Thursday, July 23, 2015

What's Happening in the Garden - Mid-July - Part 1


It's high time I review what is happening in the beds as I didn't get around to posting an update in June.  You'll have to excuse some of the photos as I took many of them during a sunny, windy day - not exactly the best picture taking weather.

The tomatoes are doing ok considering I sowed them a month later than last year.  This is what they looked like in mid-June:

Tomato bed in mid-June
 
The netting was my way of making the bed a bit less attractive to rabbits before the fencing was complete.  And here are the tomato beds now:

Tomato Beds
 
Not too bad.  But even though I know they are lagging behind with good reason, it's still a bit depressing when I compare them to last years plants at this time:

Tomatoes - Mid-July 2014
 
I am encouraged by the fact that almost every variety has baby tomatoes on it now.  The race is on for the first ripe tomato and it looks like this year Juliet is going to give Bloody Butcher a run for its money.

Bloody Butcher

Juliet

The broccoli is growing well & several have little broccoli heads:

This guy will hopefully continue to grow to a good size
 
This one is much larger, but has an oddly shaped head: 

Large but weird
 
I'm not sure how clear it is in the picture, but the head is sunken in the middle.  Other than the shape, the broccoli itself looks fine.  You can also see a nice side shoot near the bottom.  I think the main head will find it's way into the kitchen this week.

The aspabroc is also in this bed, but I will likely be pulling them out soon.  I mistakenly cut the stalks much too low when I first harvested from them and I think I seriously reduced the potential for good side shoots.  Not that I have any idea what the side shoot production on this one is - maybe these teeny, tiny shoots are what you are supposed to get.

Close Up of Aspabroc Side Shoot
 
I haven't been very diligent in keeping an eye on it either so I have several flowering stalks now:

Aspabroc Flowers
 
This bed also contains some turnips (a 60 day variety – we’ll see if they produce with all this heat), some baby bok choy that is not growing very quickly at all, and the last of the mizuna.  One of the mizuna bolted a couple of weeks ago, but the rest were still chugging along until today.  This photo was taken shortly before I gave them all a good haircut & noticed tiny buds near the base of the plant.  These will be pulled up this week.

Mizuna with (very) baby bok choy on the left

The mizuna was so large, that it was overshadowing the row of baby choy.  I'm hoping that the choy gain a bit of size now that the mizuna is out of the way.

I've harvested some of the 2nd sowing of radishes this past week and I may get a few more.  It looks like the Easter Egg variety (on the left in the photo below) doesn't like this hot weather or it was being shaded by the mizuna as it has not formed any bulbs at all.

Radishes (front); turnips (back)
Mizuna on the left trying to take over
 
The potatoes are doing well – I have seen a couple of potato beetles on them, but nothing significant.

Potato Bed
 
I do see some yellowing leaves, however, and am not sure if this is what they are supposed to look like as they die back or if I am seeing some sort of disease.

Yukon Gold Foliage

More Yellowing Foliage
 
I'm a bit concerned as it seems early to be harvesting Yukon Golds - or maybe not.  They are mid-season potatoes, but I really have no idea what that means in my area.

The peppers are doing well & they have lots of blossoms and tiny fruits forming.

Peppers in Bed #16 (planted beside bush beans)

Peppers in Bed #14 (planted beside pole beans)
 
I'm growing many different varieties of peppers this year, but these look like they will be the first to give me a harvest:

Padron

Pepperoncino

Melrose
 
The eggplants are growing well, but I have a feeling I should have sown them earlier as the ones at the farm looked about this big 3 weeks ago.

Slim Jim Eggplant
 
The good news is that I'm finally starting to see some flower buds on both Ping Tung Long & Slim Jim:

Slim Jim Flower Buds
 
The second sowing of Walcherse White & Vermont Cranberry beans was only partially successful (the first was devastated by slugs) .  The plants are now starting to gain a bit of size and both are starting to flower:

Vermont Cranberry with
Walcherse White hiding behind them further down the bed
 
It seems that both of these varieties are bush beans - dummy me, I didn't even think to check.  I just assumed they were both pole beans & you can see that I had strung up a trellis for them.  So now I have bush beans, not pole beans, and a germination rate of perhaps 50% - it seems I won't be getting the harvest of dried beans I was hoping for.

