Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mid-August Update - Hilltop Beds


Last Thursday, it rained...a lot.  How much is a lot?  This much:

My new rain gauge (courtesy of Bonnie Plants)
was included in my OTHER goodie bag from the Fling
 
Over 3.5 inches in 24 hours.  Of course, I had watered the garden the day before as the soil seemed quite dry.  These days, you just never know - half the time when they call for rain, we only end up getting a sprinkling or two.

The hilltop garden is still a whopping mess, weed wise, as things have been on hold up there in favour of dealing with the weeding and mulching in veg area #1 as well as the front of the house.

The paths may be weedy, but I’ve more or less kept on top of the weeds in the beds themselves.  That's one of the reasons I love raised beds...weeding is more of a pleasure than chore.

The asparagus is still growing well – each new stalk is just that little bit thicker & taller than the prior ones.  I’m so excited about how well it seems to be doing.  Even though there is not much difference in the bed overall from month to month, I want to chronicle what small changes there are.

Asparagus Beds
 
The sweet potatoes are growing, but very slowly.

Sweet Potatoes
 
I did move the bin a couple of feet so that the fence wasn’t shading it as much, but it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference.  Hopefully there's more going on in the soil than on top of it.

The chamomile is flowering like crazy & I've even had to put up some rebar & twine to hold it back as it was shading a couple of the asparagus plants.

Chamomile
 
I have to get around to harvesting some, but it's been either too hot (harvesting chamomile is a LONG process) or the plants have been moist from rain (which it's doing now) or dew.  I see tons of sand-like seeds all over the base of the plants & I have a feeling I may have a volunteer issue with this one...didn't Daphne warn me about that?

The Yukon Gold potatoes have almost completely died back as have the Linzer potatoes, so those will be dug up soon.

Potato Bed
Note the strawless corner where we dug up
the big potato from last week's Harvest Monday
 
It doesn’t look like the other varieties are too far behind either.

When it comes to the eggplants, there’s good news and bad news.

Eggplants
Looking fairly good from this vantage point
 
The good news is that I finally have little eggplants developing:

Ping Tung Eggplant
 
Slim Jim Eggplant
 
The VERY bad news is that it looks like my plants are similarly affected by Verticillium wilt, just like Michelle described in her recent post.

Leaf curl/wilt possibly indicative of Verticillium wilt
 
In fact, it was Michelle’s post that alerted me to the situation.  I had simply attributed the droopy, discoloured leaves to a dry bed which needed a good watering.  Well, I watered the bed and then we had that day of rain and then some – the droop is still there.  Yikes.  Opposite ends of the continent, completely different climates and here we are experiencing the same eggplant devastation.  I don’t have ready access to the Actinovate that Michelle is using as a drench, so I’m just going to take a wait and see approach.  Hopefully I get some mature eggplant before the plants call it quits.

The peppers (which you can see right beside the eggplants in the first eggplant photo) do not seem to be affected at this point.  I have read that peppers may take longer to be affected and, if this disease arrived on the eggplant seeds, then it would also make sense that the eggplants would be affected before the peppers.

Anyhow, on to the peppers, which are in two beds.  Both beds are split in half, lengthwise; half the bed contains peppers or peppers & eggplant and the other half contains beans.  Each length of bed holds two rows of peppers.  I have 10 varieties of peppers this year - only a few more than the two I grew last year ;)

Jimmy Nardello

Hungarian Hot Wax
 

Pepperoncino


Melrose


Stocky Red Roaster
 

Tam Jalapeno
 

Anaheim


Ostra Cyklon


Padron
 

Corne de Chevre
 
When I planted up the eggplant/pepper bed, I had thought that the beans I planted were pole beans but they ended up being bush beans – this turned out to be a fortuitous mistake.  The other pepper bed does hold pole beans but the bottom growth on the bean plants has now covered many of the pepper plants in the back row.

Pole Bean/Pepper Bed
The back row of peppers (on the left of the bed) is covered with bean foliage
 
Bush Bean & Pepper/Eggplant Bed
Everyone in this bed is getting lots of sun
 
The Gold Marie, especially, is a very aggressive pole bean.  I’ve actually decided to remove the vines, which I will do in the next day or so.  They do not seem to be flowering anymore and the remaining pods on the plant are either shriveled with no seeds inside or very deformed.

