Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Garden on July 18, 2013 - Part One

Time for another tour of the garden. It's not really very impressive right now, a mix of plants that are struggling and plants that are maturing and just a few producers. I looked back at photos from a year ago (I didn't do a July tour but I did take photos) and am struck by the differences. Every year in the garden is different. Just when I think that I'm figuring the climate out here it goes and gets weird.

Let's start with the tomato patch. Here it is today.

Shown below is the tomato patch on July 17 of last year, the plant in front is a determinate variety and never got much larger than that. Last year was much cooler, but I did get my tomatoes planted earlier and they were enclosed in a tunnel until about the first of July. What a difference. I wonder how far along my plants would be this year if I had planted them earlier with protection.

Most of the tomato plants are actually growing like crazy and it seems that I have to tuck the branches into the cages nearly every day. But one of the cherry tomatoes, Galinas, is a runt. It's been this size since shortly after it was set out at the beginning of June. I don't know what the problem is, it just refuses to grow. But it's got a few tomatoes and one is even ripening. I recently gave it a little TLC with  a mycorrhizal fungi treatment that I've found to help struggling plants in the past. It's not dying and it looks like it might actually be responding to the TLC a bit so I'll give it some more time.

This plant is Fiaschetto, another determinate variety which bears loads (usually) of small tomatoes that are perfect for drying and it also makes a tasty sauce. It's a bit on the small side also but it is covered with small green tomatoes that don't show up well in the photo. I don't really need a lot of production from this plant, I just want enough for a new stash of dried tomatoes (actually I've still got lots left from last year...).

This plant is staying on the small side as well, but it too has set a lot of tomatoes. This is Nyagous, a tasty  early cool climate adapted "black" tomato.

And my other early cool weather adapted variety, Jaune Flamme, is also on the small side but setting plenty of tomatoes. I guess the early varieties are putting their energy into producing fruit rather than foliage. I guess I shouldn't complain, perhaps I'll get the first ripe tomato off of one of them in a few weeks which would be fairly early for my garden. I don't mind not having a superabundance of tomatoes since I prefer to enjoy my tomatoes fresh and only preserve them if forced to do so by a glut. The rest of the tomatoes are larger fruited and later producing, they are not yet setting any significant amount of fruits.

Sharing the bed with the tomatoes is a couple of plantings of beets. The first planting had to be enclosed to protect the seedlings from birds and now the plants are adapted to the shadier conditions so I can't fully uncover them without them wilting excessively on warm days (which we are getting more of than I expected for this time of year). They are sizing up quickly though.

The next bed over is mostly beans, which aren't doing well. Here's Stefaneener's Italian runner beans. They actually got off to a great start and then stalled and I even had 3 of the plants die. They seem to be coming back and so far it looks like the remaining plants will at least survive. Most of them are even starting to bloom.

But the vines are looking rather spindly, the leaves are small and yellowish, and they are not growing very quickly.

Most of the plants are sporting these flowers that start off peachy colored and open up white.

A couple of the plants are sporting these coral colored blossoms.

Here's the green beans that replaced the previous planting of green beans on this trellis that were dying off earlier. I thought the problem with the earlier planting was that I started them too early. But these plants aren't exactly thriving either. They are spindly and have small yellowish leaves, they just aren't as vigorous as they should be. They are blooming and setting beans, but I'm not sure what the quality or quantity will be. There's two varieties of beans growing on this trellis, one of which I've grown before and so I know what it can do and it definitely is not doing it.

Look at my green beans last year on July 17. They were growing like weeds, sporting big dark green leaves and quickly overtaking the trellis.

This trellis has two varieties of runner beans that are for harvesting as green beans. The bean production is not generous so far and the plants seem to be struggling. I don't know if they are simply not happy with the warmer than expected weather this year or if the problem is something else.

