Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Garden Update - September 21, 2016

Happy almost Autumnal Equinox, around here it starts at 7:20 am tomorrow morning. Next week I'll have to switch from a Summer Garden label to a Fall Garden label. Another happy thing to report is a retreat of the smoke from the valley so I got to enjoy a lovely view across the valley this morning. (The view up the valley at the moment is dismaying - there's a huge plume of smoke, but at least it's not coming this way).

While I was enjoying the view I snapped a couple of overview shots of the garden.

This view gives a good perspective of how tall the Puhwem corn is.

The beans on the right top out at 7 feet (2.1 meters) and the tip of the tassels next to the beans reach 11 feet (3.4 meters) and a number of the stalks are even taller.

Puhwem Corn
I'itoi Onions
One thing in the garden that I'm excited about, and it's so nice to be excited rather than PO'd about something in the garden, is that the I'itoi onions that I planted a couple of weeks ago are sprouting already! What a difference it makes to plant fresh healthy bulbs as compared to the shriveled little specimens that I started with. My original bulbs each pushed up one or 2 blades and very slowly started to multiply. These ones, and I started with single bulbs which must have started to multiply internally because each one has produced at least 2 clumps of blades. Oh gosh, I hope they don't become a tasty treat to some pest.

I'itoi Onion

Kongo Kohlrabi
The kohlrabi is starting to fatten up. I picked up a seed packet of a kohlrabi duo from Renee's Seeds (available at the local hardware store) mainly because one of the varieties is Kolibri which seems to be popular with some of my favorite garden bloggers. Kongo was the other variety, but I haven't heard anything about it. Notice that I left them to grow in the water bottle sleeves because I'm sure the rodents would LOVE to munch on those juicy stems.

Kolibri Kohlrabi

Tronchuda Beira Cabbage/Kale
I just removed the protective sleeves from the Tronchuda Beira and Russian Hunger Gap plants yesterday. No nibbling last night. So far...

Russian Hunger Gap Kale

Dazzling Blue Kale
The Dazzling Blue kale is recovering nicely from the big trim and treatments for powdery mildew and aphids.

Medieval Syrian, Golden, and Peppermint Stick Chard
I set out some chard seedlings. Three of Medieval Syrian since they are small plants and will bolt quickly and one each of Peppermint Stick and Golden chard. The Peppermint Stick and Golden varieties should grow through the winter and if they behave as they typically do they will get to be huge by next spring and 2 plants will be more than enough to meet my needs.

Pink Plume Celery
That's the 3 remaining Pink Plume celery plants. I've tied them up because the outer stalks tend to flop outward. You can see how there are numerous side shoots that develop. These plants are prolific producers. It will be interesting to see if they hold off bolting this fall.

I haven't figured out which melon variety this is, but a few plants have set some fruit. It's still questionable if they will mature enough and resist the advances of the rodents to produce anything edible. I've set the melon atop an overturned cottage cheese tub to keep the sowbugs and millipedes  from eating it from the bottom up.

Blue Speckled Tepary Beans
The Tepary beans have set a number of pods, but the plants are already starting to die back before the pods have gotten very full so I'm not sure if the beans will mature enough before the plants die. I haven't grown Tepary beans before, so perhaps this is normal.

Discus Buttercup Squash
The Discus Buttercup squash are maturing. Unfortunately, yes more bad news, the squash that are sitting on the soil are being munched by sowbugs (woodlice) and little millipedes. Not all is lost though, a number of squash set that are hanging over the edge of the bed and those seem to be pretty safe although I did see signs of rodent sampling but they didn't get far, perhaps the skin was too tough for their dainty little palates.

The update gets progressively more depressing from here on out.

Hestia Brussels Sprouts
Yes, it looks like there are sprouts developing, but they are weird and worst of all they are infested with aphids.
Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The Gustus Brussels sprouts are not as large yet and there is perhaps a chance of keeping aphids out if I start with a regular treatment program. So yesterday I mixed up a batch of Azdiractin and Pyganic and the sprouts got a thorough spraying. The Azdiractin doesn't kill outright, it keeps the insects from growing on to their next stage and it does has some residual effect so it will help to control the aphids that weren't killed outright by the Pyganic. Azdiractin is also effective against cabbage moth worms, a few of which I came across in the patch. That combo has been the most effective organic treatment for aphids on brassicas that I've ever tried.

The eggplants are languishing. Some seem to be wilting, others have yellowing leaves that are dropping. There is perhaps some sort of fungal infection on the leaves. The pots seemed dry so perhaps they aren't getting enough water or maybe the drip lines are pinched or clogged. I gave them extra water and I'll wait to see what happens for a while, but if they don't perk up they are compost.

Hopi Chinmark corn

The rodents seem to have developed a fondness for corn silk. I hope this ear got pollinated before the critters started to munch. And there's aphids in there too, but they don't seem to be doing much damage, they're just creating a sticky mess. I noticed that another plant that hosted a pretty large community of aphids a while back got cleaned up by something so it's probably just a matter of time before the good bugs find their next feast here.

Here comes the really nasty bits. This is what I didn't have the heart to show last week.

Most of the pepper plants have been entirely or or are in the process of being defoliated by powdery mildew.

