Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Garden Update

Here in Southern California we are blessed with a ridiculously long growing season. Seriously, last year I didn't pull my tomatoes out until the end of December! Since we have such a long growing season it's a good idea to plant several garden rotations, replacing tired plants with new, vibrant ones. Case in point: our sunberries have to go. Jonas will be so devastated, he would seriously sit out there picking berries and eating them all day long if I'd let him. See: Since the sunberries are winding down I've started ten new tomato plants to replace them with, most of them Red Siberians to carry us through the cold-ish months. I'm curious to see if they'll make it straight through the winter. I'm hoping for a bumper crop from these babies, for canning. My other canning tomatoes have not done so well and now the japanese beetles are moving in and eating them:(. Quick side note, my plan for the japanese beetles this year was to just pick them off of the plants in the early mornings when they are sluggish, but they have outsmarted me again! They are living in our neighbor's yard and coming over into our yard in the afternoons for feeding time. Very frustrating!

We are also replacing our first rotation of bush beans. Bush beans generally only produce beans for a two week period before dying back, so it's good to plant several rows of them with sowing dates a week or two apart, to keep you in constant supply. We have four rows of bush beans, or to be honest, two rows and two self watering containers, each with an equal number of plants. The good news about bush beans (and really any legume) is that they have the uncanny ability to pull nitrogen from the air and fix it into the soil through their roots. This makes bush beans an ideal crop to plant near hungrier crops like squash, melons, corn, tomatoes, etc. Once the plant has died all of the extra nitrogen remains in the soil, so bush beans are an ideal candidate to be replaced by hungrier crops as well. In our case I am replacing the first bush bean row with hard winter squashes. Instead of pulling out the tired green bean plants it is a good idea to snip them off as close to the ground as possible. Leaving their roots in the ground means you are leaving as much nitrogen in the ground as possible. After snipping the green bean plants I laid them on top of the soil along with some dead tomato plants and other trimmings, then I spread a bag of manure over the whole thing creating a small grow heap. I also added plenty of organic fertilizer.

And lastly the determinate, silvery fir tree tomatoes, which were in five gallon buckets, have been replaced by basil.

Things are looking good in our garden, despite my sister's boyfriend commenting "if people didn't know what you were doing back here they'd think there was just trash everywhere." Lovely. :) He is referring to the fact that I use junk mail to mulch the walkways between rows and keep the weeds down. Here are some pictures for your viewing delight:)

A funny italian zucchini I found today. It looks like it was going to have a siamese twin but things didn't quite work out. Am I the only one who saw this and thought: Alien fetus? That's just me? Ok then, moving on...

Today's summer squash harvest.

One of the self-waterers with new green bean plants. Side note, the self waterer book I ordered from the library is in, I'm picking it up today and hope to have lots of juicy tips for you all.

The Cayenne Peppers are turning red, we'll have hot sauce in no time, hooray!

Our Myrtle is in bloom three months late. What is that about? I've heard that myrtle is sometimes eaten as an herb. I'm still a little too skeptical to try.

A new zucchini plant on the rise!

One of our hot pepper plants called Tequila Sunrise. It grows very similar to the tabasco pepper. I'm really hoping it tastes similar. I loves me some tabasco sauce!

Our giant marconi peppers are really living up to their name!


siobhan said...

steal whatever books are under our name at the library. i think there's one there on backyard homesteading. the rest were probably sent back already. :X

one thing i love about square foot gardening is how easy it is to rotate crops. the soil is always so rich and healthy.

not having lived in san diego as an adult, i can't seem to get the hang of the weather here. i'm terrified to plant and lose everything in the heat. your garden really holds up when it gets up to 110? i'm so used to living somewhere coastal!

NIKOL said...

Myrtle! That's what those things are called! I didn't know. I love myrtle. They're so pretty when they're in bloom.

Sorry to hear the sunberries are at the end of their run. Have any of your other brambles yielded fruit?

Lyric said...

I'm jealous! I love your garden!!

Clong said...

Siobhan you are too funny! I was surprised just how many library books I had in! I also got the backyard homesteading book and it looks so cool! I had so many books that it was at the point where they take them off the shelf and put them all in a basket with my name on it. Yikes!

The trick to keeping the garden alive in the heat is mulching. If you mulch at the right time (before it gets too hot but after it warms up a bit) then the soil stays pretty cool. My garden does stay alive in 110 (and even 115 a couple years ago!) The plants shut down production in the excessive heat and drop their blossoms (mostly this is a trademark of tomatoes and legumes). Squash LOVES the heat as long as you water it enough and subsequently feed them enough to keep nutrients from being washed from the soil. Anyway when the heat dies down a bit the plants kick up again and produce into december, once I even had a tomato plant live right through december, TWICE. That cherry tomato lived to the ripe old age of three, if you can belive it.

Nikol, I'm not too broken up about the sunberries, I've definitely eaten my fill of them for this year:) And the brambles are producing quite a bit, though the boysenberry not so much. The raspberry is covered in little berries and the blackberry just gave us quite a yield last week which Jonas promptly downed while my back was turned.

Lyric, no need to be jealous, I'm sure you could have an awesome garden too!

koala brains said...

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