Monday, July 22, 2019

The Heat, the Rain....and the Skeeters!


Well, hello again.  It’s been an eventful month in both a good way (the Denver fling was amazing!) and not so good way (I was knocked out with the flu for a good chunk of time).  So much for “flu season” (eye roll).  I have never felt so tired and achy before…makes me wonder if I’ve ever had the flu before or just really bad colds.

Echinacea "Cheyenne Spirit" (started from seed a couple of years ago) is doing amazing
...as are the weeds but let's ignore that bit, shall we πŸ˜„

We are now in the midst of the sweltering summer heat which always puts a bit of crimp in how much I do outside.  But there’s an even worse menace this year than the heat, thanks to the very wet weather we’ve been having since spring.  Mosquitos.  I have never seen them as bad as they are this year.  You can’t avoid them - even in the middle of the day, in full sunlight, in the middle of the yard, I’m being bit.  It’s the absolute worst!  I hate putting on bug spray & usually avoid doing so, but it’s at the point where I can only be out there for maybe 10 or 15 minutes before I’m so frustrated I come back inside.  I keep thinking it will get better, but I should face reality…and head to Costco for a bulk pack of spray.

But while I could do with a bit less rain and the ensuing mosquito breeding grounds this creates, many of my plants are very happy.  The cucumber harvest has been steady for a couple of weeks now.  I'm only growing 3 plants this year as usually we are inundated with cucumbers by August.  I'm also the only one that eats pickles at my house, so only one of these is a pickler.  The rest of the trellis is being used for melons and a squash (still waiting for signs of fruit on both of these).

The two slicers I'm growing this year are "Chelsea Prize" and "Summer Dance"

In another bed, I'm growing spaghetti squash for the first time - a bush variety called Tivoli F1.  I should have planted more than one, though, as I've noticed that it's not overly generous with the male flowers.  So far, at least 3 baby squash were not pollinated & have fallen off as none of the male flowers were open at the same time.

One spaghetti squash is maturing - and it looks awesome!  I'll definitely be trying this variety again next year,
but planting 2 or 3 in a bed to get more pollination action happening.

I only have two tomato beds this year and am growing basil down the side of one of them.  I've been doing this for a few years now and it works out perfectly.

Frequent picking is key to keeping basil going over most of the summer.

Last year, I brought some seeds back from Portugal, including a tomato variety called Chico III (which I had never heard of but I see is available here from a few sources).  It's an indeterminate variety so all the fruit will arrive within a relatively short window and it's simply loaded:

Chico III - one of the new varieties I'm trying this year

I've been picking kale and Aspabroc - yum, yum.

Both Red Russian and Red Ursa kale were planted this year

Aspabroc does not produce large heads, but it gives you a ton of
side-shoot type pickings with long stems that are absolutely delicious.

The peppers are doing ok, but not spectacularly and I’m really not sure why.

Pepper bed - doing ok but nothing spectacular.


One guess is that the Mykos I used when I planted them (a leftover batch from last year) has lost it’s effectiveness.  Or perhaps the delay in transplanting them outside this year due to our late start to summer stunted them in some way.

The potatoes are starting to die back a bit (right on schedule) and simply judging by the foliage, they are doing a LOT better than last year.

Since I took this photo something rummaged through the bed and ended up flattening some of the foliage.
On the bright side, they didn't dig too deeply and nothing seems to be dug up.

Looks like I may be harvesting a few potatoes from my compost pile as well:

I'll be digging into this bin very soon to see if there are any baby potatoes under there...

And we had a bumper crop of strawberries this year – over 17 lbs from an 8x4’ bed!  It was a relief to see that the plants had recovered from last year’s irritation snafu.

A bumper crop of strawberries this year means
we now have several bags in the freezer for winter smoothies - hurray!

And some really good news on the garlic.

