Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014

Well, summer is here in full swing. Though it was hot today, this summer has been mild compared to the summers I remember in the 90s.
Thought I'd take today and tell you about my garden. My garden this year is a bit different from last years. I combined some of what I already knew, some of my failures and successes from last year, and a lot of internet research into this years crops.
For starters, I have grown watermelon, and they're doing pretty good! (If anyone remembers, last year I THOUGHT I had a watermelon plant, but it turned out it was a mis-labeled Roma Tomato.) Off of 3 watermelon plants, I have 5 watermelons plumping up nicely. This is my first time growing watermelons, so I'm excited about them.
I am also growing spaghetti squash this year. I didn't know they are growers and grapplers, and they (along with the pumpkins) are trying to take over my garden, with multiple vines growing over a foot a day, and grabbing onto and pulling all my other plants. I have counted 10 spaghetti squashes floating around, but I'm sure there's more I can't see hiding under the leaves.
Growing some patty-pan squash, and got my first one off today. I needed something to take up some space from some plants that didn't make it, and I had seen patty-pans elsewhere, so I wanted to give them a go. I usually start all my plants from seed, but the patty-pans I did buy as plants. They got off to a slow start, but now they're booming, and full of blooms.
Tried some heirloom tomatoes this year. I have been interested in them for a couple years, but I could only ever find them as plants, and they were nearly $5 each. But I finally took the plunge this year, trying Black Krim and Pineapple tomatoes. None have ripened yet, but the Black Krim does have some mater's on it, I can taste the tomato sandwich now!
Last year, I had I think 5 or 6 roma tomato plants, and had Romas coming out of my ears. This year, after all was said and done (a couple died) I have 2. With the amount of Romas that went to waste last year, 2 is probably a good number, with I'm sure still plenty enough to give away. Also, my deep freezer met an untimely death early this past spring, so I don't have the room to freeze any.
Pumpkins: oh lord! I planted 3 pumpkin plants, and those are the wrangliest, gnarliest, fast-growing plant I have ever had! Last year, squash bugs and Squash Vine Borers (SVB's) destroyed all my squash. Everything. Including my pumpkins, which disappointed me. So I did some research, and learned that even with SVBs attacking pumpkins, you can bury the runners, and they will continue to grow. So with doing that, and not caging them (which I did last year) they are growing wonderfully, maybe too wonderfully. I have pumpkins everywhere, and have actually started clipping the ends to keep them under control, and plump up the pumpkins that are already growing.
Bell Peppers: Blah. Nothing to report there, I think they are going to be a total loss this year. This was the other plant I bought already growing, 3 red bell peppers and 3 green bell peppers. 2 of the red pepper plants died shortly after transplanting, and the remaining 4 have not grown much, not sure what I did or didn't do, but the few golf-ball size peppers they have produced have rotted. So much for those this year.
Green beans have done well, planted much more this year than I did last year, and I made sure to get a stringless variety. When processing those, you pull the strings out. No matter how hard I tried, they always tasted "stringy" when I ate them. The green beans have blooms, just waiting for some fresh green beans! We did have a storm that blew a lot of my plants over, so even though they're turned on their side, they're still doing just fine.
Corn, planted much more corn this year. I had planned to do 3 separate plantings of corn, in 3 week intervals, to have constant flow of corn, instead of one big burst. But, my first planting of corn did squat, I don't think I planted the seeds deep enough, and only a few came up. So after a month, I replanted, and that one took. However, my garden got off to a late start anyhow, and by the time I was ready to do my second planting, it was July. I did plant a large block of corn instead of a couple of rows, which I learned helps with pollination.
My staple green and yellow squash is doing great, with plants much bigger this year than last. I credit that to a generous application of epsom salts when the plants were younger. They are putting off squash at a steady clip, and now I'm at the point to start passing out squash to complete strangers. I have to remember to pick them, and can't be lazy. If I miss a couple of days, I have squash as big as my forearm, and that's speaking from experience.
I have 3 cucumber plants, since I lost one. They are growing great, and I can't keep up with cucumbers. We have given tons away already, and I still have a counter full.
My asparagus "bush" has really grown this year, some of it nearly 4 foot tall. I've been good, and haven't tried to eat any of it. I know it takes 3 years for it root well enough to start eating it, so I'm leaving it alone this 2nd year. Next year asparagus, it's on, just so you know.
I saw where you could re-plant a head of Romaine lettuce that you buy from the store, so I tried it. I didn't think it would work, but it really did. I chopped all the leaves off, re-planted what would have just become compost,  and lo and behold, I have an almost full, new head of Romaine sitting in my garden. I've heard you can also do this with green onions and a few other vegetables.
I really do give a lot of credit to epsom salts in the soil, this is the first year I've used it, and this is the best garden I've ever had. Full, lush, and dark-green colored leaves. It's very rewarding to see your sweat labor pay off in this way, and next year, the soil will be full of epsom salts, you can believe that.
Last year, weeding (or lack of) was a major chore. So in doing internet research, several people mulched their gardens with hay, using it as a top-cover to keep weeds down. I figured "what the heck" and gave it a try. I have spent 1/10th of the time weeding this year compared to last year, and that was just when I felt like being in the garden, it didn't even really need it. If you have a generous layer of hay as a top-cover, the weeds can't get through. It also helps as a nice soft bed for my watermelons, pumpkins, and spaghetti squash. And, at the end of the growing season, it decomposes, and fertilizes the soil. It's a win-win! I will be doing that again next year, also.
As of right now (fingers crossed) I haven't lost any squash to SVBs or squash beetles. I've only seen a few squash beetles, including one copulating couple, but I killed those pretty quick, and haven't seen any further signs of them. The SVBs however, are still attacking. I cut open several plants the other day to pull them out, and will check again tomorrow for any further signs.
I do wish I had planted my rows farther apart, it's hard to walk between them. If I had known how full some of the plants would be, I would have. That's something to tuck away for next year.
Well, until next time, be well!

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