Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Garden on August 17, 2011

Time for another garden tour! Last month the Marina di Chioggia squash vines were just starting to crawl out of their bed. Look at them now, they're nearly blocking the main path and would fully block the path and the gate if I didn't push the vines aside and around the corner of the bed. The colder than normal weather that we've had this summer doesn't seem to be bothering the squash, they're healthy and blooming like crazy and have been setting a good number of fruits.

The biggest problem in the squash patch has been rats (doh, what else could it have been this year). This is what I have to do to keep the squash from disappearing as soon as the female blossoms open. At the end of the day I wrap the blossoms that opened that day in a piece of row cover fabric and tie it to the stem and tie the other end closed. So far, so good, most of the squash seem to have been well pollinated and the wrapped squashes are growing, but I'm keeping them covered as long as possible and I'm keeping those rat traps set.

The pole beans have grown to the tops of their trellises and beyond. The row cover around the base of the plants is still in place to make it difficult for the you-know-whats to get easy access. The cucumber plants growing up the tower on the right are also swathed in row cover for the same reason.

The Musica snap beans are setting and seem to be sizing up ever so slowly - it seems like I've been watching these little beans for weeks now. They need to get much larger, don't be looking for a bean harvest here next Harvest Monday.

The fava plant that volunteered between the zucchini and the winter squash was blooming a month ago and now it has beans that are ready to harvest. Hmm, this summer has been cold, summer favas...

The bush Slenderette beans haven't been disturbed by the furry pests, but you can see one dead plant which had its stem girdled by sow bugs, always a problem in my garden. I spread sluggo plus in the sow bugs favorite hiding places and sprayed these plants and the rest of the bean plants with Spinosad so that any other bugs that decided to munch on them would be goners.  I thought I would be harvesting these beans by now and certainly earlier than the pole beans but they've barely started to set beans now.

I uncover the cucumber plants during the day so that the numerous bees have easy access. Bee keeping has become hugely popular around here lately and I've noticed that my garden is full of them.

The row cover protection has really helped to keep the baby cucumbers from disappearing, I'm finally harvesting cukes on a regular basis. The Green Fingers Persian cucumbers (that's one below) seem like they are going to be fairly prolific. The Tasty Green Japanese cucumbers are less prolific but I'm getting enough to keep me happy. I'm not particularly interested in making pickles so small production of a great tasting fresh eating cucumber is fine with me.

This corner of the bed is dominated by the Red Florence fennel which is in full bloom, a pot full of cosmos, and a blooming radicchio.

The radicchio blossoms are a lovely blue. The flowers close up at night and reopen when the sun comes out. This photo was taken before the sun came up over the ridge so the blossoms are still closed.

Solanums are in the next bed. From left to right, two towers of Amish Paste, one of Gigantesque, and one of Black Krim. Amish paste is a new tomato for me (thanks for the seeds Thomas!). Nothing ripe there yet but the plants have set numerous good looking fruits. Gigantesque has been a very reliable producer of large and very tasty beefsteaks, but even it is struggling with our cold summer this year. Black Krim is another newbie in my garden. It is a cold climate adapted variety also and so far it seems to be keeping pace with the other cold climate adapted varieties that I'm growing - setting fruit but nothing ripe yet.

There's the same Black Krim on the left again, then Katja, then Black Trifele.

Katja is back for a second year in my garden and is producing the first ripe tomato this year. Last year my first Katja was harvested on July 14 and I harvested 7 pounds by the end of July. So, why are my tomatoes so late this year? It can't be explained by the cooler than usual summer weather this year, we had an unusually cool summer last year as well. No, the difference is that I planted my tomatoes earlier last year and I enclosed the cages in a clear plastic cover to create a greenhouse effect. It surely made a difference. Next year I'm going to go to the trouble of that method again. It has been driving me crazy to see the pounds and pounds of ripe tomatoes harvested by other bloggers this summer while my tomatoes hang there like little green rocks.

On down the row - Black Trifele again, Chianti Rose, and Fiaschetto. All Three of these are new varieties for me this year. Black Trifele was purchased on a whim, I had heard that it is a good cool climate variety so I bought a plant when I saw it at a garden event. Chianti Rose is a Brandywine crossed with another unknown tomato and is also supposed to be a good cool climate producer, however it isn't really living up to that reputation in my garden so far, it was the last to set and the fruits are few. The Fiaschetto is a total flyer, it's a rare heirloom from Puglia, not necessarily know for being good in a cool climate, but it surprised me by being one of the first plants to set fruits.

Here's a few of the Fiaschetto fruits, it's supposed to be good for fresh eating, sauces, canning, and drying - an all purpose roma type tomato. It also seems to be very productive, the plants (I squeezed two into one cage) are covered with fruits.

Here's another shot of the Fiaschetto - you can see the tresses of tomatoes with more tresses of flowers. It's a smaller plant, supposedly determinate, but I think it's more semi-determinate. In front are a few pepper plants. The peppers are rather disappointing this year, only marginally better than last year. I'm not sure if there is too much root competition from the tomatoes or if the weather has just been too damned cold, or perhaps they are infected with a disease or a combination of all those problems.

The cherry tomatoes are at the end of the row. On the left is Galinas, a sweet yellow normally vigorous and highly productive favorite. This year it is short and reluctant to produce. However, there is one tomato buried in the foliage in the back that is actually starting to ripen - I hope it's tasty. I squeezed two Aunt Ruby's German cherry tomatoes into the cage on the right. Last year my one plant turned out to be the wrong color, still tasty but not true, so this year I doubled my chances of getting a plant that is true to type.

