Monday, July 13, 2009

More Apples Fall

The bag count is less than 400 apples by now
Cardoons are one of my favorite plants - more later
Hummingbird food
The next crop of lettuce
Little potatoes safe from the cook
Real French Tarragon - great flavor and almost ready to flavor vinegar

The apple drop continues and I am really not sure of the cause. I collected a half dozen fallen bags and cut the apples open for a seed count. If fruit is mature, three or more seeds must be developing or the fruit will be aborted. However, most of the sample checked had three if not five seeds so the mystery continues. Luckily, most of the fruit drop is on the Fireside tree and not on the other two trees but the Fireside (my favorite) will be a poor corp this fall.
We finally did get some rain but not enough to fill the rain barrels, especially when I found that the diverter into the barrels was not attached properly so I lost a fair amount of water. If we would get a nice soaking I could start with my watering jugs for the tomatoes but for now I need to water the planting in order to try to keep the moisture level high to prevent blossom end rot - the scourge of tomato growers.
The "Sugar Sprint" peas get a reprieve. I decided that I was picking them too soon so I let them fill out the pod real good and the flavor improved markedly. This variety stays short, about 24-30 inches, and is a fair producer. We have had two small pickings and the third and last made for a nice amount of fresh peas. Two row would be a good amount for next year.
Several individuals have talked to me about their "French" tarragon. It really is a shame how many of them don't have the real thing. Without exception, all the tarragon that I have tasted in other herb gardens this season is not French but Russian -a robust grower that has a horrid taste. Real "French" tarragon has a mild, soft sweet licorice flavor; very palate pleasing. But Russian has a harsh metallic taste and the metal flavor lingers. Russian tarragon is a strong grower while French needs some protection from our harsh Wisconsin winters. By the end of May, Russian will be over three feet tall and dark green while French will have lighter color leaves and will take much more time to reach that height. I have my tarragon close to the foundation of the house and it is happy and returns yearly. About now, the plant is developing flowers which will not produce seed so the only way to get good French tarragon is to get a division. Or, if you buy a plant, be absolutely sure that you are getting FRENCH and not Russian. I only wish I could have every one do a taste test and they would know immediately which they wanted in there morning scrambled eggs.
The pole beans are ready to plant out. I grow them as transplants because I set up my pole tepee's and then position my beans. I like doing this because I can better arrange my bean space in the garden after the tomatoes and cucumbers are located. Some of the beans are in peat pots and some in plastic. Fortunately they transplant well so that job will need to be done this week. I also discovered that I have three packets of carrots seed that were never planted. I will get some in the ground and see what happens. Real hot weather is not good for carrot germination but then I do not have real good success with carrot seed in general. I have some planted in six packs and will see how that goes. The beets that I planted and transplanted are doing better in the garden than the direct sown seed - so we will see with the carrots. Even though I have done this before with poor success, I want to try again.
The tomatoes take weekly twining and de-suckering but we have green tomatoes and we are closing in on the time to find the first ripe one.
Happy Gardening

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