Thursday, July 30, 2009

Almost Ready…

We had a couple dry days this week. Temperatures have been in the 80s for the first time this summer, which is nice. However, the humidity and dewpoint has also been high, which is very uncomfortable for those of us not accustomed to this. We’ve been spending most of the time in air conditioning. I miss the fresh air and hearing the sounds of outside, the birds, the breeze blowing through the trees, and the calming evening sounds of crickets chirping.

The poor garden has been waiting for this warmth and sun for so long. Things are growing and changing every day. There are so many things that are almost ready to be harvested. Here is a side view of the garden:

The pole beans have reached the top of the 6-foot trellis. With nowhere else to go, hopefully they will fill out now:

I’ve been walking through and knocking the Japanese beetles off the leaves each day, but they are doing quite a bit of damage to the foliage. This happened last year too. However it didn’t affect the yield. Hopefully this year will be the same:

There are a few Royal Burgundy Bush Beans that look almost ready to pick in the small row:

The first cucumber is almost ready:

The cucumber plant on the opposite side of the arched trellis has a few new cucumbers too:

This little eggplant is about three-inches long:

The first yellow summer squash:

The lettuce is still hanging in there even with the 80-degree temperatures. Unfortunately, some of the most tender leaves have been scorched. It is not unusual for the sun the be out, then have the skies cloud over as a thunderstorm rolls in dumping some rain, only to have skies clear soon after and the sun to shine upon the wet leaves. We’ve been harvesting as much as we can each each day.

Yesterday, my pickerel frog friend jumped out from the lettuce and sstartled me. I am surprised he is still here. I know he is eating well, but worry that he may be too hot. I leave shallow containers of water throughout the garden for him in case he needs them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My first zucchini

My first zucchini:

Isn’t he cute? I sliced it up and added to our dinner salad made from the garden lettuce:

As I drove homeward from work I could see thunderstorms rolling in. Distant rumble of thunder urged me to zip out to the garden quickly as the storm moved closer. I had enough time to poke a few Japanese Beetles off my bean leaves into a can of soapy water, fill the SWCs, and harvest some lettuce and the zucchini for dinner. Once I was safely inside, the sky darkened and it began to rain once again.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not Window Box Roma Tomatoes After All?

I am beginning to wonder about my Window Box Roma tomatoes. They are supposed to be a more compact variety for growing in containers.

I grew a few Window Box Roma tomatoes last year in containers and they did quite well. I was pleased to be able to harvest quite a large amount of tomatoes from a rather compact plant. I used them to make a small batch of tomato sauce.

This year I ordered six Window Box Roma tomato starters from the same nursery as last year. I have three in the traditional one in the SFG, and two in a SWC. They have grown much larger than I anticipate, currently measuring about 3.5-feet tall:

At first I thought the increased growth was because they are receiving much better nutrients and water than they did last year when they were confined to pots. However, today it dawned on me that in addition to the larger growth, the fruit is round not oblong like Roma tomatoes:

I googled for pics and found this description and picture from Vesey’s:

Dwarf plants are very compact and quite ornamental even without fruit set. Bright red, elongated fruit, weighing 60-80 grams. Smooth and uniform in size and shape. Eating quality is incredible. Special breeding has created a sweet flavour and good holding ability on the plants. Plants will grow up to 1.5 feet tall and are perfectly suited for container gardening. Maturity 70 days from transplanting.

Mine last year were a bit taller. I used the cheap tomato cages in the pots and they seemed to fill them, but not overfill them like this year. So I don’t know what king of tomatoes I am growing. I wanted Roma tomatoes to make salsa and sauce, but K is happy that he may have some fresh tomatoes for his salads. Either way, they will not go to waste.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garden Update

We’ve had some nasty weather over the past few days. A Nor’easter hit the New England coast Thursday night and brought us a lot of rain and wind. Yesterday’s rainfall was 2.10. So far this month we have received 7.80 inches, the normal rainfall for the month of July is 2.62 inches. This is my wheelbarrow this morning:

I have only been out to the garden briefly over the past few days to snip a few herbs for dinners and prop up and support the plants that the wind whipped around a bit. The tomatoes in the SFG lost a 2-foot high sucker. It has a cluster of blooms on it, so I placed it into a glass of water to see if it will sprout roots.

