July Connecticut Organic Garden – Part 3

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I had planned to write a little bit each day describing what I do daily in my garden, but my week got away from me. I barely had time to work in the garden due to so many outside appointments, driving my kids around, a couple of trips to school for my financial aid, and weekly grocery shopping and errands. So this daily diary of garden work was started on Saturday from memory.

In addition, I spent the week learning Adobe Lightroom 4 on a gently used laptop that a friend gave me (it is great improvement over my 2008 laptop — photo processing is much easier with a 17″ screen, too).

Wednesday, July 10

Early morning I walked the garden, removing slugs and other pests. I checked all of my broccoli and cabbage plants, squishing any caterpillars I found.

Decided to thin out my squash bed, removing one each of the zucchini and yellow squash plants. I cut away any leaves that were blocking sunlight to my Anaheim pepper plants.

Thinned squash plants, providing more sunlight for the Anaheim pepper plants

Thinned squash plants, providing more sunlight for the Anaheim pepper plants

Harvested all of the beet plants in the pumpkin bed so that the pumpkin plants get all of the water and nutrients. I need pumpkins to start growing fruit.

Applied Epsom Plus by Epsoma, an organic 0-0-22 fertilizer, 1 tsp per foot of plant height, around my squash and pumpkin plants to encourage the development of fruit and stop fruit aborting before it can mature.

Front garden.  Left: cucumber and tomatoes.  Right: black beans and popcorn.

Front garden. Left: cucumber and tomatoes. Right: black beans and popcorn.

Watered entire garden deeply. I hand water close to the ground with a slow flow of water. Pulled weeds.

Thursday, July 11

Strawberry Popcorn

Strawberry Popcorn

Due to early morning appointment, no walk around this morning. Returned home and only had a short time to water grow bag tomatoes and do a quick garden check. Found a deer had eaten most of my Romano bean plants on the bean teepee. He/she only ate a tiny bit of cucumber plant. Since the cuke plants are prickly, I am guessing it won’t be a favorite food.

Female flowers and small fruit on pumpkin vines continue to abort. Darn, the Epsom Plus didn’t work overnight.

Harvested my very first pickling cucumber. No others are ready for harvest so I put it in the fridge to await others for first jar of pickles for my pickle-loving 13 year old son.

Friday, July 12

Morning walk around garden, picking slugs, always slugs, kill a couple of beetles, and notice the first buds developing on my eggplants. Yippee!!!

Watered grow bag tomatoes. Note to self: growth seems to have slowed so these tomato plants need a top-dressing of compost.

Noticed the dill seed is beginning to germinate in front of cucumber plants in bean teepee area. Gave them a quick water along with cucumber plants. Notice that these plants also seem to have slowed down and not as many cucumbers developing. Time to top dress with compost as well.

Since it rained heavily the day and night before, no watering was required except for dill and zucchini squash seeds.

Harvested my first zucchini and one more pickling cucumber.

Saturday, July 13

Early morning garden walk around killed a few slugs and beetles. Said, “Good morning!” to the hard-working bees sampling the squash and pumpkin flowers. I don’t know how some of the bumble bees can fly when their bodies are almost completely covered by pollen.

Harvested 4 more pickling cucumbers. I think I have enough to make my first jar of pickles. Since my dill isn’t ready, I will pick some up at the farmer’s market tomorrow morning. I have dried dill seeds and weed but I want fresh organic dill for these pickles. My coriander seeds aren’t mature enough, either. Timing is everything, isn’t it?

Front garden: Added a second layer of twine supports for the tomato plants on one side and the first layer of supports for the other side. I cut off lower leaves and removed any stems that had no flowers on them yet, leaving each plant with at least 2 stems (except for the one plant that the deer missed which still has a single stem). Yellow pear tomato plants have a lot of flowers. The plum tomato plants are much slower to form flowers. Hoping the top dressing of compost helps with whatever is hindering fruiting.

Top dressed all 12 tomato plants, 3 cucumber plants and the corn plants with compost. Gave the corn a quick top watering to send some of the nutrients and organisms from the compost into the soil. A few worms made it into each raised bed with the compost. Can’t wait to see worm doodles.

Back garden: Top dressed squash, pumpkin and tomato plants with compost. Pulled weeds and checked for fruit development (the part that we eat on most vegetable plants that develops from a pollinated flower is called the fruit). Noticed that the Anaheim pepper plants are all forming flower buds, finally.

Applied generous top dressing of compost to cucumber plants and watered dill seedlings.

Driveway: Top dressed grow bag tomatoes and the tomato plant in the terraced garden that is full of plum tomatoes (at least 20 so far) and still blooming. Watered tomato plants.

Aichi Chinese cabbage seed pods are almost all brown. First time saving cabbage seeds (including the dwarf bok choy), so I am leaving them on the plants until they make a rattling sound when shaken.

Noticed that my new Lady’s Mantle is under attack from something that thinks it is delicious, so I decided to try my homemade peppermint spray to see if that will prevent further damage. I also sprayed one of my primrose plants (the other plant is untouched by pests).

