Saturday Sampler Tomorrow!

Our last Saturday Sampler for the year is tomorrow, September 20th from 9-10 a.m. in the Demonstration Garden. Rain or shine! (If it is really raining, we will move inside somewhere.) Our topic tomorrow is Italian beyond Tomatoes & Basil. We’ll be talking about some of the things we grew in our Spring/Fall Italian Garden this year and how to cook them.

Friday PhotoEssay & Harvesting Quinoa

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for fall! I was so ready that I took the loppers to all the tomato plants in my home garden last weekend. Most of them are still growing here in the Demo Garden though.

The sun angle makes everything a little tricky this morning, but you can probably see that the quinoa is gone and that some of our fall seedlings are showing up better.

The quinoa never got quite as colorful as we hoped it would, possibly because of the storm that knocked a lot of it over. In this bundle you can see a few nicely colored heads. Since the stems were brown, we cut the heads a few inches below the seeds, and they were hung to dry for a week or so in our shed. They are supposed to be dry and crumbly when they are ready to clean.

We ended up hanging the bundles off the top railing of the stairs, so they wouldn’t accidentally get hit while getting things out of the shed. Our shed is unheated and unairconditioned, but fairly dry, so it is usually a good place to hang things like this.

Even though our ‘Himrod’ grape vine is brand new this year, we still have a couple small clusters of grapes on it. Yes, we probably should have cut them off, but they were so small that it didn’t seem worth it.

The kohlrabi that we planted is just barely starting to form the bulb at the base, if you look really closely. I suppose if you’ve never seen kohlrabi grow before, that might be tricky. You’ll have to stay tuned as it gets bigger!

Hurray for salad mix! Most of the seeds we planted a couple weeks ago are up and growing. We should have lots of greens and radishes in a few more weeks.

Have a great weekend!

Monday PhotoEssay – September 15th

Long time, no blogging! I spent 10 days visiting family at the beginning of September, and then last week was busy with catching up. I really intended to get a blog post up last week, but…well, good intentions were only that!

Anyway, a lot has happened in the garden since then! Let’s take a look!

Clearly the biggest change is the removal of the trellis at the end of the close bed. The pumpkins and melons were done and have been replaced with some fall greens. There are lots of other places where we had open spots that have been planted to fall vegetables as well.

We needed to put a couple more clamps on the drip lines in the strawberry and peanut bed last week, which meant disturbing some of the plants. Do you see the peanut that got pulled up in the process? It is right in the middle of the drip line. It is good to know that there actually are peanuts growing under there!

The African Blue Basil is just swarming with bees, so a picture doesn’t really do it justice. I did catch this semi-closeup of a bigger bumblebee. Can you see any other bees in this picture? I think I might see three, but it is hard to tell.

The Mexican Blue Sage has started blooming in the last few weeks. It is also difficult to do justice in a picture. The plant is huge, and the flower spikes are a great shade of purple. You should come see it in real life!

Our Fall Italian garden looks pretty sad at the moment. There really are quite a few things growing, but they are still really small. We have onions, fennel, kale, and chicory growing. We ended up putting a little straw over the soil where we planted the fennel, and that seems to have helped bolster germination quite a bit.

In contrast, the radicchio that we started indoors and transplanted in early August is looking pretty good! It hasn’t started turning red yet, since we’ve only had one night of colder temperatures, but the plants are looking great otherwise. This is a good example of the benefit of starting some things inside even during the summer, because it is so hard to get seeds going when it is still hot outside during the day. If we had started lettuce seedlings in July, we could be starting to harvest lettuce right now!

Have a great week! If all goes well, I’ll see you again on Friday if not sooner!

Insects on the Grape Vine

This is a good example of why it is worth it to take a closer look when you see something abnormal going on in your garden. I was out in the garden a few days ago and noticed that there were a few leaves on the grape vine turning brown. I kind of mentally shrugged and figured that maybe a few spider mites or something was happening or maybe just a little leaf drop in the later part of the season. 

I noticed it again yesterday as I walked by, and then did a double take when I realized there were leaves that looked chewed on. Oops. Then I took a closer look and found two things going on.

This dude is a sphinx moth caterpillar, happily munching on the end of the shoot. Although he is eating quite a bit, I’m not concerned that he will kill the plant and just decided to leave him alone. If you look on the left side of the picture, you will also see some other insect feeding damage, but that wasn’t done by this guy.

Oh no, all that damage was done by these cute little larvae. I suspect they are either grape sawfly or grapeleaf skeletonizer, based on their appearance, but I haven’t had time to do any more research. One of the Extension articles suggested picking off the leaves with the larvae on them, because grapes don’t mind a little leaf thinning. I picked about 10 leaves off that were heavily infested and we’ll see if that stems most of the problem.

I doubt that they would seriously damage the vine at this time of year, but it is still a good thing we caught them before the whole plant was munched up!

Friday PhotoEssay – August 29th

I think our garden is about ready for fall, as you can easily see below:

Clearly the pumpkin and the tomato on the nearest trellis have seen better days. I suspect that by next week the garden is going to look significantly different! Fall garden, here we come!

One of the reasons the pumpkins are looking so sad is because there are dozens (or more) squash bug nymphs all over them. I’m actually rather impressed that they didn’t show up before now, when the pumpkins are almost done producing. Since the plants are nearly dead and we picked all but 2 pumpkins this week, I think we will just be removing the plants rather than trying to treat for the squash bugs.

This is one of the fruit from the ‘Tondo Liscia Manduria’ cucumber vine in the Italian Garden. We let it go all the way to “melon” stage, and you can see that the stem had slipped (separated from the fruit) and it was starting to crack.

From the inside, you can see it looks quite a bit like a honeydew melon. It tasted pretty good – not dissimilar to a honeydew melon. Maybe not quite as sweet. The texture was very much like a melon. So it’s a dual purpose plant – cucumbers and melons!

We have ornamental peppers in many of our containers this year, and they are just starting to look really spectacular. This is a variety called ‘Sangria.’ I love the mixture of red and purple peppers.

This pot has three different varieties, and the color combination is really interesting. I love the purple plant in front, then the green plant with orange fruit, then the “black” plant at the back. The sizes of the plants worked well too!

Have a great weekend!

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