Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What's Happening in the Garden - August 17, 2016

I'm going to try to start a new type of post. My blog as a garden journal has some major gaps. I post regularly about harvests because of Harvest Monday and I post an occasional state of the garden type of tour. What I have in mind in to try to do a regular post (hopefully every week) about new activity in the garden so I can get a better idea of the timing of various events and activities. I keep notes about when I sow and plant things, but I don't keep any sort of notes about things like when plants start to bloom or veggies start to set, or when plants poop out and get removed, or when pests show up, or other such things. Today seems like a good day to start since the wind has shifted and lots of smoke from the Soberanes Fire is choking the valley again and I should confine most of my activities to inside.

So let's start with the up and comers.

I did a bunch of seed sowing in the last couple of weeks. On the right are new basil seedlings (Corsican, Italian Mountain, and Profumo di Genova) just potted up yesterday. The basil in the garden has gotten to be huge and is in full bloom so rather than trying to trim it down and get it to regrow I decided to start over with new plants. The long growing season means that I can harvest basil through October and well into November if the plants are healthy. These new seedlings are growing really quickly, they were sown on July 27, so I should be able to get them into the garden in a couple of weeks and then start harvesting from them a few weeks later. The flat in the center has pots of recently sown chard (Golden, Peppermint Stick, and Syrian Medieval). Those will be for overwintering, I don't expect to be harvesting anything from those plants for a few months. The other pots in that flat are sown with Tronchuda Beira cabbage (kale), Russian Hunger Gap kale, Jericho Romaine lettuce, and Rosencrantz Crisphead lettuce. And the flat on the left has Manoa Crisphead lettuce, Ramata di Milano onions (for scallions), chives, Purple Cape cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, and Monarch celeriac.

This tunnel is home to a couple of recent additions to the garden.

The agribon is protecting newly sown seeds of Gladiator parsnips and a variety of carrots including Bolero, Nelson, Purple Sun, Pusa Rudhira Red, Rotild, and Starica. I've grown all of those before except for the Starica carrots.

I also set out 6 kohlrabi seedlings. Each plant is protected by a bottomless/topless water bottle to keep the sowbugs and possibly the rats from munching. The tunnel keeps the birds and the bunny out but the rats are more clever and can find a way in. The sowbugs won't or can't climb up the sides of the bottle.

The only other new activity in this bed is that the birds discovered the kale so I've had to cover it up with tulle. I should be calling my garden the "Veiled Garden".

The end is nearly here for the Black Coco bush beans. I've been pulling the pods off the plants as they dry and there's just a few left. This is only about half the patch. The rest of the plants were sown earlier and they are finished - the pods gathered and the plants chopped and in the compost. I'm not in a rush to clear out that space shown above, I've decided to put the I'itoi onions there and they don't need to be planted right away.

The rest of the beans made way for some peas. I was so pleased with the spring peas that I grew this year that I'm inspired to try a fall planting. There's 3 varieties here, all low growers that don't need a trellis. Two are shelling peas - Canoe and Green Arrow, and the third variety is Sweet Horizon snow peas. And they are of course veiled! I started all of them in paper pots sown on August 4. There's 12 of each variety except Green Arrow which had 2 that didn't germinate so I direct sowed 3 seeds to fill the gap. I also have another variety of pea I'm going to try later  - Frieda Worlds is bred for fall sowing to be overwintered, it is frost resistant but grows to 6 feet so I'll need a trellis for it. Space on the other side of the bed should open up in time to plant it.

Blue Speckled Tepary Bean Blossom

The tepary beans are finally starting to bloom. Blue Speckled has pink blossoms and Hopi White has white blossoms. I sowed the Blue Speckled on June 20, I'm not sure but it seems like nearly 2 months is a long time from sowing to first blooms (this is where this type of post will be helpful). The Hopi White were sown even earlier on June 7. It's a good thing I've got a long growing season.

Hopi Chinmark Corn Tassle
Hopi Chinmark Corn Silk

Another new event in this bed is that the Hopi Chinmark flour corn has started to tassle. The seeds were sown on June 8 and I have no idea what the time to harvest is but I guess 2+ months from seed to tassle isn't too long especially considering the cool climate here and a cooler than usual summer too.

