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2018 Garden: Foiled Again By the Squash Vine Borer

03. August 2018

By mid-summer, my garden is usually in full swing. This year, though, I was delayed getting started. So my tomatoes are behind and seem to be struggling now too. The wet, humid weather brings out diseases that affect tomatoes. Several of my tomatoes have early blight now. While I usually get early blight most years, it’s never bad enough that I lose entire plants. I’ve also never felt the need to treat plants with fungicides. I have been pruning the lower leaves so the disease doesn’t spread. Some plants look much better than others. 

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Early Blight on Tomatoes

It probably doesn’t help that I planted tomatoes right next to my pole beans. Perhaps there isn’t enough air circulation and the plants are too wet there. Dang, look at this jungle!

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Pole Beans

Overall, the fruit production seems small and lacking this year. Some of my plants are just getting blossoms, so I’m being impatient. Gardeners can be like that. On the plus side, my Dark Galaxy tomatoes look stunning. I was most excited about growing this newer variety this year. The actual tomatoes are small, but they’ll look and taste great roasted.

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Dark Galaxy heirloom tomatoes

My Kakai pumpkins are nearly dead. The expected and dreaded battle with the squash vine borers has come to an end. They defeated me once again. Sigh. Every year I manage to help the squash along a little further. But while it’s rewarding to succeed a little more each time, it still hurts to ultimately fail. I did manage to grow five pumpkins, so clearly it’s not a complete failure. But is it worth it to take up so much space in my yard and only get five? No. So this is the last year I will plant squash (insert husband’s eye roll here). And if you catch me growing squash next year, please don’t hesitate to bring that up to me :D

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Kakai Pumpkins

Another gardener told me that she crushes aspirin up in a water bottle to spray on mildew. If my pumpkins weren’t on the cusp of death, I would try this folk remedy. One of my pumpkins has at least turned orange. So hopefully the others make it before the last plant dies. Then the true test will be cutting them open to harvest the pepitas. So out of five pumpkins, I should manage to get about 5 cups of pepitas. And now that I type this all out, it has truly sunk in how sad that sounds. Sigh.

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Kakai Pumpkins mildew

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Kakai Pumpkins

 

CanningCrafts garden 2018: I can't grow squash!

I’ve harvested all of the carrots that I planted in a giant plastic Christmas tree container. A few more carrots were super fun. And alas, the Carrot Container Prophecy came true. The majority of my carrots were straight without any cracks. A handful were forked which was likely the result of me overcrowding my container.

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Cosmic Purple carrots with legs

And all the Black Nebula carrots were...um... as hairy as Burt Reynolds laying on a bearskin rug. I planted the same three carrot varieties for fall. I’m anxious to see if the Black Nebula carrots will be all hairy again. The extreme hairiness may have been from too much nitrogen or overcrowding. Although the other two varieties weren’t hairy, so who knows? 

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Hairy black nebula carrots

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Black Nebula carrot corkscrew roots

I’ve been asked what the black carrots taste like. I’m not a super connoisseur food geek, so all I can say is that they taste like carrots. They aren’t as sweet as the orange Kuroda carrots. I roasted them with the Kuroda and Cosmic Purple carrots. Honestly I couldn’t tell a huge difference between them. Gordon Ramsay would probably roll his eyes if he heard me say that. Whatever.

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Roasted heirloom kuroda, black nebula, & cosmic purple carrots

The history of carrot colors is interesting! Some folks assume that red, yellow, purple, and black carrots are new-fangled veggies. But the opposite is actually true. The orange carrot is a much newer variety that was the likely result of a mutation or from cross breeding yellow and red carrots. 

Black carrots are loaded with health benefits. They have anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Red carrots have Lycopene which also helps prevent heart disease as well as certain cancers. Orange and yellow carrots contain Lutein, sometimes called "the eye vitamin," which may decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration. 

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Cosmic purple, kuroda, & black nebula carrots

 

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Growing Carrots in a Container

Read more about how I constructed my carrot container which includes tips for growing carrots.

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Pole Beans

So far I’m not instantly in love with pole beans. I was looking forward to picking beans standing up. I have realized that my trellis is probably not ideal for pole beans. It wasn’t tall enough, so the vines just twisted into a big clump at the top. So some beans are all twisted and others are hard to find in the jungle. I planted a second round of pole beans after I harvested my garlic. This second trellis is flimsy and constructed out of bamboo. I might as well have made it from match sticks. Time will tell if it holds up. I planted less beans around this trellis, so I don't expect a super jungle. 

CanningCrafts garden 2018: Pole Beans

Another downside for me is that they produce small amounts at a time compared to bush beans. Supposedly they produce much longer into the season than bush beans though. But if I’m picking beans, I think I’d rather have a lot all at once and then be done with it. 

Every time I pick beans in my garden, I'm reminded of "helping" my mom in the garden. She would ask me and my sister to help pick beans, which always felt like a punishment. Sore back, face full of mosquitos. Ugh. We just wanted to play Nintendo. So we would trudge up to the garden and "pull" beans. Yeah, instead of snapping the ends off, we would yank the bean and basically pull the plants up. So mom would then scream at us to get out of her garden before we did more damage. Then we'd happily go play Super Mario Bros. What a jerk kid thing to do. Whew, that felt good to get off my chest. Does anyone else want to confess anything?

 

How is YOUR garden growing? Are you battling the bugs and reaping the rewards of your hard labor?

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