Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Orchard Update

A row of winter squash with buckwheat.
We have a lot of peaches and plums now.  The peaches tend to grow bigger and be more flavorful as we pass from the middle to later varieties of the summer. The peach varieties we're picking now are Red Haven and Flavor Crest.  We also picked the first blackberries this week, which illustrates how the unusually cool weather has affected our crops.  Usually blackberries have dried up and we're through picking them by this time. Out in the orchard the last of the pomegranate blossoms are flowering with red trumpet-like flowers,  the jujube have clusters of tiny yellow-green flowers and persimmon fruits are still small, green and hard on the trees.

In my garden this past week I cut down some of the buckwheat that was interplanted with the winter squash. I planted the buckwheat during the last few weeks of May, then planted the winter squash in the buckwheat seedlings at the beginning of June.  The buckwheat acts as both a cover crop and as a living mulch.  Every week or so I've been weeding the rows and  trimming any buckwheat that shades the squash seedlings too much.  The buckwheat stalks are laid down as mulch around the squash plants, and I leave some of the buckwheat growing if it's not going to interfere with the growth of the squash.  Throughout the season, the buckwheat resprouts and reseeds itself as the winter squash plants grow.  Now the squash plants are big enough that I shouldn't have to weed the rows anymore, because the squash will shade out weeds.

We're still waiting for a bigger tomato harvest.  So far each garden has produced only a few ripe tomatoes.  The first eggplants and cucumbers are ready from the gardens and with the cooler weather it looks like we'll be able to harvest beans for a while still.

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