Thursday, August 18, 2011

Garden Goodies- and Baddies

When we named our place Squash Blossom Farm, we had no idea that squash blossoms would actually become one of the crops we sell.  We use them on pizza, salads, fritattas, and as appetizers, usually stuffed with cream cheese and pesto, dipped in a beer batter and fried (Yum!)  That is, we eat them when we have them--we also sell them at the Farmers market and to a restaurant, and we can't keep up.
As you are plucking the squash blossoms, there is always a honeybee working inside every flower.  After Rog harvested this morning,  there were only a few blossoms left  and each one was crowded with 6 or 7 bees.   The squash blossom harvest is slowing down--this may be the last week.  Next year,  I am planting more squash for the flowers.

We are sort of between harvests right now.  The early crops are done; the onions and garlic are curing in the barn.
We planted beans late and they are coming on now - these are dragon tongue beans.
Scarlet runner beans --we planted these more for the flowers but we also eat them.
The tomatoes are finally starting to  ripen!  Last night we picked these wonderful yellow pear, sungold and Early Girl tomatoes.
Unfortunately, our large tomatoes have become the victim of something that  raids in the night.  Raccoon? Opossum? Wood chuck?
Whatever it is, it eats about half of each beautiful  tomato just as it gets ripe. It has only taken the ones close to the ground. Is that because it is as high as it can reach, or is it just because those are the ones to ripen first?
This critter has devoured most of our large tomatoes so far,  so we have to take action. I tried picking them while they are still a bit green and letting them finish ripening in the house, but now it is eating the less ripe tomatoes.  I might try leaving Cocoa, our panic attack dog, out in the garden tonight. (She really wants to stay outside and be on guard at night, but I always make her come in.)  If I figure out what it is, I might try a live trap.
Right in the middle of our tomato patch is a gigantic garden spider.  Based on her coloring, size and the zigzag reinforcement down the middle of her web, I identified her as a Black and Yellow Argiope Spider. She is beautiful and HUGE and her impressive web stretches across two rows of tomatoes. The zigzag in the web is effective in preventing birds from flying through the web and destroying her handiwork.  I don't regard her as a pest - I love spiders and know they are great insect controllers - but none of us want to accidentally back into her web while working out there and end up with her down our shirts!
She is pretty amazing.  Perhaps she will capture whatever is destroying our tomatoes in her web (Check out this video!)

10 comments:

Allison at Novice Life said...

Wow that is really neat about that spider and the zig zag on her web is cool. We get a lot of spider webs in our orchard, but my camera doesn't photograph them well :(

Marie said...

i think a squirrel is the tomato muncher! it is the year of the varmits -- all shapes and sizes!

Susan said...

Squirrels? Do they invade at night? Any good strategies for them, Marie? Cayenne pepper has never worked with my bird feeders. But my dogs are squirrel-chasing fanatics so if i leave them out the tomatoes would have a chance.

Barry said...

I have the same problem with crows and have to cover the tomato plants with netting. They're destroying our apples as well.

Gorgeous spider!

gz said...

(o)

Becky said...

I hope you find whatever it eating your tomatoes! One year I had mockingbirds eating my tomatoes but that was during the day. For some reason, they haven't bothered the tomatoes since that year.
I just found a yellow garden spider this past week. I was trimming the bushes in front of my house and saw her web bouncing. She made the web bounce because we were too close. I left her two branches long so she could keep her web. I'll have to go back and finish trimming the bush after she's moved on. The kids loved seeing her though since we're reading "Charlotte's Web" right now. :)

basebell6 said...

do you do anything special to market the blossoms? we have about 3 acres of blossoms available (LOL) and everytime we go to the farmers market we take about 2 vases full of them. i think i've sold 6 all year. help!!

Debi@7Gates said...

I'm back-tracking and picking up some of your older posts. The same thing happened this season with my tomatos - it was squirrels. I could see them inside all the vines of my tomato plants. Like yours, they nibble just enough on the ripe ones and then leave the rest. HORRIBLE SUIRRELS! Love the sqush blossoms and all the pickling above. Deb

katiegirl said...

I don't know what might be eating your tomatoes at night.I know my chickens eat all of mine, but that's in the day.

I never knew what the zig-zag in the web was for, but now I do. Very cool!

Jessica said...

I saw one of these spiders today and it was beautiful! I was so excited I knew what it was because of this post. Thanks!