In Wisconsin we’ve been sweating in above-average heat, and watering due to below-average rainfall, to say the least. I do have to say that the melon vines are more vigorous than any we’ve ever grown so I’m hoping we get a good crop.
We harvested the first ‘Capitano’ beans (left) and the flavor is better than I expected since bush varieties usually fall short in the flavor comparison to our pole beans.
The ‘Cherry Stuffer’ pepper has come in second place for earliest pepper, and we actually picked it red! The first in were ‘Garden Sunshine’ peppers, which we picked in the yellow phase. I can’t wait for them to turn color before picking them. We’re still waiting on the other peppers as well as the tomato varieties.
And also the zucchinis, believe it or not. They got ignored and made it through blisteringly hot temperatures with no watering only because they were mulched. They’re starting to look like real zucchini plants again (right) and we should have zukes shortly.
I should also tell you that the zinnias (left) and salvias are blooming their heads off.
Well, back to eating salads, cucumber salsa, gazpacho, and grilled summer veggies (I love this time of year!) while keeping cool. —Kathy Shaw, Neenah, Wisconsin
Now it’s July and time to take a breath …. Since February it has been drier and warmer than average here in Colorado (if there are such things as climate averages in this state). I was a bit late getting my spring crops in, so the pea and lettuce season was short. I fell in love with ‘Mayan Jaguar’ lettuce from Fedco Seeds; it’s pretty with bite-size leaves. Because of the early heat and dry I had to be super-diligent with watering to avoid bitterness. Most growers here cover greens with row cloth but I find it makes lettuces rather tasteless and pale.
The tomatoes are growing well. ‘Pilcer Vesy’ is huge and loaded with fruit. It’s even dwarfing my usually vigorous ‘Pineapple’ and Aussie varieties. My early-season tomatoes are only just now ripening (even with a month head start in Wallo’Waters). The test cherries are also just starting to color. I’ve gone crazy with tomatoes this year and am growing 30+ varieties, so I’ll have plenty to compare the trial varieties to.
Summer squash have just started producing this last week. The summer squash ‘Golden Egg’, from Burpee, is very vigorous but I haven’t tried it yet. All the winter squash are doing well and I am holding out hope for the watermelons and melons. They are growing vigorously and flowering but need to get done by early September. I’m situated in a frost hollow so I seldom have success with melons.
The Brussels sprouts are growing vigorously. I am growing the test variety along with another three varieties. The cauliflower is great but maybe another 2 to 3 weeks off. I’m a cauliflower fan and have some great preserve recipes so I have planted six or so varieties this year. I’ve grown the ‘Purple Peacock’ broccoli before and was unimpressed. It isn’t exciting me much this year either but I’ll keep an open mind for another 2 or 3 weeks. —Tracey Parrish, Boulder, Colorado
These are the first of my test varieties that I’ve begun to harvest: ‘Indigo Rose’ tomato (left) and ‘Clara’ eggplant (below). Both photograph well—but beauty is only skin deep. ‘Indigo Rose’ is a tasty tomato but ordinary. Its real asset is its color; I think this is a splendid-looking dish of tomatoes. It reminds of the gaudy and outrageous jewelry I love to wear. These make a statement.
‘Clara’ eggplant is a real beauty, too—perfect shape, perfectly white. I think it must be sinful to cut it up and eat it. I will probably burn in hell. —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada
Spring weather here in southern Ontario has been very odd. We had a week of mild (read HOT) weather in March, followed by a deep freeze in April. It managed to wipe out most of the cherry crop in Niagara, as well as wreak havoc on the tender fruit, pears, and apples. So it will be a tough year for a whole lot of growers here.
My test garden crops have been in the ground for about 3 weeks now, through a very dry spring. And again, unseasonably warm. I think the plants just don’t know what to do. Most things in the test garden look good, although something lopped the tops off the ‘Cayenetta’ peppers. The eggplants are poor because of the darned flea beetles, which are terrible this year. Our (non-) winter was so mild that there was very little kill-off of overwintering pests. So I’m on guard!
I had the best year ever for my heirloom tomato transplant sales, so in that way the spring has been kind to me. I grew over 600 different varieties this year, and there are some that I have just discovered myself this year that I am trialling. The heirloom tomato world is pretty exciting! —Linda Crago, Wellandport, Ontario
I made some garden videos that I posted on You Tube and I hope you enjoy them. They last only about 3 minutes each. That’s all the time I have from moment to moment in my life, and I figured life might be busy for you, too. Here is the link.
As I get experience as a video recording “star” I am sure I will get better. This week my tongue has wrinkles in it and my brain doesn’t seem to want to connect with my tongue.
Some of the vegetable varieties we’re trialing this year are in the videos, but maybe not identified. You can see that my garden is growing. I’m doing lots of melons and peppers this year. The tomato ‘Indigo Rose’ is loaded with growing fruit. The top half of the tomato is black and the bottom half if green. I can’t wait to see what happens with this tomato when it matures. —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada