July Connecticut Organic Garden – Part 4

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Tuesday, July 16

It was so nice even at 9 a.m. that I decided to go ahead and dig up my garlic and most of my onions in the garlic bed so I can get it ready for planting buckwheat as a cover crop. My garlic looks beautiful but is small. I will be planting garlic in the fall in the newest raised bed. It has a lot of organic matter, much lighter soil, and should be ready by the end of October. I will be sure to work some wood ash into the soil before planting the garlic, though.

Chesnok Red garlic, a hardneck variety looks very nice, just small

Chesnok Red garlic, a hardneck variety looks very nice, just small

Afternoon check on garden found a little powdery mildew on one of the pumpkin leaves. Tomorrow morning I will begin spraying the pumpkin and squash plants hoping I can fend off this destructive fungus.

Wednesday, July 17

Immature Suyo Long cucumber already 11" long

Immature Suyo Long cucumber already 11″ long


Spent about 45 minutes watering deeply this morning. It was so hot yesterday that I had to water some areas of the garden in the late afternoon which I typically avoid. Increasing the humidity around plants in the evening hours during a heat wave can encourage powdery mildew and other fungi. But I have seedlings and transplants growing that require more water than established plants so afternoon watering is necessary on very hot days.

I sprayed the first application of my homemade anti-fungal made with 2 teaspoons of baking soda per quart of water, a little liquid soap and coconut oil. I made sure to spray every pumpkin and squash leaf, then I removed any leaves that had powdery mildew spots or other bad damage. I found squash beetle Epilachna borealis larvae on the leaves with the worst damage. I will need to check beneath every squash/pumpkin leaf in my garden today before they pupate.

We shared a fresh cucumber right from the vine. I stood with a knife, sliced and fed my boys one of the pickling cucumbers that was too big to be pickled. It was delicious! How satisfying it is to know that I grew that cucumber from a seed.

Thursday, July 18

Red cabbage survived cabbage worms and is looking quite nice

Red cabbage survived cabbage worms and is looking quite nice

As I watered my garden before 7 a.m. this morning, I marveled that there were no new powdery mildew spots today. I then grieved the loss of the one pumpkin that I thought would mature. Alas, it is turning yellow. Are pumpkins not to be this year? Yes, I can buy them at the farmer’s market in the fall, but there were no organic sugar pumpkins available last year so I would need to buy conventionally grown sugar pumpkins.

Looks like very soon I will have a lot of squash which is just wonderful! We all love my sauteed summer squash with onions and fresh basil.

Harvested 5 cucumbers and 2 snow peas. The younger snow pea plants are not producing yet. Soon.

Peppers and eggplants are forming flowers.

I have one grow bag tomato plant where many of the tomatoes are suffering from blossom end rot. Researching. Blossom end rot is a disease caused by a calcium deficiency in plants which is exacerbated by hot, dry conditions, or uneven watering. While my driveway grow bags are a great idea when we have normal New England summer weather, week after week of temperatures in the 90s are stressing at least this one plant. None of my other plants are having this problem. So, I think if I surrounded my grow bags with bales of straw it might help them retain more moisture. Since I don’t have money to buy multiple bales of straw, I will put on my thinking cap and devise a method using materials on hand to help this plant’s soil retain more moisture.

Friday, July 19

Woke up before 4 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. So I am waiting for the sun to come up, enjoying my first cup of coffee with all of you (if I was in Austin, I would say, “with y’all”), thinking about another hot day, a lot of watering, and knowing that in two days the temperatures will return to normal, at least for a few days.

Garden watered, thoroughly. Pumpkins still turning yellow before most of the flowers even open on them. Today I saw another reach the flowering stage, saw a bee visit said flower, and can only hope that I am watering enough. It is what it is and will be what it will be. I have adjusted my pumpkin expectations.

San Marzano plum tomato plant is loaded

San Marzano plum tomato plant is loaded

Side dressed beans and cucumbers growing on the bean teepee with the Epsom Plus and watered deeply. I noticed that not as many female flowers are showing up on the vines, just male flowers. I am enjoying all of the fresh cucumbers that are ripening every day, though. Some of the cucumbers that are growing on what should be pickling cucumber vines look like salad cucumbers, so we are eating them that way.

My dill is getting ready to flower. Yay! Cilantro seeds are ripening for coriander. Yippee!

Saturday, July 20

Early morning, humidity is definitely down; time in the garden is a lot more enjoyable. I harvested three Suyo Long and two more pickling cucumbers, a lot of basil for pesto, a yellow squash and a ground cherry. I had to pull out another Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini squash plant, the one that was damaged by something that I couldn’t identify. I sowed some Black Beauty zucchini seeds in that spot to replace the lost plants.

Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry plant loaded with fruit

Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry plant loaded with fruit

My ground cherry plants are collapsing from the weight of the branches and fruit, but are still living somehow. Next time I will grow them in tomato cages for support. Ground cherries are harvested when they fall to the ground, and then must be allowed to ripen for 1 week indoors. I have five in my kitchen ripening right now, but soon I will have many, many more, as all of my plants are covered with fruit.

Watered tomato and cucumber plants.

Sowed buckwheat seeds in the garlic bed as a cover crop. The soil in this bed is sorely lacking organic matter and is obviously lacking what my garlic needed to grow big bulbs. Amending the soil in this bed is the highest priority for the rest of the summer as spots open up. I will later add wood ash, turn into the soil and then pile with raked leaves to decompose over the winter.

Yellow pear tomatoes

Yellow pear tomatoes


Most exciting of all are the Yellow Pear tomatoes growing on the plants that a deer feasted on a few weeks ago. I can’t wait! The plum tomatoes are flowering now, too, but no tomatoes yet.

Most of my tomato plants are covered with tomatoes but they are not ripening. I decided to do a little research and discovered that tomatoes will cease the ripening process when temperatures get above 85 degrees F. I have noticed a lightening in the green color of many of my tomatoes, a prelude to turning red, however, so there is hope. With temperatures back to normal, I am ready to see some red tomatoes in my garden. I broke down and bought tomatoes in the grocery store the other day I was so desperate for a fresh tomato. I hated doing that.

Sunday, July 21

Ah, what a wonderful relief it was to walk out my door this morning. It was cooler outside than inside my house. It is a delightful 70 degrees F. Heavenly! And the thunderstorms that arrived last night were most welcome. I don’t think they dropped a whole lot of moisture, and I still did some watering this morning, but every little bit helps.

Two zucchini seedlings

Two zucchini seedlings


I walked to the back garden, watered the cucumbers and dill and made a note that some more cucumbers needed to be harvested (I didn’t have my harvest bag and knife with me).

When I got to the squash bed, I noticed that one of my yellow squash plants was completely wilted. I pulled it out and hung it on the fence to cut into later. But it looked like a squash vine borer ate into the vine and the plant broke off at the damaged spot. I planted some zucchini seeds in the empty spot and moved on to checking the rest of the garden. (When I cut into the vine it looked like a squash vine borer had been there was must have pupated and emerged.)

Then I spotted the seed packets that I left out from yesterday. Darn. They were all wet. The buckwheat packet started to disintegrate when I tried to pick it up. I scooped it and its contents up as best I could and carried the whole thing into the house where I dumped the seeds out to dry (the seeds themselves were barely damp so they are fine). The zucchini seeds were quite wet, though, so I planted them here and there. I can dig them up after they germinate and move them wherever I like.

One of my eggplant flowers is getting ready to open.

Checked tomatoes and had another plum tomato in that one grow bag with blossom end rot.

More Yellow pear tomatoes are forming in the front garden. The anticipation . . .

Cucumber plants in front garden are not forming female flowers. I need to give them another application of compost and probably some Epsom Plus.

Monday, July 22

First eggplant flower

First eggplant flower

Watered entire garden today. Side-dressed front garden cucumbers with Epsom Plus to encourage new fruit to form.

Harvested broccoli, cucumbers, and snow peas. I can’t believe the broccoli plants are producing in July. Gardening up here in Connecticut confounds me sometimes.

I am thinking about ripping out every last pumpkin plant. Yes, I am. I could plant some fall crops in that raised bed: more broccoli, Aichi chinese cabbage, dwarf bok choy, beets, lettuce, and more. I think even if a pumpkin decided to “take” today it wouldn’t have enough time to mature before the first frost. I will sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.

When watering my potatoes, I found a completely dead plant. I decided to see if it had grown any potatoes at all. I found two tiny potatoes, smaller than my thumb and a giant grub which I pulled out and squished with my flip flop. Take that for killing my potato plant, you ugly grub! I transplanted a jalapeno pepper plant into the potato grow bag where the plant left a nice, open space. Maybe my potato grow bags will grow better peppers. Making lemonade, I hope.

Tuesday, July 23

What a lovely rainy day! I get a day off from watering the garden, and all of my plants get a drink from heaven. I can hear them all harmonizing, “Ahhhhh!” with the huge zucchini plants singing bass, eggplants tenor, tomato plants alto, and the ground cherries soprano, a melody of joy and delight.

Coneflowers smell as nice as they look

Coneflowers smell as nice as they look


Happy gardening, y’all!

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