Friday, July 25, 2014

Garden Chores

Black Swallowtail laying eggs. It's top wings wouldn't stop moving so they are blurred while the rest of butterfly was still.

Every morning I go out into the garden to do the chores. The first things I see are the melons and sweet potatoes. They are always trying to escape their beds, so I turn the ends of the plants inwards to keep them under control. Or at least relatively under control. Then it is on to the covered zucchini plants. I lift the covers and fertilize any female blossoms I find. Usually there is one. I haven't been very successful in getting them to set though. Maybe one in three. One more week and the cover comes off. Then the bees can do their work.

The cucumbers are just coming on strong now. I tie them up and make sure they stay on the trellis. They really want to escape. Today I saw the first signs of wilt in the patch. No! I cut that branch off way down. I'm hoping it doesn't spread. I'm very surprised to see it. I've only see one cucumber beetle so far this year. Usually wilt hits a bit later. I've gotten a few cukes in dribs and drabs over the last week, but yesterday the inundation started.

So I cut up the cukes and tossed them into the brine I made the other day. I picked yet more today so I'll make up a large cucumber salad for a BBQ that I'm going to tomorrow. I'll probably bring coleslaw too and a jar of the pickles.

The beans are right next to the cucumbers so I check those over and pick any that are big enough. I make sure the asparagus beans aren't being taken over by their more vigorous neighbors. They don't seem to want to branch very much. I do pinch all the beans out when they reach the top of the trellis to get them to branch. But those beans are such slow growers that they have just gotten there. I've also had some rust and some kind of spotting disease. So I ignore the beans when they are wet. And I've been cutting off any affected leaves to try to keep it from spreading. Last year I didn't do this and the rust spread very quickly.

Then it is on to the corn. I've been hand pollinating these every other day since I started to see silks. This just involves shaking each stalk early in the morning. With my last variety I would see the pollen fall down, but this variety doesn't seem to put out very much pollen. I hope they all get fertilized.

And there are a lot of ears to fertilize. In past years I would occasionally get more than one ear. But this variety (Honey Select) seems to put out two ears most of the time and I've even seen three. In other varieties the second ear really doesn't mean much. I would be tiny and not well filled out. It would often be tossed as useless. Will this one put out useful second ears? I hope so. In addition the tillers have male blooms. That is the first time I've seen that happen. This corn likes to flower.

My other patches of corn are getting huge too. And they weren't really protected from the wind. I find that corn falls over easily in my raised beds. So the windward sides of one patch was staked. I don't have enough stakes for all my corn, but if those stay upright, they will protect the other corn from falling. I have one other patch but it is partially protected from a nearby tall row cover so I'm hoping it will stay upright.

The squash runs below the corn. Not voluntarily though. So I have to keep it turned so it will cover that area. I need the squash to really take over under the corn as its prickly branches will keep the raccoons out of the corn. The first male flowers have bloomed. I've got a week or two before I'll see any females, but it won't be long. I hope I get a lot of squash this year. The only variety I'm growing is Waltham Butternut. I'm hoping to save seed. All the other years I've had germination problems and had to plant Early Butternut close by so I couldn't save seed.

I noticed that one of my fall bean plants was starting to run, so I got the trellis up finally. I always put the poles in when I plant, but the cross bars and the string went up today. I put up one string per plant.

And as always I weed when I see them. But occasionally things get out of control - especially under those row covers. Yesterday I decided I HAD to weed the onions. The crab grass was about to bloom and there was a nightshade plant that was huge. I got out the gloves for that one. Some of the crabgrass was close to the onions and was huge. Mostly I could pull it with only minimal disturbance, but one red onion was accidentally pulled. Like the Ailsa Craig onions, the red onions are a bit smaller this year I think. Maybe not though. I'll find out when they are all harvested and weighed as I grew the same amount of each variety this year and last.


  1. I didn't realize that you could pinch out the top on pole beans to create size shoots - does this apply to all pole beans or only certain varieties?

    1. Oops - That should have read "side shoots"!

    2. They all do it. Or at least all the ones that I've tried.

  2. It all looks really productive and i love that lovely butterfly

  3. Well, at least that sort of chore is productive - unlike housework!

  4. Looks like your harvest is really coming in now. Love the butterfly. Have seen a few in my yard. Just love them. Nancy