Because we are returning the garden back to the Park for the winter, the remaining compost was bagged to be taken away. But first I sifted it to extract usable soil, and got nearly a wheelbarrow full! This from two months, the second of which I turned it naught, and it suffered from low night temperatures (which slow decomposition).
The sifted compost was spread over the empty garden and raked in. The remainder filled over a bag, which then had to be divided amongst several bags because of its heaviness.
The peak of the harvest is past, and yet we tried second plantings of some crops because we had the space, to see what would happen. With about a month to go, here's their progress.
Cabbage & Cauliflower: large leaves, producing well, but no sign of heads yet.
Carrots: leafy fronds are doing well; no sign of poking out of the ground.
Beets: alive but struggling.
Spinach: mostly eaten by Something.
Peas: half-height, base leaves yellowing, no sign of peas.
Lettuce: looking good! Might harvest some next week.
Also, here's an update on some first plantings:
Eggplant: *continues* to produce, though more slowly.
Beans: the bush beans produced another handful; the pole beans have disappointed.
Potatoes: we pulled a single plant to obtain some potatoes for display at Town Day. The number amidst the roots was extensive, and while mostly small-to-tiny, there was at least one big red one. From just one plant!
Squash: the tiny zucchini was accidently harvested; there's still a medium yellow squash; and the pattipan has several small fruits (not to mention flowers) which it thinks it has time to make bigger -- we'll see.
The mildew is back to some extent on the squash, and worse, has jumped to the other side of the garden and covered the collard leaves.
The rest of the greens (kale, chard, arugula and other herbs) still doing well.
Today we picked our first red pepper and pulled out the cucumber vines, which were pretty much covered with mildew and not doing much. Everything is slowing down.
Today we dug the second row of potatoes and pulled the radishes from where the first potatoes were dug. And we picked a few eggplant. Ratatouille, anyone?
Mildew attacked the leaves of cucumber plants and zucchini (and other summer squash) plants this summer. Despite this, we harvested abundant quantities of each, so one could just call this part of our ecological tithe, especially since we weren't eating the leaves. Yet there was enough concern that we did try to address the problem.
We altered our watering, so as not to water from above near these plants (as well as the tomatoes, given the threat of tomato blight). Water on leaves helps spread disease, and it's water into roots which counts. We added a soaker hose in the area of these plants as well.
We also tried a couple pesticides. The first was a dilute mixture of hydrogen peroxide. The effectiveness was questionable, requiring multiple regular applications to seem to work. The second was baking soda and soybean oil (vegetable oil) diluted in water: about a tablespoon of baking soda with a half gallon of water; the oil helps the baking soda stick to the leaves. A few days later, many of the leaves of the squash plants appeared free of mildew. However, it is unclear how much of this is new growth unyet touched by mildew, since we cleared away the dead leaves.
I expected the pole beans to have reached the top of the trellis by now, which the peas did. While a few runners reach high, most are about halfway up. Also, many of the leaves nearest the ground have yellowed, usually an indication of some nutrient deficiency. The usual culprit is lack of nitrogen, but beans being legumes put nitrogen in the soil, as do the peas preceding them. Alan added some chicken manure.
Last Saturday, we harvested the last of the soybeans. We did not stagger the planting, so (unlike bush beans or pole beans) soybeans become ready to harvest about the same time. Despite this, we manage to spread out our takings over four weeks.
We held our first open house on the evening of August 21, 2010, in the early evening before the Friends of Robbins Farm Park Movie Night. About 50 visitors had a cracking time exploring the garden and sampling our cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, edamame, and Steven's savory marinated swiss chard. A grand night out!
We found another tomato hornworm today- it was incredibly fat and happy. One of the clues (aside from the stripped tomato branches) was the presence of what turns out to be worm poop on the ground.
Also, we had some visitors outside the fence. We were worried about animals being able to make their way through the fence to munch on the veggies. These pet bunnies were outside the fence causing the garden no harm. One of them was even on a leash!
The Yellow Perfection tomatoes have almost all split before harvest. On the other hand, they are prolific.
Taste testing is mixed. A few gardeners think that they are bland and uninteresting. On the other hand, one gardener thinks they are amazingly good. Go figure.
Saturday we sifted the compost for the second time, extracting about half a wheelbarrow-full. I was impressed with the quantity, given that most came from garden waste (including grass clippings from the borders). The rest of the compost is decomposing well, except for the bamboo twigs (waste from setting up the bamboo trellis).
Growth has exploded in some parts of the garden. Some veggies, including the eggplants and the cucumbers, have spilled over into adjacent paths and are now breaking out through open slots in the garden's fence.
We have harvested tasty young leaves from our collards and kale plants nearly every week over the past 2 months. They're now at a point where they look like a plantation of tiny palm trees.
... nights, when we were not around.
Snaps of the kids to follow.
Lots of people with lots of questions dropped by this morning.
A local ripple in the big wave back towards small plot, do-it-yourself gardening.
We pick some of their leaves most every week; but these two cousins keep comin' on strong.
Just one row of each of these muscle plants can provide a single household
key vitamins and minerals the whole summer through.