I am going to post a somewhat random selection of pictures of this and that. Enjoy!
Wow. Maybe it is the weather...the separation between plants...the 5 gallon black grow bags. Everything is thriving, and we are on the cusp of an avalanche of great produce. The eggplant are 2-4 feet tall - there is great variation between varieties - and most are loaded with fruit. Peppers vary from 1-4 feet tall - and...yup - peppers everywhere, though the only one that is at the ripe color is (as usual) Red Belgium. And the indeterminate tomatoes are just loaded. The only varieties that are struggling - and this is typical in my garden - Berkeley Tie Dye and Pink Berkeley Tie Dye. It may be bacterial wilt - not absolutely sure - but I just can't get these varieties to do well for me.
I am going to post a somewhat random selection of pictures of this and that. Enjoy!
There is an awful lot happening in the driveway right now - tomatoes ripening, disease showing up, on the cusp of eggplant overload, and hot and sweet peppers revealing a few surprises as the fruit shapes and colors emerge. What fun! I will cover eggplant, peppers and non-dwarf tomatoes tomorrow - it's dwarf update time!
I guess that the most surprising observation is that in most cases, vertical growth has slowed considerably - no wonder, since most plants are loaded with green tomatoes and it is time to ensure that they ripen. Height-wise, the biggest gainers were Wherokowhai at 5 inches (clearly still in catch up mode), Rosella Crimson (also catching up), Fred's Tie Dye, Banksia Queen and Sean's Yellow Dwarf all gaining 4 inches, and Sarandipity and Dwarf Kelly Green advancing upward 3 inches. 21 of the varieties stayed essentially the same. This is very different from the indeterminate varieties that are in grow bags, all reaching the tops of the stakes and in need of topping.
The tallest-of-allest are Jade Beauty, Sean's Yellow Dwarf, Beryl Beauty, and Emerald Giant at 4 feet tall, and Summertime Gold, Banksia Queen and Summer Sweet Gold right behind them at 46 inches tall. The Sneezy family for the most part are the tallest. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the 16 inch Rosella Crimson (the last to be planted, as a re-rooted cutting), 22 inch Yukon Quest, 30 inch Dwarf Arctic Rose 32 inch Sarandipity and 33 inch Iditarod Red and Uluru Ochre.
Despite the intense heat and risk of wilt mid-afternoon, blossom end rot hasn't been a big issue on most varieties. Only Perth Pride (several fruit), Sean's Yellow Dwarf (one), Summertime Green (one), and Rosella Purple (one) are experiencing any at all.
Disease - dreaded disease - is showing up here and there, but again - considering the heat and humidity of this summer and it being early July, I am quite delighted. The sickest varieties - as in death bed status - are Dwarf Pink Passion (Fusarium wilt) and Dwarf Wild Fred (Bacterial wilt). I've had to do some significant surgery on Dwarf Purple Heart (possibly bacterial wilt) and one Sweet Adelaide (Fusarium, I think), though both are hanging in there. Summer Sweet Gold and Summer Sunrise had some lower Early Blight foliage removed - Summer Sunrise may be starting to battle Fusarium as well. These are all troubling, yet 6 out of 38 plants suffering issues means that 85% of the Dwarfs continue to thrive and be completely healthy.
The only plant that has yet to set fruit is the recently re-rooted and replanted Rosella Crimson, but it is loaded with open flowers. I am now picking fruit from 11 varieties. In general, flavors are just delicious, in some cases exceeding my initial impressions of them in previous years. Iditarod Red, Sarandipity, Bundaberg Rumball, Dwarf Arctic Rose, Perth Pride, Dwarf Wild Fred, Dwarf Purple Heart, Big Green Dwarf, Boronia, Dwarf Pink Passion and Dwarf Golden Heart are the ones that lead the pack in ripening. Fred's Tie Dye and Uluru Ochre are blushing and will likely be next. Bundaberg Rumball is the smallest at 2 ounces, and so far, Dwarf Purple Heart the largest at 13 ounces. I am already starting to save seeds.
