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

First day of summer (in my little world)

Cucumber flower

For me, the first day of summer occurs when I notice the initial brilliant yellow cucurbit flower. Which means my own solstice was Sunday when our cucumbers heralded the sun and promised fruits in the near future.

Baby apple

Ripening black raspberrySpeaking of fruits, it looks like four apple fruits made it through dogwood winter intact. My neighbor who lives a mile away on a south-facing hillside tells me that his trees are loaded, though, which makes me think I need to get more serious about finding non-frost-pocket locations for tree fruits if I want real harvests of apples and pears.

Of course, berries continue to do well for us. This is actually only a so-so year for strawberries due to our "straw" mulch sprouting cover crops last winter, a hard dogwood winter that nipped some blooms even beneath row covers, and lack of rain resulting in small berries. Despite these setbacks, though, we're each still enjoying a big bowl of berries twice a day and have put a few sheets of leather away in the freezer.

Meanwhile, our second black raspberry variety --- Jewel --- looks like it's going
Weedy raspberryto be ultra early, ripening up before our Caroline red raspberries this year. So soon there will be more types of berries in our daily bowl.

Now, if I can just manage to weed the red raspberries before they ripen --- and before the wild lettuce outgrows my cultivated plants --- we'll be back in business. I'd been waiting for rain to soften the ground before hitting those holdout beds, but I guess I'll just irrigate harder and pull those weeds.

Baby tomato

In other garden news, between last week's jolt of precipitation and Mark's irrigation, our tomato plants nearly doubled in size over the last seven days. If I had to pick one favorite vegetable, tomatoes might be it, so I watch the developing fruits with an eagle eye. The fruit pictured above is our biggest so far.

Broccoli head

Mark instead keeps his attention attuned to the broccoli and peas. The latter have been producing for a couple of weeks now, but dry weather and highs near 90 mean peas are only trickling in.

On the other hand, this year's broccoli has surprised me by doing well despite only getting not-really-composted chicken bedding for fertilizer, then having to deal with the same summery temperatures that the peas hate. I've been watching lots of cabbage whites flutter around the broccoli plants, but my weekly caterpillar-squashing sessions have seen very few pest insects. Maybe something about this year's conditions made the plants less tasty to bugs? The broccoli certainly didn't taste anything less than excellent to us when we enjoyed our first heads this weekend!

I hope your garden is shaping up well despite inevitable setbacks. It's time to start enjoying the bounty!

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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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By red raspberries do you mean wineberries? I've been told they're the same thing, but that plant in your picture doesn't look like a wineberry.
Comment by Jennifer Quinn Fri Jun 12 15:38:36 2015
Jennifer --- "Red raspberry" is a colloquial term sometimes used for wineberries. (I grew up calling them that too.) But the term is more properly used for cultivated red raspberries, which is what you see in this post.
Comment by anna Sat Jun 13 14:08:12 2015

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