Thursday, June 30, 2016

Garden Update - Area #2


Area #2 of the garden, where the drip irrigation was recently finished (hurray!), holds 4 beds - #9 through #12.

This year, bed #9 holds shelling peas, cucumbers and Tromboncino squash.

Shelling peas in back with cucumbers in front &
Tromboncino squash on the far left

The cucumbers have been sulking for a few weeks, but it looks like they are finally settling in.  I have yet to get their trellis up as I was missing a part (why is it that every year, I think I have all the supplies I need but I am inevitably missing some?); that job will be done by tomorrow.

As with most veg, I decided to grow more varieties of cucumber this year, but fewer of each variety – I have a total of 9 plants as follows:  Garden Sweet (2), Suyo Long (1), Lemon (1), Chelsea Prize (2), Diva (1), Green Finger (1) and Summer Dance (1), this last one being my daughters pick when we went to a seed house in the spring.

Of the varieties I’m growing, I ended up losing the Diva seedling before it was even transplanted, so that one was reseeded & is quite a bit further behind than the rest.

Diva Seedling
One of the leaves is a bit oddly shaped, but otherwise, it's looking good
 
This year, I’ve spaced the cucumbers out properly, using a 12” spacing.  The two times I tried a smaller 6” spacing (because I couldn’t bear to part with extra seedlings), I ended up with a reduced harvest.

On a side note, the pathways between the beds obviously need a bit of a cleanup.  Before installing the drip, the beds were being watered using a sprinkler. Of course, this means that the paths were watered as well and the grass/weeds along them are downright lush.  I'll be cleaning up the paths this week and am hoping maintenance will be much easier from here on in.

The shelling pea vines are literally dripping with pods:

I'm sticking with the same 2 varieties of shelling pea I grew last year:
Sabre & Aladdin

It won’t be too much longer before the peas are all harvested and this area is cleared, at which point I’m planning on sowing a new variety of dried bean - Arikara.  This one takes 85 days to mature, so I’m cutting it close.  In hindsight, I probably should have grown these in one of the other bean beds and reserved this spot for a quicker maturing variety such as Speckled Cranberry which has a 60-90 day maturity range.

Bed #10 has dried beans and snow peas.  On one side of the bed, I placed the climbers - Golden Sweet peas & Cherokee Trail of Tears beans:

Golden Sweet Snow Peas

Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans
 
I normally use jute for beans as they scamper up the trellis so quickly and get a tight hold of the conduit trellis and bamboo supports long before the jute stretches or breaks.  But since I was growing the peas on this trellis as well - and I've had dismal luck using jute with climbing peas - I decided to try cotton twine.  So far so good - the peas are supported and the twine is holding up well & not stretching.

Behind the climbers are a couple of dry bush bean varieties – Canadian Wonder (new this year) and Walcherse White.

Canadian Wonder & Walcherse White Beans

I'm very happy with the state of the beans this year.  They have all had MUCH better germination than they did last year, although there were still some scanty spots.

Bed #11 is all about peppers:

Pepper Bed
 
This year, I decided to try a full bed of peppers and I really packed them in - 4 rows spaced 12" apart with pepper plants also spaced 12" apart within the rows.  Several people have indicated they had good success with tightly spaced peppers, so we'll see how this goes.  The benefit of such close spacing, of course, is you can squeeze in many more plants/varieties - I just hope those in the middle don't get shaded out too much.

Like most other veg, I kept thinking that the peppers should be further along by now, but then I looked back at the pepper plants from June 20th last year:

Peppers on June 20, 2015 (left side of bed)
 
Um...am I seeing things or do they look much better this year?  I’m optimistic especially as I had what I would consider a pretty good harvest in 2015.  And just to emphasize my abysmal bean germination last year, the left side of the bed above held said beans on the right side.  I wasn't exaggerating now, was I?

