Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Garden Update - August 31, 2016

You did not miss my Harvest Monday post this week because Dave and I were off hiking the northern portion of The Lost Coast trail and I didn't have time to write the post. I'll cover 2 weeks of harvests next Monday. 

This 25 mile trail hugs the water in the most remote stretch of the California coast in the King Range Wilderness. The trail varies from black sand beaches,

to hard packed and/or sandy paths,

to rocky shoreline, (look closely and you can see me picking my way through),

to cobbles and everything in between. There are stretches where you can not pass at high tide so it is necessary to carry a tide chart and time your travel for the window around low tide.

We spent 3 days and 2 nights on the trail and the nights before and after the hike in Shelter Cove. It was foggy the entire time but we didn't mind because the fog kept the temperatures in a very comfortable range. But of course the sun came out the day we left.

The Lost Coast at Shelter Cove
Enough of the non-gardening stuff and on to what's new in the garden in the past week.

Still waiting for Orange Jazz tomato to ripen, but it is showing some color. And a few more peppers are starting to color up.

Odessa Market
Violet Sparkle
IPK P 632 (Italy)
Aji Amarillo
The small fruited Aji Amarillo peppers from Artisan Seeds are starting to ripen, while the Aji Amarillo Grande peppers have hardly even begun to set. I may end up having to pot up the Grande plants to overwinter them.

I noticed that powdery mildew is infecting some of the pepper plants. Etiuda seems to be quite susceptible and Lady Bell is pretty heavily infected as well. The fog has been particularly heavy this month, probably because of the smoke from the Soberanes fire, and the daytime temperatures have been cooler than normal as well. Powdery mildew is infecting my broccoli and kale too. I sprayed all the pepper plants, the kale, and the Batavia broccoli plants with an Actinovate solution yesterday.

Mareko Fana
The Mareko Fana plant that I'm growing this year seems to have a slightly different pod than the plants that I grew last year and the plants are not as tall. There is some diversity in the peppers, it's a landrace variety rather than a more uniform selection. Most peppers ripen to brown, but some to red and most peppers have thick flesh while others are thinner. It will be interesting to see how these turn out.

Chewed Shepherd's Ramshorn plant
The other significant development in the pepper patch is that the critters have developed a taste for the leaves and shoots of the pepper plants. I set traps all over the garden at night, which is when most of the damage is done, but I've not been catching the culprits that are munching the pepper plants, although I did get a couple of big ones that were raiding the strawberries. I have, however, figured out a way to catch the littlest rats that don't spring the snap or other traps. I'm using one of my larger Tubtrugs. I found that they will crawl into the trug if there's something yummy to eat in there, but I also found that they can jump quite high for their size to I have to put something over the top to keep them trapped. So far I've caught at least 10 of them this way, I'm losing count.

This is why I don't have a seed feeder set up for the birds anymore...

Also on the munching menu are the Hopi White Tepary bean plants.

Hopi White Tepary Bean
I suppose Tepary bean plants must be pretty tasty. I had to erect a barrier around the Blue Speckled Tepary plants to keep what is most likely the rabbit from plowing through them. And I'm guessing that it's the Damn Rabbit that is reaching up to munch the Hopi White.

So far the tulle fabric is keeping the munchers out of the pea patch.

Puhwem Corn Tassels
The Puhwem corn started to tassle this week.

IPK P 852 (Italy) Pepper Plants
One more pepper update. The IPK P 852 (Italy) pepper plants that I belatedly set out in a fabric pot are really starting to fill out and have flower buds.

Romanesco Broccoli
The Romanesco Broccoli and Purple Cape Cauliflower plants that I set out last week are taking off.

Parsnip Seedlings
The parsnips that I sowed back on August 15 are finally emerging.

Carrot Seedlings
The carrot seedlings are coming along but something, probably sowbugs, has started to munch. More sluggo...

The kohlrabi plants are also coming along nicely.

No More Lettuce!
I harvested all of the lettuce the day we took off for our trip. It all looked to be on the verge of bolting and I know that it will keep quite well in the fridge for a couple of weeks. The fridge is stuffed and salad is definitely on the menu.

Batavia Broccoli
As I mentioned earlier, the broccoli plants were infected with powdery mildew so I treated them with Actinovate. But before the treatment I cut off most of the foliage which made it easier to spray and it also makes it easier to see the side shoots and it gives the shoots more space and light.

I cut the overgrown basil plants back yesterday and aim to get them out of the garden this week and sow some amaranth greens there. I can't put any overwintering greens into this bed because I need to have it entirely cleared out by the end of the year so I can sow it with a mustard cover crop. Next year this bed will be home to the tomatoes and peppers. I prep the tomato/pepper bed with a winter cover crop that I dig in in the spring. The volunteer Dorato d'Asti celery plant that is behind the basil also has to go.

The melon vines are starting to bloom, even though it seems to me like the vines are still quite puny.

Candystick Dessert Delicata
Delicata and butternut squashes are developing.

Honey Nut Butternut

Vine Peach
The Vine Peach plants that I sowed way back in June are finally developing some female blossoms. These plants and the Kiwano Horned Melon (also sown in June) seem to really resent the cool weather. If I try them again next year I'll wait until July to start them.

Kiwano Horned Melon
Cucumber Trellis
The Tasty Treat Japanese cucumber vines have grown enough that I can start training them up trellis and they have some blossoms already.

