Garden update - 8-5-12

elkwc(6b)August 5, 2012

I decided to make a new post and not only give an garden update but answer a few questions asked on other threads I haven't got back to.

We had a high of 81 yesterday with a predicted high of 88 today. Just looked at the 7 day forecast from the NWS and it doesn't show a single day with 100 or more predicted. The predicted high is 98 on one day. And chances of moisture a few times during that time frame.

The heat has took it's toll on my garden. I would be denying the truth if I said otherwise. Any shade has made a difference. Some varieties have done a lot better than others. Overall I'm pleased. If I had it to do over I would of waited at least another two weeks before planting seeds for the late garden. Have battled several issues. And many of the plants germinated and then just set there not growing. Also it made it very hard to keep up with watering. I gambled on the temps moderating some and the potatoes and onions maturing and none of the 3 occurred.

The Fowler bush beans have been the only producer so far. I'm impressed with them. Haven't ate any yet as I'm letting some mature for seeds first. Some of the rest of the bush beans have grown well but not set many if any beans. The pole beans overall are growing slow and looking good but haven't set any beans. Chandra's cluster beans germinated well and so far haven't flinched in the heat.

Okra has raised several questions. I finally had decent germination of Stewart's Zeebest. The plants have started producing at a foot or less of height and are still very small. I have them spaced 4 ft a part. I cut the small okra off hoping they will start growing. About to decide that it doesn't tolerate heat/drought well. Several of the other varieties in the same area are growing well. So hopefully will be harvesting some soon.

The potatoes are showing signs of dieing off. Not sure what kind of production I will find. The few plants I have dug had good numbers of tubers but smaller.

It appears within 7-14 days the rest of my onions will be maturing. I left a few that bolted due to the heat for seed. Have never tried that before. I had mentioned the bolting earlier. It has continued up till now. I pulled a few this past week. I've learned extreme temps even high can cause it. It looks like the Bronze D' Amposti will be the best red tinted onion I've grown. Good size and mild flavor. I will post some pictures later but some are sizing up very well. The onions I started from seeds from CO look like they will make large bulbs when finished. But too early to make a fair judgement. The Candy onions have been maturing for 5 weeks now. And still some that haven't fell over. All from the same Dixondale bunch and planted the same day. Go figure.

Sweet potatoes have took off and loving the heat.

The Burrell's cantaloupes are outperforming the other variety I planted. The plants have several little loupes and growing everyday.

Cukes struggled for a while with the heat. But most took off in the last week. I should start picking some within a week. The spaghetti squash has gone bonkers. They have some afternoon shade which may contribute to that. The regular squash has been steady but not real prolific yet. I feel the heat is limiting production somewhat. The cornfield pumpkin of George's took off big time and has stalled. Hoping the cooldown will trigger it to take off again.

Overall peppers have done better than I expected. Some sunburn and a few had BER. Overall way more fruit set on the bell peppers than normal for being as hot as it is. The chile and jalapeno types have done very well. I picked some nice ones Friday evening. The new to me variety Mosco so far is very impressive. What I would call a medium sized chile type, fleshy with excellent flavor and above average heat. Two of the varieties that Chandra sent are setting very well. One is loaded. Many of the others are doing well.

This year I planted my celery in a five gallon bucket and will move it too the lean to in the fall. So I'll have fresh celery for stews, ect this winter. I have kept it on the north side of the house where it receives shade and it has done well. I will post some pictures later.

