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Vinalhaven: A Love Letter

Husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by spending 30 hours on the island of Vinalhaven. That might seem a poor return, one hour for each year, but one reason we’ve been together for 30 years is our shared enthusiasm for modest moments and for adventure. Vinalhaven was as charming as any modest adventurer could want. All good.

We sailed out of Rockland on a sturdy ferry, and after an hour and 15 minutes, arrived in Vinalhaven. The two towns were explained thoroughly by their harbors. Rockland was filled with elegant sailboats and yachts:

rockland_boats

 

Vinalhaven’s harbor was filled with lobster boats. We had arrived at a place where hard work is done:

vh_boats_1

vh_boats_2

Vinalhaven is home to artist Robert Indiana (of “LOVE” logo fame), and one (count it) AirBnB rental where we spent the night. There were three very nice restaurants in the town, and because it was post-Labor Day (by 1 day), every single one of them was closed. Yes, I had made a reservation at one, but it was cancelled at the last minute due to the chef becoming ill, and our only option (as our rental did not have a kitchen) was to go to the local bar. As our host put it, “You’ll get some local color!” No kidding. Not the much-anticipated elegant dinner out I was dreaming of, but again, we’d made it 30 years by rolling with all of the dips and dives Life throws at us, so it seemed appropriate to start the next 30 by rolling once again.

You’ll see from the text in ”Appreciating” that the population of Vinalhaven island is small. The town itself is even smaller, and there are so many ways to define “small town” when talking about a place to live and work. The dictionary says the term “small town” can mean “of or concerning the regions outside the capital city of a country, especially when regarded as unsophisticated or narrow-minded.”

I accept that definition, but I don’t like it much. Thornton Wilder’s small town was a place where people showed every side of their humanity, and everyone was the better for it. I like that better. It also seems to apply to Vinalhaven, based on my vast experience of 30 hours.

I loved the beauty of the island, taking two lovely hikes to see water, woods, and birds, and I loved the Humanity of the small town as demonstrated by posted signs and by items in the local newspaper. I will share these with you, as I believe they will best explain why we enjoyed our 30 hours there so very much, and why we plan to go back – this time with a car! If we’d honeymooned there, I wouldn’t have blinked at carrying a backpack for two days, but remember, my back is now 30 years older, and I have learned to appreciate the value of a car seat and a pack-free back.

Here we go. First up, SIGNS.

sign_ammo

sign_bottlessign_business_wifisign_lockupsign_savvy

There were lovely scenes to photograph on the island and I took several. Husband, who was taking photos for future paintings, took over 450. (One reason our budget and consequently our marriage has lasted 30 years is the invention of the digital camera.)

sculpture_hope

vh_asters

vh_beforeandafter_roses_hips

 

And now for copy from “The Wind”, the local paper that is published weekly. It offers a glimpse into Island life – the lingo, the cherished events, the hazards, and the ridiculous moments that a close community shares.

First, Vinalhaven residents are not immune to the hazards posed by careless drivers. Here is an apology, and a plea that made me sad:

“LAWN SALES: Sorry for canceling earlier lawn sales. I was rear-ended on the Philbrook as I exited my truck, hurting my back and smashing my bumper a couple of weeks ago.”

“Please tell me who hit my white Cadillac on the 18th, 1st boat leaving Rockland. A black SUV was seen on camera. It’s my only car for the rest of my life. Please call…”

 

Insider Tip: On Vinalhaven, the flea market is called “the Flea.” And apparently you have to go there yourself to see who is selling. Great marketing ploy! “Who’s selling? You have to find out for yourself!”:

“FLEA MARKET: Some of us will be at the Flea this Saturday…”

 

No community is immune from “That Guy.” The guy that takes advantage, acts badly, and explains it away with a smile:

“OBSERVER: A wonderful pair of long time seasonal residents graciously hosts a little gathering for friends each Labor Day as an expression of their appreciation for this place….One thing or another interfered with my being able to arrive in time to enjoy the happy hour but I did pull in just in time to hear the invitation to lunch and so —I’m aggressive when I’m hungry – headed directly to the buffet, first in line in front of others who had waited patiently for the invitation to partake. Having settled in with a plate piled high, I was prepared to enjoy it and the company of others for a while but then my watch alarm went off reminding me that I was to meet the ferry in ten minutes and so I wolfed down lunch and bolted. I do want to be invited back next year and so this note of explanation and appreciation.”

