Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-August - Part 2


Ok, so we are way past mid-August.  More like end of August.  But I did take these pictures last week and I started writing this post on Thursday so technically, it was closer to the middle of the month than the end.  And today we have our first heat alert this year with a high of 33°C (91°F) but it feels like 43°C (109°F)!! with the humidity.  Our temps have not been over 30°C (86°F) since June which is great for me but not so great for the garden, especially heat lovers like peppers.  But I think that 109° is a bit much, even for them.

I started some broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi and kale transplants in July - all of which were supposed to go into the onion and garlic beds.  Well, the garlic was harvested & that bed was planted up near the end of July with the kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage and a few of the broccoli starts. This is what that bed looks like now:

From back to front:  Broccoli, Mei Qing Choi, Kohlrabi
 
And for an up close & personal view of each crop in this bed:

Mei Qing Choi Chinese Cabbage
 
Baby Kohlrabi - How Exciting!
 
Packman Broccoli

The rest of the broccoli & all of the kale seedlings sat around on my deck for ages, waiting for the onions to be harvested.

For some reason, it never occurred to me that the cabbage white butterfly would go for plants that were on my deck….I know, what on earth was I thinking.  So when I started to notice some damage on my seedlings, I took a closer look and found several baby cabbage worms on them.  And then, what starts to flutter around as I am doing my examination?
Eye Spy a Cabbage Butterfly
{Hint - Look near the center of the photo}
 
The nerve – and right in front of me too ;)

So, after doing the old squish on all of the munching worms, I placed the cell packs in the netted area where I had already planted the kohlrabi, broccoli and Mei Qing.  I hadn’t really paid too much attention to this bed since planting the seedlings as they still had a ways to go before any type of harvest.  But when I placed my cell packs there, I noticed that several of the Mei Qing plants had quite a bit of damage.
Sad Sad Mei Qing Choi
This photo was taken on August 8th
 
The one in the picture had the most damage but all of the choi were affected to some extent.  The beginning of August was an extremely busy time, but I'm still quite ashamed that I let them get that bad without even noticing there was a problem.  When I examined the netting, I saw a few gaps where I hadn’t secured it enough and a butterfly must have gotten underneath at some point.  There were quite a few cabbage worms on the choi, so more squishing was in order.

But that, unfortunately, wasn't all I found.  I also noticed these on underside of some of the choi leaves:

Aphids on Mei Qing Choi
 
They were only on the bottom leaves, which I promptly removed.  This was the first time I had seen aphids on any vegetable crop – the Mei Qing choi definitely seems to be a pest magnet.

Thankfully, after getting rid of the cabbage worms and removing the damaged leaves, the Mei Qing made a comeback as can be seen in the photo at the beginning of the post.  Strangely, all of the cabbage worms were on the Mei Qing choi – I didn’t find any on either the broccoli or the kohlrabi.

Another week or so passed and it was clear that the onions were still going to take at least another couple of weeks before harvest, so I decided to transplant the cell pack seedlings into two other spots that were free:  where the bush beans & sugar snap peas were previously planted.

And since I was on cabbage worm patrol, I gave the Joi Choi a once over and it appeared to be getting nibbled as well.  Ugh.  But I didn’t see any cabbage worms, even after going over them a couple of times.  So the likely culprit was slugs.  I gave the bed a good sprinkling of diatomaceous earth and hopefully that will take care of things.

The new collard seedlings were FINALLY transplanted this past week and will hopefully put on some good growth soon.  I also planted a few extra in the spot that had previously been occupied by the rapini.
Collards just planted this past week with Pak Choi on the left
& lettuce in the rear
 
And something – I’m guessing a squirrel - made a bit of a mess as well as a hole on top of the netting on this bed.  I better fix that before an eagle eyed cabbage butterfly finds it.
 
Pesky Squirrels
 
The lettuce is doing well, thriving during our very cool summer – We have had lettuce basically all summer long. It wonder if it would have been successful had our summer weather been normal which for us is hot and humid.  I'm giving it a good watering today in the hopes of getting it through our hottest day of the year so far.
Beautiful Lettuce
 
The strawberry bed is looking lush, but there is nary a blossom to be seen.  Fort Laramie, which occupies half this bed, are supposed to be everbearing, but I'm having my doubts - maybe the plant label was wrong.  I may have to substitute another variety next year.
The Leaves are Looking Good but Where are the Berries?
 
