The warmer weather put the garden in full growth mode. The garden is at the in-between stage other gardeners have reported, of harvesting the last of the spring greens and waiting for the tomatoes, peppers and squash to appear.
The tomatoes are doing well, probably the best in several years. It is probably a combination of better weather and some different varieties I am growing. The only disease apparent is bacterial speck on the Big Beef tomatoes, which also had problems last year. I have started spraying the tomatoes and peppers, alternating copper with Serenade, both organic fungicides. I don’t like to do this but if I don’t, I could lose the whole season.
The Blue Beech paste tomatoes, an heirloom of Italian origin from Blue Beech Farm in Vermont, are looking outstanding, growing like weeds. They are even more enthusiastic and harder to control than Juliet, which is saying a lot. This tomato supposedly has the droopy gene, but the leaves look nothing like the spindly foliage of Striped Roman or even Gilbertie. They sucker like crazy and have a dense canopy of foliage, but they are also setting a load of fruit. Below are shots of fruit at the top and bottom of one plant. Note the variety of shapes of the fruits on the same plant, from oxheart to long and slender. The plants were purchased from my neighbor, Jem Mix, from seeds obtained from Fedco.
Another new tomato in the garden is Jaune Flamme, a French heirloom I grew from seed. It looks like it is going to produce 1.5-2” tomatoes, not a cherry but not a slicer. So far the plants are healthy and have set some nice trusses of fruit, shown below, but they are looking a bit petite compared to Juliet next door.
Also new for me this year is Esterina, a yellow cherry that is an experiment. I tried this one in place of my favorite, Sungold, since it is supposed to be just as sweet but more crack resistant. This is an organic F1 hybrid developed by Genesis Seeds. The clusters below in no way match the amazing marketing photos in the seed catalogs, but I hope they at least taste as good as Sungold. I didn’t have room to plant Sungold alongside as a control, but I have a feeling that Esterina is a little later than Sungold would be.
For slicing tomatoes, a new one I’m planting this year is Sunkist, shown below. The plants are robust and healthy, looking better than their neighbors, Big Beef. Sunkist is a medium-sized orange slicer that was developed by the University of New Hampshire. It is supposed to produce 8-10 ounce orange fruits that are as sweet as the red ones. I grew these plants from organic F1 seeds produced by High Mowing at their Vermont farm. When I first looked at the photo below I had a start. The tomato leaf left of center looks a little like a hornworm
The Big Beef have set some nice clusters of fruit, below, but you can see the (few) leaves with speck left on the plant. I am hoping I get some nice slicers from these guys.
The allium family is now starting to produce bulbs. Below are Patterson, a yellow storage onion. I did a bad job of starting seeds and some of the transplants didn’t survive. That means fewer onions this year but hopefully with the additional space, they will be bigger.
The Red Wing transplants fared a little better than Patterson. Below is a Red Wing starting to size up.
The Saffron seed shallots below are also starting to form bulbs. I have never grown these so I have to do some research on when to harvest and how to store them. I am assuming it is the same as any other storage onion, but I will check to be sure.
The bush beans are doing well and are now flowering, so beans in a week or two! The Jade beans are on the left and Provider on the right. While planted the same time, Provider always emerges a week before Jade and has better germination than Jade, so that is why they look like they are at different stages of development. There is also a row of Jackson Classic pickling cukes along the trellis which are starting to grab on to the trellis so they can get themselves above the mass of beans.
Finally, as an example of how I try to maximize output from my limited gardening space, below is a 3x6 bed that would typically have two bush-type summer squash in it, each allocated a 3x3 area. Since squash seeds get planted early June and don’t attain significant size until July, the corners and middle of the bed can be used by crops that will come out by mid-July. In this case, the middle 2x3 space was planted to Rossa Lunga onions (on left) and shallots (on right), both of which will probably be harvested by mid to late July. I have also put spinach in this area, since it will be totally harvested well before July. The corners can be planted early with radishes or turnips.
In this bed, you can see one squash in the foreground, shallots and onions in the middle, and another squash (a Tromboncino climbing squash) in the background. There is an 8’ trellis at the far end that the Tromboncino will climb. In each corner of that end I planted Musica pole beans which are already up to the top of the trellis and flowering. I am hoping Musica and the Tromboncino can share the trellis nicely.