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Happenings Around the Homestead

It is Sunday morning as I write this, and there is the most terrific claps of thunder going on outside.  Though I enjoy being able to go walk in the garden as soon as the sun is up, a great thunderstorm is very high on my list.  Oh, I just checked, the rain is falling hard now too – wonderful!  My garden will so appreciate it!

Speaking of the garden, I decided to harvest as much of my popcorn and flour corn as I could yesterday.  I don’t have very large patches of each, so I need to do what I can to prevent spoilage, and though neither was totally ready to be picked, I was afraid this rain might cause some mold or mildew issues.  Here is the harvest so far:

Corn Harvest

First Corn Harvest of 2014

I was not surprised, but yet a little disappointed to see the cross-pollination in the Cherokee White Flour Corn.  Some of the kernels are purple and yellow, which is no doubt from my popcorn.  I was frustrated to find them both maturing at the same time, which happened to be at a point I was unable to bag them to prevent the cross over.  With the Cherokee White Flour Corn, this is almost irrelevant.  I can easily see what is crossed, and I will eliminate that from my seed stock — wait, that is not true.  I will save some of the purple kernels for a special project next year — to see if I can get a purple flour corn, but that will be very carefully monitored.

The challenge I have is the popcorn though.  With it being much shorter than the Cherokee White Flour Corn, I am confident there is much cross pollination there, which may mean I lose most of my popcorn for seed from this year.  That sure is frustrating, but I will chalk it up to learning.

I did harvest one ear of Cherokee Gourdseed Corn as well, but it was definitely not ready.  The ear had evidently been hit by something and was broken off though, so I felt it was better to go ahead and harvest it.  It’s now drying with the rest of them.

Regarding the Gourdseed Corn – these are the oddest cobs and kernels!  The husks are so tightly wrapped on the cobs that it is a real chore to pull them off, though I suspect that will change some with time.  The kernels look like old man teeth though!  Even so, it is supposed to be a great flour corn as well.  I don’t have a good picture of one yet, but I will be sure to share one later.

I harvested the largest crop of the year of tomatoes yesterday, which happened to be about half a bushel.  Most all of them were Chocolate Stripe Tomatoes, which have become one of my favorite for taste — right up there with Cherokee Purple Tomatoes.  They also make a beautiful tomato juice.  Look at this beautiful basketful!

Chocolate Stripe Tomatoes

Chocolate Stripe Tomatoes

One other interesting tomato I have this year is from seeds saved from a tomato purchased at Whole Foods.  The tomato was advertised as a Cocoa Tomato, a variety I cannot find anywhere, so I presume it is a marketing name only.  Anyhow, it was a great tasting tomato with great color.  Those I am growing are very similar in size and color, but they are much less juicy than the one I purchased, which suits me fine.  These tomatoes will make excellent tomato sauce tomatoes or drying tomatoes, which is a nice addition to the garden.

Speaking of all this seed, I am an avid collecter of seeds with history.  Even though I landrace some vegetables, I also do what I can to preserve heritage crops too, and I would really appreciate leads to any rare or known Native American plant seeds, especially those with ties to the Chickasaw or Choctaw Indian tribes.  Most lists, such as this list of Seed Varieties for Native American Gardens have limited selection, though I know that is due to limited information.

I so enjoy the fall weather, but as the days start to shorten, a part of me gets a little sad knowing the gardening for the year is slowing down.  There is still plenty of time left, but in another two months it will be time for the ground to rest for a while and for me to start planning for next year.


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