EarliDew Melons

My first Earli Dew Melon!

It’s always fun to try a new variety, so this season “Earli Dew,” a honeydew melon was added to the potager. SeedsNSuch was the source, because I only wanted a few seeds at a low price. Their catalog described it thus: “Earli Dew Hyb. 79 days. Extra-early. Ideal for Northern gardeners who will appreciate these round, 2-3 lbs, 5-6″ melons with tasty lime-green flesh inside a smooth, green-gold skin. Crisp texture and sweet flavor. Wilt resistant. (8-10 seeds, $1.99)” It sounded perfect. There’s only two of us, so I don’t want big melons. I planted 2 seeds in pots in the greenhouse in early May, and transplanted them the end of that month.

Both vines grew abundantly (but all of the vine crops have attempted to cover the earth with all the rain we’ve had this year!) and not only covered their trellis, but most of a 6′ x 6′ bed as well. The photo shows them in June. There are just 2 plants, but there were so many side shoot vines, that I trained most of them up four strings, and let the rest meander through between kale and pepper plants already in the bed. Soon, there were 15 melons happily ballooning on the vines.

A fully ripened on the vine Earli Dew!

I wasn’t quite sure when to pick them, and once the raccoons started eating the Minnesota Midgets, I worried they would ruin my first Earli Dew, so as soon as I could detect a slight aroma, I picked it and brought it to the house. It did not have a golden skin, but a totally white smooth one, so I put it in a brown paper bag with an apple for two days to ripen more. It was as good as any honeydew I’ve purchased at the store, so I was satisfied. It did weigh over 5 lbs. and could have passed for a volleyball; certainly larger than described. I let the 2nd and 3rd melons stay on the vines a bit longer, until they did have a golden cast. They both weighed nearly 5 lbs. and were a bit sweeter than the first, without any brown bag time required. I gave the 4th, 5th and 6th ones, all over 4 lbs. to neighbors and friends because our refrigerator was filled to capacity with the potager’s bounty. Everyone said they’d be happy to take any surplus Earli Dew off my hands! The photo above is lucky number 7. After reading another seed catalog that assured its readers Earli Dew was unusual for a honeydew because it would slip from the stem like a cantaloupe when ripe, I waited for that to happen. As you can see above, the skin is very golden and slightly streaked on the surface.

A DELICIOUS melon!

Inside, the thick flesh is a delicate pale green. The seed cavity is rather small for such a large melon. That’s a soup spoon, not a teaspoon, and again this melon weighed over 4 1/2 pounds. It was definitely the sweetest, best honeydew melon I’ve ever tasted. Now that the raccoons have moved onto the sweet corn in the area, and seem to be passing by the potager, I’ll wait until the melons slip from the vine (with just a little pressure from my thumb.) I let #8 wait until it slipped from the vine on its own, and judged it overly ripe, because it actually had cracked on the underside and the ants were enjoying it! After a good rinse, we still ate it, but the flesh was a bit softer than I like. I’ll definitely grow Earli Dew again next year, but give it the larger trellis over the south bench, and let it meander in the interior border and on the fence. Because they are so prolific, I’ll plant one vine, and wait three weeks to plant another. If I were a market gardener, Earli Dew would definitely be a moneymaker! Try it! I bet you’ll love it, too!

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Being Mindful

It’s a foggy mid-August morn in the potager.

A new resolve to be more mindful of my moments took me out earlier this morning than usual. The lawn was soaked with dew, the air was heavy with foggy moisture, and there was an unusual stillness….no lawn mowers, no dogs barking, no traffic, no birds singing. It was lovely! I moved quite slowly, pausing often to survey my surroundings, which although totally familiar, had new things for me to discover.

The fog lent a softness to outlines and colors.

I took deep breaths, in, and out…slowly… and tried to focus my mind on the beauty of the moment…the sights, the smells, the lack of sounds, forming the memories that will sustain me through the winter months. Annoyingly, it was difficult to focus on the moment, and avoid thinking about the rust on the daylilies, which all this lovely, foggy moisture is aiding and abetting. Or to pretend not to notice the holes in the big Blue River II white hibiscus blooms, to immediately put down the camera and search for the culprits (Japanese beetles.) More deep breaths in and out slowly, focus…focus. Be mindful.

The first bloom on one of the new roses in the potager’s interior border.

One of the Heritage Roses’ first buds is opening this morning. I’ll need to look at my records to see which one it is, but be assured it is not as pink as it looks in this photo. Had I waited to go out until the dew has dried, as I often do, I might have missed it!

The east half of the potager in mid-August.

I actually took a few moments to sit on the south bench and to contemplate the bounty that still remains in the potager, and to reflect on the enjoyment it has brought this season. The melon vines continue to climb their trellises and are crossing over the top for the first time ever. The “Wando” peas have grown 10″ already. The newly planted lettuces are showing their vivid colors even in their infancy. Broccoli plants are suddenly showing new growth, and the purple Romano beans are beginning to bloom. It’s an unusual August, and the plants are loving it!

The sunflowers…with fairy clotheslines!

The sunflowers have been glorious. I’m so glad I planted them in the potager’s west interior border. This week, 10″ babies of “Earthwalker” went in to replace the earlier planting, whose seed heads are now being enjoyed by the goldfinches. And I enjoy watching their antics and hearing their chatter, which adds another dimension to the sensual pleasures of the potager. I found it difficult to keep my resolve to be more mindful of my moments, to be grateful for the blessings that abound. Sixty years of being focused on the job list is a hard habit to break, but I’m trying. This morning was a good beginning, and I’m sure I’ll get better with practice!

