We have hit the main harvest season for summer vegetables, even though the spider mites are a severe trial to most of our plants. This seems to be a horrendous year for spider mites, and in a lot of respects, the best we can do is to just wait for cooler weather.
From the surface, everything looks green and healthy yet, which is nice. You can also see that the Grocery Garden is half empty currently – after harvesting the remaining root vegetables, it is awaiting fall plantings, soon to come!
I harvested about 35 tomatoes today, in large part because so many are cracking that we are trying to harvest before they get very ripe. These are nine different Cherokee Purple tomatoes at a range of stages of ripeness. The lower left tomato had fallen off the plant and is hopefully at mature green – meaning it will ripen off the vine eventually. I prefer to wait for color. The other two bottom tomatoes had also fallen off, but have just a tinge of pink. It’s hard to see in the picture due to the light, but they do have small pink streaks at the blossom end. The rest you can see the color change more easily.
The ‘Legend’ tomatoes had the most fruit today (17) off of only 3 plants (one plant has a weird virus or mutation and isn’t productive). They are mostly cracked, so still not great from that standpoint.
We are still seeing some rotting tomatoes too. This one is really frustrating, because one tomato started rotting, but we didn’t catch it and remove it. It then infected two more not-yet-ripe tomatoes that might have otherwise been okay. Ugh! Rotting tomatoes are the worst!
We also harvested our ‘Himrod’ grapes this week. For the second year in a row, our vine has yielded very well, and the grapes taste great, even if they are much smaller than we are used to seeing in the grocery store.
Our melons are also starting to reach ripe stages too. When I checked the tendrils for browning on Tuesday, there were several that looked ready. We tried the ‘New Queen’ (orange), ‘Mini Love’ (red), and ‘Musketeer’ honeydew (white in the background). The orange melon was a tiny bit over-ripe. The red was perfect. The honeydew wasn’t very close to ready. I will say it was a bit of a shock to the system to have a seeded melon for a change! Yesterday I came across a ‘Maverick’ cantaloupe and one of the ‘Gold Crown’ watermelons (yellow rind, red flesh) that was ripe. We tried them too. The cantaloupe was okay but not spectacular. The watermelon was very good.
Have a great weekend! If you don’t have your own, go find some seasonal, local produce!
Like many local gardens, our Demonstration Garden is seeing the onset of a wide range of insects, diseases, and weather-related challenges. On the surface though, it is beginning to look like a rather overgrown jungle of green.
With the tomatoes and vine crops throughout the garden, everything is starting to look a little crazy, and I’m afraid it will only get worse before it gets much better. Of course, on the surface, everything looks beautiful. But at closer inspection, it’s not quite as pretty.
While the cracked tomatoes are by no means an uncommon sight for the Kansas gardener, it can be downright frustrating when they are cracked to the point of mushy rottenness before they are remotely close to ripe. Not to mention disgusting when you stick your finger into a rotten spot while trying to pick what looks like a good tomato. That is what happened with these two Cherokee Purple tomatoes. The combination of watering, rain, heat, and variety has made these tomatoes mush before their time. Normally we recommend harvesting before full maturity to prevent the worst cracks, but that doesn’t work in this instance.
The beans are well on their way to being crispy due to spider mites. The mites seem to have gotten started a couple weeks ago, and the progression has been such that nothing seems to help. Normally we would recommend either a hard stream of water, neem oil, or horticultural oil as a treatment. However, with the heat and high population, it will probably be time to pull these plants out in the near future.
A couple of the melon varieties have a few disease lesions on the leaves. It isn’t very severe at this point, probably because it has been relatively dry until last night. We haven’t opted to treat yet, partly because the plants are so large, but it is important to keep an eye on things like this, because it can spread quickly. In hindsight, it would have been smart to treat before last night’s rain.
What sad looking onions, you say? Well, yes. But not really. The onions flopped over at the necks is an indication that the plants are done growing and the onions can be harvested. We pulled all the onions this week, some from the Grocery Garden and the rest from the Peruvian Garden.
Just so you don’t think that all is death & destruction in our garden this week, here are some of the cucumbers we harvested. The dark green variety is Tyria, and English cucumber that had very small seeds and relatively thin skin. The white one is Lime Crisp, which was supposed to be more of a lime green color, but looks almost white. It was sweet, but had larger seeds.
Finally, the watermelons! We have several melons set and growing well. We bagged / nyloned all of them this week to ensure they can stay on the vine and keep growing well. Since we selected larger melons this year, they likely still have a few weeks of growing to do before harvest.
Have a great weekend!
It’s been a few weeks since our last PhotoEssay, and the garden has changed significantly! Here’s our overview for this week:
And the same view three weeks ago:
The vine crops have grown more than 10x bigger overall (and I’m pretty sure twice the size just since last week!) and the tomatoes are at least twice the size. The peas are gone and have been replaced with more plantings of squash and melons.
While the garden looks great from a bird’s eye view, from a closer look I can tell you that some of the normal summer disease and spider mite issues are already starting to take hold. But….I have enough neat things to show you without showcasing the start of the usual death and destruction.
Here’s another view of the Vertical garden, taken a week ago. The vines had just reached the size where clipping them to the trellises was necessary that week, and they were already escaping the trellises again.
And the same view again, perhaps a slightly different angle. This was taken yesterday. While the watermelon vines (closest to the front) are not thick (yet), they have clearly been growing quickly! It takes regular clipping or tying to keep the vines from getting out of control.
We had a big harvest week this week as well. I’ll be posting the Grocery Garden Harvest Report soon, but we also harvested some sprouting broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, and onions from the accessible beds, cabbage from the colonial garden, and eggplant from the containers. The beets, carrots, and beans are from the Grocery Garden.
The ‘On Deck’ sweet corn is tasseling! It isn’t even three feet tall when it supposedly should be five. Perhaps a little short on nitrogen? At any rate, corn doesn’t typically put on height after tasseling. I don’t see any signs of ears developing yet, so I’m not overly optimistic…But it is cool to have corn growing in our garden in a container. Maybe we will recommend it as an ornamental for containers?
This is one of the artichoke plants. If you look really hard at the center of the picture, you can see a small, purple bud, which is the start of what will be the artichoke at some point. Artichokes actually ARE the flower buds. This one is still very immature, but it’s nice to see that we’ll get something out of this bed, even if not very much.
Have a great weekend!
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.
This 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.
The 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.
The ‘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.
Back 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.
In 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.
This 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.
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.
Every 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.
The 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.
We 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!
If 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.
We 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.
We’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!