Welcome back to the garden everyone! Please make use of the mosquito head nets and repellant sprays. We have DEET spray or a lemongrass marigold mixture for those of you who like a more natural choice. I recommend the later for your service animals who are, or course, always welcome! Torches with lemongrass infused oil are burning outside, have fun and PLEASE do not leave the door open!
When we were last in the garden we were on the on the verge of early June and were about to have several days in the 90's.
The heat came and was sweltering and humid. We had a downpour or two, but nothing damaging. It did cause a lot of standing water. Silently, several million floodwater mosquitoes began to hatch.
Common mosquitoes had already hatched in moderate, tolerable numbers. I harvested the last of the spinach before it all bolted in the heat, and I finally started to get some decent growth out of some of the more heat loving crops.
Here are the standouts:
And, the pitiful underachievers:
and Lima Beans
Lima Beans! I had been so far entirely unsuccessful in getting lima beans to germinate either directly in the soil or by soaking in mason jars. When it got hot, I sowed that last of my lima beans in a 4th down attempt to germinate them. After much fist shaking and cursing, they sprouted and started to leaf within a week only to be attacked by slugs!
I am not sure if the slugs were also responsible for the damage to my struggling okra, but the earth around the beans and the okra received a generous application of diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaeous earth is a white powder mined from beds containing the fossilized bodies of single organisms celled diatoms. Diatomaceous earth is one of the only pesticides which works physically not chemically. The powder is very abrasive and soft bodied insects and arthropods, such as slugs and caterpillars will get it the powder all over themselves as they crawl over it which destroys its subcuticlious layers and the pests expire from dehydration. It is uber-organic but should not be applied to flowering parts of plants so that it won't harm honey bees.
Diatomaceous earth is not particularly effective against beetles or flying insects, requiring the pest to crawl through it to work. Diatomaceous earth is effective as long as you can still see it and thus must be reapplied when rain or dew washes it away. In addition to the okra and beans, I put it around the cabbages as well because the only thing that loves cabbage more than a Frenchman are slugs!
After several sweltering days, the cold front came down like a hammer through Wisconsin, generating winds in excess of 100MPH in Dade and Racine counties. By the time the front reached us, the storm weakened some but still packed nasty winds blowing west to east.
The Sweet Corn was nearly completely knocked down. I was not too concerned about this. I got a good jump on the corn and the roots are well developed. Despite being largely flattened, it did not get washed out. It should upright itself with a little help.
The underachieving okra and melons, however, were badly washed out and had to be rightened and the roots re-covered with mud.
The garden was a mess but the broccoli heads matured in early June and I had a decent harvest.
I am still getting a few side shoots but they are bolting very quickly. I have plenty in the fridge to roast and sautée for weeks to come.
The pleasant high pressure did not last very long and with the return of the humidity came the maturity of the floodwater mosquitoes. We could not walk to the car without getting attacked by a squadron of nasty little biting bastards. Unlike their common West Nile Virus carrying cousins, the flood water mosquitoes hatch and mature en masse and are extremely aggressive.
We let the dogs out to go to the bathroom and we have to smack them all over to kill the mosquitoes that they are bringing into the house. We spray them down with the lemongrass/marigold spray that is intended for horses. It is only a marginally effective deterrent.
The mosquitoes were so bad that I largely ignored the harvesting of the June bearing Strawberries that I have growing in a bed alongside part of the privacy fence. That is not to say that we did not enjoy the strawberries but I let just as many go to the slugs and birds this year.
This past Weds day I braved the mosquitoes to harvest the first of the peas which are FINALLY mature. I got about 40 nice full pods with about a dozen mosquitoes attacking me for every pod picked. They went into a very nice fried rice that Virginia cooked up while I was shelling.
This weekend came, and as if some benevolent wizard walked through wearing funny clothes and jingling bells, the floodwater mosquito infestation lifted. I mowed the lawn on Friday and on Saturday I went out into the garden in my mosquito gear and found that the swarms had subsisted. I also found that the weeds that had escaped the blade of my stirrup hoe in May were threatening to go all jungle on me.
Fortunately, June had been wet and the ground was thoroughly moist. The best action for weeding in these conditions is just to get down on my hands and knees and start pulling. It was not humid and tolerably warm so I had no trouble as I pulled out weed after weed by the taproot pitching them over the fence into the yard.
I went over to where the strawberries and raspberries are and picked what are probably the last of the strawberries.
Last year I bought a variety of raspberry plants from Burpee. One cultivar called Killarney had thrived exceptionally and is now producing a good number of tasty red raspberries. Put a handful into my oatmeal this morning.
The main garden is looking fine too. I am leisurely taking note of each crops' progress on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon.
The lima beans that I have wrung my hands over so much are growing up its trellis. They are about up to my navel.
The pole beans are above my head.
The okra is finally looking healthy but is shorter than it should be at about calf height.
The Melons and winter squash are about a forearm's length. I am trying to coax them wrap their tendrils around the chicken wire to climb.
The Onions seem to be making nice big bulbs for the most part despite having to compete with an obnoxious grass which I foolishly let take too great of a foothold into the center of the garden.
I have a big silver tarp which I am using as a solar blanket to cook the grass to death. I have laid it down where the broccoli raab used to be and will unfold it to completely smother the grass over the summer.
Unlike the onions, the garlic bulbs are tiny things about the size of pearl onions right now. If they do not dissect into tiny cloves, each bulb should be usable on its own however. They do have a great flavor and I hope that this will be the case.
All of the potato plants are flowering and are big and healthy. I have managed to keep the beds weed free for a change this year!
The Cauliflower has just matured this past week and I am harvesting somewhat undersized heads. We have been enjoying them raw dipped into hummus.
The early cabbage is excellent! I have harvested one head and made a strawberry vinaigrette slaw out of it for lunch.
Beets are about golf ball sized right now.
Carrots are about as wide as a Sharpie marker.
Zucchini and summer squash plants are filling out fine and have flowered. It turns out that Klein’s, or their seed supplier goofed: the plants are producing patty pan yellow squash , not straightnecked.
The sweet corn recovered well from getting knocked down and is now chest high. The Quickie sweet corn has fully tassled and is pollinating. I should have corn in a couple of weeks. The Kandy Korn is just starting signs of tassling as well so it looks like I shall have one harvest on the heels of the first.
One of the Roma tomato plants is chest high the other is waist high. The former is showing signs or early blight.
Early Blight is an infection caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. I have trouble with it every year with my tomatoes. It first appears as Brown spots on the lowest leaves where there is the most shade and least air circulation. I trimmed up the bottom stems of the plants to ensure better air circulation and sprayed with a copper soap solution. The copper soap inhibits the spore reproduction of the fungus and may help reduce the spread of the infection. I shall apply it to affected plants as directed every seven days.
The best ways to minimize the effects of early blight are to plant disease resistant cultivars, avoid overcrowding, trim to promote air circulation, treat affected plants upon detecting symptoms.
All of the tomatoes are flowering and setting fruit. With an abundance of heat and light, I might have ripe tomatoes from the Early Girls by the 4th of July.
I have a nice start on a row of sweet basil which is already ready to compliment the 'maters when they mature.
It is too bad the Okra is so far behind the tomatoes and the corn. One of my favorite things to subsist off of in the Summer is a simple vegetarian gumbo: okra, onion, peeled cherry tomatoes, cut corn and whatever else is fresh!
I guess that is going to be all for now, when you stop by next time we will have all sorts of good summer veggies and undoubtedly I be battling the evil appetites of hundreds of Japanese Beetles.