Monday, September 30, 2013

greenhouse update

I got an early morning phone call from Bob and he was checking to see if I was going to be around because he was wanting to bring the squirrel cage fan and the rest of the duct work and do the final assembly.  It was kind of fun watching the parts go together and the majority of the work is now finished.  Here is a picture of Bob up on the ladder putting together the connection where the horizontal duct work attaches to the vertical duct work. 
Here is  a shot of the vertical duct work.  The fan is in the bigger box at the bottom.  It will pull the hot air down the duct and shoot it out the opening on the right side which will connect up to the tunnel formed by the tables.  On the left side (to the north) there is a door that we can build a tunnel if we want to be able to pull in cool air from the outside.
There is a gap between the box and the vertical duct work.  We will need to build a three sided wood box to fill that gap.  That will allow the wiring to get from the fan to the outlet and the thermostat wires to get to the fan.  it will also make it easy to slide out the box to access the fan should it ever become necessary.
This is a photo of the duct work at the peak of the greenhouse.  It is open at the top to capture the hot air at the peak of the greenhouse.
This is a photo of the top of the vertical and end of the horizontal ducts where they come together.  Behind the vertical duct is the existing fan.  The duct work can be used two ways.  With the original fan running it will take the air from the ducts and move it outdoors.  This will help to cool the air in the greenhouse by removing the hottest air.  In the winter the new fan will circulate the hot air under the tables which will more efficiently heat the heat sink under the tables and bring the warmest air back down into the main growing area.

It was warm in the greenhouse.  The duct pieces had been sitting in the room and when we came to fasten the verticals there were so hot that we needed to wear gloves in order to handle them.  It is a good thing that we got done when we did because an hour later this was the temperature...


Tonight I cut open a watermelon that had yellow flesh.  I planted seeds that Lisa had saved from a watermelon that a co-worker had brought to work last summer.  I did not have any yellow fleshed watermelons that we had eaten and no one who purchased a watermelon from the farm stand commented on having gotten one with yellow flesh. 

I did have a lot of these small yellow fruit that were growing all over where I had planted melons, both watermelon and cantaloupe.  

My assumption was that the yellow watermelon must have been a hybrid and these melons were the result of having saved seed from a hybrid--a throwback from one of the parents in the original cross breeding that created the hybrid.    I even blogged about it here.

This weekend I picked  a couple of melons that were hidden under some gourd vines and one was a nice red watermelon, same as the others that we had eaten.  Today I cut open one of the other melons and found this yellow fleshed melon which caused me to go back to my planting map and see what else could be the small yellow fruit. 

I had planted a couple different cantaloupe varieties in that same area.  One of the cantaloupe varieties was called vine peach cantaloupe and when I Googled it, there it was.  It was described everywhere as a small bland tasting melon that was not worth eating raw as it had no flavor.  Apparently it is good in preserves or pickles but no one was sharing recipes.  One commenter stated that she had used a cantaloupe preserve recipe to make a jelly but did not state which recipe that she used.  I found a recipe that might work and since I have a bunch of those little melons I think that i will give it a try and see what happens.  Several of the people who commented recalled having gotten the seed packet as a thank you gift from a seed company with an order and I think that may have been where ours came from as well.  I don't recall buying it and I think that Mom might have gotten it with an order and passed it along to me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

cover cropping

This year I am adding a new step to the things that we do to improve the soil vitality and I am planting cover crops.  Cover crops that are planted in the fall and left in place until spring and then turned under serve several purposes.  They help keep the soil in place and reduces the amount lost to wind or erosion.  They provide a type of green manure that feeds the soil as well as reducing weeds the following year.