 

Vinalhaven is populated by humans, who as a species are known to make threats, including those that could be described as holding a gun to your head:

“7 Guns in 7 Days” Raffle to benefit the Vinalhaven Veterans Memorial Fund: Unless we sell 300 tickets by September 15th, we will be forced to end this raffle…”

 

This one is both thoughtful and ridiculous:

“!!! A PRODUCT RECALL !!! : Because of a proofing error, 2017 ICMS calendars are being replaced and reissued. (Days and dates for June, 2017 are out of sync, and we can’t have brides and grooms showing up on the wrong day).”

 

When you do business on a small island, every customer counts. Hence this Above-and-Beyond offer from a popular restaurant to provide passage across a natural barrier:

“NEBO LODGE: Need a ride from VH? We can help. Call us for dinner reservations and we will gladly arrange a round-trip ride across the Thoroughfare for you.”

 

A perfect pun for a community surrounded by salt water:

“BENEFIT DANCE…Featuring the “Six Foot Swells”

 

A candid moment from one innkeeper, and an incident worthy of a movie. Also, I love the idea that the local nuisance wildlife includes minks. You can’t make this stuff up:

“THE OBSERVER: …As many have pointed out, I am not quite as focused as I once was. Thus it was that a recent prospective guest received a confusing and somewhat troubling e mail confirmation and called for an explanation. It seems my note to the cleaning crew, asking that they clean up a distressing mess lift by a mink that had snuck in to a room through an open deck door, instead became an e mail confirming a reservation for later in the summer. The e mail read “We look forward to seeing you…Please clean up the little pile of waste just inside the deck door before you do anything else.”

 

Vinalhaven folks are honest:

“Mooring Money: Someone has a ‘rental’ mooring abreast the Evelyn J. It’s been used for a couple of days but there is no indication of where rental $ should be left or sent so we collected what we thought was fair and have it at the Tidewater.”

 

And, hands down, this is my favorite entry. This was a long list of thank-yous to the locals for helping out at a wedding, but I’ve included my two “bests”. I love a place so small and modest that only two music stands made a genuine difference, and….who is this OTHER guy?!

“The Evans family at Roberts Harbor wish to thank all who helped make the wedding of Jane…and Adam…a special day…The Union Church which loaned two music stands. To the bearded man who guided out-of-towners to the wedding at Charlotte’s field…”

 

Vinalhaven: The island were people work, pitch-in, offer, and ask. The island populated by fishermen, musicians, and mysterious bearded men. The island where minks leave messes, and local color is a good thing.

We’re going back.

Watching a giant pumpkin gain weight for a competition is akin to watching a pregnant woman put on weight to nurture a brainy healthy child. It is so satisfying to witness, especially when it is not you that is tipping the scales.

I guess I should say it is a guilty pleasure, watching another woman put on weight, but it’s not. I have no guilt. Myrtle is my favorite girl these days, putting on inches, putting on pounds, turning her increasingly ponderous back(side) to the Righteous Dieters of the World. I’m loving every bit of this event: the enormous bottles of liquid food poured liberally over the Mother Vine, the soft cushion of blue foam placed tenderly between her southern regions and the dark earth…that disappeared the very next day by the drooping of those joyful love handles, and the steadily increasing reach of Myrtle’s shadow.

It is so much fun to cheer for increase rather than decrease. It feels more optimistic. It feels like…victory.

So, let’s update you on two events in the Growing of Myrtle: What she is eating, and how she is measured.

