Friday, July 30, 2010

Garden Stuff (You Were Expecting Something Else?)

Jennifer Jo over at Mama's Minutia wrote a blog post a day or so ago about wanting to do her garden over this summer. I can't help but believe there are many of us scattered all across the country that would like to be able to do this.

Strange weather patterns have plagued all of us to one extent or the other. Insects seem to be extremely prevalent this year, and in my garden they're attacking crops that have never seemed to be bothered before.

I took a good look around my own garden this morning and made notes regarding what I saw.

As I've mentioned, I planted only cherry tomatoes this year. I've had oodles (and oodles) of lovely green fruit for over a month . . . all without a touch of color yet. Considering our unusually hot summer, I was sure we would be wondering what to do with all our miniature tomatoes by now, but we've not yet had so much as one to sample.

I had done a little pruning on the tomato plants but not as much as I usually do because Erin at Garden Now - Think Later mentioned that she never prunes her tomatoes and that girl knows how to produce tomatoes. (Okay, so she is in Virginia as opposed to me in Minnesota, but still.) I think my plants were putting all their energy into that mountain of greenery they were busily growing and not enough into the fruit. There has been discussion on blogs recently that tomato plants need to be stressed in some way to encourage them to produce ripe fruit and, in turn, seeds to insure their own propagation. So day before yesterday, I decided to introduce a little stress. (To the tomatoes, not me.) To say I pruned them is an understatement.

Maybe I did get just a titch carried away. It's a kill 'em or cure 'em situation, folks. Now, as they say, the proof will be in the pudding.

It's not unusual for shell peas to be coming in near the end of July up here in the North Woods.

But the problem this year is that we've had so much hot weather my vines are drying up and dying off at a rapid rate, and I'm not going to get near the harvest of peas I need to keep us going until next season. There are still scads of unplumped up pods out there, but I fear the vines aren't going to hold in there long enough for all of the peas to mature.

My pickling cucumbers are growing as if there's no tomorrow, and it looks as if I'll be making pickles about a month earlier than usual.

So why then are my slicing cucs and lemon cucs doing NOTHING?? Well, nothing except offering their very life blood (life juice?) up to any marauding insect that happens by. They are so slow this year I'm beginning to wonder if we'll even get fruit off them. And wouldn't you think this hot, humid weather would be good growing conditions for ALL varieties of cucumbers?

All my onions have been knocked flat by winds. Will the bulbs continue to grow so I have more than golf ball sized onions to store for the winter? I don't know, but the onion beds sure are ugly now.

It's definitely not all death and doom in the garden. Lots of things are doing well. Two delightful urchins visiting yesterday asked if they could pull up a carrot. I told them to go ahead expecting to see something the size of a cocktail sausage.

But, lo and behold, there are decent sized carrots growing in that there soil, and best of all, they're sweet tasting. I had feared with lack of adequate moisture and the hot temps, they might be tending toward the bitter side.

This whole blog post has been an attempt to rest from processing raspberries, blueberries, shell peas, and cucs for pickles, all of which have been scattered on my kitchen table and counters since harvesting this morning. The only thing I have left to do yet tonight is blanch and freeze green beans. Phew, whadda day. But since I'm shooting for a day off tomorrow (I hope, I hope, I hope), I really do need to get my rusty-duster back to work.


Sue said...

I had high hopes this year for the garden-it started out warm, stayed warm, we even had a teensy bit of rain. And the garden? It's sitting there, on hold. I get a few beans, a bit of broccoli, TONS of carrots, but it feels like it's not nearly as productive as last year, when I never had a week where my clothesline wasn't full of flannel (it was THAT cold).
Don and I stare at those damn tomatoes day after day-hoping ONE will take the initiative and ripen.

Erin said...

Oh, a do-over! I want in! And yes, comparing my Virginia tomatoes to your North Woods tomatoes might be a bit of a stretch LOL! You aren't kidding about strange weather patterns and bugs - I thought I had battled insects before, this season has shown me I "ain't seen nuthin' yet"! They are everywhere! This year I have leaf-footed bugs (as usual) on my tomatoes, but am plagued with huge numbers of squash bugs and cucumber beetles! Oh, and have you yelled at your tomatoes yet? That's how I stress them out! (or at least it makes ME feel better)! I'm taking the night off the blog, was working in beautiful weather today and instead of rehashing my day in fine print, I'm going out to the yard to enjoy a glass of wine and look at my new light strings I put up outside that actually light up! - (the other ones have been burnt out all year)!

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Sure is hard to figure it all out, isn't it? I guess we just have to be thankful for what we do get out of the garden, try not to stress (too much) . . . and plan for next year. :o) Seems like ALL of us are in the same boat this year. Mother Nature is not discriminating in her weirdness!

Erin - I'm going to have a drink with you tonight . . . and tomorrow I'll yell at my sorry tomato plants.

Katidids said...

I've never pruned my tomatoes until this year and they have been wonderful! But, on the same hand the bugs got the broccli, no peas to speak of other than a handful nibbled on in the garden. My zuc's are about bugged out and I've had 1 stinkin cucumber! but, the melons are going nuts. I'll have a glass with you!

Patty said...

Hey Mama Pea-
Your onions, carrots and peas are in about the same condition as mine. I find that comforting, actually, because if anyone can grow it around here, it would be you! I've been wondering if I should pull out the peas for a couple of days, and also if I should pull the onions.
Aren't the carrots wonderful! Sure us a change from last year for us. Ours were just puney last fall!
Your tomatoes might be coming along slowly, but they're better than mine! I have exactly 2 tomatoes growing on one of my plants, and one of the two has a split down one side. The cherry tomato I was obsessed with earlier this summer is still alive but hasn't even gotten any blossoms on it. One of the tomato plants in the garden had a lot of blossoms. I was all excited about that until yesterday. That's when I noticed that something strange was happening to the blossom's stems. The blossoms are just plain falling off the plant from a spot in the stem about half an inch from each blossom. So strange! I certainly don't know what that could be...
Boy, you sure did give those tomato plants a hair cut! I hope it helps!

Stephanie said...

The carrots look fabulous...I pulled one of ours the other day "just to see", and sadly the thing isn't even as big as my's long, just not fat yet lol. So those will stay longer.
I don't want a do over, as I did better than I expected with almost no experience, but I am furiously taking notes for next year lol.

The Apple Pie Gal said...

I'll take a do-over too! Probably the worst gardening year yet! I don't get it either... Do you guys eat fried green cherry tomatoes???

Mama Pea said...

Katie - At least we all have the comfort of knowing this gardening season has been whacko for everyone . . . it's not just something you or I did wrong!

Patty - My edible podded pea vines are ready to be pulled. But I'm gonna hang in there with my shell peas for a while longer. Don't pull your onions yet. Even when they get blown down, like this year, I let them stay in the ground into September, and they always grow a little more.

Stephanie - Hey, anyone who can do as well as you have for a first time gardener has no worries. :o) You're doing just great!

Apple Pie Gal - Ha! I absolutely draw the line at slicing my itty-bitty cherry tomatoes, dipping the minuscule slices in coating and fryin' 'em up! ;o) Family WOULD perform an intervention then!

LindaCO said...

I love your garden pictures.

Mama Pea said...

Linda - Well, thank you very much!

Patty said...

Thanks, Mama! I'll take your advice.