It’s been weird weather up here in Southern Ontario, but then again I think weird is the new normal. We had a major heat wave in April, and very dry. Now it is cool and wet.
Everything is in the ground and coming along. The marigold and zinnias, tomatoes, and peppers that I started as transplants all look good. Beans, watermelon, lettuces, basil and calendula I direct-seeded several weeks ago, and are coming along slowly in this weather and in my clay soil. Broccoli ‘Apollo’ is growing very nicely too and loving this cool, wet time. But it will be a while before any eating is happening with anything. The marigold, however, wants to bloom and I think is a few days off.
Now time to mulch and weed and hope the heat returns. We need a better season up here than the last two summers, which were wet, wet and more wet.
In the central San Joaquin Valley of California, I’m still harvesting broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and just finished up favas and ‘Progress’ peas.
I usually direct-sow most of my squash, but I put about 25 in the greenhouse this year and planted out early. They didn’t enjoy the cool weather, but they’re starting to produce. Otherwise, summer will not arrive here until nearly the Fourth of July.
Had bad luck with peppers in the greenhouse, but there should be a few plants each of the three varieties I’m testing to report on. Most of the rest of the test vegetables will be direct-sown shortly for main season summer production—now that summer is finally here after an unusually cool May.
Fennel, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes will continue to grow here in summer, but they are very iffy if STARTED in spring—we would normally start them in late fall. I figured, what the heck, I’ll give’m a shot anyway. Should’ve shot them with a bazooka instead. Quicker, and more merciful. Started both cherry tomatoes, 3 hot peppers, and fennel in 55% shade house, where they germinated beautifully and grew to transplant size. Once they went into beds, they struggled for a few weeks, then died. Same with ‘Beananza’ beans that were touted to be heat resistant.
But, actually some good news! Basil ‘Aton’ is doing well. It is a slow grower in this heat and rain (triple-digit heat index, 4″- plus rain earlier this week!) but it is showing no signs of the usual basil diseases that plague us. The Asian and African basils do much better for us, and some of our plants are reaching the decade anniversary, even with last year’s freeze! The ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’ marigold is also holding its own. It isn’t anywhere near as big as the other variety that I planted a month earlier, but is just about to bud.
The real success story is the two All-America Selections zinnias—’Double Zahara Fire’ and ‘Double Zahara Cherry’. Again, they went in a little later than I usually transplant zinnias but they are doing well. Had about 80% survival rate after transplant. Not bad with temperature swings. I knew our high humidity would be a great test of foliar diseases that decimate zinnias here. NOT A SIGN! And, as advertised, they are self-branching too! Can’t wait to see if I can keep them going a few years, like my others. Annual is a relative term here!
I am just getting most of my summer garden planted, late. My little plants are looking pretty good now that they have some garden soil to grow in—they were looking unhappy in the 6-packs. I had to wait for the end of the spring gale-force winds that never seemed to blow out.
110 degrees here this week, and that is in the shade. In the garden it’s about 135 degrees over the granite pathways next to the raised beds—and too hot to do anything outside. My poor chickens have dug holes in the soil to sit in and they are panting with their little beaks wide open. There is no sound coming out, but they look like they are screaming. I weed and plant after 10 pm and before 7 am when it cools to 80 – 90F.
I’ll post pix when the plants are photographable. The ones I just transplanted over the weekend are less than a couple of inches tall, but in this heat they will probably be 2 feet tall next week! I hope our ‘Pinot Noir’ peppers do as well as the ‘Islander’ peppers we tested a while back. I love the look of lilac and purple-colored peppers.
I’ve finally begun to pick my very early lettuce plantings in the last two weeks. The ‘Sea of Red’ and ‘Midnight Ruffles’ lettuces look especially striking in our spring salads. I always like the red lettuces the best, so I am biased on that.
With plenty of heat and rain this spring, everything is looking healthy and happy except for the melons and broccoli seedlings. A marauding animal, probably one of our resident woodchucks, came into the covered alcove attached to the house and ate all of the leaves off of every plant while they were hardening off. A few of the broccoli plants are re-growing leaves but the plants look awful. We had 14 flats sitting out, mostly flowers, and that was the only flat that was chomped on. The good news is that we also hosted a fox family this spring so I hope the woodchuck problem may be diminished in the short term.
I also have to mention the peppers. With the wonderful spring weather, all of the pepper plants look superb. I’ve never set out pepper plants with flowers already on them before, but all of the ‘Pinot Noir’ plants are flowering!