Monday, July 5, 2010

Transition From Cool to Hot Weather

Each year brings a different set of creatures wanting to share in the harvest of the garden. Last year our major pests were a deer, several groundhogs, and innumerable snails and slugs. This year both the deer and the groundhog made one appearance, did no damage, and neither has been seen since. The snails and slugs will always be here but they limit themselves to certain vegetables - mostly Asian greens - and while they can destroy large sections of leaves they can't keep up with the growth of the plants. I do try to limit their efforts and one method is to spread crushed egg shells around the plants. A recent planting of Chinese cabbage and pak choi looked like this. I don't yet have sufficient observations to say whether the egg shells work. The plants when transplanted didn't look so great because something was chewing on them while they were outside hardening off.

This year the birds - especially catbirds and robins - have taken a clear liking to our blueberries. They simply fly in, eat or peck a few, and fly away. We really like our blueberries and believe we offer enough other food for the birds - service berries (pretty much gone now), bayberries, and Pagoda dogwood berries (not quite ripe yet) - that they should leave the blueberries for us. Since telling them that seemed unlikely to be effective I built a frame of 7 foot PCV pipes set over 2 foot rebar and tied deer netting to it. It isn't elegant and there are some gaps in it but it has been fairly effective. Two young robins - or one young robin twice - have had to be released but they seem to have learned to not wander in. Same with one cardinal. The catbird just walked under the bottom edge of the netting and took what he wanted and then walked back out again. I pushed the piping down into the soil a few inches and added some more tent pegs to hold down the bottom and that may have worked.

The garden has gotten to the point where the excess of greens - spinach, zen and lettuce - is under control. What that really means is that they started to bolt and are in the process of being replaced. The spinach was finished about ten days ago but we now have some New Zealand spinach available. But we ended up with a fair amount of frozen spinach. Lots of zen has been also been frozen for eating during the winter. The Chinese cabbages have been used or frozen and replaced with the new bed in the top photo. I planted quite a bit of lettuce and am now pulling that out as I pick it for lunch and have started more. We had our first patty pan squash yesterday and more are on the way. The pole beans are just beginning to flower so it will still be a while before we can eat beans. I do have them planted in five different areas, so we will have enough to freeze - I hope. I didn't grow bush beans, but I will next year. The tomatoes, which are a little behind, do have small tomatoes on them but they won't be ready for another three weeks. The ground cherries are forming but they all will be frozen and then used to make our favorite jam when we have enough.

Between the abundant lettuce and the kale and other greens we have enough to have a salad for lunch and cooked greens for supper. I am still waiting for broccoli to form heads as a partial replacement for lettuce at lunchtime. But most of all I wait for tomatoes for my daily in-season tomato sandwich.

Hopefully I can keep up with the very hot days we are having and keep the plants watered. Whoever told me earlier that container plants have to be watered two or three times a day in this heat was right.