Monthly Archives: September 2012

Melon-ic Efforts

I like to keep my vegetable garden trim and neat and intensively planted. Melons have a different perspective on life. They like to sprawl every which way, tumbling across garden beds and latching their tendrils onto whatever they might come across to pull themselves up. Can ever the twain — homegrown melons, here — meet? Yes, and especially this year.

First, let’s look at the melons I planted in the garden. Seedlings a few weeks old went into the center of columns of concrete reinforcement wire 18 inches in diameter by 2 feet high. The idea was that the wire cage would contain the vines by letting them grow around and around the cylinder in an upwardly spiral fashion. Ripe muskmelons, the varieties Hannah’s Choice and Jenny Lind, could drop to the ground, the 2-foot maximum drop causing no harm.

My melons evidently weren’t in on my plan. Hot weather …

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Beans, Beans, . . .

 
Lima beans are one of those things, like artichokes, okra, and dark beer, that people either love or hate. I love them. The problem is that this far north, summer temperatures usually hover below those in which lima bean plants thrive, at least those best-tasting varieties of lima having large seeds and dry, sweetish flesh something like chestnuts.
 
A few years ago, I grew the variety Jackson Wonder, which was billed as a “prolific, cold-hardy heirloom with bright nutty flavor.” It was cold-hardy and prolific, and it is an heirloom dating back to 1888, but the flavor was blah.
 

A long, long time ago, I grew what might be the best-tasting of all lima beans, a pole variety named Dr. Martin. Dr. Martin’s demand for warm summers resulted in a harvest that was too paltry to justify space for those long vines again.
 
The …

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Payday Here, Beginning with Pears and Persimmons

Sept 6, 2012 #35
A GARDENER’S NOTEBOOK
by Lee Reich
 
It’s payday here on the farmden. The first Magness and Beurrée d’Amanlis pears dropped to the ground, signaling that it’s time to harvest those varieties. Immediately, before the chickens peck at the fallen fruit, which will then get hollowed out by this year’s abundant yellow jackets. The crop is pretty substantial considering last spring’s wide swings in the weather.

My Seckel pear, ready to harvest

 
Actually, the real payday — eating the pears — needs to wait a couple of weeks. European pears, such as Magness and Beurrée d’Amanlis, need to be picked underripe to finish ripening off the tree, or else their insides are mush. These two varieties are early ripening, and early ripening pears ripen best if chilled for a couple of weeks before being brought to room temperature for ripening. 
 
The pears must achieve …

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Demise of Miss Kim, Sweet corn

Aug 30, 2012 #34
A GARDENER’S NOTEBOOK
by Lee Reich

I killed Miss Kim. Sure, she was pretty enough, with lilac purple flowers late each spring. In fact, she is  . . .  I mean “was” . . . a lilac, although she was Syringa patula, a different species from the common lilac (S. vulgaris). 


The very reason that I had planted Miss Kim was because she was different. She would blossom later than the common lilac, extending the season when lilac blossoms and their fragrance could be enjoyed. Later in summer, her leaves were never to be marred by the powdery, white coating — powdery mildew disease — that mars the leaves of common lilacs. And her expected stature, no more than 6 feet high, would be fitting for the bed of perennial flowers that she would call home. 

The relationship did …

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