High temperatures and drought continue to dog the garden but at least there have been no more groundhog sightings. Despite the sweltering conditions my garden is beginning the transition from summer into fall veggie gardening.
Oysters, Fresh from the… Garden?
I harvested all of the fingerling potatoes over the weekend. The harvest size was average but I’m looking forward to sampling the La Ratte and Purple Peruvian varieties that I grew for the first time this season. The Peruvians look more like purple baby potatoes than fingerlings.
There was also a crop of salsify roots that I harvested from the same bed as the potatoes. I’m still not sure about how to clean, store, and prepare these uncommon oysters of the garden world, but I’m determined to find a way to enjoy this unusual vegetable crop.
Succession Planting for Fall Gardening Success
Right on cue, I had a few flats of fall vegetable transplants ready and waiting to go into the space that was freed up by the mature potatoes and oyster plants. I transplanted wild kales, Lacinato, January King cabbages, sprouting broccoli, collards, broccoli raab, heading mustards, and a few other plants for fall vegetable production.
I’ll continue to plant seeds and set out transplants for the fall garden as the summer crops are harvested or cease to be productive. Succession planting goes hand-in-hand with raised beds and intensive gardening when it comes to getting the most value out of your gardening real estate.
The Garden Survivors: Cucumbers, Carrots, and Okra
But don’t get the impression that there isn’t still plenty of life left in those summer vegetables. The cucumbers continue to yield plenty of cukes and haven’t been slowed down by diseases or cucumber beetles. One plant in particular has climbed about twelve feet up a trellis and is still going.
Even the struggling okra plants that I threatened to remove from the garden have rebounded and I may yet harvest a few okra pods this summer. The assortment of carrot varieties has also recovered from the groundhog grazing and the plants have sent up a mass of bright green, fern-like, new leaves.
The heirloom tomatoes are proving to be wimps compared to the resilient okra and carrots. I can understand them not being able to fend off the groundhog attacks but now it seems that half of the ripe tomatoes are falling victim to mysterious bites and punctures. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels; I’m not sure who’s causing all the damage in the tomato patch.
Monster Sized Peppers and Eggplants
Then there’s that gigantic pepper that I’ve been keeping my eye on. It’s at least a foot long and slowly ripening from dark green to bright red moving downwards. The sweet bells, habanero, fish peppers, pimiento, and other varieties of peppers are all bearing and ripening large crops of delicious fruits.
The eggplant harvest has been the most productive that I’ve seen in years and without the typical flea beetle ridden leaves that can ruin the plants. Maybe that red plastic mulch was just a coincidence but I will definitely use it again next season.
The Goyo Kumba eggplants have lived up to their reputation and are well over five feet tall and loaded with small fruits that haven’t begun to turn red yet.
The Lowdown on this Season’s Insect Pests
Insects have not been much of a problem this summer and I haven’t resorted to applying any organic pesticides, with the exception of one application of soap spray to the eggplants early in the season.
The Colorado Potato Beetles didn’t touch the fingerling potatoes, but now a few have mysteriously appeared and begun feeding on the eggplants. I just pick and toss them far away when I notice them, how’s that for an effective organic control?
Gardeners in this area have complained about the severity of the Japanese beetle infestation but I’ve only recently observed any in my garden. So far they’ve been content to focus their attention on a large tansy plant and haven’t caused any noticeable damage to the edible plants.
Now that I’ve begun setting out fall cole crops I have a supply of bacillus thuringiensis (BT) ready and waiting for the cabbage worms that will surely show up as the white cabbage butterflies begin to target and lay eggs on their favorite fall vegetables. Yes, things are changing out in the vegetable patch!
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