Hope for the future

on Thursday, August 26, 2010

Even though we're about 6 or 7 weeks til our first average frost for this area (yeah yeah, I know - hard to believe!), things are looking good in the garden. In fact, I'm sort of in denial about the impending frost, and have started some plants that will get killed off quickly should temps drop that low. Still, this was such a rough year for our cucumber plants, that I decided to try another round of cukes in a late planting a couple weeks ago. Here's just some of the cucumber plants starting to get some size on them (they're the small plants in the right of the bed, over to the left are eggplants). Will we get anything off of these? I honestly don't know - cross your fingers! I have more plants like this started in two other beds...

My tomatoes had a seriously rough year this year. Last year started pretty good but then plants all over, from OH to NY, got wiped out by the late blight. This year many folks are talking about their tomatoes only just starting to ripen, and how many of their plants didn't even set many fruit - most likely because we had such high temps killing off the pollen.

As you can see from these two pictures, the tomato aisles are getting a bit crowded with lush green growth, and there ARE tomatoes on the plants. Not a ton, but we'll take what we can get! (Just ignore the weeds you can see in the pictures)

Something that's really surprised me is how much some of the squash have recovered. This bed was FULL of squash plants and nasturtiums earlier in the season, but then many of the squash died off from the insect invasion. I yanked out most of the nasturtiums because they were crowding what squash plants had survived. I topped off the squash bed with some bagged compost and some organic fertilizer, and the plants that had survived this far are suddenly getting a late-season boost! Look at those leaves! I've planted some cukes and squash in the empty areas, although if they don't really take off soon I'll have to consider pulling them out and planting cool-season crops such as spinach and lettuce in their place.

From this view at the back of the yard, you can see three batches of beans (including the Dragon Tongue beans I mentioned yesterday), the tomatoes (center, back), and some sunflowers (back right). Oh, and there's even some peppers in the foreground left.

Speaking of peppers, the peppers, eggplants and okra are doing amazing in these two beds. As you can see here, it's really getting hard to mow between the beds, and I'm thinking of covering the lawn with cardboard and then wood mulch instead.

Here's something unexpected - gourds volunteered in one of the flowerbeds, just outside the living room window. And they took off and started climbing the screens on the windows! I didn't have the heart to rip them down, and hey, vertical growing is great for a lot of plants! View the full-sized version of the pic and look close - there's at least one gourd visible in this picture.

And speaking of gourds - here's some of the ones I intentionally grew in one of the raised beds. The leaves/vines have started suffering lately, but the fruit should continue to do just fine.

This is my blueberry patch. I'm still trying to get it developed. What you can't easily see in this picture are the blueberry shrubs. Why? Because as a joke my neighbor came over this spring, after I'd weeded the bed, and planted a bunch of chocolate cherry tomato plants that I'd given him (he kept some of the other tomato plants for himself). With all the other garden stuff going on, I neglected this bed, and the tomato plants took off, growing into the bird netting I had over the shrubs. I finally had to cut away the bird netting recently, and weeded out most of the unwanted plants, but left the chocolate cherry tomatoes - that's where you're getting some of your cherry tomatoes from each week! I just hope the blueberry shrubs survive being smothered!

This volunteer sunflower got blown over in a storm a month or so ago. I left it in place, mow around it, and it's putting up new stalks that are growing vertically from the main (horizontal) stem/trunk. Looks like I should be getting a bunch of sunflowers off've this before too long!

Awhile back I got frustrated with all the weeds in the main garden bed where the swiss card, kale and bok choy were supposed to grow. I took the lawnmower to it. Then I dumped a bunch of rabbit manure, purchased compost and purchased soil down the row and planted squash and cucumbers. They didn't look so great for awhile - the temps continued to rise, I wasn't watering them well, and they desperately needed mulch.

Check 'em out now - just a couple weeks later and they're doing really well! We might get some late season squash out of this bed and, IF we're lucky, cukes too!

Here's the okra I showed earlier in the week, the one with the bumble bee butt?

Take a closer look at the top of the plant! I honestly don't expect every bud on there to flower and form an okra - but it sure would be nice!

This burgundy okra variety isn't nearly as prolific, but it sure is pretty.

And finally - I hear there was hope we're going to have lettuce and spinach again? Sure enough, I've already started seeds! I'm even going to try growing some napa cabbage. Now the cabbage is perfect food for the cabbage white butterfly, so I'll have to make sure I cover it with floating row cover. The lettuce (and spinach) are more tasty treats for slugs than anything - but they did really well in the raised beds. I just have to find some room!

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