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).

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.

May 26, 2017

First Harvest of the Year, as well as Germinated Beans and Squashes

First harvest of the year is Mizuna and Tatsoi greens, and there's lots more where that came from.
The 2 fifteen foot beds of bush beans have come up. There's Bluelake 274, Bountiful, Golden Butter Wax, Romano, Stringless, and Cherokee Wax bean varieties.

The bush beans were planted 3 to 4 inches apart in the beds. Normally we grow them in rows a foot apart with just a couple of inches between plants, but last year most of the seeds rotted in the ground. My thought was that the troughs used for the rows held too much water during wet years, especially with our heavy clay soil. With the new way, the beds filled out nicely and hopefully we'll get some snap beans in 4 to 5 weeks.
The pole beans are up although there's sparse germination in places which have been reseeded. The three varieties are Cherokee Trail of Tears, Greasy Grits (although the seeds don't look right), and Meraviglia Venezia a yellow bean.
On the left is a row of Queensland Blue winter squash and the row on the right is a row of Beck's Big Buck okra.
Thai Rai Kaw Tok pumpkin looks healthy.
Black Futsu winter squash is up.
Lunga Fiorentino zucchini. (And if you're wondering, that is a pair of child's footprints)

I plant lots and lots of seeds for each variety of squash and zucchini because squash bugs and especially squash vine borers usually kill the plants. If the borers don't kill the plants outright then they'll really weaken them and limit production. This year I'll be trying spinosad as an organic method of control.

May 17, 2017

Spring Vegetables Planted May 11th

After being delayed for more than a month, the spring vegetables like kohlrabi, bulb fennel, spinach, mizuna, and tatsoi seedlings were planted out in the garden on May 11th. It's already pretty warm in Western Kentucky so who knows how well they'll do, but we shall see what we shall see.
Tatsoi. Slugs have been nibbling on a couple of the plants. I've looked to make sure its not cabbage caterpillars since the moths are definitely around.
 Lots of sad little bulb fennel seedlings.
 Kolibri (F1) and Winner (F1) kohlrabi.
And a couple lonely lonely spinach plants which will likely go to seed in the very near future.
Carentan leeks.

The leeks were planted using the trench method. I also dug down a couple inches with my fingers while planting each individual leek. There's about 100 seedlings spaced maybe 4 inches apart, as they gain some size we'll start thinning the rows.

May 16, 2017

Peppers and Eggplants Planted on May 10th

The pepper bed.
Aji Lemon pepper
Jalapeno pepper.
Three Violetta eggplants sharing a bed with tatsoi and Di Parma bulb fennel. At the end of the bed will be 3 tetra-pods of pole beans.
Three Tonda eggplants sharing a bed with mizuna, Mantovano bulb fennel, Winner (F1) kohlrabi, and Kolibri (F1) kohlrabi. And a row of cucumbers will also be planted along half of the fence line.

The peppers and eggplants were all planted out on the May 10th in the garden. I was out at the garden center looking for some Hungarian Hot Wax peppers since I only had one seedling of that variety germinate, but since they didn't have the Hungarians I ended up picking up some Hot Banana peppers instead. Hopefully they're good in salsa. Here's the list of peppers I grew from seed.

Only 6 eggplants were planted in the garden and there's definitely a few flea beetles around. I'm treating the soil with beneficial nematodes again this spring. I've only seen one grub in the garden this year, after watering in the little creatures last spring. Either way, the nematodes really seem to help because we were infested with flea beetles before. You used to be able see them just teeming in the soil.