Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cherries, Eggplant, Garlic, Avocado, Watermelon and Squirrel

 Dear Folks,

Lots of fun foods growing in the garden Sunday morning and a challenge.

My Barbados Cherry tree aka Acerola (Malpighia punicifolia L.) this morning had both unripe and almost ripe cherries on it.  The cherry is ripe when it releases freely from the tree.  Planted in February this tree is loving its home and putting out a lot of flowers and some cherries.  I expect great production in the coming year.

Garlic planted on October 1st is already this high this morning, most of them 9 inches or so.

If you want to grow garlic get the cloves planted by October 31st to ensure enough cold weather to produce the head garlic.  Plant extra and harvest green garlic (like a scallion) as needed through the winter.

I love the white eggplant "Casper" for its wonderful tender fruit which does not need salting.  I have peppers I harvested last week, so I will be doing a roast this week with eggplant, peppers and some of my I'itoi onions, tossed with herbs.

Today I will harvest my big Bradford Watermelon and will post pictures in the next day or two, but in the meantime, we found 3 more volunteer baby melons and we were thrilled and --- then --- the squirrel found two of them.  In the collage, the first picture at the top was taken 4 days ago.  The second part of the collage was taken this morning and you can see the melon has almost doubled in length AND the squirrel damage.  The third picture in the collage is of another melon we found hiding and had started to 'curl' because it was up against a wood barrier.

The two lower pictures of the collage clearly show the chewing by the squirrel.   However the skin seems to be drying and we hope it will scar and preserve the melon as it continues to grow.  I have placed wire hats over the fruit to keep the squirrel and other critters off.  The paper plate you see in the pictures is to protect the fruit from soil born bacteria.  Likewise the wood grate under the other melon is also to keep it off the soil.

Young growing fruit touching the ground is susceptible to soil born bacteria while the skin is tender, which in turn invites insect pests to attack.

Carpenter Bee on Pumpkin Flower
I decided to push the envelope and plant more seeds of the Upper Ground Sweet Potato Pumpkin on September 19th because the huge plant, which I also got in later than I should have, is not showing remarkable fruit production yet.  Huge leaves, lots of male flowers and some tiny, baby fruit, but not sure if they are pollinated.  The bees love the male flowers, but I've not seen evidence on the female flowers.  I sowed these seeds in the Bradford watermelon patch to give the pumpkin seedlings "nursery" soil cover.  The melon etc. family of plants put out a lot of male flowers early to get the pollinators noticing the plant.  We always hope a lot of female flowers show up timely enough to get fertilized.

Yesterday I picked up an Arizona Avocado tree from Shamus O'Leary at the Rare Fruit Growers sale at Mesa Community College. I'm glad I got there early, the rest of the garden folks hit the sales early!

Called the Aravaipa Avocado for the Aravaipa Canyon where the mother tree was discovered, this species is said to be temperature tolerant from 14 to 120 degrees.  My plan is for it to be part of my under story.  In back of the Avocado is my coffee tree, also purchased from Shamus last February.

This is one of my grand trialing journeys so we will see how they go.  The avocado has to remain in the pot for a while as it is not fully rooted to stability.

I have tried avocados without success before and this one I hope will be happy in my gardens.


Stay up to date on planting schedules here in the Desert with my month-by-month planting calendar.

Have a great week in the fall garden.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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