Monday, July 15, 2019

And now we wait

 Usually this happens in June.  There is nothing coming out of the garden now.  The peas are coming out and we are waiting on (in this order):

  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn
  • Beans
  • Cantaloupes

We are still getting some cauliflowers.  The zucchini will be a pickable size next week. We could be using new potatoes but I am letting them grow so we have more this fall.

In this bed I planted a half row of late cucumbers and the rest is buckwheat.

The sweet corn is gorgeous.  If I look among the leaves I am seeing the beginnings of tassles.

The pumpkin vines are working their way out

In the beds that are resting, I am on my second planting of buckwheat.  
The first planting has already been worked into the soil. 
My zucchini plant is at the far end.

This year I got 3 or more female flowers before we got a male flower.  And I don't think the insects managed to cross pollinate them from the neighbor's garden.  So the first few squash will have to come off before they rot.  But it is loaded with flowers now and we're in business.

The tomatoes are doing well but the eggplants are sluggish and have not bloomed yet.

The Nasturtium are doing their thing as ground cover.
In fact, they are still taller than the eggplant

I am satisfied with the number of tomatoes set on each plant.
The containers and the raised bed plants have similar numbers.
There are a lot of blooms on all of the plants this week.

As you can see, the container tomatoes are monsters

They are taller and MUCH thicker than the plants in the beds. 

 The bush beans are growing fast.
Jade on the left and Blue Lake on the right.

We need RAIN!  I'm watering every other day, except for the container tomatoes which need their reservoirs filled every day.  Hopefully we will get some steady rain from the tropical storm that is on its way.  We could use an inch or two but not all at once.

We have a lot of Japanese beetles, but they are almost all on the porcelain party vine.  I have a trap hung nearby which is working well and it seems it is also directing them all to the party vine so they are leaving everything else on the property alone.  There are so many on the vine they are almost impossible to flick into water.  I start flicking which disturbs them and they come out in a swarm.  Good thing they don't bite.

The tall plant in the center is the wild milkweed which invited itself into the landscaping a few years ago.  Last year I did get one Monarch from it.  I haven't seen any eggs yet this year, but there is a Monarch flitting around for the past couple of days and the plant is in full bloom so it can't be missed.  I would like to relocate this plant to another spot I have picked out but with a very long tap root, they don;t transplant well.  At least I will have seeds for the first time.  That might help.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Bitter Truth

Gardening Truth:  temperatures in the eighties will make lettuce turn bitter even if it has not yet bolted.

This row of lettuce, beautiful as it is, is already too bitter to eat.  I transplanted it on the fourth of July.  This bed is the first one to get late afternoon shade making it cooler than the rest of the garden.  The plants have not bolted (begun to put out flowers).  I've kept them well watered, and still....  This is a note to self for future years.  No matter how hard you try, you will not have lettuce in July.

Now this lettuce is for sure bolted.  I pulled out the peas two nights ago and I haven't gotten a chance yet to clean the bed and plant a cover crop.  In the mean time, the lettuce is running wild.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

It Has Become Apparent

...that tomatoes in containers is the way to go.

What I need is about ten 25 gal nursery pots.  
And cages made from a roll of woven wire.  
And water reservoirs.  With the one gallon water reservoir, I just stick the hose in there in the morning and fill it up.  Every couple fo weeks you can add fertilizer right into the reservoir.When the reservoir over flows is continues to fill the pot with water from the bottom.  You can water the tomato plant completely from the bottom.  And that basically means - no soil splash up.  I've had to trim my tomato plants in the bed for blighted leaves at least once a week, and after removing the lower set of leaves on the potted plants, there has been NO yellowing at all. 

 Not that the regular bed of tomatoes is doing poorly.  
There are quite a few fruit set on every plant.  The nasturtiums are blooming

Bed #1.  Cucumbers started late in the cold frame and the last of the lettuce
Bed #2 Cucumbers.  First lettuce has been pulled out.
I need to plant bush beans
One vine is beginning to bloom

Bed #3 Wando peas eight feet+ tall and still producing

Bed #4 Easy Peasy Peas done and ready to come out

Bed #6 Sweet Corn first planting

Bed #5 Sweet Corn second planting

Bed #7 Cantaloupes
These puny little guys are beginning to bloom

Bed #8 Tomatoes and Eggplants.
Nasturtiums are blooming

Bed #9 Garden Sweet Peas done and ready to come out
I'll try these again next year on the tall trellis instead of the Wando.  Then I'll see if they are really as productive as I think they are without having to fight through the jungle.
They are sweeter than the other varieties which means you can pick them a little late without regretting it.

Bed #10 Penelope Peas done and ready to come out
These are my favorite variety.  They are good producers for their height and have long straight pods
Bed #11 Buckwheat ready to turn in and zucchini

Dunja Zucchini planted late

This is my favorite view in the garden.  Beautiful corn! 
The pumpkin vines are working their way out.

A cluster of Paul Robeson tomatoes (in container)
Bush Beans were seeded in Bed #12 this weekend and were up in three days.
The past two weeks have been short on rain.  My water tank was down by half (250 gal) but one inch of rain yesterday filled it back up in short order.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Everyday Household Items for the Garden Shed

Our garden isn't very far from the house, but we've learned that keeping the garden shed well stocked saves trips in and out of the house which in turn saves both time and cleaning.  We have a refrigerator in the shed which we keep stocked with water and other beverages and also has room to temporarily store produce.  Maybe I've thought of a few things you haven't, but I'd love to hear what your essentials are.

