Tomato row is already looking good, with one of them already taller than me. The metal trellises and bamboo poles connecting them provide a strong structure for plants that normally go up about 7′ here. Strong summer storms aren’t even a threat since the thing they all grow on is basically all one big tomato cage.
There are little tomatoes on all of them, but the Romas are the biggest. I grow heirlooms from seed, except for the Roma; for that I buy a plant cos it’s the same as I could grow from seed, and one less seedling to coddle from baby on up. All the other tomatoes start as seeds so little you could lose them when planting them. It’s always amazing to me that you can grow a 7′ plant that produces pounds of tomatoes from a seed the size of the head of a straight pin. I always plant 2 of each, in case some don’t grow, and then they do, and I have a few small plants to share with friends each spring.
(Soapbox: if you don’t understand about heirloom vegetables and the need for food plant diversity, please google and learn about it. OK, short rant over.)
Below is a group of determinate tomatoes. Unlike regular (indeterminate) ones, which continue to grow and produce all summer, these types stay smaller and produce their whole crop all at once. This particular kind is a small tomato, which I freeze and use whole, cos the skins are so thin that I don’t mind the skins remaining on them. They cook up in recipes and are wonderful.
Once they’re done, I’ll remove the plants and put down a patch of weed cloth, to keep weeds out from under the bean pergola.
Green beans are going up the pole, tho this year Japanese beetles are the worst I’ve seen, and I’m fighting them. I have a non-poisonous trap out, with a pheromone that attracts them and nothing else. I don’t use any poisons in the garden or yard. But the trap isn’t getting them all, and they’re making lace of the leaves, so grandma’s old idea of a bucket with soapy water is good too! Pick them off by hand, and throw them in the bucket. The soap kills them instantly. Grandma knew all the good gardening tricks.
You have to be careful handling those little buggers Japanese beetles, cos they have little hooks on their feet that can break off in your fingers. Many years ago, in the 50’s, before there were urgent care facilities everywhere, a cousin of mine had one crawl in his ear! They had to go to the emergency room to have it removed. The best of beetle collection is when you get 2 for 1, since it’s their breeding season and there’s…..a lot of breeding going on!
The beetles only like the green bean plants; not the other beans I grow. Hopi orange Limas are on 2 poles, one pole of green beans, and the 4th pole has kidney beans, black turtle beans and a couple black eyed peas. The kidneys and black beans get dried to use in winter soups, and I haven’t grown them for a couple years and need some. The black eyes, oh yea, I eat them all fresh. If you haven’t ever had fresh black eyed peas, you’re missing something good.
The beans will go to the top of the bamboo pergola and then across the top cross sticks of bamboo.
Male flowers are now plentiful on a couple little cucumber plants, and some female flowers have produced tiny cucumbers already. If you don’t understand the male/female process with that family of plants, google to read about that amazing process. While beans will pollinate themselves, this family definitely needs insects for pollination.
Cucamelons, the thing I grow that nobody has heard of, are doing great! I get the seeds from Baker Creek, and here’s their ad about them.
Just this morning they had shown that they needed to go up higher than the wooden trellis I had given them to climb on, so I added a couple light weight sticks of bamboo to the top of the trellis. Good cut in half in salads, I like them and so do my son and daughter in law. There seems to be no half way on liking them tho, cos I’ve shared some with people who didn’t like them at all. Taste sort of like a cucumber with a little lime taste. Pick them when the skins are light green, cos later they’ll get tough.
Tiny, wispy little vines and very small yellow flowers produce huge amounts of the little melons.
If you know me, you know I go nuts each year about growing food. But you can’t eat everything and some flowers are nice to see. They add beautiful colors and also attract pollinators. My daughter in law grows some of the prettiest lilies I’ve ever seen, dark purple ones that are doing great this year. They don’t look as purple in the bright sun light.
And I planted a couple things in a big pot at the end of tomato row. Who knew verbena would like it there so well!
We still have baby bunny, and he’s grown. He goes around to different places in the whole yard now, getting braver, but still stays close to several places he can run to hide if he feels threatened. A bigger bunny is around sometimes too, and maybe that’s mom, tho mom doesn’t attend them at all once they leave the nest.
The magic of the earth, the bounty that she provides us, is always amazing. Soon there will be beans to pick, eat and store, and tomatoes to eat and some to freeze for winter recipes. Sweet and hot peppers of several kinds to eat raw or use in recipes. Cucumbers to add to salads.
And enough to share! The beauty of being able to grow food is having enough for you and yours to eat and preserve, and some left over to share with others who can’t garden. I smile while I’m filling up my pickin’ basket in the garden, and again as I’m eating and preserving things, and again when I can give smiles to other people by sharing.
Good gardening to you if you do, and just enjoy the blessings of the earth from the summer, either way.