Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Here come habaneros...

...among other scalding selections in the container 'o fire. The bell and sweet peppers are putting out fruit, and my tomatoes have produced vigorously but...

...inconsistent moisture and my shoddy watering have resulted in lots of cracking problems! As a relatively inexperienced tomato grower, I reached out to two sources of garden wisdom: my local extension office and my mother. I found out that as long as no infestation gets into the cracks, the tomatoes are still edible (extension office), and if I pick the tomatoes and let them ripen in the relatively infestation-free house, there is a better chance they'll make it to maturity (mother).

The Cherokee Purple tomatoes are coming in first in the race to ripen, and I just hope enough of these, as well as the Amish Paste and Black Krim, can be salvaged. Of course, most of these will probably ripen this weekend while we are out of town. Luckily they will not go to waste because my mom (the same source of tomato wisdom) will be checking on and watering the garden in our absence, and in return she has exclusive rights to any ripe tomato!

The plants are still putting out more fruit, and I will try to be more diligent about maintaining consistent moisture in the raised bed. One lesson I've learned so far this year: vegetables take much more water than I anticipated!

But just as I was moping about the tomato cracks and sullenly harvesting the affected fruits, I saw something that made me ecstatic to be growing vegetables and which inspired that jolt of satisfaction only gardening can provide...

...I have cucumbers!! All year I've wrangled with my squash-less squashes and cucumber-less cucumbers. But I think I've isolated the issue: not enough sun in the back of the bed. The fact that this cucumber (and its lone companion) are in a very sunny site, far from the trellis where they're meant to be, sort of confirms my suspicions.

In other happenings, 'David' phloxes and purple hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) have made a dynamic duo this summer, and I am planning to add more of both next spring.

The Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is flopping because of the recent rains, but some visitors don't seem to mind.

In the shady part of the front garden, big-leaved aster (Eurybia macrophylla) is in full bloom and playing nice with new elm-leaved goldenrod (Solidago ulmifolia) that just might bloom this year, and the coleus.

And my new 'Touch of Class' hosta is sending up tentative flower scapes...I'm so happy it's happy enough to be flowering! I look forward to this beauty getting even bigger and better.

The tall coreopsis (C. tripteris) is late blooming this year; I hope it can save some flowers for when I'm back!

I only planted two containers this year, and I'm happy with my decision to go for quality not quantity. This mixture 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, 'Red Plume' celosia and 'Ready to Wear Paris' calibrachoa (which was a complementary trial from Hort Couture) has held up beautifully through heat, dryness and humidity (albeit with regular watering).

Yet again I will be missing Bloom Day on August 15th, but I look forward to seeing what everyone else has in their gardens! I guess this is my pseudo-Bloom Day post!


garden girl said...

Sounds like your veggie garden is a wonderful success Rose! Although you see it as a mixed success, things that aren't producing as well as you'd like are teaching so much.

I checked back on some of your earlier veggie garden posts since you mentioned the watering issue. You might find that a thick layer of mulch would really help. In the fall we add at least a foot thick of autumn leaves (partially chopped with the lawn mower.) By early spring the pile has fallen to just two or three inches and makes a perfect layer of mulch. Later in spring as the leaf mold decomposes further, I add the leaves I'm pulling off the shade garden as plants emerge.

I've only watered the veggie garden three times - in late June and early July when we had a hot, dry stretch. We have no cracked tomatoes, (*yet,) and the free, thick mulch keeps the moisture in the soil. I've done almost no weeding, and the leaf mold is wonderful organic matter, feeding the soil, and making it more spongy and absorbent when it does rain.

The leaf mold layer doesn't make the best planting medium, so as I start planting the bed, I move it, concentrating it into a thicker layer in an unplanted area. It breaks down even faster that way, and as the seedlings become tall enough, I move the mulch into the planted areas. By then it's mid-May and about time to plant the warm-season crops. Once those are big enough I spread the mulch evenly over the whole bed. We still have a nice layer of it in early August.

By the time it's completely broken down, the weather will usually be cooler and wetter, leaves will be falling again, and the process starts over. I think a nice, thick layer of leaf mold might really help make your veggie garden easier to maintain and greatly reduce the need to water, while further enriching the soil.

Your blooms look great, and wow, your container is so full and lush! Diamond Frost is such a fantastic container plant, and those calibrochas are so colorful.

Have a wonderful weekend. I hope lots of tomatoes wait for you, and your coreopsis saves lots of blooms for your return.

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

Gorgeous tomatoes.... Mine look pretty pitiful since it's been so cold in my neck of the woods.

Rose said...

Your garden is looking great, Rose; I think the Chicago area has had much more rain in the past few weeks than we have had.

Cracked tomatoes are certainly edible, but your mom's advice is good--too often the bugs will get into these cracks outside, so it's best to bring them indoors right away. Watering has been a problem in my veggie garden, too, and I confess to being very negligent about it. My first tomatoes had Blossom End rot, which I discovered is the result of fluctuations in watering. Well, with the wet June we had followed by a very dry July, it's no wonder. Finally, this week I'm getting some decent tomatoes.

Congratulations on the cucumbers! The lack of sun probably did have an effect, but I've noticed I have fewer squash this year than usual. It seems like the vegetable garden reacts differently every season, and some of it is just out of our control.

Your hosta looks very happy in its new home!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm glad you've figured out the source of your problems. I still haven't figured out why my bell peppers keep getting bad spots. Congratulations on your harvests!
I planted a couple of Eurybia macrophyllas this year, but I don't think they'll bloom until next year. I really like how you've combined them with my favorite species of Solidago.

Gail said...

hey Rose, What a great garden~Someday I hope to have a bit of sun to grow some veggies:) gail ps leaf mold is wonderful

You May Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails