Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gourmet bunnies

The extra-cold, extra-wet weather this past winter seems to have kicked the wildlife's reproduction levels into overdrive. Bunnies galore! So many, that they're eating things that usually they won't touch, especially onions and pepper plants. Apparently they're gourmet bunnies, though, because they only eat the red onion tops, not the yellow onion tops.

The broccoli and kale were eaten down to their roots. The swiss chard has been thinned out. Apparently the yellow-stemmed varieties (in the Northern Lights mix) aren't as tasty as the red-stemmed, so all that's left are the red-stemmed. I've never noticed a flavor difference, so I'm just grateful they left anything at all!

The banana pepper plants were damaged worse than the Ace pepper plants. One of the banana pepper plants (out of six) may recover, and I'm hoping that at least a dozen of the Ace pepper plants (out of twenty-four) will recover.

Sweet potatoes -- this is my first year growing them, so I don't know what they should look like by now. I'm reasonably certain, though, that they should be a LOT bigger, with fewer leaves bunny-stripped.

The squashes got a late start, mostly because of cold weather. The bunsters haven't eaten them, fortunately. The yellow crookneck and zucchini are just producing flowers now. Should be squash to eat in another week or so.

The early crop of garlic was harvested about a month ago. Got about 30 small heads (which is normal for that variety). We weren't enthusiastic about it last year, but I've come to appreciate it a bit more this year. I think we may have left the harvesting until later than we should have last year. It only takes a few minute, and a very small corner of the g arden, to grow 30 to 50 heads of garlic that is ripe a month early. That's a reasonable return on investment. Especially in a bunny season, when garlic is about the only crop (along with tomatoes) that hasn't been touched.

The main crop of garlic was harvested today: fifty-four really nice-sized heads of German Extra-Hardy. I've set aside about a dozen of the biggest heads as seeds for next year. There are probably another twenty or so smaller heads still in the ground, and I left them, so they'll form the bulbil tops. We like to nibble on the bulbils, and any left-overs get scattered in a bed that produces what we call our "wild garlic" crop -- single cloves that grow from the bulbils, and that are easy to pickle for winter use.

Tomatoes went into the ground late, again because of the cold, wet weather. The Jetstars have quite a few small green tomatoes; I haven't seen any set tomatoes on the yellow pear or the Oxheart (which went in last, but were the biggest seedlings).