still blooming and putting on fruit. as long as we get enough sunny days and no hard freezes i think they'll keep on going...
some strawberry plants are on their fourth round of flowering/fruiting. last year there were berries on the plants when the hard freezes came along and shut them down for the season.
today i picked half a dozen berries and they were good flavored. we've not had much warm or sunny weather lately so that surprised me.
the okra plants had a fair number of pods on them. a few were dried and starting to split so i made sure to bring those in along with a dozen other pods. the others were green or just turning yellowish. some of the green ones were fairly small and still tender and easily cut. those went into the pot. the green ones that were hard and woody i peeled open and took the seeds out and put the seeds in the pot too. i figured they'd soften as they cooked. along with the okra in the pot i added a bunch of chopped swiss chard and then cooked that until everything was done, but not overdone. then i made a peanut/chili/soy sauce because this was dinner and i wanted a bit more than just greens.
dried mature okra seeds edible? i chewed one and it was rather tough from the seed coating, but perhaps when cooked it would soften up. or if it were ground? anyone here cook with okra seed? the taste was ok to me. a very mild peppery sort of flavor just like the okra itself (to me as i'm sure tastes and varieties of okra are different). we had the Clemson Spineless variety and it grew in soil that was compacted and heavy. i did water it once in a while so i'm sure that did help it out. next year i'll put a few plants in better soil. right now the pods are being attacked by aphids. the lady beetles were on the plants too so the natural order of things is just fine there. that's the first aphid attack i've seen on any of the veggie plants this year.
the tomatoes and peppers are done. the gardens they were in are already cleaned up and the plants are chopped up and buried. only three tomatoes left to eat. no green tomatoes to use up this year. we made a lot of salsa from the tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. few of the tomatoes made it past orange stage, so that was a good use of them. the flash flood kicked off a round of fungal disease in the tomato plants and they ended up dropping 95% of the leaves before they finally recovered and started growing again. by that time we'd harvested 2/3s of what was there and the rest kept getting a little better as time went on, but then we needed to do something with a bunch of peppers and onions so they went in the pot too. the salsa has excellent flavor so this wasn't as bad as it could have been. this is the first time we had that kind of problem. i'm fairly sure it was the flood that did it.
the beans were also badly affected by the flash flood. as i'm picking and shelling i'm finding many pods empty or full of deformed beans. some of the deformed beans may be edible so i'm not putting those in the worm bins yet until i cook some up as a test. the mummies are worm food. there's just not enough there to do anything with. there are still some bean plants flowering and i can pick a few fresh beans still, but the flavor is not that great, but here or there is still an excellent bean and that is good enough for me. the edamame soybeans are all turning yellow and dropping leaves so it won't be long before those can also be picked and shelled. the lima and azuki beans are also finishing off.
if i'd not have planted three times as many beans as last year, and also added many new varieties we'd be short this year. a normal cranberry plant last year produced 50-200 beans. this season i'm seeing about 10 per plant if any. this kind of difference is similar for all the larger later season beans. only the edamame soybeans seem to have bloomed enough times after the flash flood to recover and put on more pods. and the vining types of beans that didn't finish early did recover enough later to come close to a normal crop.
so those beans that finished early did ok. the black turtle beans and the red beans.
then there were the beans that were in the low spot of the north bean patch (bean patch number 11 this year). the flash flood pretty much shut them down and only a few recovered well enough to bloom later. the rest just gave up and died. the azuki and soybeans that were also in that low spot at the edge nearest the chives did survive. the edamame dropped a lot of pods that didn't fill out and then went on to bloom a few more times and those pods stuck and filled nicely. the azuki beans only flowered late and as they seem to be from the same family as the black- eyed peas i don't expect those to do well here. i suspect i will have to get them planted in early may for them to finish any type of crop. i'll try them again next year to see what does happen with an earlier planting. i do like the taste of these enough to give them a few more attempts. perhaps i will have to look into a shorter season variety if they are available...
