Sunday, July 26, 2015

July

The thing about July is that the vegetable garden isn't going to win any beauty contests.  It happens this time every year.  Everything has reached maturity.  The lush blush of youth is over.  Weaknesses are beginning to show.  We can all relate.  But I'm a perfectionist.  I like things to look lush and beautiful (I'm slowly getting over that).  I'm the kind of gardner who plants Nasturtium everywhere because I know that the aphids will go there and leave my tomato plants alone.  But then I get upset that the aphids have ruined my Nasturtium.  I can't have it both ways.... *sigh*

Nasturtium never looks good at the end of July.  It may catch a second wind and look nice in September, but in July it looks pretty ragged.  Add a million aphids and some ants and wasps and you have a real mess.  I mean a gardening CATASTROPHE! I've gotten rid of three plantings (two right at the end of the tomato bed) and today I cut back the third.  I actually took a photo this time before I hauled the mess out back to the burn pile, but a photo doesn't even do it justice.  You would need to see the dozens of wasps and flies hovering about to get the full effect.  It looks apocalyptic.  The good news its:  the tomatoes are aphid free.


A small example of a Nasturtium plant infested with Black Aphids.

Northern Spy apples
All in all the garden is doing well.  The apple tree held 11 apples and is weeping under their weight.  Remember, this little apple tree feels it is necessary to produce giant 12 ounce apples, and it is working on it again this year. Last year it dropped all the fruit, but this year it held about a third and we have 11 apples still hanging on.

Cukes on the left, Purple Queen beans (dark) down the center
 and Gold Mine wax beans down the right

This week we began picking 3 or 4 cucumbers each day and the beans are beginning.  I've picked a few Sungold cherry tomatoes and we're waiting on eggplants.

The large eggplants have set several fruit on each plant
The lettuce can be considered done.  Which is fine.  We eat lettuce 4 or 5 times each week through May and June so by July we are "lettuced out".  The lettuce bed is in transition and looks like a hodge podge of plants and growth stages.  There are a few buttercrunch plants holding on and the second planting of cucumbers down the center is gaining size.  I also have two zucchini in gallon pots waiting in the wings to replace the first planting of summer squash.  Next week I will seed fall lettuce.


The lettuce bed in transition.
The Nasturtium still looks pretty in this bed.

What does Iceberg lettuce look like when it bolts?  Like a ball of yarn unraveling.

Mildew on the Magda summer squash.

This year will be the first time I've tried a second planting of summer squash.  I seeded the backups the day I spotted (and failed to apprehend) the squash vine borer moth.  No sign of SVBs yet, but the squash have contracted, on a small scale, every disease know to squash.  The plants are past their prime and while they still look fine and are keeping three families supplied with squash, their days are numbered,

The last of the peas need to come out this week
in preparation for the fall lettuce planting

I'm letting the peas I missed dry on the vine and I am saving the seed.
This is the first time I've tried saving my own pea seeds.

The very healthy potato plants are browning out
and will need to be cut back this week.
The potatoes can stay in the ground until we close the garden

Strawberry bed before renovation

I'm a little late in renovating my strawberry bed.  A few weeks after they stop producing you should cut back the leaves, and sort through your runners.  I attempt to sweep all the runners along the row to fill in and cut off the excess.

Strawberry bed after renovation attempt

The tomato and pepper bed
The tomato bed is doing fine.  The plants are bearing quite well 
but I am still awaiting the first signs of color.  Last year I discovered the  scrumptious combination of fried green tomatoes and peach pepper jelly.  Yesterday I found some peach and jalapeno jelly at a farmer's market (we were out galavanting many miles from home) and this week I'm going to fry some up.



The annuals look good in July.  After such a wet and cloudy June I am now having to water regularly.  The little sink planter above is looking the most beautiful it ever has.  I've tried a couple of different vining plants in this planter.  This year I put four little Lobelia plants in it.  I read that you should keep Lobelia's soil damp at all times so I water this every morning rain or shine and we have achieved the desired results.

Pest report for this year:  We are in the midst of Japanese Beetle season and... there are very few (Yay!)  After battling a scourge of Cucumber Beetles that all but killed the cantaloupes, I am ready for a break.  I've picked a few dozen beetles off our porcelain vine on the side of the house, but I've seen only three beetles in the beans, and we have a Blue Jay who is diligently picking the out of the Linden tree row every day.  It's fun to watch the Jay move through the trees.  The Jay will target a beetle and if it misses and the beetle drops, the Jay also drops (plummets) to the ground feet first and snaps it up.  GooooOOoooo Blue Jays!

