August is garden fun!

   It’s been unseasonably hot here this summer with daily highs for the past 5 weeks usually in the low 90s.  I don’t like it.  It makes my commute home from work sweaty as I bike uphill to my house, the house gets really hot in the afternoon because we don’t have air conditioning (and it’s too hot to open the windows), it’s too hot to work outside (waaaaaah!) until later in the evening after work, but more importantly, it’s not been all that great for my garden.  My spinach bolted a week after it came up.  I have very few tomatoes.  My broccoli looks like it has given up on life. I know I am being whiny, but I am really bummed about my tomatoes this year.  Because of the heat, they are not setting fruit very well.  When it gets really hot, the pollen will actually become deactivated and not pollinate the flowers.  At first I was thought it was something I was doing, like not fertilizing enough or watering enough.  But then I heard the word on the street: lots of people’s tomatoes are not doing well this year, so it’s not just me.  I’m hopeful this heat will break soon and I can still get some tomatoes this year.  I might have to enclose them in plastic to get them to ripen, but that’s fine.  Last year I had such a bumper crop of tomatoes that I was really excited to have more plants this year (which I assumed would mean more fruit) so that I could can a bunch to have for the winter.  I’m not sure that’s going to happen.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

On the bright side, raspberries are in full swing right now and I have been picking them like crazy.  We don’t have any plants in our yard yet, but Hubby, The Stinker, and I went out to Hubby’s boss’s house earlier this week and dug up some raspberry plants and picked some fruits.  We picked both red and yellow raspberries. 

red&gold_raspberries

I’d never had yellow raspberries before, but I now have a new favorite color–they are so sweet, firm, and delicious!  I’m glad we got several of the yellow plants.  I plan to put them along the fence so our neighbor’s dog will hit something spiny if it ever tries to get at my chickens again.  And it should become a pretty dense thicket of canes so that the chickens won’t be over too close to the fence anyway.  And they will have berries to eat, too, at least down low where their little chicken beaks can reach.

Despite the heat, my rhubarb is doing something weird: I’m getting a second round of new stalks.  I have not witnessed this before–it looks like it did in April with tiny little leaves barely poking out of the dirt.  But here’s the really weird thing:  my variety, Victoria, has had all green stalks for the past 2 years.  Now, suddenly, the new stalks are red!  I don’t understand.

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All the plant descriptions for this variety say that the stalks are rosy red with green interiors.  For the past 2 years I’ve thought these seed companies were full of shit because mine were always green.  And suddenly there are some red ones appearing!  I am perplexed, but a little excited to have some (finally) red rhubarb in my garden.  I’m really curious to see if this is just a summer phenomenon or if they will be red next spring when they come up again.

My garlic is finally cleaned up and put away in mesh bags in the basement.  It was so exciting to watch the colors develop as I cleaned the dirty wrappers off to uncover the beautiful purple wrappers hiding beneath!

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I love the looks of braided garlic, and I have always wanted to do it.  But since I grow mostly hardneck garlic, it’s never really been feasible.  I had enough of my 1 softneck variety this year that I decided to try a braid, and I think it turned out pretty well!

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I did a pretty hack job with the braid, but I like it enough that I just might have to try another softneck variety next year so I can make more garlic braids (practice makes perfect)–plus the softnecks store for such a long time!  I might have to give the softnecks a little more winter protection this year since they don’t like cold climates as much as the hardnecks do.

Speaking of growing more garlic, I kind of want to go crazy this year and buy a garlic sampler from Filaree Garlic Farms.  The one I’m eyeing has 8 different varieties of garlic–Asiatic, Turban, Silverskin, Purple Stripe, Rocambole, Artichoke, Porcelain, and Marbled Purple Stripe.  I get giddy just thinking about it, but I kind of think Hubby would have a fit if I ordered this much garlic seed.  Soooooo……my friend has a 20′ x 40′ community garden plot across town, that is actually on the way to the CSA pick up (how convenient!).  She is moving this fall and will be giving up her garden plot, but she said she will “deed” it to me, so that I will get first dibs on it when the community garden manager calls and asks if I want it next year, instead of putting it up for grabs for anyone who wants a plot.  I am VERY excited about this.  I have a lot of garden boxes at my house, but I am a little constrained with space for growing big things, like corn and squashes.  This is the perfect solution.  AND I can plant 8 strains of garlic out there and I won’t take up precious garden box space at the house with all that garlic.  I have a friend who wants to get into gardening next year, so we are going to share the plot.  And SHE wants to grow garlic as well!  How convenient!

This garden plot also has raspberries in it, so I am also looking forward to the abundance of raspberries next year in the community garden plot, as well as in my own garden (which won’t be that abundant since I am planting small canes this year).  I was out at the community garden tonight picking raspberries, and I love it.  We have a terrific view of the mountains and it’s fun to check out what everyone else is growing–cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, tomatoes, squashes and pumpkins…and on and on and on.  It gets me pumped up for my own gardening efforts, but at the same time just being in the presence of beautiful vegetables and flowers sets my mind at ease.  Gardening truly is therapy.

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