June 19, 2017

Harvest Monday, 6/19/17

Green Winner kohlrabi, purple Kolibri kohlrabi, and 4 little Sungold cherry tomatoes.
A couple more bolted tatsoi heads, and 3 little Butta zucchinis.
A mixture of Black Cherry, Fat Cherry, and Sungold tomatoes. More Butta zucchini and the first Lunga Fiorentino zucchini. Male squash flowers are starting to open up so we'll get some pollinated squashes soon.

We had a huge rainstorm Sunday, it rained so much all day. Yay to not having to water the garden. Usually green tomatoes can heal when they split open after a big rain, it's when they're ripening that it's a worry. But I probably need to go ahead and top the Black Cherry plant, it's too top-heavy even with added supports. And I'll probably end up tying its cage up to a wooden fence post. My partner thinks we should tie all the tomato cages together in each bed to create more stability. It's an interesting thought. Has anyone else tried something like that?

And I can't believe it's almost July already. This summer is progressing way too rapidly. We planted almost 3 weeks later than normal, so everything feels like it's happening at a rapid pace.

Harvested:
0.904 lbs. zucchini
0.298 lbs. tomato
1.054 lbs. kohlrabi
1.364 lbs. tatsoi

Total harvest: 3.62 lbs. (1.642 kg)

Please join us at Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres. Where gardeners from around the world share their joys and trials of vegetable gardening.

June 18, 2017

A Tour of the Vegetable Garden in June

Our shadiest bed is home to Mizuna a leafy green, 3 eggplants ravaged by flea beetles, and kohlrabi. Mizuna and kohlrabi are normally spring vegetables but they're trooping along even with temperatures in the mid 90's (35 degree Celsius).
The hot pepper bed needs to be weeded badly, they're high on my list along with the leeks and fennel. The plants next to the wood fence are tall enough they're starting to get a lean to them, so they'll need to be staked soon. There's 42 pepper plants in this bed.

The peppers are a lot taller this year, even the jalapenos and lemon drop are getting to be tall plants. It's might be due to the weather because in hotter years they tend to be shorties, either that or maybe it's because they're spaced closer together. It makes me wonder if the yield will be affected since they're putting more energy into growth rather than fruit production.
And two bush bean beds have merged into one ginormous bed. You might not be able to tell, but there's a small fence around the bean bed made with 2 foot tall bamboo poles and string to keep them from flopping in the paths . At least the bush beans are starting to bloom, but I wonder how I'll be able to harvest them.

Snap beans are one of my favorite things from the garden. We sauté snap beans in olive oil with onion and long strips of carrot, add a little chicken stock and cook it down till the liquid is absorbed, so good. And of course, they're fantastic in stir fries.
And the fennel which is in another shadier bed is actually starting to bulb. I'm just as shocked as you are. They were so tiny and root bound and it's been so hot lately, but they're still managing to do their thing. There's some pole beans in the back of this bed, and yes that is a wall of Cosmonaut Volkov and Peron tomato plants to the right.
And the winter squash are starting to vine, there's a patch of them on either side of the greenhouse. It's been years since I've grown winter squash and I had forgotten just how massive they truly are. These were planted May 14th, to the left is Queensland Blue and to the right is Thai Rai Kow Tok. In the front are summer squash and zucchini which I use to block the winter squash from traveling into the rest of the garden.
Another winter squash bed with Yokohama to the left, Black Futsu to the right, and summer squash in front. I read a review on Black Futsu where someone harvested 37 squashes from a single plant that was growing in their tomato bed.

This is actually the shadier of the squash beds as some reviews of Yokohama and Black Futsu suggests they prefer a bit of shade.
The zucchini and summer squash bed is starting to encroach on the leeks. That's a bale of straw hiding beneath the leaves of the zucchini plants on the left.