EATING:

Alfalfa tea is the trusted tool of MH the grower. Apparently this member of the pea family is considered a powerhouse of nutrients. It has many benefits, including these as listed by the website “yearningandlearning”:

BENEFITS OF USING ALFALFA

1. Good Source of Minerals

Alfalfa is a good source of nitrogen, along with several other minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, boron, iron, and zinc.

2. Builds Organic Matter

Its high nitrogen content helps other organic material to decompose. Organic matter also helps to prevent compaction, acts like a sponge and holds moisture in the soil, improves soil structure, and helps to prevent erosion.

3. Feeds Microorganisms

The microorganisms in your soil love alfalfa because of the protein, amino acids, fiber and sugars in its stalk – items they need to thrive.

4. Stimulates Growth

Alfalfa contains triacontanol, a hormone that stimulates the growth of plant roots, enhances photosynthesis, and increases beneficial microbes that help to suppress many soil-borne diseases.

5. Fixes Nitrogen

Alfalfa actually takes nitrogen from the air and holds it as nodules on its roots, a process called “nitrogen fixing”.

6. Stimulates Compost

When added to your compost pile, alfalfa acts as a stimulator. It decomposes rapidly, creating heat that helps the rest of your compost to decompose.

7. Controls Harmful Nematodes

A study in Italy showed that alfalfa pellets significantly reduced infestation of root-knot nematode on tomato plants, and cyst nematode on carrots.

8. Provides Drought Resistance

Because of alfalfa’s sponge-like ability to absorb and hold moisture, it helps plants grown in that soil to be more resistant to periods of low rain.

9. Is a Dynamic Accumulator

Alfalfa roots reach down into the sub-soil up to 8 feet, bringing valuable hard-to-reach nutrients up to the soil surface where they are stored in the leaves of the plant. Using the cut alfalfa in your garden and compost adds these nutrients to the upper layers of your soil where other garden plants can use them.

10. Is a Great Cover Crop

Also known as “green manure”, cover crops are generally planted in the fall and then dug into the soil in the spring to improve soil.

 

Where to Buy Alfalfa

Bales of alfalfa and pellets can generally be found at feed supply stores such as Tractor Supply.

 

Here is a photo of MH the Grower using his mix of alfalfa tea:

1_Fill_Bucket

2_Pour

 

And here is a recipe for alfalfa tea, from the same website as above:

ALFALFA TEA

32 gallon trash can
10 cups alfalfa pellets
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup fish emulsion

Add the pellets to the trash can. Fill trash can with water. Stir. Cover trash can tightly with lid. For the next three days stir “tea” several times a day in order to dissolve the pellets. Keep covered. On the third day add Epsom salts and fish emulsion. It is ready to use on any vegetable, plant, tree, or bush.  You can omit the Epsom salts and fish emulsion, and the results will be good but not as spectacular.

When all the “tea” is used, there will be enough pellet residue in the bottom of the trash can that you again fill the trash can with water and make more “tea”.

 

If you are still not convinced by the kudos from “yearningandlearning” and the American Rose Society, “davesgarden” claims the tea also benefits the growth of orchids, roses, delphiniums, and irises.

 

MEASURING:

The wonderfully supportive folks of the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest supply regular tips and advice to their volunteer growers. As midcoast Maine is currently suffering a drought, a recent email missive encouraged the growers to “Water, water, water!”

Another encouragement was to measure the pumpkin by two different methods and then estimate the current weight. This is what is known as “creating incentive.” Whatever your goal, it can be encouraging to see how you’re doing. Here are the two methods of measuring giant pumpkins that were offered – both of which MH employed:

Method #1: Measure the circumference of the fruit by running a tape measure around the girth, parallel to the ground. Find the measured inches in a table that the Pumpkinfest provided to find the corresponding estimated weight.

Method #2: Take the circumference measurement, and add to that the number of inches from a side-to-side reading and an end-to-end reading. To measure from side-to-side, a tape measure is held on the ground vertically below the side of the fruit, at its middle, stretched across the pumpkin and over to the other side. To measure from end-to-end, a tape measure is stretched vertically up the stem end, along the surface over the top of the fruit and down to the ground vertically below the blossom end.

