Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Fall veggies

Started some more cool weather crops this weekend, hopefully with enough time for them to get in the ground and be ready before really cold weather shows up.

one 4-pack Kohlrabi Superschmelz (KH348)
one 4-pack Lettuce The Redder the Better mix (LT443)
one 4-pack Monument Chinese Cabbage (OV572)
one 1 Qt. Sweet Dumpling Delicata (SQ822)

I've heard that squash and cucumber can be tricky to start, and they were for me. My first squash didn't come up. My two 1 qt. pots of cucumber all came up but all damped off within 2 weeks. It's almost too late now, but I'm trying one last time anyway.

Stopped by the garden plot last night and had some ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes - our favorite variety.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Physiological problems

I'm starting to see some more problems with the tomatoes. Physiological diseases are not spread from plant to plant and only affect the original plant. They are caused by environmental conditions. Half of my 8 plants have been stricken with leaf roll for weeks. This causes nearly all the leaves on the plant to cup upwards or roll up completely. This is a moisture related problem that happens most often during periods of "cool, rainy weather". Sounds like our early summer. Apparently it doesn't have any effect on production, and sometimes they will unroll after poor conditions subside, so I'm not worried about it.

Leaf roll on a Stupice plant.

A more serious problem I'm seeing on some plants is blossom end rot. Fruits develop black sunken lesions on the end opposite the stem. It's caused by a calcium deficiency. The most common cause is inadequate moisture or cooler temperatures during blossom setting which inhibits calcium uptake to the rapidly growing end of the fruit. In my case, planting early in cooler, slightly heavy soil that probably doesn't have the best drainage was most likely the cause. Usually only the first set if fruits are affected.

This Cherokee purple fruit has blossom end rot and cat-facing.

My last issue is leaves with purple undersides or purple veining. This is a phosphorus deficiency. I used a 5-5-5 fertilizer at transplanting time and have since side-dressed with a low nitrogen, high phosphorus fertilizer, so it is present in the soil. Soils with low pH (like clay soils) tend to hold on to phosphorus and not release it for plants, so when I prepared the bed in the spring I amended with lime to raise the pH, so that shouldn't be an issue either. The only other cause is cool soil and air temperatures. I'm starting to see a trend here!

Hopefully, warm weather for the end of July through August will help the plants overcome all these issues.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vegetable Review

Vegetable: Lettuce

Variety: Buttercrunch

Seed Co: Territorial LT392

Description: Crispy and crunchy, very light textured. Semi-heading. Great for sandwiches and fresh eating.

Sown: 3/15/08

Transplanted: 4/17/08

Germination: good, very slow comparatively, took about 12 days to fully germinate

First Harvest: 5/25/08

Days to maturity: Stated: 48 Actual: 40-50

Held in field/length of harvest: Was good eating from May 25 through July 5, or about 5 weeks

Problems: Very attractive to slugs, I had to put Sluggo down once a week to keep them from getting eaten too much

Results: Great spring lettuce, held for a very long time without bolting. I probably planted too much at one time, and should have split my indoor sowing into two groups 3 weeks apart. I’ll be planting more soon for fall and winter harvest.

Transplanted at four weeks old under plastic during a cold month of April.

5 weeks later just big enough to start cutting.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vegetable Review

Vegetable: Snap Pea

Variety: Mega

Seed Co: Territorial PE629

Description: 3-4” long, thick-walled, stringless, edible pods on dwarf 30” non-climbing vines.

Sown: March 6

Transplanted: April 5

Germination: very good, 5 days

First Harvest: June 24

Days to maturity: Stated: 55 Actual: 100

Held in field: 2 weeks

Problems: Long to mature - this one took about 100 days from germination to harvest. When they did mature, they produced only half as heavily as the same amount of snow peas nearby. This "enation resistant" variety did not resist much - leaves were yellowing and flowers dropping a few weeks before the snow peas.

Results: The peas were sweet, very crisp and very juicy, but seemed to lack flavor. I'll be trying a different variety this fall.

June 14: Just about ready.

