Archive for July, 2013

Back to Dave and Sue’s place in Pennsylvania in late July to see Monika’s kids and grandkids (with the exception of Danny in Portugal).

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(from our visit in September)

Everybody around here agrees it has been a very strange summer.  Rain, generally in short supply this time of year, has been almost continuous, with downpours just about every day, frequently for many hours on end.  I asked a long-time resident a few nights ago if she could recall a previous summer like this, and she answered: “1969.”  That of course was the year that Hurricane Camille devastated an already-soggy Nelson County, with estimates of the rainfall in a single night varying from 27 to 46 inches.  By contrast, our 5.5 inches later that night seems like nothing, but it was enough to cause substantial flooding, power outages, and flattened cornfields in the area.

In mid-June I pulled around 95 garlic bulbs, grown from individual cloves planted last fall.  This year I grew almost entirely softneck garlic.  In some ways I prefer hardnecks, with their garlic scapes and (perhaps) more complex taste, but they don’t store well for more than a few months.  The harvest looks good so far; the bulbs are curing on screens in our (former) kennel outbuilding.

Seed potatoes were planted in mid-March and so far I’ve harvested 35 pounds of Yukon Golds and 36 pounds of Red Pontiacs.  We’re already enjoying them.  Kennebecs, a late season variety, are still growing and will be dug up later in the summer.

We’ve harvested quite a few bush and pole beans, but after two weeks or so, the dreaded Mexican bean beetle (and especially its larval form) went to work on both, in addition to our other legumes.  By now they have pretty much decimated all our string bean plants, as well as the lima bean plants as well.  Dry beans and cowpeas are also suffering from the onslaught, although I’m hopeful they will survive ok.  There seems to be a general consensus that the been beetle infestation is particularly severe this year because of the combination of a mild winter and a wet spring and summer.  (In contrast, I have not seen a single Colorado Potato Beetle this year.)

Currently we’re getting a steady flow of cucumbers and summer squash, although when the sun really returns that will be more likely be a tidal wave.  Tomatoes, whose development has been held up by the wet and cloudy weather, are finally beginning to ripen, as also our (still-green) peppers.  Lots of butternut and acorn squash are coming along, as well as sweet potatoes (a new crop this year).   It adds up to a mixed score card, but overall the garden is doing pretty well.  If only we could get a bit more sun….

We’re also benefitting from nearby farms and farm markets.  We’ve picked strawberries and blueberries at Seaman’s Orchard, with its gorgeous view of the mountains in both Nelson and Amherst Counties.   Our favorite peach, Sugar May, came into season recently at Saunders Brothers, and Monika canned six quarts.  The fresh flavor holds up amazingly well.



Just back from a two-week trip visiting the German side of the family, John, Calista, Cally and Sylvia came down from Maryland to report on their travels and to celebrate John and Calista’s double birthday (born on the same day in the same year, but on two different continents).  Cally and Sylvia helped Monika make a Black Forest Cherry Cake (recipe from our local friend Todd).  A great visit!