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On A Happier Note: Short Report

Nicely packed box of iris starts!

It’s lovely when a long-anticipated box arrives, it is opened, and the contents totally fill one’s expectations. Late last winter, when the air was frigid and the gardens were obliterated by snow, the need for more irises was strongly felt. That urgent need cannot be immediately resolved, except by searching catalogs and on-line for the perfect specimens. A lovely selection was made from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. If you’d like to see the post on my choices, click here. That was back in March, but the proper time to plant irises is NOW, and that’s exactly when the box arrived.

Beautiful labels!

Not only were the fans chunky and well-rooted, but each came with a colorful label showing that individual variety in the photo, its name, type, and height. On the back of the label were planting instructions, and Schreiner’s phone number just in case one has questions. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m swamped with garden produce, squeezing in fall plantings in the potager, trying to keep up with weeding, trimming, and all the other blessings of summer having that information right in front of me, so I didn’t have to go back to the website or search for my notes to find out the height so I’d put each of them in the right spot, or look up the color to be sure they were in the right garden was definitely appreciated. This company is one I will use again!

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And Now It’s the Melons!

A lovely, not quite ripe Tuscany melon yesterday.
The same melon this morning!

Yes, the raccoons held another party in the potager last night, and after they’d eaten or damaged at least 21 tomatoes…there may have been more, since it’s hard to identify the “body parts” when they are strewn here and there…they had dessert!

You can understand my concern, because the potager has dozens of melons ripening, and many more setting on. There are Hannah’s Choice….

Over a dozen beautiful EarliDew!
Heirloom Green Nutmegs………..
Tasty Bites and the sweet, prolific Minnesota Midgets, of which we’ve enjoyed over a dozen, with several more to come…..IF we can keep the raccoons out!

We caught #12 and #13 last night, but I don’t think they even made it to the party! And it’s not only the loss of tomatoes, and now melons, and the damage to plants as they play tag throughout the beds, but the piles of poop they leave…..Sigh! I think I’m going to have to buy more traps!

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July: Monthly Review

The potager looks full, with the melon and cucumber vines reaching the top of their trellises.

July was an excellent month, with enough rain that the only watering required were the pots and containers. In fact, the garlic, onions, and shallots did not appreciate all the rains, and began to rot before they were truly ready to harvest. It took a good sorting, but the good ones are now braided and hanging in the Lady Cottage, and those with suspect spots have been eaten or preserved. Once those crops were out, lots of beans, carrots, beets and other crops were planted. The only downside has been the ravages of the raccoons, who have eaten or ruined at least fifty pounds of tomatoes! So, there have been none to can so far.

The sunflowers along the west fence have been a delight in July!

Some of the autumn crops have gone into the ground after the peas, lettuces, and early beans came out: storage carrots, rutabagas, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, baby pumpkins, winter squash, and leeks. The total number of varieties planted in the potager so far this year is 118.

The total for July is 188.25 pounds. However, this does not include the onion, shallot or garlic braids which have not been weighed, nor the tomatoes consumed or destroyed by the critters. In 2017, the total was 213.75, but that did include 50 pounds of garlic and 42 pounds of shallots. 2018’s total was 224.5, but included 37 pounds of garlic and 22.5 pounds of shallots.

The heavyweights this month have been the summer squashes, cucumbers and melons, which unlike last year have not been destroyed by squash bugs or borers. There has also been a glut of broccoli and cabbages, which have thrived in this cooler and wetter than usual July. Peppers and beans have been abundant, and lots of onions added to the totals.

So, overall, I feel that other than the raccoon problem (11 have been relocated so far, but there was still a critter party again last night!) this has been the potager’s best July, mostly due to the lack of insect problems, not having to drag hoses, and the really nice variety of produce coming into the kitchen on a daily basis. Now, on to August!

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Hating the “Block” at WordPress

If I could go back in time, I’d never have clicked on the “try our new, improved block” format. I absolutely hate, hate, hate it. Those of us who garden barely have time to take photos and write a blog post anyway. And having to learn a new, cumbersome, ugly format is NOT helpful! I want to go back to the old style, but seemingly that is impossible. I’m going to look at other hosts, and see if I like them better.

Maybe everyone else loves it? If so, can you tell me how to get “Categories” back? How to do text in a post, other than just a caption on a photo, or doing it plain “paragraph” like this post? I just can’t get a post to look like I want it to anymore. Totally frustrated.

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Six on Saturday: Aug 3

One of the main joys of the summer garden are the butterflies that feast on all the flowers. That’s certainly #1 any week, but especially this one.
#2 So glad I planted sunflowers along the potager’s west fence this year. It will definitely be an annual addition.
#3 The Baby Bear Pumpkins are beginning to climb their fence and form baby pumpkins…certainly makes me feel that autumn is just around the corner and approaching at an alarming rate!
#4 But, then I look at the just emerging “Wando” peas, and am assured that there are still lots of growing days ahead.
#5 This bed is transitioning. There’s just a few Golden Beets left at the top, a just-beginning to show row of “Red Russian” Kale and a new row of “Dragon Tongue” beans at the bottom. What should be planted after the last of those beets come out? Probably carrots for storing.
And finally #6, the Cutting Garden is doing its job, providing lots of color to enjoy indoors and out!
That’s my Six on Saturday. If you want to see what others have chosen as their Six, visit The Propagator, the host of this meme.
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