The Backyard

The Backyard

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Heat of the Summer

Central Pennsylvania is under a heat wave the past two weeks and watering the gardens has become a nightly event.   Little did I realize how much time mother nature saves me when she throws some drops our way -- at least an hour a night.  My decision to NOT train for an October bike race was a wise decision and perfectly timed.  The training was to start last week - just about the time the heat wave came and I started watering in the evenings.  We are smack dab in the middle of the summer right now and the harvesting and storing has begun.  Below is a run down of what's happening in the backyard on a routine basis right now.  The harvesting, preparing, and storing will continue until mid or the end of October.  Lots of work is ahead.
  • Onions! I'm pulling them as the tops lay over and have dried for a day or two, then setting them on a drying screen under a covered area to cure (dry some more)  for a couple weeks. As more are pulled, others that are "finished" are moved to storage in our 60 degree cellar.   I'll use the last of them for the filling for Christmas dinner.  Those with thick necks that may rot are cut up, cooked slightly, then froze.  When the dry are gone, we dig into the freezer.  A perfect year of stored onions.
  • Spinach!  I got lucky this year and all the seeds planted sprouted.  What I can't eat fresh, I'm cutting, washing, chopping, and cooking just until wilted, then freezing in 10 oz sizes.  Most recipes call for 10 oz of frozen, chopped spinach.  I'll be happy to find the spinach in the freezer sometime in January.
  • Chard! Eating fresh with eggs and also mixing in salads.  I may freeze some of this in single servings to cook with eggs this winter.
  • Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini - they are all starting to ripen.  I made zucchini patties and have been using the other goodies in salads. 
  • Sweet Potatoes!  Yup - I already have some and I'm very, very excited to be eating them already.  I have 50 plants in the ground that will produce at least 4 or 5 potatoes per plant.  I'm gonna have a LOT of sweet potatoes to eat.
  • Red Potatoes!  Yup, they are ready too.  Not too many of those, so I'm saving for in recipes and focusing on the sweet potatoes.
  • Butternut Squash - not ready yet, but there are at least 3 dozen squash growing on the vines.  The rabbits (or ground hogs??) were munching on the newly sprouted seeds in the spring, so I planted more seeds in a separate garden and low and behold they ALL kept growing.  We're going to have a bumper crop of squash along with the sweet potatoes.  We'll be orange this winter!
  • Volunteers - I have two heirloom tomatoes that seeded themselves and came up this year.  "Grandma Cantrell's Red tomato" is ripening beautifully.  A handful of sunflowers also came up on their own.  Oh, and an heirloom muskmelon (forgot the name)  is gonna produce two or three melons. 
  • Parsley - I grow this for my dear old mom.  She dried 6 jars already.  I'll dry about two.  
  • Basil - I'll dry some of this for winter meals.
  • Fall and Winter seeds:  Planted and being watered every night.  We'll have carrots, red beets, radishes, and spinach.  The beets and radishes have already sprouted and in this heat need daily attention (water).  I'll have to watch them carefully.
Other than that, not much going on.


Debbie said...

Hi, I'm in California and I was wondering what your temperatures are during this heat wave. I've been holding off on my winter garden planting because I'm afraid it's too early. We're consistantly in the high 90s right now.

Chili said...

Yes, we've been in the 90's also; but I didn't want to wait too long. So I took the chance and planted. everything sprouted -- I just have to be diligent about watering now.

Debbie said...

Thanks for the response. The weather and how it pertains to gardening doesn't seem to be following the rules these days.

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