Sunday, July 1, 2012

Garden Update 1 Jul 2012

The garden is at the point now where the warm weather crops are starting to take off and in a few weeks I should start getting beans, summer squash, and yes, even the first cherry tomatoes. Full size tomatoes and eggplant are probably not going to be ready until late July or August.

The beans are starting to grow vigorously and the first bush beans planted should start flowering in a week or so. The bean bed below shows they have greened up considerably after their jaundiced start. I suspect maybe the nitrogen-fixing bacteria take some time and some warm weather to start working ( I did use innoculant). The beans on the right were planted two weeks later than the beans on the left. Fresh Pick are at the bottom and Provider at the top.

Bush beans

The Fortex pole beans are starting to climb. Should have tendrils latching on any day now. They are still a bit yellow and had some rust-like discoloration on the bottom leaves. Googling around I convinced myself that the problem was not really rust, it was a metabolic problem and would go away. It seems to be doing that, new foliage is healthy and green.

Fortex pole beans

I have a covered bed with brassicas and a zucchini plant. The two Brussels sprouts in the middle are going nuts and totally dominating the bed. On the left are six broccoli plants trying to find a little sun. On the right Is a Dunja zucchini, which looks kind of shy and petite for a zucchini. I wasn’t happy with Raven last year, so I tried this one. It is supposed to be fairly resistant to mildew, which was a real problem last year.

Brussels sprouts taking over the bed

My other covered bed has two summer squash, Sundance patty pan on the left and Costata Romanesco zucchini on the right. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Planted on the same day as the Dunja zucchini, both are growing robustly and already have flower buds forming. I will have to pay attention now so I can hand pollinate for a few weeks. We are approaching 1000 degree days, which is the time the SVBs start flying and laying eggs, so it is no time to be removing the protection of the row covers.

Sundance and Romanesco Costata summer squash

Sundance has a few flowers forming including a female flower, the yellow speck in the middle of the photo.

Sundance female flowers

Costata Romanesco flower buds below.

Costata Romanesco flower buds

This bed has mustard on the left and chard on the right in the bottom row. One row of broccoli that I started myself from seed in the nasty coir-based medium. At the top are Jackson Classic pickling  cukes, showing dark green foliage and close to starting their climb up the trellis. Hopefully some cukes in a few weeks.


The snow and snap peas below are out of control. Usually I find if I pick the right variety I can confine them within a fenced-in area in the bed. Unfortunately, the sugar snaps took off and fell over on the better-behaved snow peas. The whole tangle fell on top of my beet/radish/turnip bed. I did get two and a half pounds of mostly snow peas from them last week so I can’t complain too much.


The eggplant are doing nicely this year and for some strange reason, the flea beetles have not been too bad. The biggest plant below is Dusky and it has already flowered and set one fruit. To its right is Ghostbuster, a white eggplant that is also flowering. Above them are two Rosa Bianca, an Italian heirloom eggplant that has has purplish fruit. Under cover are eight plants I started from seed, Fairy Tale ( a miniature eggplant with purplish stripes, and Barbarella, a round eggplant with a magenta caste and white under the calyx. They were very small when I transplanted them but the cover has helped with the cool weather and the flea beetles.


The peppers are doing pretty well, although some still look a little jaundiced. Below are two Jalapeno peppers, each with flowers and multiple fruit already set.


This is a Hungarian wax pepper, with three fruit set, including a fairly large fruit born upright on the plant.


The Aruba peppers are a Cubanelle type and some are already flowering and have set some fruit as you can see below.


Saving the best for last, here is a review of the tomatoes in my garden. Below is one of my Black Cherry tomatoes. On the lower left you can see a stem with multiple cherries. This is a Bonnie Plants transplant and I have no complaints about it. It was well grown, well cared for at Lowes, and since setting out had been growing vigorously (along with the Cherokee Purple, my other Bonnie Plants purchase).


Speaking of Cherokee Purple, one of my favorite heirlooms with great tasting tomatoes, here is a picture of mine with a fruit at least two inches across, partially hidden behind a leaf in the center of the photo. Note it is still flowering heavily at the top of the photo but has many small fruit set below.


Below are two photos of the Sungold cherry tomatoes, which have set multiple stems full of cherries. It’s a race between Sungold and Black Cherry to see which plant will give me my first taste of tomato this summer. I can’t lose either way.



The Matt’s Wild Cherry is plugging along, looking much better after its nasty experience with coconut coir. It is now a bright green, is growing and stretching out, and even has some flower buds forming. I guess I will get a taste of MWC after all. But will I be buried in fruit as others reported last year? I hope so.


I planted two of the Black Krim Russian heirlooms from a 4-pack I bought at Applefield Farms. One is doing great and one is a little reticent. Who knows why. Anyway, the plants look good and are flowering and setting fruit. This is my first year growing this one but I have heard great things about these tomatoes and I have high expectations for them.


This is Big Rainbow below, an heirloom that produces large yellow beefsteak type tomatoes mottled with magenta. It is growing vigorously and flowering like crazy. I hope to get a lot of tasty fruit from this one. I usually grow a yellow heirloom like Striped German or German Pink bit could not find those varieties this year, so Big Rainbow is going to be my tomato for big, beautiful slicers this year. I already picked up a fresh bottle of truffle infused olive oil, just need some tomatoes.


My other hope for some great slicing tomatoes is Pineapple, another heirloom that is very popular. This is my first year growing  this one but I have heard a lot of good reviews about it. It was a little slow getting established but is now growing well. It produces a large beefsteak type tomato that is striped pink and yellow. What is particularly amazing about the plants is the large, sunflower-like flowers you can see in the second photo below. I counted nine flowers just in that one flower cluster!



I planted two Juliet tomatoes after seeing them grow in my neighbors garden last year. They are variously described as a mini-Roma or a large grape tomato. They can be eaten fresh in salads or made into sauce. The fruit are a little strange, not having round sides. They seem to be flat on the sides. Maybe that will change as they fill out and ripen. Anyway they are prolific producers and and are producing clusters of fruit like a cherry tomato, which you can see in the second photo below.



Finally, here are my Striped Roman tomatoes, my choice this year to replace the boring Roma type. The pictures in the Baker Creek catalog certainly looked beguiling. I started these myself but fell victim to my starting medium. I thought these were lost but I picked the best two and set them in the garden. They are now recovering from their misspent youth and seem to be growing. I would be more worried but I have read reviews that said these tomatoes indeed look pathetic in their youth but go on to become monster plants that consume the garden.Here’s hoping.


That’s what is happening in my garden here in central Massachusetts. How is your garden doing?

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