There was a little mishap with labeling however.  I used Sharpies in the past and, although they faded, it was never a huge issue as they were still quite legible.  Well – this is what most of the pepper markers looked like last week:

Most of the markers were completely illegible

I could tell what a few were, but most were illegible.  And what’s the kicker?  I purchased a new marker this year, the Sharpie “Extreme”, which is supposed to be fade resistant.  Well, it almost seems as if they faded MORE than my regular Sharpies!  Or maybe it’s simply that we’ve had so much sun & hi UV readings.  This reviewer on Amazon, however, seemed to come to the same conclusion I did.

So I spent a good chunk of time, trying to re-label everything by guessing.  I did group each variety together and I have notes on how many of each I have, so that should help if I find that I didn’t end up labeling them correctly.  Also, many of the peppers I’m growing are quite different – a Pepperoncino, Padron or Jalapeno pepper will not likely be confused with an Orange Blaze bell pepper!

The last bed in this section holds tomatoes and eggplant.

Tomato side of bed #12
 
I’m going back to the rather successful tomato layout I had a couple of years ago with two rows of tomatoes sown down one half of the bed.  The rows are spaced 12” apart and the tomato plants are 24” apart within the rows.

I’m using a modified Florida weave for the tomatoes – the “modified” bit refers to my use of a vertical piece of twine that I wrap the main tomato stalk around – this keeps them from leaning over too much into their neighbour’s territory, especially during windy weather.

The eggplants are along the other side of this bed & I placed them all 12” apart.

Eggplant - Thai Long Green & Pingtung

I was originally going to stagger the 8 eggplant by placing them 24" apart in 2 rows on that side of the bed, but thought better of it as I could see those in the back row being overwhelmed by the tomatoes.  Now, whether this layout works well or not is yet to be seen as they may end up being too shaded by the beans in the next bed.  But the beds are spaced a good distance apart and they are oriented roughly from east to west, so I’m hoping that this will be enough to give them the sunlight they need.

And lastly, I’m glad to report that I’ve almost finished installing the hilltop drip irrigation - it will be complete by today.  After that, it will be on to Area #1 which I'm hoping to complete by the end of the weekend....can't wait!

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

18 comments:

  1. I'm glad (well, not GLAD, but you know what I mean) that someone else was having sharpie issues. I thought I was going nuts. I've reverted back to pencil for my labels. I don't trust the sharpies anymore. I don't keep great notes like you do, so when something fades--I'm LOST.

    And last year was the great bean fail for me as well. This year--perfect germination. I blame the seed last year. Let's hope everything is better this year!! Yes--better EVERYTHING. Oh, if only that would work. LOL!
    Have a great weekend.

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    1. Better everything...I like the sounds of that! I tried using pencil in the past and had the same fade issues - I'm wondering if it has to do with the brand or type (i.e. HB, 2B, etc?). I've set aside the "Extreme" markers - which should stand for "extremly quick fading" - and am going back the regular Sharpies.

      Yes, it was such a bad bean year last year - I didn't end up with ANY snap beans at all! From the looks of it, this year will more than make up for it and we will both be swimming in beans in another month or so :)

      Have a wonderful weekend too!

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  2. Summer Dance is a great cucumber. You have a smart daughter.
    My bean germination this year is poor. Not one Jade bean has emerged.
    Your peppers look great. The one foot spacing is fine, that's what I use.
    For my raised beds, everything is planted in squares. I have a spreadsheet template of the garden I print off each year. I write in pencil what will be planted in each square, so I don't have to rely on markers.
    As far as Sharpies, don't use colors, only black. Write lower on the label and push it further in the soil. If writing is below soil level it won't fade.

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    1. I'd never heard of Summer Dance and now am quite looking forward to it, as is my daughter...who was quite tickled by your comment, btw :)

      That's too bad about the beans - it's so strange the we all have had bad bean years as I've always considered beans to be one of the more reliable growers (until last year, that is!)

      Having everything written down is definitely the way to go - I do that as well with the tomatoes & peppers, but often wait until the rush of early summer is done & then go back over the beds and take notes. I obviously waited too long this time! I did use only the black Sharpies but the tip about pushing it lower into the soil is one I hadn't though of. Now that the plants are larger, I've positioned the tags so that they are shaded by the plants themselves, but I'll have to remember the burying trick for when I plant out seedlings in the future.

