The garden is coming along strong. Tropical tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash and other varieties just love the heat and it shows.
On August 8th, I determined that the garlic was ready for harvest. The outer leaves were browning, and scapes were standing straight up. I grew hardneck garlic varieties, Russian Red and German Extra-Hardy, because both do well in my zone (5b).
In the center of this photo, note the upright scape. This is an indicator that garlic is ready to harvest. (Click on any photo to enlarge).
After harvest, these were the garlic plants that had scapes. Note the size of the bulbs - they are basically a single garlic clove. Looks like taking the scapes off makes a difference in bulb size, at least in my yard.
Some of the garlic started growing little bulblets at the top of the stem, even though I'd picked off the scapes. Our resident garlic expert said that this was another way for the garlic plant to reproduce, and that the wet summer may have spurred this behavior.
This is a picture of several of the largest cloves I got (bottom) with some "medium" ones on top. In previous years, I was lucky if I got a couple of cloves this large. Fresh compost and rain must have helped the plants this summer!
This year I got many large bulbs. I sorted by size, and small, medium, and large are in their bins from left to right. These are now in my uninsulated garage, curing in the heat. I'll have to bring them in before it gets cold out, so they don't freeze and spoil.
I canned pickles this past Saturday and picked out about a dozen of the medium bulbs - after cleaning and peeling, I had a half-pound of garlic cloves. We'll have plenty to enjoy this year, after sharing with family and friends. I'll also save some of the largest garlic for planting, as it is acclimated to my yard.
Now there is a lonely spot in the garden, but it will be ready for next year's garlic as soon as I add a bit of compost. I read that alliums do better planted in the same spot year after year, and if this year's garlic crop is any indication, that is apparently true!
Well, in my yard, anyway. I'm told by our resident experts that it is better to rotate crops, to prevent pests and diseases. However, this is the shadier end of my garden, and other plants would suffer more there.
We also picked our shallots - their leaves had laid down fully. They are also curing in the garage. Next year I should plant twice as many - I love shallots and they go quickly. It is so inexpensive to grow and store them, comparied to the exorbinant prices charged by the grocery store.
The onions continue to grow. This weekend I did notice some browning among the leaves, so we'll be harvesting them soon.
The tomatoes are growing nicely, and you can see that the eggplants have taken off of late.
Here are some ripening hybrid Tomaccio cherry tomatoes. You can see yellow leaves - these all had signs of bacterial speck. My tomato plants get bacterial speck every year, and it is a mere annoyance until late September, when the fruit start to get spotty. But they are still edible - we just cut off any really bad spots.
Here is a close-up of a leaf with bacterial speck. Of course, I've diagnosed it myself, so if you think it's something else, let me know!
Sungold tomatoes continue to grow and ripen on the "ringer" plant I bought. I'm never growing a garden without "ringers" again - so far they're my only producers!
The tomato trellis - they are growing, slowly but surely. In the back right of this picture (in front of the arborvitae trees) you can see oregano growing.
Rows of growing tomatoes - they're coming along.
Kellogg's Breakfast, a bright-orange beefsteak heirloom variety, coming along. Hopefully they'll be close to ripe before the f-word comes along. (I mean frost of course, what were you thinking?)
Tomato blossoms coming along - note the browning one toward the top. It wasn't fertilized in time, and will break off so the plant stops putting energy into it, and the others can grow into tomatoes. I believe this is Black Cherry.
I planted basil between my tomato plants. In addition to making my favorite summer caprese salad much easier to make, the basil is supposed to be a good companion for tomatoes, doing everything from repelling bad insects and attracting good ones, to making tomatoes taste better. (I originally read about this in an interesting book called "Carrots Love Tomatoes"). I learned that the two plants can get along, but the main reason I put the basil among the tomatoes is that I never watered my herb garden.
The herb garden (in the back perennial bed) now features a massive, self-seeding oregano bush (probably many plants but it is huge!) and chives. I also have some perennial vegetables back there - Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb and asparagus - and strawberries. They are in a lot of shade so do variably well - I did get about a quart of strawberries from my two-year-old never-properly-trained plants this year.
I tied the tomatillos to their stakes so they wouldn't sprawl into the onions.
The husk cherries are coming along - we'll see if I get a crop this year. I hope I do - they are supposed to make nice jam.
The sweet potatoes are vining well - they'll be trained toward the garlic now. In the lower left hand corner of this picture, you can see the volunteer tomato plant that had come up with the garlic. I am fairly certain that it is a Wonder Light plant - the tomatoes are shaped like lemons, and when ripe, will look like them.
The squash are coming right along. I think I didn't clear away enough garden fabric for some of the plants to thrive, so next year I'll change that.
I have been training the pumpkins to climb the trellis.
I have some baby pumpkins coming along. I need to dig through the leaves to find the variety tags.
Cucumbers are along the trellis on the right, and in front of the tomato trellis, you can see several dill plants I put in place of peppers which died. Dill is supposed to be a companion for cucumbers, so next year I'll plant it closer (and further from the tomatoes).
More companion planting: nastirtiums apparently attract predatory insects, and repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs, among others. (Wikipedia has more info about companion planting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants). So they don't just look pretty!
The bean trellises are very lush.
The Red Noodle Beans are climbing to the top of the trellis.
The Fortex and Marvel of Venice beans have done very well. As of 8/15, I've picked 9 pounds from 24 feet of plants (about 24 plants). And they are delicious!
The edges of the leaves on the potato plants in the compost are just barely starting to turn brown.
The potatoes in the compost bin are still growing - they even produced a little potato fruit. Do not eat!
The peppers are blossoming, finally!
The eggplants have grown nicely, and have buds.
I can't complain about this summer. Despite the slow start, things are going great guns now.