June 29, 2015

Harvest Monday, 6/29/15

 Snap beans from the bush bean bed
 Summer squash
On Friday I picked some cucumbers, broccoli and summer squash.

Totals for this week are:
4.570 lbs. snap beans
2.544 lbs. summer squash
1.016 lbs. cucumber
0.542 lbs. broccoli

Total weekly harvest: 8.672 pounds (3.93 kg)

And just today I picked seven more long cucumbers. Eeek!

Got to make this quick. Please join us gardeners at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday.

June 28, 2015

Bamboo Ridge Trellis for Cucumbers and Pole Beans

I finally finished trellising the 25-30 foot row of pole beans on Thursday, the 25th. It only took a week of lacing brown string between top and bottom bamboo poles and untangling pole bean vines. The yard-long asparagus beans were knee high when I began but by the end of the week they're reaching the almost 6 feet tall posts. They must be loving the heat and humidity.

The other pole beans were so much longer and took forever to untangle. Hours upon hours. Heat upon heat.
In comparison this side of the trellis (which I actually did first) containing melons, cucumbers, loofa, and bitter melon was so much easier to trellis. It only took 2-3 days which included setting up the bamboo structure, zip tying netting to the bamboo posts, detangling vines and trying to get tendrils to attach to the netting.

All in all it took a week and a half of work in ninety-some degree weather. Our yard backs up to a shared alley, so there were lots of witnesses to me sweating up a storm mostly neighbors and passersby. Even a work crew with a big machine scraping weeds growing in the alley and the men later laying down new gravel. Ah well. Life goes on.

June 27, 2015

Fruiting Tomatoes and Summer Squash in June

Pink Brandywine tomatoes starting to lighten up in color signaling the achingly slow descent towards ripeness.
The Red Brandywine tomato in the front has a strange blossom end that they call catface which gives it a more flattened shape since the bottom end is covered with a corky brown scar. Normally cold temperatures is attributed to catface but I've also heard people say removing the flower petals can keep some of the scarring from occurring. There's probably lots of causes for catfacing tomatoes but in my experience Brandywine usually never forms catfaced fruit. With our very wet spring I had dozens of little green tomatoes crack open because of the large influx of water, it was so bad they looked like their skin had pulled away from their flesh but really the insides swelled to the point your could see large sections of seeds forming in the seed hollow. I had tried to pull off as many unsightly fruits as possible but a few must have been missed.
 Yoder's German Yellow are setting a nice number of large tomatoes.
Here's a close up of another Yoder's German Yellow tomato. Since I mostly grow indeterminate tomato vines all the plants are still producing lots of blooms that seem to be setting a good number of tiny tomatoes.
The Pink Berkley Tie-Dye tomatoes are starting to develop their pretty green striations.
As the Pink Berkley Tie-Dye tomatoes ripen their flesh will darken to a dusky pink while keeping their lovely green streaking.
Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes nestled beneath the leaves. From googling this variety I noticed the fruits are usually orange but I remember them as being yellow when I grew them in 2013.
Interestingly the hybrid Zephyr squash female blooms mature before the male blooms. So there were a few unpollinated dead baby squashes. This squash plant isn't actually that large yet, not like those behemoth zucchini plants towards the end of the season, but it's still managing to set a good number of fruit. I went ahead and picked the larger squashes to the left and top since it will be awhile before I can make it out to the garden again.

There have been a few harvests from the garden just broccoli, snap green beans, and summer squash. I'm looking forward to the first BLT sandwiches.

It's only June the first month of summer, but in just a couple of months summer will be over.

I'm  hoping this year to let the tomatoes ripen into the fall so I can get a true accounting of total tomato harvested per variety. But that likely can't happen if I want a fall garden. I'm envisioning fall carrots, winter radishes, salad turnips, big swaths of lettuce, spinach, and a couple beds of over-wintering fava broad beans. Timing is essential. I've only ever ended up with lush beds of lettuce, over-wintering fava beans, and radishes that grow and grow and grow while staying mild and nice and crispy during our long fall.

June 25, 2015

Bush Bean Pickings

The first picking from the bush snap bean bed gave us 4.57 pounds of beans (2.07 kg). Not much for a 25-30 foot long bed but there was sparse germination in a couple of rows with just 10 plants or less germinating, and only one full row of beans.
Tendergreen Improved bush beans produced 2.142 pounds of beans (0.97 kg). They had the most plants germinate by far, Pinetree seed company is very generous with their bean seed packets.
Roma II bush beans produced 1.444 pounds of snap beans (0.66 kg). Baker Creek seed company only includes 40-60 seeds in their packet, they germinated really well but our very wet spring caused some of their stems to collapse at soil level and those plants died. This bucket is actually much bigger than the others, so there's more beans than it looks.
I planted one of those 20 cent packets of yellow Cherokee Wax beans that had maybe 10 seeds in them. Those very few plants produced a good number of beans. I've grown this variety before in the desert with sandy soil and the bean pods were dry and tiny. These beans look much bigger and seemed juicy when I was picking them. The green bean pods in this bucket are a mixture of Strike and Jade bush beans which were in rows that I planted much too deep for clay soil and there was sparse germination. Strike and Jade seem to be later producing plants or maybe they just produce much more slender beans, the plants were loaded but it felt like a lot of work for fewer weight-wise beans. I left a lot of the beans on these bushes to see if they would fill out more. We got 0.984 pounds from these 3 varieties.

I like to grow bush beans because they produce about a month ahead of pole beans. But they are a lot of work to pick. It took an hour of furious picking while stooping down to get 4.57 pounds of beans.

