Running on Fumes

Reader Contribution by Sherry Leverich Tucker
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The month of June left me completely exhausted. I am hopeful that July will have a little more mercy on me. June is filled with a convergence of many summertime activities: kids functions, family get-togethers, livestock shows, wedding cakes, camps, and the county fair. Yes, I know, I haven’t even mentioned the garden end of the spectrum. June is when the weeds really start taking over and need to be controlled, bugs are getting thicker, everything that is going to be planted needs to be planted, harvesting begins, and the farmers market really gets going. Throw in building a72 foot long hoophouse, and expanding the garden and we’re talking about serious overload.

I am Mom, too. Meals, maintaining my kitchen and laundry seem to be never ending tasks. Never the less, I am not complaining; for most of these chores and events are not daunting to me, in fact, I thoroughly enjoy each opportunity and experience that comes our way. I just, at times, get overwhelmed.

Harvest, Yes!

Right now our garden is exploding, and I hope and expect that yours is, too! The potatoes, onions and beets are coming to their fruition. We have been harvesting them all and they are all selling well at the market, especially the potatoes when coupled with a mess of freshly picked green beans. My mom and I are selling both Roma style and (my favorite) Top Crop green beans. Buyers at the market are hungry for those home-grown green beans and are anticipating those vine ripened tomatoes. There are a couple of sellers with tomatoes now (and they sell out fast), but ours will be late this year.

We are also picking fresh burpless and pickling cukes, along with several varieties of summer squash.My mom is trying a variety new to us, an italian zuchinni that long with beautiful dark and light green stripes. I love burpless cucumbers and always look forward to the first ones every summer. Funny thing about cucumbers is that it doesn’t seem to matter how well we pick them over, there are always several that get overlooked and become huge whales. Oh well, that is why we have pigs for the summer, ehh?

Our early corn is tassling and silking as well, but is currently under siege by Japanese beetles. The silks are being completely eaten by them, and even if the ear isn’t harmed, if the silks do not receive pollination by the pollen that comes off the tassles, the ears will not produce kernels. We also have two more rounds of Candy Corn coming up for later crops (late enough to miss the Japanese beetles). Okra and Purple Hull peas are up about 6 inches and we are hoping to get more green and lima beans planted. Cantaloupe and watermelon are blooming and starting to set on fruit. It’s not too late to plant melons or a second round of tomatoes. It is also a good time to plant fall pumpkins.

Come on, RAIN!

The ground here is becoming severely dried out. If not for the heavily mulched area, our vining plants and peppers and tomatoes would be struggling. If we do not start getting some rain, I fear that our beans will not bear much more, and the corn will suffer and not produce good ears. Ahh, it is the constant plight of the farmer, to work within the perimeters of an uncontrollable variable; the weather.

I love summer and now that June is over I am hoping for some summertime fun. Swimming and crawdad hunting at the creek, late nights canning pickles and salsa. Eating fresh tomatoes, shelling butter beans and snapping green beans on the porch while listening to cicadas chirping. Watching sorghum and my three boys grow.

photo credit:  this is a bug that I rescued from out of the dog’s water bucket.  I haven’t seen anything like it before, do you know what it is?