In honour of the upcoming harvest moon, I thought I’d look back on some of the harvests of the season:
It’s rainy and cool out there and forecasting more rain for the weekend. Feeling an ominous air of summer coming to a close and I haven’t made it to any Farmer’s Markets yet. Or the beach. Feeling reminiscent and as a result I’m thinking back on the successes and failures of the garden this season.
My favorite new addition this year was the collard greens. My sister really likes them so I bought seeds especially for her. What a beautiful and tasty green! The stuff at my local grocery store is ginormous and tough while the collards in the garden were tender and non-mutant. The kale was pretty good too but the collards seem to do better. Kale is supposed to be better in the fall, and tastier after a light frost, while collard greens tolerate the heat better. We’ll see how they do in the fall planting.
Even though I only got one measly piece of fruit from the plant and it took up a heck of a lot of space, I’m still glad I tried zucchini this year. I’m hoping there’s still time for the new plant to make more fruit before it starts to get too cold.
Luuved the surprise of the multi-headed sunflowers this year. They are looking pretty atrocious in the garden right now as they are coming to the end of their life cycle. The cucumbers are pulling them down as well, but I can’t take them out until I can figure out another support for the cucumbers.
The cucumbers were probably the biggest surprise for me, in the sense that for the longest time my brother and I thought the plant wasn’t doing anything at all. Turns out all the fruit was hiding underneath its large leaves. What a joy to come across even a tiny cucumber!
I was probably the only one in my family that enjoyed the chives this year. My sister complained that they were bitter and tough, but I quite liked the taste. I like to sprinkle it onto my meals for a nice onion-y kick. Did I mention these are garlic chives?! I’d forgotten. Apparently they are much tastier than regular chives.
I came to really appreciate basil this year, not only for its tastiness but also for its hardiness. It did really well in the garden, probably better than anything else. And it’s still doing well!
This exercise has totally cheered me up. Looking forward to some sun!
Taking a break from the Olympics to post while enjoying the gentle rain and thunderstorm rolling through the city. Thunderstorms are so moving. Feeling the vibration of the thunder as it rumbles through your body. The calming feeling of the world going dark for a little while, as if reminding us to take a step back from our everyday lives and recognize that there are greater things going on in the world. The cycle of nature. Beautiful and humbling.
We picked 4 large cucumbers on our visit to the garden yesterday. It’s always a surprise to find the large fruit hiding underneath their leaves. Marketmore cucumbers are field cucumbers. I was expecting English cucumbers, probably because that’s what I buy in the grocery store.
These tasted a lot better than the first one we ate a few days ago. The skin was nice and crisp, not tough and rubbery at all. I was especially concerned about the fat one we picked (above) because the rubbery-skinned one from a few days ago was also fat and stubby. My brother wanted to leave it to get bigger like the one below. I was concerned that if we left it, it wouldn’t be there when we came back.
Last week after we pulled up the borage plant, I planted another seed in the centre of the square in hopes that a new one would grow and create flowers that would attract more pollinators. This is what I saw this week:
I know I didn’t plant all these borage plants. Where the heck did they come from? I know borage self-seeds. I’m not sure how this is done as I’ve never seen the seeds on the plant, but that could be the cause of this phenomenon. Last week I did see an ant pulling around a borage seed in this area. I’ve read that they tend to farm things. Could they have caused this? Anyway, I pulled up all but the one in the centre. Incidentally, the plant with the 4 jagged leaves may be a strawberry. My brother planted one as an experiment.
I pulled up the last of the beets (I think I should have pulled them up a while ago) and planted some carrots and spinach in its place. As I did this I realized that I didn’t have a lot of empty squares left to plant more beets, spinach, and kale. Then I realized something worse – I have no more beet seeds!!! Have to get to Urban Harvest. They are at the Wychwood Barns and Dufferin Grove farmer’s markets this time of year. I can’t make it to Dufferin Grove ‘cuz I’m working so I’ll have to visit Wychwood next weekend.
Check out the results of deadheading. What a difference a week can make:
And even though, as you can see, there are quite a few brown leaves in the background, the tomatoes are coming along fine.
I still have to remember to pick off the suckers. It’s really hard because I have them growing to close together. Sometimes (most of the time) I can’t follow one branch from mainstem to it’s tip because it gets lost amongst the other branches.
Last Sunday we pulled up both of the zucchini plants in the plot. Reasons we decided to do this:
My dad seemed to think that I should have left them alone, that the plants would heal themselves. But I thought why not start over while there was still some summer left. We planted a few seeds and after a couple of thunderstorms this week my brother told me today that he saw some sprouts coming up. This time I won’t make the mistake of letting more than one plant grow in the space in order to make sure there’s good circulation and no critters setting up shop around the plant and maybe I’ll reap more than one measly zucchini in the next few weeks.
The last few blossoms ended up on top of a pita pizza:
When I was washing one of the zucchini blossoms in the garden, a cucumber beetle fell out. I was surprised! I’d only ever seen earwigs hiding in them. It made me wonder if they had caused the damage to the base of the plant and if some had invaded and were slowly doing damage on the inside. It didn’t matter anymore, but I was pissed thinking about it. So as it struggled to keep from drowning, I squashed that sucker to oblivion. I also squashed a beetle on my neighbour to the North’s cucumber plant. Satisfying.
The calendula that were looking dead when I transferred them were still looking pretty miserable last Sunday. However I gently tugged on the plants and found that they had taken solid root. My brother experimented with pulling off the dead flower heads (deadheading) and he says he’s noticed that fresh blooms are appearing! Deadheading really works!
My brother brought home our first marketmore cucumber and red pear tomatoes yesterday.
The skin of the cucumber was tough and rubbery but it still tasted good. I wonder if the thunderstorms and resulting uneven watering caused it to get so fat. The tomatoes were nice. Can’t wait for more!
Last night I’d been reading that some of the brown spots on the tomato leaves may be early signs blight. So this morning I sprayed the leaves as well as those of the zucchini with some diluted milk and poured the rest into the soil. I read about this idea in the book You grow girl by Gayla Trail (it’s also on her website of the same name). Milk is apparently a potent antifungal. Who knew?
In one of her posts, Gayla uses spoiled milk but says in response to her post on the subject that regular milk can be used as well. My family drink a lot of milk (I only really crave it when I have cookies) so it rarely goes bad. I also went a bit crazy with removing suckers, accidentally removing some that had flowers on them. Flowers that would have become tomatoes. My brother was not impressed.
Continuing with tough love, as planned, I removed the nine calendula flowers crowding the zucchini. The space was a housing tons of earwigs and a cucumber beetle! I’m so glad I removed them if only to find this out. Earwigs are helpful in the garden, getting rid of debris, but they can also attack your plants. And the cucumber beetle will harm your curcurbits (ie. gourds such as squash and cucumbers).
I was so happy to see them scatter when I pulled out the calendula. I not only improved the circulation around the zucchini, but I also took away a pest hiding place. Yes! Hopefully the zucchini will recover and start to make fruit.
We easily removed the giant sunflower from the front of the plot and I planted 4 of the calendula in its place, 2 where the carrots were planted next to the sunflower, and 3 next to the cornflowers, which are finally starting to bloom. I was going with the idea of 4 plants per square (it seemed like logical spacing). This plant is very delicate! Several leaves broke off as I planted them, making a hollow crunching sound like snapping off a piece of celery.
Saw this cool bug that looked like a leaf. I did a Google search for “insect that looks like a leaf” and came up with a katydid. I wonder if that’s what this is:
Harvested mostly carrots today and a few more zucchini blossoms. The carrots were pretty good and I had the blossoms on my pita pizza. They had disintegrated when I washed them with my harvest from yesterday. I have tons to basil and I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not a fan of pesto. I might just them to my green smoothie.
This cucumber did not need my help. It scaled the nearby sunflower to become the tallest plant in the plot. Good job and great companion planting advice (see July 5th visit)! I’ve seen at least 3 baby cucumbers on my 4 plants. It doesn’t sound like much, but to see any is fabulous. Things are looking up!
In my Hot and Humid post, I said I was looking forward to the results of the rain that happened last Sunday afternoon. I expected that the garden would flourish. I was not prepared to hear my brother come home Monday morning and say, “the tomatoes and zucchini are dying.” What?! It wasn’t until I made it up there Wednesday night that I understood what he meant. Many of the tomato leaves and some zucchini leaves had turned yellow.
My neighbour to the north said it was probably nothing as it was common for the bottom leaves to become yellow as they weren’t receiving enough sun. The leaves seemed pretty high up to me. He observed some yellow leaves on his plants as well and said he would ask his tomato-expert friend. Later that evening I received an email from him saying that the friend advised that it was probably “plant stress due to varied watering” – not enough, which he told me was causing the shriveled leaves, then too much on Sunday, and then a new pattern now. He suggested letting up on the watering for a few days to see what happens and that if that didn’t work, it might mean something else. He also suggested I tie up my tomato plants to prevent them from being damaged in future rains. I didn’t have any twine, so I used the plastic bag that held the eggshells I put down and tied up one branch that was hanging out of the plot.
The yellowing didn’t seem so bad this morning, and my brother had continued with watering once a day in the morning despite my neighbour to the north’s suggestion. As my brother watered and I harvested mostly basil, we chatted with our neighbour to the east. I complimented him on the string work he had done with his beans. It was like a work of art.
I tied up the borage plant that was shading my basil and parsley and we began to tie the tomatoes to their stakes. I noticed that at least one of the tomato plants had more fruit that were quite healthy looking. My brother seems to think that some look like they might be changing to a lighter green/yellow colour. Could we have some yellow pear soon?
We chatted about the importance of air circulation for preventing diseases. I’d been reading that powdery mildew in zucchini plants could be caused by high humidity and poor air circulation. My neighbour to the north had white spots on his zucchini, but his are in cages and they were properly spaced so I ruled that his problem was due to the humid weather. My problem was definitely overcrowding. Coupled with the humid weather, I was setting the plants up for trouble. So I instilled some serious tough love and removed the basil plants that were hiding under some of the leaves and removed some of the zucchini leaves that were looking pretty poorly as my neighbour to the east suggested.
Sadly, I knocked off one of the few tiny zucchini and now it seems there is only one left among the many male flowers. Damn.
After detaching them from the nearby tomato and nasturium, we trailed two of the four cucumber plants up a stake (the other two had been climbing the nearby sunflower, which was OK). We noticed that we had some cucumbers after all! I hope they make it.
After some tough love and general maintenance, the garden is looking much better and I’m feeling more confident that there’s better air circulation. Tomorrow morning we’re going to transplant the calendula flowers that are also hidden under the zucchini leaves to another part of the plot. The flowers have been struggling and dying off.