Friday, June 28, 2013

The Garden in Late June, 2013

Time for another tour of the garden. Bear with me on this tour, the garden is a mess and since I was trying to beat the heat I was taking photographs when the garden was in shade and the hills across the valley were bathed in early morning sun so the contrast made for some poor photography. Anyway, this isn't a beauty contest.

The big news is that the fourth bed is FINALLY built and filled and has some plants in it, mostly tomatoes.

The tomato plants are small still but growing quickly (except for one sickly Galinas cherry) and some of them have even set some fruits already.

Hidden within the agribon cloche at the far end of the bed is the latest sowing of beets. The Towhees have been voraciously munching on any seedlings they can find so I have to hide things from them.

The rest of the bed will be home to more beets which are starting in paper pots, celeriac and celery that are starting in 4-inch pots, perhaps more carrots, and maybe some parsnips. In the meantime it is a handy collecting place for ... stuff.

The next bed over is home to most of the beans. Here's the Italian runner beans that Stefaneener sent me.

They are just starting to wend their way up the trellis.

Next on down the line is the first planting of French Gold filet beans and Spanish Musica beans sharing a trellis.

The next trellis is sporting the second planting of French Gold and Musica beans, quickly catching up to the first stunted planting.

And a day later, this is the trellis with the first planing of French Gold and Musica beans which have been relegated to the compost bin and replaced with Australian Butter and Emerite Filet beans. I really jumped the gun with the first sowing of beans and they never were happy. A number of the seedlings died and what was left was not very vigorous. When I saw the route they were taking I sowed a second round of seeds to plant out in the space next to them and when I had another round of seedlings ready I ripped the poor things out.

The last trellis in the row is home to some English runner beans, Moonlight on the right and St. George on the left. The St. George seem to be more vigorous or perhaps just earlier than the Moonlight. They are already hitting the top of the trellis and producing a few beans and Moonlight is about half way up the trellis and just starting to bloom and set the first beans.

St. George has pretty bi-colored flowers and lovely long straight beans. These beans are meant to be eaten as green beans. I do hope that they get along ok in our unusually warm June weather. I shouldn't complain too much about the heat right now, while most of the southwestern US is sweltering through triple digit temperatures the coastal areas are being mostly spared. The highs here have been and are forecast to remain in the mid-80's (29ÂșC).

At the very end of this bed is the cucumber trellis. I've got 4 varieties of cucumbers growing here. Once again I tried for an early start and it seems to have mostly backfired. The Garden Oasis, Tasty Green, and Green Fingers cucumbers seem to have resented the early start and are somewhat stunted and reluctant to produce.

The surprise performer here is the Tortarello Abruzzese cucumber. I dug out the 10 year old seeds on  whim and managed to get one runty little seedling going. I almost didn't plant it out because it was so slow to get going, but hey, there was space so why not give it a chance. The dang thing is trying to take over the entire trellis and keeps producing these fuzzy fruits, most of the cucumbers I've been harvesting lately have come from this one plant.

This end of the bed is also home to the 2 zucchini plants. In the foreground is Ortolano di Faenze and behind that is the monster Romanesco. That's not powdery mildew on the Ortolano plant, the leaves have silvery patches on them that are normal for that variety.

Pretty Ortolano, the ants are loving the blossoms.

It's productive, producing a zucchini almost every day.

The Romanesco zucchini also produces a zucchini almost every day on not just one stem...

not just two stems...

a new squash almost every day on each of three stems. Big squash, about 6 to 8 ounces per.

The final shoots are quickly going to blossom on the Early Rapini. I'll leave these to bloom to feed the good bugs, eventually they will probably be engulfed by the encroaching Romanesco zucchini. That twiggy brown stuff is a coriander plant that I left to drop its seeds and produce some volunteer cilantro. On the left the red flowers are closed up blossoms of "Copper Pot" California poppies. I'm trying to get this variety of poppy going around the garden.

This is the very slow to start and finally growing and blooming patch of Purgatory beans (Fagiolo del Purgatorio). I hope to be able to get enough dried beans to make a salad or two and save some seeds too.