Here is a selection of pictures.
top row - first two are different sections of the dwarfs - you can see the diseased Pink Passion at the left of picture 1. Third pic is Iditarod Red, first ripe one on the plant, just before picking.
Second row - Unripe cluster of Sarandipity, Bundaberg Rumball and Arctic Rose, and Dwarf Purple Heart, showing the 13 oz heart shaped purple fruit just before picking.
Third row - Fred's Tie Dye beginning its blush, and unripe Uluru Ochre.
The action right now has moved from the side, bale garden to the driveway, as eggplant, peppers and tomatoes are ripening and giving up their various mysteries of colors and flavors.
I would say that the side yard, straw bale garden bullet points are:
Rabbit, slug and, occasionally, deer issues - These pests are taking the fun out of one of the beet bales, all of the beans, and some of the summer squash. I've actually decided to plant beans and squash in some large containers in my driveway, just so that we get to eat some! More on this challenge in a future blog.
Collards and Kale are under attack from cabbage looper larva. Thuricide is working pretty well, but the cabbage family really gets hit hard - those white moths flitting about are not at all welcome!
Chard is thriving and we got a pretty good beet harvest from the bales that the deer didn't nibble.
Summer Squash is growing extremely well and we are harvesting some delicious white turban variety. The zucchini are getting nibbled, presumably by the rabbit.
I am not pleased with those crops that need earlier planting - peas (for shoots - gone), radishes (ravaged by the looper larva - gone), leeks (a few growing well, too many blank spots, more on the way), potatoes (spotty emergence, need to fill in the blanks), and carrots (three solid sweltering weeks took its toll). Cukes also germinated poorly and fell victim to slug attack.
I will shoot a few pics when I can....but it is time to deal with the driveway, which I will report on tomorrow.
All of the details for this event are here. The date is July 8 at the wonderful Irregardless Cafe in downtown Raleigh. The time is 7-9 PM. Gazpacho! Pizza! Grilled Mahi Mahi! Panna Cotta! All paired with great wines and great tomatoes. Many of the tomatoes I started from seed are growing in the restaurant's Well Fed Garden and will be featured in the recipes. I will be there to guide you through the various varieties and answer questions.
Sue and I can't wait - we love tomato dinners - and this promises to be a really special event. Follow the link, get all of the info that you need, make your reservations - and we will see you there!
This event starts a pretty busy period for us - we are off to Mt. Holly the next day to do some programs there (a workshop in the community garden, and tasting and book signing at the farmers market) - then heading for Decorah Iowa the following week for the Seed Savers Exchange Campout.
Right after we get back, it is off to the Sarah P Duke garden for an activity on the evening of July 21, a cooking school using tomatoes at Southern Season in Chapel Hill on July 23, and a tomato workshop in the Well Fed Garden on Athens Drive on July 25 - you can register for the garden workshop here.
All events are listed on my website front page, here - scroll down to the list of events and follow the links in each.
I hope to see you at an event soon!
Thanks to Miriam from Zillow for providing the following. Enjoy!
5 Gardening Options for Small Yards
By Miriam Bornstein of Zillow
Don't let garden size discourage your summer plans. Just because you lack the space for a traditional garden doesn't mean you can't embrace creativity. Welcome the summer months with vegetables, plants and flowers by considering these five gardening options for small yards.
1) Window Boxes
Place window boxes on sunny windowsills, a patio or balcony. Opt for large boxes, spacious enough to grow herbs, such as oregano, basil, chive and rosemary. If you want to add a pop of color, plant bright flowers, such as Japanese iris, white snapdragon or red geranium. When choosing a window box, make sure the box matches the length and depth of your window sill, and choose materials that withstand harsh weather, such as glass, metal or terra cotta.
