Garden Update 7/4/14

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!!! How is your Victory Garden growing?  Hopefully you started one by now, or at least built a bed for a fall crop.  If not, chop chop friends.  If I can do this, so can you.  My garden has been defying the odds these past weeks. Let’s get to it!

FLOWERING:

Clemson Spineless Okra flower

Clemson Spineless Okra flower

I think the only new thing flowering is the okra. These little beauties are hard to get a picture of blooming. They bloom so quickly that I swear they must be fully open for a grand total of 30 seconds.  So I caught one mid bloom.  Aren’t they beautiful?  They are related to hibiscus so its no wonder they are such a stunner.

Beyond this, everything else is keeping on.  I feel a certain sense of relief because the bees have found their way over to my flowering garden.  Never thought I’d be relieved to hear the bees buzzing away.  But if I don’t bother them, they don’t bother me while they work on my lovely veggies for me.  It’s harmonious and surprisingly peaceful to hear them humming away.  Even I’m shocked to write that.

FRUITING:

1) corn, 2) butternut squash, 3) baby watermelon, 4) pineapple tomato, 5) Granny Cantrell tomato

1) corn, 2) butternut squash, 3) baby watermelon, 4) pineapple tomato, 5) Granny Cantrell tomato

So this is where the defying the odds thing really comes into play.

  1. Remember the corn I told you I thought had no shot of making it none the less growing ears of corn?  Well it was in this last garden update if you don’t.  But it’s trying!  Of course I can’t really check to see exactly how its doing inside the husk.  But I feel a bit relieved that it is trying.  Fingers crossed.
  2. Also, the butternut squash I told you that didn’t have any male flowers open when the female flower opened … well between my 2 plants there are now 3 butternut squash growing.  I’m blown away.  Not sure what pollinated them but I will take it will a smile and see how they grow.  Hypothetically, the seeds will be some funky hybrid weirdness due to some odd pollination, but it shouldn’t change the fruit.  Which really is all I care about at this time since I’m not planning on saving seeds yet.  One challenge at a time.
  3. I do have one little watermelon growing, which I’m thankful for because something ransacked my garden the other week and broke the leading vine off my second watermelon plant. I pollinated a second one this morning.  And they are tiny as far as flower ovaries go.  Seriously they start about the size of a pea and they are hairy … really hairy.  Isn’t nature cool?  Bet you didn’t know your 4th of July watermelon started off as a furry pea-size bump at the back of a very small flower, did you?
  4. (and 5) Oh and the heirloom tomatoes in one word are HUGE!  These things are almost bigger than my hand and not done growing.  On top of that, the plants are taller than the stake I am growing them up … I’ve got to figure out their continued support system this weekend.

THE UGLY:

1) chewed up broccoli plant (caterpillars are not nice!), 2) squash bugs caught in the act! 3) powdery mildew

1) chewed up broccoli plant (caterpillars are not nice!), 2) squash bugs caught in the act! 3) powdery mildew

Bugs bugs and more bugs.  Which might be obvious, make it still doesn’t make it fun to have to deal with them.  There are tons of smaller bugs that I’m hoping a happy home for ladybug will clear up.

  1. But currently the biggest pest issue is the caterpillars that are demolishing my broccoli and my radishes.  Don’t really mind on the radishes because they need to come out of the ground.  But the broccoli, well, these bugs are breaking my heart.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many caterpillars I remove or how many little eggs I wipe off, there are always tons more the next day.  My wasp friends aren’t hunting enough to help me out!  I think its time for an organic insecticide.  I’m leaning towards a garlic and cayenne tea spray.  Next year I think I will build a fine mesh cover for the broccoli because this is devastating.
  2. The cucumbers are being over-run by squash bugs.  No major damage yet but I need to get ahead of it.  But clearly I caught them in the act and now the race is on to make sure no other little squash bug monsters get a shot at my veggies.
  3. Lastly, I’m starting to see what might be powdery mildew.  Nothing major yet, seems to be on the zucchini and the yellow squash.  But I don’t want it to spread.  I’ve heard that mixing 1 part raw milk (yes raw cows milk) to 9 parts water and spraying it on can help as can a 1 tsp. baking soda in 1 quart of water spray.  More than likely, I’m going to try the baking soda mix because I don’t have a cow in my backyard to get raw cows milk.  And I’m not paying fancy schmancy suburban farmers market prices to get it.  Unfortunately, it’s not curable.  All you can do it treat to prevent spreading.  Wildly enough, for all the times we’ve been told as new gardeners NOT to water from overhead because it can spread disease and that we should instead just water at the base of the plants, this is one circumstance where it might have bitten us in the butt.  Apparently powdery mildew needs dry and windy conditions to spread its spores around.  So a bit of overhead watering might have helped prevent this problem.  The only other thing you can do, its from the get go when you are picking seeds is find types that are resistant to powdery mildew.

HARVEST:

harvest 7:4

Harvesting really picked up in the past 2 weeks.  Nature makes some amazingly beautiful stuff.  The weirdest was that the sugar snap peas have given one final big push.  I seriously harvested 36 sugar snap peas on one day.  It was wild.  But their end is near … probably tomorrow when I rip then out of the ground and re-up my compost and make way for some pumpkins.  If you want to see my total harvest count, you can check that out on my Harvest Counter 2014.  In the mean time, here is what we’ve harvested since my last garden update

  • Beets (golden): 2 green top
  • Carrots (kaleidoscope blend): 1 white, 2 red/purple, 1 orange, 2 yellow
  • Chives: 5 bunches
  • Cucumbers: 15
  • Haricot verts (green bush beans): 27
  • Lettuce: 7 side salads
  • Peas (super sugar snap): 73
  • Peppers: 2 purple bell, 2 green
  • Radishes (Watermelon): 5
  • Squash (summer, yellow straight neck): 3
  • Swiss chard (neon lights): 10 leaves
  • Tomatoes (Amelia): 1 green, 3 red
  • Tomatoes (Heinz Roma): 8 red
  • Zucchini: 2

I hope you all have a great 4th of July and get to eat something really fresh and delicious.  Cheers!

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