Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Early August Update - Main Garden Areas


Once again, the main topic of discussion in our area is the heat...the unrelenting heat.  And this week is supposed to be the hottest week yet. 


The Weather Network Screen Shot
 
Check out the humidex readings on Thurs & Fri...up to 41C/105F...ugh!!  At least it looks as if we will be getting some rain, so that's good.

Anyhow on to the main garden where some of the veg are reveling in this heat while others are not.

Area #2 (4 beds) contains beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers & squash.  The pride of this area?  The peppers.  They are doing so well, I can’t walk by without checking them out :)

The Pepper Bed
 
So far, I've been picking peppers that are primarily used at the green stage (jalapenos, pepperoncinos, Padron, Melrose) plus a whole basket of Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  All of the other pepper plants - 16 varieties in total! - are loaded but I'm waiting for many of the varieties to ripen up:

Stocky Red Roaster 

Chervena Chushka - A new-to-me sweet pepper variety

Lemon Drop (aka Aji Limon)
This one is supposed to take the longest to ripen to a bright yellow
 
Just this past week, a bit of red finally appeared.  The Odessa peppers are colouring up very quickly and I see the first hint of colour on the Jimmy Nardello's:

Odessa Sweet Pepper

Jimmy Nardello
 
There are many possible factors that could account for how well the peppers are doing this year, ranging from things that I did (applying mycorrhizae, adding some organic fertilizer when transplanting, installing the drip system, the new bed layout) to those that are beyond my control such as our hot, hot summer.  Most likely, it's a combination of all these things.

The tomatoes, which I have planted in 3 beds in both area #1 & #2, are also doing very well even though I've not had time to adequately take care of the vines and thin out the leaves like I normally do, so things are getting a bit cramped.

Tomato beds in area #1
 
All of the plants are setting a ton of tomatoes:

I'm beyond impressed with Taxi
Beautiful, delicious & the 1st of the large tomatoes to ripen
 
These lovelies were picked yesterday afternoon:

Three Costoluto Genovese - Tête-à-tête
 
I do have one new-to-me variety - Orange Blossom - that is having issues:

Unfortunately, this is not the 1st time I've seen
leaves that look like this
 
When I first started seeing signs of disease, I thought it was early blight, but on closer examination I realized what I was looking at was, in fact, Septoria Leaf Spot.  I had this issue every year on the Yellow Pear tomatoes which is why I decided not to grow them this year.  So now it seems that I have yet another variety that either has infected seed or that is very susceptible to it...sigh.

A couple of the varieties in the same bed are also showing early signs of Septoria, most likely due to their proximity to the originating plants.  This past weekend, I removed as many of the infected leaves as I could and I'm hopeful that this will slow down the progress of the disease.  The good news is that Septoria does not affect the actual tomatoes, so I should still have a good harvest from these plants.

The eggplants also have some issues.  I have 8 plants running up the side of a tomato bed and two of them look decidedly sickly:

Not looking good
 
Initially, it was only the 2nd one from the end that had a problem, but then the 1st one started to show symptoms with many of the lower leaves curling up, turning brown and falling off.  The plants that are further down the bed, however, look much better than those first ones:

These guys look a lot better
 
I had this same type of issue last year – with wilting eggplant partway through the summer – but it ended up being resolved (with no intervention from me) and the plants lasted until the end of the season.  Initially I had thought it was some sort of wilt, but the Solanaceae next to them (last year peppers, this year tomatoes) don’t seem affected – and if it was wilt, than last years eggplant would have perished instead of bouncing back.

Long Thai Green Eggplant
 
Then I was struck with a thought - what if I was overwatering?  I’m still trying to figure out how long to run the drip so in a way, I wasn’t surprised when I used a moisture meter and it indicated that the bed was “wet” instead of just “moist”, so I’ve cut down on the drip time & miracle of miracles, the eggplants seem to be recovering.  I'll have to post an update on that once the new watering schedule is in place for a couple of weeks.

Ping Tung Eggplant
 
The shelling pea vines were pulled out a few weeks ago and 2 varieties of dry beans were sown in their spot:

Calypso & Arikara Beans
 
I sowed them a bit late but if our heat holds out, as they predict it will, I think they should have enough time to mature.

Behind them are the cucumbers and tromboncino squash, both of which are doing fairly well, especially compared to last year.  This guy was harvested over the weekend:

Twisty Tromboncino
 
The Golden Sweet peas in the next bed have been finished for a while but out of sheer laziness, I’ve not pulled the vines out yet.  There are quite a few peas drying on those vines as well, which will be saved for seed.

The rest of this bed contains more dried beans – Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing beans and two bush bean varieties – Canadian Wonder and Walcherse White.

Canadian Wonder & Walcherse White in the front;
Cherokee Trail of Tears and drying Golden Sweet peas in the back
 
Canadian Wonder is a new variety which produces a bean similar to a red kidney:

Canadian Wonder
 
Walcherse White is a white bean, similar to a navy:

Walcherse White
 
Nothing to do in this bed until fall once the beans are mature and start to dry out, which is just fine by me.  I'm becoming more and more addicted to growing dried beans - so much variety, easy to grow, tend, store and they are both nutritious and delicious...really, there is no downside.

The beds in Area #1 are a bit of a mish-mash.  The old strawberry bed will soon be empty, once I have the time to rip everything out of it.  Unfortunately I won’t have the opportunity to build another strawberry bed before the fall, so that will have to be a project for next year.

The bush beans have been producing well, with Oceanis providing the bulk of the harvest this past week.

Oceanis Filet Beans...these look a LOT larger in the photo
 
Provider has done very well too, but it is slowing down a lot.


Notice the strange colouration on the leaves?  Looks like the beginnings of rust to me:

Rust on Provider foliage
 
The pole beans on the other side of the bed are not affected, at this stage anyhow:

Climbing Beans
These include a dry bean (Speckled Cranberry) and two varieties of Romano bean (Golden of Bacau and Garden of Eden).  The trellis looks rather lopsided with the Golden of Bacau on the far right, the Speckled Cranberry in the middle and the Garden of Eden, which is rather top-heavy, on the far left.

The trellis looks even more precarious when looked at from the side:

Heavy winds nearly toppled this guy over
 
The conduit trellises I use are very sturdy and I've not had any issues with them as they are secured with 4' rebar that is pounded into the ground.  But we had a powerful storm with some very high winds about a month ago and a large piece of cardboard (which was lying on the ground, waiting for a topping of mulch) flew up and planted itself right against the trellis, so the wind had no escape route through the leaves.  When I came out the next morning, the trellis was at a 45 degree angle.  I pushed it back up as best I could and attaching it to another piece of rebar that I pounded into the ground to keep it in place.  So far so good.

All of the kohlrabi was harvested this past week so the only thing that remains in this brassica bed is the broccoli:

Packman, Munchkin and Arcadia Broccoli
 
So far, the side shoots are less than impressive, but at least they are producing which is something with all this heat.

The other brassica bed in this area is not great, but passable – it holds a variety of kale, collards, bok choy and napa cabbage.

The Joi Choi took forever to size up - I think that it was shaded by the Kolibri kolrabi for a good chunk of the season and this set it back a lot.  Once all of the kolrabi was harvested, the choi started to size up....but then it became infested with aphids:

Not exactly appetizing...
 
Yup, those were pulled within minutes seeing that swarm.

Napa cabbage is new to the garden and of the six that I planted, two decided to bolt, so those were write offs:

Bolting Chinese Cabbage
 
My labeling wasn't all that clear but one of the bolters was definitely a Soloist, while I think the other one may have been a Kaboko.  Not surprising, really, considering the heat we have been having…consistently…all the time…for  over 2 months…ugh!

What IS a surprise is that the other cabbages have held on this long.  The "Mini Napa" is by far the most promising:

Mini Napa Chinese Cabbage
 
I’ve heard of people tying up napa to encourage it to form heads, but I’ve not done that as they all seemed to be forming heads on their own, so we’ll see how that goes.

The kale is doing ok:

Russian Kale
 
as is the Swiss chard which is in the next bed over:


Peppermint, Fordhook Giant and Bright Lights
Swiss Chard
 
The chard took a while to get going, partly because of the lettuce that was growing beside (and shading) it as well as the Agribon that I had placed on the bed to shade the lettuce so that it wouldn't bolt as quickly.  Now that the lettuce is gone and the shade cloth is removed, it's finally taken off and I'm looking at getting a first harvest this week.

The last veggie bed in this section houses the favas and sugar snap peas:

Fava/Snap Pea Bed
 
I was going to harvest the last of the favas and rip out the plants last week when I noticed something:

Extra Precoce Violetto Fava
 
There was new growth and a new flush of flowers on both the EPV and Ianto's.  Not only that, but the sugar snap vines that I was letting dry out to collect seed from the remaining pods were also producing a few new pods:

Sugar Snap - 2nd flush of peas
 
Since I have no further plans for this bed this year, I've decided to let it be for now & see what happens.

When it comes to the herbs, the oregano steals the show at this time of year - it gets huge and the bees go crazy for it:

I spy 3 buzzy bees...
 
