It’s been 17 days now since we planted our summer garden, and so far, things look good for the veg, not so good for the herbs. Here’s the report.
Let me apologize in advance for the scruffy appearance of this post. The basic problem is that it has way too many photos in relation to the text. But this is all about how everything looks, so I’m afraid there’s not much we can do about it. I’d rather have the photos and the scruffiness than not to have the photos. To ease confusion, I’ve tried to place captions on any photos that might be unclear.
We have yet to see the first herb peek its head out of the soil. That’s a disappointment. We’re hoping they’re just moving a little more slowly than the veg. On the veg side, it looks pretty good.
We had a scare last week when we saw just how quickly the dry weather punished everything. A week of intermittent watering has made a big difference now, though. Not one of the plants that we transplanted has died, and all have grown somewhat, although some of the Better Boys are doing better than others.
In the SW corner is the Quinalt strawberry, a transplant. It seems healthy and has sprouted new leaves. Two of the leaves are turning bright red, and we don’t yet know whether that’s a good or a bad sign.
My brother Dave Gray grows what he calls “iron strawberries” on his farm in south Montgomery County. He says they are particularly well-suited to the climate in central Alabama. Our hope is that we’ll be able to prevail on his generosity so we can try some of his strain next year.
In the SE corner is our Early Fortune Cucumber, coming on strong. In comparison to the larger leaves of the summer squash, the leaves of the cucumber look dainty, almost like eucalyptus.
Just to the north of the strawberry is the buttercup squash. The leaves are healthy and supple, but we’re not yet seeing any sign of blooms or fruit yet.
Beside the buttercup squash is summer crookneck squash. Barbara Kingsolver tells a great story about how people in Virginia who normally are casual about locking their cars and houses get anxious in the summertime and start locking their cars, because of the dire risk that you’ll return to find a bag of squash in the back seat. We long to be the people who have so much squash we can’t give it away. For right now, we are eager to see any signs of fruit we can find.
To the north of the buttercup squash are our two Sweet 100 tomato plants. And if you click on the picture on the right and look closely, you’ll see three tiny tomatoes. We’re so excited! We just hope we get a chance to see them ripen before the critters start eating them.
My brother Ruffin says we can make our own cages (he calls them “braces”) for the tomatoes out of 4″ grid fencing material and that they probably should be 5 feet tall or so. So that will become one of our next projects.
To the east of the Sweet 100 tomatoes is the black beauty zucchini. It looks an awful lot like the buttercup squash and the yellow crookneck squash. The seeds looked very similar too, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
North of the Sweet 100 is the Clemson Spineless okra. It’s the tiniest plant to emerge so far from seed, with two tiny leaves on each tiny stalk. It’s coming up. Right now that’s about all we can say about it.
Beside the okra, just to the east, is a Bonnie Bell pepper plant. It has the most gorgeous and delicate white bloom on it! I just can’t get enough of that bloom; just hope she develops some friends.
East of the pepper is the Mountain Pride tomato plant, which the tag said was heirloom. I’m not sure what it means to buy an heirloom tomato at True Value Hardware in Tallassee, AL, but that’s what we did, so I’m claiming it.
The Mountain Pride is already developing some yellowing on the leaves; we’re not sure what that means, so we need to do some research. It is standing tall, though.
To the east of the Mountain Pride we have eight Better Boy tomato plants, which we understand can also get big.
I don’t know how we can get enough cages on them the way they are now; what we probably should have done was to plant 2-3 plants together, and deeper than we did. But we’re learning!
Rounding out our veg are the tall plants on the north end. On the west are the Climbing French Beans. They (along with the corn) look the healthiest of anything we’ve planted, with big leaves and a nice, succulent texture. Ruffin warns us, though, that his beans came up well and looked strong, only to fade after a couple of weeks. He thinks they got eaten by critters. We’re girding our loins.
In the NE corner of the garden is the Golden Bantam corn, looking for all the world like grass. I guess that’s as it should be, since corn is adapted from native grass.
It won’t surprise you to learn that all this growth and fertility has rubbed off on the weeds too. This has prompted us to pull out our new toy, a DeWit weeding hoe. More on that soon.