It's funny how I didn't notice the wonky irrigation line
going off to the side until I saw this photo

You may recall that I completely forgot to net the garlic this year.  Once I remembered, however, I decided to leave it be as I didn’t have netting that was large enough handy (I have to sew two pieces of netting together in order to cover taller crops and the only extra I had available needed mending).  Well, there is very little – practically none, actually – leek moth damage.  Hurray!  I'm wondering if what really attracts them is the onions and since I’ve been covering the onion bed properly for the past couple of years, their numbers have gone down and they have now moved on to greener pastures, so to speak.

Speaking of onions, that’s one veg that I’m concerned about – for some reason, they are not bulbing up like they should be.

The onions should be bulbing up quite a bit by now....

I’m not sure what is going on but I have a couple of guesses.  Firstly, as I already mentioned, we had a VERY late spring this year and this caused a huge delay in getting things into the ground.  The onions didn’t get transplanted until mid-May, 2-3 weeks later than usual.  Another possibility is that I made a mistake when setting up the lights when they were seedlings.  In my latitude, I grow long-day varieties which means that I should set my light timer for onion seedlings to no more than 12 hours per day.  Well, this year I replaced the last of the 3 lights on my grow stand and I may have unintentionally plugged it into the regular timer that leaves the lights on for 16 hours per day.  This would have messed up the seedlings internal clock when it comes to bulbing up.

There's still a good month and a half until I absolutely need to harvest, so I'm not totally giving up on them just yet.  Goes without saying, though, that this is one bed I'll be examining on a daily basis with fingers crossed.

I also planted several beds with dried bean varieties, all of which are doing very well.

The beans look great...the bed, not so much

Forget cropping out the falling apart bed - it's all about reality over here πŸ˜„.  This is one project that's on the list for this year - replacing 2 of the beds that I built 9 years ago (has it been that long??).  These guys have lasted a remarkable length of time considering they were built from standard dimensional lumber.  Even more surprising is that only two of the four original beds seem to be falling apart badly enough to need replacement.  The other two can probably last another year or two.  It would be lovely to get the new beds 100% ready by the end of the year, but chances are that I'll end up building them this year and waiting until next spring to fill them.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

20 comments:

  1. Our potatoes are doing better this year too. We have two onion beds both given the same conditions. One is growing well and the other is hopeless. Mosquitoes love biting me too but at present it’s the ants that are giving he most grief.

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    1. Every year there are mysteries in the garden - why did this plant do so poorly compared to others or from years past? Sometimes I find clues when I compare my notes in different years but often, it's really anyones guess as so many things can affect how a plant grows.

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  2. A great variety of vegetables!
    I am growing 'Burpless Beauty' cucumbers, and they are producing abundantly.
    If my tomatoes were doing as well, I would be doing a happy dance!
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Thanks Lea :) When you are in the midst of a good cucumber year, you know it - they can produce like crazy! Fingers crossed re: your tomatoes. With all the rain we've been getting, I have a feeling we are in for a shorter tomato season as disease will likely set in sooner rather than later.

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  3. So, good and bad...and mostly good, now that you're feeling better. Having the flu during the summer--that doesn't sound fun. Sorry you had to deal with that! Hopefully, you'll cool down soon. The heat (and humidity!) seemed relentless here until Sunday, when we knocked down to "normal" summer weather. I hope that happens for you, too. How fun to try seeds from Portugal--those tomatoes look tasty!

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    1. Every season has its ups and downs - I'm always grateful when the ups outweigh the downs ;). The tomatoes do look good, don't they? Can't wait for that first taste - shouldn't be too much longer! The past couple of days has brought more rain, which has lowered the temperatures...but all that moisture means the mosquitoes are out in full force. Can't seem to win this year!

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  4. It looks as though you could feed an army! I've been plagued by biting/stinging bugs too - spiders, fire ants, and mosquitoes. While fire stings are the most unpleasant, identification of West Nile Virus in nearby Long Beach has me more worried about mosquitoes. I've been relying on one of those silly mosquito deterrents with a fan that attaches to your belt loops but I'm thinking I need to switch to a spray. Supposedly, there are at least 2 species of mosquitoes active in SoCal now, including one that's routinely active during the daylight hours. It's always something...