Here's a few of the Aunt Ruby's. It's a green tomato, but these are still too green.

My favorite green frying pepper, Pimento de Padron, is growing in front of Aunt Ruby's. These plants started off well but have stalled. Same problems as the rest of the pepper plants... sigh.

The eggplants are in the same bed as the tomatoes and peppers. I've posted photos of the Diamond and Orient Express eggplants that I've harvested lately. Here's the other two varieties of eggplant that I'm growing but haven't harvested yet. This big beauty is Rosa Bianca. You can see that I'm growing "store bought" plants for this variety, actually all of my eggplant other than Diamond. When I screwed up growing my Diamond eggplant seedlings I decided to supplement with some seedlings from a couple of local organic growers. I didn't really think that the Rosa Bianca would do well here because of the cool summers that we typically have, but this beauty is doing just fine in spite of the even cooler than usual weather. I've got two plants and each one has a good sized fruit even though the plants aren't very large.

The other varitey that I haven't harvested yet is Black Beauty. This plant has a few fruits that seem smaller than they should be and the other Black Beauty plant hasn't set anything yet.

On to the next bed. The Diamante celery root in the foreground is growing slowly but steadily, right on schedule. I don't expect to harvest any of these until late fall or early winter. There are more varieties of beans under the water bottle cloches. I originally had the beans under floating row cover but the sow bugs found that to be a cozy situation and I lost a number of seedlings to them. When I removed the row cover and got some replacements to germinate then the rats took over and the seedlings started to disappear during the night. Now I cover the youngest seedlings at night and remove the cloches during the day.

This is one surviving Charming napa cabbage from my original spring planted patch. The plants here struggled to get enough water and nutrients because of invading oak tree roots. After I dug the roots out of the surrounding parts of the bed the cabbages started to take off and then promptly bolted, but this plant didn't show signs of bolting so I left it and it is forming a head. It looks ragged because the birds have been pecking at the leaves but the central head seems to be fine. I think I should harvest it soon.

The oak roots got far enough down the bed to slow down the broccoli also. The Piracicaba managed to grow and produce a respectible amount of shoots, but now that the oak roots growing in this direction have been severed the plants are making a big comeback and are producing a lot of new growth.

Even the Calabrese broccoli that I was so disappointed in because it was runty is starting to grow.

The Golden chard is making a comeback after its own battles. I lost one to a gopher, but hey, I didn't need 4 plants anyway. Then the leaves started to get powdery mildew and at the same time the aphids and ants moved into the succulent new leaves. I rid of all the nastiness and trimmed the plants down to just a few tiny new leaves. Once the worst of the aphids were gone and the newest growth became more exposed the beneficial bugs got rid of the few lingering aphids. There's a couple of rather tough looking and on their way to bolting lettuces on the right - chicken snacks.

Here's the uncovered Neckarkönigin pole snap beans. There's a few gaps thanks to munching rats, but what's left should provide me with enough green beans to get me through the fall.

The Stregonta borlotto beans should provide plenty of shelly and dried beans this fall is they are spared.

The bulk of the fall vegetables are destined for the final bed. So far I have a patch of Dorato di Asti celery going.

I've got seedlings of fennel, beets, and napa cabbages that need to be planted out but in the meantime I tried to slip in a quick planting of amaranth greens but those have been struggling. I also slipped in a few extra pepper plants to see how they would do - bleah, not so good so far. My efforts at peppers this year and last year have been a huge disappoint. I hope that we get our usual warm fall weather to give them a boost but I'm not counting on it.

Well, that's it for the August garden tour. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Your garden looks great in spite of the cooler weather you have been having. It must be frustrating waiting on your tomatoes to ripen.

    Keep up the good work and hopefully you will have a warm fall!

  2. Michelle,

    Those Fiaschetto look interesting, wonder what they taste like? The garden looks great except for those $%^$ rats.

  3. I am absolutely in shock that my garden is producing ripe tomatoes ahead of yours this year. We are also having a super cool summer but I think the difference is that I did all my plants as ultra early starts (they were big when I transplanted them out mid April) and I kept them under a grow tunnel cover until late May/early June. I intend to repeat that next year as it seems to have made a big difference.

    My peppers are finally putting on a flush of ripening this week. I do not have any new production coming though - so I am going to have a nice harvest (nothing like your volume of peppers though) and a few odds and ends for fresh eating needs thereafter and that will be the end of it.

    Your garden is looking beautiful (as usual) and I always marvel at all the techniques you employ to thwart the rats, sow bugs, and other creatures preying on your garden. :D

  4. I enjoyed the garden tour, your plants look great and hopefully everything will ripen up nicely for you. I do have some bad news in the rodent department for you though...they are getting bigger.

  5. Your garden is such an inspiration! (Danged rats!)

  6. It must be fairly dry where you are Michelle because your cucumber, squash and tomato vines look really healthy still. Our rainy and cooler than usually August has cause all of our vines to develop blight and powdery mildew.

  7. Wow. Every thing looks great. We're growing Black Beauty eggplants this year as well -- so tasty. And Black Krim are some of our favorite tomoatos although we don't have any this year.

    I'd love to have you stop by NOH's weekly garden link up on Fridays and share your garden with us.

  8. For you it's rats, for us it's chipmunks. Rodents is rodents.


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