2) Hanging Containers
Hanging baskets are an instant way to incorporate color and fragrance to any outdoor space, without claiming the limited yard real estate. Vine crops and smaller vegetables, such as dwarf tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries, work well in hanging baskets. If you're looking to plant florals, supertunia petunias make ideal hanging plants because they come in vibrant hues and draw butterflies to your outdoor space. Make sure to water your hanging plants daily during the summer months, as these trailing plants are more prone to drying out in the heat.
3) Square Foot Gardening
Square foot gardening consists of 4x4 or 3x3 above-ground boxes divided into square foot sections, enabling gardeners to plant an array of vegetables in a few small yards. Boxes keep plant beds organized and manageable, away from walls for accessibility from all angles. Depending on the size of the plant, small crops, such as celery, radishes and carrots, can hold as many as 16 plants per square foot. This small garden alternative provides the best drainage solutions, preventing soil compaction and averting weeds from creeping into the soil beds.
4) Vertical Garden
Incorporate a vertical garden to grow vegetables, add design elements to your outdoor oasis and offer some shade to your space. Vertical gardens make plants easier to reach, minimize damage caused by ground roaming pests and consume minimal outdoor space. Place horizontal planters in between fence posts, add towers with strawberries in a vertical pipe or have vines meander along pergolas and gazebos.
5) Stack Gardens
Stack gardening is a unique variation of container gardening. This gardening alternative is becoming increasingly popular since it requires no weeding or digging and ensures that all plants have equal access to sunlight. Stack gardening consists of escalating shelves of planter boxes, like a stairway of garden beds. Depending on how many tiers you build, stack gardens can hold up to 55 plants in a 3-foot deep by 4-foot wide space. When planning the plants to incorporate in your garden, reserve the top tier for vines, as they will trail down the various tiers.
Whether you're in the market to rent or buy a home, there are many ways to garden in a tight area. Go beyond the norms and create a garden that best fits your environment.
With the brutal three weeks of searing heat and oppressive humidity, I suppose I should be happy that only 2 out of the 38 tomatoes in bales are struggling....but I am not. Losing any plant to critters or disease or weather is inevitable, but never welcomed. Oh well....the glass is certainly half full - there are loads of healthy plants adorned with developing tomatoes.
The growth data is starting to become less meaningful as the plants become weighed down with fruit and slip down the stake or sag here and there; the gusts from thunderstorms bend them over a bit too. There as no vertical gain at all with 6 of the varieties, 5 grew 1 inch, 8 grew 2 inches, 2 grew 3 inches, 7 grew 4 inches, 3 grew 6 inches, 2 gained 7 inches, and one each grew 8 and 9 inches. For the most part, growth is on average a bit less than an inch per day - the plants are filling out horizontally, and expanding upward more slowly, in general.
The plant height ranges from 12 inches for the late re-rooted and replanted Rosella Crimson to 48 inches for Dwarf Beryl Beauty. In face, the five tallest plants right now are in the Sneezy family - Beryl joined by Jade Beauty, Summertime Gold, Summer Sweet Gold and Emerald Giant, the latter 4 at 46 inches tall. The Grumpy family are still in general the shortest, with Iditarod Red at 32 inches, Arctic Rose 30 inches, and Yukon Quest 22 inches.
I've picked ripe fruit from Dwarf Pink Passion (delicious - mild yet full flavored with a nice tart element - 4 ounce pink hearts), Perth Pride (5 ounce round smooth purple, yet to taste), Sarandipity (2 ounce round brown with vertical green stripes), Dwarf Jade Beauty (3 ounce green fleshed, clear skinned, just delicious!) and Dwarf Golden Heart (6 ounce medium yellow blunt heart, stolen/eaten by my dog Buddy when I mistakenly left the rear fence open!). Blushing is occurring on fruits on Bundaberg Rumball and Boronia, and they should be ripe in a few days. The plants in general are loading up nicely.
The two big issues so far are Fusarium Wilt on Dwarf Pink Passion, and another issue - yet to be confirmed - on Dwarf Wild Fred. Oh well....All others are perfectly healthy, and hopefully a slightly cooler stretch will keep things that way.
