Notes From the Farm, 2016

Wow! What a Difference a Week Makes, July 18, 2016

I don't have much to talk about new in this post, but I had to do a new page because the difference from last week—ten days to be exact— is unbelievable. My annual flower dispay is bursting into bloom, and has grown much bigger as all the flowers migrate out of the greenhouse. I have quite a few more snapdragons nearly ready, and also sunflowers, two varieties.

Inside the greenhouse, the squash plants are huge, and the cucumbers—well, I've never seen so many blossoms! I realize that many of those blosooms are male, so they're not going to produce a fruit, but I also grow a number os gynoecious varieties, meaning that nearly all the blossoms are female. Cool Breeze, which I have really pigged out on, are one such variety. And look at those peppers and eggplants! Compare them to my last post, and look how tiny they were, just ten days ago. My tomatoes are also laden with blossoms, in fact I will be eating tomatoes this month, and selling them soon after. I have sixty varieties this year, all healthy and vibrant.

As I mentioned the last post, there is a massive shift going on here, at least on my farm. Remember, I mentioned the maple tree right in front of my house— practically on my doorstep, really. I was in the greenhouse yesterday, and heard a little crackle. That huge dead chunk had broken loose and fallen. It missed the house and didn't do any damage, in fact, although if it would have fallen on me I would have been squashed to a pulp, it actually isn't heavy. It's really spongy because it had been dead for so long, and it broke into pieces as at fell. Even the biggest chunk I was able to move, because it had fallen right at my porch step across my pathway.

While I truly do believe plants have a spiritual energy, I try not to anthropomorphize, but I swear I am not imagining this. As I looked up at this tree, it was giving out this amazing joyful energy, and all I could hear was "that felt so good, that felt SO GOOD!"

I really thought a couple years ago I would lose this tree. Some borer had gotten inside and was doing serious damage. But, as I said—there is the subtle shift going on and except for that huge chunk, even branches that I thought were totally dead have sent out new shoots and lots of foliage. The woodpeckers also helped clean it up. I see no signs of damage or holes on the main part of the trunk, so it was apparently able to fight off the pests and recover.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy, beginning with the maple tree, first the two biggest sections, the one over a foot in diameter. Next, a view looking up. You can see the dead smaller branches, a few more which will come down, but you can also see braches that have begun to spout new shoots and foliage. I used to climb this tree when I was a kid, by the way.

Next is the annual flower display. In front are portulacas, violas, and lots of different varieties of petunias. Snapdragons, and ageratum are to the left, and four o'clocks to the right, with an old roaster full of allysum. Of course, in front are my gorgeous Hero marigolds. The Durnagos in back of them are just now starting to open. Behind them are the coleus. Look how much they've grown. I have zinnias on both sides.

The Dead Part of the Maple Tree

The Dead Part of the Maple Tree

Annual Flower Display

The Live Part of the Maple Tree

Here's a close-up of those gorgeous marigolds. I love all flowers, but I think if I had to pick the one that is my very, very favorite, it would have to be these. I am never without marigolds in the summer. And just look at that coleus. Wow! What a great variety of colors. Those will just get more beautiful as they grow.


Hero Marigolds

This is that Green Zebra Cherry that I'm just dying to eat. They turn lime green when they're ready, and it almost is. Next is a Lime Green Salad plant, laden with blossoms. That is one of the several free-standing varieties I grow. The main stem gets very thick and the plant bushes out rather than getting vine-y. Last is my lone Plum Lemon, which I seem to be unable to find seeds for so I have it planted right next to the flower display. It is an heirloom variety smuggled in from St. Petersburg, Russia, I believe in the late 1800s. I have it isolated so I can save seeds. Look at all those blossoms!

Plum Lemon Tomato

Lime Green Salad Tomato

Green Zebra Cherry Tomato

Next we go into the greenhouse. Just look at those cucumber plants and all those blossoms! They are followed by some of my huge summer squash plants. These are white scallops. Below are some peppers and eggplants. Hmm. Something's been chewing on the leaves. I have numerous varieties of both this year. At the bottom right is a bucket of Bronze Fennel. Next are Pineapple Tomatillos. I don't bother planting them any more because they self-seed so profusely. When I find them, I pot them up. I'm already eating those.

White Scallop Squash Plants

Cucumber Plants

Pineapple Tomatillos

Peppers, Eggplants and Fennel

Here's some of my potted basils. I have sweet, Magical Michael (which is a flat-leaved sweet), lime, cinammon, Sweet Dani (lemon), licorice, and Jung's Balcony Blend. I transplated the Red Rubin today, and have two more varieties to go.

One of the things I've been doing that has helped immensely to restore my soil fertility lost after all these years of torretial rain, is to make manure "tea"—a nutritious treat for your plants. I have several rear-bagger containers from old and gone lawnmowers, and this one serves the purpose perfectly. You don't need manure to make this. I used grass clippings. Just pack them in a container, cover with water, and let them rot. Water your plants with a cup or so a day, and you can watch them grow. I have to warn you though, even if you don't use manure, you will still have the barnyard "ambience" (cow, in particular). Anaerobic decomposition stinks no matter what it's made of, which doesn't bother me, but if you live in, say, Hudson or Bath, there could be a problem. Anyways, just keep adding water until the solution gets too weak, then make some more, or else keep adding new ingredients to the water.

Manure Tea

Potted Basils

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