Up and Coming

The new basil seedlings are almost big enough to set out in the garden. The new lettuces (more Manoa crisphead, Jericho romaine, and Rosencrantz crisphead) are large enough to set out. And the Tronchuda Beira cabbage and Russian Hunger Gap kale are also large enough to get into the garden.

That's the latest in garden for the week.


  1. Yes, bird seed = rats.
    Yes, fruit set on two-foot long Musque de Provence pumpkin vines. Must be a day length thing.
    Heavy infestation of red spider mite on Mascotte beans.

    1. Dear Michelle, this appears to be a deer mouse. I can't tell for certain.

      But please read the IPM Guide:
      Deer mice are a particular concern because they spread hantavirus. You can probably check with county ag to see if that is a problem where you are.

      Down here we have ground squirrels with black (bubonic) plague. It is endemic and carefully monitored.

      Additional comments: Armenian cucumber 6 feet plus long bought as a seedling first of July just now setting a few fruit.

      Dear Phuong, Michelle will also answer this her way. Down my way in southern California near Los Angels, increased creature concentration is a result of the dryness everywhere, the everlasting drought. The animals come to get water from the plants because their usual sources have dried up.

    2. Jane, thank you so much for the link to the pest note. I have to take a closer look at the next one(s) that I catch, I'm not sure that they are actually deer mice since I don't recall that their bellies have been so white as in the example in the note. Nonetheless, I am always very careful when working with rodent traps and carcasses, I always wear nitrile gloves when setting or clearing traps. I think I'll start using some bleach to disinfect my Tubtrugs now. And it seems more important than ever to get the mouse/rat population under control. But I do believe you are correct about them being some sort of mouse, there's too many of them for them to be all baby rats. I'll have to look up the other mice species mentioned in the pest note.

      That is slow for cucumbers, especially in your warm climate, I would think they would grow like crazy. I'm losing patience with the Vine Peach and Kiwano Melon, they are hogging space and I have other proven producers that could use that space. The most frustrating thing is that I read a number of comments about both of those that they are rampant growers and can take over a space in no time so I gave them lots of room. I may pull them out and try again next year with a later start so that they can grow in the warm late summer and fall weather.

      Yup, the drier it gets the more critters find their way to the garden.

    3. I looked further into this.

      A wonderful interactive county map.

      I don't think you have anything to worry about with the deer mice except to be aware of the issues which you are.

      Monterey Co Ag is not concerned

    4. Jane, you are amazing! Thank you again for finding such useful information. I know how it is when you Just Have To Know!

  2. Melons seem to grow quickly once fruit sets and you do have a really long season. Your peppers and winter squash look great. But the critters seem to be out in force this year, I wonder if they fires are causing some to relocate.

    Your hiking trip along the coast looks really fun with lots to see. I've always enjoyed coastal terrains.

    1. I think the critter invasion is the result of 2 things. 1. We had a fairly normal winter this year with enough rain to get a lot of rodent food sources growing and producing which promotes a bit of a population boom. 2. No appreciable rain since May means the critter food sources are drying up and disappearing, so as Jane said, they are finding it in the garden. I don't think that the fire has anything to do with it, the burned areas probably too far away.

  3. Ah, the depredations of the night critters. Sorry about your rat and mouse problems. But what an amazing garden you have. Kudos. Lou Murray's Green World

  4. What you say about variations from year to year with the peppers is interesting. I find that some varieties are very inconsistent, but others are good. I have one type of chilli which I originally grew from seeds brought back (inside their fruit) from a holiday in Turkey several years ago. I save seeds each year and grow it again, and it comes true every time, which is surprising since all my chillis are grown side-by-side in the open.

    1. I just had an interesting experience with my Florina peppers. They were consistently sweet last year, but my first pepper this year from the same seed stock was spicy!

  5. That looks like a beautiful hiking trip! Despite all your critter problems things are growing beautifully.

    1. A fantastic hiking trip. I would love to do it again!

  6. I second Will, what a wonderful time you must have had on that hike. I simply adore coastlines and would walk along the beach every day if I was near one.

    That's interesting that your peppers get PM - we are always very humid over the summer but I have yet to see it on the pepper plants (squash and cucumbers is another story). I'm thinking it's our short season - the plants are likely done before it has a change to develop. And you have reminded me that I should be harvesting my basil for some freezer pesto - it's been on the to-do list for a couple of weeks now but keeps slipping through the cracks.

    1. I think the PM likes the COOL and damp weather that we've had this summer, but I will have to check up on that. I'm also wondering if the fine coat of ash that is covering EVERYTHING is contributing to the problem. Anyway, I don't generally have problems with PM on my peppers and it's usually not a problem on plants other than curcurbits at this time of year.

      It was a wonderful hike, especially the evening when we got to enjoy the sight of whales (Humpbacks?) spouting and breaching off the coast. Amazing!

  7. Wow, the hike sounded great and then you mentioned seeing whales too? That is way cool!

    I accidentally discovered that Tubtrugs are easier to get into than out when I found a blue tailed skink in one I keep in the greenhouse. At first I thought it was just hanging out, then I decided it couldn't get up the slick sides, so I tipped the Tubtrug and it scampered out. I got enough of the Baby Ajis to try making a batch of Aji Amarillo Paste. If I get it made before Monday I will share the results in my HM post. I think mine are too hot to turn into pepper jam like you did.


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