What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-July - Part 2

For the next couple of years, I am concentrating primarily on edibles when it comes to starting seeds in the spring.  Once I gain confidence and am better organized in the vegetable garden, I can start giving the ornamental side of things more attention.  When Thomas at Seeding the Good Life wrote about starting over 2,000 plants from seed this past spring, most of which were perennials, I was pretty awestruck.  My grand total for ornamental starts this year?  Less than 20 plants and only 3 varieties.  Well, it’s a start I guess…maybe next year I’ll go up to a whopping 6 or 7 ornamental varieties ;)

The marigolds that I planted in the tomato beds are awesome.  This was the biggest surprise – I always thought marigolds were pretty boring – until now.  I think that growing them from seed & watching them develop into these colourful bundles with dozens of blooms has changed my perspective.
Marigold - Janie Series
The Nasturtiums are doing fairly well, considering.  The transplants ended up staying in their tiny cell pack for almost twice as long as they should have because it took me forever and a day to move & fill the planter they were supposed to go into.
Nasturtiums - Tip Top Alaska Red Shades
And lastly, the sunflowers.  These guys have had it rough this year.  First I kept putting off transplanting them because I wasn’t sure where to put them.  I finally decided to place them in a west facing spot right beside the house – and then promptly forgot all about them.

Giant Grey Stripe Sunflower
I have a feeling this one will not live up to it's name

My neglect is evident - they have not grown very well at all.  Thankfully there have been a few rainy days here and there, otherwise, I don’t think these guys would have even made it this far.  Obviously, this spot was not ideal – especially when it comes to remembering to water them.  I had better think of a different spot for next year.

Now let’s move on to the alliums – definitely one of my favourite vegetables.  Where would we be without onions and garlic?  In one bed I am growing 5 varieties of garlic as well as golden shallots.  Last year I also grew French grey shallots but found that they were just too finicky to use compared to the golden shallots, so I decided not to grow any this year.
The majority of shallot clumps have developed 3 bulbs, but some have up to 6.  There are a couple with only two but the shallot bulbs are also larger.
Golden Shallots
One of the larger clumps with 6 shallots
You can see in the photo below that the plants are starting to die back, which indicates that they are ready to be harvested.  The last couple of years I waited a bit too long I think - some had almost died back completely - although it didn't seem to harm them in any way.  They still stored for over a year.

Shallots Starting to Die Back
The garlic had starting to yellow a bit and the bottom two leaves had dried out on all of the plants which means that it was time to harvest them as well.

Garlic Plants Starting to Yellow

Bottom Two Leaves on Garlic Have Died Back
The above photos were taken this past Thursday.  On Friday, I harvested all of the garlic and golden shallots.  And just in time too, as it has been raining off and on since yesterday.  I will get into more details about the garlic & shallot harvest on Harvest Monday.

I also have two additional allium beds with sweet onions, storage onions, perennial bunching onions, potato onions grown from seed and shallots that were also grown from seed.

The Ailsa Craig sweet onions are bulbing up nicely.  To me, they look pretty big – and they are definitely the largest onions in the allium bed right now.  But Ailsa Craig onions are supposed to get huge, so I have a feeling that they are actually on the small side for this variety.

Ailsa Craig Sweet Onion
The Rossa di Milano storage onions are doing very well too.  The Copra onions were the last to start bulbing up and, at this point anyhow, they seem to be the smallest of the lot.

Rossa di Milano Red Storage Onion
Copra Yellow Storage Onion
I am also growing potato onions – I have been meaning to do a post about those for quite some time but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  To make a long story short, I was supposed to get some bulbs from the U.S. but apparently, our government has gotten stricter about what they will allow across the border in the past few years & the border patrol wouldn’t let them through without a phytosanitary certificate.  So what I decided to do was to try potato onion seeds instead.  The only thing is that the seeds do not produce true to type.  They will likely give me a wide range of potato onions – large, small, those that store well & those that don’t – and it will be up to me to select & propagate the best ones.  The onions have not started to bulb up yet, as far as I can see - I'm not really sure what to think about that.
Potato Onions Grown from Seed
I also decided to grow some shallots from seed, just because they looked so good in the William Dam catalogue.  These are getting huge.  Some of them actually look bigger than the storage onions I’m growing.