They are also loving the zinnias:

Peggy's Delight Zinnia
 
The herb bed is so very happy since the drip irrigation was installed - the sage is one gorgeous mound right now:

Purple Sage
 
Unbelievable considering it's so bare in the spring that I always end up wondering if it's still alive.

The calendulas are giving us a wonderful burst of colour and the cheery sunflower at the back of the tomato bed was a last minute addition from a packet of free seeds tucked into one of my orders:

All of the lovely flowers make me smile
every time I'm in this part of the garden
 
You can see the roll of chicken wire fencing in the back.  Nope, haven't put it back up yet.  Yes, I'm tempting fate.  But we haven't finished mulching the expanded area, so it will likely stay this way until either the mulch is done or I start to see bunny damage, whichever comes first.

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

18 comments:

  1. Goodness, that's hot. We had a good amount of rain here last night which was needed, the ground is rock hard at the moment. Those tromboncino squash are weird looking things, aren't they? I've never grown them myself but I've heard lots of people say how tasty they are. The purple sage is fabulous, you could grow that just for its ornamental value.

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    1. Thanks Jo! I'm glad you got some rain - lately, we have been getting the odd thunderstorm but everything dries out so quickly afterwards. It will be a while before things are back up to normal moisture levels, especially with the heat.

      The tromboncino is definitely strange looking - many people are surprised by how tasty it is. I was inspired to grow it when I heard one gardener say that it was the only squash they grew...it was that good.

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  2. Margaret-your garden is still looking fantastic.

    We've had not a drop of rain in WEEKS and mine is about done.
    I get no foliage diseases until I have to pull out that confounded hose. I never have disease problems until my huge stash of rainwater is depleted. The minute I water with the hose, that's it for healthy plants.
    Despite all the problems, it's necessary to keep the perennials alive until the rains hopefully appear. We've never been this hot and dry--it's frightening. I've drained ALL my water tanks--over 1500 gallons. What a summer....total bummer. Hey-I could be a rap star! Ha!
    Have a great weekend!
    :D

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    1. I know!! The summer is a bummer and this lack of rain is a pain ... I'm thinking we should form a band! :)

      It's the combination of suffocating heat and dryness that is really doing us in. We are in for a big storm today, apparently, although the sky looks clear and cloudless. And I know what you mean about the hose - a necessity, but boy, does it wreak havoc on the plants. I hope you get some rain soon...and that our rain forecast materializes!

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  3. Our problem isn't heat but nearly constant wind battering everything.

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    1. We had some very bad winds last month, but thankfully things are back to normal on that front...for now.

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  4. Ack. Here in Japan the heat and humidity is pretty overwhelming.

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    1. But all that beauty must make up for it!! Can't wait to see those pics...as I sit in my air conditioned house :)

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  5. The peppers and tomatoes are loving your heat! Are you going to save the zinnia seeds? The only company that sells that variety is Seeds of Change. I can't believe your cabbage is still hanging in! Your veggies amaze me. :o)

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    1. I can't believe ALL of the cabbage hasn't bolted yet - hopefully it hangs on a bit longer. One of the heads feels firm, so I will likely pick it within a week or so, but the others are still a bit loose. And yes, I am definitely going to save the seeds!

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  6. So many tomatoes, and they all look so healthy! And your peppers are so colorful! Our summer has been very hot and extremely humid, too--since early July. Fortunately, we've had enough rain to keep the plants happy. I've only occasionally watered the veggie/cutting bed. Looks like you'll have a record harvest this year!

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    1. Thanks Beth! We had a good rain shower today and I'm sure all of my ornamentals are extremely happy. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to cut down on the humidity at all...the plants may enjoy it but us humans could use a bit more relief from the heat :)

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  7. While we were in Japan it was unbearably hot and humid, especially in Kyoto. We had to strategize on how to get out and see stuff.

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    1. I wonder if that's typical for them or if they are having unusually hot weather as well. I'm pretty fed up with the weather. "Good days" - i.e. moderate temps and low humidity - are few and far between this summer.

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  8. Wow, your peppers look amazing! And it seems like you're having our normal heat... whereas we've been having a pretty mild summer, albeit with not a drop of rain. I, too, have been wondering if I've been over- or under-watering with the drip system. But everything is doing well so far and I'm saving so much time, so I think I'll do an in-depth analysis of the watering next year, as everything seems fine.

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    1. So it looks as if we got your heat! I'm doing a bit of trial and error on the watering front and my eggplant seems to be responding well to the reduction in water. In a way, it's good that they were looking so sickly as they were the only veg that alerted me to the fact that I may be overwatering, prompting me to reduce the watering time in all 3 garden areas.

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  9. I haven't visited your blog before, so this is the first time I've seen your garden and I have to say it's beautiful! :)

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