The garden tour continues with the primary pepper bed. I planted most of my peppers under an open ended tunnel to give the plants a bit of protection from the lingering chilly nights and some extra warmth on the cooler days. I left the ends of the tunnel open because we've also had a lot of warmer than usual days and I've not wanted to have to worry about frying the plants on an unexpectedly hot day. I raised one side of the tunnel when we had the hottest weather with highs around 90ºF or more. So far the tunnel seems to be a help, most of the plants are growing quickly, even if they are not exactly the most beautiful specimens.
As usual, my plants seem to have been infected with an aphid transmitted virus that stunts and twists the leaves of the plants. Last year I thought my pepper crop was going to be dismal because of the infection, but I ended up with a great harvest. The virus doesn't seem to affect the flowers and fruits in a significant way. The biggest issue is that the leaves aren't large enough to shield the large peppers from the sun and the ripening peppers tend to get sunburned. If necessary I will replace the greenhouse plastic with lightweight rowcover later in the season. The rowcover provides just enough protection to keep the peppers from burning but still allows enough light through. The Pimento de Padron peppers dominate the view from one end of the tunnel shown above, and below are some of the many Southwestern varieties of chiles that I'm growing.
Many of the peppers are setting fruits but the first harvests are a long way off, except perhaps for the Padrons.
For comparison, here's the pepper/eggplant bed last year on July 17. The plants are looking pretty small, and the eggplants are looking particularly runty with some yellowing leaves. They all eventually came around and gave me a good harvest.
This corner of the pepper bed is home to the Purple Peacock and Di Ciccio broccoli plants. They have been producing a small but steady stream of side shoots.
You can see the trellis with the returned Greek Gigante beans. The bean plants are not quite as lush looking as last year, a few of them died, but enough plants came back, many of them with multiple runners and they are blooming and setting beans in spite of the occasional heat waves. They have a few spider mites as well but seem to be more resistant to them than the bush beans.
Here's a few of this years beans that have set. I've actually started to collect fully mature dry pods off of a couple of the plants. It will be interesting to see how this year's crop compares to last year's and I'm curious to see how long the plants will continue to bloom and set beans.
This is the last of the carrots (almost) in this bed. These are Sugarsnax and seem to be holding well so far. I harvest them as I want them. Some of them have been quite big (did you see the foot long specimen in this past Monday's harvest post?), others are long but staying slim. It seems that they like a fair amount of water, the fattest carrots seem to be the ones growing closest to the drip emitters. They have been good for summer carrots, a hint of bitterness but still quite sweet.
Here's where I decided to slip in my latest attempt at getting some pole green beans to grow. I am really leery of putting more beans into this year's designated bean bed because all the beans that I've been trying to grow there are struggling so. I still can't decide if it is a watering issue there or some soil borne disease. So I'll see how these get along in the next few weeks. Behind the beans are the Spanish Black carrots that I'm letting go to seed. Most of the plants have set seeds and should be mature enough to collect soon, hopefully soon enough to allow more light for the growing beans.
The fourth and final bed is a bit of a mish mash. I didn't end up with a well thought out plan for the garden this year. Partly because I didn't get my final bed built and into production until June. Partly by the surprise return of the Gigante beans in the planned pepper bed. But mostly because I just didn't really get around to doing a proper plan.
Black Futsu winter squash will be allowed to grow into the path and ramble around this corner of the garden.
The tunnel is home to yet another attempt to grow and hopefully ripen a few melons. These are Alvaro and Halona melons, both of which are supposed to be adapted to cooler climates. With all the early and unexpected warm days we've had this year I thought I would push my luck and give some melons a try. The last time I tried to grow melons I actually got a fair amount of fruit to set, but that was the "year of the rat" and none of the melons survived their attacks to get anywhere near ripening. Perhaps this will be the year. Stay tuned...
These are a couple of replacement cucumber vines because I thought I was going to lose my other cucumbers to the spider mites.
Here's the big surprise this year. The eggplants. Oh my, what a difference from last year.
These babies are growing by leaps and bounds. I think I got my timing just right. I got them planted out before they sat in their pots too long and I managed to plant them out at the start of our warmest stretch of weather. The hit the ground running.
Below, the plants on the left of Salangana, an Italian hybrid variety that produces elongated dark purple fruits with very few seeds. I grew it last year and loved it. The darker leafed plants in the center and right are an unnamed Sicilian variety. I got the seeds in a seed swap a few years ago. Last year I got one seed to germinate and planted it out and allowed the first fruit to set to fully mature so that I could collect the seeds. This year I got some of my seeds to germinate and some of the old original seeds to germinate as well. The plant produces a beautiful light purple and white globe shaped fruit that isn't too seedy.
On the right is a new eggplant variety in my garden - Bonica. I'm looking forward to trying this variety, Liz at Suburban Tomato says it's great.
And the overflow pepper planting is also here. These are mostly more southwestern chiles.
But there's also some Happy Yummy peppers from Dave at Our Happy Acres and Aleppo peppers and a couple of other strays.
And I managed to get a couple of Udumalapet eggplants to grow from some very old seeds and I gave the runty plants a spot.
That's it for the July garden tour, thanks for coming by and I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you would like to see all the vegetable varieties that I'm currently growing click on the Now Growing tab at the top of my blog.