Tuesday, 19 June 2012

observations of the vegetable garden in the final days of spring

Even though the summer solstice is still a couple of days away it feels much more like July than late spring. High heat, punishing humidity but there's lots of rain. So everything is still green and there's lots of moisture in the soil. It has been a little difficult to know when to plant things this year when the weather has been so crazy; summer in March, cold and rainy in May and now high summer in June. I always do successive plantings but this year I just keep planting over and over again figuring at least some of the sowings will work out.

Something interesting has happened with the potatoes. The first to be planted were the Dark Red Norlands and French Fingerlings. They were planted in the new bed that hadn't really been prepared after the original tilling. So Diane and I placed the seed potatoes in shallow trenches with cardboard between the rows to keep down the weeds and a mulch of leaves I had collected in the fall. The Yukon Gold, Blue and Banana Fingerlings were planted a week later in a portion of the new bed that had benefitted from an extra week under the black tarp. These potatoes were planted in deeper trenches and I'm hoeing the soil between the rows to hill up these potatoes. This past weekend as I was checking for potato bugs and their eggs I found about 9 out of 10 plants in the second plot had clusters of eggs on the under side of the leaves and I discoverd about 10 potato bugs amongst the 5 rows. I crushed the eggs with my fingers and deposited the adult bugs in glass jars. The potatoes with the cardboard and leaf mulch had absolutely no bugs or eggs! Really interesting. It's too bad there are so many variables; planting time, different types of potatoes and the mulching method. So it's hard to be absolutely sure what to attribute the huge difference to. But definitely worth keeping in mind for other years.

Potatoes mulched with cardboard and dead leaves
Potatoes planted in trenches and hilled up with soil

Another interesting contrast is the difference between the sunflowers I transplanted on the south end of both potato beds. The first ones were planted south of the cardboard mulched potatoes. They are in the shadow of the bigtooth aspen for the first half of each day. The sunflowers at the end of the other bed were planted a week later but get full sun all day and are probably twice as tall and much more vigorous.
Sunflowers with full sun are at the bottom and the ones with  a half day of shade are above

Fava beans in boom
The fava beans are in full flower and the peas in full bloom. Most of the pea blossoms are white but there are two particularly beautiful pea flowers; one is the mauve and yellow bloom of the Golden Snow Pea from Terra Edibles and the other is a ballet pink and fuchsia blossom form the purple snow pea called Desiree.
The heirloom Golden Snow pea in bloom

The aptly named snow pea Desiree
The first tomatoes are already blooming and have been tied in to their supports with strips of old sheets.
Indeterminate heirloom tomatoes tied in with strips of old bed sheets
Tomato in bloom

The first beets are looking healthy and the seeds planted two weeks ago have germinated.
The first beets on the left,  beet seedlings on the right with an edge of chard at the bottom

The pole beans have all emerged and every day you can see a gain in height. Very soon they should start to wind their way around the bamboo pole teepees.

The pole bean Violetta di Trionfo
Cranberry Pole Beans at the base of the support and, sown a week later,  a row of bush beans  on the right

The cucumbers are just trying to adjust to a more brutal life buffeted by the elements after their coddled infancy in pots sheltered by the gazebo.
Climbing cucumbers planted at the base of a twine support
Peppers in the hotbox
Eggplants in their hotbox
 And talk about a sheltered life; finally there are the eggplants and peppers basking in the heat of the hotboxes.

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