Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harvest 25 Jul 2011

After the lethal weather of last week (108°F on back porch in the shade), the weather has moderated. We had thunderstorms on Saturday which brought in cooler and cloudier weather. It rained a bit on Sunday and again on Monday, which relieves me of the need to water the raised beds. In fact, the cooler weather has allowed me to transplant some seedlings to replace the Romaine lettuce and the pac choi Shuko which have been harvested, and to add some more Swiss chard (I have terrible luck with chard).

My summer squash are still under floating row cover to ward off the squash bugs and vine borers, but they are starting to produce blossoms. I am reluctant to remove the cover because the squash bugs are now at peak around the community garden, but I have to deal with pollination. On Saturday I tried to hand-pollinate the zucchini by using a piece of jute twine as a swab to transfer pollen from a male flower to my first female flower. Time will tell, but I think I may have succeeded given the dark green color of the fruit, compared to the light green color of the baby fruit to the right below the female flower. Today I used a cotton swab from the pack I am now carrying in my garden basket to hand pollinate two more female zucchini blossoms.

First zucchini

The Patty pan squash Sunburst is starting to flower, but as of today it is only producing male flowers.It, too, will need hand pollination until I remove the covers. While I had the row cover open on one side while tending to the plants, a bee actually flew inside, attracted by the squash blossoms. So I left it open for awhile so I wouldn't trap the precious pollinator. When I finally closed up the bed, I heard some ferocious buzzing and thought I missed a bee. It turned out to be a group of hungry Tiger mosquitoes trapped in the box. Too bad.

Sunburst squash blossoms

I continue to pick vegetables, two more cucumbers, a handful of snow peas, and another pac choi. The exciting news is the bush beans are starting to produce and I had my first serving of bush bean Provider. The crop will be heavier over the next few days.

Provider bean 1st harvest

Provider has purple flowers and the beans are light green. The beds were seeded 9 per square so the plants are pretty dense right now. Picking beans means exploring under the leaf canopy, looking for the beans that set lower on the plant and are now maturing. I pushed aside the foliage to give you a view into the interior. That is Japanese beetle damage you see. They are not too bad right now on the bush beans, but the pole beans are getting chewed up. The close spacing does not really seem to bother the plants and in fact provides some support. This method of growing beans gets you a very high yield from a small area. Note that given the way some flowers were oriented when pollinated and the density of the planting, some beans are actually growing upward.


The Jade bean plants below are also covered with tiny beans and are still flowering heavily. The beans are more slender and darker green than Provider. In this picture you can see of the low, foldable metal fencing I use around the perimeter of the box. This fencing keeps the beans upright and prevents them from flopping over the sides into the paths around the box.

  Jade bean

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