Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Harvest Time Randomness

Ah, summer. We never tire of tomatoes--salads every day, dinner most nights, plus some sauce stored in the freezer. I could probably be okay with just one cherry tomato plant next year and more regular (and sauce) tomatoes. Crop rotation is my dilemma, with 6 beds and a love of Solanaceae. That rotation conundrum partly kept me from planting more okra, along with a desire to try squash (why?), though last summer okra was one of my biggest successes, ever. Here is a good demonstration of when to pick an okra pod and when not to (left too big, right just right):
At this stage. the okra comes in fits and starts, and it is hard to use them in their prime. I should freeze them one at a time at this stage, until the flush of pods comes.
Which should be soon judging by the size of this plant--love those flowers!
My other success has been the Tunisian hot peppers. I sun-dried these and already have many more ripening. A good yield! (8 plants, started from seed).
Compare this to my sweet pepper, below (we've eaten one pepper). See how the leaves are curling? Disease? Not enough sun? Nutrient deficiency? Not enough AND too much water? Probably all of the above--I've never had success with sweet peppers (always purchased transplants from the farmers' market). Maybe now that the latest heat wave is over (yep, still summer but less than 100) it can recover.
Beans I would classify in the so-so department. I love growing them, but I really need to amp up the productivity. We've already had some delicious black eyed peas, and last weekend we enjoyed these limas. 12 plants, less than a pound, shelled, so far--not that impressive. Too many factors to name. Next year, more sun and a trellis (look for future experiments in light carpentry). These are semi bush, but I think they'd do better with a place to twine. I prefer them green, but the older white ones cooked up just as tender.
Lima beans actually don't like high heat--when was it ever not in the 90s in summer in the south though? Maybe I'll need to start them earlier next year (though who could have predicted 100 degrees in late May?) and count on doing a second late summer crop. How am I supposed to plan cool weather crops, when my summer crops are all being tempermental that it's too hot and waiting for fall to produce? I need more beds, but I promised Mr. Do that we'd leave grass in the center of the yard--it is smaller than it appears in these photos and it really does make it feel open and airy to have grass in the middle, as I conquer every edge and corner of the yard.
I'm working on a solution.
But that brings in our problem with shade. I am really wishing we did not let this black cherry tree grow (on the right). It is nice shade for the neighbor (and privacy for us), but look how it is shading these two beds in the late morning. I think they are still technically full sun, but just looking at the tomatoes seems to indicate otherwise--though they have actually produced plenty. There is also a sad eggplant in there, but the basil is doing fine (good to know it can take less sun than I thought).
Compare this to the cherry tomatoes on the sunny side (granted, they are different varieties with differing growth habits):
There is also a sweet pepper buried between the cherry tomatoes--you can't even see it behind the purple basil, so I'll have to address that soon. The seed-grown eggplants in front are doing okay, but they need fish emulsion (it really boosted the productivity last year).

In the curcurbit department, I still waver from happy to sad every other day, but today I am optimistic again that the winter squash is going to recover from the squash vine borer. (I had to dig another one out, which I fed to a bird in a very satisfying move). Unfortunately this means its onslaught of the garden path continues unabated, and I've let it slip onto the cucumber trellis:
Where there is obviously little room to spare, but a lot of that green is lettuce and parsley that are setting seed.
And I have my first lemon cucumber! The cuke versus squash battle begins.
The lemon squash is biding its time for world dominance too I suppose:
I am really looking forward to seeing these flower buds open.
The longest growing season deserves a long post.

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