Friday, August 28, 2009

The Vegetable Garden on August 28 - Part I

Today is going to be hot. Yesterday got up to 95+F in the shade of the oak tree next to the vegetable garden. Last night it didn't get below 60F. Wednesday morning it got down to 45F. Weird weather... So I got out early today to check on the garden, harvest some vegetables and take some photographs before it got too hot.

I took lots of photos so I'm going to break this into 2 posts. Here's the front half of the garden 2 weeks after my last general update.

This is the bed where I'm trying to grow beans of various sorts but this end has carrots, amaranth greens and red florence fennel along with a couple of pots of mild chinense peppers.

There's a better view of the fennel that's mostly hidden in the view above . On the left are the Chaco Canyon runner beans in bloom.

In the mini tunnel that I recently put up are the remains of the Roland haricot verts and the tricolor bush beans that have been munched by...

these little &$%#%$. This one got zapped in a rat zapper that I put out (amazing what 4 D-cell batteries can do). The amount of damage these pests can do is horrifying. I started with about 30 seedlings and now you can see what's left. Silly me (probably) I've gone ahead and reseeded that area - who knows, if we have a mild autumn I might get a few beans so long as I can keep the pests out of there *sigh*.

The view down the back side of the bean bed. The major insect pest on the beans, technically not even an insect, has been spider mites. The plants in the bottom right of the photo are already infested... *sigh* again. I'll try treating them with neem oil or insecticidal soap but have to wait until the weather cools because of possible phytotoxicity problems when applying either of those when it's hot.

Chaco Canyon runner bean blossoms and one tiny bean. All the blossoms at the bottom of the plant have been eaten by the rats.

Petaluma Goldrush beans, originally brought to California by a Chilean family back during the California Goldrush. These are a dual purpose bean, good as a snap bean or dried. Keeping my fingers crossed for a warm autumn...

Tarbais beans from France - THE bean for Cassoulet. Loved by spider mites and rats... I've got enough seeds to try again, third attempt, next year.

Across the center path, the last Senposai plant in full bloom and the bees and other beneficial insects are loving it. Not much longer though, I've got some Opal Creek Golden Snap peas and Kefe Beinwil Snow peas started in paper pots that will be going in there.

The lengths I will go to try to get something going... Rat-tail radish seedlings - bird netting to keep out birds and rats - cloth to keep them shaded from the scorching sun. I pulled out all the rat-tail radishes from the pepper bed because they were too big and happy, however, the bees and beneficial were just gorging themselves on the blossoms so I wanted to get some more in elsewhere and the only real spot I had was a pot. I just want them to bloom for the good bugs, I don't even want the pods this time around.

A Thai chile (damn hot) producing for the third year and looking rather worn out. The zucchini is getting powdery mildew and slowing down. I'm not ready to give up on zukes yet, so when the weather cools I'll treat it with some Neem to slow down the powdery mildew.

Two hot peppers: Datil and Pimento de Chiero, sharing a pot at the end of the bean bed.

Aleppo pepper, a very nice cayenne type. This one is producing for a second year - not as big and beautiful as last year, but I'm not complaining. The soil level in the pot has fallen considerably, probably because of red worms munching on all the nice organic matter in there.

Passion fruit 'Frederick' has set a number of fruits. It's growing in a large pot in a corner of the garden.

The Cavolo Nero (in front) is recovering from the earlier aphid infestation and the Portuguese kale is still going strong.

Experimenting with blanching Puntarelle. Behind, under the bottomless water bottles, I'm trying to get Romanesco broccoli started for the third time. The rats got the first seedlings and the second set of seedlings succumbed to birds (most likely). This time around I'm both direct seeding under the bottles and have some seeds sown in 4-inch pots.

The Piracicaba broccoli keeps putting out new shoots.

And look, I really do have chickens! Poor things are wilting in today's heat (100F at the moment, only 17% humidity thank goodness).


  1. Rodents are a PITA. Today I was watching the garden and saw a mouse for the first time ever in the middle of the day. I think of them as nighttime creatures. At least they don't take down my beans. You should grow pole beans all the time if the rats like the blossoms. It would keep them out of their reach. At least if you could get the plants started.

  2. Daphne, It's the getting started part that has been difficult. I had the pole beans under light weight row cover for at least a month. Now I've sprayed the plants with a hot pepper/garlic mix and sprinkled hot paprika around for good measure. It doesn't save the new flowers though...

  3. Oh, that sounds so frustrating, between the heat and the rats, once can get discouraged. I think I'll stick with fruit, mainly squirrels and birds to fight with. And I keep going to the farmer's market, great produce there right now.
    I really admire all your hard work, though.

  4. Wow, you grow SO MANY things! I'm interested to hear how the passionflower fruit tastes. -Jackie

  5. Town Mouse, funny, I rely on the farmer's market mostly for fruit and gaps in the vegetable harvest. I do want to get some fruit trees going, primarily figs and mulberries.

    Jackie, I'm really looking forward to the passionfruit - this will be the first year that there's more than one or two fruits!

  6. Michelle, your garden's amazing, but those bl##dy rats.... And I hate to tell you, but they love figs :-(

  7. Jan, thanks! I'm sure they do love figs, but hopefully when/if the tree gets big enough they will leave a few for me.

  8. The rodents are truly awful. I watched squirrels take my few apricots and bite holes in them while they were still green! Makes me think of terriers and traps, but the squirrels are too high. I like your zapper effect.

    Again, I'm stunned at your variety. I think I'm growing a chile relative of your Thai one. Too hot for me! I need to find someone who likes it hot. Unfortunately, the hot weather has me as wilty as my garden.

  9. Stefani, I'm somewhat comforted by the impression I'm getting that rodents are a universal veggie/fruit garden problem. I just found out last night that one of my neighbors is actually FEEDING the local rabbits. They should stay in HER garden - she doesn't have the rodenator... Are rabbits rodents? I certainly lump them in that pestiferous category.

    With all those lovely new beds that you are putting together you'll soon be catching up to me so far as variety in the garden goes! Those Thai chiles are a bit too hot for my taste also, but I don't have the heart to take out such a producer. A bunch of those went into my anti-rodent spray.


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