MORE CANTALOUPES

When my friend, Evie, read about my naked cantaloupes, she was reminded of some volunteer cantaloupes of her own. Of course, I knew the story of her “trash cantaloupes” but most of my memory is stored in a colander with large holes.

Two years ago, she rinsed out her trash can in the grass next to the driveway and up sprouted some cantaloupes. She wouldn’t eat them because the seeds came out of the trash can so the cantaloupes were passed on to unsuspecting beneficiaries. A few pics showing that her trash can cantaloupes were a very different variety than my compost cantaloupes:

Photo credit: Evie
Photo credit: Evie
Photo credit: Evie
Photo credit: Evie

 

NAKED CANTALOUPES

I’m not one of those city slickers who think food comes from the grocery store. I have my own vegetable garden. So does Mr. Beekeeper. I get my eggs and honey from Mr. Beekeeper. Red raised pigs for food before she moved away.

Still, I’m not claiming to be a farmer other than that veggie patch and a few trash cans drilled full of holes for making compost. Every now and then, I dump the compost into the vegetable patch and spread it around. Sometimes I don’t get around to spreading it and volunteers pop up. This spring, the volunteers were tomatoes and unidentifiable curcurbits. All those curcurbit leaves look alike, you know.

I transplanted all of the curcurbits to provide more space for each plant but it was still a jungle of leaves and vines. The curcurbits eventually proved to be cucumbers and cantaloupes.

At least once in the past 5 years, I tried to grow cantaloupes from seed. The results were unremarkable. The compost volunteers, however, have been quite the success. Technically, these are my first cantaloupes and they came with a city slicker’s surprise. Did you know cantaloupes do not have all that rough netting on the melon when they first show up on the vine? I had no idea those babies came out nekkid as in shiny, pastel green with dark green ribs.

Naked baby cantaloupe and juvenile cantaloupe
Naked baby cantaloupe and juvenile cantaloupe

Only when the melon matures to 4 or 5 inches in diameter does the netting begin to form. Who would have thunk it?

Netting begins to form on cantaloupe
Netting begins to form on cantaloupe

I am having some mysterious implosion problems with the cantaloupes. At the 3″ diameter stage, whether hanging from the garden trellis or lying on the ground, POOF! The cantaloupe implodes or explodes. I never seem to be around when this happens so I have no idea why it is happening. So far, it’s hit or miss.

Luckily, I didn’t lose the entire crop. Well, “crop” might be an over-statement but one cantaloupe made it out of the garden without imploding. It needed salt to make it have any taste so I’m guessing it was missing a vital mineral ingredient.

I want to know how many of you knew that juvenile cantaloupes have no netting?

CHINESE YELLOW CUCUMBER

Cucumber Chinese Yellow-2468

Found these in the garden this morning. I was able to recognize these as Chinese Yellow Cucumber from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Most of what is in the garden this year is a mystery but I’m not really up to explaining the mystery. It would require an admission of the depth to which my stupidity plummeted.

Baker Creek seems to think these will grow to 10 inches. At four inches, the seeds were already too large for my preference. I’m not really into gnawing through tough seeds. They are supposed to be yellow-orange and “crisp as an apple” with a mild flavor. To me, they tasted like an ordinary cucumber.

The seed packet says these cukes are from mainland China and green when young. Obviously, I didn’t see them green.  This 2014 veggie garden will be my second spring garden that was nothing to brag about.

 

TURNIPS OUT OF CONTROL

I don’t know everything I should know about gardening.  I am not a Master Gardener and I don’t want to contemplate becoming one because you have to do phone work afterwards to pay for their investment in you. Hate phone work.

It happens that when you don’t know what you should know about gardening, you garden mostly by experiment. Highly unscientific experiments that are probably the reason I have never once heard any of my friends suggest that I might be a genius.

For instance, when my turnip greens grew really large turnips, I no longer wanted to eat the turnip greens. I figured the greens were bitter or tough. I could have dug them up and started a new crop since turnips are a winter crop in Florida. I’m not real clear on why I didn’t do this. Maybe I thought it was too cold.

I was real clear, however, on the reason I left them in the ground. I wanted to see if the plants would act as weed prevention. Those square foot gardeners plant things close together on purpose. They call it “intensive” gardening but I think they’ve mentioned weed control, too. I wish I could remember stuff. Anyway, I decided it would be a good experiment to see if all those fluffy turnip greens would shade the ground and keep weeds from getting a leg up on me.

I’ll admit, it did help. Somewhere around the middle of March, I separated those fluffy turnip green leaves and found:

Turnip boobs !
Turnip boobs !

Evie is holding the two turnip boobs to help demonstrate the size of these turnips.

turnip boobs for size-2124
Turnip boobs after harvest

I don’t know what to call this one:

Caption ???
Anybody got an idea for a caption ???

With our wildly fluctuating weather – 30 today, 80 tomorrow – my bok choy and broccoli bolted. Like the turnips, they were left in the ground for weed prevention and food for the bees. Bees have such a hard time these days with pesticides that I like to help them out when I can.

Next thing I knew, the bok choy started producing seed pods like the end of the world was coming. Here are just a few of the branches filled with seed pods.

bok choy seed pods-2111
Ready for harvest

Over at Growing Food In Florida, the blogger suggested using bok choy in fresh salads because it is good both cooked and raw. An excellent idea since I’m fairly certain I now have a lifetime supply of bok choy seeds and might as well toss a few in the ground now and then. Just to see what happens when it’s the wrong season for them. I gotta keep up with my experiments even though no one thinks I’m a genius.

JANUARY KING CABBAGE

January King Cabbage in the sun Photo: 2/22/14
January King Cabbage in the sun
Photo: 2/22/14

January King Cabbage with no sun Photo: 2/23/14
January King Cabbage with no sun
Photo: 2/23/14