Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Garden Journal - July 15

Gosh, I feel so depressed about the garden in July.  It seems like half the stuff I planted in spring is dead, or at least half-dead. I told you I wasn't the greatest gardener. But... it's not so bad, as long as the tomatoes are doing ok.

The Sungold has already produced a handful of little orange beauties. These are probably the earliest tomatoes we've ever had! And the Japanese Black Trifele has set its first fruit.

The melons are flowering, and the bees are all over them. This is the Desert King watermelon. I love those deeply lobed leaves.


And here's the Charentais canteloupe. We only have one now - the other just died for some unknown reason. In its place, I planted the seeds we saved from the "mystery melon" that grew from the compost a few years ago (it was something like a Canary melon, oblong with yellow-green skin). Hopefully those will do well - they certainly came from hardy stock, and since our first frost won't come until October, it's not too late for planting melons.


The volunteer squash has produced a fruit! I still can't tell what it is. It looks like some summer squash I've seen, and that would mean this little guy is ready to pick... but it felt so hard when I squeezed it, I decided maybe not. We'll just have to wait a little longer to see how it turns out.


The Hopi squash has a very different growth habit - look how upright it is. No flowers yet, but the stems are incredibly thick! That's a tendril of the other squash cruising on by next to it.

The Tarahumara squash never sprouted, so I planted a few "mystery melon" seeds there instead.






Here are the first chiles (Espanola Improved). And Dave just planted a few black beans (Turtle, which is a bush bean), to fill in the patch. We've never tried growing these before, so it will be neat to see how they do.


So, for the summary:
Things that are doing well include yard-long beans, okra, tomatoes, marigolds, chiles, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, basil, and pears. The grapes I planted last year (Roberts Red) and this year (Himrod) seem to be doing fine.

Things that are not doing particularly well include artichokes, cabbages, dino kale, beets - these are all in one bed, so maybe it's the soil, or the afternoon sun. These are all moderate to heavy feeders, so next year I'll have to pay more attention to enriching the soil. They're doing much better on the side that gets more shade, so maybe I'll try them all in a shadier spot next year. Except the artichokes are perennials, so I'd like to try to make them work in this spot.

The fava beans, chervil, and green onions I planted in the beds under the Tree of Heaven didn't make it either - maybe it's the soil in these beds, or the shade, or quite likely just the heat. The sorrel is hanging on for dear life in there. But the upland cress was a definite success there in the spring.

Frying peppers and Tarahumara squash never came up - maybe they need a bit more coddling, so I'll try to start them inside next year. And the potatoes in barrels - not a huge success, but they're hanging in there, so we'll see what happens. Next year, I think I'll go back to growing them in the ground, in a sunnier spot than we did last year.

As for the perennials, the hop vine is still tiny, and I'm not sure if it's just because this is its first year, or the soil, or what. The strawberries are doing ok but not great - maybe I should try covering the soil with white plastic to cool it and keep the pillbugs and sowbugs off the berries. And I'm afraid the raspberries and blackberries I planted along the front fence have died. I'm guessing it's the heavy clay soil... I didn't prepare the soil very carefully, and I think they need some coddling in this climate. The Fall Gold raspberry I planted in the back yard, in better soil, is doing ok but not great.

All in all, maybe a 50% success rate. Every year I learn something new. It looks bad now, but come September, I'll be singing a different song. Everything that does survive July goes crazy once the monsoons arrive and the temperatures cool down a bit. If they ever come... this year is just scary dry.
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