This picture pretty much sums up how I'm feeling about this summer. I have always hated the heat and humidity, but for some reason this year didn't bother me too much. (Yes, we're in Vermont, so how hot does it really get? But, no, we don't have A/C, so the 90s is kind of a problem.) Now we've come into the cool mornings/warm days/low humidity late summer thing, and it is wonderful.
In the early morning the fields are often foggy.
And there are NO apples on those four trees this year. They blossomed, but either it rained when the bees were scheduled to visit, or, more likely, a late frost got us. Looks like we'll be heading down the road to Happy Valley Orchard for our apples this year!
A couple of six-legged visitors:
The garden is doing well, for the most part. Last year, the goats got out and ate half our corn, and we still had more than enough. So this year, I planted half as much.
And the cows got out.
So much for the corn.
But I have tons of tomato plants and no late blight so far. A few have foliage that died, but the fruits look good and abundant. Only the brandywines have started ripening much.
But the paste tomatoes aren't far behind.
I've been checking twice a day, and each time there's another ripe tomato of one sort or another.
The brandywines are HUGE, but not pretty. Is there a secret I need to know about growing them?
We dug our first red potatoes of the season tonight, and I parboiled them, then sauteed them in homemade lard, with homegrown onions, salt and pepper. Best. potatoes. ever. Dinner: Steak from our cows, fresh tomato salad, fried potatoes. Heaven.
I may have a success story with the pumpkins and squash (provided something doesn't eat a giant hole in each one just before harvest, like last year).
I started my own pumpkins and squash from seed this year, and squash bugs and striped cucumber beetles did them in before they even got a second set of leaves. So in mid-July I noticed some half-dead baby acorn squash and jack o'lantern plants outside the hardware store on deep discount. I bought six pumpkins and three squash plants (one died immediately). They did nothing for several weeks and I figured it was too late for them to thrive, much less grow fruit.
And then it rained a bit.
In the past two weeks the plants have grown exponentially. I now have about a dozen pumpkins and a few acorn squash. If they have time to mature before the end of the summer, I'm going to start planting them in July from now on.
Tiny baby proto-squash:
(Truth be told, I wanted BAKING pumpkins and BUTTERNUT or DELICATA squash. But I'll take what I can get.)
In order to get out to the garden, which is tucked between the pig pens and the hayfield, I bushwhack through tall weeds every day. I noticed that the flowers growing wild are pretty cool in themselves and I hardly ever stop to notice them.
So today, I noticed.
I'm not positive what everything is (although I'm sure Shelagh some astute reader will correct what I get wrong), but in just a few minutes I found the following.
Queen Anne's lace:
Sweet goldenrod. According to my wildflower book, its crushed leaves smell like anise. Sort of. They are definitely fragrant but the anise part is sort of a stretch. Maybe I have the wrong variety of goldenrod.
A pollen-laden bee hard at work:
Two interesting flowers. The first:
I cannot for the life of me identify this. Here's another angle:
The stems are purplish, the stalks are a good 5 feet high.
Any ideas? [Edited to add: Thank you to Lisa at knitnzu.com for pointing me in the right direction. It's a variety of beggarticks, probably purple-stemmed beggarticks. And from my Google search, I learned that these are the plants that give us "hitchhikers," those H-shaped little seed pods that stick to everything. Thanks, Lisa.]
The second: This stuff entirely surrounds my garden. Until today I had no idea what it was. I think it's quite pretty for a weed.
I have LOTS.
Apparently it's ragweed. I guess I'm not prone to allergies or I'd be dead by now.
So that's about it around here: Beautiful weather, thriving plants, and summer gradually giving way to fall. Hopefully not too soon.
Coming up, we've got a three-day weekend with no plans that I know of, other than starting to process tomatoes. Break out the homebrew: my first Nut Brown Ale. Delish.
(Full-disclosure: NOT a homebaked hamburger bun. The shame.)