on the really fun and cool side of things the great discoveries in the bean patches are new varieties. some perhaps have snuck in and weren't noticed at first when planting. only later when they grow out and you are shelling you notice them and as i don't shell as i pick i don't get to figure out which plant produced the seeds to tag them. only later i set them aside when sorting and cleaning into their own compartment so they can be grown out again next year in their own areas. i have a brown bean that used to be a red bean. i have three new types of pinto beans (in addition to what i planted). one of these new types i only have three beans as a result so it will be a challenge to make sure i get a crop next year from them.
i have cross breeding experiments that came through. one is a type of green bean that i crossed with pinto beans. i'll keep working on it next year to improve it. the first step was to get a green bean that tasted ok and was as productive as a pinto bean, but the real bonus and why i noticed the cross as being good to begin with was that the shelling was so much easier instead of having to pry the seeds out of the pods they'd fall out of the pods like most of the pinto beans...
the new varieties were mostly bush type beans of the larger and longer season types. only a few were shorter season and smaller beans (black turtle beans and red beans). i already had two other black turtle bean varieties so i ordered these as a comparison and as added genetic variation to the pool.
the turtle bean varieties all look to have grown well. i will combine them in a patch of their own next year to mix things up and also keep a few smaller plantings in isolation to have the lines pure for a bit longer. no need to confuse things entirely.
the red bean variety Red Ryder performed well enough that i'd be tempted to let the other red bean variety i grow go by the wayside, but again i'll keep growing the other variety too in a different patch for a few more seasons just to make sure the Red Ryder performs as well or better in the different types of soils and weather. no need to decrease the gene pool yet as i still have space to work with as we renovate old gardens.
a few varieties had trouble with germination. the yellow eye beans and a variety called Money both had trouble in spots. the yellow eyed beans i suspect were old. i did get enough to grow that i now have a good source for replanting next year and that will tell me if these are a difficult variety to grow or if it was indeed the seeds being old. the Money variety it was soil type that made the most difference. too sandy and they didn't do well. i didn't have any of them planted in heavy clay so i can't say how well they did in clay. in the bean patch that had slightly heavier soil they did ok and the one patch that was well above flood stage i had a decent crop so i will have enough to replant.
as i finally picked up a scale and can weigh things out as soon as i get the last of the beans picked and sorted i'll have a very good idea of what the production was like for each variety in each of the eleven patches planted. i didn't plant each variety in all patches, but as it goes i'll have a better idea each season which do better where.
so far the grand champion of production is the pinto bean. in all types of soil they do ok and through all the weather. as a vining bean they could ignore temporary setbacks and go on and bloom again a week or two later. only in the lowest spot did they completely give up, but then so too did almost any other bean. already that lowest spot is filled in and raised up another six to eight inches and waiting for the last two rows of beans to finish before i can get that whole patch done and leveled off.
the Red Ryder gets honorable mention for a short season bean as it is smaller and finishes up. it too seems to be a little more of a vining bean and i think that was part of its strength this season.
still it isn't a full harvest yet, there's still beans to pick and shelling and sorting to do. perhaps i'll be surprised by how well one of the other new varieties finishes.
i'm quite happy with how the turnips and multi- colored swiss chard turned out. next year i'll space the turnips a little more evenly and move some of the swiss chard off into another area. it is very decorative plant and for fall color in a garden i like how it is coming along. that it is also edible is very nice. too bad Ma won't eat it...
garlic is up and growing well. about a foot high already. i planted peas and beans over them as a cover crop for the fall and those are growing fast. also it's in an area where i turned under some birdsfoot trefoil (a legume) and so between having nice topsoil and a bit of a nitrogen boost from the beans and legumes growing they also get the decaying legume boost later when the soil warms up again next spring. perfect timing. i like how some of this stuff actually works together for timing and i don't have to actually do anything more than what's already done other than a little weeding and perhaps water if we have too dry of a spring.
ok, i guess that's enough rambles for now. hope everyone else is having a good fall/spring wherever you are? :)