Sunday, June 28, 2009

Out, Out! In, In!

It's just barely past midsummer, and we're in another heat wave: time to do some summer swapping! I got outside at the leisurely hour of almost-9 in the morning, did some remedial watering, and then worked on my in-and-outs. Nope, not the burger joint! Summer crops!

Out go all the lettuces bolting and going to seed, except for one or two for seed-saving, on the perimeter and upwind of where we like our volunteers to come in. Unless they're an exceptionally mild variety, don't bother trying to harvest any leaves from them if they've bolted to over a foot tall-- they'll be quite bitter, usually.

Into that same spot goes some nice compost, watering, a pass with a hand rake, and the next round of summer beans, some Gold Rush yellow wax beans. I also put a sprinkle of carrot seed, which almost never comes up for me, just in case it decides it likes the shade. I've had a few random carrots come up this way, ya never know. Carrots are allegedly a cool-weather crop, but a neighbor who grows them, flawlessly, says he sows them every month except February. He's amended his soil heavily with sand and grows wonderful leeks, too. I should try sandifying a patch of my heavy clay, but haven't quite gotten there yet.

Out goes the mostly-dead (but with a few blooms to make me feel guilty!) Blue Celeste sweetpea that I trellised into the main garden bed. The ones on the fence have been shedding seeds, and I'll harvest a bunch of seedpods from this one. I've picked up the trellis and put it sideways, going across the other long half of the bed, where it will provide a little shade for some lettuces and various things underneath.

Into the ground, on one end of the trellis, I planted a new variety (for me), Renee's Seeds "Spanish Musica" pole bean. On the other end, my tried-n-true Renee's "Italian Tri-Color" pole beans. In the middle, I've scattered a chiogga/yellow/bull's-eye beet mix, some curly parsley, and genova basil. OK, that last I mostly scattered in the sunny spot between my eggplants, but I always try a little diversity!

Speaking of eggplants, my Ping Tung Long, which I'd all but given up on, taught me a lesson. Keep watering! Even if it looks hopeless! Yes, it was only a two-leaf seedling for ever and ever, since MARCH (!) until we got the heat wave previous to this one in late May. That week of high-80F temps caused it to suddenly pop into leafy life! Now it's actually looking like a 'real' eggplant, with a thick purple stem and a plethora of leaves. Huzzah! I transplanted it today a couple of feet away from my store-bought Thai Lavender eggplant and will keep my fingers crossed.

Sadly, none of my Clemson Seedless nor Red Okra made it this year. One of these days I will grow it. I think it might be like the Ping Tung, I might be starting it way too early and too chilly.

On the outs, the lovely but mostly gone-by cornflowers in the big sunny white planter. I had to cut them off at the stem and then carefully jiggle the roots out to avoid hurting the yellow penny/viola. Surprisingly, most of the cornflower was only one HUGE plant, and just a couple of smaller ones.

Into the gap, the Berry Basket zinnias that I've had in tall four-inch pots since they came up in six-packs in May. They're about a handspan tall and were just reaching the bottom of the pots, great timing! I've got a couple of thumb-sized ones in the six-pack that came up late, and will need to refill a pair of the four-inch pots to get those a bit bigger before putting them out... where? Good question.

Let's see, I also pruned the roses in front, especially the up-from-rootstock canes that had gotten some kind of mildew or fungus from overwatering (sigh, they are VERY sensitive and I need to split off our drip system for the roses). Did more daylily deadheading, so they won't waste their strength making seedpods. Put a tripod up in the Tomato Mistake half-barrel, as it was listing heavily to one side.

The Tomato Mistake. Therein could be a whole blog post! Suffice to say that every year I have some kind of labelling disaster, where I lose track completely of what variety are in what seedling pot or six-pack. One year I dropped a tray of NINETY tomato plants which had been 'labelled' only by my writing the names on squares on 3x5 cards... which completely depended on keeping the orientation of the tray and not on rescuing a jumble of tiny peat pots on the floor. This year I was SO GOOD. I labelled and double-labelled. Ok, one pot with a pair of pepper plants in it had the label in pencil and it washed off, but that is IT. I was STOKED.

On an early trip to the nursery, I saw Reisentraube tomatoes and thought, I have wanted to grow these for quite some time, huge clusters of tiny pointed tomatoes hanging like grapes. I have a half-barrel planter. I will prune and stake and have an adorable small tomato plant with snacking on the patio. HA! HA-HA! Yes, despite being from a store, and having a Real Label in the Pot and everything, my little cherry Reisentraube is in fact some gigantic sprawling cuckoo of a tomato, possibly even a beefsteak variety. It never fails. I have relegated it to the front side-yard, near the daylilies, and have just now had to put a tripod in the planter to keep it upright. There are already tomatoes on it as big as my fist. I have no idea what color they will be when fully ripe, or what kind they are. NEENER NEENER says the Garden Universe. I am still going to keep labelling. Just you wait.


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