Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early September Garden Overview: Part 1

I took a few days off from work this week to enjoy what I though would be fall-like weather and get some chores completed around the yard. However with the oppressive 90-degree heat, not much has been accomplished outside. The only chance of relief we have is hurricane Earl this weekend.

I wanted to wait for a cooler day to process the next batch of tomatoes into sauce. However each day seemed warmer than the previous and by Wednesday, the tomatoes were very ripe and ready and couldn’t wait much longer. So I began processing the tomatoes and simmering the sauce hoping the temperatures would cool down by evening. By the time the jars were placed in the boiling water canner in the evening, the temperatures had cooled a little, but the house was still sweltering. Thankfully it cooled overnight. It wasn’t the best day for canning, but I was glad to add 16 pints of tomato sauce to my storage shelves.

I’ve been meaning to post a current overview of the garden. Each time I sit down to do so, I notice that the photos look so outdated in only a few days. It's amazing how much changes in the heart of the growing season. Below is an update and most of the photos included were taken this morning.

I'll begin with the jewels of the garden this year, the tomatoes. The Roma Tomatoes in the SWCs are performing really well this year:

As you can tell, the plants are leaning every which way. The flimsy tomato supports that I used were no match for the heavy fruit. The plants in the SWC on the end are dying and will be pulled as soon as the remaining tomatoes ripen.

This particular SWC has struggled from the beginning. I used a different fertilizer and the plants never measured up to the others. I am not surprised that it is the first to go, but I did get a bunch of tomatoes from it. The other plants are showing some signs of stress, but are still full of fruit:

The Early Girls continue to produce a ton of perfectly round ripe tomatoes:

They too are showing signs of stress with some yellow leaves and what looks like early blight. These were blown down earlier in the season and were propped back up in a mish mash of ways including some 2x4s, a broom handle, and some extra pvc. They never skipped a beat and continued to produce numerous tomatoes:

The Bush Boy Tomatoes are struggling in the SWCs:

I underestimated both the size of these plants and weight of the fruit and have had to tie them up throughout the season in not so flattering ways. I also used an inferior fertilizer in these SWCs, but additional drinks and sprayings of fish emulsion has kept them happy enough to produce numerous large fruit.

They have served me well. I am just waiting for the remaining fruit to ripen enough to harvest, then these plants will be put out of their misery:

The San Marzano tomatoes in the Square Foot Gardens have thrived:

Their lower leaves are just beginning to yellow, but the tops of the plants continue to put out new growth:

They are still loaded with numerous fruit:

The nylon netting is straining with the weight of the vines and fruit. I have wrapped the plants several times with cotton twine to the trellis supports:

The melon patch is a sorry sight right now:

The vines have almost completely died back revealing only the grass and weeds growing through the holes where the plants are. All the cantaloupe have been harvested. I am still waiting for the Sugar Baby Watermelons to ripen. One that I thought was ripe last week was only half ripe. So I am trying to wait until the stem turns a little brown first:

The Peppers are just now finding their groove. The Japanese beetles feasted upon their foliage and I noticed a lot of blossom drop during our unusually warm summer. Now the plants are finally setting fruit:

Hopefully there will be enough time before our first frost for this fruit to mature and grow. Below are Bell, Anaheim, and Jalapeno peppers:

Pole Beans are continuing to produce really well right now. The Japanese beetles are gone, leaving behind lacy leaves on the Kentucky Wonder pole beans:

The Purple Trionfo pole bean leaves are almost untouched:

I am so impressed by the Purple Trionfo beans.

From the beginning the vines were vigorous climbers reaching and intertwining up the trellis quickly. Soon they reached the top and continued down the opposite side and even reaching onto the neighboring trellis of Kentucky Wonder beans. The Kentucky Wonder are beginning to slow down, but the Purple Trionfo continue to provide a colander full of beans each day.

The Kennebec Potatoes have died back and are ready to be dug up. I am hoping to harvest these tomorrow morning while it is still cool and before the rains from hurricane Earl begin.

The crazy cucumber plants continue to do well trellised and growing in a SFG. Usually by this time of the year, the plants have succumbed to mildew:

In front of the cucumber plants is a healthy bunch of herbs including basil, flat leaf parsley, thyme, and curly parsley. I am going to begin harvesting and drying these herbs today.

The Japanese Eggplants were munched on earlier in the season by Japanese and 3-lined potato beetles. Now that these pests are gone, the flowers have been allowed to bloom:

The plants are fruiting heavily right now.

That is an overview on the Summer garden. I will update the Fall plantings later in the weekend in Part 2. Happy gardening!


  1. Excellent update! I love the self watering containers. How long can you go between adding water in the heat of August?

  2. I love the row of tomato sauce. I always think they look so pretty. I've got to get out tomorrow and clean some stuff up. Our rain is supposed to hit at 2pm so I have plenty of time in the morning if I work at it.

  3. Wow, your garden still looks pretty spectacular! Mine seems all dry and yukky. I can't wait until the rest of the tomatos are ready so I can pull them all out.
    I love your jars of sauce. What recipe do you use? Do you use Ball?

  4. jimmycrackedcorn: Thanks! The SWCs need to be filled every day rain or shine.

    Daphne: It's difficult to know how much wind and rain we are going to get. I went out and picked all the ripe and semi-ripe tomatoes just in case. We will button things up tomorrow as well.

    Meemsnyc: Thanks! The garden is doing pretty well, but it is on it's way down. A few cool nights will be all it takes. I used the Ball Blue Book's "Seasoned Tomato Sauce" recipe.

  5. Your garden still looks great! I grew the Purple Trionfo pole beans, too. They are wonderful, and so pretty.

  6. The sauce looks beautiful. :D

    My Early Girl plants are the healthiest in my tomato patch, followed by two of the Market Miracles. The others are okay but not nearly as healthy overall. The Early Girls are trying to ripen fruit despite the cold summer we are having as well.

    The purple pole beans look like a winner. Are you saving any seed from them?

  7. I'm so glad the swc's worked well for ya this year. The sauce looks great, and you've certainly got the tomatoes for it! Things are beginning to wind down here, too. Stay safe!

  8. henbogle: The garden is holding on. There will be a big difference when temperatures return to normal.

    Laura: I have a feeling Early Girls are pretty resilient. They sure have taken a beating in my garden and kept on growing. Yes, I am going to try to save seed from the purple pole beans. Hopefully enough to share.

    EG: Yes, the SWCs worked great this year. The soil mixture wicked properly all the way through the season. I learned my lesson on using good fertilizer, though. No shortcuts when the plant is depending upon certain nutrients to sustain it through the season. I am going to have to work on better tomato supports though. Even the determinant tomatoes needed more support than the cages gave them

  9. It looks so very nice. That's what a garden should be in summer. I agree, most tomato supports just aren't enough for "real" tomatoes.