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    1. West Nile, which has also been found in Southern Ontario, is one of my fears as well. Interesting about the species of mosquito - I have noticed that the ones this year seem smaller than usual (although no less of a nuisance!) I should see if we are also being invaded by a foreign species that, as in your case, is more active during the day. We've tried a few different things to deter mosquitoes like candles, etc. (although I've not heard of the fan gadget), but unfortunately, it seems as if the sprays are by far the most effective. I tackled an overgrown area a few days ago that was literally swarming with mosquitoes - in that a cloud of them would fly up when you disturbed the plants - and I barely noticed a thing with the spray on. Needless to say it was straight into the shower once I got inside!

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  5. Glad you had a good time in Denver and that you're feeling better now, flu is terrible when you get it properly and takes a long time to fully recover from too. Your veggies are looking great and that's good news about the leek moth. Yum, that strawberry looks delicious and what a great haul, your strawberry bed has definitely come into its own this year.

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    1. I'm always thrilled when I see an improvement on past difficulties in the garden. I'm thrilled about the strawberry bed recovery but what really tickles me is the lack of leek moth damage on the garlic as this could mean (hopefully) that from here on in, I don't have to worry about netting the bed. Netted beds are lifesavers when it comes to keeping certain pests at bay but they are also a pain to deal with, especially when it comes to weeding. On less netted bed is a big win :)

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  6. Hello there "Mistress of the Vegetables" ! LOL
    You are an amazing veggie gardener Margaret ;-) ... Funny enough the first plant I grew as a kid was from a garlic clove .. but being just a kid , I would dig it up occasionally just to see how the roots were progressing .. needless to say I have stopped that ? LOL
    Sorry you had the flu with the fling (now that sounds odd eh ? LOL) ..
    That had to be miserable .. I have had some sort of thing happening too but couldn't be sure it wasn't this damn heat wave , which we are having a break from now . IT was actually only 15 this morning (5 AM) !!
    It was like a preview of Autumn which I can NOT wait for !
    I understand your reluctance with the bug spray .. and the frustration .. hard to handle but your veggies are looking amazing and you are gong to have BUMPER crops ! Well done you !!

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    1. Hi Joy and thanks! Ha - I can relate to your garlic story...I've been known to do that as an adult ;)

      Yes - HURRAY for cooler temperatures! It was 18C this morning (have no idea what it was at 5am 'cause I'm not an early bird, apparently ;) and it was sooo refreshing! I'm with you on those autumn temps - I just wish we had a longer spring/fall season with those gorgeous moderate temperatures where you can spend the whole day in the garden and barely feel it...well, other than the usual aches and pains, that is ;)

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  7. A bonus crop of potatoes - that's hard to beat! I grew Aspabroc this spring and it really did well here. I too love the tender stalks. The garlic sure looks healthy from here.

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    1. I really love the Aspabroc. I find it has quite a different flavour than regular broccoli that's almost sweet (which really surprised me!). Can't wait to dig into the compost pile & (hopefully) find some nice baby potatoes :)

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  8. Everything looks very productive and happy! You must build stuff right for those beds to last so long.

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    1. The beds were deceptively easy (and inexpensive) to make - in fact, it was a one person job other than moving them into position. I'm thinking a post on how I make them may be in order soon...

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  9. I'm pleased to read that you had a good time in Denver … although shame about the flu.

    Lovely to see all of your vegetables in your photographs, you do have a good variety.

    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan - Denver was wonderful and so much of what grows there is surprisingly similar what we have here in southern Ontario. One thing I love about garden travels is how you are always surprised by one thing or another.

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  10. Your farm looks excellent! I love that you have potatoes growing out of the compost pile. :o)

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    1. Thanks Tammy - the compost potatoes are a wonderful surprise. Still have to dig them out, but I'm hopeful that we may get a couple of meals from them :)

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