I was looking for a local source to obtain a cover crop and happened into Runnings to see if they had anything available.  They had a rye seed but it was a perennial and in visiting with one  of the staff she said that she uses oats for her cover crop needs.  Runnings does sell oats.  It is found in the equine section and it looks like this:
Yep.  Horse feed.  My goal is to cover crop each raised row in the garden as it is harvested and to create raised rows where they did not get made in the spring.  I am not sure what to do with the corn ground.  I am not sure if I will get all the corn stalks out of there in time to get a cover crop planted and growing this fall.  It may be a spring project.  We still have lots of crops still in the ground.  today was a beautiful day to be working outside.  It was crisp and cool this morning and sunny and warm this afternoon.  Yesterday's 4/10th of an inch of rain left the ground moist but by the end of the day it was not really muddy.  I was able to get cover crops planted on five rows, two of which were new raised rows.  I picked up the long grass clippings from yesterday's mowing and spread it on a couple of the walking and picking rows and mowed in front of the house.  Still lots of mowing to do and lots of places to spread grass clippings.  I love fall.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

late grape harvest

These are my late grapes.  This is the first year that I have had late grapes.  The grape arbor on the farm has four posts and each has a grape vine planted near it and the vines go up on to the pergola.  One grape vine has been planted longer than the others so it has been producing more grapes than the others.  The grapes on that vine ripened a while back and I harvested those and posted about it here

Last year the birds pretty much took the entire harvest as they discovered they were ripe before I did.  That was bad planning on my part.  This year something has changed.  We had lots of birds this spring but now I hardly notice any in our yard. Not being much of a bird watcher i don't know if this is normal or unusual for this time of year.  I do know that a few days ago there was a large raptor type bird circling over our yard and perhaps he or she has driven off the small birds.  We have seen fewer snakes this year as well.

In prior years we have had very few grapes on the three younger vines.  This year there was quite a few.  The grapes pictures are what i could reach from the ground.  There are more that are growing over the pergola that can be reached with a ladder.  The two bowls above hold about ten pounds of purple grapes and six pounds of green grapes.  I made juice out of about half of the purple grapes and that will be for  more jelly. 

The remaining purples and the greens are washed, destemmed and sitting in the freezer.  I am hoping at some point in time to try to make a few bottles of wine from them.  I have a sister-in-law Patty who moved to a house with grapes growing in the yard and she is planning to make wine so i am eager to hear about her experiences and whether she likes the equipment that she purchased.  I think that having the grapes in the freeze allows me some time to do some research and make wine when i am ready.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

some lasts, some firsts...

As summer is winding down and fall is here we have had some lasts in the garden and the farm stand.  The last of the sweet corn has been harvested and has been frozen.  The melons are done except for the mystery melons which are still in the garden but are not really doing anything.  The green beans and the cucumbers are finished but still need to be removed from the garden.  We are still getting lots of tomatoes and I am starting to preserve the tomatoes as juice and pasta sauce. 

And then some firsts.  We have the first pie pumpkins  in the farm stand.  I did make some pumpkin puree for the freezer from the the first couple that got ripe and we roasted the seeds to snack on as well. 

We have some gourds now at the farm stand.  I am really liking the different shapes and colors.

we bundled up some firewood...

and some cork stalks...
Here is the chicken wire frame that holds our information about prices...
Soon we will have the acorn and butternut squashes and I plan to bake up some homemade dog biscuits.  I made some for a silent auction/benefit and Caitlin did some cute labels for the packaging.  I decided to bake a few more, hopefully tomorrow, and see if there is any interest at the farm stand.  I am also printing up a few pumpkin recipes to have available at the farm stand hoping they will inspire purchasing of pumpkins.  

Here is the first of our fall decorations

It still needs some gourds but first i need to find a cute basket to hold them and something colorful on the door.  It is a work in progress.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

it is a mystery

Last summer my sister Lisa had an opportunity to have some watermelon with yellow flesh that a coworker brought to work.  She said it was the best watermelon she had ever tasted and she saved the seeds hoping to grow some this year.  I planted the seeds in the greenhouse this spring and when summer hit we planted the seedlings out in the "cornfield."  Unfortunately I planted them next to a watermelon variety that has red flesh and i have been hoping to be able to tell them apart.  So far all of my watermelons have been green and now I have this small yellow fruit where the yellow melons were planted. 
They are a little bit bigger than a lemon and have turned from green to bright yellow.  They are slightly soft, they yield slightly under pressure. 

It cut easily in half and there are lots of little tiny seeds and a softish flesh that smells kind of like a muskmelon and tastes just slightly more tart than a regular watermelon.  There is not a lot of usable flesh once the seeds are removed.  I wonder if the original yellow watermelon was one that was a hybrid and that the seeds grew a plant that resembles one of the parents from the cross.  Whatever they are i have a lot of them.  I wonder if they are something that should be eaten?