i went down to the community garden in the late morning to water my plot. i wore pants to lessen the chance of mosquito bites. wayne was there and so was gail. i say hi to wayne all the time but i have a feeling he has no idea who i am even though i used to have the plot right next to his. i hadn't been in the garden since wednesday, 5 days ago.
i brought a bag this time and picked a bunch of ripe tomatoes while snacking on some ground cherries. i noticed 2 fat and short bitter melons. the hyacinth beans are growing out of control but no flowers yet; the trellis i made was too short, the vines have doubled in on itself at least twice. i also saw some chinese asters. hopefully these are the purple variety, since the ones growing at my parents' place are all pink so far. my garlic chives - those that haven't been stolen - are starting to grow flower stalks and will hopefully begin flowering in the coming weeks.
i rode to belmont, paying attention to my clutch pedal which i now realize is slightly loose and makes clattering noises when i shift. i'll need to tighten it up at some point. while my father was making lunch, i went into the backyard with hailey to check out some plants. when i came back inside i had some zucchini pancakes along with a glass of mio sweet tea. i squirted too much and made it way too sweet. i prefer the 4C brand half & half water enhancer, that makes for a much better ice tea.
when i arrived in belmont, i noticed a mound of dirt on the sidewalk lawn. at first i thought it was another rabbit hole, but the hole was too small. from the way it was dug, it seemed to be coming out of the ground. could it possibly be a mole? but the sidewalk lawn is like an island, there isn't much to dig, and the soil underneath is mostly clay and gravel. later i did some more research. a vole might be another possibility, but they dig shallow visible tunnels all over the lawn. if i had a choice, a mole would be the better critter to have, since they're completely insectivorous, eating underground grubs and worms. a vole feeds on plants, and will destroy underground roots and bulbs. it's probably most likely a chipmunk though, or maybe even just a rabbit, nothing so exotic as a vole or mole.
the bitter melons get the most attention now, with the long beans coming in second. we've tended to the buttercup squashes all summer, they're basically growing on autopilot now. but the bitter melons and long beans are a novelty, this is only the first season we've grown them. the longest melons are only 5", they still need a week or two to mature. we did manage tp pick off that was close to 7", just to give it a taste test since we haven't eaten any bitter melons yet.
hiding in the honeysuckle bush are two buttercup squashes. the first one we've known about, but the second one is more hidden. my father managed to pull it out of the honeysuckle vines to see how large it was and it's probably the largest squash we've grown this season. this single squash vine did try to produce a third squash but it aborted after the squash got about 2" in diameter. it may yet produce a third squash, maybe further down the vine.
the hyacinth beans growing in RB0 having finally started to flower. they're not doing as well this season because they have to compete with the squash plants which have blocked most of the sun with their large leaves. hyacinth bean flowers grow on their own stalks that don't have any leaves, that's how you can tell it's a flower stalk or a leaf vine. we grow hyacinth beans as ornamentals, not to eat. as long as we produce enough seeds for next season, we're good.
yesterday i fertilized the garden plants as well as spraying fertilizer on the squash leaves. does foliar treatment work? it must, because since i've been spraying the leaves, they've gotten a lot larger compared to earlier in the season. besides being large, the leaves never droop and they're thick too, from leave to stalk. when i do foliar treatments, do i even need to water the base as well? it makes sense to spray the leaves since the vines are so long and they're growing vertically so they can't send new roots into the soil like ground grown squashes.
before dinner my parents came out to admire the bitter melons. my father prepared the one melon we picked off earlier. having never cooked with bitter melons before, i didn't realize you don't eat the middle but rather scoop it out, like you would with a cantaloupe. half the seeds like developed while half were still tiny, which meant the melon could've grown some more, that it was still slightly immature. after cutting the melon into slices, my father salted them. i thought that was it so i started to eat them: salty and bitter, but with a long of crunch, like eating celery. that's when my father told me they were ready yet. salting is just the first step, to make them crispier by drawing out the water. afterwards he added some seasoning: sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, hot chili oil. the final cold bitter melon salad was a combination of flavors: bitter, salty, sweet, sour, spicy. with some many other flavors, the bitterness is diminished. also still very crunchy.
i left soon after dinner, as some rain was coming up from the south, due to arrive in 30-40 minutes. in my haste to leave, i left my macbook pro in belmont. i realized it as soon as i got home when i tried to take out my laptop to recharge it. by then it was too late to go back to belmont, as it was starting to rain and i'd already put the cover on my motorcycle. instead i opted to wait 1-2 hours for the rainstorm to subside before riding to belmont. when i called my mother to let her know what happened, she had my father drive to my place to drop off the computer. he also brought along two potted pilea plants.
i brought back the long beans we harvested a few days ago. my parents couldn't figure out what was the best way to cook them, so they gave them to me to turn into paocai, as i was preparing another jar. the one i prepared on friday is started to smell, which is a good sign. i can hear the lid percolating as carbon dioxide escapes. i washed the long beans and set them outside to dry. i'll make the second jar of paocai tomorrow. i also made 9 cups of brine (added 3 oz. of salt, weighed). i have some old brine i saved up in a jar, but i don't trust it, easier just to make a fresh batch.