Thursday, 8 September 2011

Late Summer Garden

Oh, hello.

Yes, I'm still here. Still not cooking much. The garden has taken up a lot of time, or rather, dealing with all the vegetables being pulled out of the garden has taken a lot of time. Vegetables to freeze, tomatoes to can, some meals made up and frozen. Dry beans to be shelled, pickles to make. Every day, we need to get at least one preservation project going.

The year is moving on - by late afternoon the shadows are getting long. No more working in the garden for several hours after dinner, unless you want to be eaten alive by mosquitos.

We spent a lot of August running around visiting people and having them visit us, not to mention working on other projects, and the garden got a bit out of hand. In particular, I have not kept up with keeping the grass cut, or the weeds pulled. Ugh.

The potatoes planted in the experimental bed have not really started dying down yet. They were planted a bit later than the others, also they did not really get to grow right away because we kept piling more soil on them. They are just starting to look a little less lush than they did, although they have made the paths around them pretty impassable given how much they have flopped.

Still, it hasn't all gone to rack and ruin. We have pulled the garlic (quite some time ago) and the carrots, and have planted radishes, beets and turnips in their place. A few of the potatoes have been dug, although most of the potatoes in the regular beds are still just dying down. We're starting to put in spinach and other greens for overwintering under hoophouses.

Tomatoes have been producing a reasonable, but not spectacular amount this year. That's because in spite of good growing conditions (mostly) they all have a bad case of septoria spot, a fungal disease. You can see all the dead and dying leaves working their way up this row of Black Cherry tomatoes.

Fortunately, the peppers seem very healthy this year - no sign of last years' virus - and are producing reasonably well. The melons, behind them, have produced a record (for us!) number of melons. Unfortunately, we are having some trouble with peppers, tomatoes and melons all being very late this year. July and August were excellent months for these plants, so the trouble must be traced back to June, which - wasn't. June was very cold and rainy, and they never completely caught up, I guess. That's a lesson. Next year, if June is cold, we must keep these plants covered with hoop-houses.

The cucumbers and summer squash are now coated in powdery mildew, another fungal disease but pretty much par for the course by this time of year. It seems particularly bad this year though. On the other hand, both the cukes and the zukes have produced enough that we don't mind them slowing down a bit too much.

Our new trellis design, about which I was expressing some doubts this spring, has turned out to work mostly pretty well. We need to adjust exactly where we plant the vegetables to be trellised, and get the trellises in early and the plants started up them right away for better results, but the basic idea is sound and worked.

Soy beans, almost ready to pick, in the foreground. They have some sort of caterpiller eating the leaves, as do all the beans pretty well. Fortunately, while the caterpillers are large, they are not terribly numerous and are more amusing than troublesome. I do wonder, if I allow them to stay, if I will be saying the same thing next year. But I do like to take a live and let live attitude if I can. I suppose I should look them up and see if I can find out what they are.

We planted a second set of peas and snow peas, and they are growing okay, in spite of weeds and encroaching uncut grass. It's really hard to get motivated to get the grass cut once it gets this long. I need to use a weed-whacker to get into the paths, and the batteries are getting old. I barely get around one bed with 2 batteries, and at that rate it seems hopeless to ever catch up. Still, if I want any peas this fall I need to find a little motivation.

Pole beans are still going strong, in spite of their problems with bean yellow mosaic virus. The Blue Lake, Purple Peacock, Trionfo Violetto and Grandma Nellie's beans have all done better than Fortex as time has gone on. Another reason not to grow Fortex next year.

We have probably picked at least 6 bushels of beans this year. Next year, we are going to grow far fewer beans. FAR fewer.

Still, the alley between the 2 beds of pole beans was one of my favourite places to spend time this summer. Good thing! I spent a lot of time there, picking beans, and it isn't over yet!

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