vertical… so it’s still AWESOME!

But this post is about MELONS!  Well, melons and TERRIBLE photography.  Sorry.

 

Apple melons are coming in.  I like them.  The family… not so much.  Let me clarify, I love my family, but my family doesn’t love apple melons.

apple melon 2 apple melon

This one is a banana melon that is growing in a tomato cage that is holding up the tomatillos and being invaded by the salad cucumbers.  Like I said, the garden is pretty much a jungle.banana melon

Green machine.

blurry green machine

Charleston Grays… lots of them.  :)

Charleston Gray 2 Charleston Gray 3 Charleston Gray 4 Charleston Gray 5 Charleston Gray 6 Charleston Gray 7

This one is a desert king and should be ready very soon.  Hard to see but I figure it’s in the 10 lbs rang now.

Desert King

This Charleston Gray was small (6 lb), but really wasn’t growing any more.  The tendril had died and it had a light spot.  We harvested.  Good texture, good flavor, very juicy, but not quite as sweet as I like them.  Still a good start.  :)

First Charleston Gray

This is a very misshapen orange flesh tendersweet watermelon.gourd shaped orange flesh tender sweet

Jenny Lind.  The color looks terrible in the picture.  I have three all together that look very similar.  I harvested one this morning.  It might be too early so we’ll test this one out and see how it tastes then harvest the others if appropriate.

off color Jenny Lind

This orange flesh tendersweet is looking really good.  It came out of nowhere, but is fattening up nicely.

orange flesh tender sweet

I thought this would be the first OTT melon to actually get eaten.  As I was watering this morning I smelled cantaloupe, so I checked it.  Nope.

OTT Melon 1

This one is looking good too, but it wasn’t him that was smelling.OTT Melon 2

It was actually this one.  Not real big.  Actually pretty small, but he had blushed and had a nice aroma.  Still pretty firm but we picked.  We’ll see how it tastes tonight but I won’t judge the breed by this one if it is bad.

OTT Melon 3 already ripe

 

There is more, but I’ve been horrible at taking pictures.  With everything going on I’m only semiconscious when I water in the morning.  :)

I hope you’re having a great summer and enjoying a great harvest!

Posted in Arizona Garden, charleston gray watermelon, corn, cucumbers, desert garden, Desert King Watermelon, Harvest, Old Time Tennessee Melons, peppers, sqash, tamarillo, zucchini | 10 Comments

Update 7_1_2014

Yes, I’m alive.  Life is VERY full right now between work, home, and church.  Just some quick pictures with short comments.  Forgive me, they aren’t even really organized.  

The first melon of the season is in and it’s a WHOPPER!  

 

 

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Yes this is a fully grown melon.  It’s called an apple melon.  You can eat it, rind and all, but the flavor is different if you do.  With the rind it tasted sort of cucumber/apple, but without the rind it was pretty much all cantaloupe.

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Artichokes are done for the year so I let the last couple blossoms go ahead and bloom.  So pretty!Image

 

The green beans are going great, particularly the dragon tongue and the red seeded asparagus beans.  These are the dragon tongue.

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We’ve been harvesting a lot on a regular basis.  Between Sunday and Monday I harvested 8 pounds of squash and zucchini… EACH!  That’s 16 pounds in two days and there were more this morning.  I love a plant that produces!ImageImage

 

This is the only butternut squash picture that didn’t look… inappropriate.  Interesting vine.  SUPER aggressive.  Those things are taking over the world!

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Cukes.  Pickling and salad are all coming in.  I love that.ImageImageImage

This may be the first desert king watermelon of the year and it may kill the pepper plant that it tried to trellis up.  I’ve been noticing that the first melon to form is not always good.  Sometimes those ones just don’t make it.Image

Here is one of the dragon tongue beans.Image

Lots going on over here.  You can see the AWESOME corn on the right, beans in the middle, and melons on the left.  Everything is sprawling!

