Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Late Summer Garden Update
Well, there is no getting around it: things are winding down. The powdery mildew hit early and hard this year, when August took a turn towards the cooler. Cooler? It's been downright chilly! Sweet potatoes and peanuts are still looking good, but that's because they basically spent the summer under cover. The squash are definitely heading for the finish line.
These are beans, supposedly dried beans. They should have been planted June 1st and got planted July 1st instead. Mathematically, they should be able to make it - in practice we shall see. I am a little nervous about how far along they aren't. Especially since this is pretty much all my seed from the cross between Cherokee Trail of Tears and Dolloff that I found last year. On the other hand, even though the regular green beans went in just as late, we are going to have a freezer full of them, no problem.
Our carrot crop looks to be amazing, which is, well, amazing. They had to be seeded 3 times before they managed to achieve any sort of critical mass, and then they looked so frail and pathetic for months, not to mention how massively they were infested with purslane this year... I'm glad we didn't give up on them. We thought about it, I have to say!
The vines look terrible now, no thanks to our perpetual problem with septoria leaf spot, but I am very pleased with these tomatoes. They are now an F4 grow-out of a cross that showed up in our Jaune Flammé tomatoes, uh, 4 years ago. I liked it so much I've been growing it ever since, and it seems pretty stable. The cross seemed to be between Jaune Flammé and an unknown red beefsteak type tomato, and it has the flavour of a large, late beefsteak tomato in an early, small salad sized tomato that, like Jaune Flammé, produces prolifically all season.
In general, all the tomatoes look pretty bad. As I've said before, it seems the only way to have tomatoes survive septoria leaf spot is for them to grow faster than it can kill them. We've been picking tomatoes by the bushel every week and making litres of sauce, but I'd say that's winding down. One or two more batches, then it'll be time for chow-chow and garden clean up. Once the tomatoes come out, we can plant garlic in their place, at least in one of the beds.
I'm still hoping for a few ripe watermelons. Not so much to eat, as to have seed to continue my mass watermelon crossing project next year. They went in so very late, and the weather has been so unfriendly to watermelons, that if I achieve any ripe seed I will count it as a win. Some watermelons would have been nice too, but ho hum.
The sunflowers are funny. Normally they all line up and face the sun, but this year they were facing all over in random directions. I was perplexed, until I remembered that I did not plant them directly but put in a row of transplanted sunflowers that came up in spots where we had added compost. Apparently they are oriented as to which direction they will face to bloom before they are 6" high!
Another couple of seed projects. We did not attempt to grow any veggies in the wet bed this year, but we did leave the Turkish celeriac from last year to go to seed. Behind them, we planted a trellis full of 4 kinds of peas and 2 kinds of beans which are being grown out strictly for seed. They too went in a month late, so we will see how much we actually get. I expect a lifetime supply of celeriac seed, though.
Also down in the wet beds, we left the Turkish leeks from last year to go to seed. They are not entirely happy here, but they survived the winter surprisingly well, even though they looked pretty limp and mushy in the spring. They have their flaws: besides not being in an edible condition in the spring, they are amazingly attractive to slugs and snails, nor did any of mine achieve the impressive heft of the ones we saw in the Turkish markets. Still, they have such wonderfully long shanks that I intend to save seed and let them cross with my more hardy varieties, specifically Giant Musselburgh and Bandit, just to see what happens. The flowers were really lovely too, in surprisingly varied shades of cream and lilac.
As you can probably tell, I get more and more interested in saving seeds and crossing different varieties. It's a good thing we are getting more efficient with the amount of vegetables we get out of each bed - quite a few of them are now being set aside for seed saving. It's been a rather cool summer, and it doesn't look like it's going to warm up for autumn, so it will be a bit of a race to see if I can get everything ripe on time. Most things are going to make it though!