The tomatoes are finally producing loads of fruit – enough to start some canning. Only problem is I’ve never canned tomatoes before so there is a bit of a learning curve…..and a supply issue. My plan was to can them in 1 litre (1 quart) jars and then I realized that the pot I used for canning some jam is nowhere near tall enough to adequately cover the larger jars with water. So I have ordered a canning pot from Amazon – and now I wait.
In the meantime, I thought it was high time to do another update on how all of the beds are doing.
First up is the squash. To backtrack a bit, I am growing 4 types of bush squash, 2 plants of each. Three varieties are summer squash, one is a winter squash. So far, one of the “Sure Thing” zucchini – the largest plant – has produced the majority of the summer squash. The other Sure Thing is about a quarter of the size and has produced exactly – zero.
The “Early Prolific” yellow squash is
proving to be, ironically enough, neither early nor prolific. It has only produced one squash on each of the
two plants and both of these were harvested last week. The “Dark Green” zucchini is even worse, with
one zucchini harvested last week from one plant and none from the other. These plants are in the main bed area beside a row of tomatoes.
|"Sure Thing" Summer Squash|
I know that I am probably planting them too
close together (they are spaced 24” apart).
But the thing is I don’t want to waste room as they never seem to grow
that big – or maybe they don’t grow that big because I am planting them too
closely. I’m hesitant to give them
more of my limited space, however, simply to be disappointed.
|"Early Prolific" summer squash in the forefront|
& one of the "Dark Green" at the top right corner
I am actively hand pollinating the squash and have always thought that my issues with lack of pollination were due to insufficient pollinators. But I’m coming to realize that it may all stem from small plants with few flowers. Numerous times when I went out in the morning, paintbrush in hand ready to pollinate, I found one or two female blossoms open, but no male blossoms – I’m guessing that the number of blooms would increase in proportion to the size of the plant. On a positive note, many times I have seen bees deep inside the open blossoms, often with their little butts sticking up in the air – they seem to stay inside the blossom for a huge amount of time, so obviously they do love them.
Next year, I may go a totally
different route. I’m thinking of planting the squash in straw bales, a method that seems
to be gaining popularity. This would not
only free up one of the beds, but then I could also try one or more of the
vining varieties and simply let it sprawl wherever I decide to place the bale. Hopefully sourcing straw bales won't be too difficult.
|Bee Inside Squash Blossom|
Now on to my one vining squash - Zucchetta Tromboncino. I just LOVE this guy, even though I have only harvested one squash so far, but what a squash it was. I let it get quite big – 16” long & 746 grams (1.6 lbs!), but it was still beautifully tender. I’m definitely keeping this variety in the rotation. And another plus? No squash vine borer, even though the plants were uncovered during the entire season. Win win!
|Baby Zucchetta Tromboncino|
The first “gold nugget” winter squash has just changed colour and there is one more just starting to develop on the other bush.
You can see how pathetic my Gold Nugget plants are - I didn't even have to move any leaves out of the way to get that picture....sigh. And definitely not the plethora of squash I see when I google this variety:
I have not grown winter squash before
and, considering my track record with squash in general, I’m happy with the two that are maturing. Better than none, right?
|"Gold Nugget" Winter Squash|
|This image is from Seeds of Change|
All of the squash plants now have Powdery Mildew, some worse than others. I have been spraying them with a milk spray about every week or two which I think has helped. Our weather has been cool and wet for so long now (since the beginning of July) that I have a feeling these plants would have already bit the dust were it not for the milk spray.
On to cucumbers. The lemon cucumbers are awesome. They flower like crazy, which the pollinators love, and for this reason alone I would likely include one of these in the cucumber bed even if I wasn’t a fan of the cukes – which I most definitely am. They are refreshing and crisp and I find them to be quite the treat.
The Garden Sweet cucumbers are also doing very well – for me, that is. Nothing compared to the pounds of cucumbers that are being harvested by other bloggers, but I’m quite happy. As I’m only beginning to learn the ropes when it comes to preserving, an overabundance at this point would be a bit too stressful.
|"Garden Sweet" Cucumbers|
Suyo Long is lagging behind the rest, but I still get a cucumber here and there from it. On the plus side, I think the lemon cukes and borage in the bed has significantly helped this one in terms of pollination as I have only had a couple that were not pollinated completely. Last year, every cuke had to be hand pollinated.
The Camelot shallots were harvested a
couple of weeks ago. I made a bit of a
goof on the onion bed around that time. I
was on the lookout for rain once the shallot tops had fallen over and sure
enough, a couple of days later, we did get quite a bit of rain, off and on. Well, I didn’t want the shallots or onions, for that matter, to get drenched
at this stage. I was certain that the onions were also approaching maturity. So I draped a sheet of light plastic over the bed when a bad
storm was imminent.
|"Suyo Long" Cucumber in the Forefront|
Big mistake. What looks to be a light billowy sheet of
plastic on top of the stiff onion tops turns into a fifty pound weight when the
rain comes down in torrents.
|Onions - Ready for the Storm|
|Huge Rain Puddles Squashing the Onions|
My mistake was in not providing any support for the plastic…something which I quickly remedied by putting in hoops. But the damage had been done – a few of the Copra and at least ¼ of the Rossa di Milano onion stems were bent as a result.
A large portion of the Rossa di Milano tops fell over last week and I ended up harvesting these as we were expecting even more rain over a few days. The rain has been intermittent lately, with sunny periods in between. I didn’t want to bother with covering the beds as they would have baked when the sun came out and it was just too much work to cover and uncover them 2 or 3 times each day.
|Rossa di Milano Onions from this past Harvest Monday|
Almost all of the remaining Rossa di Milano and most of the copras started to fall over early this week, so I bent down their tops and the plan was to harvest them by next week. However, with another two full days of rain in the forecast, I ended up pulling them a couple of days ago.
The perennial bunching onions are getting larger, and there is finally evidence of some division on one of them.
|He-Shi-Ko Perennial Bunching Onion|
If you look closely on the right hand side of the onion,
you can see a new division starting
And the Ailsa Craigs are getting bigger – one of them is downright huge. So exciting, although I have no idea how I’m going to use up such a huge onion. The stems on a couple of them had fallen over and these were also harvested earlier this week. I am still waiting on the rest.
|"Ailsa Craig" Onions|
The one in the middle is humongous!! Can't wait to weigh it.
A couple of the potato onions have also fallen over, the rest are still standing tall. Not much seems to be happening above ground on most of them but I do see evidence of bulbs under the soil so we shall have to wait and see once they are harvested.
One of the few with the bulb exposed aboveground
"Cherokee Trail of Tears" on the Left; "Golden of Bacau" on the Right
|"Golden of Bacau" Romano Beans|
|"Cherokee Trail of Tears" Beans|
|"Munchkin" Broccoli & "Dwarf Green Curled" Kale|
So that is what has been happening in the four new beds on the south side of the yard. You may have noticed that I have not fenced off these beds yet. I simply haven’t gotten around to it and they have not sustained any damage from rabbits. The same thing happened when I built the first four beds 3 years ago – the first year, there was no damage; the second year, my crops were bunny food within days of my transplants being set outside. I’m hoping to put the fencing up this fall so that I am set for next spring.
Till next time…☺