Sunday, August 27, 2017

August Progress - the end of some things

How many rows of bush beans can you get into a three foot wide bed?
If it's Purple Queen - One Row.

They like to climb two to three feet tall

I've been picking an earlier planting of yellow wax beans for two weeks, 
but the purple are going to be ready in a day or two.

Back in June my father was the one who first said "my peppers are shaped funny". 
 And I knew exactly what he meant.  Most of my bell peppers are pointy.  The three below all came from plants in the same four pack.  The pointy ones seem to stay pointy and the nicely lobed ones seem to start out that way.  I haven't been able to find any explanation on the internet about that.  Some suggest that you wait to pick them until they fill out and the lobes push past the center point (as seen in the center pepper) but it doesn't happen.  As you can tell from the deep color of the pointy one on the left, it is very ripe and shows no sigh of reshaping.  If anyone knows the science behind this I'd love to hear it.

The peppers are slow but still putting out a lot of blooms and baby peppers.  Luckily these are in pots so they will not have to be pulled out when we put things up for winter.  The pots can come up against the garden shed and be protected from frost for weeks after the garden beds would last.

The summer squash bed is about done.  The powdery mildew has taken over and they are not putting out any new flowers or growth.

But the zucchini plant on the other end in its own bed is still thriving.

I am still getting cucumbers from the second planting, and PLENTY of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes but my Celebrity plant died last night. You can see about 8 inches up from the ground it has a very blighted stem area and the entire plant was suddenly wilted.  I harvested all the tomatoes and pulled it up.  I have enough Pineapple tomatoes to keep me going and the other varieties are still waiting to ripen. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Japanese Beetles

How can you tell if you are running a Japanese Beetle Breeding Ground?  The skunks will tell you.  And the coons too.  They will come through at night and root up your lawn looking for the grubs.  And while it's great that they're willing to destroy the grubs for you, if you had a nice neat lawn you spent a lot of time on all this destruction could be very upsetting.

Now I can see which areas of our lawn have not been properly treated with Milky Spore.  I have a big box of it ready to apply and late summer/early autumn is the perfect time to apply when the new grubs are feeding getting ready for winter.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tomato Maintenance

There are many different methods of supporting tomato plants.  You can tie them up on strings, cage them, train them up a ladder, twist them up a pretty colored spiral stake or put them through hog panels.  One thing all of these methods have in common is that you have to keep up with them every day.  You have to make sure your leaders stays in the frame, and any side shoots that you do not prune off need to be woven in as well or at least tied to the outside.

If you don't your supports will be useless.  In fact, in this case I think having the ladder is actually doing more damage to the plant than letting it sprawl on the ground because now the side branches are broken over a rail resulting in the stem snapping.

Here is one of my own determinate varieties, unpruned, 
but still contained within the ladder.

There are soft tomato ties here and there supporting side branches.  
Sometimes the tie needs to be repositioned to support the fruit as they grow.

And here is an indeterminate variety, well pruned 
to a single leader and contained in the ladder.

Sometimes the branch will lay harmlessly along the ground.

But the worst case scenario is the branch will break off entirely and you will lose all the fruit on it.
So maintain your tomatoes!  You don't want all your hard work and hopes dashed because you didn't keep up on simple maintenance.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Mid-Summer Slump (not)

The mid-summer slump is late.  My garden looks far from slumpy.  In fact, it looks pretty fresh and new.  Maybe not June-new, but still pretty good.  Despite the fact that in July we went almost three weeks on only 1/4 inch of rain.

Shabby old vines
 The first planting of cucumbers was dwindling off and beginning to show signs of age.  Instead of letting the leaves deteriorate and foster diseases, I pulled them out.  I  have a row of Goldmine Bush beans planted there.

Cucumber bed before removing old vines

The Goldmine Bush Beans now have the bed to themselves
The second planting of cukes is just coming on.  This plant was a spare from the first planting which I kept in a pot until the peas were out and the second planting was ready to go in.  It has already been a great producer and will bridge the gap between the first and second plantings.

A perfect Cucumber

Second Cucumbers and Bush Beans
I am still waiting on my first ripe tomato.  It is WEEKS late.  I have been getting one or two ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes each day from each of my two plants.  Which is barely enough to garnish a salad.  I am waiting for the time when I have handfuls to make tomato, cucumber and feta salads.

The tomato bed is NOT a jungle this year.
It is also not blighted yet

Celebrity Tomatoes
The bell peppers that were setting as I planted them this spring are beginning to ripen.  The plants that I pinched back pretty vigorously in June are setting a good amount of fruit.  Luckily these are in containers so if it takes them forever to mature, I can protect them from frost.

Baby bell peppers

Powdery Mildew
We have had dry weather, hot weather, cool weather, damp weather and still the garden is weathering it all.  There is a little mildew showing up on one of the yellow summer squash plants, but nothing to be alarmed about.  As I've often noticed, it is the varieties with plain green leaves that succumb first, and squash with lighter lacing running through their leaves hold out the longest.  If it gets too bad I will just pull it out.  We've had very few bad bugs this year.  So all in all it has been an easy year so far.

The Dunja squash has lighter lacing in the leaves
and will be the last thing affected by mildew

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The thing about bush beans...

The thing about bush beans is that you always get one smart-alec in the group who thinks he's a pole bean.  These are the neighbor's green beans this week.  I think they may be Burpee's Tenderpick.  I've had bush beans do that every year, but it is usually the Purple Queen.  It is interesting to see that I am not the only person who has run into this.

Purple Queen "bush" beans on pea-fence.
Goldmine beans to their left
The plant specs say that they should grow to 15"-20" but taint so.  They will be 24"-36".  So I always plant them around pea-fence, and the neighbors also planned wisely this year and did the same.  Normally, my Goldmine bush beans do not get as tall, but this year they are also getting way too tall and flopping over.

The reason this is undesirable is that the plants cannot support a heavy load of beans and they will stub the beans against the ground giving you curly, unattractive beans instead of long straight bundles of beans.  That will be particularly true if you have enough dry heat to cause your plants to wilt each afternoon.

See, that's the thing about bush beans.  They don't know they're supposed to bush.  They would always prefer to climb.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Not My Broccolli

We have a friend who grows the most perfect broccoli I've ever seen.

Most years he will call and offer us broccoli and/or cauliflower 
(which will be even bigger)

This broccoli was a work of art
I think it is a point of pride.  
The only way he can show off his awesome produce is to bring me some.
Tim sent him home with some equally nice zucchini.

It was beautiful from every angle

Next week the cauliflower should be ready.