Wednesday, May 9, 2012
It's been awhile since I've posted anything. It's the usual excuses. I thought I would finally write about the garden again, but gardens grow fast, and it has already grown in the two weeks since these pictures were taken. We finally put the corn in, and it is several inches high by now. That's in the middle bed, right above the big green patch. The green patch will be sweet corn by and by. We are trying more organized succession planting with the corn this year.
Most of the tomato plants are thriving. At the moment they have green tomatoes on them. Tomatoes always take so long being green.
The peppers are doing wonderfully this year, and are blooming and setting fruit. The hot peppers seem to be growing faster than the sweet peppers.
Most of the eggplants survived, and the Turkish Orange eggplant is already blooming. I was surprised--last year the eggplants only started producing in late July.
The tomatillos and ground cherries have set lots of fruit, it's only a matter of waiting for it to be ripe. My kids couldn't stand it and picked a few bitterish under-ripe ones the other day, but they still enjoyed eating them, even though they didn't taste as good as they would have. I love that about gardens. Even if it isn't the best, just having grown it and having it right there makes you appreciate it more.
This year, the weather turned very warm very quickly, and so we are struggling much more with the weeds than in previous years. Inadvertently, this year's garden has become a blend of last year's organized row garden and the previous year's wild garden. None of the sunflowers I had planted this year are blooming yet, but last year's have re-seeded. It's really interesting to see how they cross-pollinated, or didn't. We left most of the sunflowers when we tilled and planted, so they are big and blooming and making the garden very colorful. One thing I've noticed about sunflowers (and is the main reason I plant them) is that there is something extremely attractive about them to all sorts of insects. Just one sunflower plant has an ecosystem of different interacting insects on it. I've seen wasps, assassin bugs, lady bugs, aphids and the sap-sucking true bugs and ants tending the aphids and all sorts of different kinds of bees.
Not only do they attract the beneficial pollinators and predators, they seem to keep the true bugs that in past years would attack my tomatoes and make nasty black dents in them from wanting to go anywhere else.
Other plants that have re-seeded are the zinnias, the cosmos and the Spanish needle. The Spanish needle (Bidens alba) is very weedy, but in the richer garden soil it does become highly ornamental, and there's not a second of the day that they aren't just buzzing with an incredible diversity of bees and butterflies.
The bad news is that three weeks ago when there was a minor cold snap, the cucumbers, European melons, squash and pumpkins got frosted. We were completely surprised--it being probably the only place in the county that got frost damage that night (supposedly it only got to 40F). Strangely, the sweet potatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, watermelon and cow peas were all fine. The melons and pumpkins have recovered, but the cucumbers and summer squash have been significantly delayed. By my April birthday last year we had tons of summer squash and cucumbers, but this year they have only just started making some female flowers at last. They are usually the first vegetables we get, so we are still buying vegetables from the store now, and my goodness they are expensive. It's just amazing how much they mark up things like organic zucchini. Usually we are desperately trying to give zucchini away.
Anyway, the moral, I think, is that every year is different. Just when you think you've finally figured something out, the Weather Gods thumb their noses at you.