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Charleston Gray.  Again, this is the first one… not sure it’s going to make it.  But tons of others forming.Image

An Old Time Tennessee melon.  The first one didn’t make it.  :(  But I’m sure this one will.Image

This is the apple melon before it ripened.  It looked like a little watermelon, got full size, then started to change color.  Interesting vine.Image

Jenny Lindt?  I think.  I don’t have time to check my chart. Image

It’s a jungle out there.  No really.ImageImageImageImage

Another OTTM.

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We made a batch of pickle relish.  I hope it turns out as well as my mom’s.  The kids love this stuff!Image

Tomatillo lanterns are starting to form.Image

This might be the first OTTM to actually ripen up.Image

And… more zukes and cukes.Image

 

It’s a good time.  I love harvesting.  I hope you are having a great summer.  I’ll try and carve out a time for a real post.  I need to analyze the results of the different beans so far.  Looking forward to more melons!  I love summer time!  

And oh yah, it is a billion degrees, but I was expecting a billion and ten… so, it’s not so bad.

God bless!

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Summer Garden Update

We are entering into what is typically the hottest time of year.  Night time temps aren’t there yet, but the day time temps are brutal. There is a big difference between 100 and 110.  Big difference.

The end of June/first part of July is always the worst.  That’s when we hit the big ones.  That’s when we lost a hen last year.  That’s when we tend to approach the 120 mark if not surpass it.

Ugh…

We are well into the “Why do we live here?” season.  We’ve been at or near 110 for the last couple of weeks.

Mid-July through August is when we normally have monsoons.  Humidity goes up, but the temps come down.  By down I mean they go from 115-120 down to 100-110, but sticky.

Dry heat is like a convection oven, moist heat is like a sauna.  Why do we live here?  :)

Well, for one thing, I can garden all year round.  And the garden doesn’t mind the heat too much.  Lots of mulch.  Lots of water.  Shade if you can get it.  Mainly lots of water.  Every morning.  Fill up the ollas, water well along the edge of the bed.  Deep water on the places with no ollas.  Lots… lots… lots of water.

The squash and zucchini are my favorite right now.  I’ve been eating them with breakfast.  Yummy!  I harvested two of each yesterday.  I’ll get another 2-3 tomorrow.  Some plants are just coming on board.  Some aren’t quite there yet.  We have lots of squash in our future.

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The pollinators are really working hard in the morning.  The beds are wild with activity.

Green beans are starting to come in.

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We didn’t end up getting any measurable amount of green beans last year, so this year we planted some different varieties and we’re hoping to find the ones that works best for us.  They are coming in nicely.  The ones in the beds have responded well to the amendments.  The raised beds are turning into little jungles.  Hopefully I can keep a handle on the grass.  Ugh…

Cucumbers are making a jungle of their own.  I’m not seeing any decent sized cukes yet, but kind of like the melons they tend to sneak up on me, even with the trellises this year.  Which reminds me, I still have two more to install.

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Tomato production has slowed, but is still coming in.  Same with the peppers.  When the plants are working so hard to survive the heat they can’t put as much into the fruit.  They are worth keeping though.  Especially the peppers since the fall harvest is really the big one.

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Melons, of course, are one of my favorite things to grow and EAT.  The first one this year will definitely be the OTT, but the watermelon are vining out like maniacs trying to catch up.

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And the transition to AWESOME corn is going well.  Here are the prep and first growth pictures.

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I just realized you can see a little bit of the BIO CHAR! that was part of this soil.  Hopefully that helps out a bit with the water issue.  Corn loves the water.

That’s about it.  I took the weed eater to the grass around the beds this weekend and got it cleaned up.  I left it to try and smother new growth, but I should probably get some straw to further discourage it.  It’s going to be tough cleaning things up when the vines are running the place.

I didn’t get any pictures but the butternut squash vines are some of the most hardy and aggressive I’ve ever seen.  Those things could take over the world!  Which reminds me, regular potatoes were a total bust, so I need to get the sweet potatoes going.

I hope you all are enjoying the summer.  There is nothing like the warm sun on your back.  Be safe.  God bless!