Growers were cautioned not to run the tape under the fruit, but instead to run it vertically down to the ground from the furthest extending point.

So, the first step was to remove the shading umbrella and the floating row cover so the measurement could be taken.

3_Uncover

MH the Grower took a long look at Myrtle. His guess? “Over 300 pounds!”

4_Regard

The measurements were taken:

Circumference: 103”

Side-to-side: 57”

End-to-end: 65”

Totaling 225

 

By Method #2, the estimated weight was 241 pounds.

By Method #1, the estimated weight was 286 pounds!  (SO CLOSE!)

As anyone who has ever despaired when stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office knows, there are weights you believe and weights you don’t. Both MH and I believe the correct estimated weight of Myrtle is 286 pounds. I mean, just look at her. She is within 3 pounds of his all-time record, and there are still 4.5 weeks of growing left to go.

Clearly these measurements dictate how MH the Grower will continue to raise this pumpkin. The decision about his behavior? He’s going to keep on keeping on.

This bodes well for both Myrtle and MH. They are bound for Glory.

 

WORDS FROM OTHERS:

“If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behaviour. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.”

― Douglas W. Hubbard, author, “How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of “Intangibles” in Business”

 

APPRECIATING:

“Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a member of the pea or legume family and is native to western Asia and eastern Mediterranean regions. The first record of alfalfa was in a book written by the Emperor of China in 2939 BC. The Greeks cultivated alfalfa starting around 500 BC for animal food and for some medicinal applications. Arab tribes named the plant “alfalfa”, which means “father of all foods”. Now alfalfa is widely grown and provides an important food source for many animals including horses, cows, rabbits and other domestic animals.”

— The American Rose Society, http://www.rose.org

Like every current event, the Growth of Myrtle has historical context. To merrily mix my metaphors (and alliterate [un]abashedly): When it comes to growing giant pumpkins this is not MH the Grower’s first rodeo.

His first entry into the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest Weigh-Off was in 2012, when he actually entered two pumpkins. Why? In his own words, “I didn’t know to narrow the plant down to one pumpkin.” The weights for those two fruits were 133 pounds and 100.5 pounds.

That explains the “Words from Others” quote for this post. MH demonstrated his superior intellect and competitive nature by learning from the past and insuring the future was brighter. He also demonstrated that he is not insane, by not doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I digress. In 2013 MH applied his experience and knowledge and grew what for him would become his personal best: A pumpkin that weighed a whopping 289.5 pounds. The fruit of 2013’s labors:

History_289.5_2013_1

tHistory_289.5_2013_2

History_MH_WeightSign_2013_5

 

In 2014, there was no pumpkin entry from MH. He claims “Moving Maelstrom” and as anyone who has moved from one state to another (and I don’t mean from calm to frenetic) can attest, and has focused on the first few days in a new home just trying to find your spatula…. or pillow….because after a few days of being lost you almost don’t care which you rest your head on… moving is all-consuming, and growing a giant pumpkin drops to the bottom of your priority list.

So he took a break that year. 2015 saw another entry, and this beauty didn’t beat his previous record, but 265 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. Here is a photo of that year’s work:

History_265_2015_1

 

You might note that the pumpkin from 2015, even though lighter in weight, looks larger than the 2013 record-holder. Attribute that to internal density and water weight. Every woman knows the facts about water weight, and that explains the text under this post’s “Appreciating” section. If you’ve never been a dieting female (and no such creature exists), you won’t appreciate the significance of water weight on appearance. Trust me, trust all of us 51%-ers, it matters.

So how is Myrtle doing today, and how does she compare to her predecessors?

MH decided that Myrtle was growing so quickly, that she needed protection from the UV rays from the sun. His concern was that her rapid growth would cause the rind to split. So he lightly covered her with floating row cover cloth, and propped up a special umbrella to shield his girl from the afternoon sun.

Remay_BugsArrangingUmbrellaProtectionInPlace

And Myrtle is responding to this extra TLC. Here’s what she looked like today.  Note that her girth pushed the umbrella off and to the side :

Myrtle_8-22_1

 

I don’t care if that size is due to water weight or just good pumpkin genes, but I think she’s on her way (weigh) to topping 289.5! Stand back and stay tuned….

