Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good Day Sunshine! A Happy Garden Update

I am happy to see that I haven't posted a blog update in a few weeks....happy because the sun has finally decided to shine on Halifax and I've had better things to do! Environment Canada has determined that we are in the midst of our first official summer heat wave- 6 weeks later than average!

While I've been outdoors enjoying the great weather, my blog has been somewhat neglected. The garden, on the other hand, certainly has not. It has finally been receiving what it so desperately needed. I am very optimistic after a nice stretch of 30 degree weather, that I may actually have a harvest this year. Not a bumper crop, mind you, but a crop none the less.

So far, I have been enjoying the odd tomato or two, as well as a few salads. Everything is growing like gang busters. Time for the update:

I've been picking the basil on a regular basis, and adding it to various dishes. I'm amazed at how quickly it grows after just a couple of days of heat. I hope that soon, I'll have enough to make at least one batch of pesto!

The green pole beans in box #2 have started to grow beyond the trellis. To accommodate the ever expanding vines, I have attached a length of jute twine to the top, and stretched it across to the closest tree. Hopefully I'll be able to train the vines along the string so it can continue to grow. I have started to see a lot of blossoms sprout lately so hopefully the beans will grow soon- at least before the first fall frost! Update: today i found the first bean...just a few millimetres thick and about 5 cm long...it's a start!

I have not had a lot of luck with the "Beurre de Rocquencourt" yellow bush beans, located in the big box. Apparently they do not respond to massive amounts of water. I am now on my third (!) attempt at growing these things. The last planting was just last week and already they are growing better than my previous two attempts, which eventually died off after a few weeks of non-stop rain. There were one or two survivors, which are recovering nicely and starting to produce blossoms.

Next up, is the Costata Romanesca zucchini. I have to say that I've been a little disappointed with it's growth up to this point. I have read so much about how quickly zucchini grows- so much so that you can't even give the stuff away. In preparation of a bumper zucchini harvest, I have been saving a multitude of recipes so i'd have them on hand.

I've had to re-adjust my expectations (for this year at least). I am hopeful I will see at least one or two zucchini...maybe enough for a batch zucchini chocolate muffins...or a nice zucchini bread. Until then, there is always the Halifax Farmers Market- a good source for local organic produce. I was a little alarmed a couple of weeks ago, when the first blossoms fell off and didn't seem to do anything. After a little research, I have learned that there are both male and female blossoms, and it is the females that actually produce the zucchini.

In an ideal world, the friendly neighbourhood bees will cross pollinate from the males to females resulting in fruit. If the bees aren't doing their job, you can also do a manual pollination with a small paint brush. I haven't tried this myself, but I am well read on technique if the need arises. It seems that the first blossoms are usually male, and will drop off, but once the plant gets more established, the females will start to bloom. The good news is that I think I finally have a girl! And even better, as I was snapping the picture of it this morning, I caught a bee in the act of doing what it does best.

I think that the cucumbers grow in a similar manner to zucchini...ie a little male/female cross pollination action. And look- a little cute baby cucumber is growing (I think):

In the greens department, I have been harvesting semi-regularly from the salad table. Hopefully I'll be able to continue to do this into the fall. I planted some spinach again. The idea is to have it ready for fall, as well. Spinach, I have read, likes the cooler weather. Fingers crossed attempt number two will be successful.

The swiss chard has been ULTRA slow to grow, but is now starting to come around.

The Bell Pepper have started to blossom. One of the blossoms fell off yesterday, and in it's place it looks like there may just be a pepper starting to form.
And now for the stars of the vegetable garden world- the tomatoes. After a somewhat difficult start (too much rain, not enough sun, mysterious 'beheading'), the tomatoes have rallied and are starting to bloom and form fruit. I have harvested a couple of tigerella, one earli rouge and the odd sweet cherry (is it just me, or does each cherry tomato ripen one at a time- maddening as I really just want to add a handful to my salad). Since the latest heat wave, I have noticed a multitude of new blossoms, which if it keeps up will make me happy.

Pictured below are 1. Tigerella 2. Earli-rouge in the Self Watering Container 3. Friend or Foe? I'm thinking foe...now deceased.


Dillweed...just begging to be added to a chicken noodle soup:

In the forecast this week- more sun and heat. I must get out and enjoy it while I can. Hurricane Bill is making it's way up the coast and they are predicting we'll get it's reminants as early as Sunday.

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