Here are a few select pictures. Top shows the state of the dwarfs today, the diseased Dwarf Pink Passion and Dwarf Wild Fred in the first row.
Second row has the blushing Boronia and Bundaberg Rumball, followed by a loaded Arctic Rose.
Then a line of three - the ripe Jade Beauty, nearly ripe Perth Pride, and Sarandipity.
The last three weeks of extreme heat - and even the evening/overnight rain - have been rough on the side garden Straw Bales. I just tell myself "this is the year of the learning curve". I am learning lots! As always, there is a mix of success and opportunity for improvement.
Front row - with lettuce and arugula gone, the left bales hold nice basil (destined for some pesto this afternoon); the slugs continue to confound me with bean and squash seed planting. Applications of DE get washed away in the downpours. Right side bales continue to thrive, giving us all of the chard and kale and collards we can use. The pea bale is kaput, and I will plant garlic there in the late summer/fall.
Second row - beans - slugs - spotty growth due to damage as soon as the seeds germinate. The oven like heat is not making life easy for the shallow rooted plants. This should be working much better, but isn't, so it's back to the drawing board.
Third row - carrots are a mixed bag - I started too late and the heat causes them to dry out fast, leading to really spotty coverage. Leeks - most of the early planting didn't survive, and the back up seedlings are readying themselves for transplant. Right hand beets are ready to pick - they did great. Left hand beets had less sun, so are less advanced, and a deer munched the tops one night when my sprinkler battery was dead.
Fourth row - potatoes are a disappointment - just too late a start, so development is very spotty. Summer Squash are flowering the thriving; radishes were planted too late.
Last row - both squash hills are doing well, and I've got fruit coming on the white patty pan variety. There is zucchini forming on the right hand bale plants, but slugs are nibbling on those as well....arggggggh!
Pictures of the good, bad and ugly.
After a morning of watering and repeating some tomato crosses, I did a general driveway walkabout, removing some troubled tomato foliage, and snapping some pics of eggplant and the first ripe tomato. Let's start with a few minor troubles. I noticed that the Bale positioned Rosella Purple was missing some foliage - it was right in the middle of the two water scarecrows - clearly the deer had a few chomps before the sprinklers went off. (see row 1, picture 1 below)
There were two main issues with the tomato foliage - some lower leaves with signs of early blight - some brown spots with areas of yellow - row 1, pictures 2 and 3 show the removed foliage with the blemishes. Fully yellowed, wilting foliage means onset of Fusarium wilt - see row 2, picture 1 below. I dipped the scissors in a glass of rubbing alcohol in between working the plants.
Though these are never good news, considering the heat and humidity we've had and the number of plants in the driveway, I am very happy in general with how good things look!
Now on to eggplant and the first ripe tomato....as hoped, the three eggplant I'd stabilize by selecting from the hybrid Orient Express are always the first to produce. Below, see Skinny Twilight (first ripe, 8 ounces, 2 inches by 10 inches, a deep glossy purple), then Midnight Lightning (slender, very dark purple fruit), and Twilight Lightning (very slender, white with medium lavender blush). I also show Antigua, nearly ready, a beautiful variety. Finally, the first ripe tomato of the year, a Dwarf Pink Passion - 4 ounces, heart shaped, pink - ripe in 50 days from transplant - and we found at dinner, delicious!
top row - Skinny Twilight - on the plant, and in the kitchen - and Midnight Lightning
second row - Twilight Lightning, Antigua, Dwarf pink Passion on the vine
last pic - Dwarf Pink Passion picked and on the bale
I am so fortunate that I decided to spend time tying/securing the dwarfs prior to our big evening gusty thunderstorms. Everything came through the weather well; after perusing all of the plants this morning, 38 plants - all of them - remain vigorous and healthy, and just about all of them have set fruit.