Foot Note:  Is there any gardening significance to being stung by bees?  Is it good luck or something?  Because in the past week I've been stung twice.  Prior to this I'd been stung only once (two years ago) since high school... once in 25 years.  And then last Saturday I got stung on the toe by a honey bee (my fault) and today, walking up the garden walk in clogs a surly Yellow Jacket got me in the ankle for no reason.  Same foot.  Considering that two weeks ago my right knee made it clear it no longer wanted to participate in either gardening or house work, and today my left ankle is twice its normal size, getting around is getting complicated.  Stairs are a trial.  Work that requires getting down on one or both knees to be avoided at all costs... I feel like the tin man

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Good Morning Baby

My favorite time in the garden is early morning 
as the sun is rising and the dew is still heavy.
I go around peaking under leaves checking on all the veggie babies 
and seeing how everyone has grown.

Apple Baby

Bean Baby

Bell Pepper Baby

Cherry Tomato Babies

Cucumber Baby

Tomato Babies

Giant Pear Tomato Baby

Cantaloupe Baby
Not as big as last year this time

Magda Summer Squash Babies

And yes, still a few Lettuce Babies



The heat of the morning sun is burning the dew off the shed roof,

Friday, July 10, 2015

July Update


The July Update:  
Tim wanted to use up the last of our old landscape mulch so we dressed everything up.  It looked so nice that I climbed up on the garden shed roof for a photo op.  I figured it would never look better than it does today.

The apple tree on the left with the herb garden and strawberries under the cage

The cantaloupes are in the chicken run

A view from the garden gate
with the water tank cover in the foreground

Looking back towards the coop and shed

View from the neighbor's end
Bed #1 Resting after Peas.
Carrots remaining and doing great.
I need to use them up so I can solarize this bed.

Bed #2 Lettuce Dwindling
Day old baby cucumbers down the middle

Bed #3 Tomato/Pepper Jungle

The Sweet Peppers are growing
But you can see the plants are suffering from the wet
with septorial spots and yellowing leaves

Jalepenos

The eggplants are HUGE and flowering

My Barlow Jap tomato plant has a dozen fruit set

Bed #4 Peas on their way out

Bed #5 Potatoes

Bed #6 Cucumbers and Bush Beans

The Beans are Beaning and the Cukes are Cuking
There is a Squash Vine Borer Moth in my garden that is escaping capture!!!
Not Good.  Not Good at All!

The Herb Garden

The Summer Squash is producing nicely

The Cantaloupe are covered with flowers

But they've sustained significant damage from the Cucumber Beetles
The cantaloupes are not as gorgeous and unmolested as they were last year.  We'll still have melons but it isn't ideal.  Above is a close up.  The beetles chew on the stems and leaves and weaken them causing them to break or crush at stress points and wilt and kill those leaves or that whole branch of the vine.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

I had to go to three stores to get Red White AND Blue Wave Petunias.
So glad it was worth it!
Enjoy your Holiday

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weed Potatoes



I had to weed the squash bed again (last year's potato bed).
I swear if you don't keep up with these things they get away from you!. 


 And I'm glad I didn't over plant potatoes this year.
This is the main crop.
There's another storm brewing in the south...



The Northern Spy apple tree has held a half dozen nice apples on it 
( and dropped about 20).  I'm glad I didn't worry about hand pollinating it!
The heavy fruit and constant rain have bowed it over in the middle with the weight and we had to  stiffen it with a bamboo pole wired back to a stake
Otherwise it would be reaching towards the ground.  It sure is an over achiever!
It's mate is a much shaplier tree, but a ne'r-do-well who only set a couple of apples and those aren't growing at all.  Our older trees are laden too but the squirrels will get those I'm sure.  They always do.




The main lettuce bed is thinning out.  I have a few heads of bib lettuce left and then two rows of younger plants down each side.  The second planting of cucumbers will go in down the middle shortly.  


I have a third row of lettuce ready to use along the edge of the bean bed.


The first two rows of peas need to be pulled as well as that lettuce that is bolting. There are nice carrots on the other side.  It was a very productive bed but will rest the rest of the year.


These peas are producing now.  This is the first time I've ever had to pick UP peas.  They are higher than my head, almost higher than my reach.


.....and then it started to rain again.