This brings me to the tomatoes. The last two weeks has been hard on those in the main garden. I have yanked over 1/3 of the plants. And I would conservatively say the plants I removed had 5-6 hundred half grown or larger fruit. I went back to spraying last week. I have sent off 4 plants to the KSU diagnostic lab. To answer a question of Dawns. I feel 3 of them are separate diseases and two are either the same or very similar. I received an email from the lady checking the first two plants. Said both arrived in good shape. That she had ruled out some things but couldn't confirm anything by visual and was waiting on some tests. She feels fairly certain it isn't a viral disease. And from her comments I have the feeling she feels there may be more than one culprit. At least I feel a little better now that I couldn't diagnose either plant visually. Dawn one of the plants I sent of yesterday has wilt. It was a Jet Star plant. Loaded. Looked good last Sunday. Noticed first signs mid week. Over 6' tall. They want you to send the whole plant. I knocked several fruit off. Getting it removed and packaged. Weighed over 30 lbs. I feel it is either verticillium or fursarium wilt. Both of which Jet Star has at least some resistance too. I skinned the lower main stem a little accidentally in handling and saw the first inner layer was brown. But just wanted to verify it as I've had 3-4 others with it that I have already removed and a couple late last fall. And at least half of them are supposed to have some resistance to both. Just want to make sure there isn't another problem. I yanked another plant last night. I have no intentions of sending anymore. Unless I see something I feel is different and like the first two I just don't feel comfortable with diagnosing or after the results come back they see a need too. These plants are in an area where I haven't had tomatoes in at least 3 years. I didn't soak all my seeds before planting this year in clorox but will next year. My goal is too confirm for sure what issues I'm facing. Then to try to decide on a plan of preventative measures for next year. The obvious septoria problems , ect I didn't send in. Just the plants that basically I was confused about. Still have a fair amount of tomatoes on the vines. Picked 30 or so last evening. Most of the later planted plants are looking good and starting to set. Randy's Brandy is continuing to impress. There are some more that I've been impressed with. I will do a full tomato review a little later. I'm starting on my 013 list. And will try to stay closer to it this year than I have in the past. Will be a lot fewer varieties. And the results of the tests will determine a lot. Camo made a post about his grafted plant at a few sites. He is impressed. Assuming I can get my healing chamber issues addressed I will be planting up to 50% grafted plants next year. The one has really impressed me this year.

My sweet corn is finished. I had 4 varieties of late season corn. One filled excellent, one fair and two were 40% or less. Whether it was a timing issue with the heat or that one variety handles the heat better I'm not certain. I will eliminate two varieties though. Vision and Mirai 421 were very good. Vision filled the best.

Again hope to see others results and impressions from this year. Jay

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Awesome update and suggestions. Thanks, Jay!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


It is still hot and dry here and my plants are roasting. We have cooled down somewhat. It was only 107 here today, which doesn't sound very cool, but even 107 is better than the 110-112 we've been having, though not all that much better. They keep putting a nice cool 99 or 100 out there 3 or 4 days away, but then as that day approaches, the 99 or 100 goes away.....I guess that's the price we pay here for being so very far south.

Like you, I am pleased overall with how well the garden has done despite the heat, but we have been in the 110-112 range for at least a couple of weeks now, and I've stopped watering almost everything. When our temps are that high and our soil is as dry as it is, I cannot water enough to keep the plants producing so I stopped trying.

The cool-season crops were a mixed bag, with lettuce, onions and potatoes doing well, and everything else doing not so well. We were too wet for most things in February-April and too hot too early for most of them. The carrots produced pretty well despite a lot of cutworm issues but I'm moving them to the Peter Rabbit Garden next year to a raised bed with better soil.

Warm-season crops produced exceptionally well for the most part.

I planted most warm-season crops about a month early in order to take advantage of the very early last freeze and very early warm temperatures, and that strategy paid off.

Bush beans produced huge loads of beans by late April and early May, depending on the variety and the DTM, and kept me busy picking, cooking and freezing them. Summer squash produced huge loads from late April through last week. As soon as I stopped watering, they were done, done, done.

Pole beans produced moderately well, but the blister beetles and grasshoppers ate them down to bare stems in July, so they're done. I'd hoped they'd make it to fall, but since the pests ate all their leaves, that's not going to happen.

Pickling cukes produced very well, particularly in the absence of cucumber beetles which usually spread disease like bacterial wilt to them. Spider mites hit them hard, and I stopped watering them a while back and they quickly died. I was able to can many pints of pickles and pickle relish, so it was a successful pickling year. The Armenian cukes produced well until the temps being hitting 110 and I stopped watering. We had so many that I deliberately left many on the vines to get huge and I would harvest one or two big gigantic ones every day to cut in half for the chickens. By the time they were that size they were more like the true melons they are, and the chickens adored them. I think there is only one left on the last vine now, and I'm going to give it to the chickens tomorrow.I give the Armenian cukes a lot of credit with helping keep the chickens hydrated and helping them survive the 110-degree-plus heat on many days. Unlike last year when we lost a lot of chickens in the heat, they all have survive so far, which is a great relief.

Cantaloupes have been astonishing in their productivity considering how hot and dry it has been. We've harvested about 25 or 30 total so far and have another 6 or 8 that are likely to ripen before the plants die. There's a part of me that wants to keep watering them, but it is so hot that I don't know if they'd keep producing even if I did water them.

Okra has done well though it has wilted badly pretty much every day for the last 6 weeks despite being well-watered. I believe Jing Orange produced earliest, followed closely by Little Lucy and Mammoth Green, which I believe is a green velvet type with those really long narrow pods. Beck's Big Buck has produced the most pods per plant, and since the pods are huge (wide and fat), you can make a good meal off of just a few pods. Stewart's Zeebest seemed to stall in the middle of the summer but is producing very well now. I probably planted them closer together than I should have.

