Friday, 19 July 2019

Hot, Dry, Grumpy, & Behind - A Midsummer Garden Update

It's evening in the garden. A few light chores to be done, and then we will pack it in until tomorrow. Here, we have just transplanted a few cabbages and planted some cabbage seedlings started in pots and Mr. Ferdzy is watering them in. We should have large, developing cabbage plants at this point, and there are a few. But they have been devastated by some kind of bug - quite possibly cut-worms, although we couldn't find any - and at least half of them are barely sprouts or missing entirely.

Those big plants in the foreground are volunteer potatoes. Now that I shouldn't eat potatoes very often, I am finding their tendency to pop up anywhere they were planted in the last 5 years as volunteers really annoying. We are about to go away for the weekend, but those ones are getting pulled as soon as we come back. However, so far the potato volunteers seem to be much the healthiest potatoes in the garden.

Tomatoes are looking... okay. It isn't going to be an early or a bumper year, I would say. Still, they are doing. There are a reasonable number of green tomatoes forming and plenty of blossoms at the moment.

Zucchini went in late and are late, but they are about to roar into action. There are lots of blossoms and a few small squash to be seen. Yay, something!

Carrots are a disaster. They are always fraught, but this year they just won't germinate. Actually, I suspect they are germinating adequately well, but are being eaten by something just as fast. We have made our third and final attempt for the year - we are rapidly running out of seed, if nothing else - and will keep our fingers crossed. Normally we cover them to keep them damp as they germinate but we are leaving the cover off and watering 3 times a day in the hope that this will discourage whatever pest is eating them. (May just be slugs - I think the long damp spring really coddled them ).

The potatoes look pretty good from a distance; up close you can see that about half of them have some sort of virus in the leaves. Half the potatoes are named varieties, and half are ones we grew from seed and are growing on for further assessment. The virus appears to be throughout the entire bed, with equal numbers of named varieties/seedlings affected. One of the most prolific seedlings seems quite affected, but another one of the most prolific seedlings seems pretty immune. A little research shows this is probably potato virus Y, which is a virulent form of mosaic virus that has been causing a lot of havoc for potato growers in the last few years. One of the insidious things about this virus is the leaves may not look very affected but the potatoes can be really rotten so the ones I think are doing well may not be. FUN. Looks like when we return from our week-end away we'll be pulling out a lot of potatoes.

Watermelons! I had to discard (well I have them, but I'm not growing them) last years' seeds because an orange melon got in with the golden-rind project. The 2 year old seed had some trouble germinating - it was not great last year either, but once things got going it was fine. This year I am going into the season with even fewer plants and more of them than I like from the melon that volunteered and was almost-but-not-quite golden rinded. Well, we'll see. They are also all so late that I am hoping more for viable seed than good melons this year.

We are only growing the golden-rind melons this year as watermelon is not something I should be eating very much of these days. At least that assures that there will be no cross-contamination in this batch.

Another view of the potatoes, with the very very last of the peonies off to one side. This is the first peony I ever got and I wish I knew the name... it's very common in Ontario gardens and while it is generally late, it is unusual for it to be the last one blooming. If anyone has an idea, I'd love to know it. It forms seeds but never has a speck of pollen, and I believe it was a bit darker pink in my previous garden.

On the other side of the potatoes, the onions are doing well apart from the fact that I mixed my leek and Rose de Roscoff seed together by accident and now have much fewer of each than I wanted, if you don't count the large number of substitute leeks I planted when I couldn't find the seed I wanted. GRRR. Garlic beyond them, doing okay and tomatoes in the background.

Early peas (Knight and Norli) are going to seed and may in fact be pulled out by the time I hit "publish", apart from 2 sections left for seed. We missed most of the Norli peas when we went to Toronto for a family Bat Mitzvah, and got a lot of rather starchy peas from the Knight for the same reason. Really, a July week-end should have been safe to leave the peas, which should have been mostly over! Oh well. We will be getting more seed than usual which will hopefully be a good thing next year.

Lima beans are slow, slow, slow, although now that it is finally hot it looks like they will take a great leap forward. Beans otherwise are looking very good, apart from the fact that it looks like bean mosaic virus is starting up. We've had it before, it's not the worst thing, although what it will do in combination with the anthracnose remains to be seen. We are doing a big grow-out of several crosses including a Blue Lake - Cherokee Trail of Tears cross which I hope will give us a Blue Lake type bean with better anthracnose resistance. The Amish Snap and other pole peas in the next bed over are doing well, but they are going to ripen in extremely hot weather, so we will see how well they do... this may be a big "seed" year for them too, sigh.

And to end on a more cheerful note, we have a lot of this lettuce volunteering all over. Which is good, because it is the ONLY lettuce that has stayed edible in the heat and dry weather we have been having! It came into the garden in a packet of "Morton's Mix" seeds from vegetable breeder Frank Morton in 2011. I always assumed it was a variety he bred but when I check his site, the only lettuce it resembles is "Waldmann's Dark Green" (I've been referring to it as "Dark Green Frilly" for the last 8 years). It is an old variety that he carries because it is one of the most popular commercial varieties. Well, sometimes things are the standard for a reason. I've been very thankful to have *some* edible lettuce this summer - most of it really isn't now that the weather is hot - and the lettuce has gotten big enough to eat. Yes, even my attempt to end on a cheery note reminds me that is ONE OF THOSE YEARS.  It is. One of those years.

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