Connecticut Organic Garden – August 2013 – Part 1


Thursday, August 1

Mystery tomatoes

Mystery tomato. Seeds were saved from a striped Roma-type.

August is here and the garden is finally producing, but only just. I just now have eggplants and peppers growing on my plants. I just now have some sugar pumpkins growing on my vines. My popcorn is just now tasseling. I can’t believe how delayed our growing season was this year, and wonder how it will affect overall yield as we get into September. I can only hope that we have a warm September, that the cool fall weather will be delayed a bit.

Classes begin August 29th for me, so I will be dealing with homework and harvests, not something I look forward to at all. Last summer, because spring was so early, I was processing pears in August. This year our spring was delayed almost an entire month with late frosts and cold temperatures. We had temps in the low 40’s in the last half of June.

We are back in a dry spell so I am doing a lot of watering. The cucumber and dill plants require daily watering, as do the tomatoes in grow bags.

I checked on my first grow bag of potatoes that I planted, and those potatoes are getting to be a nice size. These were an experiment, so any potatoes I get will be a bonus. The biggest mistake I made was not watering them enough, I think.

I harvested three pickling cucumbers and another yellow squash this morning. The Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini squash have virtually stopped producing, and now have powdery mildew on the leaves. I am thinking about ripping the plants out so I can plant some new squash seeds. The three zucchini seedlings have one real leaf each so far. I am hoping they grow enough to produce something before it freezes.

Friday, August 2

Red cabbage started indoors in winter has taken all spring and summer to reach this 5" size.  Should be ready to harvest in September.

Red cabbage started indoors in winter has taken all spring and summer to reach this 5″ size (head). Should be ready to harvest in September.

It rained last night, enough that I didn’t need to water this morning. I do need to apply compost to most of my producing veggie plants, but boy am I feeling lazy. The truth is that I am not feeling that great today but I will try to head out later with my bucket and get some of the tomato, eggplant, squash, pepper and cucumber plants top-dressed with compost.

I spread worm compost around the backyard garden after researching vermiculture or worm composting. I have put worm bin composting to my list of winter activities. Maybe I’ll have a commercial venture possibility.

Saturday, August 3

After spending a few hours at my favorite yarn shop figuring out where I was on a pair of socks I am knitting, I was ravenous. I arrived home and put some hot dogs in the toaster oven to cook for me and whoever else might be hungry. But then I spied a ripe Moskovich tomato on my window sill with a black spot on it. That tomato needed to be eaten immediately or it would be ruined. I did the sacrificial thing and sliced that tomato, put it on a plate, and added a cucumber and some Feta cheese cubes. Then it happened: I ate my first bite of that tomato. Oh my gosh! I had never eaten a fresh tomato except sliced on a sandwich before last year when I grew my first Moskovich tomatoes. I only got a few tomatoes last year, but I instantly became a tomato snob. I was spoiled forever just as I cannot buy seafood at the grocery store seafood counter because it is not fresh.

When my tomatoes were not ripening a couple of weeks ago I did break down and buy a box of Campari tomatoes from BJ’s. They were really good for store-bought tomatoes, not mealy and certainly not flavorless. But even those expensive Campari tomatoes don’t hold a candle to these Moskovich for flavor. Last year I was so happy with the flavor that I sent an email to the seed company I purchased the seed from and received a reply that Moskovich was good but not even their best tomato. Next year I will be growing at least two more varieties, all based on flavor reviews.

On top of that amazing flavor, these tomatoes are meatier than the San Marzano paste tomatoes I am growing. Yes, you read that correctly. I am wondering why I am growing San Marzanos when they are so bland compared to the Moskovich. Maybe bland tomatoes process easier? I will be doing some research.

Monday, August 5

Gorgeous morning, cool, almost fall-like. I harvested two yellow and one zucchini squash (they are producing, but slowly), four pickling cucumbers, two tomatoes and a handful of ground cherries.

First strawberry popcorn ear forming

First strawberry popcorn ear forming

Strawberry popcorn plants are sending out silk from leaf nodes several levels of leaves below the tassels. Pollen is falling off of the anthers but there are only a very few silk which will grow into little ears of popcorn so far. I am an absolute newbie in corn growing (as I have mentioned before). Here is a simple article on hand pollinating corn from Georgia Home Garden. Each silk must be pollinated for each kernel of corn to develop on an ear. Next year, I will grow a much wider block of corn, and maybe some sweet corn for canning with salsa.

My indeterminate tomato plants in grow bags are not setting any new fruit. I am guessing that they have run out of nutrients. Container-grown plants have limited soil and completely depend on their caretakers to provide everything they need. Because they require more water, container soil can lose nutrients quickly. Applying a compost tea (which I have never made, but sounds like it would solve my corn feeding dilemma), liquid fertilizer and/or a time-released fertilizer along with regular applications of compost are necessary for continued production.

I have allowed a few cucumbers to remain on the vines to ripen for seed collection. One of those cucumbers, supposedly a pickling cucumber is huge, at least 8 inches long. I ended up with one vine of what look like regular slicing cucumbers, not pickling or Suyo Long. I know saving seeds from my teepee trellis area is probably not wise with the two, and now three, varieties of cucumber cross pollinating. I do have pickling cucumbers growing alone in the front garden, and I am allowing cucumbers to remain on the vine to fully ripen for seed saving. I will need to be meticulous in labeling all cucumber seeds that I save this year, and grow them fully labeled next year if I choose to do so. I might not want to waste the garden space on unknown cucumbers. And next year, I will grow Suyo Long cucumbers (purchased seed) in one area and pickling cucumbers (saved seed) in another, separated by plenty of space to ensure purity in future seed saving.

I side dressed most of my garden plants with my all-purpose, organic vegetable fertilizer. In a week or so I will top dress with compost. My plants, especially tomatoes and cucumbers, have been working hard producing a lot of fruit. Since both of these continue to produce all summer and do not have one specific harvest, they need regular feeding. I have been using compost mostly, and this week, worm castings, but thought applying a good fertilizer would be a good idea as well. Oh, and I always water immediately after side dressing.

Loaded with cherry tomatoes

Loaded with cherry tomatoes

Tomato Care & Fertilizing is a great article on the terminology and reasoning behind the different types of fertilizers as well as overall care. I am still learning about what the different numbers stand for on fertilizer labels, but I think I might have a handle on it, finally (at least this morning, before it flies out of my head).

One of my cherry tomato plants is absolutely loaded with fruit.

I pulled out one of the last two Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini plants. It had produced only one fruit the entire season and was taking up so much garden space. The yellow squash plants are starting to produce more.

Tuesday, August 6

Harvested pickling cucumbers and more yellow squash. I finally cooked some of the Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini squash along with yellow squash and onions, and the zucchini was very bland. The straightneck yellow squash, on the other hand, was delicious, as always. I am glad that I planted and am now growing Black Beauty zucchini for late summer and early fall harvests. I know that variety is delicious (I’ve grown and eaten it in the past). Live and learn.

Cocozelle di Napoli zucchini squash: huge plants, low number of fruit, bland flavor. Will not be growing these again.

Happy August and Happy Gardening, everyone!


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