Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 7/14/14

It was a happy, happy weekend in the garden. We got rain! In two days, my back yard received 3.3 inches of rain. The rain we got last weekend held the garden over until this weekend, so I didn’t have to water anything but my potted plants all week. The only negative is that the rain makes the air even more humid (think steam bath), and the mosquitoes have come out in full force. Good thing I eat lots of garlic; the mosquitoes don’t usually bite me, but they are annoying. I’ve got a few new items in the garden to share today, and I now know what the mystery melon is! Come take a look.

WHAT’S NEW:

I am so excited to share that I found the first flowers on my new raspberry canes! I planted a different variety this time – Caroline Everbearing, which is supposed to be more disease resistant that what I had before (Heritage Everbearing).

Caroline Everbearing raspberry flower

Caroline Everbearing raspberry flower

My key lime trees FINALLY look like they’re recovering from whatever shock they were suffering. I’ve got new leaves and branches growing and new blossoms.

Key lime blossoms

Key lime blossoms

Remember my lettuce that was bolting? I let it go, and now I have flowers.

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce flowers

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce flowers

Red Romaine lettuce flowers

Red Romaine lettuce flowers

For those who haven’t been following along, I have a feral cucurbit growing in one of my beds from a seed that survived my compost pile. A few weeks ago, I realized it was a melon rather than a cucumber, but I didn’t know what kind. Well, I now know what my mystery melon is – a cantaloupe.

My mystery melon - a cantaloupe

My mystery melon – a cantaloupe

Besides the near-deafening cicadas around my garden (I hardly hear birds anymore!), my annual (yucky) visitors are back. These are tent caterpillars who seem to love making their nests in my sweet gum tree. I hate it when they “hatch” out of those things because little caterpillars are thrown everywhere by the wind. <shudder> They don’t seem to harm my garden, but they give me the willies.

Tent caterpillars nesting in my sweet gum tree

Tent caterpillars nesting in my sweet gum tree

Speaking of caterpillars, I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see my favorite annual visitors – the Black Swallowtail caterpillars. My dill and parsley have been left alone, so I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see any this year. However, I found one on my carrots. He was by himself though. I picked the leaf he was on and put him into my parsley pot. I know carrots are in the same family, but I figured he’d like the parsley better. I hope I’ll have more than just him this summer. (Last year, I had four batches of them!)

Black Swallowtail caterpillar

Black Swallowtail caterpillar

IN THE GARDEN:

My Glass Gem corn is unbelievably tall! And many of them have multiple stalks. Although I read that multiple stalks are common, the article stated that usually only one of the stalks would have ears. Well, I have several multiple-stalked plants that have ears on more than one stalk. This plant below has three stalks with a total of TEN ears of corn growing! (Count the silks.) It’ll be interesting to see if all ten ears mature fully. If so, that’ll be ten ears of corn from one seed. Amazing, huh?

Glass Gem corn - Ten ears on tri-stalked plant

Glass Gem corn – Ten ears on tri-stalked plant

I had a leftover cantaloupe seedling that I planted in the corner of my compost bin. The extra nutrients (I’m constantly adding to the compost pile) and the added shade (the compost bin is under a large pine tree) are causing the plant and fruit to grow quite large and healthy. Look at the size of this cantaloupe!

Cantaloupe growing in my compost bin

Cantaloupe growing in my compost bin

The leaves on that plant are very large and green, too.

Leaves on cantaloupe growing in compost bin

Leaves on cantaloupe growing in compost bin

My other cantaloupe plants (in the raised bed) are growing into the chia in the adjacent bed. The yellow flowers at the top of the chia plants are a dead giveaway.

Cantaloupe vine growing into my chia

Cantaloupe vine growing into my chia

I have a couple of black futsu squash that are almost ripe. They’re not the first fruits to grow, but they’re smaller than the first fruits. When they’re totally grayish green, they’ll be fully ripe.

Black Futsu squash maturing

Black Futsu squash maturing

My Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon (a white variety) is doing very well this year. I’ve harvested three and have four more on the vine. Yesterday, I found two of them growing on the fence. Because they can reach ten pounds, I knew those vines wouldn’t be able to hold the fruit as they grew; so I carefully pulled them off the fence and laid them on the ground.

Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon growing on the fence

Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon growing on the fence

I harvested my carrot bed this past weekend and found this curly-bottomed carrot.

Funky carrot

Funky carrot

IN THE KITCHEN:

Earlier in the week, I canned some diced tomatoes. Unfortunately, it was a canning failure. (See my article Tomato Canning Failure.) All those tomatoes and all that work…out in the garbage. <sigh> Well, I’m sure I’m not the first to have that happen.

Canned diced tomatoes

Canned diced tomatoes

I also dehydrated two trays of cayenne peppers.

Cayenne peppers ready to be dehydrated

Cayenne peppers ready to be dehydrated

And yesterday, I made my favorite arrabiata sauce from my fresh tomatoes and dried chili peppers (cayenne, lemon drop, and fish peppers). Look at some of these tomatoes after I peeled them.

Peeled tomatoes

Peeled tomatoes

With the blanching and peeling of the tomatoes and the actual cooking of the sauce, it took about six hours. But I think it was one of the best batches I’ve ever made. I literally salivated as I stirred this sauce! (Sorry, no fancy picture of pasta on a plate. No time for a picture. I was too busy whisking that plate to the table and chowing down.)

Arrabiata tomato sauce cooking

Arrabiata tomato sauce cooking

The harvests are still coming strong. Click here to see this past week’s garden bounty.

What’s happening in your garden and kitchen?

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