Caught sight of this critter on the corn, I don't think it will do too much damage, so I let it be and perhaps one of the numerous lizards in the garden will get a treat!

Golden Gate snap bean

Signs of good things to come. Golden Gate is the first of the 3 pole beans to set beans. And the Zuni Tomatillo plants have been blooming like crazy and are setting fruits also.

Zuni Tomatillo

IPK P 852 (Italy) Pepper Plants

It's difficult to see through the hardware cloth, but the newly planted (Aug. 3) previously overlooked IPK P 852 (Italy) plants that I omitted from the main pepper planting and which had nearly been defoliated by rats before I rescued them are putting out new growth including flowers. If we have a normal run of warm weather this fall I might have a chance to see what kind of pepper they make. I think they're doing great considering I didn't get them into the pot until August 3.

I've got another coverup job going on in the pepper patch.

I'm not sure why it happened now, perhaps the plant dropped a leaf or 2, but this big beautiful Etiuda sweet bell started to get sunburned so I wrapped it in some Agribon. I also wrapped a Lady Bell that is starting to ripen but looked like it was getting sun damaged also.

Orange Jazz Tomato
Not really news, but I noticed that one of the Orange Jazz tomatoes is starting to develop some stripes. It looks like it's still got quite some time left before it ripens. Actually, it will be interesting to see how long it takes to ripen after developing stripes. Patience....

Rat Snatched Strawberry

The DRats are still up to their nasty tricks. They snatch a strawberry and then drop it in the garden without even finishing it. I see this time and again and it's always an infuriating sight.

Very mature Aurelia basil plants.

Here's the patch of basil that needs to be replaced. I think it might be an interesting experiment next year to try to do succession sowings of basil.

Profumo di Genova and Corsican basils

This patch of Profumo di Genova basil isn't quite so far gone as the Aurelia basil, but the Corsican basil is nearly gone, it got sick and started to die so I cut it back to the nubs.

Tromba d'Albenga squash
Elsewhere in this bed the Tromba d'Albenga squash produced the first blooms. Three female blossoms opened but nary a male blossom so I doubt this one will set. Tromba squash is a moschata type squash and the only other moschata squash in the garden hasn't started to bloom yet and the pepo and maxima squashes blooming in the garden now won't pollinate moschata squash (or each other). So I guess I'll be harvesting some baby Tromba d'Albenga squash soon.

Honey Nut Butternut Female Blossom

Candystick Dessert Delicata Squash

The Candystick Dessert Delicata squash (Curcurbita pepo) plants are blooming profusely and setting squash.

Candystick Dessert Delicata Blossom

Discus Buttercup Squash

The Discus Buttercup squash (Curcurbita maxima) has been blooming for a while now (would have been nice to note when it started).  There are a number of squash that have set.

Discus Buttercup Squash

And it looks like there are more setting. The plants are supposed to be bush types, spreading to about 3 feet, but each plant has sent out at least one long vine. Fortunately the vines want to grow out over the edge of the bed so I'll let them do that and direct them along the path.

Melon Vines
It remains to be seen if I started my melon plants in time to get ripe melons this fall. September and October bring the warmest weather of the year and that's the time I'm aiming for to have melons on the vines. The plants have started to take off. Hopefully they will have a major growth spurt in the next couple of weeks.

That's the latest in my garden. I hope to be back in a week with another update. Next time should be easier since there will be less catchup work to do.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Endah. They are doing well for now, no signs of powdery mildew yet.

  2. Michelle, thank you so much. It's just what I wanted to know. So you are counting on two more months of good growing weather. I hope the melons make it!

    I've planted directly chard, broccoli, summer lettuce and pak choi from seeds this past week. May be too early for pak choi and broccoli but the chard is up.

    Peppers are in heat check. I cut back all tomatoes except one supposedly heat resistant and they are sending out new basal shoots. They did poorly this year so far. Eggplant 'Millionaire' has done exceptionally well.

    First blooms on Mascotte container beans and Romanesco squash this week. So there's time enough for them.

    Planted Musica pole beans in a sunny spot yesterday. And a Musquee de Provence pumpkin lately planted is doing well. Whether or not I get some beans and a pumpkin by Thanksgiving is anyone's guess. We shall see.