Gogosar Peppers
Some are starting to shrivel and others are being damaged by too much sun. There's some good ripe peppers in there, but there's loads of small green peppers that will never mature properly.

Shepherd's Ramshorn Peppers
One of the Florina pepper plants had mostly ripe and ripening peppers which I stripped off and another plant had pretty mature peppers that had barely started to ripen. I don't know if the green ones will ripen properly, I doubt that they will be as sweet as they could be.

Florina Peppers
The Turkish peppers were just starting to ripen as well. I haven't tasted them yet but I think that these may be good in their green stage. I'll have to sample some and if they are ok I'll strip the plant and enjoy them now.
Turkish Peppers

Aji Peppers
The one bright spot in the pepper patch is that the baccatum plants seem to be pretty resistant to powdery mildew. I hope so. The Baby Aji Amarillo plants are loaded with green peppers and the Aji Amarillo Grande plant is just starting to set pods.

And one last bad/good bit to report. A number of the tomato plants are also looking awful, the leaves are dying faster than I can pull them, but at least the fruits are holding in there for now.

So there is actually one good thing that might come from the early demise of the pepper and tomato plants. I'll get to experiment with an earlier planting of fava beans.

That's the latest. I'm hanging in there, trying to find the good things in and around my blighted garden. Not all the critters hanging about are pests. There's a huge covey of California Quail that seems to be mostly babies that are living on the hillside. They are so fun to watch and listen to. The Western Fence Lizard population is booming. I see them everywhere and there's bunches of babies skittering around as well. My favorite lizard, the California Whiptails have returned and they too are hatching babies. A pair of Mourning Doves nested somewhere nearby and the other day I got to watch a pair of awkward youngsters that I think may have recently fledged. So there's still plenty to enjoy around the garden and that's what I'm trying to focus on these days.

I hope you are finding good things in and around your garden too. Happy Autumn!


  1. Lovely to see the view across the valley.

    The melon looks like the one I got from AmazonFresh today, Tuscan (canteloupe) melon. I say this because of the pattern of green in the folds. Mine starts green at the neck and fades toward the blossom end like yours does, but may be that is a common feature to all melons, I don't know.

    I like quail and mourning doves. They are the only birds around here where the young look like young, so cute. Little puffballs. Most birds when they fledge are almost the size of adults, just the bills are shorter as with the scrub jays.

  2. It probably is a Tuscan melon, that's one of the varieties that I'm growing, but they're all growing together so I couldn't tell what plant it had set on. The quail especially look like little puff balls, just adorable. It always cheers me up to see them.

  3. These days I am apprehensive about reading your blog, Michelle! It seems to be under massive attack from EVERYTHING! Anyway, it is good that you are seeing plenty of wildlife, which proves that the creatures are well-fed. :) BTW, I think the Turkish peppers are normally eaten green. We have visited Turkey a few times and the peppers we saw were mostly served green, both fresh and pickled.

    1. I'm so sorry Mark, I'm sure it's been a bit of a downer to read my blog lately, but I am trying to focus a bit more on what is good out there. I do believe you are correct about those Turkish peppers. We were in Turkey years ago and one thing that I remember is the oft served salad that featured slices of slim green peppers. I've been searching for a pepper that matches my memory of those peppers and after tasting one of the green ones yesterday I do believe that I've found them!

  4. Oh, that's such sad pepper news...but those plants that are doing well are doing REALLY well, so I'm sure that's a small consolation. I'm having a good pepper year and none of my plants are anywhere near as large as those Aji pepper plants of yours.

    I feel your excitement about the onions, though - I don't know what it is but they are just such a thrilling crop to grow when you see them multiplying and/or bulbing up.

    And there's something about that celery, all tied up and standing proud. Makes me want to take the plunge and try growing some :)

    1. I never would have thought that onions would be an exciting crop, but there's something about watching them multiply or bulb up that is somewhat magical. But then I feel that way about so many things in the garden especially when I grow something from seeds, it's like a miracle every time a seed sprouts and the plants grow and produce something delicious to eat. I guess that's why I can't stop, all those little miracles outweigh the frustrations and disappointments.

  5. I am fascinated by your I'itoi onions. Did you get them (and the blue speckled tepary beans) from Native Seed/SEARCH? I was just in their store in Tucson and am quite enthused about planting more of their varieities. The I'itoi onions were one of the things I was planning to try. Did you grow them from bulbs or seed? I was also thinking about trying the blue-speckled teparies. The white ones are too sweet for my taste, but the brown teparies are great. They are growing popcorn at the store in an old horse trough, so that has encouraged me to try growing popcorn here in my tiny space. Meanwhile the rats and possums are eating away at my garden, so have courage. You are not alone in battling nature to grow food for your family.

    1. Yes, the I'itoi onions (and the tepary beans and some Hopi Chinstripe Corn) came from Native Seeds/SEARCH. The onions can only be grown from bulbs since the plants don't produce seeds. The rats seem to be bad all over the place here this year so I am definitely not alone.

  6. Where did you get Puhwem corn? It must be rare indeed. It is hard to find some even on the internet. I bought some that only gave a u.s. mail address and with a postal money order, but it has been over two weeks, and I think I've been scammed. Where did you get it?

    1. My seeds came from the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook. You have to be a member to request seeds from another member.


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