Linked at the Homestead Barn Hop

********Update: I forgot I had taken these over the weekend.  I thought I would throw them in.  They are dragon tongue green bean flowers.

dragon tongue green bean flowers 2 dragon tongue green bean flowers

Posted in Arizona Garden, beans, BIOCHAR, cucumbers, desert garden, Dripping Springs Ollas, grass, mulch, Old Time Tennessee Melons, ollas, peppers, potatoes, sqash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, trellis, zucchini | 14 Comments

Changing Stupid to Awesome

Last year was a mess with the corn.  It came up so pretty, grew tall and then began to bow… I have no idea why.  It was horrible.  I named it the stupid corn.

It was lame.

However… I just can’t give up on this.  There is something about corn that just says, “THIS IS A GARDEN!”  Fail or not, I have to try.

So this year I tried something different.  It started last year, shortly after removing the stupid corn.  I mulched the whole area about two feet deep.  I watered occasionally.  It kept any weeds from really taking root in the area during the winter and my hopes were that it was improving the composition of the soil.

This weekend the trials began.

It was a nice day on Saturday, low hundreds, probably in the 105 range, but I’m just guessing here.

Last year I had a flat area that I had amended and planted densely in no particular pattern.  Tight grouping to get better pollination was the thought.  It failed.  My best guess is that the heavy feeding corn drained the nutrients from the soil and became deficient.  The flat area began to fall in certain areas and low spots developed.  Some areas had adequate water, some were a little parched.

This year I went for straight rows, 20 inches apart, approximately 6 inch spacing in the row.  Very similar to what I have observed the commercial growers doing in the area.  I dug down a bit and then poked holes and planted.  The trenches allow me to fully flood the area where the seeds are.  As the plants grow some of that dirt will go back in the trenches and the watering strategy will morph with some specialized contraptions that now only exist in my head.  It’s a fluid situation, but there is definitely a plan.

By the time the mulch was moved and the trenches were done I was pretty pooped.  My planting crew of three “volunteers” came out and helped plant the seeds.  It was over quickly and deeply watered.

Just in time.  Today is going to be 111.  Ouch.

We’ve officially reached, “Why do I live here!”  season.  Not nearly as much fun as the “Everybody wishes they lived here!” season, which thankfully is much longer than the current season.

Everything else seems to be undaunted by the temps.  Plenty of water.  Topping off the ollas every day.  They seem to be working like a charm.  It was 105 the other day and my zucchini plants were perky and producing.  Nice!

We’ve started the great squash harvest of 2014.  My son saw the first two on the counter and said, “well, if it’s anything like last year I’m sure there will be two BILLION more.”  Gotta love the zukes like that!

I hope so, son.  I hope so.

Now for the only picture today.  I was noticing a little Old Time Tennessee melon developing.  The first of the melons this year.  It was about an inch long.  While I stooped down near some of the other vines I happened to notice this guy hiding in the leaves.

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Very exciting!  There is another one, slightly smaller that is nearby.  Seems like the first ones always sneak up on me.  Cucumbers should be producing soon.  Yellow squash are starting to come in.  Butternuts are vining out all over the place.  Melon vines are everywhere.

I have a dream that at some point this summer we will be eating sweet corn with dinner and having a tri-colored watermelon salad for dessert.  (Desert King – Yellow, Orange Tender Sweet, and Charleston Gray – Red)

We started harvesting the bigger tomatoes.  Lots of splits.  I’m trying to figure out why but we’ve been eating what we can.  The flavor is delicious.  Smaller tomatoes are a daily occurrence.  Very tasty right off of the vine.  Some never make it in the house.

I hope your spring/summer garden is coming along.  I’ll show you some pics of the new AWESOME corn once the straws start to appear.

Have a blessed week!

Linked at the Homestead Barn Hop

Linked at Homesteader’s Hop

Posted in Arizona Garden, charleston gray watermelon, corn, cucumbers, desert garden, Desert King Watermelon, Dripping Springs Ollas, Growing corn, Old Time Tennessee Melons, ollas, spring garden, tomatoes, zucchini | 10 Comments