More from the vegetable beds

Our test of growing zucchini is a tomato cage seems to be a success. We’ve already gotten more this year than in the past, so keeping the leaves off the ground seems like the way to go (though I am wondering if bugs have since gotten to the more prolific one — note to self for next year: keep plants in separate beds to prevent bugs from hopping from one to the next).

These photos are about 10 days old:

zucchin1 2017

I failed at keeping one really well contained in the cage, though the sprawl seems to be less than in years past. Regardless, it’s ginormous.

Next year we’ll try with cages upside down to see if that helps better contain the early sprawl and then just let them spread out after a rung or two.

zucchini2 2017The tomatoes are doing fine, though I am concerned about the number of dead leaves near the bottom on so many. We’ve had plenty of rain this year, but it tends to be in short, heavy bursts, rather than a slow soak, so maybe the plants aren’t getting as much water as I think. Or maybe we’ve got a case of something else?

The first Brandywine from our Mississippi plants was this deep red and so tasty with basil from the garden (and mozzarella from the store):

tomato caprese 2017

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The glut is starting

vegetable harvest july 21 2017To sum it up briefly: We can’t keep up with the zucchini. Too hot to do much baking! When we’ve had enough of kale salad, the greens are becoming pesto. There’s been more than enough for that. This evening marked our first harvest of beans, and the Sungold tomatoes are kicking off the tomato season. We harvested the first two three days ago and have had a few more since then. At least we’ll soon be able to use up cucumbers by making gazpacho.

The next debate for the garden: what to plant where the peas have been? A fall crop of peas? Try again with beets? Find a zucchini plant in the clearance section at a garden center and have a fall crop?

Feel free to weigh in.

The newest immigrants in our garden come from Mississippi and Maine

tomato plants from MississippiOnce again, we have used our travels to help stock the vegetable garden.

Four of our 15 (!) tomato plants (and it’s NOT my fault this time) are Brandywines we picked up at a farmers market in Jackson, Miss., in March. Four for $1.50 and the potential to get a jump on the tomato season was just too irresistible. (And for the record, you can take plants on an airplane as carry-on. I have done it several times.) I had expected one of the Brit’s colleagues would have wanted one or two in a trade, but nope. All the better for us.

It’s been a rainy and generally cool May and June, and the plants aren’t the tallest tomato plants we have. (That would be one of the sungolds we grew from seed.) But all four have yellow flowers, compared to just three of the others.

And when we were visiting friends in Maine last weekend, we stopped at a garden center that we had mail-ordered from many, many years ago. The prices were great then and still are attractive. Best of all, we found three varieties of leeks at 16 cents a tiny plug. Not that there was only one leek in each plug! So we have bigger, more established plants than the ones I had bought in Indiana last March that were perhaps as thin as a strand of angel hair pasta and which didn’t fare that well. (OK, I could have watered those more.)

leek seedlings from maineWe bought 18 plugs (six of each variety), so less than $3 before tax; we have more than twice that many plants. There’s the Megaton, which it seems should be harvested in the fall, rather than left to cope with snow; the Gervaria, which a seed company describes as a mid-season harvest; and the Lexton, which that same company describes as very frost-hardy. It will be an interesting experiment and taste test.

We also picked up a robust Canada Red rhubarb plant that looks like it could be three. I decided not to stress it by trying to divide it.

This is to make up for a frustrating experience with a national mail-order company. We ordered eight bare-root plants at the end of March; the lone Canada Red bare root in our order is now out of stock, as is our order of purple potato seedlings, and we’ve been told we won’t get them and had that portion of our order refunded. We’re still waiting on the Glaskin’s Purpetual (two sets of three bareroots — but worryingly, the website lists them as now out of stock, though our order is still listed) and the Crimson Red jumbo bareroot. The shipping date has been pushed back time after time, and I’ve been oh so tempted to cancel the whole thing. We will never use them again.

Our Maine friends also gave us some flowers that they are constantly dividing and moving. If they can survive the deer and the rabbits (and one has already been attacked by something), I’m going to let them fight it out with the Black-Eyed Susans. And I’ll post some photos.

This is the last harvest of the year. No, this is. Actually, there’s one more.

I thought this was pretty much the last of the garden produce, aside from the odd tomato (and then the lemongrass stalks I harvested while transplanting the plants into indoor pots for the winter):

october-harvest

But when we cleaned up the tomato bed in late October, we ended gleaned plenty more, some with more appealing looks than others, plus a few more peppers:

tomato-gleaning

The fall peas, planted in August, were still there, and we’d noticed the¬†white flowers. But we’d given up on any actual pods. Guess the Brit planted too late, we said. No bees around to pollinate, we decided.

november-pea-flowers

And then we spotted this, while mulching leaves for the compost bin. I think there may be about three pods.

november-pea-pod

Lesson learned. Plant in July if there is room in the bed. Otherwise don’t bother.

Feeding the tomato plants, naturally

It’s July 1 and I’m excited that we have a few green tomatoes among our dozen or so tomato plants. It’s been an unusually dry June, so some plants are still on the small side. No idea when they’ll ripen. But the lemon boy plant has this:

lemon boy tomato july 1 2016

And one of the Caspian pinks is offering up this:

caspian pink july 1 2016

I won’t show you the smaller ones, but I’m hoping I can get a growth spurt going thanks to a gift from some friends — a big bag of extremely light, extremely fluffy Lancaster county cow manure. Honestly, this is so light, it feels like sawdust. Sold by the honor system for $5 a bag. Honestly, the horse farm down the road should bag up its aged manure and sell it on the side of the road too.

tomato food

We don’t use chemical fertilizers, and we still need to put down last fall’s mulched leaves/compost as a way to feed the soil and keep down weeds. So I’ve put a trowel full of manure around each plant, plus some egg shells for calcium and to create obstacles for creepy crawly bugs, and have tried to water it all in. Maybe I should give them another dose next week?

fed tomato plant july 1 2016

Adding to the garden

Our flower beds are packed… but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about additions.

So far I’ve kept it pretty much to just an idea — except for this Weigela “Prince Red” that is supposed to bloom all summer long. Love the burgundy! We’ve put it in the backyard where we are thinking of creating a private “room”, and this could be a wall. We’ll see what happens as it expands. And yes, it’s not a deer favorite.

weigelia red prince

I’d like to add more red to the front garden — blanket flower or helenium or … I’d have to subtract a bit first to make room. Or maybe the red day lilies will be more prolific and visible in their new home (at least I think I moved them out of the sea of black-eyed Susans last year).

Amazingly, the lenten roses are still blooming in May. The daffodils unfortunately are long gone.

lenten rose in may

And we’re starting to plant the vegetable beds. One of the leek containers imported from Indiana went in this weekend (about two dozen seedlings), as did the Yukon Gold seed potatoes I found there. Got to put in the other leek container in the coming days.

Carrots, kale, lettuce are in. Lemon basil is ready for planting.

Tomatoes will go in soon too. We’ve snared one of the new Rutgers 250 variety, and we have a mystery variety from an Indiana friend. Sun golds are growing … and who knows how we’ll fill the remaining space? We are limiting ourselves to no more than 10 plants this year. Famous last words!