The Garden in July - Everything else

 I started my onions from seed this year, and unfortunately, one of the four varieties - Australian Brown - had almost a complete germination failure. Out of the entire pack of seeds, I managed to get 6 to transplant out in the garden. The other three varieties had great germination, but the Ailsa Craig didn't transplant well (I lost almost 50% of them) and then didn't grow well. The largest reached maybe 2" in diameter, and the rest are much smaller. The Rossa Di Milano are doing well, and the largest, while smaller than my red onions in past years, are around 3-4" in diameter. The pickling onions, White Pickling, did very well - I just didn't plant enough of them!

White Pickling onions
The leeks germinated and transplanted well, and despite of the drought, are growing well. As is the garlic. Since I plant in the spring (too much risk of rotting overwinter), the harvest is later than usual, but I got scapes this year for the first time! Unfortunately, because I'm an idiot, I harvested them, tossed them in the fridge - and promptly forgot about them :( The garlic still isn't quite ready to harvest, but I should have enough to do me for the year, with some left over to plant next year.

Garlic, with leeks hiding in the background and the onions behind the leeks.

Three lessons learned from the alliums this year: I need to plant more, plant closer, and mulch! I won't have anywhere near enough onions to last me the winter, let alone enough to preserve or use in things like salsa and chili sauce.

Another group of mixed results were the legumes. The peas got hit by the early heat, and didn't yield enough for me to even take into the house - ever pea this year was eaten, fresh off the vine, right in the garden. And the winged asparagus peas were a HUGE disappointment: they didn't grow fast, they didn't grow large, and they didn't produce enough for me to even bother cooking them - and they taste HORRIBLE raw, just so you know. Sorry, but since I can grow both asparagus and peas, this is one crop that won't be making a repeat appearance in the garden!

Winged Asparagus Pea (please ignore the weeds!)
Both the pole beans and dry beans got planted right before a spate of cold, WINDY weather, which pretty much destroyed the first true leaves on all the plants. The dry beans recovered, and are growing really well (there were a couple of varieties that had no (or VERY low) germination) The lentils got hit by some disease and curled up and died - there is a reason we don't grow certain crops here, while they do very well in the drier regions of the country!

The pole beans, however, are SLOW! Only the Lazy Housewife and Rattlesnake have actually produced anything so far, and that was only in the last week. The Scarlet Runner beans are, well, not exactly running. More of a casual stroll. They do have a few flowers, so I hope they will actually produce a bean or three eventually. One of these days. No hurry.

Oh, and one good thing about planting different varieties? You get to taste the different varieties (assuming they actually produce anything worth tasting. Are you listening to me, Scarlet Runner??). Because Lazy Housewife? A great big bunch of meh. Especially when compared to the Rattlesnake beans. And add the fact that it's WAY easier to find the Rattlesnake beans to pick... well, Lazy Housewife is looking like another non-repeater.

Pitiful pole beans - from the left, Lazy Housewife, Rattlesnake and Scarlet Runner
 The beets and carrots got planted late this year, since they went into one of the new beds. So, I've only picked a few small carrots, and didn't get a picture of them. Cool colours, though, and good tasting! The beets are a quicker crop, and have done really well this year - I'm amazed that they didn't all go woody with the lack of rain! I planted the 3 Root Grex and a mix of different beets this year, in addition to Bull's Blood and Cylindra. I'm really liking the grex. They seem to be sizing up more consistently than the mix, which makes it easier to get a bunch that are all the same size - easier to cook that way, in my opinion, since you aren't trying to fish out the small beets from the vat of boiling water :) I'm not completely sure, but I think I'll stick to the grex from now on - but I really like Chiogga beets, and Cylindra, so I might just have to plant more than one variety ;)
3 Root Grex
Beet mix
The potatoes, like so many other things, are a mixed lot this year. The Yukon Gold and Chieftain have done really well, but the blues have produced VERY few decent sized potatoes, and lots of little marbles. I ordered organic seed potatoes this year, and had them shipped across the country - and ended up with Black Scurf on a lot of them (no, I didn't notice any on the seed potatoes, but since this bed has never had potatoes in it before, there is no other source of the disease)). I am less than impressed, since this is a disease that, once introduced in a bed, is almost impossible to eradicate. Potatoes with scurf are still edible, but have to be peeled before using. And dammit, I like potato skins! It also means that I can't keep any potatoes I grow this year as seed potatoes for next year.

And quite honestly, from now on, I think I'll be buying my seed potatoes locally - it's cheaper and I can get the varieties that do well. Blue potatoes are a neat novelty, but I'd rather have a bed full of large potatoes that will actually feed me, than a bunch of small marbles that are next to useless, especially after peeling!
A pot of potatoes, destined to become potato salad - and it was good!
Despite the dry weather, the celery is doing well. I'm not sure I'll get anything that appears to be a bunch of celery, but I have been cutting off bits and using them. Cool!
And, in the grand tradition of saving the best for last - tomatoes! And peppers.

First tomato - Stupice, picked (and eaten) July 12.
The tomatoes and hot peppers are doing REALLY well.  I came to my senses, and planted fewer varieties than I originally planned, but I'm glad I included Stupice. The tomatoes are small (is that normal?), but tasty - and I've been eating tomatoes daily since July 12. That has to be some sort of record for this area! I have a bunch of paste tomatoes that are ripening, so sauce making will start soon! I planted all the hot peppers in pots again this year, and I think this is something I'll continue to do - it works really well, and leaves more space in the actual garden.

Oddly enough, dry as it is, I'm been getting what looks like anthacnose on all my sweet peppers (it's caused by a fungus that is in the same genus as the one I worked with for years, so I'm pretty good at identifying it ;) ). The unaffected parts are still usable, but it's a bit disappointing, none the less.

And so, that's the garden update for now. Some hits, some misses, but always lessons to be learned!
Hungarian Hot Wax pepper

Yellow Cherry - not too impressed with the flavour. I can't remember the variety - it was one I planted at the workshop I went to this spring

Federle paste tomato, with hand for scale!


  1. Congrats on the July 12th tomato! Awesome! I've only had one lonely reddish one so far, and it had blossom end rot. :( That's awful about the potatoes, were they certified disease free? You should get your money back! And that is one impressive paste tomato, a few of those babies and you're good to go. :)

    1. Thanks Daisy! I'm actually surprised more of mine don't have blossom end rot, because I haven't been watering them at all regularly - I decided this year to try Linda Crago's (Tree & Twig, local tomato guru) advise of not watering at all after the plants get established. And it seems to be working :)

      The potatoes were not certified disease free - lesson learned. If you have a good source for potatoes, let me know!

      And that's the biggest of the Federle pastes, but the others are a decent size, if the flavour is good, it's making a repeat appearance next year!

    2. When I do get seed potatoes I get them from Canadian Tire of all places. I've tried other sources but have had the most luck with them. I like to wait until they are all sprouty and discounted. :)

      I have a real problem with blossom end rot in the first flush of tomatoes, I was told it was lack of available calcium? I don't water them after they are established, but only because there are too many of them and they are too far from the house.

      Blogger really hates me, it's like it senses I'm from wordpress and freezes up my computer.

    3. Maybe that explains my problem with Word Press ;)

      Ha - the first year, I got my potatoes from the local feed store. So much for going for the pricey "better" option this year!

      Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency, but it's mediated (for lack of a better word) by uneven watering. So, even if your soil isn't deficient in calcium, you'll get BER if there are watering issues - like this year!



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