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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Garden Update

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Still gardening here in NE Oklahoma.  We had a frost the other night.  It got some watermelon vines and some green bean leaves, but overall everything is still doing well.  We are still getting tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.  It's been unusually warm this fall.

I have to admit, I lost my garden "ooomph" before the season was over.  So much so that I have one box full of grass!  I pulled the zucchini out and didn't put anything else in.  The grass took over--it's relentless.  I hope I find my zeal again before spring, I'm sure that I will.

But despite that, I did have a very productive year. Since I posted last, we have harvested a ton of zucchini, yellow squash, and butternut squash.  Unfortunately, the pumpkins didn't produce well.  I planted four varieties, but only saw one type.  Oh well, we will try that again next year.  The watermelon did really well, I just need to learn more about how to tell when they're ripe.  Out of five, we enjoyed two.  I have six more on the vine, just waiting to pick them.  I planted a fall crop of cucumbers and green beans and have enjoyed a great harvest from those.  I blanched and froze eight pounds of green beans in the last couple weeks.  I did not plant the fall lettuce and spinach that I had planned.

I tried drying the basil in the oven, as I mentioned in the last post.  It didn't turn out quite as well as I wanted.  For now, I will stick to making pesto with fresh basil, and buy my dried basil at the store.  Perhaps a dehydrator would do a better job.

I plan to make some changes next year.  I will not plant things that didn't produce much (like broccoli) in favor of planting extras of the items that do produce well.  I will plant my tomatoes in containers next year.  They produced so well the two years I did that.  This year they didn't produce as well.  I think they like the depth.  I will grow more peppers next year.  This year I planted one bell pepper plant and two pimento plants.  Peppers produce so slowly, whenever we pick one, we eat it.  I would like to be able to preserve some.  I thought I didn't like the pimentos, but the taste grew on me.  I think I have discovered that the first couple peppers you get, on any plant, don't taste that great.  After that, they are sweeter.  I will add okra to the garden next year, and plant a full box of spinach, instead of just a row.

I had quite a time with squash bugs.  I didn't know what to watch for.  By the time I learned, it was too late.  Next year I will be prepared.  I tried Neem Oil and it worked really well.  I ordered my neem oil from thesage.com.  It is a dark brown oil and it smells awful!  I filled a spray bottle with water (I think it was about 24oz.), then added 2 teaspoons neem oil and a couple squirts of dish soap, to mix the oil into the water.  I then sprayed it all over everything.  I heard you should do this every fortnight (I thought this was four nights, but have learned it is really 14 nights).  I sprayed it every few days.

Since my butternut did so well, I am using it in place of pumpkin in recipes.  I used it in my muffin recipe and it was great.  I will try a pumpkin pie next.  Did you know that the canned pumpkin you buy in the store isn't really pumpkin?  It is usually Blue Hubbard Squash--according to Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, in The Ultimate Muffin Book.

I am enjoying the castor plants I planted to ward off gophers.  If you want an instant tree in your yard, plant castor.  They are poisonous, but very beautiful.  I hope mine survive the winter.  We'll see.  I thought the gophers had moved on, but found they destroyed three green bean plants the other day.  I am considering laying down chicken wire underneath my boxes next spring.

How did your garden do this year?  What changes will you make for next year?  Please share.

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