Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Garden on October 16, 2011

It's time for another overview of the garden. I made a number of changes at the end of September, it was time for some of the summer vegetables to make way for fall/winter plantings. It was something of a mad dash on my part, I had a lot of summer vegetables to harvest and preserve,  and then I had a lot of seedlings ready or nearly ready for planting out and it all had to be done in the 2 weeks before I left for vacation. Some seedlings got stuffed into the garden in the hours before I had to depart and I didn't have time to provide them with the usual rat protection. The rodents raided but didn't do as much damage as I anticipated, at least to the new vegetables.

This area was home to the Marina di Chioggia squash for the summer, you can see the dried stem of one last plant that I left to support one last late set squash that I harvested today. In the rear are new plantings of Di Sarno Calabrese broccoli and Piracicaba broccoli. I also set some Buttercrunch lettuce seedlings out between the broccoli plants. Those were one of the last minute divide and stuff into the ground transplants that I fully expected the rats to feast upon. Lucky me, sort of, the rats are feasting on other veggies at the moment. I also got lucky with the weather, it rained quite a bit just after I left and settled the plants in nicely before a heat wave hit.

Another part of this bed is home to the new Lacinato kale plants along with their new lettuce companions. These are taking the place of one of the old zucchini plants.

I did another stuff and run job where the other zucchini plant was with the Pixie Baby cabbage seedlings and seem to have gotten away with that as well... so far.

Behind the Pixie babies are the Tarbais beans. What's left of the beans after the rats have had their way with them are nearly dry enough to harvest. Perhaps I'll get enough for one batch of cassoulet.

The Guntmadingen Winter spinach was transplanted a little earlier so I had time to put a protective cover over it, but something, most likely sow bugs, thinned the planting out for me. This is actually the second set of transplants, the first tray of them were devoured by rats before I could even set them out in the garden. Well, I'm happy there's something left of this planting and perhaps it's not too late to get more started if I get on it right away.

Behind the spinach are the kaput Musica green beans. I harvested over 18 pounds of beans from that planting, perhaps more, I don't remember if I harvested any in the week before I went on vacation and my harvest notes for that week are lost. To the right are the old cucumber vines.

The cucumbers produced a few fruits in my absence but most of them got quite large and will be chicken treats.

The solanum bed is still chugging along. These are the Black Beauty, Rosa Bianca, and Orient Express eggplants. The plants are looking better since I treated them for spider mites and some caterpillar that was chewing on the new growth and flower buds.

Some of them are setting new fruits. This is a baby Black Beauty.

The tomato plants behind are for the most part looking mangy but still producing. Late planted peppers in the foreground never took off.

The Diamond eggplants in the foreground are also happier after their treatment for pests and there are a few fruits nearly ready to harvest.

In the background you can see the very healthy and highly productive Japanese Trifele tomato plant alongside the nearly dead but loaded Fiaschetto tomato plant. I need to go over the Fiaschetto to see what I can harvest from the mess, a cursory look yesterday leads me to believe that I can salvage quite a bit.

The Pimento de Padron peppers in the foreground made quite a comeback after I treated them with Actinovate for a suspected fungal infection and they also got some extra food which brought them back into production.

Behind the Padrons are the super vigorous Aunt Ruby's German cherry tomato plants, two plants in one cage. The plants are covered with tomatoes but they seem to have inherited the late ripening characteristic of the Aunt Ruby's German Green half of their parentage. These also seemed to have a tendency to split from the rain that we had a couple of weeks ago.

The next bed has a lot of vegetables that I will be harvesting in the weeks to come. The napa cabbage is heading up quickly but I'm competing with a gopher for them. You can see a hole in the center of the planting that I dug up to expose a run where a plant disappeared. If it ain't one rodent it's another...

And if it ain't rodents it's rot. I managed to salvage about half of this head of Hybrid One Kilo. I think I'll give this bed a drench with Actinovate.

The remay covered frame to the left in the photo previous to the one above is protecting a new planting of beets.

Next to the new beets is a patch of earlier planted beets that are ready for harvesting.

These are Chioggia beets. I start my beets in paper pots with 2 to 4 seeds per pot depending on how old the seeds are. When I plant them out I leave all the seedling to grow and wait to start thinning them until the roots are large enough to harvest as very small babies. Then I thin the clumps to 3 or 4 plants per clump that is growing from the paper pot. A week or so later I'll thin them again to 2 or 3 plants per clump. I've found that round beets don't mind being a bit crowded, they just push each other up and out of the way without becoming deformed, pointy or elongated beets are too strongly anchored into the soil and become deformed when they get too crowded. Before I left for vacation two weeks ago these had 3 or 4 beets clumped together and  I thinned them all to 2 beets per clump just before I left. Now I'll harvest half of them to leave one plant for each original paper pot and then I can harvest the rest of them in a week or so.

Next to the beets are Dorato di Asti celery, an Italian heirloom that has a slightly golden color. To the right of the celery is the Tender Leaf Amaranth that is growing like crazy now that the weather has finally warmed up. The leaf color is nearly identical to the color of the celery leaves.

It's good to see the lady bugs still at work in the garden, the ants have been farming the aphids in a number of the vegetables and making a huge mess. Eat up girls!

I've tried the same method with the celery that I just described for the beets. I've been successively thinning out the celery plants until two weeks ago there were 2 plants per original pot that I set out. I've started cutting out one of the two plants in each clump, but once I'm down to one plant per original pot I will try harvesting the outer stalks of the plants until I need to clear out the bed in a couple of months.