 

WORDS FROM OTHERS:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

— George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet, (1863 – 1952)

 

APPRECIATING:

“An estimated 50 to 60 percent of our total body weight is water, and how much we retain fluctuates in response to our eating habits. For example, indulging in salty foods can trigger your cells to sop up water like a sponge,” says Rebecca Lewis, R.D. …. “Similarly, a diet high in sugar can lead to higher-than-normal insulin levels in your blood, which can make your body retain sodium (translation: more SpongeBob action). And when you carb it up (because pasta is delicious), for every gram of carbohydrate that your body stores to use for energy later (known as glycogen), it also stores three grams of water—which explains why you sometimes feel like the Michelin man post-pizza,” she says.

http://www.womenshealthmagazine.com

 

The title of this post says it all: The pumpkin formerly known as “Powell 1548” has been re-named by MH the Grower. He is proving that he is a good parent by bestowing a name upon the pumpkin that will not elicit teasing as it grows to maturity, by naming her Myrtle. And if she continues to grow at this rate, she won’t be known as “Moaning Myrtle,” the ghost of Harry Potter fame, but “Groaning Myrtle,” as I’m already starting the stress about how we’re going to get her out of the garden and onto the weighing scale. Myrtle has until October 1 to make my fears come true.

Myrtle is a beautiful name! It is of Latin origin, and from the English word “myrtle” for the evergreen shrub. The shrub was said to be sacred to Venus as a symbol of love.

The diminutive is “Myrtie” and while her size won’t encourage that nickname, our deep affection for her spirit and energy will find us calling this pale behemoth Myrtie at every opportunity!

It is also an unusual name. It was first used as a given name in the 19th century – a time when girls were often given the name of a plant or flower.   1918 was the year the name was most popular, with 4,000 babies receiving the name. If you were unlucky enough, or unique enough to be a boy named Myrtle in 2011, you would have been #13,694 in the rankings of popular baby names.  Since 1880, a total of 116 boys were named Myrtle, while 135,266 girls were named Myrtle. Other fun facts about the name:

Are you a numerologist? Me neither. But here’s what the site “sheknows.com” says about the name from a numerology perspective:

“SoulUrge Number: 5

People with this name have a deep inner desire for travel and adventure, and want to set their own pace in life without being governed by tradition.

Expression Number: 3

People with this name tend to be creative and excellent at expressing themselves. They are drawn to the arts, and often enjoy life immensely. They are often the center of attention, and enjoy careers that put them in the limelight. They tend to become involved in many different activities, and are sometimes reckless with both their energies and with money.”

 

Those predictions work for me. Myrtle is absolutely setting her own pace in life, and is absolutely the center of attention!

So, let me show you what she looks like now. Myrtle is growing by leaps and bounds. The blossom was fertilized on July 19th and  15 days later it looked like this:

Growing_earlier

And now it has been 29 days, and she looks like this:

Growing_8-10

The tiny blue piece of foam core is woefully inadequate to cover the bottom surface of this monster. At this pace, I will be posting significant updates about her growth almost daily.

Myrtle, Myrtle, I am groaning already.

 

WORDS FROM OTHERS:

“[Exit, pursued by a bear.]”

— William Shakespeare, “A Winter’s Tale”, Act 3, Scene III

APPRECIATING:

During peak growth, the pumpkins can add as much as 50 pounds of weight per day.

  • New York Botanical Gardens

I was witness to an event that was neither immaculate nor improper, and had nothing to do with storks. Because this post was written by me, it is G-rated. I appreciate science, but when it comes to love, I vote for mystery. I hope you’re not disappointed.

It was time. The Powell 1548 had added enough heft and reach to the Mother Vine that it was time to select The One True Pumpkin, the one that would receive all care, nourishment, love, and admiration. A lot like the first child in every family.