I went out to the garden this morning to snap a few pictures. The air feels humid and sticky thanks to the tropical air the storm brought with it.

The first Fast Break Melon that I have been showing the growth progress over the past few weeks has begun to develop its netting. I don’t expect it to grow much bigger now, but it should be the first to mature:

There are other melons that have already surpassed the size of this first one:

My little froggie friend popped out as I was peeking among the melon vines. I can’t believe he is still here. I hope he has plenty to eat. I keep a bowl of fresh water in this area for him just in case. After all, he’s a pickerel frog, not a toad. He’s should be living in water, not my garden:

The lettuce is still going strong thanks to the cool temperatures. I harvested the ones that looked like they were ready to bolt. We’ve been eating salads every day. The Royal Oakleaf lettuce plants have developed into these beautiful loose bunches:

The Romaine has doubled in size since last week:

All the peppers plants have survived their rough beginnings, and most have blooms now:

Sadly, it looks like my first pepper in the SFG has developed blossom end rot:
*Update* I posted this pic to the GardenWeb forums and from the couple of responses I have received so far, this is probably just natural coloring from the sun and NOT BER. I hope so! :)

The New Ace Hybrid bell pepper in the SFG box has a few small peppers growing:

There are a few eggplants growing:

Here is a baby cucumber:

I weed whacked the grass today, harvested a bunch of Royal Oakleaf lettuce for dinner, and pulled a few weeds in the traditional garden between the beans. I hope to pull the bolted spinach and plant more lettuce and cilantro tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Things Are Growing!

YES, things are growing!!

If I seem surprised that things are growing, it's because I am. We have only had a few weeks of relatively normal weather for this time of year. Our June was a wash with over 10-inches of rain, almost non-existent sunshine, and cooler than normal temperatures. The past few weeks have been much better and the garden shows this with invigorating growth. Here are a few updated pictures from today.

The Royal Burgundy Bush Beans have little baby beans:

The Blue Lake and Tendergold Bush Beans have also blossomed:

The Fast Break Melon that I have posted several times, the last on Saturday has grown considerably:

There are a few more coming along that are slightly smaller:

This is the first bloom on one of the Yellow Doll Watermelons:

First bloom on one of the cucumbers:

We will be eating our first zucchini in the next couple of days:

The tomatoes are going absolutely crazy in all three locations. Here are the Window Box Romas in the traditional garden:

Super Marzanos in the SWC:

Super Marzanos in the SFG:

This is a Window Box Roma sucker potted up:

I am so pleased with how things are growing right now. It's amazing! However, I am having some problems with a few pests.

The aphids are torturing the Eggplants. I think this maybe a baby eggplant growing, but the surrounding foliage is extremely damaged:

The Asiatic Beetles are numerous. I spotted some in the SFG when I pulled out a few heads of lettuce. Today I saw a bunch drowning in a small deli container I left in the garden last weekend that had filled with rainwater:

I believe they may be the culprits chewing on my pepper plants. I didn't realize they were so many as I only saw one once in a while. Bad news is they lay their eggs in the soil at the base of plants. Then in two weeks, the newly hatched grubs eat the plants' roots. Apparently, the adults usually do their damage to plant foliage at night.

Not these guys. This Japanese Beetle is brazenly chewing holes in my beans:

Japanese Beetles have stayed away from my vegetable garden until now. Usually they are congregated on my one Rugosa Rose bush. I found this one on my pole beans and another on my dill.

Time to put my gardening gloves on and get serious about hand picking and killing these pests.

