Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 8/10/15

Good morning, everyone! I’m back. After a whirlwind work schedule with the auditors, I drove two days to see my family in Rhode Island for a week (then drove two days back). I’m a bit tired, but I had a good time. It was nice to take a break! Of course, now it’s back to the grind – and a garden that is in desperate need of help. While I was away, everything grew (except the veggies) – weeds, grass, vines from the neighbor’s yard – even poison ivy (which my Garden Wilson pulled for me). Meanwhile, my veggie plants are still struggling to produce. But, they keep trying. Come take a look.

IN THE GARDEN:

My okra has grown a little bit, and the pods were huge! Only a handful were fit to eat. The rest made their way to the compost pile. (The large pods are too tough to eat.) Look at the size of these!

Star of David okra pods

Star of David okra pods

My first pumpkin is almost ripe enough to pick. It’s growing on the fence, next to an odd pear-shaped watermelon.

Seminole pumpkin almost ripe - growing next to a pear-shaped Strawberry watermelon

Seminole pumpkin almost ripe – growing next to a pear-shaped Strawberry watermelon

I was checking my shade garden and saw that the Red Beauty fern hasn’t grown much since spring. I’m hoping it will do better when cooler weather arrives. At least it’s alive.

Red Beauty fern - staying alive

Red Beauty fern – staying alive in the heat

The only tomatoes I got to harvest after my trip were cherry tomatoes. Look at the plants. They look terrible. (Any tomatoes that did grow were overripe and falling apart on the vine.)

Tomato plants - struggling to survive the heat

Tomato plants – struggling to survive the heat

Several of my spicy oregano plants look worse now than they did before I left. I’m not sure they’ll “come back” when the weather cools down. We’ll see.

Spicy oregano - not surviving the heat

Spicy oregano – not surviving the heat

GARDEN BOUNTY:

The night before I left town, I harvested everything I could and took much of it with me to share with my family. I also harvested a bunch when I got back. Between the two harvests, I took in 1/4 pound of okra, a tad over 2 pounds of tomatoes, 2 pounds of peppers, almost 6 pounds of squash, a bit less than 1/2 a pound of elderberries, and almost 21 pounds of watermelon!

Produce identification is listed from the top, clockwise.

HARVEST, July 28:

Look at these watermelons! I cut one up to eat that night, and brought the rest home to my family. Sweet!

Watermelons: Wilson Sweet (red), Early Moonbeam (yellow)

Watermelons: Wilson Sweet (red), Early Moonbeam (yellow)

Some tomatoes and peppers.

Serrano peppers, Amish paste tomatoes,

Serrano peppers, Amish paste tomatoes, Riesentraube cherry tomatoes, cayenne peppers, San Marzano tomatoes, Lemon drop peppers. Center: Pepperoncini

HARVEST, August 8:

I harvested my pathetic popcorn when I got back from my trip. I planted Glass Gem popcorn for the second year, but I didn’t take care of it as I should have (fertilizing two to three times during growth and mounding stalks with compost). Not only did the stalks look malnourished, most stalks had no ears on them. The ears that did grow were very small. I might have been able to salvage a dozen or so ears had I not waited too long to harvest them. They were rotting from the rain. So much for that harvest. Lesson learned.

Glass Gem corn harvest - small and fit only for the compost pile

Glass Gem corn harvest – small and fit only for the compost pile

There weren’t too many melons growing, but I harvested these – along with a couple of squash. Look at the odd shape of the Strawberry Watermelon. Rather thin.

Black Futsu squash, Strawberry watermelon, Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon

Black Futsu squash, Strawberry watermelon (red), Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon (white)

I was able to keep a few okra, a bunch of cherry tomatoes, and a few sweet peppers. (My sweet peppers just aren’t growing. The mini yellow stuffing peppers are the only plants with lots of fruit.)

Star of David okra, Mini Red Bell peppers, Cubanelle peppers, Riesentraube tomatoes, Mini Yellow Stuffing peppers. Center: Emerald Giant green bell peppers

Star of David okra, Mini Red Bell peppers, Cubanelle peppers, Riesentraube tomatoes, Mini Yellow Stuffing peppers. Center: Emerald Giant green bell peppers

My chili peppers are hanging in there and producing fairly well, considering the heat.

Peppers: Serrano, Hot Cherry, Black Hungarian,

Peppers: Serrano, Hot Cherry, Jalapeno, Pepperoncini, Fish peppers, Lemon Drop. Center: Cayenne & Black Hungarian

I brought in the last of my elderberries. I have to say, I am quite pleased with what I was able to harvest, considering it’s only my second year with them and I was competing with something that was eating them.

Elderberries

Elderberries

IN THE KITCHEN:

Before I left on my trip, I dehydrated a bunch of serrano and cayenne peppers. I love how they look in my dehydrator.

Serrano peppers - ready to dehydrate

Serrano peppers – ready to dehydrate

Cayenne peppers - ready to dehydrate

Cayenne peppers – ready to dehydrate

The night before I left town, I cut up my first Wilson Sweet watermelon. Oh. My. Goodness! It is THE sweetest watermelon I have every grown! This variety is a keeper.

Wilson Sweet watermelon cut up

Wilson Sweet watermelon cut up

I put the last of my elderberry harvest in the freezer. Look how much I harvested this season. Here’s hoping I have enough for a batch of elderberry syrup.

2015 elderberry harvest

2015 elderberry harvest

What’s been happening in your garden and on your homestead?

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2 comments on “Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 8/10/15

  1. Welcome back! Glad you had a nice trip.
    Misery loves company, so I will tell you that my SC garden is no better than yours. My husband docents at Middleton Plantation and says that their garden is not what it usually is, either. BTW, I saw their okra and most of it is no bigger than yours.
    Do you find that watermelon consistently does well for you? Since I am finding that bush beans do better for me than pole beans, I may put in watermelon along my fence next year instead of pole beans. 10 days ago I planted chard, bush beans and collards. I usually don’t plant until September, but I had plenty of space and couldn’t bear to see it just sit fallow (although I know that there is a benefit to that). So I planted in August. Seedlings are all doing well! Just have to make sure I keep them watered.
    This is the 3rd year I have planted tomatoes and it may be my last. After the small bushes I am used to when growing tomatoes in MI, these in SC are just too pathetic! To top it off, my best plant sported 6 hornworms at one time last week. You can guess how it looks now, even tho I caught them early.
    Can you tell me what company carries the Wilson Sweet Watermelon seeds?
    I know you must be very busy, so get back to me whenever you can. No rush.
    Thanks!

    • Thank you. Sorry for the late response. I spent yesterday running errands, buying groceries, etc. Vacation is definitely over. LOL

      Yes, growing here is NOT like growing up north. We do have a longer season, but the heat and humidity takes its toll, for sure.

      I bought the seeds for Wilson Sweet watermelon at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (www.southernexposure.com). They specialize in varieties that grow well in the South. I love it!

      Rosemarie

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