July 10, 2015

Ditch lily

Ditch lily

Finally!  After 3 days of overcast, cool weather and occasional rain, it is SO nice to feel the heat and see some blue skies.   We have perfect growing weather today, and I spent part of the morning feeding and watering the garden, adjusting drip irrigation, and pulling weeds (as always).  It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day, and I love to see the chickens out frolicking in the sunshine while I work.

Everything that isn’t a tomato received Espoma Garden-Tone fertilizer this morning.  Garden Tone is a 3-4-4 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) fertilizer, good for just about any vegetable or herb.  This is my third year using it and I like the consistency, the reasonable price, and the fact that it is organic.  I apply it twice a month, mixing it well into soil, and then water deeply, and all of the veggies just take off.  The only thing I’m  not crazy about is that if it isn’t thoroughly mixed into the soil, it will mold, but with a little extra effort that is easy to avoid.

Purple tomatillo

Purple tomatillo

I feed tomatoes with Espoma Tomato-Tone, and have also had very good luck with this product.  The 7-gallon grow pouches receive a scant quarter cup of Tomato-Tone every couple of weeks, also mixing well into the soil and watering afterwards.  Tomato-Tone is a 3-4-6 formula, and the lower nitrogen ratio helps to keep the plants from putting all of their energy toward rapid growth instead of setting fruit.  In the past I have also had success with Neptune’s Harvest, a fish and seaweed-based fertilizer.  It is mixed with water and applied directly to the leaves, but care must be taken in hot weather not to overapply or accidentally scorch the leaves.  It’s something I may try again here in the near future, but between the rain and the septoria fungus, I’m trying not to overwhelm the tomatoes while they try to fight off disease and hopefully set some fruit.  That said,  I’m excited to see what a hefty meal and a good drink will do for the garden this time around, now that we’re well into some good weather for heat-loving plants.

Calima bean plants.

Calima bean plants.

It’s kind of hard to believe that not even a month ago, most of our plants were fresh transplants and tiny.  Now the pepper plants are loaded, carrots are showing their frilly tops, pearl onions are putting on size, and the tomatillos are practically a forest.  Cucumbers are rapidly taking over the trellises and overloaded with blossoms.  Calima beans are growing at an almost-exponential rate, and I can’t wait to steam up some haricots verts before too long.  It’s time to do a heavy harvest on the herb plants and dehydrate a bunch of them for winter storage and use.  Opal basil in the planter box is richly purple and fully-leafed, but we’re still waiting on the green Emily basil in beds to come up to size for salads, pesto and other sauces.   The watermelon vines have grown rapidly and several small melons are already visible.   Cantaloupes and tigger melons are climbing the garden fence and should begin to set fruit any day now, judging by the abundance of blossoms and steady hum of bees visiting the melon patch.

Broccoli

Broccoli

The only thing I’m still on the fence about at this time is the tomato plants, as it is too soon to tell whether they will rebound from the septoria leaf spot or succumb to it altogether.  I’m due to spray them again with copper soon, but it is unknown at this point just how resistant to treatment this fungus actually is, but I’m going to move forward with very cautious optimism that we may see something out of these plants  yet.  Many of our tomatoes are setting fruit and many more have blossoms, but not to the extent that I would expect this time of year.  I’ve already decided that a change in strategy is necessary for next year, and will most likely transplant tomato starts into 2-gallon grow pouches, and move them to a low tunnel in late April/early May.
Hopefully this will give them the head start they need as well as room to grow, and temperatures should be easier to control in the low tunnel so that they are well-established prior to hardening off and planting out.   It seems the third week in May is usually pretty consistent enough for a target date, and now that the garden is effectively finished, I can put my focus on planting next season, rather than building.

I will also pick the last of our cabbages this week & turn them into chow chow for canning, and maybe a little fresh slaw.  The broccoli plants are *finally* setting crowns and I’m hoping they hold out through the hot weather that is looming this weekend.  It’s almost time to start fall broccoli, kale and cabbages, so those seeds will be sown as soon as these plants come out & either head to the kitchen or the compost pile.

Chicory blossom

Chicory blossom

Summer is in full swing and this year is extremely lush and green from all the rain – a nice contrast to the droughts we’ve  had in recent years.  Corn is already waist-high in the fields, the ditch lilies and chicory flowers are in bloom, and clover blossoms send up their perfume in the warmth of the sun.  Bugs are plentiful, to the delight of our chickens and chagrin of local gardeners.   Squash vine borer moths visited us in June, although I removed every visible egg and, fingers crossed, haven’t seen any signs of damage yet.  Cucumber beetles and squash bugs haven’t arrived yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled and ready to do battle on both fronts.  In the mean time, it’s almost time to make pickles – another post on that soon!

Forecast – 7/10/15
High: 82° F
Low: 63° F
Skies: Partly cloudy
Dew point: 61° F
Humidity: 69
Precipitation: 0.03 in.
Sunrise: 5:49 AM
Sunset:
8:49 PM

Category: Garden
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