This past weekend I did a final picking of spinach.  The plants were bolting and some of the leaves were turning yellow.  I wasn't sure what to make of the yellowing leaves until I did an up-close inspection.
Tyee Spinach
Just before the final harvest
 
Spider mites.  Another first for the vegetable garden.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed them on outdoor plants before.  I picked all of the usable leaves & will be pulling the plants in the next day or so.

I’m thinking of replacing these plants with another round of Galilee spinach.  I tried this variety earlier this summer but it bolted when the plants were still small.  Then I found out that spinach can bolt in response to the amount of daylight.  We will see how it does now, during our shortening days.

The rest of this bed has Russian Kale – which I also found a few aphids on just yesterday – and broccoli.  I was seeing some cabbage worm and/or slug damage on these as well so I dusted with the diatomaceous earth before replacing the cover.
Spinach (at the back) and Fall Seeding of Kale & Broccoli
 
I'm not sure what is happening but it seems like I am having a much more difficult time with pests on the brassicas now than I did in the spring.  Either the pests are getting worse, or the more likely reason is that I'm not being as vigilant.

I finally did a new sowing of carrots & covered the bed with a double layer of Agribon.  They have just started to emerge this past week and the bed is now uncovered.  The seeds are not coming up as uniformly as they did in the spring.  Hopefully some are just a tad slow in germinating although I do realize that I have not been as good at keeping the bed watered as I should have been.

Carrot Seedlings Just Emerging
 
I was rather late in sowing, but these are supposed to be quick maturing varieties – Amsterdam Maxi is supposed to mature in 45-55 days and Sprint in a superfast 42 days.  The seeds started to emerge around August 20th.  Adding 45 days to maturity brings us to October 5th.  That is cutting it very close as our first frost date is on October 3rd.  And that doesn’t even take into account the slower rate of growth in the fall.  I will definitely have to start covering them with plastic as the days get cooler near the end of September & cross my fingers that I at least get some small carrots.  Just as with my smaller than normal harvest for the spring planted carrots, small carrots are better than no carrots.

Earlier this month there was a bit more miner damage on the Swiss chard, but only a couple of leaves were impacted, so not too bad.  I had been covering the chard with a double layer of Agribon in order to protect it from bird poop coming from the limbs of trees that were over the bed.  Since they are in the shadiest bed to begin with, the Agribon slowed their growth to a crawl.
Swiss Chard
 
And I noticed that as the summer progressed, no more bird poop was found on the Agribon.  So I’m guessing the birds found better trees to hang out on or perhaps the maturing foliage on the lower branches now caught all of the poop.  Whatever the case, since I hadn't seen any poop on the Agribon for at least 3 weeks, I decided to uncover the bed.  I’m hoping that the chard will now put on more growth.

The herbs are doing very well.  The parsley is huge, of course.  The chives got a good shaving last month and are back to their floppy selves.  And the dill is as tall as me, with the bolting cilantro a close second.  The new sowing of dill and cilantro are just starting to take off – they will probably be ready for picking in another couple of weeks.

On the Left:  Parsley & Chives
On the Right:  New Seedings of Dill (front) & Cilantro (rear)
 
Cilantro in the Forefront & Dill in the Rear
 
The purchased perennial herbs (oregano, thyme & sage) are settling into their new homes and have put on some growth as have the potted mints.  The rosemary has made a wonderful recovery from the sad specimen that I planted outside earlier in the summer - I keep it indoors over winter and it did not fair too well.
Lemon Thyme & Common Thyme
Behind a Tangle of Chive Leaves
 
Purple Sage
 
Mint
 
Chocolate Mint
 
Rosemary
 
My neglect of the sunflowers on the side of the house will likely result in no seeds this year.  At least the sunflower my daughter brought home from school gave us a bloom:


My Daughters Sunflower
Hopefully we will get some seeds from it to plant next year
 
I also have a little succulent that has been completely ignored for the past 5 years, but continues to thrive in a couple of different concrete containers in our garden.  I had to pull a bunch of it out when I created the new beds on the south side of the yard, so I plopped some of it into an aluminum tea kettle cum planter.  It is one of my favourites - I just love succulents.

