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In the last few weeks we have had a lot of rain. While I stayed out of the way, the kitchen garden totally soaked up all that water. Now I have a sort of squash jungle, aided and abetted by more tomato plants than I will know what to do with. Tomato baseball, maybe. But what kind of squash? And those little bushes, the ones in the space where we thought we planted okra, is it really okra or are we looking at 20 more tomato plants?

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I won’t show you the zucchini. It’s a little obscene, though it makes fine zucchini bread. I thought this was a baby pumpkin but Julien says no, it’s some kind of round summer squash. I guess you stuff them. We poked around in there and found a few other things. Little did I know, they look like baby versions of their grownup selves. So the butternut squash is already yellow and elongated, etc. So that’s easy. But what about those ones that are flowering but not producing? And how do I get these guys to lay off the leaf growth — enough is enough — and start making more veg?

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In between the squash and tomatoes, Julien planted carrots, onions, all kinds of things. It’s more like foraging than harvesting. I go out with a bag and start pulling up stuff, saying, oh look, beets, onions, how nice. Maybe there is chard. We finally have recognizable arugula, mizuna and tatsoi. He couldn’t  understand doing a garden without potatoes, so I found starts for quite an exotic variety over here, russets. We will finally have decent potato soup and I think he’ll take a few home so his wife the chef can make potato bread. Now that he knows zucchini bread can be a dessert, I think he’ll be feeding it to his kids.

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It turns out my tomatoes just needed about ten times more water. Now they’re doing great. We have two plants that look to be enough, all by themselves, plus, seriously, about 20 mystery plants. Some we planted. Others are volunteers from seed left out last year. Flowers, maybe a few actual tomatoes but I’m not sure which ones. I’m hoping some cherry tomatoes show up. The polythene cloth that I put all over the place is an absolute lifesaver for a lazy gardener like me. It covered the weeds, the cardboard and hay we put down to kill the weeds and all that dirt that rots the food before I can get to it. I love the stuff. It’s reusable, fortunately, and when it gives up it falls apart. I think it can be dug right into the dirt, so no worries. You’re not looking at future landfill.

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On the pest front, things are not too bad. They seem to find most of what they want out in the meadow, that brown area in the back of the first photo. Apart from that they seem to zero in on older plants that we’re letting go to seed. They’ve been staying away from the healthier plants. Plus we do get a little help from bugs we like.

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The fruit is doing better than maybe it should. These are entirely uninvited plums growing on shoots from a tree that was cut down before I arrived, but with the roots left in place. I have three or four trees like this, plus leftover raspberries. Some we’ll keep, some we’ll try, probably futilely, to eradicate. The deliberately planted trees, eh, I’m glad I’m not a farmer. My bumper crop of cherries also soaked up all that rain, then burst. I have two trees full of previously gorgeous, now rotting, probably fermenting, fruit. If you stand under the trees you can get a little buzz. That’s about the best I can say for them. We have a few apples. Everything else looks happy but is not really producing yet. It will happen.

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All my drought-resistant flowers turn out to be secret drinkers. It’s amazing what they got up to while we were hiding from the downpours. Suddenly they are huge and everywhere. We have roses about this color. When you step out the front door the scent is amazing. And thanks to the blog buddy who suggested a garden fair a short drive from the house. I went and found these lovely bushes that look remarkably like hollyhocks and fill in a neglected corner in a very pleasant way.

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I’m still not used to winter. We had a warmer winter than usual, but still, it’s not for me. So all this growth, the late sundowns, all of it, I am cherishing. We are between the freezes and wind of winter and the heat waves of summer. It’s pretty nice.

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12 Replies to “Field of ???”

  1. Well, look who’s back! We missed you and wondered what you’ve been up to. Your garden looks GREAT!!! Congratulations. So jealous of that space. If you’re getting more green growth than veggie/fruit, perhaps a bit more phosphorus would help as the cucurbits are heavy feeders. Or if you are full organic – manure, the favorite rolling ingredient of dogs everywhere. (Hi Jacques!) Over here, it’s been a crummy summer for a lot of our veggies. The only ones springing joy are tomatoes, cucumbers and some second tier ones like chives and Thai peppers. The weather has simply been too hot through the Spring. Even the Japanese eggplants and sweet bell peppers are disappointing so far but they may make a late season rally. Production of the kabu turnips and daikon radishes was sub-par, much to the despair of the AJF.The veggie cages have defeated the rat assaults but I ended up lining them with metal window screen because the lizards and bugs attacked ferociously. Now all is well but of course I have to hand pollinate. The first harvest of tomatoes was wonderful and delicious but the Japanese variety has yet to produce anything although they look healthy. Since we probably won’t have any road trips this Summer I’ll be spending my time staring at vegetables in the back yard. I know, pretty exciting.

