Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Progress Report

Recently, we have received quite a bit of rain. 

I would estimate over 7 inches in the last 10 days.  This is good and bad at the same time.  It is good because the plants love the rain water because it is superior to city water, but too much rain negatively affects things like ripening tomatoes because it causes them to split.  I am planning on nursing my tomatoes plants through to the Fall when it cools off to see how much production I can still get from them.  They don't produce well in the hot weather because they can't set fruit and the leaf footed and stink bugs are rampant. 

Cucumber is a vegetable that loves the rain and I don't think you could over water them.  I planted a new variety of cucumber called Sumter and it is starting to produce some nice, flavorful cukes, especially after the rain..  I was beginning to think this will be my new goto cuke, but the aphids love them too and are really attacking them.  The Burpee burpless are still producing nicely with no aphids at all, but aren't as flavorful and can't be pickled.  I am going to try and plant some Sumters where the Burpees are to see if the aphids follow.  The aphids are a real pain and I have tried a lot of the organic remedies in the past like releasing ladybugs, jets of water, and insecticidal soap with minimal success on a heavy infestation.  As I am typing this my daughter brings home a ladybug she caught at her faith formation class.  We just let it go on the cucumbers.  She is learning early!

The purple hull peas are looking great.  I can't wait to get fresh peas.  My family absolutely love these!  They are rather expensive in the store or farmer's market at $4.99 to $5.99 a pound and usually aren't organic.  These are the same two areas I got over 40 pounds of Derby green beans earlier this year.

Purple Hulls

I planted too many hot and sweet peppers this year.  I am trying to find time to go pick a huge harvest and pickle them.   I am trying a new recipe because my last round of pickled peppers aren't that great.  In fact, I really don't like them at all.  I've been using peppers in any recipe possible and can't keep up with them - fajitas, k-bobs, sausage and peppers, stuffed peppers, stuffed pepper casserole, grilled peppers, pickled peppers, salsa, etc.  I am starting to dry some for later use.

The sweet potatoes I planted in May are taking off, at least the vines are.  Building a trellis for the vines has been on my plate now for a couple of months, but I haven't been able to get to it.  I planted 3 varieties:  Centennial, Georgia Jet and Vardaman.  I thought one plant meant one vine, but I was wrong.  There are several vines per plant.  I just placed newspaper and mulch under the vines so they don't root along the vines.  If they root along the vines you will get a lot of small tubers.  These are planted about 12 inches apart in soil that is 18 inches deep.  They don't require a lot of water at all so are great for our hot, usually dry summer environment.  These will be harvested in the Fall/Early Winter.  I hope to get about 4 to 5 pounds per plant and I planted about 12 plants or so. 

Sweet Potato Vines

Finally, my Garden spiders are growing and eating.  I have 5 now that I know of.  They have doubled in size and almost always have something in their webs.  Here are a few new shots I took today.  Looks like I have a new arrival.  Check out the new baby - at least I think that's what it is.

Until next post.

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