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This is a series. You can read parts 1-5 on my profile page, found here.

Dang! Has it been another two weeks already? There's something about doing a scheduled series that really makes me aware of the passing of time and how quickly the weeks fly by. Summer is winding down already. If I hadn't planned on doing this, I doubt I would have written much at all this summer. I have just been so busy with the garden and house projects. Anyway, enough whining about time and on with the updates for weeks nine and ten:

First of all, like I mentioned last time, our pumpkin plants are having issues. We sprayed them when they were smaller, but I didn't want to spray when I was harvesting the pumpkin blossoms. I was also worried about the bees. Unfortunately, some sort of bug or wilt disease killed about half of our plants. It was so disheartening to go out and see yet another plant just shriveled up and completely dead. It wasn't just a water issue, because one plant would be big and healthy and the one right next to it would be dead.

I finally broke down and let my husband spray Sevin again, at night, when the blossoms were closed. I picked a bunch of blossoms before he sprayed and still had plenty of bees after that. I wish I could avoid chemicals, but sometimes you have to choose between having no produce at all or having some that has been sprayed a little. This was quickly spreading all over the garden. I'm sure there are more natural ways to grow things, but I just don't have the time to commit to that right now. I'm lucky if I get out there once or twice a week other than picking a few things. I think it helped stop the spread of the problem. I really hope I don't lose all the good pumpkins, squash and gourds that are growing. That would be a major bummer. I set out saying that as long as I got some pumpkin blossoms, then I would be happy, but now that I see all the pumpkins and other things growing, I don't want to lose them. Hang in there, plants!

It has been really dry in our area of Northwest Ohio. We hadn't really had to mow the yard in months. The grass became brown and crunchy. My husband only mowed to cut down the taller weeds growing. Finally, in the last couple of weeks, we had some good rain storms that added up to maybe three inches overall. This has helped our poor, desperate-for-water garden.

Our sweet corn is coming along nicely, so as long as no deer or raccoons find it, we should be able to pick a bunch soon. We cooked one ear so far and it was okay. I'm not sure it was quite ready, though. I have a bunch of green peppers and jalepeno peppers. I was able to pick a couple of green peppers today and there are more on the way. The eggplants are really producing a lot.

The tomatoes are really starting to ripen, but are still manageable. My windowsill is currently packed full of ripe and ripening tomatoes, but I don't have enough that I can give many away yet. I'd say that in about a week or two, though, I will be drowning in them. The tomato plants were a big pain recently. Although I had tomato cages on the bigger plants, some were still falling over from the weight. They grew a lot bigger than I thought they would. We had to pound in stakes and use string or stretchy green ribbon stuff to keep the braches from going crazy. Then after we thought they were good, we had a strong storm that blew most of them over. We had to use even more stakes (made out of scrap wood).

Oh yeah, quick tip and funny story: So I was helping my mother-in-law with the tomatoes by gathering all the branches so she could tie them. Then I went to say good-bye to my sister. She said, "Um, why are your armpits yellow?" I looked down and sure enough, there was bright yellow in my armpits and going down my arm. I had no idea and wondered if my deodorant did it. It wasn't until later that I realized that the tomato plants had rubbed my arms and armpits and that they can turn skin and clothing yellow. I think it washes out pretty easily, but without knowing what it was, I kind of freaked out. It's a good thing I didn't take the deodorant back, claiming it turned my pits yellow.

Speaking of my mother-in-law, (the one who knows just about everything about gardening), she must have been so disappointed in my lack of gardening knowledge. She looked at the green beans and said that some of them were "pithy." Say what? She broke one apart to show me that it had kind of a mushy, whitish substance inside. She tried to show me a good bean versus a pithy bean, but I just couldn't really tell the difference. Worst of all, though, was when she looked at what I thought were a bunch of baby watermelons and asked, "Why didn't you pick your cucumbers?" "Aren't those watermelons?" I asked. She cut one open and showed me that not only were they cucumbers, but they were cucumbers full of huge seeds and way past their prime. Oops. I think I would've been waiting a long time for those "watermelons" to ripen. She also showed me how to dig up some potatoes. She was impressed with the garden, but I'm sure she was slightly amused at how little I know.

The real watermelons are also getting ripe. It's hard for me to tell, though. I read that they sound hollow and have a yellow spot on the bottom, but I picked one matching that criteria and it was far from ripe. That was a week ago, so maybe I would have better luck now. I think that's one of my biggest problems with gardening: knowing when to harvest things at the right time.

I have also been making some good recipes with my garden bounty. First, I made eggplant parmesan, which was much easier than I imagined and even Kevin liked it. I also made zucchini bread. It was gone in two days. I think it's time to make some more (or not, depending on if I want to gain five pounds). I attempted to make green beans, but it didn't go so well. I don't think I cooked them long enough or something. I will keep trying. And I will keep trying to keep up with this massive garden. Wish me luck and send positive thoughts to my dying pumpkins!

You can see more pictures and watch the progress of my garden by checking out my garden slideshows. I added more pictures to the second slideshow, so be sure to check it out if you are interested.

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