    1. Thanks. It’s good to hear from you, too. These days somebody goes quiet for a while and we all think they’ve died a horrible death. I’ve been using this organic liquid fertilizer. I tried these pellets, but Jacques thought they were dog treats. After I yelled at him for eating that stuff he took to sneaking in when he thought I wasn’t looking, grabbing a piece and sneaking out. Little con man, but so cute. I did add some stuff for plants that looked a bit chlorotic. I’ll pick up some phosphorous. Have you tried using an electric toothbrush to pollinate? I saw it on Youtube and I’m dying to know whether it works. We still have bees, so it’s pretty old-school here. The only tomato I harvested was a green one I used for pickling. In a month or two I’ll be buried in them. I’m impressed. You sound like a gardener who actually knows what he’s talking about. I’m still in the “so amazed it’s not dead” stage. Wondering what kind of squash, exactly, is me getting picky.

      1. I do use an electric toothbrush and it seems to work very well! Before that I was using this artist brush and that was tedious despite my repeating, ‘Hey, group sex!” as I went from plant to plant. The AJF pointedly ignored me. A side effect of phosphorus, surprisingly, is that it can contribute to chlorosis so maybe not a great idea? No, I am not the Veggie Yoda you seek…but I’m a Google Whiz which sounds like a strange summer drink or a urinary condition. If Jacques starts growing and ends up as a Great Pyrenees you’ll know your fertilizer was the good stuff.

  2. And have you bought another freezer for all the tomato sauce, etc….?
    What a wonderful wilderness you have – and so productive.
    Those round courgettes used to be called courgettes de Nice in our area and , yes, they got stuffed!
    Do you have any elector’s hat squashes…I think they are called patty pan squashes in English…they are super baked in the oven…or stuffed.
    And where is the little white dog in all this? Not lost in the undergrowth, I trust.
    Your photographs really gave me a lot of pleasure as the rain buckets down here!

    1. I’m so glad you like the photos. No, no patty pans. Maybe next year. They are pretty when cut up with everything else. Jacques doesn’t really bother much with the garden. He likes it when I’m out there. He runs off the other side of the blueberries, where he can keep an eye on me while he hunts for mice. That puts him out in the waist-high grass, basically invisible.

      1. A real pleasure to see them. Reminds me of our gardens in England and France.
        So the mighty hunter has to keep an eye open for you as well as his prey…dogs are certainly multi taskers.

  3. It is a truly magnificent garden, and I’m very very impressed. For someone who protests of your lack of knowledge for vegetable gardening, I think thou dost protest too much! I agree with freezing the tomato sauce it is just fantastic to pull out in the winter as a reminder of how luscious and gorgeous the summer can be. My Italian family makes huge batches of tomato sauce —a bit of onion and basil, cook down the tomatoes a bit and then run roughly through a food mill—in the summer—she uses and reuses plastic zip lock bags that lay flat in the freezer.

    1. Oh, that sounds good. I used to think you needed to stick with cooking tomatoes and we did plant San Marzanos. I have no idea whether they actually grew. There was a sort of blackout period when Julien ran off with all my seeds, so he could watch them without coming over. I honestly have no idea what came back. I think he doesn’t, either. Anyway, one summer I spent a week in Tuscany with a hostess who decided I could do all the cooking. For five, two meals a day, including one fancy lunch. Seriously. Anyway, they had tomatoes in the garden and I found out that it really doesn’t matter what you grow, as long as the tomatoes are ripe. I have the food mill and in a couple of months I’ll have a ton of tomatoes and be in serious need of an assistant. So do something about those border controls and get over here, okay?

    1. Yeah, after what, two or three years of not very much? It is mostly leaves, though, at least so far. If those tomato plants start producing the way the first two have, Helen is right. I’m going to have to buy another freezer to handle all the tomato sauce. The whole thing is kind of unplanned and unpredictable right now. Next year I think I’ll try tracking things a little better.

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