Ah, here's a little less contrasty view of some of the bean trellises. The beans on the left are the ones that I ripped out and replaced. They look ok from here, but they should have been much bigger than that by now. So bye bye garden, hello compost!

Another experiment with marginal results. These are the seed pods of Lathyrus sativus, an edible seeded vetch commonly called Cicerchia in Italy. I started the seeds from a packet of edible beans. Only three plants took off. I'm not sure if it was because the "seeds" were old or if I'm trying to grow them at the wrong time of year. I assumed that they would grow like other vetch varieties, around here they grow wild in the spring. Perhaps I'll try an autumn sowing and see if they overwinter and produce a spring crop of beans.

And finally, in the remaining corner of this bed, the Lacinato kale. This plant is struggling with an aphid infestation. The suckers are distorting the leaves and generally making a mess. I swear, if you try to just wash the aphids off they crawl back up right where they were and just resume their sucking.

I washed this leaf off the day before. It was completely aphid free less than 24 hours before. After I did the wash job I went back out to the garden to take a look because I suspected that the aphids didn't just die or crawl off to die, and sure enough there were aphids climbing back up onto the plant. Just to make sure, I waited until the next day and this is what I found. This leaf went into the compost. I'm going to have to either spray or just put the whole plant into the compost.

Why is it that the aphids love that one plant and mostly leave these two alone? Is that one extra tasty or is it just a weak sister? By the way, if you are wondering what that dead brown stuff is, that's the remains of the Dou Miao (pea shoot) plants that I allowed to mature so that I can save the seeds.

This has become a long post and I'm only half way through the garden so I'll continue the tour in another post later.

But one more thing before I go, the primary reason I do these garden tours is because I like to look back at the garden in previous years and compare what they were doing. It's a great way to learn about what does best in the garden at particular times or to see the effects of the vagaries of the weather. Last year at nearly the same time my garden was chock full of spring vegetables - lettuce, kale, broccoli, peas and the summer vegetables were barely taking off. The weather last year was unusually cool all through spring and well into summer. I was also just getting my new garden beds constructed and filled and planted which delayed a lot of the planting. It's interesting to me to see how a warmer spring and earlier start to summer weather this year has cut short the spring crops and helped most of the summer vegetables to get a good start. My gamble to get an early start on the zucchini has certainly paid off (oh my, has it), in previous years my plants were still babies at this time. But my gamble to get an early start to beans did not pay off, they are really no further along than if I had waited until the proper time. The cucumbers were also unhappy about being forced to start early, except for the Tortarello Abruzzese. Perhaps next year I'll start some Toratrello early and then start the rest of the cucumbers at the usual time.


  1. Amazing update and loved your bed building last year! Envy your longer growing season, but appreciate knowing the seeds you growing and your taste opinions

  2. Lovely beans. My pole beans are doing great. I just hope my bush beans survive the rust and it doesn't spread. Not much luck in that as the weather has been very wet.

  3. Ugh!! Aphids are the bane of my existence. Last year we lost our whole fall broccoli crop to aphids!! I hate them!! Problem is we grow organically so I can't spray. This year we are going to try covering the bed with a small hoop house and some very light weight row fabric. Let's hope!!!

  4. Enjoyed the tour of your June garden. You sure grow a ton of food....I'd be giving sooooo much away but I love that you are experiencing so many varieties. I'm not new to gardening but I'm new to blogging ( and decided it was the best way for me to review my gardens seasons too! It's like speed memory scrap booking! I'm near you in Zone 9b so the weather and seasons are the most similar of bloggers I've followed so far. I am wanting to grow some "Lacinato" tuscan kale (I love it!) and noticed yours! Did you grow it from seed if so....from where?

    1. Hi Shellie, welcome to garden blogging! I grew my lacinato kale from seed. At the moment I'm working my way through a packet of Franchi seeds which I probably got from Renee's Garden also carries lacinato kale and that can be found locally, OSH carries Renee's seeds.


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