I've planted lots of zucchini, patty pan, and summer squashes this year because squash bugs and squash vine borers usually kill or weaken most of the plants.
Against the 3 feet tall wire fence is planted a few Beck's Big Buck okra that were planted out as seedlings, the winter squash Queensland Blue is definitely crowding them a bit.
Here's a better picture of the row of okra, the three plants directly seeded on May 19th are still pretty small in comparison and above you can see a wilting vine of winter squash probably hit by a vine borers.
I'm still trying to keep the bottom of the tomato plants trimmed, but they are pretty unruly at this point. Various fungal disease are showing up in 3 of the tomato beds. I've tried spraying with a copper fungicide but will be trying Serenade, an organic control for fungus and bacteria.

I'm starting to suspect tomato speck is my main problem as the stems and fruit are infected as well. I've dug up one Manyel plant and heavily trimmed another of the same variety. It's possible we got some contaminated seeds and then the red tomato aphids are spreading the disease. I've never actually had aphid problems before in all my years in western Kentucky. Usually there are droves of ladybugs but there's only been a handful in the garden this year.
The tall tomato plants in back are supposed to be the determinate Celebrity (F1). They are considered a vigorous determinant or semi-determinant, but still they've grown way above the 54 inch cages. We've had the perfect spring and the plants are bigger than I've ever seen them.
This  Black Cherry tomato plant is taller than the 6 feet wooden fence. I've had to stake the cage with 3 bamboo poles.

I am mildly optimistic even with the diseases traipsing through the garden. It looks like it might be a banner year, which will hopefully be dubbed "The Year of the Tomato". I've taken a week off at the end of July with the hope of canning lots and lots of salsa.

The weather cooled off Saturday, so I actually got some weeding done for the leeks and peppers. Hopefully I can finish weeding the peppers, fennel, and winter squash beds before it rains Sunday afternoon.

And interestingly enough, something is parasitizing the aphids. I usually squash them with gloved fingers when I find them, but lately I've been finding their little tan mummified bodies with no young juicy ones in site.

June 16, 2017

Fruiting Vegetables in June

Butta (F1) zucchini. I've already picked a few un-pollinated fruits but it looks like the first male flowers are starting to show up. I grow lots of hybrids and open pollinated zucchini and summer squashes because of the high insect pressure in my garden. I've already squished a few squash bugs and it's early in the season.
Striata D'Italia zucchini. I can't wait to start eating them. First up will be a curry stir fry with soba noodles and tofu.
Lemon drop hot chili pepper. They didn't produce for me last year, but it was a blazing hot year with the heat hitting us by the end of May. We're only growing hot peppers this year for salsa.
The jalapenos were the first to set fruit and to the left you can see the very pale fruit of Santa Fe Grande. (And now you know I was out taking pictures at 5 am in my pajamas.)
Jalafuego (F1) hybrid doesn't actually seem as prolific as the regular Early jalapeno.
Hungarian Hot Wax is a thin walled pepper, and I think they're great in salsa. I was only able to get one plant to germinate this year.
Big Jim Numex is a Anaheim type pepper. They're already pretty big plants and they are setting fruit earlier than Joe E. Parker Numex.
 Ananas Noire is setting fruit later than previous years, but it's setting lots of them.
Paul Robeson produces purple black tomatoes. They're a lot larger this year with our milder spring, we've had hot springs where their fruit are small but early. In 2013 they were the first to ripen on July 2nd after planting the last week of April.
Brandywine is making some nice trusses of their very large tomatoes. They're still blooming profusely but I've picked off a few yellowing leaves that might be a sign of magnesium deficiency.
This is the first year Granny Cantrell's German Red has done well for us, they start out a pale green almost white with pretty fluted edges.
Celebrity (F1) hybrid is a monster of a plant this year. A semi-determinant they have large trusses of fruit. I've been growing this off and on for almost 20 years and find them dependable.
The first fruit on Cherokee Purple usually end up being a bit deformed, the plants are slow growing and fairly short but they can produce over a long season and do end up being big heavy plants in the end. We've had a drier than usual spring, but one big rain can ruin ripening fruit as they seem pretty sensitive to high water loads.
Pilcer Vesy is a large yellow fruited variety. I remember them being great on BLT sandwiches, if memory serves correctly.
And Pink Berkley Tie-Dye is a gorgeously striped and very tasty tomato. I do think they prefer it a bit hotter since they're not fruiting as prolifically as previous years. For an indeterminate, the plants are smaller but they produce early for a big tomato.

