Mid-August Update

I disappeared for a while and now I appear to be back.  :)

Maybe.

We are in a part of the crazy where… it’s not so crazy.  So I’m taking advantage of it while I can.

Plus I need to get all garden jazzed for the fall planting which starts September 1st!  I know, that’s wild to even think about.  I would like to have the fall garden MOSTLY planted out by the end of September.  I will leave some of the melons and certainly the peppers through October at least.  The Fall pepper harvest is the BEST part of the peppers.  The plants are mature but not tormented by the heat.  The peppers grow nice and big and plentiful.  It’s exactly what I’m looking for.

But as of now… tomatoes are gone.  The trellises that supported the tomatoes are out.  This whole system just didn’t work great this year for the larger tomatoes.  The small tomatoes loved it and we loved them, but need to figure out something better for the big tasty tomatoes.

All of the yellow squash plants are done.  We’re still getting random zucchinis that are good but even the smaller yellow squash are instantly dark colored and hard.  It’s almost like they are ripening immediately.

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The one on the bottom there practically required a chainsaw just to cut it up for chicken feed.

This bed was full of yellow squash but they got pulled and filled up an entire wheel barrel.

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I fought against the squash bugs all summer.  Squish, squish, squish!  It’s kind of twisted, but the smell of squash bugs in the morning is taking on a similar “get your day going” kind of feel that fresh coffee has.  Yah, that’s not good.  I think I’ll actually miss that smell.

Cucumbers are rolling in.  I planted pickling and salad cucumbers this year and both have done really well, but the salad ones are going nuts.  I love it.

bowl o cukes ton o cukes

We’ve made 10 jars of relish this year.  I tried making some dills, but the results were kind of mushy.  Not bad, just… not great.

melon chaos

All of the melons have gone crazy.  They know nothing of boundaries or personal space.  That dead, small tree looking thing on the left is our artichoke plant.  Again, no personal space.  The white thing on the right side in the middle is a stool I’ve been using to stand on and poke around with a stick to try and find melons.  Yah… it would be nice to have more space.  Anybody have a couple of acres they would like to turn into a garden?  I’ve got a great plan for that.  :)

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Most of the beds are still a jungle and need lots of clean up in the next couple of weeks, but fortunately we got a really good rain last night and this morning.  You see in Arizona the whole city stops for rain.  People don’t know how to drive in it.  Some crazy people take pictures of it… If you have friends on FB that live in AZ it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll read about it.  I’m guilty.  I love it.  It’s SO RARE here.  Gotta enjoy it while it lasts.

I’ve got my plan together for the fall garden, now I just have to execute and start some seeds… in doors… in the AC… since it’s still hitting 100 degrees.  Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower don’t really like 100 degrees.

Have a blessed day!

-Keith

Posted in Arizona Garden | 8 Comments

You grew HOW MANY kinds of melons?

Nine.

Did I mention that I don’t have a lot of land here?  It’s part of a typical AZ backyard.  Not much to speak of.

But I like melons, which are the WORST thing to grow if you don’t have space because everyone knows the goal of any melon vine is TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION!!  (insert maniacal laughter here).

That’s only a mild exaggeration.

So here is the breakdown.

apple melon in my hand

Apple melons: These little things are… well… little.  Not much to them.  The flavor is interesting, especially if you eat the skin along with the flesh.  I ate them, but I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan.  Just not real sweet, although very interesting.  Won’t grow these again.

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Banana melons: I’m kind of torn on these.  They are really interesting looking fruit.  They grow relatively fast with good yields.  The flavor is unique for a musk type melon.  It has a little banana edge to it.  The sweetness and flavor are dramatically effected by the MOMENT of harvest however and quite frankly, I had trouble timing it right.  The last one I was really excited about was bored into by some type of insect.  I was… irritated by that.  In all… I don’t know.  Probably won’t grow again, but…

Crane:  I have nothing to show here.  Only one melon actually grew but it split before it fully ripened and so I didn’t get to eat it.  Very frustrating.  Considering it only produced one fruit… I probably won’t grow it again.

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Jenny Lind:  Okay, Jenny, I have one thing to say… RIPEN ALREADY!  For crying out loud these things took FOREVER to ripen and even then it tasted like I pulled it too soon.  COME ON!  Flavor was okay, sweetness was okay, but texture was NO BIEN because it was still NOT RIPE.  Okay, so maybe I don’t have the patience for Jenny Lind melons.  Won’t grow these again.

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Green Machine:  These were not bad melons.  Produced well.  Very small melons.  Bigger than the apple melons, but still very small.  Not much too them.  Not real sweet.  They weren’t bad, I just didn’t love them.  I probably won’t grow them again.

Old Time Tennessee Melons:  Oh my… These totally lived up to the description.  The vines produced well, I actually have four more in the garden right now.  A little tough to time, but once you realize that you check every day and AS SOON as you smell them, you pick it, you’ll get it just right.  Very sweet.  Very juicy.  Great texture.  LARGE melons.  Two of the ones in the garden right now are probably going to be between 5 and 8 pounds.  To top it off, they are BEAUTIFUL MELONS!  I mean, come on!  These things are just… pretty!

OTTM carnage OTTM halves

Needless to say, Old Time Tennessee melons are my musk melon/cantaloupe of choice moving forward.  I will DEFINITELY be growing these next year.

Now for the watermelons.

Orange Flesh Tendersweet:  Boo!  Okay, that’s all I have to say is BOO!  We got ONE.  One stinkin’ melon.  Really?  It was good sized, about 15 pounds.  Unfortunately about 14.5 pounds of it was RIND.