Here’s a photo of the Mother Vine, ready to have her life changed forever:

Mother_Vine

 

She sported blossoms of both sex, male…

Male

 

…and female.

Female

And MH the Grower found the best positioned female blossom along the vine, the healthiest specimen, and gave a thumbs-up (actually, he pointed) to the blossom that would bear fruit:

Points_To-Chosenone

The first step was to cull all competing fruits. Some of the blossoms had already been pollinated by bees, and so they had to be removed.

Remove_Early_Fruit

Pumpkin vines and fruits are loaded with sap, or chitin. Chitin is a derivative of cellulose and functions in much the same way as keratin. Insects, arachnids, and crustaceans have chitin, and so does Powell 1548. So the broken vines needed to be tied off to prevent them from depleting too much sap from the plant.

Tie_Off_Broken_Vine

Tied_Vine

MH demonstrated how much chitin is in the fruits themselves. He ran a thumbnail down one of the culled fruits and the sap leaped out. It binds the wound, hardening and protecting the plant from further injury. It’s like a liquid bandage, but doesn’t come with cartoon characters on it:

Chitin_Emerges

The next step was to select two promising male flowers and peel the petals back, revealing the stamen, the male organ of the plant.

Peel_etals-B

PeelPetals-A

PeelPetals1

PeelPetals2

Once the petals were removed, the two candidates were compared, and one was selected to be the pollinator.

Two_Pistils

The female blossom was opened:

Open_the_Bud

And the pollen-filled stamen was applied to the sticky pistil, transferring pollen grains.

Apply_Pistil_to_Stamen

MH closed the female blossom’s petals around the male stamen, holding the stamen in contact with the pistil:

ClosePetalsAround_Pistil2

And tied the blossom closed around the stamen:

Tie_Off_Petals

The petals firmly tied, the stamen was in place to do its job.

Petal_Pouch_2

Petal_Pouch_Close

And MH the Grower anticipated the size of the swelling fruit to be in the next few days.Size-With-Hands

He was, as always, completely correct. The next post will show just how correct he was!

 

 

WORDS FROM OTHERS:

“Incidentally the Latin plural for stamen is Stamina, a thread in the warp of human life spun by the Fates. It is of course also the English word meaning endurance.”

— “Stamens and Pistils 101”; Rocky Mountain; National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov

 

APPRECIATING:

True Pumpkins can be differentiated from other squashes by their fruit stalk: it is hard and polygonal in Pumpkins, but soft and round in other squashes. But varieties within and between the species can cross-pollinate to produce hybrids: hence the great number of shapes and sizes, and the difficulty of strict botanical distinctions.

http://www.phadia.com

The Kraken, legendary sea monster introduced to us by the Norwegians, has nothing on Powell 1548.

The Kraken eats sailors, boats, and whales. Powell 1548 is eating my garden.

I need to catch you all up on the caging, the release, and the explosive growth of this pumpkin plant. It is awesome to behold. My excuse for not posting earlier? I plead Summer In Maine, when residents work feverishly to treat visitors to our spectacular state in the manner they deserve. A stream of guests to our Barn Loft apartment, the stream of visitors to Husband’s art gallery, the frequent art students that set up their easels in my garden – all demand and deserve attention and appreciation.  (If you want info on any of our businesses, contact me by commenting on this post.  We’ll talk.)  It is a busy time of year for us and all Mainers.

That’s the excuse. No more. Powell 1548 is going to require constant updating, because you cannot believe what we’re witnessing. It’s going to take 3 posts to do this. This post will show the growth of the vine, the next post will show the fertilization process, and the third catch-up post will show how The Chosen One is busting out all over, even though it’s August and not June.

Here we go: A few photos to show the growth of tendrils and the growing flower buds:

Bud_Plus_Tendril

FlowersForm_Close_Better

The tiny cage that was first erected around the vulnerable seedling had to be enlarged to accommodate the growing plant. MH the Grower moved the stakes and used a larger length of wire fencing.

