Drought Corn, Rain Harvest

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Do you want to hear the bad news, or good news first? As I’ve noted, we are basically in a drought year here in the northeast. The corn crops had a great start with early May warmth, but then were challenged without much rain. An old-fashioned varietal, Double Standard, should have been about 6 feet tall yielding 7-inch ears but grew to only 4 feet tall. The decent sized ears mostly were picked apart by birds, those incessant pests of the corn fields. This year we did not put up bird scare in time. So what we are left with are the second ears on a stalk, shorter and stubbier.
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On the other hand, nature did give us a lot of rain this weekend. Glorious, soaking, summer rains that started on Sat and continued on and off through Sunday. Weeds that we would normally see in April have lunged from seedling to 2-feet-tall, seed-bearing goliaths towering over our crops.

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Sunflowers growing from last year’s seed. It has become an annual exercise to allow the flowers to set seed, dry out on the stalk, and threshed in late fall. It’s a repetitive task to cut the dry stalks, remove seeds, and filtering out the chaff. At once mesmerizing and therapeutic in the breezy yet warm days of November. This year, we will till under a large swath of the sunflowers while it’s green in order to build up the soil in that area.

Okra in flower is a surprising beauty for the Northeast. In the malvaceae family, it resembles the tropical hibiscus, rose of sharon, or mallow flowers near marshes. For folks who don’t like the slippery insides of okra, try a dry sautee in a pan. Heat oil with salt and spices, add whole okra, sautee and leave uncovered until lightly browned.
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Keep your fingers crossed as much disaster may yet befall our melon patch. We opened a watermelon to find that though sweet, it hasn’t turned completely red yet. These are heirloom type “Sugar Baby” and sets seeds. According to the sages, there are 3 ways to tell when watermelons are ripe 1) the tendril near the fruit stem is brown 2) the point where fruit rests on the ground is yellow, 3) classic flick on the fruit and listening for plink(not ripe)/plank(not ripe)/plunk(ripe). Milo and I had a lot of fun flicking watermelons and listening for the sound!

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It’s goodbye to the sugar snap peas and beans for now. The rain prevented me from prepping the soil to start the fall vegetables, but I will catch up on that next week. Maybe I can test out some lettuces for the fall! Maybe it’ll grow this time around! Stay tuned for weekly tomato updates.

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