Whitesburg KY

The best pickled corn ever is made in Letcher County

At last count, at which point we lost count, Loretta and I had given away 32 aromatically ripe cantaloupes and I had eaten or am still in the process of devouring eight more. She has taken at least three of four not included in the count down to Friends of Paint Lick to share for lunch with her fellow volunteers and two are currently on the front porch steps looking for a home.

A trip to the garden Sunday evening just before dark revealed six more that are doomed to finish rotting where they lay. I picked one up, the bottom fell out and, friends, if you have never smelled a rotten cantaloupe, count the missed experience among your better blessings. I’d be willing to bet the odor would repel hungry buzzards. Anyway, my best guess is that brother Andy and I had just over 50 cantaloupes in the three- to five-pound range off just four vines!

Unlike such stuff as eggplant, okra, cucumbers, zucchini and even 10-pound cabbage heads, there’s no shortage of folks who seem glad to get home deliveries of vine-ripened melons. But most of them will have to be content with the ‘loupes because I only counted half a dozen watermelons when I took inventory last evening.

I’m guessing that this wettest growing season I can recall in the three score and nine years I’ve occupied the planet along with cantaloupes, cabbage, eggplant and pumpkins. I counted 27 pumpkins, but I fear they are diseased or victims of stink bugs that have eaten the roots. The vines are dying and they are already burnt orange or whatever you call the color of ripe pumpkins. I’m thinking it’s way too early for pumpkins to be ripe and I’m hoping that I’m not yet in store for a stench that will make the rotten cantaloupe seem tame.

Points East

We also have our second “crop” of sweet corn ready to harvest this week. It’s a 120-foot row of a variety called “Incredible” that came highly touted by some Amish friends in Lincoln County. I don’t believe Bodacious has anything to worry about come next year, because this variety has already taken over 80 days to reach maturity and my patience has been sorely tested. Bodacious usually comes in at 68 days, or even 60 if planted for a late crop. I have about 30 hills of Bodacious scheduled for the first week of October.

I had intended to pickle about a dozen pints of this new variety but my sister-in-law, Brenda Joseph, there in Hotspot, sent word that she had just finished nine jars of pickled Silver Queen, Sunday night, with my name on them so I’m probably not going to waste my time. It’s as pointless to try any pickled corn other than Brenda’s as it is to grow another variety in case it might taste better than Bodacious. I’ve tried to beat or equal Bodacious for the last 35 consecutive years and have yet to come close. I’m not even going to imagine that I could pickle corn that might rival my little sister’s.

In the meantime, I have successfully dissuaded the mockingbirds from destroying my tomato crop. Some of them are probably still sore and at least half a dozen lost some feathers but none actually perished in the process of becoming convinced that about any place on the face earth was more conducive to their welfare than my garden.

However, as it’s turning out, the mockers have actually done no more damage to our ‘mater crop than all this rain. Our four favorite varieties, Giant Syrian, Molly Helton Sunburst, Pink Brandywine and Orange Brandywine, are almost all cracking open before they finish ripening on the vine because they have had too much water.

There’s no satisfaction to be had from growing a three-pound tomato if it looks like somebody has already tried to slice it with a broad axe before you put it on the scales. Of the 13 varieties we have growing, only two have resisted the tendency to crack.

I do have a couple of Giant Syrian plants growing in tubs where I can control the water and the fruits on them, while not quite as large as those on the garden plants, have been blemish free. Suffice to say, I should have lots of seed to share before planting time in 2019. If you are among the dozen or so readers who received Giant Syrian seeds from me this year, I’d love to see how they fared and what you think of them. Email: ikeadams@aol.com.

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