Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mid May Garden Update

Things grow so quickly at this time of year with warmer temperatures and longer days that I could almost do an update every week. I just can't find the time to do that though and barely find the time to do just the highlights as I'm doing with this tour.

First an overview from up on the hillside. The favas in Bed No. 1 are tall enough now that they almost obscure the view of Bed No. 4. which is still covered with cardboard and awaiting final preparation for tomato and pepper planting.

In Bed No. 2 what stands out is the blooming-their-hearts-out Pink Lettucy mustard on the right and the reaching-for-the-sky Syrian Medieval chard on the left. Across the way there's a couple of green patches which are the potato plantings which seem to grow as you watch them.

The favas are really happy this year. It seems that they are more than happy to go into soil that has not been amended. I pulled out most of the tomato plants that occupied the space in early January and about a week after that I set out the fava seedlings that I had started in paper pots. I didn't add anything to soil and didn't even pull the tomato plants but just cut the vines off at soil level. I was not sure how the favas would do with a start in pots because they have a very strong tap root, but I made sure the beans didn't spend much time in the pots after they germinated. The best thing about starting the beans in the paper pots is that it significantly sped up the germination from a least 3 weeks in cold soil to about a week in the pots.

Fava Alley

The fava plants look very erect in the photo above but they actually needed a bit of restraining because they were leaning over the pathway and making it difficult to get through. I set a number of tall stakes along the length of the outer edge of the bed and used strips cut from old cotton t-shirts to hold them back out of the path. I still remember the days when I would plant an entire bed with favas and then let them flop every which way which meant that I literally had to wade in amongst the flopped over plants to find and harvest the beans. This method is much better!

Elsewhere in Bed No. 1 the Piccolo Dattero tomato plants that survived the winter and a big trim a few weeks ago are starting to fill out and are blooming. First tomatoes in June this year?

Piccolo Dattero From 2017

Aji Angelo is the most robust of the overwintered pepper plants.

Aji Angelo Returns!

But it's Craig's Grande Jalapeño that has the first flower buds.

Craig's Grande Jalapeño Bud

Aphids are being kept in check by parasitic wasps.

Aphid Mummy on Pepper Leaf

I think the Golden Sweet snow peas are hitting the peak of their production. The upper parts of the vines are loaded with peas and looking great.

Golden Sweet Snow Peas
Look lower though and the vines are getting to be a powdery mildew mess. So far I'm quite happy with my experiment with having the favas and peas share the trellis, each to their own side.

Here side by side are the Royal snow pea and Little Crunch snap pea vines. What a difference. The snap peas are looking snowy white with powdery mildew and the snow peas are vibrant green and healthy. I'll be pulling out the snap peas soon and plan to replant with some bush beans.

The garbanzos (chickpeas) are blooming. I'm hoping that the plants will dry down in time for me to plant some bush beans or perhaps more of the Royal snow peas for fall harvests.

Pico Pardal Garbanzo Blossom

I have been giving the I'itoi onions more water and also gave them a mulch of the coarse stuff left after sifting some shredded oak based compost. Most of the pots have responded positively.

I'Itoi Onions

The onions in this pot aren't so happy. Perhaps they are not healthy.

The highlights in Bed No. 2 include the bolting Syrian Medieval chard. Seeds please!

Syrian Medieval Chard Bolting

New Tennis Ball lettuce happily growing. They don't mind the foggy nights and mornings typical of May Gray days.

Tennis Ball Lettuce

Queen of Crunch lettuces are also looking good. I've harvested all of the interplanted extras as babies and now it's time to start harvesting the full sized heads.

Queen of Crunch Lettuce
Pai Tsai Napa cabbage is a non-heading type. It's growing incredibly quickly and I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't ready for harvesting in a week to ten days.

Pai Tsai Napa Cabbage
Purple Pac choi is ready for harvesting.

Purple Pac Choi

This was the broccoli plant that I showed on the previous tour that was just a rodent gnawed stump. Rodents allowing, it may yet produce a small head. I chose not to publish the photo that I took of a rat that was caught in a nearby snap trap and which was in turn snacked upon by something else in the few hours that passed before I found it. It was a gruesome sight and reaffirmed to me that there's an overpopulation of hungry critters out and about. It seems like everybody in the neighborhood has their own tales of rodent woe. One neighbor had $8,000 of repair work done on his car because of rodents. And my Dave discovered that he's been chauffeuring rodents in his car. One of my morning routines lately has been to check the traps in the garden, the traps under the house, the traps in the garage...

Batavia Broccoli

Back on April 25 the potatoes were mere tufts of green starting to poke some green leaves up through the soil in the potholes that I had planted them in. Look at them now. And under the Agribon fabric attached to the trellis beyond there were newly planted out Tromba D'Albenga vines sitting under water bottle cloches.

They are too big for cloches now and are ready to start clambering up the trellis. I had them covered with the fabric to keep the birds and the you-know-whats from nibbling devouring the tender young plants.
Tromba D'Albenga Squash Vines

Yay! There's basil in the garden. Summer must be nigh.

L to R - Corsican, Italian Mountain, Persian, Profumo di Genova Basils

That's the latest. Thanks for stopping by and taking the tour.


  1. Beautiful. Beautiful. Especially that purple pak choi.

    Nights here are cool.

    Ever been to Mineral King? There you have to wrap the underparts of the car in chicken wire to keep the marmots from the anti-freeze. There's a suggestion that sprinkling coyote piss around the car keeps them away. Have you tried that? (Giggle.)

    1. Do I have to catch a coyote first? Here boy.... How do you collect coyote piss?

      And no, thank whatever, I've never been to Mineral King and it sounds like I don't need to go.

      Just ripped out all of the Golden Sweet snow peas this afternoon after discovering that the DR's were getting behind the pea plants and feasting on fava foliage along with the easy to reach peas. I guess I should be happy that they seem to prefer the foliage to the beans, at least the mature beans. Ah well, the peas needed to go anyway, they let loose clouds of powdery mildew spores as I ripped them out.

  2. The favas look like trees! I can imagine what they would look like all flopped over everywhere. And that shot of the Queen of Crunch lettuce plants looks like a painting. It make me want to paint it with an oil and vinegar dressing and eat it though! I lost one of my potted overwintered Aji Angelo plants from 2016 but one from 2017 is doing fine and ready to go in the ground. I actually had a Czech Black pepper overwinter and bloom, and is now setting on little black jalapeno size fruits! I didn't have the heart to pull them off, though I probably should have.

    Thankfully we don't have rats here, but we do have tree rats (aka squirrels) which do a lot of damage. I had one gnaw through the wires on my truck a few years back. Had to tow it to the garage because it wouldn't start!

  3. How fun, overwintered tomatoes and pepper plants. Powdery mildew is definitely running through your pea patch but at least the Royal ones are resistant. Everything looks like it's growing well especially the potato and fava bean patch.

    We're finishing up planting the garden today, it's mostly seeding beans and corn and setting out a few greens, melons, and herbs.

  4. Everything suddenly starts growing so quickly doesn’t it. Those broad beans/ faves look huge. Ours a much much smaller but are starting to flower, The flowers produce a really lovely perfume.

  5. Rodent's damaging and hitching a ride in cars? Holy cow...that's beyond anything I've ever heard of. Looks like your garden is holding up incredibly well, considering. Goes to show what some prevention...and a LOT of hardware cloth...can do!

    And I know what you mean about being short on time - this is especially the case for us this year because of our late start to the season. Everything on the to-do list just kept piling up while the temperatures remained inhospitable and looks like we will be in catch-up mode for some time.


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