The particulars: Growth rate for the week - inches gained (the numbers are no longer very precise, as the storms pushed the plants about a bit, and the retying effort of today means that the data should be considered as a trend, more than absolute)
0 inches - 2 plants (both in the Grumpy family - Arctic Rose and Yukon Quest)
1 inch - 4 plants
2 inches - 7 plants
3 inches - 9 plants
4 inches - 5 plants
5 inches - 4 plants
6 inches - 5 plants
7 inches - 1 plant
8 inches - 1 plant
In general those that are growing vertically the most are in the Sneezy family - Sweet Sue, Summer Sweet Gold, Beryl Beauty, Jade Beauty and Mr. Snow.
Total height of plants to date:
8 inches - 1 plant (the replanted/rerooted, and now thriving, Rosella Crimson)
22 inches - 1 plant
24 inches - 2 plants
28 inches - 3 plants (Sarandipity, Arctic Rose, Sleeping Lady)
29 inches - 1 plant
30 inches - 3 plants
32 inchers - 5 plants
34 inches - 2 plants
35 inches - 1 plant
36 inches - 6 plants
37 inches - 2 plants
38 inches - 6 plants (Sweet Sue, Blazing Beauty, Summertime Green, Golden Heart, Pink Passion, Sean's Yellow)
40 inches - 1 plant (Banksia Queen)
42 inches - 4 plants (Summer Sweet Gold, Emerald Giant, Beryl Beauty, Jade Beauty)
Again, you can see that the tallest plants to date are in the Sneezy family. Compare the tallest of the dwarfs, at a bit over 3 feet tall, with the 5 gallon indeterminate tomatoes, which are approaching 5 feet tall - the difference is quite stark.
The only Dwarf plant that hasn't set fruit is the replanted Rosella Crimson. Foliage - even lowest foliage - on all plants is perfectly green and healthy. Considering the heat and humidity, I am feeling like a pretty lucky gardener!
top row - three views of the dwarfs
second row - Arctic Rose, Banksia Queen, Beryl Beauty
third row - Big Green Dwarf, Blazing Beauty, Boronia
fourth row - Bundaberg Rumball, Chocolate Champion, Emerald Giant
fifth row - Fred's Tie Dye, Golden Heart, Iditarod Red
sixth row - Jade Beauty, Kelly Green, Perth Pride
seventh row - Pink Passion, Purple Heart, Rosella Purple
eighth row - Sarandipity, Scarlet Heart, Sean's Yellow
ninth row - Sleeping Lady, Summer Sunrise, Summer Sweet Gold
tenth row - Summertime Gold, Summertime Green, Sweet Adelaide
eleventh row - Sweet Scarlet, Sweet Sue, Tasmanian Chocolate
twelfth row - Uluru Ochre, Wild Fred, Yukon Quest
The success (or lack, thereof) of our side garden straw bale adventure is becoming clearer, but I am no less happy with it. It is a wonderful learning experience, and I will be adjusting timing significantly next year.
Front row - the lettuce and arugula are gone (and missed), and the replacement squash and bean seeds are germinating. The nice, healthy basil is screaming to be made into pesto. We are eating plenty of collards, kale and chard, with no end in sight. The Thuricide spray is keeping the cabbage looper problems at bay. I am about to pull the peas, as this heat is too much for them - more beans perhaps?
Second row - the beans are finally filling in, but the slugs have been driving me crazy. I just started applying DE, but the nightly rain storms mean daily reapplications.
Third row - one beet bale is struggling - the deer browsed the bale that is furthest from the water scarecrow a bit. Carrots are spotty - another crop to start earlier. Leeks are very spotty, but replacements have germinated.
Fourth row - potato seedlings are spotty, and I need to push some more potatoes into sprouting to fill in blanks. Radishes are fine, but will be used more for greens. Squash in that row is now taking off.
Last row - cukes are up and starting to run, and squash is blossoming and setting fruit.
Pictures below. They run pretty much in the order as described above.