Deformed pods on Gold Marie
 
I think I have harvested more than enough of that variety anyhow – over 7 pounds in the last week.  The beans are good but I’m not in love with them the same way I was with the Golden of Bacau, which were more tender & sweet.  I stopped growing that variety because it appeared that the seeds were infected with bacterial brown spot.  I think that next year I’ll try to find another source & grow it again.

My favourite dried bean – Cherokee Trail of Tears – is doing well:

Cherokee Trail of Tears
 
I actually planted some of my old seed for this variety on one end of the trellis and newly purchased seed on the other end (with Gold Marie in between), just so that I could differentiate between them.  This was a bit of precaution, just in case the purchased seed (which comes from another source) performs differently.

Normally, I would simply save some seed each year, but in both years that I grew this variety, I planted it beside the Golden of Bacau & it ended up with bacterial brown spot on it as well.  Since I had such great results with those original seeds (and we all know how the same variety can sometimes yield very differently depending on the source), I wanted to make sure to save seed only from the original purchase.

This year, I'm also growing two more dried beans, Walcherse White & Vermont Cranberry, which are the bush bean varieties in the pepper/eggplant bed:

Walcherse White

Vermont Cranberry
 
The corn bed is pretty much devastated but I am getting tiny cobs developing on some of the broken and/or chewed up stalks, one of which I showed of on Harvest Monday.  This one looks like it also has harvest potential:

Mini-cob
Looks much bigger in the photo than it actually is
 
Luckily, I didn’t clean up any of the broken stalks or debris as I figured they would create an obstacle between the critters and the off chance of any corn.

The butternut squash is finally vining well & I've been winding the vines along the edges of the bed in my corn protection efforts:

Butternut Squash
 
And eye spy a few baby butternuts - how exciting!
 
Baby Butternut
 
There haven’t been a whole lot of male flowers blooming, so I've been going out there with a paintbrush each day.  So far, I have two squash that have set & one that hasn't, but I see at least 2 more that are on the verge of flowering.

The straw bales are basically the same as before:
 
Straw Bales
Not much action going on here
 
After a few weeks of feeding them with concentrated fish emulsion, I pretty much gave up as I wasn't seeing much of a difference.  But see that larger squash plant (2nd one from the bottom)?  It's a Sweet Mama squash and I recently found this on it:
 
Sweet Mama had a baby
 
Surprise, surprise - I'm pretty sure that it has set, so it looks like I'll get at least one squash from the bales this year.  And as we all know, in the veg garden one is better than none.

Till next time...

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

22 comments:

  1. Looking really good up there Margaret. Wish you'd send some of that rain my way. I would say it is time to clip your potato foliage down to the ground and stop watering. I did this last weekend, and expect to dig up the potatoes around the end of the month. Worked out well last year anyway.

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    1. I did stop watering a couple of weeks ago, but mother nature didn't get the message ;) Like you, I do want to leave them in the ground for a couple of weeks so that they store better, but I'm getting worried that all this rain will rot them. I'm thinking that if we get another big storm, I'll dig them all up...just in case.

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  2. I guess the forecasters are the same every where. We always seem to get rain after I've watered too but when we are so dry at least my watering helps the soil absorb the rain we get and not just run off. Your peppers look fabulous! I've never tried straw bales before but am very tempted. Maybe next year...

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    1. I'm not having the best of luck with the bales, but I didn't exactly follow the proper "conditioning" method (or any method, for that matter) in the spring, so I'm going to reserve my final judgment for next year when I do it properly. Maybe you'll join me in this straw bale (re)experiment ;)

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  3. Sorry to hear about the wilt on your eggplant
    And your asparagus looks so healthy. I really want to try growing that next year.
    And I'm about ready to dig my Yukons as well. Here's hoping we both have great crops on those. I have noticed that some years----meh, the harvest is poor. But it's like Christmas--we won't know until we dig em up!
    Have a good week, Margaret

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    1. The asparagus has been so interesting, especially as there is surprisingly little information out there about growing it from seed. Many of the things I did were "best guess", which is also why I wanted to document it - it will either be a great way of showing what to do or what NOT to do!

      Ohhhh, I am so looking forward to diggin' up those taters - I don't know what it is but I always feel like I should speak about them with a southern accent. And have a wonderful week too, Sue....I'm sending tomato ripening thoughts your way ;)

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  4. I wish we would get 3" of rain. We really need it. We are just too dry. And yes I did warn you. lol That chamomile will be all over next year. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. I'm glad your squash is setting. Mine is too. I always worry that it will be too late. I'm worried this year too with one of the varieties. I haven't seen any female blossoms yet on it.