I'm trying to not get my hopes up because the last couple years have been terrible for tomatoes. Just a few bad storms can ruin a crop. And squirrels. But so far, it's looking pretty good.

There's still lingering affects of what I suspect is weed killer carried on the wind, especially on the Dark Brandywine, Black Brandywine, and Yellow Brandywine tomato varieties which are closer to that side of the garden. A coworker told me I might as well pull them up as they won't produce. But the new side-shoots seem to be more normal looking, so I'll leave them be.

I'll be posting a tour of the garden tomorrow. Bite my knuckle, but I haven't weeded as I should. Most of my extra time in the garden is spent trimming leaves that are infected with some kind of disease, perhaps fungal.

June 12, 2017

Harvest Monday, 6/12/17

Mizuna still going strong without any signs of bolting. Harvested Tuesday, June 6th.
Blooming tatsoi even the thick juicy flowering stem is delicious. Just don't eat the stringy part near the flowers. Harvested Thursday, June 8th.
And more mizuna, there's so much of it and from only 6 plants. Harvested Sunday, June 11th.

There would have been a couple of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes as well, but a bird got the first one which I found on the ground torn open and our little one gobbled up the second cherry tomato before I could get a picture. There's a couple more cherry tomatoes ripening this week, but it's probably time to get a couple fake owls and snakes to keep the critters away. Plus I've seen squirrels running around lately along our fence.

The greens have all been stir fried this week. The first harvest of mizuna was stir fried with sliced ham, onion, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. The tatsoi was cooked the same way. And then the second harvest of mizuna was stir fried with just soy sauce, brown sugar, and pepper and served as an accompaniment to spicy chicken with rice. I'll probably cook the next batch with ham, ginger, garlic and soy sauce.

Harvested:
1.868 lbs. mizuna
0.922 pounds of tatsoi

Total harvested: 2.79 pounds

Please join as at Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

June 5, 2017

Harvest Monday, 6/5/17

The first of the kohlrabi was harvested on Sunday. They were peeled, sliced, and then grilled on the barbecue with olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper. Quite delicious and they took hardly anytime to cook.

Harvested:
1.116 pounds of kohlrabi

Please join us for Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

Trimming Tomato Plants To Get Ahead Of Fungal Disease

Generally, I don't trim my tomato plants except for dead and dying leaves. But it looks like some kind of fungal disease is already showing up in the garden, so I went through and cleared out leaves close to the ground. This'll create some air flow down there where lots of humidity is coming from the soil.

Normally we've only seen late blight in any of our gardens. Late blight is a fungal disease that thrives in cooler weather. As the weather cools in late summer, late blight sets in from the ground up and quickly takes down the tomato plants. All the tomato plants get thrown away at the end of the season to try to control it. Flea beetles do attack the lower leaves on my tomato plants which eventually yellow, so I've always wondered if this allowed an entry point for the infection.
Here's a before picture of the Manyel tomato plant infected with what I initially thought was early blight, which really freaked me out because of the way late blight destroys my plants. I trimmed this plant last and disinfected the shears with bleach and then alcohol afterwards just to be careful.

The greenhouse might have actually promoted the disease since it was very hot and humid in there, and the plants were definitely packed in way too tight so there was no air flow.
A close-up of the infected Manyel tomato plant.
And a picture after the plant got cut back hard. The disease had actually started spreading down the stems, so it needs to be dug up if it shows more signs of it. Afterwards I watered it with one aspirin diluted in water. Supposedly plants produce a similar compound naturally to combat fungal diseases and watering with uncoated aspirin is supposed to stimulate the plant's immune system.

And here's a picture of some interesting bugs I found on the underside of a tomato leaf:
Can you guess what it is? It's the red and white bugs on the left leaf. (The rest is just dirt.)
Here's a close up if you can't already tell.

