Brown Thumb Gardener – The Harvest Begins

Brown Thumb Gardener - The Harvest Begins CradleRockingMama.com

Well. A lot has happened in two weeks.

First, the good news: I’m finally beginning to harvest the fruits of my garden!

It’s really exciting to head out to the garden and come back in with handfuls of goodies. Even better is watching Zac eat some of those goodies! Our cucumber trial is in full swing, and it’s MY cucumbers he’s trialing!

Zac eating cucumbers CradleRockingMama.com

That alone makes it all worth it.

So here’s what I’ve managed to get from my garden in the last week:

Garden Harvest Collage CradleRockingMama.com

That’s a BUNCH of basil, 12 cucumbers, and over a pound of purple podded pole beans!

Y’all, I’m all tingly. 

I’ve been wondering when the carrots would be ready to harvest, thinking that those first ones I planted ought to be ready now, right? Well, Jed answered that question for me by taking upon his own self to yank a couple right out of the ground.

Jed Helped Harvest Carrots on July 7th CradleRockingMama.com

He was so proud of himself, doncha know, for helping me in the garden!

Ack!

I gently informed him that clearly, the carrots were not quite ready to harvest, but that as soon as they were, he’d be the person I would call for help.

Every single day since then, he’s asked me if the carrots are ready to harvest!

Actually, aside from some “too early carrot pulling”, Jed is a big helper in the garden. He loves to get the clippers and snip cucumbers and basil for me. I’d be happy to let him snatch up the pole beans for me, too, if they weren’t growing so high that *I* need a ladder to reach them!

Climbing Veggies CradleRockingMama.com

So that’s the good news. The not so good news is that my luffa, while growing, has been completely overshadowed by the cucumbers. Poor thing isn’t going to get enough light to grow, anymore, even if it could fight its way to some space on the trellis! So I guess no luffa’s for me this year.

The bad news is that something is going wrong with my potatos. They look like they’re dying. I only have one plant that still has green leaves above the straw.

Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

I spotted some aphid babies (I’m guessing – I didn’t see any legs) on the underside of the potato leaves a couple weeks ago and gave the plants a hearty dosing of DE. It seemed to stop the aphids, but the potatos continued to worsen.

Are these Aphids? CradleRockingMama.com

They were getting more and more holes eaten out of the leaves, until they looked speckled, and I started seeing spiderwebs on the straw.

With further reading, I’ve learned I have a spider mite infestation. Apparently I was not watering the potatos quite enough, and the DE – while effective for the aphids – was enough to kill off the handful of ladybugs I’d seen on the potatos.

Without that natural predator, and with dry conditions perfect for them, the spider mites have almost destroyed my potatos. 

(bad words bad words very very bad words)

In my reading on spider mites, it appears the only sure-fire way to get rid of them is – you guessed it – natural predators! So I’m trying to find someplace to buy native ladybugs for my area, in hopes that it isn’t too late and my potatos can be salvaged.

I’m trying to accept the idea that I may have a total loss on the potatos this year, though.

Grrr…

A few days ago, I got a wild hair and just decided to go for it: I ripped out every single remaining collard green and swiss chard from my garden.

Raised bed and carrots CradleRockingMama.com

It’s not too late to plant things this year, you see, and I can use that gardening square footage for other things.

As a matter of fact, I’m feeling all inspired again! I just read something about planting your fall garden, and for a moment I felt discouraged – had I (once again) started too late?

But no, apparently not! Now is apparently the perfect time to plant – for both a second summer crop AND a fall crop!

So now I’m finalizing what I want to grow.

The pole beans and cucumbers are doing beautifully, and, frankly, I just have a feeling like we can’t have too many of either of those. So I’m considering planting a few more of those somewhere.

Zucchini, as a friend kindly reminded me, actually has a high success rate with FPIES kids. And y’all, I LOVE zucchini! So I’m most certainly going to plant some zucchini in my garden this week. As prolific as it apparently is, I’m sure I’ll wind up with enough to last a year!

I’m going to give some greens another shot, too. Only this time, I plan to try something I saw on Pinterest: planting in rain gutters.

If I do it, and it works, I’ll show it here, but the general idea is that you hang rain gutters along the side of your house and use those for things like spinach and other greens. It’s mostly an idea thought up by people in apartments and townhomes, with limited space, but it will be perfect for keeping bunny rabbits out of my greens this time!

So collard greens, spinach, kale, and swiss chard are on my short list of things to plant.

Getting sick last week really threw off our plans, but I still intend to get those tomatos in the ground! I might not get enough to trial for Zac, but I can at least get enough to make some salsa for Jed!

I’m also thinking of planting beets and more carrots. Carrots will apparently continue growing for quite a long time, so if I start planting a lot more carrots, I just MAY get enough to use for a trial on Zac.

Same goes for beets, and I just LOVE beets! So I need to get a bunch in the ground pronto for some fall/winter food trials.

Oh, and broccoli. Maybe. I might just be getting ahead of myself.

Here’s a minor vent: do you know that there is little I hate more than runner grass? I saw some grass growing in my garden bed, so I started to dig for the root to pull it out. I started pulling…and I pulled, and pulled, and pulled…and THIS is what I got when it finally broke:

Running Grass CradleRockingMama.com

How am I supposed to stop grass from growing in my garden when it starts 8 zillion feet away?? Ugh!

I really hate that stuff.

Oh, and does anyone know what this spider is?

What Spider is this CradleRockingMama.com

It’s taken up residence on the trellis between my cucumbers. It hasn’t appeared to do anything but build an impressive web so far, but after the spider mites I’m a bit nervous. I don’t want to kill it off if it’s a beneficial insect, though.

So, what do you think? What are you planting for fall?

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6 Responses to Brown Thumb Gardener – The Harvest Begins

  1. Lora says:

    I think that’s a yellow garden spider. I also think they eat other bugs, so you should be fine to leave him. They make really awesome webs. My oldest son had to do a report on them a few years ago. We always leave them alone here.

    • Carrie says:

      Thank you! Good to know. Like I said, it hasn’t seemed to do anything bad. And the web truly is impressive!! If it eats other nasty bugs, it’s got a permanent home. :-)

  2. Ruth P. says:

    Technically, it’s a golden silk orb weaver. The Australian variety gets big enough to eat birds. :)

    Have you dug down and checked on the actual potatoes? It’s normal for the tops to wither up and die back when the potatoes are “done”. Ours are almost to that stage, and we’ll probably be digging potatoes next weekend. Andy checked one hill – it’s got everything from roadhouse spuds to marble size, but there isn’t any green on the potato skins, so they are mature.

    • Carrie says:

      OK, that’s scary. A spider that can eat birds.

      No, I planned to dig in today, but didn’t get around to it. I’ll do that tomorrow and see what I’ve got – if anything. :-/

  3. louise says:

    zucchini is a pass as of today!, cucumber is also a pass for J. definitely worth a try, we have grown yellow and green ones and he tolerates them both fine, which is great as they are very prolific!

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