Jul 24, 2015

July Garden Update

After yesterday's update, last night I finally managed to finish weeding the garden and garden pathways so that it looks like a garden again. (The little plant in the pathway above is a runaway zinnia about to bloom... I didn't have the heart to pull it!) This year has been hard on the garden because it has been very humid in June and the first half of July - we haven't necessarily had a ton of rain but the air has had a lot of moisture in it - hot and humid or cool and damp. And moisture brings blight on the tomatoes, powdery mildew on my cucumbers, squash and melons, even the green beans are vigorous but spotted. The dampness has also encourage the slugs to come invade in hoards, which I'm currently trying to resolve. Usually the garden looks its best in July, but this year it's raggedy.

This is has been a rough year for tomatoes, and since tomatoes are my favorite they are a big factor in considering the garden a success or not for the year. The blight has been terrible on the leaves, the bottom half of all the plants were decimated and now they are just stringy stalks. I do have a lot of flowers and a bunch of green tomatoes, but not nearly as many as this time last year and the plants are just not healthy (this reminds me a lot of 2 years ago, which was probably my worst tomato/garden year). Usually the cherry and yellow pear tomato plants are bursting with bunches of little tomatoes and this year there are only a few bunches.

This is the first tomato to about to ripen  on the vine though, I am very excited about that.

The cucumbers are doing okay. Last year they were amazing in July, this year they are struggling with powdery mildew already. I've had several cucumbers already and we have a bunch more growing and a lot of flowers, but the mildew is definitely already a problem and it's not even August.

Starting the melon seeds indoors this year though was a success! I already have 3 full-sized melons ripening, several more little melons growing, and there are a ridiculous number of flowers and vines in this trellis. The seed packet instructions say to direct-sow, but the head start really made a difference!

I knew the squash was going to be an experiment. I am happy to report that we've had so many squash and zucchini I'm already sick of eating it and we've had to pass along several to friends and neighbors. The plants are now at the end though, the powdery mildew is hurting the leaves and I'm pretty sure the squash vine borers are sucking the life out of the plants already - the one year break wasn't enough to break the cycle, they are back.

One of the new dahlia bulbs never came up, but the other 5 are growing and 3 are starting to bloom! The yellow is so bright it's hard to photograph (it's practically neon) and the dark red one is really pretty. The slugs are being hard on the dahlias. The zinnias are going crazy as usual - once they get going they are always so easy to grow and bloom so much. The sunflower I planted was doing great, but then mysteriously died while I was away. A new, much smaller one is coming up though, so we'll see.

After I took the pictures of the garden, I picked most of the flowers (I left a few zinnias for the bees and butterflies) - I love how nice the bouquets look!

Herbs, Carrots and Beans
Since June the lettuce and peas bolted and died back in the heat so I pulled them up. The lettuce provided us with many great salads. The lifespan of the peas was much shorter than I would have liked, though we had enough to top a few salads. The carrots are doing very well, the oregano and thyme are doing well and the basil is still alive (though it's struggling like so many other plants).

The beans are growing like crazy, despite the fact that many leaves have powdery mildew. There are tons of flowers and lots of tiny beans starting to grow... in a another few days I'll have more green beans than we will know what to do with!

The Rest of the Yard

Fruit and Pots
The fig trees are growing back very nicely, the brown turkey fig is dotted with tiny figs (it takes about 3 years for them to produce fruit, so the chicago hardy should start producing next year). The blueberry bushes are still growing (no blooms or fruit this year). The raspberry bushes produced a few nice raspberries, though we definitely had to fight the birds for them and the harsh winter was hard on the plants. The blackberry bush is ripening now, though the blackberries are once again very tart - not as tart as last year, but still pretty tart.

In the pots the lemon and lime trees are doing well, they have finally fully recovered from all the winter aphid damage. There are lots of little lemons and limes all over them after a good blooming season. The hot pepper plant has 2 big peppers and a couple tiny ones, plus some flowers.

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