A few things.....not surprisingly, heat and humidity = the onset of disease on tomato plants. There simply isn't a way to get through the entire season without losing some plants along the way. I've got a Cherokee Green that is struggling, Yellow Prue has the onset of Fusarium wilt, and one of the BrandyTad F2s and Fruhe Liebe has Fusarium as well....amongst the dwarf varieties, only Dwarf Purple Heart seems to be struggling, and it was sudden - I suspect Bacterial Wilt, but we shall see. A late planting of Orange Minsk Heart never had a chance - I waited too late to transplant it.
So I've been doing some replacement planting and prepping some backups in case I have to pull the plant. I've now added Aunt Ruby's Green, Green Grape and KBX into the mix. As other plants may go down, I will continue to add replacements as long as I can keep them alive - it is amazing that plants that I transplanted into 4 inch pots in March are still hanging in there!
Then there is harvesting - the cucumbers are on the verge of really producing heavily....our first Poona Keera and Diva are just delicious. And the zucchini and summer squash are also preparing their assault on our refrigerator. And, yes, bush beans - with 3 rows producing and another getting ready to, we are buying less and less at our weekly trips to the Farmer's Market. As far as tomatoes, Mexico Midget, Sungold, a few Coyote and Red Robin have been the story to date for cherry tomatoes (soon to be joined by Rose Quartz). We've picked Fruhe Liebe (before its demise - not bad, I'd rate it a 6.5 or 7 on the ten point scale) and Shazka (only one so far, a bit of internal blossom end rot, but a solid 7 for flavor). Two 4 ounce, round fruit from Vzryv await sampling later today.
I just can't believe how quickly eggplant will go from bud to blossom to pickable fruit. The first two to ripen are my own selections from the hybrid Orient Express. A really lovely F4 selection will be named Twilight Lightning (because it is so fast, and quite dark in color) - the even darker, nearly black variety I preliminarily named "Speedy" (also a selection from Orient Express F1) will be renamed Midnight Lightning for next year. And both plants are just loading up! We will have some fruit from a Casper F3 selection and Green Giant within a few days.
We could already pick scads of hot peppers - none at at the ripe color, but they are out there ready to heat up our salsas. The sweet peppers are in the middle of setting fruit, and Orange Bell has a full sized green fruit that will soon turn its deep, glowing orange.
Yesterday was a day for checking on the status of the various stakes supporting the indeterminate tomatoes. I also did quite a lot of pruning, and some topping. It's all about keeping things in some semblance of control! Today will be about completing the staking, tying and pruning activity (well, completing for a week or so....all of these gardening tasks are cyclical and need repeating quite frequently, of course).....as well as seeing if anything needs a blast of dilute Sevin, after the rain. And I need to ensure anything that is ripe is harvested. And there are those pesky big weeds growing in the cucumber/squash area.
Finally, I've started some seeds for Brussels Sprouts. I've decided to turn the back two rows of the garden (used in the spring for beets and lettuce and greens) into late summer/fall Brussels Sprouts and Garlic beds. That means re-digging and weeding and smoothing.
By the way - we've been using a great and easy cooking technique for beets that is now our favorite...grilling! We peel the beets, slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper - grill on medium high for about 10 minutes per side. They stay firm, the sweetness tempers a bit, and they are just addictive. For a real treat, layer them with a bit of goat cheese and sprinkle with toasted walnuts - drizzle with some Balsamic if you like as well.
And....psst! Series of video updates coming - just completed them this morning - lots to see and talk about and share!