At first I thought they were just the right size for aphids, but they're red. And I looked it up and there is such a thing as red aphids, they're known as tomato aphids. I had only ever seen green aphids before. And they were just on the underside of this one leaf. And to top it off there happened to be a ladybug on that same plant. Coincidence?

May 31, 2017

Early Blight on Tomato Plant and Summer Colds

I've had a head cold since the weekend and finally went to the doctor today. After a chest x-ray, it turns out I have pneumonia. The plan is to stay home tomorrow and catch up on some sleep. But first a picture of what may be a tomato plant infected with early blight.
Early blight? At first I thought it was dirt since it was just the top of the plant. Do I need to just dig it up since the growing tips are definitely infected? This Manyel plant seems to be the only one infected. (Sorry, humidity made the lens fog up.)

I'm only familiar with late blight which starts at the bottom of the plants for me and the leaves yellow and die as it finally kills off the plant. Depending on how humid it is, late blight usually clears out my tomato beds by mid-August. Although, the smaller fruited varieties seem unaffected by the disease. Which is fine because we're so hot and humid that the plants fruit early, heat seeming to speed everything up.


May 29, 2017

Harvest Monday, May 29th

As this includes our first harvest for the year, there's actually not much to show. The first harvest of Tatsoi and Mizuna greens went into a pot of spicy shrimp ramen soup with fish sauce and a couple of eggs. Delicious but it could have handled more greens if wanted. My father always made his ramen soup with sliced lettuce and bits of pork. In the spring both are mild and tasty greens that grow phenomenally fast.
The second harvest was more than a half pound of Mizuna collected on Friday. I was trying to cut it back to allow more light to the newly sprouted cucumbers planted along the wire fence. 
As you can see, there's still lots of Mizuna left after the trimming.
The Tatsoi is threatening to go to seed so will probably be pulled in the next couple of weeks and replaced with direct seeded Asian kale (gailaan).

Harvested:
0.612 pounds of Mizuna
0.080 pounds of tatsoi

Kohlrabi might be ready next week, but it will probably be at least 3 weeks for the first cherry tomatoes to ripen.

All the tomato plants have been caged and the only two big things left to do is hoe the garden and then mulch with hay. If you're curious, I've been getting 54" galvanized steel tomato cages for less than $2 from Rural King. I always like to look at the baby chicks and ducks when I visit that farm store.

Please join us at Dave's at Our Happy Acres where gardeners from around the world share their love of vegetables and gardening.

May 27, 2017

Fruiting Tomatoes and A Few Anomalies

The tomato plants are blooming and setting fruit like crazy. But I've heard our neighbor's boyfriend spraying weed-killer with a spray pump along the walkway that runs along the length of my garden on the other side of our fence. Plus it's been really windy. A lot of the tomato plants have thin crumpled burnt looking leaves on top. And Golden King of Siberia had stems with their growing tips totally curling in on themselves with flowers and leaves all curled up into a ball. I pulled on them tell they popped, but it doesn't look like I broke those stems and they seem to be growing a little straighter. Maybe.

The actual owner of the property told my husband and I separately that she would never use weed-killer because of our little one and that she realized it was a vegetable garden we had back there. Normally she uses boiling water, and or a vinegar and soap mixture to get rid of weeds which works very well indeed. Her path stayed weed free for a long time with those methods.
A tomato stem I tried to straighten out, there's flowers and leaves all wrapped up together.
Golden King of Siberia with curled up growing tip, probably due to weed killer. I managed to pull it apart a little and the blooms are now free from the mass.
The fruit on Golden King of Siberia are heart shaped. Although they have large masses of blooms they seem to only set a few fruit.
But the few fruit they do set grow to gargantuan size.
Thin singed looking leaves on the top of the plant of Dark Brandywine may be due to weed killer. The leaves lower on the plant don't look this way.
Some normal looking leaves of the same Dark Brandywine plant.
A Dark Brandywine tomato.
Pink Brandywine with it's crumpled fruit.