Sunday, July 14

Since I spent so much time in the garden yesterday, I just did a quick walk around and watered the pumpkins before 6 a.m. Mostly absent were the swarms of mosquitoes that have been tormenting me lately. I welcomed the break from slapping and swatting. No deer flies, either.

My 20-year-old son discovered a patch of Cinnabar Chanterelles in the front yard under a red maple. Slugs had eaten a little bit of nearly every mushroom, but they sure were lovely to look at and photograph. I was excited to find an edible mushroom growing in my front yard (and one that is easily identifiable).

Cinnabar Chanterelles (Cantharellus cinnabarinus) and a feasting slug

Cinnabar Chanterelles (Cantharellus cinnabarinus) and a feasting slug

We are in our third heat wave of the year with temps around 86 degrees F and high humidity. My 13 year old was sent to supervise the dog outside for a few minutes and caught her digging near the edge of my cucumber plants in the bean teepee (her favorite spot because it is cool). When he fussed at her to stop and tried to grab her, she ran right between some cucumber plants breaking off two of my Suyo Long cucumbers that were over 6″ long already. I almost cried.

Monday, July 15

I woke up around 5:15 a.m. this morning dreading the watering chore today. I don’t even want to go outside. It is already 74 degrees with 94% humidity. Yuck! Water, I must, though. It is vital during a heat wave to keep the plants watered or they can become so stressed they stop producing (or fail to start producing in my case). Just a few more minutes enjoying my morning coffee. Just a few more minutes.

7:00 a.m. and watering is finished. It took me just under an hour. I had to water the entire garden. Usually when watering is necessary I water half of the garden one day and the other half the next day, and so on, watering the grow bag tomatoes every day.

I noticed just now that from the beginning of my notes for the day I have a not-so-positive attitude towards my garden. I used the word “chore” which I have never even thought belonged to my garden, even when I was hauling soil and squishing caterpillars. I also noticed that I watered but didn’t touch every plant, looking beneath the leaves for pests, damage and signs of disease and mildew. I didn’t check each plant for new fruit like I usually do. I just wanted to get the watering job done and get back in the house.

I headed back out and took photos of my garden. Lots of activity and fruit development. Looks like the Epsom Plus and compost are working.

First yellow squash -- finally!

First yellow squash — finally!


Thinned squash plant decided to take up residence in the discard pile

Thinned squash plant decided to take up residence in the discard pile


Lots of Suyo Long cucumbers

Lots of Suyo Long cucumbers


Grow bag tomatoes

Grow bag tomatoes


More grow bag tomatoes

More grow bag tomatoes


Terraced bed: this one plant has at least 20 plum tomatoes

Terraced bed: this one plant has at least 20 plum tomatoes


Eggplant finally producing flowers

Eggplant finally producing flowers


Moskovich tomato that I am trying to will to ripen

Moskovich tomato that I am trying to will to ripen


Fingers crossed that this pollinated sugar pumpkin grows to full size.

Fingers crossed that this pollinated sugar pumpkin grows to full size.


Black beans are producing a LOT of bean pods

Black beans are producing a LOT of bean pods

Tuesday, July 16

Got out to the garden around 6 a.m. this morning, and I could tell the humidity was lower. Yep, it is 83% right now, compared to yesterday’s drenching 94%. Everything that needs to be watered is watered. Cucumbers have been requiring a lot of water. Soaked the pumpkin raised bed and noticed a lot of new side vines shooting out from unproductive main vines.

Pulled weeds in the new raised bed. Still need to build a support for the young snow pea plants.

The yellow squash plant that is producing has three fruits on it now, and two are nearly ready to harvest. The one Cocozelle Di Napoli zucchini squash plant that seems to be most active has another fruit ready to harvest. One of my plants looks like it has a squash vine borer so I will go out later with my small pocket knife and see what I can find (meaning cut it out). This plant hasn’t produced one squash yet, so if I lose it I will just plant some more seeds. Speaking of which, I planted two Black Beauty zucchini seeds in the front garden which have already germinated. I should plant some in the back garden as well in case the Cocozelle plants fail.

In order to avoid squash vine borers altogether, some gardeners don’t even transplant or sow their squash until early to mid-July. I have to admit that getting the squash going earlier hasn’t resulted in earlier squash, so next year I think I will give it a try with some of the squash I plant (putting out later). Update: checked the squash plant, and no squash vine borer. I have no idea what caused damage to the plant, but I think it will survive and hopefully produce.

To do today: Start a batch of beet kvas (ferment) and make a batch of pickles. Another note to self: do not put delicate zucchini in the same harvest bag (cloth bag I made for my son’s Renaissance festival that I appropriated for gardening use) as pickling cucumbers. The squash will not stand up to the prickly spines on the cucumbers well at all.

Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini (left), pickling cucumbers, and Chesnok Red garlic

Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini (left), pickling cucumbers, and Chesnok Red garlic

I hope you have enjoyed following along with me this week.

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