So. We got some relief from the heat, and saved on our water bill, because it rained nearly every afternoon the last few days of last week and the first few days of this one. But now we’re back to the heat, and daily watering. The tomato plants that are under the shade cloth are doing remarkably better than the ones that are out next to the house, but all are still producing. I’m going to grow German Queens next year just because they’re so tasty — and they’re a fuscia pink color when they’re ripe! I had no idea, I bought the start on a whim because it was a heritage variety.
Plant something: more bush beans, the pole beans are getting killed in the heat but from experience I know the bush beans will produce like gangbusters all summer long (well what’s left of it anyway). So far I’ve gotten three lousy green beans. Three. From a dozen pole bean plants. And they were micro sized and puny.
Harvest something: 2 3/4 pounds Armenian cucumbers. 6 1/2 lbs tomatoes. 1/2 lb green chiles. 3/4 lb pumkinnis. Herbs.
Preserve something: 7 pints dill pickles, 6 pints bread and butter pickles. The tomatoes with blossom end rot got cut up and the good parts put on the dehydrator.
Manage stores: found that the purple jasmine rice is just starting to turn, so I put it into a smaller container and put it into the freezer to preserve what’s left rather than waste it. Making sure I date all new preserves and stock with the date it was put up (month and year anyway).
Eat the food: Pickles, pickles and more pickles. Tomatoes. A Russian cucumber salad my uncle used to make with vinegar, dill, and sour cream. Garlic in nearly everything. Purslane from the back yard, I munch on the leaves while watering. Locally grown range fed beef. Mr. Tin Foil says it’s gamey, I think it actually has a flavor like the desert we live in. Subtle, sagey. Lots lower fat marbling, that’s for sure, but it is every bit as tender as the stuff you get at the high end parts of the meat counter. Eggs, swiss chard.
Build community food systems: I now have several people who have come to me for advice on gardening in the desert (!). Like I’m any kind of expert or something…RIIIIGHT. Well, I guess having some experience, especially with being successful in this heat, is better than no experience. Especially if failures would convince someone they just couldn’t do it. My failures just make me more determined to succeed…it’s like taking apart a machine I guess — I want to figure out why I failed and work out a solution. I know it can be done, the Native Americans did it for centuries. You would be shocked though, at the utter LACK of information in gardening books for the desert regarding these very successful planting methods. So, I keep researching and finding tidbits little by little. And then I tweak my garden so that I incorporate those methods as well as I can.
Reduce waste: well, not so much. We have reduced our waste mainly by not buying stuff. Eat what’s ripe, there’s only compost or chicken feed left over. Can your own food, there’s only the lids of the jars to throw away (anybody know a way to reuse them other than just for dry storage jars??). Eat local beef, there’s only the paper wrapping.
This year the garden just seems like it’s in waiting mode — waiting for what I’m not sure. I planted ancho chiles in April that literally have not grown but maybe a half inch since I planted them. They look perfectly healthy, but they’re not growing or blossoming. Fertilizer hasn’t helped. Sharon Asyk, the goddess of the doomer cult, says she brings in pepper plants to overwinter them and gets an early start next year with the overwintered ones. I may have to do that with these little midgets.