First_Cage_Stakes_In

Two_AssemblingCage

Three_Caged

The plant was fed liquid fish emulsion and bone meal. The bone meal came in a cleaned jar of Skippy, and apparently the fragrance could not be contained by a mere blue plastic lid. MacKenzie, the cupcake masquerading as a Labrador Retriever, was entranced:

MacWantsBoneMeal

Full disclosure: My cupcake is also a thief. Shortly after that photo was taken, she uncharacteristically tried to walk off with the jar of bone meal in her mouth. She dropped it on command, but she looked mighty disappointed. A Kraken has nothing over the power of those sad, sad eyes.

Powell 1548 was almost immediately banging on the chicken wire door. Daenerys Targaryen may be George R.R. Martin’s Mother of Dragons, and Breaker of Chains, but the Powell 1548 is the Mother of Vines and Breaker of Chicken Wire. MH the Grower released the Kraken, aka the mighty Atlantic Giant pumpkin plant.

Once the puny wire restraints were removed, Powell 1548 was fed with alfalfa tea:

AlfalfaTea

The plant started to set flowers, the tendrils reached, and the wall was breached:

Flowers_July18

Tendril_Reaches

LargeLeafOnWall_July 18

And off it goes, racing across the garden, roaring with power, intimidating all in its path. My poor kale. It doesn’t stand a chance:

Sprawling_July18

Correction: Not all are intimidated. Enter MH the Grower in the next post. He has the power to choose, and he had his eye on one particular blossom. Stay tuned….

 

WORDS FROM OTHERS:

“What a Kraken grasps it does not lose, be it a longship or leviathan.”

― George R.R. Martin, author, “A Feast for Crows”

 

 

APPRECIATING:

“As a garden fertilizer alfalfa meal is used to increase organic matter in the soil and makes an excellent fast and effective soil conditioner. The high amounts of carbohydrates and protein encourage beneficial soil microbes and earthworms that are responsible for quickly breaking down the nutrients and making them available for use by the plants… Alfalfa tea can be made from meal, pellets or hay, it can be used by spraying directly on the plant as a foliar spray or as a liquid fertilizer around the base of all types of vegetable plants. Alfalfa tea can be applied every 1-4 weeks or as often as needed throughout the growing season.”

http://www.bettervegetablegardening.com

Powell 1548 is thriving, but there were some tense moment a few weeks ago. The warm weather encouraged the overwintering striped cucumber beetles to swarm over the growing leaves. The beetles had harassed my zucchini and zephyr squashes last summer, and I battled them with weekly applications of Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew:

 

Captain_Jacks

 

MOFGA describes the active ingredient, spinosad, in this product as follows:

 

“Insecticides available for organic growers include pyrethrin… and spinosad…Pyrethrin is primarily a contact toxin, while spinosad acts both as a contact and a stomach poison. But, none of these provides a highly effective ‘knockdown” of beetle populations. Still if the beetles have already gotten out of hand and you need to do something, they will help.– MOFGA.org”

 

It was effective last year. But not this year. MH the Grower brought out his own concoction that included small amounts of sevin and Dawn dishwashing liquid, and a generous amount of water, and that did the trick. Fewer of these beetles were spotted after the application:

 

Cucumber_Beetle

 

The damage the beetles do is not limited to eating holes into the leaves. The fruit is scarred, and the larvae feed on the tender stems, girdling them. But the most damaging result is caused by the cucumber beetle secreting bacterial wilt from its stomach. The bacteria spreads to the plant’s vascular system, and causes the leaves to wilt. If not treated, the plant will die.

 

And, as misery loves company, cucumber beetles attract other cucumber beetles. As someone who is phobic about things that swarm, this was a challenging time.

 

I am happy to report that MH’s method worked, and Powell 1548 is growing! Stay tuned – I will post, very shortly!, about The Chosen One. Yes, one fruit has been anointed and is receiving rock-star attention.  I am already in love.

 

WORDS FROM OTHERS:

“Worm or beetle – drought or tempest –
On a farmer’s land may fall,
Each is loaded full o’ ruin,
But a mortgage beats ’em all.”

— Will Carleton, American poet (1845-1912)