Has anyone else noticed that the angle of the sun is really changing? After several days of cloud cover the sun came out bright and cheery yesterday afternoon, but the angle is definitely changing. The shadows around the gardens are getting longer, and fall is my very favorite time of year so this is exciting to me! The glass prisms in the south gable-end windows of the house are making rainbows in the livingroom again. This only happens when the sun is at it's "not-the-middle-of-the-summer" angle.
I've read all my life about planting "by the moon", in a nutshell that would be above ground crops when the moon is getting full and below ground crops as the moon is going back down. I've tried planting by the moon, but it's just too darn dark!
So you're thinking okay sun, moon, what about the stars? This year a friend shared seed for an okra called "Star of David". Around here, folks are accustomed to "Clemson Spineless" okra which is harvested around 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches long, and it's about 1/2 to 3/4 inches in diameter. Any bigger than that and it's tough. Star of David is about the same length, but gets much larger around, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
A trip to the farmer's market revealed that people just don't believe you when you tell them that okra that big is still tender! It's amazing how people get trapped in their little vegetable worlds and are afraid to try new things. It's one of those vegetables that was kind of fun to try, but I won't waste my time on it again.
Another twist on a traditional veggie that is being grown on the farm this year is "Fooled You" jalapenos. I love jalapenos and the heat, but I know a lot of folks don't like or can't take the heat, so I just knew these would be a big hit. Well, a trip to the farmer's market showed me that the folks who like jalapeno peppers like the heat so they didn't want any jalapenos that weren't hot, and the folks who don't like the heat don't know how delicious a jalapeno pepper really is, and they didn't want any, and frankly, they are afraid to eat something that looks just like its fiery cousin. I will say that the CSA members were brave though, because they've given good reviews on the fooled you peppers--they make great salsa, are wonderful stuffed with cheese and baked, or just chopped up in a salad or stir fry. It's one of those vegetables that I will probably grow again next year, just not as many plants.
One more twist on a traditional crop is a single serving watermelon. I always hate to cut a huge watermelon because it takes up an entire shelf in the fridge and by the time it's all gone I'm sick of it. While perusing seed catalogs in the dead of winter (like going to the grocery store when you're hungry) I came across seeds for a single serve watermelon. Well, they grew pretty good, but the drought held most of them back to softball size and they were full of seeds, so that's not something that will get space in the veggie gardens next year. It's sure fun trying new things though!