    We've got a new fire, Blue Cut. I know the area well. And the media reporting is just laughable especially when it comes from some eastern newscaster; it's so wrong. Fortunately and, for the moment, the smoke is not blowing directly here. Still there is smog and some smoke from various sources.

    1. Jane, you are so welcome. Check out my new 2016 Sowing and Planting page too, it links to a spread sheet that I'm keeping showing sowing and planting dates, the link is on the bar at the top. So much of what I do is experimental, if I have the space and there's a chance of success I'll try. But I do need to keep better notes about those experiments!

      Musica is one of my favorite beans but I haven't grown them for a couple of years. I can get a really similar bean, maybe the same, from a grower at the farmer's market so I buy from them and grow what I can't buy. I would be surprised if you don't get some by Thanksgiving. You'll have to let me know.

      Oh my, I've been reading about the Blue Cut fire, it's sounds like a really horrific one, it seems to have just exploded and spread amazingly fast. It's turning out to be an awful year for fires and we haven't even hit the worst of the fire season yet. I am not going to feel safe until the rains come. Oh please let it rain this year!

    2. Oh. Thanks for pointing that page out otherwise I would have missed it.

      This is perfection. I have already learned quite a lot from it.
      1) not everything germinates even for you!
      2) what does "pregerminate" mean?
      3) looks like you have already ordered seeds for 2017? or is that more of a "want" list?
      4) I especially like the "Notes"; very helpful
      5) you have a lot of experimental stuff growing; I think that is part of the fun, isn't it?

      I usually do something like this in narrative form which is less than useful for looking up stuff. I need to develop a data sheet such as this. (I have trouble fitting things in boxes. Rebellious mental problem.)

    3. Definitely not everything germinates for me! Old seeds, inattention, mistakes....

      Pregerminate is sort of a shorthand phrase that I used for a method of starting pepper seeds this year, I put them on moist paper towels in baggies and let them sprout there before transferring them to pots. It gives me more time to sow more if it looks like they aren't going well. I found it takes days after a seed pops out a little root to when it actually sends out a shoot so I can get more seeds going if it looks like the germination rate is bad. It's especially useful when using older seeds and with varieties that cost a lot of money for just a few seeds. It is a little fiddly to transfer the seeds from the towels to the pots but not too bad if I do it as soon as the root emerges, wait too long and there's a chance of damaging the new root.

      I have some seeds on hand for 2017, some things were intended for this year but I didn't get around to growing them and some are varieties that I bought earlier with the intention of starting them this fall and overwintering them. Others are seeds for those tried and true varieties that I grow every year and use the seeds until I run out or they get to be too old. And I did order some new things this summer for the fall/winter garden, like the peas which are one of newest experiments. I am a seed junky.

      Glad the notes are helpful, they sure are for me because I can't remember a thing anymore.

      And yes, the experimental stuff is a lot of the fun.

  3. With your long growing season, I'm thinking your fall sowing of peas should do really well - I was planning on trying a fall sowing (even though my odds of success are much less), but have decided to cut way back on fall planting this year as I have several overdue projects that need to be finished and there are only so many hours in the day!

    And LOVE the idea of a regular update post. I always find that when I post about something, I'm much more thorough than when I simply take notes for myself - and my notes don't include pictures, which is a huge drawback. Lucky you to have the time to do that...maybe one day I'll be so fortunate :)

    1. I am lucky to have the time, but I would really prefer to spend the time in the garden rather than inside. One of the benefits of the unhealthy smoke levels outside is that I'm getting things done indoors that have been neglected, like cleaning... I hope I can sustain the new (renewed) blogging effort after the smoke clears.

  4. Sounds like your plan for your blog will make it more like the style I use - a sort of Garden Diary. I'm fortunate to have the leisure time to write every day. (Actually it's a War Diary of the never-ending battle against pests and diseases! - like in your Veiled Garden)

  5. I admire your discipline in documenting things in your blog! I am lucky if I remember to make notes in my garden log. I'm sure you have talked about this before, but do you use concrete remesh as a trellis for your vining squashes? I need to do something different with mine next year, and I'm thinking that will be a good solution to get them up off the ground.

    1. Yes, concrete remesh makes a great trellis for the vining squashes. It takes some work to train them, I tie them up with strips of old cotton t-shirts. But it does save a good amount of space so I think it's worth the extra work.


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