Archive for August, 2010

Now that we’ve moved to a hot, dry climate, we couldn’t wait to grow melons – watermelons and canteloupes. We even bought a popsicle-making kit to handle the harvest overflow (Gigi loves watermelon popsicles). All our melon seeds were purchased at the Seed Bank in Petaluma.

Alas, not all the melons we planted produced sweet, juicy fruit we had anticipated. And despite the incredible vigor of these plants, we did not get as much fruit as we had hoped (so much for those popsicles). Here’s our Plangarden raised bed layout that shows what we planted.

Honeydew Orange Flesh and Charentais were winners!

Honeydew Orange Flesh and Charentais were winners!

“Far North”, suggests that it can be grown in higher latitudes that have shorter growing seasons. Our patch first produced fruit in early July. They looked beautiful. Perhaps we harvested them too late (early- to mid-August), but the puny, starchy canteloupes were like a hybrid of styrofoam and an Idaho potato. We’d probably try them again next year and see what happens if we harvest them earlier. But these melons are so small, less than single serving, and not really worth the effort.

Far North canteloupe harvest

Puny Far North canteloupes were a disappointment. Did we harvest too late?

“Golden Midget” got us all excited. They are beautiful 4-5 lb. watermelons that start out green and then turn deep yellow once they’re ripe. While they were certainly juicy, they lacked any kind of sweetness you’d expect from a home-grown melon. We were sad to admit that the supermarket melons were far superior.

“Honeydew Orange Flesh” was the winner. Biting into the firm, honeydew-type orange flesh feels so sinful – it’s like candy, but not sickeningly sweet. And a close second is “Charentais”, a much smaller fruit with the lighter flesh of a canteloupe.

Honeydew Orange Flesh were firm, like honeydew melons, but sweet like canteloupes!

Honeydew Orange Flesh were firm, like honeydew melons, but sweet like canteloupes!

Chanterais canteloupes in the early morning

And the first runner up is ... the Charentais canteloupe!

We had problems trying to start “Sugar Lee” from seed, and unlike the other melons, it took 2-3 attempts to finally get a plant to grow. We have one fruit (just one!) which looks like it’ll be about 8 lbs. The jury’s still out but I doubt this can outdo our winners.

What could we have done wrong with the other melons? Did we overwater them? Perhaps. But how does this account for the success with the other melons? We did start the plants in rich soil with lots of seasoned horse manure, and fertilized them regularly.

If you grew melons this year, let us know which varieties you loved. And we’d appreciate any tips on improving flavor and harvest 🙂 !

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There are many firsts that we cherish: First crush, first kiss, and of course, first pullet egg from your new chickens.

You remember where you found it, what time it was, and how you first tweeted about it.

It was the morning of August 2nd, tucked away in a corner next to the water tower. It was smaller than a small supermarket egg, but cute! The shell was like 50 grit sandpaper with bumps, and I felt sorry for the hen who laid it.

Discovering our first chicken egg

Our first egg in the new hen house!

This is the first time that I have had chickens since I was a boy. These are my wife’s first chickens.

Closeup of our first chicken egg.

These free-ranging beauties are hard at work to take care of us!

What happened to the egg you might ask? Sunny side up and shared so we got to enjoy it together 🙂

We have gotten a pullet egg per day since the first was laid three days ago. Because hens are supposed to start laying small eggs only once every 3-4 days, it stands to reason that we have three hens that have started to produce. None of our 11 chickens (all about 22 weeks old) have cockledoodledooed, so we presume that they are all girls!

Let the omelets  begin!

P.S. We won’t fail to say “Thank You” to our girls every time we collect eggs.

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