  • Spray on Sunscreen: It is so much easier to spray on sunscreen and reapply throughout the day if you have dirty hands or gloves on.  SPF 50 applied hourly allows me to stay out in full sun for 6 hours or more without any burn.
  • Hand Sanitizer:  Even if you have soap and water, if you have been handling blighted tomato leaves, sanitizer is a good extra precaution.
  • Bactine: for those scrapes and cuts that you don't want to run into the house and doctor right this minute.
  • Castile Soap: I keep a wall mounted pump dispenser mounted on the post next to the garden house spigot so I can wash up any time I need.
  • Paper Towels or Scotts Rags in a Box:  I almost always have one tucked into my shirt somewhere.  Good for wiping faces, blowing noses or actual cleaning.
  • Chlorox: for disinfecting scissors, reusable tomato ties etc.
  • Avon's Skin So Soft:  Nothing repels deer flies any better.  
  • Technu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub: for those times you think you got into it despite precautions.
  • Mineral Oil: for oiling tool handles
  • Plastic Sandwich Bags: for bagging fruit on the tree
  • Beer: for making slug traps (also used tin pie plates)
  • Table Salt: for salting slugs
  • Knife Block: I picked this up for about six bucks at an outlet store.  I use the knives for cutting broccoli etc. The kitchen shears also come in handy

  • Apron: If you really aren't dressed for hauling around a wet dirty pot but you don't have time to change into mud clothes
  • Nitril Gloves: for really wet, muddy jobs.  These fit inside regular cloth gloves
  • Plastic Bowls or Colanders: for picking peas or beans.  I picked up a whole stack at a church rummage sale
  • Measuring Cups: for measuring concentrated fertilizer or for flicking beetles into
  • Funnel: for refilling quart spray bottles with something nasty like deer repellent
  • Wooden Clothes Pins: for pinning on row covers or blanching cauliflower
  • Band-Aids: for covering blisters or repairing fingers

Sometimes I think the everyday household products out number the actual gardening products and tools.

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Pile O'Peas and a Cluster O'Cauliflower

Yesterday we picked the largest batch if peas I've ever processed in one sitting.  10 cups.  And today we did another 7 cups.  I've finally figured out the right number of rows to plant - eight.  For a long time I've planted four rows each year and last year I upped it to six.  Eight is the right number.  Eight rows fill up the freezer fast and also give us daily meals.

I began picking the Cauliflower.  Not a big yield, but not bad for a beginner.  
Four months is a pretty long commitment for a bowl of cauliflower.
These are Snow Crown and Vitaverde.

P.S. Found two Japanese Beetles today.  Two weeks later than usual

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Swimming Hippos

I really think I need these to cheer me up in very rainy months.

Monday, July 1, 2019

June 30th - June was not Boring

Remember how I've always said that "June is boring".  Well, unless spring is four weeks late.  Then June is gone before you know it, and maybe July will be boring.

The earliest lettuce is bolting already, and peas are in full swing.  I have half of my freezer peas in (30 meals) already and Sunday was the first large picking.  

I cut three of my four Broccoli florets.  None of them were very large.  Hopefully they will send out some side shoots.  My Cauliflower is looking a little more promising.  Almost half the plants are beginning to flower and the heads are already larger than the Broccoli ever got. 

This is my first colored Cauliflower Vitaverde and its picture perfect.  
No sign of a head on the yellow Flame Star yet.

I'm working out a system for composting in the Buckwheat cover crop.
It was not as vigorous and tall as last year and I did not let it flower and go to seed.

I'm still admiring the container tomatoes.  
This is the best result I've ever had with containers

These nice Calendula reseeded from last year.

These Portulaca were nibbled off by deer about a week after transplanting.  Portulaca LOVE to be pruned back.  They are in pots this year because the area I plant them in is in a state of flux.  They have to stay under a wire cloche all of the time or risk being re-nibbled

This is part of the above mentioned flux project.  This new planting bed was formerly a patio with the cold frame and chaise lounge chairs.  We used the pavers to extend the walkway down the south side of the garden to match the north side.  This weekend I pulled up all of the bricks and reset them.  The brick walkway used to slope down to the lawn.  

The bed and walkway in progress.
That lawn is going away so the bricks needed to be raised to RR tie height.  The soil in the bed was taken out of the lawn when the walkway was put in so it is a mixture of loam and decomposed mulch.  A third of it is rotted horse manure.  I'm not sure what is going to go in there next year.  Maybe more potatoes.  A formal herb garden?  Cutting flowers?

When I was going back through previous years end of June photos I pulled out examples of particular plants that were thriving to compare to this year's progress.  The main photo is this year.  The inserts are previous years.

Cantaloupe not doing very well

Eggplant holding it's own

Tomatoes size is about right but after the first fruit set we got a heat wave of several days 85 or above and all of the other blooms in the cluster died out without setting,  The plants are just now blooming again

Zucchini not too bad considering I direct seeded at a late date

The garden is looking green and lush and providing meals.  Tonight we had peas and new red potatoes with some finger sized carrot thinnings chopped in.  The surrounding lawn is torn up with our landscape project which includes a drainage issue, a horseshoe pit, fire pit, new seating areas with plantings and a lot of sweat-equity.  At the end of a long day of dirty work we can sit under a tree and admire the garden while we shell peas.  And believe it or not, we could use some rain!