July 1: Enation sets in.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vegetable Review

Vegetable: Snow Pea

Variety: Oregon Sugar Pod II

Seed Co: Territorial PE624

Description: 3-5” crisp green pods on dwarf, non-climbing 36” vines

Sown: March 6, indoors

Transplanted: April 5

Germination: very good

First Harvest: June 17

Days to maturity: Stated: 70 Actual: 90

Held in field/length of harvest: 3 weeks

Problems: Succumbed to enation (according to Steve Solomon) before 2nd round of flowers could set pods fully

Results: Matured later due to abnormally chilly May weather which slowed growth. Produced twice as heavily as Mega snap peas. Crisp, juicy, stringless pods were great fresh or stir fried. Stronger “pea” flavor than snaps. Good eating even when peas were allowed to swell up.


Fall crops

This is my first attempt at fall crops. From what I've read, the northwest has the perfect fall and early winter weather to accommodate a second round of most spring crops. Planting in mid-late summer, however, requires a little more thought than spring plantings. If, like me, your garden is not in your backyard and you don't want to go there every day, keeping seed moist and getting it to germinate outside is difficult. I moved my seed heating mat and covered flats out on the back porch and will be starting fall seedlings outside, then transplanting. As the days get shorter and the sun's path starts to move closer to the horizon, its' intensity diminishes and the amount of growing energy available to plants is less. This must be accounted for when planning seed starting or you could get caught by frost with immature crops. The first frost date is used to calculate when vegetables need to be finished by, unless they are frost tolerant or cold hardy veggies, or if they will grown under cover when weather gets cold. There's lots more to think about as well.

This weekend I started some seed for fall crops:

four 4" pots Cascadia Snap Pea
one 4 pack Fall Blend Broccoli
one 4 pack Early Cabbage
two 1 qt. Cucumber Bush Slicer
one 1 qt. heirloom Delicata Squash

I'll be starting lots more seed and trying to sow some outside for fall and winter harvest in the next few weeks.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weeked update

Peppers have really done well after transplanting. I expected a little lag as the weather was really hot and sunny when I transplanted but they have continued growing and the fruit have easily doubled in size in a week! This is the advantage of proper hardening off for indoor sown and grown seedlings: a week of acclimating to days outside and nights inside/outside in the cold frame prepared these plants to transition to the outdoor conditions seamlessly.

Miniature Chocolate Bell and Italian Pepperoncini

Early Jalapeno and Dusky Eggplant

Last year my peppers were destroyed by slugs their first night out and never recovered to really produce anything. This year is looking to be much better.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Update from 10 days ago...

The peppers and eggplant were finally transplanted outside. I had been waiting until nighttime temperatures were regularly above at least 50 (really 55 is better) until putting them out. No sense in expending all that extra care and attention on those seedlings only to shock them into no growing for 2 weeks because of low temperatures. So the weather finally cooperated and they went in with peppers forming on all plants and eggplants just coming into bloom.

Same as with the tomatoes, I planted these through black plastic mulch under a plastic tunnel to give some extra heat while they adjust to the transplant. I watered them in with an organic, balanced, 4-4-4 liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.

Tomatoes are growing great and were pushing up against the plastic tunnel, so off came the plastic. All plants have growing fruit and lots of flowers higher up. Many of the maturing tomatoes are "cat-facing". This deformity results in puckered and misshapen fruits and occurs when the flowers get wet while the fruit is forming. The flowers stick to the fruit instead of browning and falling off, and the fruit grows around the attached flower petals. Looks ugly but tastes fine. This probably happened because I am spraying weekly with liquid fertilizer on all the leaf surfaces - pretty much drenching the plant. The flea beetles that have been munching on the tomatoes didn't really cause much damage and seemed to have moved on.

Our first ripe tomato. From a Stupice started about 100 days ago. Most seed packets give an indication of "days to maturity". This refers to the first harvest after the seedlings have been transplanted outside. For me, that transplant took place on May 18 - which was about 60 days ago - exactly what is stated on the seed packet for this variety!

Insects again

A few more bugs in the garden today. These were all on coreopsis plants. Not sure what they like about coreopsis in particular, as I didn't see them on anything else.

Some kind of beetle. I've found it is very difficult to identify any given bug, unless you have an idea of what it might be.

At first glance I thought these were Colorado potato beetle. I am glad I didn't smash them. They are Ladybird beetles (Ladybugs) Paranaemia vittigera.

THIS, however, is a three-lined potato beetle (once again, I think).