Monday, August 19, 2013

August Garden Update

I am currently paralyzed into inactivity. I have so much to do before the fall semester begins - prepping for the two classes I'm teaching, outlining my next dissertation chapter, getting materials ready for job applications - that, like a deer in the headlights, I have simply frozen and am getting nothing done, blogging included. I decided that catching up on a few blog posts might be a good way to jump-start my productivity for the week. So how about a quick garden tour?

The front yard herb garden is doing very well now that the weather has cooled down a bit (it was looking a bit scorched during that heat wave). The best thing we have going is this lemongrass plant - we actually had to move it so it didn't smother the bush it was planted next to. When I bought this back in May, it was a tiny plant in a quart container - now it's a three-foot-tall behemoth! I recently read that lemongrass can be as invasive as mint, so I hope I don't regret putting this in. Right now, though, it's filling in an empty space in the garden quite beautifully.

I've reclaimed a bit of the old herb garden in the back for fall crops. I planted the first wave of radishes and turnips a few weeks ago. The second wave has yet to go in. Hopefully I'll get going with it soon because I really want to try those beautiful golden turnips this fall!

The mobile bed on the driveway has finally gotten going. The farmers market pepper plants (Italian frying peppers, I think) have taken off and started producing, and a few of the plants I started from seed have caught up as well. Two of the red lipstick peppers on the left have flowers as does the final remaining Italian peperoncini all the way in the back on the right. So we're going to have a pepper harvest after all!

The other driveway plants aren't in great shape. We harvested the potatoes - you can see the results above. I was really excited when we dumped the bucket out and revealed the two small potatoes above - I had hope for more. Unfortunately, that was pretty much it: we harvested two ounces of potatoes (which is probably less than the one we planted to begin with!). The cucumber and squash plants on the driveway didn't do very well in their containers, so I've given up on them at this point.

The driveway cherry tomatoes are hanging in there, producing a tiny bit. The companion plantings are doing better - the basil in with them is beginning to thrive and the carrots and green onions are looking solid, if small. Something about the driveway hasn't been good for plantings in general, though. These pots will be back on the deck next year.

The wilt disease that struck my tomatoes (bacterial wilt? early blight?) took a few more victims. I lost both plants next to the deck. My strategy of quickly removing all infected leaves has worked quite well, but I slacked off for a few weeks and those two plants succumbed. The carrots planted below them are doing very well - I pulled out a 6" long one a few weeks ago, which is definitely the largest I've ever grown. Carrots just seem to need lots and lots of time in my yard.

The raised bed is doing fairly well, despite its multitude of problems. As I said, I'm managing the wilt disease pretty well and the remaining plants have grown to gargantuan proportions. The remaining yellow plum tomato (all five plants that have succumbed to wilt were yellow plums) has two branches, each of which is over fifteen feet long. All of the plants were too big for even my tallest stakes, which they were bending and stressing. I recruited Jeff to help me re-stake them all this weekend. He acquired two very tall fan-shaped trellises which you can just see in the picture - each one is a third of the way into the bed, and both are perpendicular to the camera. We twined every single tomato plant into these two, with a few extra supporting stakes for those that needed it, and then tied them firmly to the posts on the edges of the bed. That should take care of them.

Cucumbers have been the other big success out of that bed. So far we've harvested fifteen pounds of them - I've made two different kinds of pickle and a batch of relish. The leaves have begun to look diseased, but since the plants are still producing prolifically, I'm ignoring it right now. I'm more concerned about the leaves that went missing off of the ends of two vines that trailed outside the bed - preliminary research suggests groundhogs do that. The last thing I need is a groundhog eating what little produce my poor garden manages to squeeze out!

I seem to be good at growing squash vines (if not actual squashes). This is a picture of a pine tree that has been usurped by two plants - one, a mystery squash that came up in a place where I didn't even think we composted, has turned out to be a decorative gourd (those are the fresh, pointy leaves in the picture); the other is one of my massive, sprawling pumpkin vines that has decided to join the party (the rounded leaves). The pumpkin has had some kind of mildew on its leaves for months now, but it hasn't really affected growth so I'm leaving it alone.

This picture shows the rest of the squash patch. The vines creeping out onto the lawn are from the two summer crookneck squash plants that keep growing without producing anything. Most squash wither and drop off even before the blossom has a chance to bloom. We've only gotten one tiny squash so far, although I think there are three others trying to grow right now. There are two small, struggling mystery squash plants in there as well (I think one may be a butternut), but everything else you see is pumpkin.

And, lo and behold, we have pumpkins! These are from seeds I saved out of an Amish neck pumpkin I got last fall - the most delicious pie pumpkin I'd ever tried, with a very small seed cavity so it's mostly usable material. And we have two enormous pumpkins so far. I'm hoping for a couple more, but the two that are on there are so large that it'll be worth it if they're all I harvest. This one has got to be at least ten pounds already and going strong. The other one is actually beginning to turn a bit yellow-tan, so it might be ready soon (I did start these plants really early, back in March).

I'm keeping an incredibly detailed spreadsheet of everything we harvest (Jeff loves having to weigh the herbs he cuts, down to the quarter ounce, before he uses them). So far our harvest weighs in at about twenty-five pounds of produce (three-fifths of which has been from cucumbers) and counting. Just wait until we add in those pumpkins! After all the problems this garden has been through (late frosts, bacterial diseases, flooding rain, scorching heat, several infestations), I'm really enjoying this time of year. The work is mostly over - even the need for weeding has gone down - and we're just reaping the benefits from here on in.

No comments:

Post a Comment