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    1. So long as the chamomile is easy to pull up where I don't want it, I'll be ok with that....I think ;)

      I'm quite surprised at how quickly the squash size up once they are pollinated. Those babies are one of the first things I check in the morning and their rapid growth never fails to amaze me. I remember you commenting on how late your squash set last year and you still brought in a bumper crop, so I'm hopeful that this will happen this time round too, although no female blossoms in mid-August is a bit worrying. Hopefully that particular variety will surprise you.

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  5. Oh no, I hope it isn't Verticillium in your eggplant. If you think it truly is, when you remove the plants don't put them in the compost. Pull the roots out of the soil and toss them in the garbage along with the rest of the plants. The Actinovate has really slowed the wilt in my plants and there's even new flowers, so if you can find some it really might be worth trying it. I also gave my plants a boost inoculation of beneficial mycorrhizae and bacteria on the theory that the good microbes will compete with the bad ones.

    I think you are officially a pepper junkie now, welcome to the club! Your peppers are looking great.

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    1. Thanks Michelle - all it took was growing those Hungarian Wax peppers last year and I was hooked!

      I will definitely not be composting the eggplants - that's a great point about digging out the roots. I'm generally not too concerned about pulling them all up when I get rid of a plant, but I'll have to be extra diligent with these guys. I haven't been able to find Actinovate here, but there is one supplier in Washington state that may ship to Canada - I'll have to give them a call to see how much shipping is as the only other source I found was on Amazon, but they were charging a whopping $100 for a 2 oz bag...yikes.

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  6. That is a lot of rain, We grow our aubergines/egg plants and peppers in the greenhouse and your peppers are still further on than ours.

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    1. We have had an unusual stretch of hot weather this year (and I know you guys have been cooler than usual), so that likely accounts for things. Normally we do get hot, but only for about a month - this year, the heat has extended from June into August - we are still getting humidex readings in the 30's(C) for several days at a time and that's very unusual for mid-August.

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  7. You win some, you lose some, every year, that's why it's good to grow different varieties of the same thing. If one doesn't work out as you'd hoped, the other just might. I've grown butternut squash for the first time this year but I haven't checked if there's any fruit developing, I need to look when I'm next at the allotment.

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    1. That's what I enjoy about vegetable gardening as well - most veg are a one year (or less) commitment and if you don't like them or they don't do well, there is another variety or technique to try the following year. I hope you see some babies in your squash patch - finding them and watching them grow is quite thrilling!

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  8. Looks really great, especially those peppers. You'll have a great harvest soon. Too bad about straw bale, but even one squash is better than none for winter.

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    1. Very true Jenny. I'll be trying the bales again next year though - there is such a great opportunity to grow space hogs like pumpkins, etc., out of the proper veg garden & onto unused grassy areas that I don't want to give up on them quite yet.

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  9. Nice rain gauge: It looks so familiar. ;-) You have quite the harvest going there! It looks like it's a great growing season in your area. Here, too. Yay!

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    1. Hee hee...it has come in handy. What's funny is that a rain gauge was on my shopping list for about a month before the Fling (after I planted my new trees) but I just never got around to getting one. And I'm glad to hear that your potager is having a great season too!

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  10. Those pepper plants are looking good, with lots of peppers! And I'm with Michelle, you seem to have caught the pepper bug. I had to laugh when I read your last line - one is indeed better than none! And I'm out checking for female blooms on my winter squash almost every day. I do the happy dance when I see one too!

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    1. The peppers are definitely coming along & I'm starting to see a bit more red, which is so exciting. Now I just have to go back in my notes and figure out what to do with each of the varieties!

      When it comes to squash, I'm grateful for any that I get, that's for sure! There's something special about finding female squash blossoms, especially on the winter squash - and here I thought it was just me and my squash deprived garden ;)

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  11. Your garden looks lovely! That is a lot of rain!!! So sorry about your eggplant. I still don't have any eggplant fruit on my plants, but I'm having a particularly crummy year for gardening.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! This is my first time growing eggplant so I really had no idea what to expect, especially in terms of timing. What I didn't expect was getting some sort of disease...just have to roll with the punches, I guess. I hope your plants start to fruit up for you soon!

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