The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Early June 2013 in the garden

Garden harvest

It's been a while since I've written a sumup of the garden, which is mostly because both the produce and the weeds are growing like crazy.

Broccoli and pea season has come and gone.  For about a week in the middle of June, the broccoli heads became so full of southern cabbageworms that I barely wanted to cook them, but then the checkered white butterflies stopped laying eggs, and recent heads have been pristine.  (The more common cabbage worms from the cabbage white are still around in small numbers, but they're not nearly as big of a deal for us.)

These early crops were quickly replaced by cucumbers, which immediately began to overwhelm us to the point where we had to give extras away.  Although I could cut back on my planting next year, it's nice to have a quick, easy vegetable that scales up to feed an unlimited number of mouths on a moments' notice, so I probably won't scale down.

Eating cattail

We're also enjoying yellow crookneck squash, green beans, and the first huge cabbage heads.  Monday, Mark and I sampled cattail flowers for the first time, which you're supposed to pick when they're still enclosed in their sheath, remove from their husk, boil for 3 minutes, then eat like corn on the cob.  Although Eric in Japan reported cattails taste like avocadoes (one of our favorite storebought addictions), Mark and I were less than impressed by the cattail heads and deemed them mere survival food.

Song sparrow nest

Saving seedsWhile waiting for the tomatoes to ripen (which will mark the beginning of major preservation season), we're staying busy planting late crops, renovating the strawberry beds, weeding, mowing, and saving seeds (kale, tokyo bekana, and peas so far).  The kale plants I left to go to seed are so vigorous, I'm considering using the vegetable as a cover crop in areas that don't need to be planted until mid summer, and the dying plants are still doing double duty by sheltering a song sparrow nest.  Kale plants that have already given me their quota of seed (and that aren't housing wildlife) made good deep bedding in the chicken coop.

Ripening peach

It continues to rain nearly every day, but so far I haven't seen the fungal diseases I've been dreading.  Our first peaches (Redhaven) are already thinking of ripening up, and despite insect damage to many fruits, I suspect we'll enjoy a bountiful crop.

How's your garden doing now that summer is officially here?

Our chicken waterer keeps chores to a minimum even if you've got three separate flocks the way we do at the moment --- broilers, a broody hen, and the layers.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Those nasty southern cabbageworms destroyed almost all of my cole crops! (I ignored the problem for quite a while hoping they'd just go away.) I ripped all the broccoli out, not getting even one head to eat (but replanted a fall crop so hopefully I'll tend to them better this time). The cabbage is still hanging in there, and I'm glad to learn from you that the butterflies eventually stop laying eggs. I planted Brussels sprouts much too early by mistake and thought they were going to be ruined also, but I just noticed the first little nodules forming yesterday, so I'm glad I waited to tear them out. Our peas are long gone also, but I pick a few handfuls of green beans everyday, tons of squash and zucchini, basil, Swiss chard, green onions, pickling cucumbers, mustard greens and raspberries as well as the last of the lettuce that hasn't bolted yet. Our artichokes, blackberries, tomatoes, watermelons, drying beans, soybeans (edamame), and slicing cucumbers are all forming. Storage onions are bursting out of the ground, and the carrots are almost there but not quite sweet enough yet. The garlic tops are finally falling over -- I was waiting to pick them hoping for as large heads as possible, but I think they are still going to be small (like yours). Hot and sweet peppers still have a way to go, but hopefully I will be able to make lots of fiery salsa in a couple of months!
Comment by mitsy Wed Jul 3 09:07:50 2013

The rain here south of Boston was absurd this June. We have had over a foot, but it looks like we are headed into a string of hot, 90+, days with much less rain.

I don't know how much rain you have had, but the jet stream is setting up more inland and a bit south from the east coast. Are you about to get even wetter?

Comment by Gerry Wed Jul 3 18:02:23 2013

Mitsy - I haven't seen an update on your blog in a long time. Great to hear an update from you here on Anna's page.

I live vicariously through our caretaker's garden. Last year was the year of the groundsquirrel with over 100 trapped and relocated (probably not relocated far enough away.) Just got the latest word/update. Deer and Elk by the dozens have nightly parties in the main garden area as well as the orchard. The caretakers go out each night to set off bottle rockets and flash spotlights.

Groundsquirrels seem to be a bit lighter . . . but that is probably because of all of the bobcats. There was a live groundsquirrel in a trap that was left in the greenhouse overnight; the relocation to occur the following morning. Overnight, something, most likely a bobcat, got into the greenhouse somehow, and dragged the trap around the greenhouse, dug up a bed, killed the groundsquirrel in the trap and ripped its leg off . . . not a pretty morning site for the resident vegan! A couple of evenings later a groundsquirrel was trapped and left outside the greenhouse until relocation could occur. Relocation happened . . . but by something else and the trap still hasn't been located. Luckily the last of the poultry hasn't been touched, safe inside the chicken house each night.

All of the cherries were eaten before they ripened. Red currants are ripe and blueberries will be ripe shortly. The big question will be the few pears that are on the tree for the first time. The neighbor had a pear tree that was loaded with fruit last year - stripped by a bear as the fruit ripened (the tree was shredded!)

And something has been chewing on the water lines. Life in the wild, wild Oregon west!

I know bears are around in your country in SW Virginia, but I never hear of bear problems with gardens/orchards . . . bears are a big problem with fruit in the Coastal Range (except apples, for some reason.)

Comment by charity Wed Jul 3 18:18:14 2013
Charity -- I'm sorry! I just sort of... burned out on it all of a sudden. I don't have the online stamina to do a post everyday like our favorite hosts here, but then I end up letting more than a month pass by if I don't commit myself to a regular schedule. I could go on with excuses like the summer garden rush and all that, but really, I just got super uninterested in having an online presence all of a sudden (I'm also on a Facebook hiatus, which probably doesn't help). Reading your comment made me smile, though -- thanks for that!
Comment by mitsy Wed Jul 3 20:09:04 2013
Use more butter, and the taste goes more avocado. But it of course will not be a pure avocado taste, just a bit more like it.
Comment by Eric in Japan Sat Jul 6 04:04:33 2013

I thought you might enjoy reading another perspective on cattails -

apparently Hank Shaw also isn't so taken with most cattail products.

Comment by Charity Thu Jul 18 11:26:22 2013

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