Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tomatoes Finally

Sunflowers brighten the garden at last.
The first of the 2011 tomato crop.
Evil purslane that would cover my entire garden if I did not fight it.
This is a small plant - some stems on other plants are twice as big.
Cucumbers on the trellis and the lettuce below benefits from their shade.
Lettuce is hot summer is hard to grow that is why its under the cucumbers.
The garlic crop look ready for harvest next week.
The kayaks are ready for a float trip.

I harvested the first tomatoes for breakfast eggs today - Tomatoberry came in with a half dozen ripe salad sized fruits. I have plenty of mature green fruits that should turn soon. The weather has been tomato hot and we have had enough rain to mostly avoid watering. Remember that to avoid blossom end rot you need to make sure your plants do not go into moisture stress. That is why it is vital that you mulch your crop. Mulched plants have cool roots and you can better regulate the moisture they get. That goes for potted plants too - keep those roots cool and don't let them dry out - wilting in potted plants is a "bad thing."
The purslane is still a problem and I pulled plants again today. All those weeds go into the compost because they have trapped my garden nutrients and I want that good stuff back! The compost bin will get a new addition today, some more dirt on top of the layer of weeds and a good watering to hurry the decay along.
The cucumber crop this year has started and we are getting 3 - 6 cukes a day. (And my wife says YES we are eating them all ourselves.) I think the thinning process is working. I have been taking off the side shoots just like with the tomatoes so as to devote the growth to one main producing stem. Some of the plants are at the top of the trellis and I am getting good fruit set. I think I will try this with the watermelon and cut out the side shoots and just leave two main producing stems growing up the trellis. I have seen female flowers on the watermelon but nothing on the melon plant in the greenhouse. Whatever I choose this year for growing in that space has been bad - Telegraph Improved cucumber was terrible and this melon Savor Charentais hybrid is equally as poor - no melon set just tons of male flowers. Oh, well that's was experimentation is all about...
Also this week I finally got my kayak trailer fixed and the boats on it. A great big THANKS to my fishing buddy who has welding skills. Now maybe I can get a little fishing in along with my gardening.
Happy Gardening

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wow! Is it HOT!

This is the flower for this summer.
The parsley that has gone to flower attracts all kinds of insects.
And for some reason Wasps like these flowers too - maybe for the pollen protein.
Telegraph Improved is not my choice for greenhouse cucumber - not enough fruit set.
This is the seeded water cress that is growing in an aquarium - nice peppery taste.
This is my white milkweed plants grown from seed - insects like this one too.

Summer heat has arrived with a vengeance - in the high 90's and dripping humidity. Something that cucumbers and tomatoes love. I have snapped thumb sized suckers and I did that job last week too. I am also trying to limit the growth of secondary cucumber vines on the trellis system. I have been cutting out the side shoots in the cucumbers just like snapping tomato suckers. This is a test to see just how productive I can make the main vine growing on the trellis.
The "Telegraph Improved" cucumber in the greenhouse has been a disappointment. We have harvest the first fruit but the plant has set mostly male flowers that the literature says must be removed to avoid bitter cucumbers. But the plant has only set 2 main fruits and 2 secondary and that's not enough in comparison to the abundance of fruit from last years plant. I planted seed today in hopes of raising another plant that will produce much better. As the seedlings get along I will get rid of this plant. I have already cut the terminal buds on both vines to force the energy into the small fruit set.
Purslane is the dreaded weed of hot weather and it has tried to take the open space in the garden. I pulled plants today and they are destined for the compost bin as they are full of the nutrients of my garden soil and I want it back. I should be able to fill the compost bin to a foot or more in depth with all these weeds.
The hot weather has brought the return of some sun scald to some of the bagged apples. This seems to happen to one tree in particularly and to one variety on that tree - sorry but long ago I lost the names of the original grafts on this tree. The tree was a 5 in 1 dwarf tree that I got a local nursery. The fruits might be Gala because that was one of the varieties on the tree that I remember form long ago. But whatever it is some of these bagged fruits, when just right in the sun, will scald. I just remove them so as not to waste the energy to an apple that will drop off later.
I left a few parsley plants go to flower because native bees and wasps seem to be attracted to the pollen that these plants produce. I have left a few of the arugula and some mustard plants go to flower to. Native bees need food sources and several accounts have indicated that these are good sources for these critters. Try leaving a few for them in your gardens.
This is the summer of the Zinnia and mine has just started to bloom. They are just such a great flower and perfect for a quick bouquet in a Mason jar.
Happy Gardening.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Warmth at Last

