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July 28th, 2008

Garden Update

LeslieHWhat do we do in Texas when it’s 104 degrees? Well, try and keep the garden from gasping its last breath…and pickle peppers! While most spring planted tomatoes have long-since stopped setting fruit, there are a few veggies that kick into gear in the heat, peppers being the most prolific.
1I pickled a slew of beautiful Habaneros this past weekend.  My second
summer plantings of squashes are coming along nicely and I need to
harvest a bunch of eggplant. I’ll cut back those eggplant now and look
for a fall harvest from them. Okra is still coming along just fine as
well as certain variet
ies of Basil. ‘Sweet Aussie’ and ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ are two varieties
with small leaves and a compact dense growth habit. Neither variety is
ever in a hurry to flower even in the hottest part of summer. Made a
nice batch of fresh pesto from these plants.

I’ll be dropping my second planting of tomatoes in the ground this weekend for a fall crop. Also just seeded some black-eyed peas into the garden. Threw some radish seeds in with them, just to try and get an in-between crop. It’s a bit hot to try with the radishes, but they are such a fast crop that often you can still get nice results when it’s hot. Seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are in the germination trays as we speak. Here in North Texas you can start seeds for cool season and cole crops now for transplanting into the garden in September. Two or three successions can be planted about two weeks apart. I’ll keep you posted.

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As for my ornamental garden this time of year? Well, it’s pretty much on it’s own…survival of the fittest I’m afraid! August in Texas is like a chemical peel for your garden. The Texas sun basically just blasts everything to you know where and then you get to start all over! Round two (or three really), here we come…I can’t wait until September…

July 28th, 2008

Learning to pick melons again.

The first test melons are ripe – almost, anyway. Melons are a summer delight, but each year I have to relearn all the techniques for determining when to pick. Yesterday I picked three Hannah’s Choice cantaloupes, including one ugly one for tasting. The other two went to customers – with the suggestion to allow a day or two at room temperature. Mine had an almost floral flavor, but sweetness had not yet developed.

The watermelon I nearly picked three days ago was still disappointing today. I couldn’t find a pale ground spot. No help there. Finger tapping resulted in a sound less sharp than the others. And the nearest tendril was drying nicely – a sure sign! Or not. Still a bit pale inside. Tastes like watermelon. But not sweet – oops! This one will go in the blender with ice and maybe a splash of tequila. Not such a bad thing after all…

July 16th, 2008

Good Grief!

bio_lesliedI was out checking an area planted with test squash and found a community of hatching squash bugs.  I am sure the population exceed that of Las Vegas.  These cute little guys were scrambling all over the place when they realized they were discovered.  Oh my !  I haven’t seen this much activity since someone yelled “BOMB” in a crowed room.  Well, they got bombed all right.  I dropped Die Bug on them, in the powder form.  I wish I had taken a picture of this colony for you.  You would have been amazed.  But I was so startled that I forgot the picture.  Bummers!

The parents of these squash bugs were the reason those test squash were failing.  The babies I discovered were the next generation.  I should have been more diligent in the spring, but I wasn’t.  I need to get my priorities in order, I could have stopped their destruction.

So . . . I pulled-up those shabby squash plants and replaced them with some blooming canna lilies.  Now the squash are gone.  But we were able to harvest a few and enjoyed eating them.

1Re the melon pictures:  There also is a little leaf damage on the ‘climbing’ test melons planted in the spring about the same time as the squash . . . just in time for the bug season (and it’s hard to see this damage in the picture).  However . . . the earth travelling melons, that I planted several weeks later, are lush and bug free.  Here’s a picture of both melon beds . . .  all the plants are actually doing pretty good.

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Oh Boy !  I love it when ‘I think’ I may have discovered a simple insect cure; like adjusting a planting date.  We have a long growing season in Las Vegas, so I can plant more now and also try planting a little later-on again next year.

July 15th, 2008

Test Gardener Update: Bill Nunes

Daytime highs hovering around 100F have cucumbers growing like a California wildfire here. Some of the vines are neatly climbing the string trellis I’m constantly building for them, but loose branches race toward neighboring beds.

The hybrid test variety was the first to start and produces a bounteous harvest every couple of days. My old standby Straight Eight started about a week later and but has not yet approached the production of this new hybrid.
Armenian cukes have also grown up overnight after I found the very first one just a few days ago. Even the Persian Green Fingers and Japanese cucumbers will have fruits ready this week leaving only the heirloom Lemons to bring up the rear.

Fortunately a few regular customers buy an enormous number each week to keep me from being overrun. If only the tomatoes would do likewise…

July 2nd, 2008

Test Gardener Update

Michelle Zettel, zone 3, Idaho.

Wow has it been busy around here!  Our business is river rafting so now is our time.

We had a frost on June 12th.  I had most everything out.  I did not kill everything but it certainly knocked things back.  However as we now have some heat 86 today.  Everything is really starting to go.  The potatoes look great!  Well the vines anyway are starting to bud.  A few tomaotes are starting to think about doing something.  But they are the ones that are in the wall-o-water.  They went out about 2 weeks early and were protected from the frost.  I am very interested to see how the 6  in the walls-o water do compared to the others.  I took one of each test variety and put it in so I could see if there was a difference.  The sugar snap peas are really doing well but again nothing to report as far as harvest.  The frost took out two my squash plants.  The rest of the squash is set back but they all seemed to pull through.  The corn is up to but very small, I doubt that I will get anything out of it as we can have a frost in late August.
By the way the strawberries that I planted are doing well.  Everyone said to pick the blooms which is very hard to convince my two boys that this is a good idea.  But we compromised and are leaving one plant with berries so that they atleast get a taste.
So that is the update on what is going on around here.  The picture is of the wall-o water.

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