June 22, 2015

Harvest Monday, 6/22/15

I picked a small head of broccoli on Friday whose buds were threatening to open, it was so tender and weighed in at:

broccoli: 3 ounces

The garden is starting to feel like a wilderness. I've been spending all my time trellising 60 feet row of pole beans, cucumber, loofah, bitter melon, and melons. My husband talked me into seeding them before setting up the trellis. Never. Again. I still have 10 feet of pole beans left to untangle and train up their string. What a chore. The loofah is already at the top of the 6 feet tall trellis.

There are cucumbers and summer squash blossoming, hopefully these have been pollinated and there are bush beans that need to be picked. Summer is definitely chugging along. Tomatoes are starting to turn a lighter green so they might start to ripen in a couple of weeks.

Not a single pepper has set. It's just been too hot, the little blossoms keep falling off. That's what I get for planting peppers 3 weeks late. They didn't get a chance to set the first flush of fruit before the heat came in. We probably won't get any fruit set until it cools down the end of August or beginning of September. The eggplants are just starting to flower but who knows if they'll set anything in the heat.

Please join us new and long time gardeners while we share our trials and tribulations at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday blog share.

June 13, 2015

Broccoli Heading Up

I noticed on Monday a single Waltham broccoli plant is just starting to form florets. So exciting. But I'm a little worried that it's forming the head too early, maybe similar to bolting. It's the first time we have ever grown broccoli and it has been fun seeing the plants get huge. They rival tomatoes in their speed of growth and size.

I'm growing two other types as well Summer Purple Sprouting and Di Cicco. All the broccoli were started at the same time on April 4th but Waltham is noticeably larger than the other two varieties with Di Cicco being the smallest. The broccoli plants are spaced about 2 to 2.5 feet apart.
The plants are starting to look like they need some supports, they are definitely leaning out to reach the light. Sorry about the weeds. I've been running over to water the garden in the hundred degree weather every few days but the garden really needs a good hoeing.
The hybrid Zephyr squash is starting to form female blossoms. None of my zucchini or yellow crookneck and yellow straightneck squash germinated. Besides the Zephyr squash it looks like we will be having lots of pattypan and Lemon squash.

June 2, 2015

Broccoli and Brussels Sprout Update

Brawny Brussels sprout
Brussels sprouts in the bush bean bed.
Waltham broccoli
Summer Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Di Cicco broccoli

Broccoli and leek bed.

Forgive me but I’ve never grown broccoli or Brussels sprouts before so there are going to be lots of updates on these plants throughout the year. My partner says he’s looking forward to the brocooli and Brussels sprouts the most. So funny. I think Brussels sprouts are his favorite vegetable.

The Brussels sprouts are still young and darling. They were planted out today in the bush bean bed, along with a couple tiny Siam Queen basil, Shishito pepper, and eggplant seedlings that decided to germinate. Hopefully the Brussels sprouts were started late enough they will mature in the cold of early winter. We have a fairly long growing season with the first frost usually in the beginning of November. The varieties are Catskills and Brawny but I'm not sure how many were planted because I stopped counting after 14 Brawny plants.

The broccoli is doing well, getting ever bigger. I didn’t realize Summer Purple Sprouting broccoli was an overwintering variety (I do a lot of seed trading with a gardening buddy). The broccoli is actually planted closest to the house and since the garden is on the north side, that bed gets the most shade.

A golden retriever was walking through the alley while my husband was working on the house. He said the dog had a really sheepish look on his face, he glanced at my husband and looked away with a very guilty expression. So my husband thinks that’s the big dog that has been walking through the garden breaking broccoli leaves and squishing newly emerged seedlings like summer squash and zucchini and leaving tell tale signs like doggy footprints. Also something has also been digging up my pole beans and leaving little holes, I’m thinking it’s the incredibly fat squirrel that I see hanging around the perimeter of the garden. So fat. It reminds me of the squirrels out west.

Broccoli was started from seed on April 4th and Brussels sprouts were started on May 4th.

June 1, 2015

Springtime Promises: June 2015 Garden Share Collective

Spring is so welcome after such a long cold winter. May is when the garden finally got tilled after a snowy winter that went straight into a very wet spring. There was a small window of opportunity when it was dry, windy, and hot enough to rototill and most everyone I know tilled at the end of that week.

 Pink Berkley Tie-Dye tomato
 Black Krim tomato
 And here's a picture of that Black Krim tomato plant.
 Main tomato bed. Bed to the right has pole beans and vining plants like cucumber.
 Tomato and eggplant bed. That's coffee grounds on the eggplants, hopefully it'll help with flea beetles.
 Sweet pepper bed with some mildly hot Pablano peppers.
Broccoli bed.

So like most of the United States, May was filled with planting:
50 tomato plants, 22 sweet and hot peppers, 15 eggplants/aubergines, 22 broccoli, leeks, bush beans, cucumbers, melons, loofa, bitter melon, pole beans, summer squash, zucchini, asparagus, and artichokes were all planted out in the garden.

I also started Brussels sprouts and basil from seeds, and started rooting grocery store starts like bunching onions, basil, and lemongrass.

And we are harvesting:
Nothing so far, but there are big hopes for the end of June or beginning of July.

To do list for June:
  • Put up tomato supports which consists of sandwiching plants between 2 rows of fencing.
  • Put up trellis system for pole beans, vining plants, etc.
  • Plant out Brussels sprouts, basil, bunching onions, and lemongrass.
  • Mulch the whole garden.
Summer will be soon be upon us, which is a wondrous time of eating fresh from the garden. My personal favorite is green beans, whereas my spouse says he is really looking forward to the broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Vegetables that are new to us for growing as well as starting from seed:
Asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, and Brussels sprout.

I'm participating in the Garden Share Collective hosted by Strayed to the Table