Sunday, June 21, 2009
originally written on June 14
Since we moved in a week ago, my day progresses thusly:
Up before dawn. Nothing new there, true, but as soon as the coffee hits the system and my eyes begin to function, I am out the door in the cool of the morning. The sun has not scraped past the treeline in the east and the dew is on the Bahia as I trod out to the Back 2 with a bucket and snips in one hand and the coffee cup in the other. The first few days were spent picking overgrown beans til I thought I was gonna die and decided they won that war. I glanced over at the okra rows and realized the battle had just begun with them and I turned my attention to harvesting the devils.
Okra 101: This vegetable, which is AWESOME, never stops growing. And it grows so rapidly that I must pick the rows twice a day. They could be cows! Except that it’s quicker to pick them than to milk a row of cows. The flower appears under these massive leaves and in two days time, there’s an okra pod and one day they are small in stature and the next they are too long and woody to eat. So, you must keep a vigilant eye on the rascals or you lose too many to count. And I am NOT here to waste veg. (Okay, I wasted a lot of beans but I’ll get back to that.
After I have accumulated a herd of okra, what to do, what to do? I love love love me some okra in stews and gumbo but I have bagged/frozen now lots of that so I decided that fried okra is a must, even though we don’t eat much fried food. I have NEVER made fried okra before and since I live in the “Deep South” I have come across the frozen uncooked variety in 1lb bags in the frozen food section of Winn Dixie so I thought, “hey, I can do THAT!” And so I did.
And still the okra grows and I’ll be out there shortly to snag another bucketful of the darlings. I have foisted pounds of the stuff on friends and daughter’s friend at LSU I hope they like it as much as I do. I’ll keep processing it til the plants themselves give out.
After I have picked, or unless I can strategically place the sprayers so I don’t get totally soaked prior to picking, I turn on the hoses to get the water in the ground before the sun rises above the Oak. It has been hitting 93° each day and I avoid being out in the midday sun whenever possible. 30 minutes on each side usually suffices. Then I take the morning’s bounty to the kitchen and drink a tank of water myself.
OH my, the beans. Steve planted a 50’ row of beans, string of course, and that is way too much for a family of four and their friends and neighbors, the postman and assorted strangers to eat. And WAY more than I can keep up with it. Again, they grow so fast and so long that they are inedible and tough. So many have been processed and frozen and so many more have gone to waste because I cannot pick them all. And this just kills me! What's a girl to do?
Without ruth, I hacked them down to size yesterday and tossed the carcasses over the fence in to the fields behind us. The bushes look dreadful but I hope this will give me a second chance for new growth that I can see and pick before they get out of hand again.
Steve planted tomatoes with great gusto three months or so ago and now in June we have 28 plants that are weighed down with huge fruits.
But sadly the few that have ripened have blossom-end rot which I have been informed by Our Leslie is the result of a lack of calcium in the plant. On Friday I took one of the fruits to Spencer’s Feed and Seed to confirm the diagnosis with actual evidence and bought a heavy-duty sprayer and calcium, liquid and sprayed the heck out of the plants.
Hopefully I have caught the problem in time so we don’t have a tomato disaster on our hands. There are so many on the vines, I can finally (sort of) understand the Italians having that festival where they throw millions of them at each other during harvest. In the past, when I would see this covered in the news, I would pass awful judgment on them for being so stupidly wasteful with that desirable globe but now stand in front of the 28 green soldiers, about to pelt ME with their babies, and a slight sense of panic is setting in on me. Will I be able to stay ahead of the production while I turn much of them tomatoes into everything from complicated to simple sauces, to just parboiling and freezing them whole? Time will tell. But I really would like to ask Steve how he came up with the 28 all at once, instead of staggering the planting into something more manageable, like twelve the first month, then another twelve 6 or 7 weeks later…. How was he planning on preserving all these glories?
Corn: we have two rows of them. THANK GOD they are not near time for harvesting. But they are so cool to look at, waving in the breeze. The tassels are all turning red and the lower leaves going yellow. If I hadn’t lost my internet connection at 8:00pm Friday evening I could go online and see if this is natural or a sign of like of watering. I wouldn’t think the later because I water every day, sometimes twice a day. I would like to think this is the way of corn in the South. I can’t WAIT to taste the first ears! I hope they will be ready by the Fourth of July. I hope I haven’t killed them.
I have already written about the jalapeno pain. That has subsided but still the peppers grow and there are also 4 green pepper bushes out there belching out the peppers. The 4 squash plants keep surprising me with baseball bat-sized zucchinis. I’m not kidding when I say I look at them one day and they are not quite ready and then the next day, it takes one of us to carry them alone back to the house. It’s ridiculous. Eggplants have a few babies on them but nothing else to report there. It would be cool if all the veg would ripen at the same time to make ratatouille.
And so the garden grows. Lagnaippe to all this is the surprise addition of some species of melon now creeping in amongst the rows and climbing up the bean poles and corn stalks. I have found two babies in the tangle
and I think they’re watermelons. Too soon tell at the time and no Steve to ask.