I've been seeing these guys occasionally in the garden. I figured it was some sort of grasshopper, but I wasn't sure what kind. So I did some research. Turns out it's a female Schistocerca americana or American Grasshopper or Bird Grasshopper. These guys can do a lot of damage to crops. But curiously, the ones I've seen (and there have maybe been three over the course of the summer) have all been green, and apparently nymphs raised under solitary conditions are green, whereas in a period of outbreak, they turn brown. So at least I don't have an outbreak.
I didn't eliminate this grasshopper, though I suppose I would be within my rights to do so. In line with my newish philosophy of 'just wait,' I shall give it some time. Let's see what creature shows up to prey on these grasshoppers. I imagine the millions of Western Fence Lizards I see in the yard might take care of them.
August is the time of year where not much needs to be done in the garden - it's all about the kitchen and preserving what comes in. We've had lots of cucumbers - Tom makes all kinds of pickles from these, and we enjoy those all winter. I eat a lot of cucumbers fresh, chopped with tomatoes, a little homemade red wine vinegar, a splash of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. We also really like tzatziki which is a good way to use up the thinner-skinned bush cucumbers. I did grow lemon cucumbers for the first time this year; I have to say they weren't our favorite, and the chickens have had the lion's share of those.
At the moment I am in a tomato 'lull' - lots of green ones on the vines, but not a lot ripe. I sure did get a lot at the beginning of August, so I can't complain. The cherry tomatoes are still producing, as always. I expect my tomatoes to go along just fine until November, unless we get an early frost (unlikely) or I finally rip them out to put in the winter garden.
Speaking of the winter garden, I've already got my onions in the ground. It's quite early, but I put them in a cooler spot in the garden and I hope they'll do well there.
I also ripped out the pole beans. This year, I grew Missouri Wonder, and I didn't like them at all. First of all, half the foliage was always yellow.
Or brown and dead.
Plenty of flowers, plenty of fruit, but the beans went from tender to tough in (what seemed like) a 24 hour period. I like tender beans, not stringy. I think next year I might go with bush beans rather than pole and see if that's better.
In place of the beans, I planted snap pea seeds. It might be too warm to start them, but I thought I'd give it a go.
Elsewhere in the garden, the gourds are delightful to look at.
The pumpkins are all doing nicely, too. And the winter squash has overcome powdery mildew, and is starting to fruit.
And we're still getting peppers, both sweet and hot. Tom made his first 2016 batch of hot sauce using Jalepeno and Maule's Red Hot, and he also pickled a jar of Jalapenos. I planted many more plants last year and we had more peppers than we knew what to do with, but this year I only planted one of each of three kinds, and we're finding we don't have as many as we would like. Somewhere in the between is the right amount. I've frozen several batches of roasted sweet peppers for winter meals, and we've eaten plenty fresh in fajitas.
I think next year I'd like to try a sweet red frying pepper like 'Carmen.' I love Jimmy Nardellos and I grow them every year, but they are very thin and small. I'd prefer something larger. Any recommendations?
The potatoes are going gangbusters, I have five kinds growing in pots in the shade of the chitalpa tree. I'm starting to notice some yellowing leaves, so it won't be long now till we have a harvest.
And it's also time for melons. I've been harvesting very small cantaloupes for weeks now (delicious, but tiny - this variety was 'Sweet Jenny' so I'll try something bigger next year), and the watermelons are getting big. But the watermelon stems have not withered yet, and that's how you know your it is ready, so we'll have to wait a while longer. Sigh.
Our son Adam has begun his first year of High School, and our daughter Kate begins her 8th grade year at a brand-new charter school next week. You may remember that I resigned my job working with autistic kids, and wanted to find something to do outdoors, or somehow in nature. I've applied for all kinds of jobs and am waiting to hear. The French Laundry is advertising for a farm hand, which makes my heart swell, but I don't think I can commute all the way to Napa every day. That would very definitely NOT be sustainable. :) A reservation might make it almost worth it.