Watermelons are the best they've been in quite a few years. I grew the reliable mini-melons that set fruit well in limited space: Blacktail Mountain, Yellow Doll and Yellow Baby. Amish Moon and Stars perished in the Three Sisters Garden after I stopped watering it about a month ago. It has less-well-improved soil and just couldn't hold moisture. I'll work harder on that soil in the fall.

Winter squash is one of the few things continuing to perform well in the absence of water. We have 'Seminole' running all over the place, the Waltham Butternut has produced early and often, and one Cornfield Pumpkin is still hanging in there and doing well without irrigation. The 'Tahitian Melon' winter squash did well as long as it was well-watered, but has not done as well as the others in the absence of water.

Southern peas have struggled all summer because the pests have just eaten them back to the ground over and over. They are still putting out new growth despite the lack or irrigation or rainfall and trying to survive. We'll see how they do. The same is true of Lima Beans. My Fowler beans outlasted even Rattlesnake, though Rattlesnake did well until the grasshoppers ate all the foliage. The grasshoppers either didn't like the Fowler foliage as much or Fowlder rebounded more quickly because the foliage just kept growing and growing. Fowler set new beans until a couple of weeks ago, so it will be a regular in the garden now.

Peppers--fearing drought I went with a fairly conservation pepper planting and tried to put as many of them as possible in a new raised bed at the NW corner of the garden that would get shade beginning around 3 p.m. The jalapenos of all types and 'Chichen Itza' habaneros have produced loads and loads of peppers. I've frozen about 20 dozen roasted jalapenos for winter cooking, and still am picking a few dozen peppers a week. I've canned some and used a lot in salsa in addition to what we've been eating fresh. The sweet peppers have struggled with sunscald and also have remained smaller than usual,but they have produced in this weather so I cannot complain.

Tomatoes have produced better this year than in at least 5 or 6 years, being outstanding in every area--earliness, great fruit size, great flavor, huge yields and relatively little fruit issues like cracking. Some of the cherry tomato plants continue to bloom and set new fruit even in these temperatures, which is pretty amazing. Despite lots of spider mite issues and some PM issues when it rained heavily at the begining of June, the tomatoes thrived and I believe the spider mite numbers now are dropping so some plants outlasted them. There was a lot of Early Blight after the very late May/very early June rainfall, but most plants survived it, and the ones that did not already had produced heavily before I yanked them out.

The tomato plants in the containers by the garage are the only ones I'm watering and I am hoping to keep them going for fall. I'm fighting blister beetles on them, but may be winning that war.

The herbs have done well, with most of them being more heat-tolerant and drought-tolerant than you'd expect.

I grew decorative gourds on the garden fence and should have a dozen or two for autumn decorations. I'd hoped to have more, but there were in the dry Three Sisters bed and their foliage is wilting badly and I'm just hoping they are far enough along that they don't sunscald.

I've been working hard on my tomato grow list for 2013 while 2012 is fresh on my mind. Many of the new ones I tried this year were not winners, but a few were. I will focus on trying new (to me) types of paste tomatoes next year, having found a pretty solid lineup of beefsteaks, slicers and bite-sized ones over the years, but not such an engraved-in-stone list of paste types yet. The more time I spend processing paste tomatoes, the more I want to grow the really large ones. It is less work to process fewer, larger ones than tons of small ones, but the flavor has to be there or the size doesn't matter.

Yardlong beans grew and produced really well, but I am not as impressed with their flavor as I'd like to be so I may not plant them next year.

I started southern peas and bush beans for fall and have been watering them. They're under row covers to keep the pests off of them. They're looking pretty good considering the heat. I don't know if I'll keep watering them. It all depends on fires. If we don't have a lot of big fires in August that take me away all day every day like last year, I may be able to keep the beans and southern peas and container tomatoes going. If I get busy with fires, I may not. So far, the horrendous raging wildfires that have ravaged parts of our state are not happening here. Our fires have, for the most part, been pretty easy to contain. We are getting drier and drier by the day, so I am not sure if that will continue.

Overall, despite the tremendous heat and the abnormally dry summer, the garden produced very well. The limited amount of fruit we have produced very well and I'd like to plant more fruit for future years, but that will mean more fencing because the wild things like the fruit as much as we do. It is a great fig year, so for breakfast most days I have cantaloupe and figs. That has made it a memorably sweet summer.

Disease was only an issue when it rained, so I haven't had many disease issues.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:50PM
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