Long time, no photoessay! I could be wrong, but I think that the Friday PhotoEssays (and hopefully other posts too) are back for the remainder of the summer! Let’s get all caught up on what’s been happening.
As you can see, most of the garden seems to be growing well. We had a little bit of a hiccup last week and over the weekend with the irrigation system being down due to a problem elsewhere on the grounds. Bad timing! Everything looks a little bit scorched from that experience. It’s hard to catch up with watering when things get too dry.
The squash in the vertical garden are looking good overall. I saw some wilting in the heat of the afternoon yesterday, but I think it is just the hot and dry. I checked several of the plants for signs of squash vine borer and didn’t see anything. I also checked the soil, which seemed dry. I turned the water on! It’s nice when the solution to wilting is easy and not a pest. I read an article just this morning that said that squash vine borers prefer Cucurbita sp. with large hollow stems over smaller, solid stems. That probably accounts for at least some of the purported resistance of these varieties.
Only a couple of the varieties are starting to flower and set fruit yet, so when they progress further I will do a closer look at this garden bed. I’m a little surprised that the plants aren’t larger, but it is probably mostly weather. They might want a little more nitrogen too, given all the rain.
This is the parthenocarpic squash (don’t need pollination to set fruit) under the row cover set up. This picture is from about 2 weeks ago. It’s been a little tricky keeping everything sealed around the edges with the wind. But…it’s better than nothing! I should go take another picture of this today to show you, but it’s hot outside! The plants are now so big that they are pushing out on the row cover fabric, and there are flowers and fruit setting under the row cover. I’ll hopefully take a closer look next week.
Most of the tomato plants do have fruit set on them, and there are some really interesting differences in the sizes of the plants. I’ll plan to do a more in depth look next week or the week after. This is the ‘Indigo Apple’ tomato plant, which is a variety with purple coloration. The shoulders are already starting to show the coloring on these tomatoes.
We often have one of the red/purple basils somewhere in the garden, but most years they either get washed out or turn green. Apparently the key is to plant it in a shadier location! This ‘Red Rubin’ basil is under the lattice area where it gets more shade and the color is great! Of course, it isn’t very big either, but it seems like a fair trade for the color.
It’s in a tomato cage, but it’s not a tomato! This is a dwarf, container-type raspberry. It doesn’t look like it is producing anything this year because it died back to the roots over the winter. It is staying nice and compact though. I don’t know that it will every need the cage!
Have a great weekend!
We haven’t done very many tours of individual garden beds this year, for some reason. I thought today seemed like a good day to take a look at the MG Faves Garden.
On the end of the garden, where the Yukon Gold potatoes resided earlier this year, we have a planting of ‘Rocdor’ yellow beans. They are generally looking pretty healthy and will probably start blooming in a couple weeks. Yum, fall beans!
Next to the ‘Rocdor’ beans is our fall planting of ‘Beananza’ beans. These were planted a couple weeks later, so they aren’t quite as far along. We had originally planned to try to keep the spring planting all year, but the spider mites just got too bad. So with that situation, we moved the ‘Beananza’ beans to this spot, where we would have other wise planted more root vegetables. Since this is the spot we just pulled beets and carrots out of, it wouldn’t have been ideal to go back in with more root veggies anyway.
The ‘Big Bertha’ bell pepper plants are huge, but they haven’t been very productive recently. They had a few peppers early in the summer, and all the remaining peppers are still pretty small. This isn’t uncommon with peppers, but my perception is that these plants are less productive than in other years we have grown this variety.
I didn’t take any pictures of the cucumbers on the trellis, because there isn’t much to see. I’m not sure why, but neither the ‘Sweet Burpless’ nor the ‘Straight Eight’ have been particularly productive. It may be the shading from other plants or something, but the plants aren’t huge and while we’ve gotten several cucumbers at a time, they aren’t spectacular. They do have a fair bit of anthracnose from earlier in the summer when it was rainy and cool, but I would have expected them to grow out of it by now.
We will probably pull them out and remove the trellis in a couple weeks to plant some fall salad greens.
The Jet Star has been reasonably productive, but again, not as productive as I think it should have been. In thinking about it and looking at the picture, I suspect that we should have used some fertilizer in the mid-summer after the first flush of fruit set. We put so much compost in during the spring, that I didn’t really think about it. However, the garden soil is pretty sandy and with all the rain and irrigation, these plants could be nitrogen starved. They do look a little bit yellow and peaked. At this point, I think that there’s not a lot of point in fertilizing, because I don’t know that it would get us anything. We’ll think about it!
