This year, because of some planned travel in May and June, I planted my summer crops later than usual. I didn’t want crops to mature to harvest-stage, and go to waste, while no one was at home to bring them into the kitchen.
The good news is that, while I was gone, the garden was fine. A neighbor (thank you, Heather!) did water the garden once, in the middle of that extra-hot, extra-dry stretch of weather in late May. However, mulch on the garden held the moisture well enough that the one watering was enough.
How the tomatoes fared
I had clipped off the first flower cluster from each of my two tomato plants, as part of my effort to delay production of ripe fruits. Both plants were small when I left, each of them tied to a stake in the center of their large tomato cages.
Now, the ‘Park’s Whopper’ (a hybrid variety) is taller than I am. Yesterday, we stacked another section of a Texas Tomato Cage on top of the first two, to provide support for the higher parts of the plant.
The entire ‘Park’s Whopper’ plant is gloriously green and healthy, and it holds many, many tomatoes.
The other tomato plant is a ‘Black from Tula’. This heirloom plant is not as tall, and some leaves have turned brown. I do not yet know why. Our first ripe tomato for the summer will come from that plant, I am sure, since one is already turning. It will probably be spectacularly delicious.
I think, though, based on the presence of several dead leaves, that the plant will not live to produce tomatoes for as long as the ‘Park’s Whopper’.
How the peppers fared
This year’s garden has three varieties of peppers. Plants of the two kinds of sweet peppers, ‘Feherezon’ and ‘Purple bell’, are all alive and productive. We lost one of the ‘Carlo Putini’ Italian hot pepper plants, but the other (there were two, originally) is healthy and loaded with peppers.
We have eaten some of the sweet peppers, but I am waiting for the ‘Carlo Putini’ peppers to turn red and fully ripe before bringing any in.
Some other crops
Cucumber/squash family plants
The cucumbers and zucchini were just seedlings when we left town in mid-May, but they are large and flowering now. The first fruits from both of those should be ready in the next week.
Bean family plants
The pole beans – ‘Blue Marbut’ – and the Southern peas were also just seedlings when we left town. They are all beginning to flower.
Annual and bi-annual herbs
All the basil plants are large, and some are making flowers. Yesterday, I brought in a lot of ‘Genovese’ and ‘Lettuce leaf’ basil to make the summer’s first batch of pesto. That batch is in an ice-cube tray in the freezer, to save for use in winter.
The parsley is large and healthy, and it will be added to many kinds of salads over the next several weeks. Purslane also has popped up around the garden, and some of that went into salads this weekend.
The borage and nasturtium plants have plenty of leaves, but no flowers yet.
Garlic and onions
Usually, the garlic is ready to harvest by now, but for some (unknown) reason most of the plants are still mostly green. Soon, though, it will be time to pull those plants.
The only onions in the garden this spring/summer are Grandpa Bill’s ‘winter onions’ (aka: ‘tree onions’, ‘walking onions’). The tiny bulbs that form in a cluster at the top of the stalk are sending out roots and shoots, to make new onions for the coming year.
To plant next
In the next few days, I will be starting some more summer crops, to go into the garden soon. There will be another tomato plant, this one a ‘Winter Keeper’, and some summer greens.
The greens will be Swiss chard, the varieties ‘Perpetual Spinach‘ and ‘Verde di Taglio’. The two look similar, but I am interested to find out whether they grow about the same and whether they work in the kitchen the same.
Another green is the amaranth variety ‘Chinese multicolor spinach‘. The new, small leaves are supposed to be good in salads, and the older, larger leaves for cooking.