Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Full Grain Moon

August's full moon is called the Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, Lightening Moon, and Dog Moon, but I don't really like any of those traditional names, so I was thinking it should be called the Hot Moon. After all, there's already a Cold Moon In December, so why not a Hot Moon in August? It is super hot right now! It's been at least the high 90's every day this month, and it shows in the garden. There's not much left surviving out there.

My fall tomatoes are just barely hanging on. I ended up with four plants. I think I planted the seeds too late. Next year I should try starting the seeds in May or June to get larger plants to set out, that take longer to dry out in the heat. I also planted four tomatillos, but only one is still alive.

The okra still looks happy, but the heat has made the pods turn tough much faster. I've decided to let those pods mature and go to seed. I've still got lots of frozen okra. Maybe once things cool down I can start harvesting tender pods for eating again.

The jalapeno peppers are doing well too. I've been letting them ripen and saving the seeds. I'm not sure if that's going to work since I got these plants at Home Depot, so I hope they're not some kind of hybrid. It didn't say they are on the tag, but I don't know how much I can trust that. I then take the fruits and marinate them in a solution of liquid smoke and then dry them in my food dehydrator to make fake chipotle powder. Real chipotles are smoke-dried over a fire, but I don't feel like firing up the smoker for just a few peppers at a time, so this seems to be working out fine. My homemade chipotle powder sure smells authentic anyway.

The sweet potatoes also look fine, besides the grass growing up among them. I fed them some bone meal, which will hopefully encourage root growth. Whenever I grew sweet potatoes before, I've always been disappointed once it came time to dig them up, so I hope these work.

The cushaw squash has been disappointing as well. Of the six squashes it managed to grow this summer, five of them have been composted because they were rotten. I'm not sure exactly what goes wrong, but the squash will turn yellow (which should signal ripeness), I pick up the squash and it feels oddly light for a squash its size. Then I find the hole, with rotten squash good oozing out, and probably ants going in and out as well. I have a feeling it's the Squash Vine Borers. I'm STILL seeing those moths around, even though I thought they should be done by now, this late in the year. They don't only bore into squash vines, but the fruits as well. Even though cushaws are supposed to be borer-resistant, since they've now killed all the other squash species I had, this is all they have left. I think what happens is they bore into the squash fruit, and then the wound lets in ants (which probably love the moisture in this weather), and the insect damage leaves the fruit open to decay.

I've only got one fruit left, hidden in some grass where the vines rambled outside the garden. It's just starting to turn yellow, but so far it still feels solid. Maybe it will make it. I was planning to save seeds from this variety, but I don't think one fruit is enough genetic diversity. I do have 8 seeds left to try again next year, and I just found out about a better way to organically control SVB, neem oil. It seems too good to be true! A systemic organic insecticide that only kills chewing insects and is harmless to everything else? I really need to try that next year! It seems too late for this year, though my cushaw squash vines are putting on some new growth, so I hope they'll have time to make a few more fruits before frost. It would be so great if this was not only the first, but the LAST year I have to battle those moths for my squash.

Even though it's blazing hot, it's time to start planning for the fall and winter garden. I tried starting broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds in the garage in early August, but it's so hot and stuffy in there that they just rotted. I'm going to have to wait until the garage isn't 100 degrees and try again.

As I noted in my last post, I did start my potatoes. I gave them a good sprinkling, so I hope they're not baking down there.

I also have two plots all ready to be planted with garlic, but I might wait on that a bit. I just read somewhere that the best time to plant garlic is around the fall equinox, after the days are shorter than the nights. I'm going to have trouble waiting that long since my garlic did so well this year, but I was told that it will just sit there anyway until things cool down.

As I was taking these pictures yesterday evening, there were some promising-looking clouds above.

Plenty of sunlight still peeking through, so I was afraid they weren't going to amount to much. There were "isolated thunderstorms" in the forecast, which can be a big tease, since when they say "isolated" they really mean it! It can be raining a few blocks away and not here.

But then my prayers were answered!

About five minutes later, I took this picture out my back door. That's one of my anti-mosquito torches in the foreground, and then the compost pile with my poor rotten cushaws, and then the garden in the back getting pummeled by a downpour!

And then my internet was out, so I had to wait until today to post this. Sadly, right now it's sunny again. Looks like that was it for the rain here for a while. Fall can't come fast enough!

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