Beyond "Knee High by the 4th of July"

An experiment in vegetable gardening

It’s the Great Watermelon, Charlie Brown

July 16th, 2012

This morning, after searching high and low for another baby pumpkin and coming up with nothing, I decided to distract myself and turn my attention to my watermelon.

On June 7th, I planted 2 hills of 5 Sugar Baby watermelon seeds in one of the longest beds in the garden so the vines would have plenty of room to spread.

I chose Sugar Baby because the vines are compact and the watermelons are only 6-10 pounds when ripe.  I didn’t want the fruit to be much heavier than that because like the pumpkins, I wanted to grow them on a trellis.

So Bruce and I cranked out another A frame trellis for my Sugar Babies.

All of the seeds germinated in about a week and were a couple of inches high before I knew it!  The worst thing about planting 5 seeds in each hill is having to pull up 3 of them! All of the seedlings looked so healthy, which made thinning them even more difficult.

That unhappy task finished, I looked forward to the happier task of training the vines of the 4 plants that remained up onto the trellis.

And weaving those vines in and out of the trellis was just what I was doing this morning to get my mind off those pumpkins (or lack thereof!) when out of the corner of my eye I spotted this:

I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I had been so earnest in my search for the Great Pumpkin that I hadn’t noticed that the Great Watermelon was already rising out of the watermelon patch!

Upon closer inspection, I found several more hanging down inside the A frame, just like they were supposed to!  What good watermelons!  I even found one that was sitting on the dirt up against the base of the trellis.  Since it had no where to grow, I decided to pick it and ran inside to see how much it weighed!

My darling 1.344 pound Sugar Baby!  I’m so proud!

So proud (and downright ecstatic) in fact that I asked Laura to come take a picture of me with the first one I spotted hanging on the vine:

I guess it’s time to start thinking about making some slings that will hold 6-10 pounds. :)

In Search of the Great Pumpkin

July 15th, 2012

I’m feeling a bit like Linus van Pelt these days, because every morning I head out to see if there’s a pumpkin rising out of my pumpkin patch.

The 6′ x 6′ raised bed in the center of my garden officially became my pumpkin patch when I planted the transplant Jack O’Lantern on May 28th and the seeds Connecticut Field on June 6th.

Since my pumpkin patch is small by most standards, I need to encourage the sprawling vines to grow up rather than out.  So before the pumpkins grew too big, Bruce and I hoofed it over to Tractor Supply, bought 2 steel cattle feedlot panels and attached them at the top with hog rings to make an A frame trellis (I promise you that when I was growing up in suburbia, I never dreamed I’d use “Tractor Supply”, “cattle feedlot panels”, and “hog rings” in a sentence that had anything to do with me!).

Thanks to the drip irrigation and warm temperatures, it wasn’t even a month before “Jack O’Lantern” was off and its vines quite literally running and “Connecticut Field” had sprouted and started reaching for the trellis.

Surely, it was just a matter of time before my first baby pumpkin would appear!  And on June 26th I spotted something I thought might be it!

It definitely looked like a baby pumpkin and it was at the base of a flower which I thought was a good sign.  I became more and more hopeful over the next few days and began to envision my pumpkin cradled in a sling tied up to the trellis.

Then, on the morning of July 2nd, I saw this:

And my hopes and visions shrunk right along with what I thought was a baby pumpkin.

The same thing has happened to other potential baby pumpkins since.  “Why?” I wondered (and for the sake of experiment and experience, I decided for once NOT to consult the Internet…yet!).

It can’t be for lack of pollination!  There are plenty of bees!

And it can’t be for a lack of growth!  There is plenty of that, too!

So, for now, every morning, I go out to my pumpkin patch, weave the vines on the trellis in search of my Great Pumpkin.  And wait.

Measuring Up

July 4th, 2012

I was determined to try growing corn this year even though I was pretty sure that planting it on June 6th would mean that the first harvest would be a bit late in the season.  William was especially keen on it and besides, I needed that measuring stick from the old “Knee High” adage.

So after consulting THE book, I decided to plant Honey ‘n Pearl Sweet Corn, mostly because I liked the name!  Rookie that I am, I needed a ruler to make sure I was planting the seed at the right depth – just one inch!

According to the seed packet, germination would take 6-10 days.  I started checking after 3!

And a good thing, too, because in just 4 days, on June 10th, the first seedling appeared!  I could not have been more excited!

I was thrilled to see every seed I planted come up!  And although I put on a brave face, I was heartbroken when, after the seedlings reached a couple of inches, I had to thin them to 10 inches apart.

Now it was just a matter of taking care of the corn that made the cut and watching it grow ankle high and then shin high.

I planted two more rows of corn on June 23, about 2 1/2 weeks after the first planting, so that I’d have an additional harvest this fall. The seeds germinated like before but their timing could not have been worse!  They came up just in time for 4 straight days of 100+ degree weather.  I was worried sick about my baby corn so devised a bit of shade from a leftover mini trellis that Bruce made for me “just in case” and some landscape fabric.

Check out that shade! I think it helped because they all survived the heatwave and appear to be thriving after I took it down last evening right before a thunderstorm that brought an inch of rain!

So, here we are at the 4th of July and just how high is my corn?

I’ll let you be the judge.

Beyond "Knee High by the 4th of July"

An experiment in vegetable gardening