Earlier this year I planted some luffa gourds as an experiment. Luffa gourds generally require a longer growing season than we have, so planting them in the ground as seeds in late March (rather than starting them early under a heat lamp in February) could have been a bit dicey. I was afraid we'd get a killing frost before the gourds could fully ripen.
These were planted on or about March 30th. I've picked a few already--mostly to try and judge how "done" they were inside--with good results, but I let the bulk of the crop hang out on the vines until this past weekend. I'm going to let these sit for awhile before I start peeling them, but even the early ones had nice flesh inside.
In addition to using them ourselves, the plan is to involve these spongies in some super secret Christmas presents. Also, we're going to have all kinds of seeds for next year. I'm going to call this experiment a success!
Our house has a gnat problem. They come in huge swarms in the Fall, and bask in the sun on our doors and windows. I wouldn't begrudge them their moment in the sun, however anytime you open a door they take it as an invitation to c'mon in and make themselves at home on my pretty, white curtains. And being forced to choose between holding your breath and swallowing gnats as you walk in and out gets tedious very quickly.
Although we're searching for other solutions--creating less hospitable breeding conditions by cleaning up overgrowth in the yard and making sure the gutters stay squeaky clean--for last weekend, the answer was a whole lotta bug spray and a vacuum cleaner. Hence, I had to find another place to hang out Saturday morning while the house de-fumed.
And it was such a hardship, let me tell you what! While Sweet Husband battled the evil gnat swarms tooth-and-nail and did s'more painting (more about that later), I spent a gorgeous Fall morning playing in the garden.
Four of my biggest and best garlic bulbs were divided into cloves and planted in a loamy chicken-prepared bed. Soon, I'll cover the bed with straw mulch to insulate the little guys over the winter, and that will be all the care the garlic will need until I dig it up in early July. (Seriously, garlic=easiest plant ever.)
The ladies were super excited about that last part, as the compost was about actually only two-thirds compost, and one- third earthworms and rolly-pollies. Several days later, they're still going crazy out there, which is awesome from my perspective--they're working in that compost better than I could with days of fiddling. And now that--as of Friday--all six ladies are egg layin' women, the extra protein and goodies can't be bad for them either.
Well, "pasture" might be a bit of an overstatement, but we did officially move the ladies to the back half of the yard this weekend.
Reason one: I want the ladies to spend the Winter months prepping the garden for next Spring.
Yup, that's right--I'm using my poultry as a slave garden crew. Basically, the idea is that they do just what they do best--scratch and poop--all over the garden, thereby loosening and fertilizing the soil.
And don't think for a minute that they're not loving it. Fresh, loamy garden beds to scratch in. Bugs out the wazoo. The remnants of summer tomatoes and last Spring's cabbage. The only areas that are forbidden to them are a few Fall plants (kale, chard, radishes) and the luffa gourds, which have all been placed in cages for their own protection.
Reason two: We've figured out that Ingrid and Tori need all day access to their nest boxes.
I couldn't be prouder of both of them, actually. With almost no prompting at all, they've decided that their nest box is the place to lay eggs. (Well, Tori did make one in an empty flower pot one day, but only once!) In fact, they're so fixated with laying in the box that they get really distressed if they can't get to it when the need arises. Ingrid is pretty regular about laying once a day, in the morning before they get let outside, but Tori is more of an every-third-afternoon kind of girl. Hence the need for anytime admission to the coop.
Alanis and the ducks are still freeloading. Just by looking at her I can tell that Alanis isn't as mature as the other two chickens, so I'm not worrying about her yet. However, Nice Farmer-Lawyer Guy (who has Kaki the Duck's nine sisters) has been regularly getting duck eggs for a few weeks now, so I'm starting to get a bit put out with my little quackers.
The pumpkin is no more. The squash bugs--who multiplied beyond reckoning in just one week of "I'm hot and lazy and pregnant" neglect--were setting up permanent colonies on it's surface. Just looking at them gave me the willies.
Say, did you know that one blast from a weed burner will barbecue squash bugs instantaneously? I imagine it's something like an atomic bomb--a death so fast there's not even half a second to think of pain. Which is much more merciful than they were to my pumpkin.
But, although the pumpkin was rendered inedible, I found a less conventional harvest food tucked away in a back corner of the garden this weekend--several handfuls of edamame.
A few minutes in the steamer, a sprinkle of salt...a perfectly lovely September lunch!