The poor Cardinal basil! When we grew it 2 years ago, the plant was huge and gorgeous and full of blooms. This year I don’t think it has even considered blooming. I think this is a case of way too much shade from the nearby tomatoes and trellises. The plant looks generally healthy, just small. We have had more problems with shading this year than the last two years, it seems.
The sweet basil is sandwiched in between the Juliet tomato and the cucumber trellis. Can you see it there, stretching out? This basil also got shaded, but has just enough sun to encourage it to stretch. The ‘Juliet’ tomatoes have been fairly productive, as they do tend to be, although not quite as much as I would expect.
That’s what’s up in the MG Faves Garden! Is your garden starting to look tired too?
In amongst all of the crazy things that we have planned for some of the other gardens, this one may be the island of sanity. We wanted to feature some vegetables that are favorites of our Master Gardeners, so we took nominations and chose our varieties from there. We wanted to chose varieties that are common and widely available to the average gardener as well.
As you can see, there’s nothing too crazy going on here! (Wait until we get to Bed 4 for that!)
Tomatoes – ‘Jetstar’ and ‘Juliet’ are two very common, popular and productive varieties in this area.
Basils – ‘Sweet Italian’ and ‘Cardinal.’ Sweet Italian is what everyone grows, and we loved the ‘Cardinal’ basil so much a couple years ago that we wanted to try it again.
Cucumbers – ‘Straight Eight’ and ‘Sweet Burpless’ are slicing type cucumbers that are very productive and flavorful. They will be grown on one of the trellises.
Spring/Fall Spinach/Mesclun/Radishes – Under the trellis, we will have a spring and fall planting of ‘Bloomsdale’ Spinach, mesclun mix, and ‘French Breakfast’ Radishes.
‘Beananza’ bean is a variety that one of our Master Gardeners has had great luck with. She has had them produce from June until October, so we are hoping for a similar result!
Peppers – We are going back to the ‘Big Bertha’ bell pepper that has been stupendous in the past, as well as a Cayenne pepper for something a little different but still very productive.
In the spring, we will be planting ‘Scarlet Nantes’ carrots, ‘Detroit Dark Red’ beets, and ‘Parris Island Cos’ romaine lettuce, as well as Yukon Gold potatoes.
In the fall, we will plant a blend of leaf or Bibb lettuces, the ‘Watermelon’ radishes, and ‘Grand Duke’ Kohlrabi. The potatoes will be followed with a yellow snap (wax) bean variety, ‘Rocdor.’
In a lot of ways, this looks a lot like some of the “Family of 4” gardens that we used to do. Believe me, as I look at the rest of our plans, I’m hoping this garden is going to be the easy one!
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (4 oz) package feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Wash hands and work area.
2. In a food processor, blend the spinach,
basil and garlic. Gradually mix in the olive
oil and Parmesan cheese. Process until smooth.
Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Blend cream cheese and feta cheese in a
4. Line a separate medium bowl with plastic wrap. Spread 1/2 the cream cheese
mixture in the bowl. Top with sun-dried tomato paste and spinach mixture.
Cover with remaining cream cheese mixture. Pat together, cover and chill in
the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Flip out of the plastic lined bowl
onto a medium serving dish to serve. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.
Serve this yummy, zingy dip with crackers or bread at your next party. It’s best when chilled overnight before serving.
(This recipe was featured at our July Saturday Sampler, Beyond Basic Basil.)
1 large roma tomato, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil, or as needed
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
1 green onion, sliced
1 slice prosciutto ham, sliced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
6 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
8 slices mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Substitute naan bread for pizza dough and top with
mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and prosciutto creating
a quick and easy dinner.
1. Wash hands and work area.
Preheat oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Place naan breads on the prepared baking sheet; brush each naan with olive oil.
Spread green onion and garlic over each naan. Arrange 4 slices mozzarella cheese
onto each naan; top with tomato slices. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Top tomato layers with prosciutto, basil, and Parmesan cheese.
3. Bake in preheated oven until pizza is crispy on the edges and cheese is melted,
about 8 minutes. Turn on oven’s broiler and broil until cheese is lightly browned and
bubbling, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.