This is the really ugly bit. In the foreground is my latest attempt to get some beans going. Most of them have died and the rest on seemingly on their way out. I've got a new flat of beans started to take their place, but I'm totally wary of planting any more beans in this bed so I removed the trellis and planted the beans in a different bed. In the back is the planting of Fagiolo del Purgatorio which I had huge problems getting going. I think I started them too early, but they may also have been struggling with something that seems to be affecting all the legumes that I've been trying to grow in this bed (the peas were pretty much a failure this year too). They did eventually take off though and were blooming and setting beans like crazy until recently, that's when I noticed that they were all totally infested with spider mites. I sprayed the plants with Neem which killed the spider mites and I suppose it killed the already stressed plants as well.

Here's my planting of the same variety of beans last year on July 17. They did great, at least until the spider mites took over and killed them off also. I really do have to keep a sharper eye out for the spider mites and spray them as soon as I see them.

Fortunately, I think that most of the beans on the plants this year matured enough so that I can harvest a half decent amount of dried beans. But, I've already got a bunch of new seeds sown to see if I can get a late crop of them (I'm always trying to push the boundaries of planting times).

Here's a surprise volunteer pepper plant that was hiding in the bean patch. I didn't notice it until the bean plants started to turn brown. I wonder what it will turn out to be?

This end of the bed is home to cucumbers and zucchini. The cucumbers have been struggling also. *SIGH*

Look at the yellowing leaves.

A closer looks reveals typical damage from, ha ha, spider mites. I should just call this the spider mite bed, they find it such a comfy cozy spot to live and breed and breed and breed.

I treated the cucumbers with Neem also and the newer growth is staying somewhat healthier looking.

But not as healthy looking as my cucumbers at the same time last year. No spider mites last year. These eventually gave in to powdery mildew but not before they gave me plenty of delicious cucumbers.

And over on the other side of this bed, in this corner, the amazing kale. Well, not so amazing, but at least it is growing and my treatments for aphids haven't killed them off yet.

And the birds haven't pecked them totally to death yet.

But down this way, just beyond the now weedy seedy rapini...

Is the truly amazing zucchini. A zucchini a day, or two, or three, or...

Romanesco zucchini

Look below at the stem on the Ortolano di Faenza zucchini, every leaf node sports the cut stem from a zucchini. Look at the Romanesco zucchini above. On both of these plants there is not a male blossom to be found. Both plants had a few male blossoms to begin with and then from then on every single blossom had a zucchini attached to it. The zucchinis on these plants do not have to be pollinated, seemingly, they are ready to harvest the day after the blossom opens, or a couple of days on the Ortolano. I can't believe that I've harvested 36 pounds of zucchini off of these two plants in only two months (plus the one that I need to go pick today).

More zucchini to come...

OK, I need to go pick those zucchini before they get much bigger and then I have to get dinner going (yes dear, more zucchini tonight). The rest of the tour will have to wait until tomorrow.

How's your garden growing this July?


  1. I know that feeling when any of your plants are stuggling, but what a tour! All I'm thinking is how much I wish we had a nice, flat, piece of land to grow our vegetables, and have them surrounded by all that light. I noticed your irrigation system (yay!), and what a difference between last year's and this year's tomatoes. For me, tunnels are everything, no matter what. I like that you use tomato cages as over here in Italy, you won't find anybody using them at all. Now that I'm back on the gardening blog I'll have to report on the failed caper experiment. We just don't have the heat required, but the flowers are pretty!

  2. You have a beautiful garden! I have never had a volunteer pepper in my garden, what a great surprise.

  3. Wow. my garden is quite empty right now with most of spring plantings pulled and little to nothing happening on my new plantings yet. First cukes and tomatoes just starting.

    I could not grow beans last year (I got a few pods thats it), and this year they seem slow except of romano bush beans. How are your Gigantes?

  4. Beautiful and what a gorgeous view you have beyond them too! ;)

  5. So how are the runner beans doing. From above seems like they might be suffering a little. Sorry to hear that, they do like a rich soil but I suspect that the dry heat might be the real problem. Looking at current catalogues it seems those varieties I sent you have been superseded by "Tenderstar" which still have the nice bi-coloured flowers and the french bean heritage. I might try them here in the Fall when it finally cools down.
    Looking lovely as always


  6. Sorry about the beans, hopefully the next batch catches up soon.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.