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Friday PhotoEssay – June 2, 2017

Even though I see it happen every single year, it always surprises me to see how fast things grow and change in the garden at this time of year.

34240543393_f00b60c721This is also the time of year we typically experience a change in the weather from cool, moist spring to hotter summer temps. That tends to push our summer veggies into overdrive of growth and our spring veggies to finish up. I think the theme of this week’s post is Growing Like Crazy vs Done and Almost Done.

35010665386_14e1e28fb7The tomatoes are growing like weeds. An interesting observation currently is that the non-grafted plants may be slightly ahead of the grafted in flowering. The grafted plants are putting on a lot more vigorous sucker growth. Many trials have found that grafted plants may tend to fruit slightly later and have more foliage, so what we are seeing would seem to track with those results.

34207390504_8d99a7ed0fThe ‘Peas-in-a-Pot’ that were covered in pea pods a week ago are now bare of flowers and pods. They are not bare of powdery mildew however. The yellowing and disease, coupled with the lack of production is a really good indicator that this variety has run its course and it is time to remove it. It will soon be too hot for the plants and it is done producing.

35010667446_73cc0eb6f0Back on the growing fast side of the equation, the cantaloupes, watermelons, cucumbers, and other melons that we have planted have germinated and are growing well. They seem small right now, but I can guarantee you that they will double, triple, or quadruple in size over the next week or two.

34240537783_7d3f4cfd73In contrast, the garlic is quickly approaching the end of its growing life. Typically it should be harvested and cured when about 5 leaves have died. As you can see, this variety is going to be ready to harvest soon.

34240545473_a51c5d1d2cThis last picture is in the “FINALLY” category. We had planned to plant Aji Amarillo peppers in the Peruvian Garden, because they are the most popular pepper in Peruvian cuisine. However, the seeds we ordered never germinated, despite being planted twice. We finally gave in and ordered seeds from another source and planted them last week. Happily, we have gotten several seedlings from this batch. So this variety will be late in the garden, but hopefully we will get something.

Friday PhotoEssay – August 19, 2016

We have been busily harvesting a number of vegetables – especially peppers and tomatoes. I’m pretty pleased with most of our tomato varieties. Although some have had cracking issues, most of them have been yielding pretty consistently.

28473952483_f027a32dc6_zEvery week the garden feels more and more like a jungle. For better or for worse, not much has really started dying off yet. Usually by this point in the season, there are things that are clearly going downhill. At the moment, everything just continues to encroach on the aisles.

28804424280_fbcf140afcThe first flush of peppers on the ‘Escamillo’ sweet pepper plants has finally ripened to the golden yellow color. The plants had a very good initial yield. I hope they can set and ripen another flush of fruit before it gets too cold this fall.

28985916812_e8e9e9145cWe harvested a whole bag full of the ‘Fushimi’ peppers from the Oriental garden. These peppers are not supposed to be hot (despite their appearance), and they are often sauteed in oil and sprinkled with salt as an appetizer. I’m hoping to have time to try that recipe out soon!

28804461070_091415e232If I’m honest, the ‘Lucky Tiger’ cherry tomatoes still look a bit sickly in color to me. The plant all of a sudden had tons of ripe fruit. Despite this pile, at least this many were thrown away due to significant cracks.

28903498346_666f294e70We harvested the first of the Korean Golden Honey Melons last week. They are very cute! They do taste exactly like you expect an Asian melon to taste like (if you’ve had the opportunity to try them before). Meaning, don’t expect the sweet cantaloupe or watermelon flavor we are used to! Most Asian melons are a little crunchy and have a flavor more like a sweet cucumber than a melon. The flavor is often a little floral and mildly sweet, compared to the high sugar content of an American melon.

28830400612_919e28407cWe’ve harvested the first handful of the hot paprika peppers (‘Leutschauer’) and they have taken up residence on my office table to dry. They will dry naturally if they have reached the point where they are starting to get just a little bit soft and wrinkly on the plant AND if there is no damage to the fruit that will let decay get started. The best thing to do would be to put them in a dehydratro, which I may do if we have enough at one time.

Have a great weekend!

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!

Thinning Seedlings

I think one of the hardest gardening tasks is thinning out seedlings. It is too easy to just let it go, because you are so excited to see the plants growing, and then everything is an overgrown, tangled mess that you can’t thin out. That’s one of the reasons that I try really hard to space things out when I plant the seeds. However, that doesn’t always work out.

On our trellises for growing vining vegetables, we usually want no more than 2-3 plants per side of the trellis. It seems like so little when you are planting just a few seeds, but planting too many can be a disaster later on!

You can see that there are at least 5 plants along this trellis, and I think there may have been another one or two that I didn’t get in the picture. Even though these plants will be growing up the trellis, if we left all of the plants in place, they would be so thick that we could have problems with diseases – especially if this hot, humid weather keeps on.

We removed all but 3 plants from each of the trellises, which will still be plenty thick by the time the plants are full grown.

2014 Garden Plans: Bed 1

We had the first of our subcommittee meetings yesterday to work on the planning for Bed 1. I don’t know what I’m going to call this garden, because it is really three different parts all in one. One end is the Vertical Garden, the middle part is Quinoa, and the other end is a Spring/Fall Italian Garden. Maybe I’ll have to nickname it the Conglomerate Garden? The Motley Mixed Garden? The Heterogeneous Garden? The Italicalnoa Garden? The Quinicalian Garden? I’ll take nominations!

Bed 1If you recall, this is the raised bed that has the two, 4’x4′ more raised areas in the center. Those two sections are where we will plant the quinoa.

Italian Garden  

The Italian section of the garden features spring and fall vegetables, with the intention of exploring what there is beyond tomatoes and basil, the quintessential Italian foods. We had a lot of fun perusing the Seeds from Italy catalog and website and trying to find the best choices for different types of vegetables. As you can see, the spring plantings include  several types of greens, beans, and cippolini onions. The beans are a shelling type called ‘Lingua di Fuoco’ which translates to ‘Tongue of Fire.’ The pods have bright pink streaks!

There are lots of types of chicories to choose from, including plain chicory, endive, escarole, and radicchio. We chose a couple “Italian Dandelion” varieties of chicory to try, an endive/escarole mesclun mix, and a red radicchio/chicory for the fall.

We also will have Tuscan Kale growing all year. Sometimes the Tuscan type is called Dinosaur Kale, Nero di Toscano, or similar names.

We are going to try a bulbing variety of fennel in the fall to see if it will produce, as well as some purple bunching onions.

Vertical Garden

We are continuing to demonstrate some of the vertical gardening techniques, and the trellis/arbor over one of the walkways was such a hit last year that we decided to try it again.

‘Tonda Liscia Manduria’ Cucumber is an Italian cucumber melon that is fairly small, round, and has fuzzy skin. It tastes like a cucumber when young and ripens to taste more like a melon.

‘Escorial’ Melon is a Charentais-type melon. It is earlier maturing and hopefully will be less crack-prone than the heirloom Charentais melon.

‘Small Sugar’ Pumpkin is a pie pumpkin that produces sweet, 4-6 lb pumpkins. I’m looking forward to pie this fall!

Quinoa

Quinoa is a Chenopodium, which means that it is going to look a lot like lambsquarter/goosefoot when it starts growing. The flowers/seed heads are supposed to be beautiful colors, which we are all looking forward to. Depending on how hot it gets for how long this summer, we may or may not get a seed crop, but it should be interesting to try growing it! We chose the ‘Brightest Brilliant’ mix and ‘Colorado’ and the two varieties to try.