Sunday, July 11, 2010

Six Feet Tall!


Our tallest tomatoes are six feet tall! Robb admitted that when I asked him to build the bamboo tomato cage, he had his doubts that the plants would require such tall support. Other than the Green Sausage tomatoes, which are weirdly tiny, the plants have lived up to my dreams of tomato vigor.

The Hungarian Heart tomatoes are frustrating. They produce huge fringed flowers, but so far haven't set any fruit that I can see. I really don't know anything about these plants, and bought them as a sort of verbal self-portrait. We'll see how that turns out.

There are plants on the other side of the tomatoes -- beet, leeks, beans, and ornamental sage for the hummingbirds.

The beets and the chard are having a tough time. We've got leaf miners, so I keep cutting away their leaves. One of the beets started to bolt, but when I picked it, it was undersized. I wonder what's going on.

We had our first chard today, on pizza with crust that Robb made from scratch. I, being an idiot and a world-class slob, dropped my pizza onto my computer, which then caused a terrible scramble of cleaning, and computer-freezing-up. Robb had to remove nineteen tiny screws in order to open up and dry my computer. I'm such a dunce.

The squash is putting out a flower of two each day, but I'm not sure if they are both male and female, and if the plants are getting pollinated. I got these plants from a swap, when I was giving away my excess tomato plants. I don't actually remember what kind of squash it is. Maybe butternut? I dunno.

Something keeps eating the anise swallowtail caterpillars that live on the fennel. The butterflies lay eggs, they hatch into tiny caterpillars, which then disappear. This is "integrated pest management" in action. Let the critters eat each other. I just wish that whatever is eating these particular caterpillars would develop a taste for the cucumber beetles. They destroyed my cornichon cucumbers, and are the most common bug in the garden, after our honeybees.

Here's a different view of this same bed, from back in March. I find it oddly thrilling to see how much has grown in the time that we've been tending this little garden.


Stefaneener said...

It's so nice to see another compact urban garden! The tomatoes are wonderful. Do you guys have clayey soil? That's got to help with moisture retention.

Christine said...

Yay!!!! I really hope you do a tomato tasting post when the time comes- you got some good ones! The bumble bees must love you for all the tomato flowers.
As for the beet, it's too hot for it right now. You can try growing it in part shade or wait until the fall to try again. Most root veggies are winter crops for us Californians.
I had to lol about the pizza mishap. Thank goodness for boys with screwdrivers of all sizes kept handy for just such an occasion!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Stephani -- our soil is a tight silt, that might as well be concrete during the summers. We had it tested, and it's got great nutrients, but it has lousy structure.

I've been working to introduce as much organic material as possible, to loosen things up.

I think I'm going to need to actually pay money for sand, if I wish to grow carrots. Not a problem you have in Alameda, huh?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Christine -- I'll never pretend to understand the timing of planting here in California. I'm good from Maryland to Connecticut, but useless on the West Coast! (And I even own several of those when-to-plant-it books....)

As it turns out, the pizza grease and cleanup towel were not the culprit. Something's up with my version of Photoshop. Alas!

ajt said...

As for the cucumber beetles, planing nasturiums in the same mound with cukes solved that problem for my sister-in-law, and for me.

My first tomatoes are just starting to get some (non-green) color... and I can't wait!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Abigail -- are the nasturtiums tastier to the beetles than the cucumbers? Or are they Deadly Poison? Nasturtiums are a pretty major weed around these parts, so I'm hesitant to plant 'em.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lisa! Great to hear your garden is doing great! I got my very first tiny cherry tomato yesterday and celebrated by eating it immediately! Yum! I suggest when you choose to put your garden to "sleep", for your winter, (Do they do that in California?)have a LOT of cardboard boxes flattened out and with all tape removed. Dig up your garden good, and put the flat cardboard under all the dirt. (Its a lot of work) The fibers from the cardboard will help give you what you need for your hard packed soil. Also, do you have any nut orchards close by? Any nut shells ground up or not mixed in with your soil will help trememdously by breaking up the hard soil. its all organic and you will see a difference immediately.We do this with the walnut shells from our trees. Good luck. Annalisa

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Annalisa -- winter is prime growing season around here, because it's when we get the bulk of our rainfall.

I have had to unlearn everything I think I know about gardening seasons, to garden in Northern California.

No complaints, though.

ajt said...

Nasturtiums=Weeds? Whaaaattt?
California must be crazy-land.

They are not likely to be Deadly Poison since the peppery leaves and flowers are edible (for humans anyway), although I guess we could perhaps eat something that is poisonous to bugs.
Nasturtiums are supposed to repel aphids and cucumber beetles, but I'm not sure why- perhaps the strong flavor has an equally strong anti-bug smell.
You could put a few in pots in with your cukes, if you're worried about invasion.
Or plant radishes- I think they're supposed to have a similar effect, although I never grow them because I don't like them.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Nasturtiums have been known to engulf freeway on-ramps, around here.

I think I'll read up a bit on "bait" crops. This strikes me as a very good idea.

I was painting the roof-line of my garage, and I was amazed/horrified by the number of cucumber beetles caught in spider webs. Also, by the alacrity with which the spiders work on my garage, compared to my own pokey pace.

Martha said...

Your garden looks amazing! I have photos of zucchini blossoms at this link, which shows which are male and which are female. It's kind of hilariously similar...


Anonymous said...

I just planted a load of beans in a bed that previously housed a failed load of peas. They are just sprouting now and I love to go out and see how much they shoot up overnight. Also, if you let your fennel go to seed it will be ALL OVER your yard next year. Its been growing in the gravel we have down around our raised beds.


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