Originally uploaded by saintartaud
The above photo was actually taken 2 weeks ago, a day or so before my boyfriend and I left for the weekend to spend time with our family. In order to avoid the possibility of losing any tomatoes to squirrels in our absence, I picked every tomato with a touch of orange. Most of these tomatoes have since been eaten or given away. There might still be one or two sitting on the window sill in the kitchen.
With August here, there have been many changes in the garden and plenty to harvest. The sweet peppers are turning red, and the pole beans are in flower. I've been harvesting tomatoes continuously since our return and throwing fresh jalapeno peppers into fresh salsa, burritoes, and a tasty Thai stew. The carrots are still not big enough to use, and my onions didn't hold through the days of hard rain we receive shortly after our return. Perhaps the biggest loss in my garden was of the cucumber, zucchini, and squash vines. Some sort of beetle or borer took over, and within a week, everything died off. I'm not sure what I could have done to prevent or stop the attack. Despite these setbacks, I feel like this year's garden has been a more of success than the last couple of years.
Here are some things that worked:
Planting more than one variety of tomato and including hybrids
Next year I will likely limit my ordering to one or two hybrid varieties, or possibly include another heirloom, but otherwise this concept has worked. The heirlooms produce fewer tomatoes that take longer to ripen, while the early variety provides a quick and constant supply. A beefsteak variety is good to include for size.
As an aside, the 'Big Mama' plum hybrid I planted seems extremely susceptible to blossom end rot.
I never realized these were so easy to grow. I didn't harvest a great deal, but it was enough for a few servings of new potatoes. Sadly, the seed potatoes I saved from my order got wet, so I was unable to plant another batch after pulling up the rest last week.
Including more than one plant in each 4'x4' plot
Even though the cucurbitaceae, spinach, and lettuce died, I have plenty of plants to fall back on. Assuming that I can keep most of the plants alive, I should be able to harvest throughout the seasons, from spring to fall.
Planting beets under cover
A number of my reference have advised against planting beets and spinach indoors under cover, but in comparison to last year, when I planted all my chenopodiaceae outdoors, this batch has done far better. What seemed to be happening was that the insects would attack before the plants had any strength to defend themselves. Also, by the time the mid-July heat came, the weak plants would just dry up. I was able to harvest a teeny bit of chard, but no beets or spinach. So, this month, my goal is to plant the remainder of my beet seeds indoors for a fall harvest of greens. It is possible, and it seems more reliable than my other option.
Things that still need doing:
Building of "the grotto"
A friend donated two large tubs of beer and wine bottles to my cause. Some have been stripped of labels and cleaned, most have not. The heat lately has been pretty obtrusive to getting any outside work done, so I've been putting it off. I could still plausibly get this project going within the next 3 months.
Building of the cold frame
Mostly a matter of sizing up our supply of old glass windows and modeling the plans after that.