Garden Notes (with pictures!)

I realize it has been awhile since I’ve posted images.  The mosquitoes are dying down a bit–allowing me to stand in one place long enough to take a picture without losing a critical amount of blood.

Today’s projects were mostly about weeding–the onions and the green onions to be exact, plus watering the newly-planted crops (heirloom Marvel of Venice pole beans and dinosaur kale), and planting the last bean crop of the summer along a newly-cleared trellis.

At the top of the new green onion bed that runs the length of the west garden, I had transplanted a few over-wintered leeks to make seed for next year’s crop.

flowering leeks

The new planting also meant I needed to turn the compost pile and dig out some good stuff the amend the bed where the beans would live.  The bean planting I did less than a week ago is breaking ground today-I also sprinkled a little of the finer-grained compost alongside the emerging shoots.

I am finding it really helps to pre-soak the bean seed–not just swirl it around in a jar with the innoculant, but leave it in there for an hour or two to really start swelling up before planting. Of course, this is a great time of year to start beans because the soil is so warm–they sprout within a matter of days and get growing fast.

pole beans gone wildAbove is an image of the first crop of beans I planted this season–Bingo shell beans from Territorial seed. They over-topped their trellis a couple weeks ago and are twining together. I’ve been weaving them into the top of the trellis occasionally so they grow horizontally.

Maybe next year I will create an arch with panels the long way to better support them (if H. lets me do that to his panels).

I have two beds of potatoes in the west garden as well as the new plantings of beans, onions, green onions, and other crops.  There is an amazing difference between them.

Sickly Potatoes

Sickly Potatoes

These are Red French Fingerlings that I’ve been saving and re-planting for a couple years.  Obviously, they have some sort of virus and look absolutely terrible.  If they make any worthwhile spuds, we’ll simply eat all of them, and I’ll order more certified virus-free seed next year if I want to grow this variety again.

Happy Potatoes

Happy Potatoes

And in the same garden, in a bed below and west of the sickly ones (you can actually see the corner of this bed in the upper right hand corner of the “sickly” picture, is this very happy bed of Peruvian Purple fingerlings.

Other happy crops in the garden: my row of broccoli and paste tomatoes (now busting through their cages) in the east garden:

paste tomato and broccoli rows early July 2009Below the broccoli row is a second planting of shell beans and trellised tomatoes. Below that is the eggplant and hot peppers left over from other plantings in the east and west gardens.  It’s amazing how quickly an eggplant can outgrow early flea beetle damage when the weather finally heats up:

eggplant outgrowing damageSee how those lower leaves are shot full of holes?  That all happened in June with the chilly and wet weather.  Once things got warm and sunny later in the month, it burst past that insect-riddled stage and now looks like it will be quite productive and healthy.

If you plant your eggplant in a really sunny and warm location, it can do this, but if you plant in a semi-shady spot, you’ll have flea beetle problems all season (I know this because I made that mistake). Eggplant just wants heat and sun–even the vigorous hybrids.

Other happily productive garden friends that I didn’t plant, but still provide an abundant harvest:

Mulberries

Mulberries

Dill Blossom

Dill Blossom

Some years, my dill isn’t ready when my cucumbers are. This year, it’ll be the other way around, thanks to all the early-sprouting volunteer dill and my late planting of cucumbers.

I also didn’t plant these–H. did.  And he is quite happy with the production of this particular vine:

grapesThe last image is one of a garden helper that I’ve never before been able to catch on camera (I almost said “on film”).

I was re-turning the bed where I took the leeks out a couple days ago, to hasten the decomposition of the grass and weeds, and to break up the clumps a bit.  I turned over a forkful of soil near the straw-mulched edge, and unearthed this little guy:

Five-lined Skink

Five-lined Skink

Usually they are very quick to get back under the mulch–so fast, there’s no way to retrieve the camera and have them there when you get back. Heck, even if you have the camera on you, you have to be really quick. But, I think this particular one is both young and maybe a little dazed at having been unearthed in such a way.

I didn’t hurt him–he skittered off eventually.  I’m very glad I was using my blunt-tined digging fork instead of my hand cultivator or a tiller. And I’m also glad that my well-mulched garden provides such excellent habitat for the skinks, and they in turn provide me with a bit of insect and slug control.

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