Back in January I posted a link in blogging pal Tracy's blog about a garden trellis design I was contemplating.
Well, I should have moved from contemplation to action, because right now I'm being overrun with ginormous tomato plants, but as of yet, no ripe tomatoes. In the photo on the right, you can see the tomato plants, tidily trellised, lush, yet still well out of the now non-existent mulched path between tomatoes and zinnias. Then we went camping for 2 weeks, and the tomatoes grew like Barry Bonds' biceps. But sans steroids, in this instance. Sigh. We need to be better about both trellising and pruning for better yield. Is it too late to prune now? Will it speed ripening?
Other beds are equally as lush. The herb bed, a sad little thing in the beginning, beset by slugs and groundhog, is now full to bursting with herbs. I've used lots of dill in making 2 double batches (to date) of dilly beans. I had to cut back the cilantro, which was busy setting seed for lack of a ripe tomato to partner with in a zesty salsa. The parsley is recovering from the ravages of Hogdemort, and the rest of the herbs are also eagerly awaiting ripe tomatoes to flavor in various guises.
My cutting flower bed, primarily zinnias, is gloriously colorful, providing weekly bouquets for my desk at the office, and the desks of work cronies, too. A huge vase of flowers certainly made the return to the office less painful. Slightly.
A first for me, my pepper plants are loaded with ripening peppers. Seen here is Lemon Drop, which my pal Michael started from seeds I saved from plants he gave me last year. They are hot, hot, hot, when raw, but get milder when cooked. Slightly. Also plentiful amidst the peppers are Sweet Banana, Johnny's Carmen, and Italian Frying Peppers. The peppers benefited greatly from being in a raised bed and being covered with floating row cover until it warmed up. They would also have greatly benefited from my hard-heartedly ripping out the sprawling volunteer cherry tomato plants growing with them, but alas, I did not and have no heart for it now when I can see loads of green tomatoes. Next year I will ruthlessly rip out ill-placed volunteers. I will, I will!
The bush cherries, a semi-impulse
purchase at the Fedco Tree Sale, are absolutely covered in bright red ripening fruits. A taste yesterday revealed they are still not quite ripe, but getting there. I hope this will provide fruit enough in the future for cherry conserves or jam, since my cherry tree is on the injured list, and the outcome is unknown at this point.
We picked far fewer blackberries this year, do no doubt to our freakishly warm winter followed by our freakishly cold and windy spring. What we picked we are experimenting with, attempting to make blackberry liqueur. The berries are steeping for 3 months, then sugar syrup is added and the mixture aged for as long as you can wait before giving it a whirl.
The potatoes are growing lushly, with barely a sign of a potato beetle in sight. We've had one meal of new potatoes, time for another tomorrow I think. Yum. Other successes include the yummy Costata Romanesca zucchini, and as of now it looks like I'll have a fine pumpkin crop as well, with Winter Luxury and New England Pie ripening on the vines.
Despite early infestation of the striped cucumber beetle, my cucumbers have been remarkably prolific. I have Johnny's Diva and added some Marketmore 76 plants when I thought the Divas were goners. Both are tasty, but the Diva's thin, tender skin puts it on top in the taste test. Again this year I grew the cukes in hay bales punched with holes and stuffed with soil and compost. I think some of the early problems were caused by lack of water, so my plan for next year calls for me to ready the hay bales this fall, setting them in place and amending well with compost, soil and fertilizer. If the hay is more broken down I think it will be more moisture-retentive. This method needs refinement, but with it I have had cukes, last year being my first successful attempt. Training them oon the garden fence has been great, I'll do this again next year.
It's been a great year, with the exception of the tomatoes. Ripen, dammit!