Sweetie baby romaine lettuce plants that were planted out a few weeks ago are sizing up quickly. Behind and to the right of the lettuce are some very late planted pepper plants that are doing surprisingly well.

It looks like I might get to harvest some Shishito peppers after all, these are doing much better than the first plants set out in the solanum bed, go figure.

Woo hoo, the hibiscus plants are loving their mini greenhouse! I think that they have at least doubled in size in less than a month. Even though they may not get large enough to produce much of a crop this year I know now how to get them going earlier next year. See my garden overview for September 20 for a bit more about this.

On to the last bed in the vegetable garden. The ants and aphids have completely done in the Golden Chard. Well, that means that I'll have room to put in some Flamingo chard. Can you guess what color that's going to be?

The di Sarno Calabrese broccoli is pumping out the side shoots. Here's the plants before I went through and harvested over 2 pounds of shoots on Sunday.

The Piracicaba broccoli grows much more quickly than the di Sarno broccoli and in the space of two weeks the tiny new side shoots bolted into bloom. I trimmed these on Monday and Tuesday and fed the overgrown shoots to the chickens. I'm not sure if the plants will produce good side shoots again after getting so large but I'll give them a chance.

A volunteer Portuguese Dairyman's kale that volunteered in the path from seeds that dropped from the plants that I let go to seed last year. Not so bad looking.

A new Purple Sprouting broccoli seedling set out in the middle of the basil patch is growing well. The basil doesn't seem to mind yet, I harvested enough to make a batch of pesto and left plenty on the plants to spare. To the rear are some Rolande filet bean plants.

The beans were setting and some were nearly ready to harvest when I left for vacation 2 weeks ago. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find beans that weren't too overgrown, or to find any beans at all, I rather expected the rats to clean out the patch.

The Neckarkönigin green bean plants are looking good.

The beans were nearly ready to harvest two weeks ago and I thought that these too would be old and tough. A number of them are rather large but are surprisingly still tender and not stringy.

The Diamante celery root is growing at a leisurely pace but looking good.  Thank goodness the gophers seem to have eased up on it, one of the half eaten plants is even still growing!

The Stregonta borlotti beans have set a good number of pods. You can see the plants a few photos above growing to the right behind the bolting Piracicaba broccoli. I hope that these will mature in time to get some shelly beans, I doubt that there's enough good weather left to get them to the dry bean stage though.

One last plant and dash before leaving two weeks ago didn't fare as well. There were Super Sugar Snap pea seedlings in addition the the Golden Sweet snow pea seedling that you can see here. I guess the snap pea seedlings are much tastier than the snow pea seedlings, the rats turned up their noses at the snow peas after taking a few nibbles. Gads, I can't believe what discriminating palates the rats have. They even favor the best tasting tomatoes (Black Krim) over the rest of the tomatoes.

That's it for the October garden tour. What's growing in your garden at this time of year?


  1. Gophers and rats, wow..I feel bad that you have to deal with that and understand how frustrating it is to lose hard earned crops to rodents. Our main issues are with deer, voles, and mice and the mice have been the only problem this season...I'll take them over rats and gophers anyday.

    Looks like you still have a lot going on in the garden. Being a huge fan of celery, I like the sound of that Dorato di Asti variety you are growing. Seems like there are not too many unusual varieties of this particular vegetable available anymore. I'm hoping to try a few new varieties this next season an will keep Dorato di Asti in mind.

  2. I feel for you with all the critters trying to eat your garden, rats, hate em. We have roof rats, grrrr.

  3. Sprungli the Labrador is a Black Krim officiando. This yearnhe is way ahead of us in eating this year's harvest. The beans and broccoli sound great.

  4. I'm always so awed by your garden! My tiny plot is chugging along.

  5. Your garden has so much great diversity in it and despite the rats and gophers seems to be in good production mode for you. I have done the stuff and run kind of transplanting before too and often it works out just fine.

    Growing in our garden right now, broccoli (although it is slowing way down), cabbages, leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, beets, mache, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, pac choi, pole beans (almost done though), celery, pumpkins, and tree kale/collards. The fall raspberries are slowly ripening as well and the late fall blueberries are still producing .

  6. Wow you have so much in your garden, I'm trying to picture my garden in 6 months time and I'm picturing mildew affected pumpkin vines and dying tomato plants whereas you have beautiful crops. Looks fabulous! Especially your beans which are great, how long can you grow them for?

  7. Liz, the beans don't last more than a couple of months, the latest beans are a late second planting and they will be done very soon. I'm about 6 or 7 weeks from the first freeze and by then a lot of the crops will be long gone...

  8. OMG! I had know I idea that our trip took so so close to your garden!

    What a beautiful part of the world - we had such a good time. For probably the first time ever I didn't do masses of research before the trip, but we seemed to have stumbled on some amazing things anyway.
    I am so envious of you volunteering in the Aquarium, there are so many things we didn't have time to see! The Kelp Forest exhibit is breathtaking.
    And, yes, the Ambrosia Burger at Nepenthe is so delicious (I had one for my lunch) - I've only just realised it's Kaffe Fassett's family home! Well, doesn't that explain a lot about his colour sense!

    I so wished I'd realised where you live before our trip - I would have asked for tips about places to see - but then we would have needed an extra month to see them all! Maybe there will be a next time.

    Best wishes


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