Sunday, September 2:

Oppressive heat saps our energies but evokes a burst of growth from the weed population.  Never have we seen the ragweed so thick and healthy; to reach the chicken house you have to force your way through a forest of ragweed so tall you can’t see the bridge until you come to it.  Crabgrass microscopic yesterday reaches long arms with knotted elbows over its neighbor plants today; you can’t pull it without uprooting everything in proximity.  In the vegetable garden purslane crunches juicily underfoot.

Fortunately, for many of the summer plants we are nearing the end.  Tomato plants ripen fruit on vines green with new growth, but dying from the base up, infected with the soil-born fungus Septoria (leaf spot).  Sweet corn is pulled up and the stalks fed to the cows and pigs.  Watermelon vines are withering, making it much easier to spot the fruit, and pumpkin and winter squash vines whose vigor was proved when they survived the season of squash bug and squash vine borer are showing signs of turning yellow and drying up.

Following up on last year’s success with winter carrots we are clearing away the sweet corn stalks, raking the beds and spreading compost, lightly tilling, and replanting with Napolis.  With six rows per bed we have almost five hundred row feet planted, and, again drawing on last year’s experience, this time we are watering daily to promote good germination.  Last year, failing to read the fine print, we watered our carrot beds once a week and got very poor germination; our book of garden hints suggests watering once or twice a day.  The sugar beets and turnips we are planting for pig food get no such careful culture, but we plant a great many and hope to avoid high corn prices completely.