 
And lastly are the peppers and the tomatoes.  The cool weather has really slowed down the peppers over the last month.  I haven’t harvested any for about 3 weeks now and there are quite a few banana peppers that are ready to pick.  I will likely pick these in the next few days.
This particular plant has been the most prolific
of all the banana pepper plants
 
A couple of the “King of the North” sweet peppers are FINALLY starting to ripen:

King of the North
From seed to one ripening pepper only took 6 months...
I'm thinking another variety may be in the cards for next year.
 
And last, but certainly not least, are the tomatoes which I will leave to Part 3.
But before I sign off for today, I just wanted to thank Shaheen for the amazing Raspberry Chocolate Brownie recipe she posted recently.  We made some last night and I gotta say they were amazing.  I don't make brownies very often, so when I do, I want them to be GOOD.  And these were definitely good.....and then some.

Mmm, mmm.....Good!

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

12 comments:

  1. I find that aphids are always worse in the fall. I really need to mix up some soap spray and hit all the brassicas. Especially the broccoli and kale as they are always the worst two in my garden. My bok choys never seem so bad. But then I sow them later than you do.

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    1. Well, I guess it's not just me, then! So far I just picked the infested leaves off as there were only a few, but now I know to keep a better eye on things, especially under the leaves.

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  2. Wow what a mammouth post. I am admiring everything growing in your garden, but its the banana peppers that have made me smile, I have only ever had them pickled. Wonder what they would be like fresh. I am on the hunt for chocolate mint, I had it growing in the garden when I lived in Scotland, haven't seen it here in Wales yet. Will keep my beady eyes out for it. I am also very pleased that you liked the Brownies. Looks like I may be making some more, unless I find another recipe to use up my raspberries.

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    1. The peppers are spicy, but not overly so. I especially like them grilled before incorporating them into a dish. And I have a batch of refrigerator pickles that I made from them, both plain and roasted - oh so good! And guess what I'm having right now? Perfect afternoon snack...

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  3. Wow, six months from seed to harvest for a pepper… We’re having similar weather right now. It has been a cool summer, and now that it’s time for fall planting, we get a heat wave.

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    1. It figures, doesn't it? I've been out there twice already today watering the carrot bed hoping that the tiny seedlings don't shrivel up in this heat.

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  4. Hey your brownies did turn out well! Yum.
    I plant out brassicas into the old onion beds too, started this a couple of years ago, makes the most of the space and I've been able to grow a wider variety. Most of which I lost labels for etc but should be recognisable :) Hah, the bird poop story made me smile. Good observations!

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    1. Quick maturing, cold tolerant brassicas and greens like spinach seem like a good choice for succession planting in the onion beds, especially as I now know that I can't get them planted up until late August. This is my first year growing onions, so I wasn't sure how long they would take to mature. And I do love birds but not when they poop on my veg!

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  5. You sure have a great variety of crops in your garden. I too am battling the critters in the garden, I tried covering my brassicas in previous years but the white butterflies still find ways to get under the cover and I ended up having to release them, decided not worth the effort, so stop covering.

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    1. I was so successful in keeping them out in the spring & it wasn't really that much trouble. But as the summer comes to an end I find that I am being less diligent and, quite frankly, lazier. Case in point...I still haven't patched that hole in the netting that has been there since last week - maybe I'll get to that tomorrow...

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  6. Aphids are a perennial problem in my garden, the ants protect and farm them for their honeydew so I'm always on the lookout for that duo. The problem is always worse for plants under cover since the aphids readily find a way in but the beneficials don't. Same for spider mites. I'm surprised you have a spider mite problem, they tend to be more of a problem in hot dry dusty conditions.

    I've had great success growing Lady Bell sweet peppers, they totally outperformed King Of The North. I did a trial 2 or 3 years ago to compare as many short season cool climate bell peppers as I could find seeds for and Lady Bell was the clear winner.

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    1. The spider mites surprised me too - as far as I can recall, I have only ever seen them on indoor plants. I will definitely be trying different varieties of sweet peppers next year & will add Lady Bell to the list - Thanks Michelle!

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