Within the backyard: a banner season for fruit and greens

Late summer is the time when I reckon successes and failures, although I ignore the failures. Thanks to the above-average rainfall in June and July of this year, most of my plants had a very good year.

Down in the orchard and vegetable garden, the raspberries were unstoppable for a while, and the goji berries are a constant competition – us versus the robins. The kale has grown so well that it forms a hedge, and the chard tries to keep up. With its lush green leaves and candy strip stems, I have once again decided to grow it in a flower bed or planter as an ornamental plant.

This year, at the end of June, I ate my first tomato, an extra early variety called cole. They were small and I liked it better, but who doesn’t like a tomato from the garden in June? The peppers were a pleasant surprise. I am not always successful with them, but this year they are exceptional. It could be the conditions, or it could be that I grew the right strain. Ace is the name and Ace is it.

Parsnips grow wonderfully too. I’ll dig them up soon, but I’ll leave some in the ground over the winter because they sweeten so well. I recently dug up potatoes that I didn’t plant. They grew out of a stray tuber that must have found its way into the zucchini field, one that must have survived the compost I buried there. I dug up the garlic too. I did this around the time the lower leaves turned yellow. I always grow the music variety, and they must have sung well this year. It won’t be long before it’s time to split off some carnations and replant them for the next year.

I had failures in the vegetable garden. The basil was pathetic and I don’t know why. I think I can grow it better in pots than in the ground. One harvest that never lets me down is zucchini. You have overflowed as always. One day they’re almost ready to be picked (best when they’re small), the next day they’re like giant cones, and I need a wheelbarrow to move them around. I only grew four plants, two green and two yellow like I usually do.

A year ago I discovered a couple of green with yellow spots – spotted zucchini. You’d guess there was a handkerchief in progress, but it wasn’t. Cross-pollination takes place between varieties of zucchini. It can occur between varieties of other plants of the same species, as is the case, for example, between different pumpkin varieties. Plants in the cucurbit family have separate male and female flowers on the same plant, and bees and other insects usually take care of pollination. If your plants haven’t produced, the bees haven’t gotten around to it. In this case, you can do it yourself earlier in the season, using a small brush to transfer pollen between the flowers. You can hum along the way if you want.

Although cross-pollination can occur between different varieties of the same species, it has no effect on the current harvest. All changes are passed through the seeds only. If you were to collect the seeds and grow them next year, you might find that you have strange looking or strange tasting fruits like my spotted zucchini. However, since this happened in my garden this year, it was not due to cross-pollination, but rather to an oddball mutation, which has never occurred since then.

All together now – It was a tiny, tiny little yellow dot … zucchini.

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