Garden Update: late August
Basil plants, rehabbed into metal cans.
Piercen loves basil. Fresh, dried, pesto-ed, doesn't matter. So I started a good number of basil plants from seed this spring. They were doing fine, until Buffalo Treehoppers discovered them and went to town sucking out the sap. I'd find my little seedlings turning yellow with a blacked stem where those little devils made their own buffet. So each time, I'd dig the plant up, cut the stem right above the blackened area, then let the root tip sit in water for a couple of days until it developed enough rootlings to be repotted. Putting them in these metal cans (don't fuss, they are BPA free), seems to keep the BT away. Now, I harvest basil leaves every couple of days and am getting a nice supply of frozen basil-in-oil to keep P happy this coming winter.
Marigolds, lima beans, and nasturtiums on the retaining wall.
Back in March I ordered the "Companion Plant" collection from Annie's Seeds. In the collection were seeds for a plant I had neither seen nor heard of; nasturtium. So I started the seeds indoors like the packet said and went about my business. Up popped these little plants with lovely lilypad-like leaves. I planted them in the retaining wall area off the porch and went about my business. The nasturtiums did great until one day I discovered them covered in black tiny dots. Aphids had come to town. I did some research and discovered that nasturtiums are aphids' favorite food. Nasturtiums are used as companion plants because they attract the aphids away from the more valuable crops (note: nasturtiums can be valuable; the flowers and leaves can be eaten and the flowers are good for sugaring). For the next couple of months, attract aphids they did and most of the plants suffered. The one on the end of the wall though, seemed to weather the aphid attack quite well and, as you can see above, has become the star of the flower show.
Fall Cover Crop
Since we're going to be gone most of September, I decided to start a fall cover crop a bit earlier than I would normally to make sure it gets good and watered before we abandon it to the whims of the weather gods.
The birds have finally (and inexplicably) decided to leave some of the ripe strawberries alone. They are not very large and tend to look a little wonky, but oh man do they taste good. Sweet and with a strong strawberry flavor.
Luther's tomato plant (bought from the store back in June)
This big bed was originally planted with arugula, spinach, peas, broccoli and some cabbages. The arugula and spinach bolted early when we had a unseasonal week of heat in May, but I was able to save seeds from both. The peas were amazing and some of the little peas that dropped out of pods before I could pull them are already starting to grow. The broccoli and cabbages were ravaged multiple times by Boris the Groundhog and never stood a chance, so I cut down the parts above the soil and left the roots in the ground to continue feeding/harboring soil microbes. I have since replanted the bed with lima beans (which are doing splendid), sunflowers (which like to fall over but by splinting the broken bits with sticks and first aid tape, I've managed to save), marigolds, basil, and borage. I also just planted seeds for a fall cover crop in the bed.
The sunflowers are a beautiful orange gold color.
Lima bean pods.
Borage; looking a little unfortunate.
These next two beds originally held mainly cabbages and cauliflower but Boris had his way here too. In their places, I've put in more sunflowers, marigolds, cucumber, and some dill.
Cucumbers are doing great. Next year, I would like to do a stronger flavered cuke.
This bed held the most cabbages and cauliflowers and thus was the most damaged by Boris.
Gardener's Delight Cherry (on the left) and Wisconsin 55 (on the right) tomatoes.
And now for the main event: tomatoes. So my tomatoes plants have gone insane. They have far outgrown their 5 ft tall rebar cages. That cage on the left has fallen over twice, and we've had to brace it with boulders. I spent a good half hour yesterday tying branches to the cages in creative ways to keep the branches from breaking. Those that have broken have hopefully been saved by splinting with sticks and first aid tape.
I think it was just last week that these babies starting turning red. There's a ton of fruit on each plant but all had been stubbornly staying green. I have a friend coming to pick the ripe ones while we are gone.
Even the deformed one that split early in the season made it through and was delicious.
Back beds: green beans and scarlet runner beans (on the trellis); sweet potatoes in the ground.
Boris also ravaged the sweet potatoes (and before that, only two of the four original plants survived shipping and planting in my garden). They have come back but it will be interesting to see how they turn out.
More beans on a trellis; red potatoes in the ground.
I've read that once your potato plants starting looking real rough, the potatoes can be harvested. Clearly we'll be harvesting soon.
Green beans and scarlet runner beans on a trellis.
The last beds in the back of the garden hold the beans on trellises and sweet potatoes, and red potatoes. The beans are doing ok; they are not producing as much as I had hoped. I think the lack of rain has affected them.
Thus stands the garden as August ends and September begins. We leave for Germany very soon so the garden will have to fend for itself. I'm a little anxious to see what I will return to at the end of September!
Which reminds me, if there's something in the shop you want in a timely manner, grab it now (or at least before noon tomorrow); otherwise, all shop orders will be shipped out upon our return. For more details see T-Minus Nine Days