What an extraordinarily perfect late summer day last Sunday was! Sunny and dry, highs in the seventies and no mosquitoes – I’d order a month of days like this if I could! Hopefully this marvelous weather will repeat itself next Sunday when the University of Connecticut holds its eighteenth annual Cornucopia celebration at the Storrs campus from 11 am to 4 pm.
Take this opportunity to learn about what your local College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has to offer. There are exhibits, hands-on activities, demonstrations, tours, and many experts from College to speak to. Horticulturists from the UConn Home & Garden Education Center will be there to answer your plant questions, the Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab will be offering free soil pH tests if you bring in ½ cup of soil, and UConn Master Composters will be giving away free UConn Compost ‘Tea’ Bags.
Back on the home front, much time was spent canning peaches, freezing tomatoes and green beans. From a sister’s standard ‘Reliance’ peach tree, we must have picked 600 or so luscious, ripe peaches. We made canned peaches, spiced peaches, peach jam, peach pie and a few other recipes. Of all tree fruits, I think peaches are the easiest to grow. Yes, there is peach leaf curl and peach borers, but for the most part peaches get a little brown spot and that’s tolerable enough so that neither I nor my sister spray our peach trees with any insecticide or fungicide. We always have enough fruit for fresh eating and preserving, and some to share with the squirrels and turkeys too.
‘Reliance’, as its name implies, produces large crops of medium sized peaches, year after year. They taste great but they do have a thick, fuzzy skin so when eating them fresh, you might want to peel them first. Small tradeoff for such a hardy, productive variety.
My tomatoes were recently infected with late blight. When that happened in August a few years back, it wiped out my whole crop of tomatoes. This year I still got enough Polish Linguisas to freeze several containers full to make sauce when I have some free time. Plus I just picked the last of the Perons and Marglobes for salads and still have several dozen green Yellow Jelly Beans that I left on the vining, indeterminate plants.
Although late blight is not supposed to overwinter here in New England, it is a good idea to clean tomato beds thoroughly. I have been cutting the plants up and picking up any dead leaves and fruits and bagging them to put out with the trash. Tomatoes, as I am sure you are aware, do get a lot of diseases here in New England. They looked great through the dry spell we had this summer but once the rains and humidity returned, plants got infected with typical tomato diseases like septoria, anthracnose and early blight. The late blight was just the icing on the cake.
With slightly cooler temperatures, bean production picked up and I had enough to freeze. Peppers, including my favorite, Sheepnose Pimiento, are turning a brilliant red. The last planting of cucumbers is still producing and I have a gallon container filled with refrigerator dill pickles that I keep adding more cucumbers too as the pickles get eaten. The rest of the green cabbages were harvested as it seems that a young rabbit has been nibbling on some and surely would finish the rest if left out any longer.
Hopefully, I’ll see you at Cornucopia!