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  3. Your garden has come in a lot very quickly! Sabre is the shelling pea I tried this spring and I loved it. I think I'm going to try it for fall this year also, if I can find the garden space in time. What a big difference in your peppers from last year to this year. Did you have a colder spring last year? I learned that Sharpie lesson a long time ago and have used #2 pencils ever since and I've never had a problem with the pencil fading. I wonder if it's your label that doesn't hold onto the writing very well.

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    1. My shelling peas are just about ready to pick - I think they get a bad rap for taking up too much space for return, but they are so yummy and quick to mature so you can easily get another quick grower into the same spot after they are done.

      It has definitely been much hotter this spring/early summer than last year, so I'm sure that has made a difference, although we also had some cooler than normal weather at some point, but I can't recall now if that was before or after I transplanted the peppers. I also added some Myke to their planting holes this year - with so many possible factors, it's tough to say which one takes the lead. Ah - I never considered that it's the actual label as it is rather smooth. I'll have to test that out.

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  4. Not even a flower on any of our peas yet,

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    1. I'm sure it won't be too much longer!

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  5. Wow, your pea plants are loaded. And your pepper plants are very lush, it looks like the frosty nip didn't hurt them. I wish I had thought to grow Hungarian Hot Wax peppers this year, they did really well the one year I grew them and were wonderful in salsa.

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    1. Oh yes...I almost forgot about their rough start outdoors this year! We love the hot wax peppers too and use them both fresh and pickled.

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  6. I harvested my sugar peas but they seem to be done. Waiting impatiently for cucumbers. Your garden is so well planned and doing well. Sorry about the Sharpie fading! Does anyone help you with all that gardening? Nancy

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    1. Oh yes, the cucumbers are just on the verge of starting to vine & I'm anxious to get one too. I'm trying a double planting of sugar snaps this year. I planted half of the peas a month later and I'm hoping this will give us a bit longer of a sugar snap season.

      Most stuff I do on my own - which is fine by me - but my husband does help out with all of the grunt work such as digging, edging, etc.

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  7. Things are sure looking good there! And I think the peppers are much bigger than last year. I can feel your Sharpie pain. I've been using the 'industrial super permanent' version and not only do they fade, I used a soap/oil insecticide on my pepper seedlings and the writing just melted away. I had to guess like you did. I'll be watching to see how your closer pepper spacing did. If it works for you I may try it next year to cram in a few more plants myself!

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    1. I didn't even realize there was an "industrial" marker - sound like it was more like the kids washable markers than a super permanent marker!! That's something I likely would have spent my money on, so it's good to know that it's not worth getting. I'm quite excited about the peppers, especially as they are in an irrigated bed this year, so no more excuses!

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  8. All these beds look really good Margaret. It's nice your daughter chose a cucumber - hope it turns out well.
    Those peppers definitely look better this year! I still have some which need moving into their final pots....another thing to try and do this week. I was in the middle of potting them all on a few weeks ago but then found an ants nest in my compost heap and didn't want to accidentally bring loads of ants into the lean-to. I'd like to be able to grow them outside like you do but I don't think it gets hot enough here.

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    1. Thanks Lou! Wise decision to hold off on potting up the peppers - ants are a true pain to get rid of if they find their way into the house. I have a bit of potting on to do as well - the sweet potatoes have been waiting patiently for a few weeks to get into their permanent containers while I complete more "urgent" tasks :)

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  9. Everything looks incredible! Maybe paint markers would hold up better.

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    1. Thanks Tammy! I feel as if most things are doing much better compared to last year which is always nice. I have a feeling that paint markers would work well. That's actually a great idea for the front garden as I do want to mark a few spots where we have tulips, lilacs, etc. The main issue with using them for the labels in the veg garden is that I like to wipe the labels clean each year. I previously tried a more permanent solution using waterproof labels and printing them out on a laser printer, but then found that it took me forever to find the correct tag for each variety. It was much easier just to write them out fresh each time.

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