I have had this miniature geranium for so long I can't remember and of course the name is gone too.
I make new plants every year to keep through the winter and grow on like this all summer.
The EarthBox peppers are planted, finally.
One set has sweet peppers and one set has hot.
My new little black fig is doing the figgy thing.
By sometime next week I will have to use the shade cloth on the green house to cut down, not so much on the light, but on the heat buildup.
This "tea cup" hosta is prefect for my maple bonasi and has been in this pot for 3 or 4 years.
Robin-proof white alpines.
The tomatoes will not do this by themselves like pole beans, you will have to help them.
Rub or snap out the suckers inside each leaf junction. June 28, 2010 has more pictures of snapping suckers and a video at the end of the post - take a look.
Carpet pads for the broccoli will keep the root maggots out of your plants without chemicals.
This is what's left of the old pole been variety that I am trying to save.

Hot. Nice and hot for the last few days - makes one feel that finally summer is here. The tomatoes are growing nicely and having them mulched makes them happy and me too. They were finally at a stage for snapping suckers and starting them up the strings - something that is now a weekly chore. I snap the suckers because I want only one main stem producting fruit not multiple stems making leaves and fruit as one gets with cages. Yes, you can train to two stems in a cage, but the few gardeners do that. And without care and some restricting, the tomatoes in cages go wild. Snapping suckers is easy and effective and you will not be removing fruiting spurs because, on tomatoes, suckers grow out of a leaf node and fruits are on the stem at another point. I notices that as my plants got bigger the larger suckers were occurring higher up on the plants. Little, easy to rub off, smaller suckers were lower on the stalk. I wont get any ripe fruit soon but I have flowers developing on many plants. I also tend to snap suckers late in the day as the plants are less rigid then instead of early in the morning when the cells are full of water. I do this because occasionally you might accidentally snap off the terminal stem winding the stalk around the twine and then you have to wait till another sucker starts to take over. Thus I wind and them snap, so that if I do break the top of the plant I still have suckers to take over. Unfortunately I did just that very thing with one of the grafted plants and set it back till a sucker could take over.
I have planted out the pole beans and have two more pole sets to plant; one is for my old bean variety that hopefully I can get my seed stock back with these plants. Once they get planted they will not be for harvest but I will keep all of them for seed stock. Another variety is a "Christmas Lima" bean that I want to try again. The peat potting method allows me to have the beans well along and place them at the base of the poles when the soil is warm which is what beans like.
Garlic scape's seem to be the new vegetable. Last week I talked about the harvest of them. Well this week I not only found my Master Gardener newsletter contained a recipe for a Scape Soup but Friday we went out for dinner and my Tenderloin came with a very lovely sauteed portion of garlic scape's. I sure hope you didn't throw them away. Google them for recipes and good eating.
The broccoli was put out late but it should make. I use old carpet squares to keep the root maggots out of the plants and this has been effective in the past. The carpet lasts for many season and expands as the broccoli plants grow and amazingly returns to its original shape even after the stem expands the carpet during growing.
The green house cucumber is well on its way and we should start a harvest soon. The biggest issue with this plant is keeping a water reservoir filled as the plant grows. Even with the 5 gal bucket soaked in every morning by noon the plant is thirsty. The quickest way to limit production is to put the plant under water stress - so I see that I need a bigger saucer for that plant.
The white alpine strawberries are fruiting nicely. Robins and strawberries don't mix. However my local robins have yet to figure out that my white alpines are strawberries. They know where the few red berry plants are but I have replaced most of those with whites, and I have over 36 seedling plants growing in the greenhouse for planting out as a runner-less edge in the front flower bed. Whether you get plants or grow them from seed, alpine strawberries will give you a handful of berries most of the summer and they are sure good.
Lastly, I want to wish a very 'HAPPY RETIREMENT' to Linda Blondine who retired from the Brown County UW Extension after over 36 years of helping people and answering every manner of question, especially bug ones. Everyone will miss you. We certainly wish you the very best in your new life adventure. Your answering machine rightly says - Gone Fishing!
Happy Gardening