The Gold Marie Romano's, on the other hand, are topping the trellis already, and the Trail of Tears aren't too far behind:

Trail of Tears (left); Gold Marie (right)

There are even some baby beans on the Gold Marie:

Gold Marie

And now to the very sorry corn bed.  After the initial round of corn damage, I surrounded the bed with Agribon in an effort to at least hide the corn, but I suppose that’s a bit futile as I’m sure whatever it is (consensus seems to be that it’s a racoon) knows darn well where the corn is now.

Agribon fence in an attempt to hide corn
 
After using the Agribon, I still had a few more severed or damaged stalks, so I went to the next line of defense - cayenne pepper spray.  I mixed some cayenne with water & a touch of dishwashing liquid and sprayed it on the plants, concentrating on the bottom of the stalks which is what seems to be getting chewed up the most.  I was hoping that one taste would send it scurrying away for good.  No such luck.  This is what I woke up to this morning:

More casualties
 
I only have a few undamaged corn stalks left & I'm very doubtful that I will get to keep these.  The squash at the end of the bed is just starting to wind it's way through the bed & I'm out of ideas.  By tomorrow, I have a feeling I'll be lucky to have any stalks left standing.

Butternut squash
You can see the corn carnage behind it
 
I have to make sure to start the squash much earlier so that it grows long enough to at least cover some of the bed in an effort to discourage unwanted visitors.

The asparagus continues to excite me – the spears have become noticeably thicker as the weeks go by:

You can see how much thicker this
newly emerged spear is compared to the others that surround it
 
The chamomile blooms, blooms and blooms.   And here I was thinking that I would be lucky to get a few cups of tea from the few seedlings I planted.  I picked a full bowl of it this week, which I think was about 3 or 4 cups of flowers.

Chamomile

I do a quick check under each flower before I pop it off as I found aphids on a few of the stems, just beneath the flowers.  When I do find some, I simply pick the stem and plop it into a bowl of water so that I can dispose of it afterward - wouldn't want those aphids to find their way back to my plants.

The kids bed is doing great – J is harvesting snow peas now & there are tiny tomatoes on my daughters plants.  Her sunflowers are doing amazingly well - and yes, they really are as big as they look.

Sunflowers gone wild
 
One of them (the one on the left) developed a split near the bottom of the stem when it was small & for a time it looked like a goner.  But I staked it & it seems to be thriving now.  And the annuals are wonderful – everyone is always amazed that they were all grown from seed.

Lovely Flowers
Makes me want to have a bed just for beautiful blooms
 
And as we were clearing some weeds, we found this guy on one of them.  Don't know what kind of butterfly it will be, but it sure is a pretty caterpillar:

We left this weed in place, until our friend moved on
 
Till next time...

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

22 comments:

  1. Well most things seem to be doing really well. I'm growing Bloody Butcher for the first time this year, I've had one ripe tomato off it so far but I didn't get to taste it as it had split and was too far gone. It's a shame about your corn, I do hope you get to harvest some. I know that some people here have problems with badgers eating theirs, I'm not growing any this year. Your children's beds are looking great, it's so good when young ones are interested and hopefully, that interest will continue when they're adults and feeding their own families.

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    1. That's too bad that the tomato split - the first one is always so highly anticipated. I hope that the 2nd one ripens for you soon! The kids are definitely lucky in that they don't really have to worry about watering since I use a sprinkler that waters several beds at a time as I don't have anything else set up there yet. So their main responsibilities are weeding and picking, which they seem to enjoy...especially the picking part!

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  2. Looks like things are progressing nicely. Sorry about the corn--though it's unusual for a coon to damage it before the ears are ready. They left mine standing until THE DAY BEFORE HARVEST--then did a midnight attack and destroyed the whole patch (this was last year!)
    It's always something trying to get our good food. I can't blame them, but gawd, how irritating!

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    1. Oh no - I hope you have figured out a way of keeping them out of the corn patch this year! It's definitely strange about the corn as when I looked it up, it did seem as if raccoons took down the stalks to eat the cobs. But I can't really think of what else it could be, especially as only the corn has been affected and there are beans, peppers, asparagus and peas in the same fenced area and nothing else has been touched. Of course, now that I say that, watch me go up there and half the stuff is chewed up....

