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No two garden years alike

I see that in the comments to my post August Glut, Russ observed a “phenomenon” (how I love that word when I want to sound important) that we noticed too. Our first string beans just never did grow quite like usual and although the foliage looked as healthy as normal, much fewer beans set on. Had to be the weather, as Russ says, very wet and coolish early on, but since the vines were quite robust and there seemed to be only a few leaf hoppers and other infernal creatures of the bean jungle, we were mystified and Carol almost frantic.

You have to understand that in our family being without Kentucky Wonder pole beans is nearly as grave a situation as being without bread. These beans (no other variety will do) are soul food to Carol’s family, and she has managed to pass on that adoration to her husband, who didn’t much like my mother’s string beans, and to our children and grandchildren. I am amazed how greedily they shovel down Kentucky Wonders even up here in Ohio, far from the Bluegrass Country. The secret is the slab of smoked ham in every pot along with bacon grease that flavors the beans, along with pressure-cooking the living bejeebers out of them. In fact, every time the pot of leftover beans is warmed up again, the taste just gets better. My mother’s were bush type beans and she cooked them baconless and what ham might be present wasn’t cured and smoked by my father-in-law’s method. They were only cooked long enough to get the heat through the skinniest ones. I could not believe, when I went to Kentucky in pursuit of fair maiden, the taste of the beans Carol’s mom served. I thought they must have been grown somewhere in heaven.

I kept reassuring Carol this year that we would get plenty of beans later on, and for once I was right. I am presently sick of breaking beans. I break them in real time and I break them in my dreams. We have them by the bushel. All of a sudden the vines just exploded. Unlike Russ’s situation, we have had plenty of rain all along, so the sudden bean deluge is even greater than Beth’s. A couple of the poles are breaking over in fact, and there is no way we will ever use even half the crop.

Another even more interesting “phenomenon” this year is the corn. Have any of you experienced what we are seeing? I do five successive plantings of sweet corn. The last one is late white corn. Because of all the spring rain, planting was late, so I figured the harvest would be late too. But something weird happened. The corn ripened a week to ten days ahead of its normal maturity dates. I guess the extra hot, wet weather did it. Corn planted late always matures a little faster than it is supposed to, but not this much. Our white corn was all gone by the end of August. Usually, we have some until Sept. 10.

This freakish behavior is good news for the field corn. It was mostly planted late in our county. We like to get corn planting over by May 10. This year it was June 10 and everyone worries that frost will get the late planted corn before the kernels are well dented.

Now it looks like there’s no problem. That June planted corn grew faster than I have ever seen corn grow, and like the sweet corn, it is maturing faster than it’s supposed to. Hundred twenty day corn is denting up in a hundred five to a hundred ten days. And my open-pollinated corn, oh my. Although planted in June, there are ears back there that I am going to have to drag to the barn one at a time with the tractor and a log chain.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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