Camelot Shallots
And lastly we have the perennial bunching onions.  I grew these from seed sown right in the ground in the spring.  They are still fairly small and I don’t see any evidence of division yet.  I am not planning on harvesting any this year as I’m hoping to establish a “clump”.  Well, I’ll probably break down and harvest a few by the end of the season, just to see how they taste, but that will be about it.

He-Shi-Ko Perennial Bunching Onions
As we approach the end of July, I’ve started to look for the tell-tale sign that the bulbing onions are ready to harvest - foliage that flops over.  So far, the onion foliage is still pointing straight up.  I’m hoping that I can harvest the onions fairly soon as I have a flat of broccoli & kale transplants that are all ready to go into these beds.  Since I have never grown onions before, I had to make an educated guess as to when they would be harvested.  And then, based on this guess, I sowed my fall broccoli & kale indoors so that they would be ready to transplant when the onions were pulled.  I think my guess was at least a couple of weeks off which means that my transplants will have to sit around for an extra 2 weeks.  I hope they won't be set back by this.

Next up are the peppers.  I’m quite surprised at how well the Hungarian hot wax peppers have been doing – I counted no less than 16 (!!) peppers that had set on one plant that I had already harvested 3 or 4 peppers from!  In early July, our days were hot and nights were warm and the peppers were putting on a lot of growth.  Unfortunately, our nights lately have been unusually cool and I think this has caused a significant slow-down in how quickly the peppers are maturing on the plants.

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
I always thought that hot peppers would be slower and more difficult to grow than sweet peppers, but I’m beginning to realize that the opposite is, in fact, the case.  So far, I only have three good sized green peppers on ALL of the sweet pepper plants in total, while the hot peppers have already produced at least of three harvestable peppers each.

King of the North Sweet Peppers
And last, but certainly not least, we have the tomatoes.  Most of the indeterminate varieties are approaching 5’ tall!  Quite the difference from last year.
This photo of a Brandywine was taken on July 5, 2013
From the looks of it, I would guess it was no more than 2' tall

This photo was taken on July 16 of this year
That is a 6' trellis that is sunk about 6" into the ground
Just goes to show, even when one year’s results are less than stellar, there is always hope for next year!  I have thinned out a ton of foliage already (believe it or not) and have been actively removing small suckers as I see them for the last couple of weeks.  I think I need to get in there and do a bit more thinning.

I am growing 12 varieties of tomatoes – 10 indeterminate & 2 determinate - all of which I described HEREI also have one plant that my son, J, brought home from a school field trip this past spring.  We call this his mystery tomato because we have no idea what it is.

J's Mystery Tomato
As for the tomatoes I started from seed I have:
Three varieties of cherry tomatoes

Yellow Pear

Aunt Ruby's Yellow Cherry

One paste tomato variety

Speckled Roman
Four varieties of salad tomatoes

Mountain Magic F1

Bloody Butcher



And four varieties of slicing tomatoes

Mountain Merit F1
Cherokee Purple
Costoluto Genovese
In hindsight, I probably should have swapped out one of the salad and slicing tomato varieties for additional paste tomatoes.
Now for the bad news - maybe.  In the past week or so, I have found a few yellowish leaves on a couple of the tomato plants – namely one of the Siberian and Mountain Merit.  And when I say a few, I mean two or three leaves on the entire plant:

Yellowing on a Siberian Tomato Leaf
Both of these are determinates.  My first reaction is that it may be blight but found this to be very odd.  Mountain Merit is one of the few hybrids that is resistant to both early and late blight.  Siberian was the last to develop blight last year & was the best producer out of all the tomatoes I grew (which isn’t saying much - it was such a horrible tomato year).  The majority of the other tomatoes I am growing are heirlooms – I would think that if blight was to develop on the tomatoes, those would be the first to be hit.

