Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Farmer Jim

If you've been wondering where in the world has Jim been for the last two months, the picture above gives the answer -  at least if you realize what you are looking at.

Back in May I got wind of something exciting: the local parks department had established community gardens nearby as part of the Montgomery County Parks Community Gardens program. You can learn more about this here:

 The home garden has been full for years; and the home lot has never really been good for a proper vegetable garden. So I jumped at the opportunity to have a site out in a sunny field. It gets better: the overall site is surrounded by a deer fence, there is water at the site and there are periodic deliveries of wood chip mulch.They've done a good job with this. Here's the cistern:

For the last two months my mind has been spinning over the possibilities presented by my new community garden plots (yes, plots). Plot acquisition took place back in May, but the May-June period was extremely busy for me, and it took me a while to get started with the vegetable garden. The first things to go in were tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and eggplants. Here's an early harvest:

I think we have eaten more bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwiches during the last two weeks than we have eaten in the last two years. I've  refused to buy those $3 per pound grocery store tomatoes for years.

Back in mid-July I began to plant seeds for fall and winter harvests: these are coming along nicely and should provide lots of herbs, root crops and greens during September and October. There is also late-planted corn, the variety Mirai. This is a 75 day corn, and it should be ready in late September. But I've since learned that insect pests are a huge problem with late planted corn. And this year, in addition to the usual corn pests, we have a new one: the garden site is swarming with brown marmorated stink bugs. They seem to be sampling everything.

I've got plenty of squash coming along, and these guys are certainly appreciating my efforts:

The photos above show the eggs and nymphs of the squash bug.

Here's something which has so far escaped the bugs: this is the so-called Armenian cucumber. It's actually a melon, not a cucumber. But it's not sweet, and it does look like a cucumber.

We've been eating a lot of vegetables lately - and so have the bugs!


WashingtonGardener said...

Did you taste that Armenian cucumber yet? How was it? And did the bugs ever get to it?

McWort said...

The Armenian cucumber had a fine mild cucumber taste; it was drier than a typical cucumber and VERY (as in very pleasantly) crisp.
Shortly after that photo was taken the plant wilted and went into a quick decline. Within two weeks, all of the Armenian cucumbers I planted wilted and are now dead.
Plants in a nearby plot began to wilt but recovered and are now making new growth.
Before my plants wilted, the brown marmorated stink bugs ruined many of the tiny new fruits.
I grew Armenian cucumbers years ago in the home garden and had no problems at all with them.