Tropical Minnesota

Mist on Squash Leaf

 

The weather has been almost tropical here these past three weeks as temperatures stay in the 80’s by day and 60’s by night with humidity levels around 70% and dew points in the mid 60’s. Some fierce thunderstorms have passed through the region with strong winds and large hail that damaged or destroyed many gardens. So far we have been spared. The humidity is bad, though, and I’m emptying out several gallons of water a day from the dehumidifier in the basement.

Everything is green now as I look out my office window at the azalea and shrub garden, lawn, and windbreak which are punctuated here and there with blue spikes of veronica, plumes of white and pink astilbes, and orange and pink tiger lilies. Birds fly back and forth through the shrubs looking for insects.

 

 

My vegetable gardens are growing furiously after a slow start in June. The squash, whether butternut, Hubbard, pumpkin, or summer types, all have many flower buds and some have begun to bloom. Even the cucumbers are making good progress which is highly unusual here. The Hubbard (really a grex composed of crosses of Hubbarb-types) squash are now about seven feet high on their trellis and will soon reach the top.

The Piramide paste tomatoes are still growing and making many flowers. The fruit that set earlier is larger now and some have faint signs of color to them. I’ve tied the vines to the trellis with loops of soft sisal twine.

Both the Painted Mountain and Dakota Ivory corn have tassels showing and tucked close to their stems I can see clusters of leaves that will later enclose ears. Yesterday I noticed the first small signs of a tassel on the sweet corn and a few flowers on the Flambo beans and red half-runner beans. The pole beans are still growing but no flowers yet.

 

Corn seen through the squash trellis
Corn seen through the squash trellis

 

Weeding continues in the root crops. I have finished weeding for now in the beans, sunflowers, amaranth, quinoa, beets, and kale. While weeding where I had planted quinoa (hard to say if any seeds germinated) I found a few pink tinged pigweed plants in the rows. I’m not sure if they are quinoa but they are in the rows so I left them to grow some more. If they are then that is great because any plants that set seeds mean one more step towards adapting this crop to northern latitudes.

I have harvested all the shallots and bunching onions except for a spring planted row. Yesterday I chopped out weeds and turned the soil where the shallots had been growing then mulched and watered thoroughly. The now empty row will be re-planted with seedling cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli for a late fall crop this evening. In about a week it will be time to harvest the yellow Stuttgarter onions and all the garlic. Today, I harvested an early garlic type, Shandong. I got to the tops a little late so they are tough now but these can be sautéed, frozen and later used in soup stock.

 

 

I have already harvested my first carrots and will be harvesting more as I thin the rows this week. My other root crops, gobo, salsify, root parsley, root chicory, parsnips, beets, black-skinned turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes are all growing. The potatoes are showing the best growth but the root parsley and root chicory are also doing well. The root parsley was surprising as its seeds are so difficult to sprout. I’ll be doing some thinning in the root parsley and chicory, too, after I finish breakfast and another cup of chai.

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