Another possibility is drought stress.  I found a great article on differentiating between late blight and other possible problems at Rodale News.  The photos and description for drought stress are consistent with what I am seeing on my plants.  I am using an old soaker hose in the bed where the two plants are located & the coverage it provides isn’t ideal.  The two plants in question are located on two corners of the bed so perhaps they weren't getting as much water as the plants near the middle.

The last few days have been both wet and cool - ugh - not the best combination when it comes to tomato diseases.  Not much I can do about the weather, so I am just sitting tight with my fingers crossed that the recent rains will help the problem (if it's a water issue) and not make it worse (if it's a disease).

Till next time…


  1. This is my first year trying shallots, and so I was glad to see you discuss them. I had no idea when to harvest them....and our gardens are just about at the same stages on everything so I'll follow your lead.
    Everything looks so healthy . I always look forward to the yellow pear toms. They never make it up to the house!!

    1. I'm glad I was able to help out with the timing on harvesting your shallots - I am still, however, not sure when to harvest the single bulbs of the Camelot shallots grown from seed...The catalogue says that they are grown the same way as onions, so I'm still waiting on those to see if their leaves fall over.

  2. Your tomatoes look amazing and I'm jealous of your onions (I grow them all the time but they never get very big). I also used to think marigolds were boring, not sure why as they are one of my favourite colours in the garden now.

    1. The onions are all over the place in size - each variety has some that are bulbing up nicely while others have hardly swelled at all...kind of strange. And the marigolds really do sing in the garden - I can't believe how profusely they bloom!

  3. Great post, lots of information. Everything looks pretty healthy, particularly the tomatoes (the yellow leaf doesn't look like anything to worry about). I like the looks of the Camelot shallots. I'm trying seed shallots this year because I had $20 worth of bulb shallots rot on me over the winter. I'm growing Saffron, a brown skinned shallot and wondering the same thing, when do I harvest them? Same for the onions, I am wondering when will they fall over so I can get them out and something else planted.

    1. When it comes to the onions, I feel like it's a catch 22 - on the one hand, I want them to keep growing so that I have nice big bulbs, but on the other I want to free up the bed for the next planting. The first year of growing something is always filled with so many unknowns. The one thing I do know is that I can't wait for the harvest!

  4. Your veggies look so healthy, love all the tomato varieties that you have. I enjoy growing alliums as well, they are so carefree and bug free, but they don't keep well in our climate, to keep a small supply on hand I have to overwinter some green onions that will bulb up in late spring and early summer and pull those as shallots or small onions, it works out pretty well so far.

    1. It's great that you have found a way to enjoy onions, even with the challenges in your climate. There are so many varieties out there - maybe some would do better in storage for you than others?

  5. I'm growing both Ailsa Craig and Copra too and this year for some reason they are about the same size. Yes the Ailsa is a bit larger, but not by a lot. I'm guessing I'll be harvesting onions in a week or two. A few have started to fall down of the Copras. None of my Redwings show signs of it though. I had to pot up my kale which I'm growing after the onions. I used to grow shallots decades ago, but hated the yield and that I had to save about a third of the harvest to replant. But you grow some from seed and that is an interesting option. I like that they are bigger too as I find shallots small and fiddly in the kitchen.

    1. I think I'm at least a week or two behind you, so that means that I shouldn't expect to harvest the onions for at least 2-3 weeks - ugh - I may have to do some potting up too. The golden shallots are a lot bigger than grey shallots. But the Camelot's from seed are huge - so far, many of them look more like small onions than shallots. It will be interesting to see if they store as well as the golden shallots.

  6. My marigolds are indeed boring. Yours are so full of life and vigor. You give me hope that mine, too, can be great!

    1. Maybe it's the variety? Having never grown them, I just picked one from the seed catalogue randomly - just luck of the draw, really. Definitely don't give up!


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