*** Special Event to Note ***
I just want to note that on this day, July 22, 2009 this post was completed via cable internet vs the substantial dsl that we have endured over the past several years. It took me a fraction of the normal time to upload pictures and post this. Amazing difference in speed..almost 5X faster. I can now watch videos of my fellow gardeners!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Garden Review

Ah the weekend is here. Usually I am excited for the weekend as it is a break from work and allows me to putter around the yard and gardens. However, I was off for vacation last week and was able to enjoy this every day. Today and tomorrow are the last days before I have to return to work on Monday.

It rained overnight and into this morning. It is supposed to remain cloudy today with a chance of thunderstorms. I can’t really complain though as the weather for last week was absolutely beautiful mostly sunny, warm, very little humidity until Friday. After all that sun, the gardens were in need a good soaking.

It was drizzling softly this morning as I snapped the pictures below. I can’t believe how fast things are growing now with the added sun and warmer temperatures. It is as though the plants are trying to make up for the lost month of their growing season.

The Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans in the traditional garden are quickly spiraling up the trellis:

The Cucumbers are ready to take their first step upward too:

The Royal Burgundy Bush Beans are in bloom. It won't be long now before we are harvesting fresh beans. I can't wait.

All the tomato plants have some small tomatoes on them now.

Here are the Super Marzano tomato suckers in a new SWC planted last week. These are the two largest in the small pots from the Tomato News post on July 9th. There isn't much time for these to grow before the end of the season, but I think I will be able to harvest a few tomatoes from these plants as they are already budding.

The Roma tomato plants in the SWC that I was so concerned about last week seem to be doing ok. The leaves still have a little bit of yellow but none have progressed much further. The new leaves show no yellow yet. No leaves or branches have died. The plant is still growing, has a few tomatoes on it, looking healthy and producing new blooms.

My best guess is that they were getting too much water. The container wasn’t level as I found out when I drilled a second drainage hole extra water immediately drained out. Therefore, the water level may have been elevated on one side of the SWC leading to the aeration screen coming in contact with the water level in the chamber. This would definitely result in too much water wicking up into the soil and block air from getting to the roots. I am still going to keep a close watch on these plants for now, but I am pretty sure this solved the problem.

My little tiny Fast Break Melon that I posted on Monday has grown quite a bit in only a few days:

Another on one of the other two plants has joined her:

There may be more, but I didn't want to disturb the plants while they were wet to peek under the leaves. All three Fast Break Melon vines are covered in blooms, although most seemed to be male right now. The vines are beginning to sprawl across the garden.

As are the watermelons:

The watermelon plants in the middle are Crimson Sweet. The two on either side are Yellow Doll. The Crimson Sweet is showing it's first bloom:

You can also see the Zucchini and Yellow Straightneck Squash behind the watermelons in the picture above. They have grown quite a bit this week also. The large plants in the middle are Zucchini; the ones on either side are Yellow Straightneck Squash in two different stages of growth as they were planted about two weeks apart.

Below is another view. Yellow Straightneck Squash on the right, Zucchini in the middle, and the third Yellow Straightneck Squash is not visible behind the Zucchini:

A tiny Zucchini bud:

The Spinach in the SFG is pretty much a bust. I had a difficult time getting seeds to sprout early on. The ones that did sprout struggled for a while, and then bolted before we ate a single leaf. The smaller plants were seeded later on, but grew extremely slowly. I don't expect them to do well as warm temperatures are now here.

We have been eating lettuce all week from the SFG and it looks like we will have plenty for next week too:

The second round planted is romaine and it seems to be doing quite well so far:

I have started more lettuce seeds inside for fall planting:

It's difficult to believe that I am thinking fall just when it seems that summer has finally arrived and the garden has begun to grow. We have such a short growing period here in Maine. This year is even shorter with the wet and cool June we experienced.

I guess all I can do is take what I have learned this year and apply it to planning the garden next year.