Brandywine has large trusses of blooms as well but most of the flowers do set fruit. They are a large variety that do take a little longer to ripen. People say this variety isn't very productive, but they have always done very well in our hot humid summers. They are my favorite tomato, their flavor is incomparable in our climate.
Black Prince is a smaller tomato that sets large trusses of fruit.
Granny Cantrell's German Red had blossoms very early but it seems to focus it's energy on a few fruits, but it hasn't dropped any blossoms as far as I can tell.
Cherokee Purple have sublime tasting fruit, but they are sensitive to large water loads causing them to crack and rot. They do best caged and grown in raised beds. Since I don't grow in beds, we've only gotten fruit maybe one year in 3 of trying. A friend who raises them in raised beds says they do well for her every year.
This is our first year growing Taxi, it's supposed to be a good yellow tomato that produces prodigious amounts of fruit.
We're growing 3 Lilac Giant plants but interestingly enough, they may have been hybridized with another variety as they are all showing different types of leaves. This one has a regular tomato leaf.
Here's what's supposed to be Lilac Giant with a distinctly potato leaf.
And here's the third Lilac Giant with a leaf pattern somewhere between the other two. They're all blooming so it'll be interesting to see the difference in fruit.
Another anomaly is all my Chocolate Stripes plants are potato leaved. I grew this out last year and noticed the same, but the fruit looks just like it's supposed to so I thought nothing of it.
Sometimes it's easy to confuse normal leaves with potato leaves as some leaves may lose their serrated edges as they get older, but here you can see even the young leaves on Chocolate Stripes is potato-ey.
I've been waiting with baited breath for the cherry tomatoes to ripen, this is Sun Gold.
Fat Cherry are much larger than Sun Gold but has smaller trusses.
Black Cherry is also larger than Sun Gold but equals it in large trusses.
The pepper plants have gained some size and blossoms are starting to form on all varieties.

The bed to the right is planted with kohlrabi, mizuna, eggplant, bulb fennel, and cucumbers. The mizuna is as tall as the eggplants and the kohlrabi is finally starting to bulb, both were started indoors and then planted out as seedlings.
I'm only growing spicy peppers this year with an eye towards canning lots and lots of salsa. This is an jalapeno plant.
An aerial view of the Jalapeno pepper.
The bulbing purple Kilibri kohlrabi, so pretty.
The cucumber seedlings were planted along the fence behind the mizuna and kohlrabi. I had to harvest 1/2 a pound of mizuna to let some light down to the newly germinated cucumber seedlings.
Hidden cucumbers.
 Cucumber seedlings are the cutest with their soft down leaves.

I watched an interesting video on growing more food in a smaller space. Set in the 80's it showed a gardener in Canada growing all sorts of varieties very efficiently in her small almost tiny urban plot. It is Halifax gardener Carol Bowlby and here's a link to her youtube video.

We have a much larger garden than Carol, but since I would like to grow more variety of foodstuffs I found it very useful. The cucumbers will eventually clamber onto the fence and as the kohlrabi, mizuna, and fennel get harvested and pulled they'll give more light to the cucumbers. Then beets, lettuce, and carrots will replace the harvested plants probably in June.

The 2 bush bean beds will finish in July and will get replaced with Brussels sprout seedlings. The beds were inoculated with Rhizobium which helps beans and peas to fix nitrogen from the air, so the nitrogen levels in these beds should remain at least the same for Brussels sprouts who are notoriously heavy feeders. Between the Brussel sprout seedlings will be direct seeded Asian greens and lettuce.

Four varieties of melons were seeded and planted down the middle of the tomato beds. I planted the two rows of tomatoes in each bed at least 3 feet apart which should give the melon plants enough light as they get going. Ginkaku melon did excellent grown this way in the pepper bed last year, ironically I've only had one of that variety germinate and will need to reseed and hopefully get 2 more plants. Each melon plant is planted 5 feet apart in their row.

The only other thing to plant for the summer garden is the winter wax melon, which keep very well with their waxy covering and we find them delicious in soups and stir fries.

Hope everyone in the states is having a safe and good Memorial weekend. It's been stormy for us but still peaceful. And sorry for the extra long post.