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Did I mention the seeds?  How could I leave that out.  I’ve never seen so many seeds in one watermelon.  Between the seeds and the rind there wasn’t much to EAT.  Not real sweet.  Not a great flavor.  It was definitely JUICY, but all in all a loser.  The last picture there is the orange flesh next to the Charleston Gray.  I will not be growing this one again.

First Charleston Gray

Charleston Gray:  This was an interesting melon.  Kind of delicate.  Long, thin, and relatively big (although the one in the picture is actually pretty small).  Unfortunately the shape means that there isn’t that much fruit.  A 15 pound Charleston has a LOT less flesh than a 13 pound Desert King.  Not bad melons.  Good flavor.  Sweet.  Juicy.  Just not a lot to them and kind of touchy.  I probably will not grow these again, but I’m not real firm on that.

Desert King:  These are the best.  We’ve only gotten one melon this year because of the limited number of plantings, but it was FANTASTIC.  Sweet.  Juicy.  Great flavor and texture.  Love these.  The kids love these.  They are awesome.  I will go back to more of these next year for sure.  I don’t have any pictures, but they look like the ones I’ve grown in years past.  You can take a look at some old posts if you want.  Great melons.

That’s it.  The conclusion.  Desert Kings are my watermelons and OTTMs are my cantaloupes.  I’ll focus on those two next year.

I hope your summer harvest is going good!  God bless!

 

 

Posted in charleston gray watermelon, Desert King Watermelon, Old Time Tennessee Melons | 12 Comments

Awesome to PATHETIC… the Corn Story of 2014

So the corn of 2013 was the Stupid Corn.  I worked hard this year to rectify that situation and I changed a lot of things.  I learned.  I paid attention.  i was DILIGENT.  I wanted AWESOME corn.

I got… PATHETIC corn.

And I’m a little frustrated with that.

My wife (the amazing cook) equated it to working REALLY hard on a recipe and the dish just doesn’t turn out like you expected.  Yah, it’s kind of like that.

Where I went wrong this year was pollination… and maybe watering… and obviously something else, but I honestly have no idea what.

This is the pollination problem.

ear1

Sigh… 

Now, I do have to say that the kernels that are there… were really tasty.  We just took a few of these pathetic ears and cut the corn off and cooked it off the cob.  It was good.

This is the best looking one I found.  If they had all been like this one, I would have felt pretty good about the corn.

the best one

The kernels are a little bit dimpled.  I’m not sure if this is from leaving them on the stalk toO long or not enough water or… But they tasted good.

I pulled in the last of them this morning and the dimpling seems to have gotten worse.

sad just sad

These are just sad.  

But not quite as sad as this one.  Now, I had a few like this and if you can tell me what this is I would appreciate it.  If you can’t… and if it scares you a little bit… I’m sorry.

In the husk.  Looks… sort of okay.

 

mutant ear in husk

 

Out of the husk… I’m not sure what alien came down and possessed this mutant corn, but it was terrible looking.  I didn’t even put it in the compost, I trashed it… thought about burning it but I couldn’t figure out what to do with the mutant ash.  Yuck!

 

what the heck is that

 

So this is the time of the year where I say, “you know, Jones, you just don’t have enough space to really grow corn, you should probably give up trying and focus on other crops.”

I’m probably not smart enough to quit trying, but we’ll see.

Posted in corn | 14 Comments

Bean Evaluation

I set out this summer to discover which bean would be the best bean for our family and our climate.  I tried beans last year and… well, it was pretty pathetic, so I decided to do this experiment.

I started with the following beans:

- dragon tongue bush beans

- blue lake bush beans

- red-seeded asparagus beans

- Missouri wonder pole beans

- Roma II bush beans

The results were interesting.

 

Dragon tongue bush beans:  These were in some of the worst soil.  It was a fail on my part.  With some amendments they recovered, but suffered pretty bad when the night time temps went into the mid-80s.  However, they produced fairly well.  The beans themselves are interesting.  Probably not my favorite for flavor, but not a bad bean.  Very edible.  We will definitely grow these again.

Blue lake bush beans:  I expected the blue lake bush beans to come out ahead.  The plants grew great, in fact they still look great.  Still only a hand full of beans.  :(  I’m not sure what it is about Arizona, or my soil, or my micro-climate… but these are a loser.  Not good.  Won’t waste my time, effort, and EXTENSIVE water again.

Red-seeded asparagus beans:  Weird name and a FUNKY bean.  Seriously these things look like dreadlocks when you harvest them.  Green dreadlocks at that.  Still… they produced VERY nicely and have a good flavor to them.  We figured out that it was not good to combine them with bacon because it made them come out very sweet.  Kinda weird like that.  The vines were pretty hardy but did not vine well and had to be assisted frequently, but I didn’t mind.  All in all, a good bean.  We will definitely grow these again.

Missouri wonder pole bean:  These plants grew fantastic.  The vines were hardy and lush and climbed very well.  ONE SMALL problem.  Not a SINGLE bean.  Complete waste of resources.  Fail.  No bien.  Won’t grow these again.

Roma II bush beans.  These do NOT like the heat.  The heat turned on and the beans just stopped forming.  More water did not help.  They struggled and then they were the only plants that just out right DIED.  Definitely not an AZ bean.  Won’t grow these again.

So next year it looks like we will be planting the really weird dragon tongue beans and the funky red-seeded asparagus beans.

 

Posted in beans | 16 Comments

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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Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments