Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Garden Pests, Garden Success, And The Start Of Tomato Season

I've started posts, in my head, a dozen times over the past two weeks.  But then life.  Damn if it doesn't get in the way of oh so many good intentions.

But I want to keep these memories so let me see how efficiently I can talk about the past few weeks.  So first up, the garden.

The good is that the garden is really starting to take off.  Things just sort of come to life in July and August in a big way and I love it so dearly!  Nearly every one of my tomato plants has at least one tomato on it already, many with large clusters.  This pleases me to no end, even though blight is bound to be out of control this year with all the rain.  I'm as on top of it as I can possibly be and I am determined to get a great harvest once again!

The bad are the pests.  For the first year in ages, the damn woodchuck isn't the big issue.  Instead, it's all the bugs and slugs {aided by the damp weather}.  And I honestly just cannot keep up.  All of my brassicas were taken down this year so no broccoli or cauliflower or Brussels sprouts for me.  Less than two weeks after planting my squash plants out, 2/3 were eaten and I've seen at least one with squash vine borer.  Not a good sign of things to come as it's still so early in the season.

I love spiders.  I mean, not on me.  I don't want to hold one.  But in the garden, they are a welcome friend any hour of the day.  They eat things that eat my pants.  

Last year at the end of the garden season, I moved several dinky little leeks to a side corner of my garden, with hopes that they would grow bigger and more delicious this year.  And they did grow, however, the wacky hot-cold-wet weather confused them and they started to bolt {when a plant bolts it puts out a flower or flowers, which produce seeds, as a way of preserving it's genetics...nature is pretty stinking amazing}.  The problem with plants bolting is that the energy goes into the flower and seed production instead of the vegetable, making them taste bitter.  So I pulled most of the leeks early to enjoy in a meal.

But left one to do it's thing.

And I have zero regrets.

Look at how magical this big leeks looks as it forms a flower head!  If you zoom in, you can see that the big flower is actually composed of hundreds of teeny tiny individual flowers, each of which contain one black seed.  

In case you're just dying for a list of what's going well this year, here it is...

Strawberries.  Rock Stars.  After so few last year- less than a dozen- I had red juice running down my face as I shoveled them in this year.  What a fun and unexpected surprise!

Potatoes.  Or at least I assume.  They're under the ground so you never truly know until you dig them up.  But all signs point to spuds.

Tomatoes.  I've already pulled one plant out due to blight.  It will be a bad year for it, surely.  It's soil born and when it rains, the spores transfer from the soil to the leaves.  I heavily mulch and prune but in the end, it will be unavoidable altogether.  BUT...I think I can starve it off long enough to get a nice harvest anyway.  Which is all I really care about!

Sweet Potatoes.  Or again...I assume.  That whole under the ground business.  

Herbs.  Even if you don't have a green thumb, you can grow herbs.  They are so hardy.

Garlic.  I pulled my first head last week to test readiness and plant to pull more this weekend.  It's been a delightful journey since ordering them in October and planting them in November to starting to harvest them now in July!

A view of my main row of tomatoes.  I forget now how many I have planted but my guess is about 30! 

And finally, my Shasta Daisies are putting on such a sweet show.  As they always do.  Such happy little flowers that bring everyone so much joy!

A funny side note that I realized yesterday is that I am the only person in my community garden growing flowers.  And I don't have that many growing {Shastas, Sunflowers, zinnias, and that big ole leek}.  There used to be a lot of gardeners that grew flowers for enjoyment and cutting.  But the dynamics of the garden have completely changed for the worse over the years and I am somehow the only one growing a single flower.  As I am more of an edible vs ornamental gardener, this is kind of a sad realization.  

If you're growing anything this season, how has it been going for you?  I've been so frustrated by pests but am more hopeful these days seeing things start to prosper!


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