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  3. What a lovely garden you have! I always enjoy comprehensive updates. That yellowing on your potatoes doesn't look good to me, but I am NO expert. I have a ton of spider mites in my garden and get a lot of yellow leaves like that (it also sort of looks like some curling of the leaves as well). Your peppers look great - - I love the Padrones peppers, so yummy when grilled up with a dash of sea salt. Sorry about your corn. I have perpetual bad luck with corn.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I'm always worried when I see things I don't expect in the garden (like the yellow leaves) - sometimes it's nothing and other times it's something. I'm just hoping it's the former this time. Can't wait to taste the Padron peppers - I've heard a lot about them, but have actually tasted one. I really like peppers that you can pick while still green because it usually means a bigger harvest!

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  4. That is too bad about the corn. So sad. I get weird broccoli sometimes too when the weather is hot. It still tastes good though and really that is all that matters.

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    1. So that must be it - we have had very hot weather in the last little while. I'll be picking the broccoli soon - can't wait as it's the biggest head I've had so far.

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  5. I've never heard of Aspabroc and as for our beans they are struggling against slugs. wind and drought.

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    1. I had never heard of aspabroc either but the seed catalogue description intrigued me. The jury is still out on it though. I see you are having a similarly challenging bean year - there are no guarantees in the garden, that's for sure!

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  6. Loved the tour. I think your garden looks great. Your peppers look particularly good. I think you and I both had rough starts with our peppers so it's good to see how well they are doing. We could be showing off our first Padron harvests at the same time! Your poor corn. :-( I had a similar problem when I tried to grow edamame, apparently the plants are irresistible to bunnies. I never had bunny problems before or since my edamame attempts. It is rather mysterious though, I can't think what would attack the corn before the ears develop.

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    1. Thanks Michelle! Oh, I remember your Padron harvests from last year (which is what prompted me to try them this year) - Your plants were huge! I would be lucky to harvest a small portion of what you did.

      The corn is a real mystery - I wish I had one of those motion sensor cameras so that I could catch whatever it was in the act. It's hard to fight a ghost!

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  7. Well, despite some casualties you have got some nice crops coming on - and you are gaining valuable experience. As we gardeners always say "There's always next year"! BTW the yellowing of the potato leaves looks to me like normal ageing. When the leaves die down like that it is a sign that the tubers are ready for harvesting.

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    1. That's so true Mark - we gardeners are eternal optimists! I'm so glad that you think it's just the natural cycle of the potato plant. It's not often when yellowing leaves on a plant is something that is actually desirable.

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  8. That is quite the farm!! I do love the names of the tomato varieties. I've given up on growing them because they develop so much disease in my climate. But I keep the tomato guy at the farmers market happy by buying his. :o)

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    1. We here up north always think that southern gardeners have it made with the warm temperatures and long growing seasons - we always forget that pests and diseases love those conditions too! I'm glad you have a ready source of local tomatoes - the grocery shop stuff just doesn't compare!

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  9. That's so sad about your corn. It makes me wonder who the culprit is since your plants are fairly large. Your eggplant and pepper plants look great and it's wonderful you're able to collect so much chamomile for tea.

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    1. I think I'm down to 3 or 4 corn stalks now - I have half a mind to just rip it all out, but I really want to see how far I get with those that are left (more experience for next year!). I had previously staked a couple of the stalks that were leaning over with bamboo and those seem to ok with only a few chew marks near the bottom. The culprit seems to knock stuck down and then chew on it. It's a long shot, but maybe if they can't knock it down, they will leave it alone?

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  10. Everything is looking good, except your poor corn. My broccoli did the same as yours and I think it was the hot,dry weather. And to me, looks like your Padron are ready to pick. They get hot if they get too big, but maybe you want that. I forgot about mine and will find out soon if my statement is true.

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    1. I like spicy, but not so much that I can't actually taste the pepper. I think I'll go out and pick those that are a good size...and do a test taste with a bowl of yoghurt standing by... ;)

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  11. Holly cow on the size of those tomato plants! And love those gorgeous peppers.

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    1. I'm loving the peppers too - like tomatoes, the hardest part is narrowing down which varieties to grow out of the hundreds (thousands?) out there!.

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