Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nearing the end

August is just about over and the plants growing on the balcony are giving their last push for the season. The onions can be pulled any time. Only one is putting out flowers and it's a small one. The rest are looking plump. I don't think they'll get any bigger.

The lone muskmelon on my vine is large enough to need a bit of extra support. I made a hammock for it from a small onion sack. This melon is not and will not get very big so the support likely isn't necessary. But the vine it's attached to looked a little weak so I figured better safe than sorry. The melon is just starting to develop netting on its skin, just as a muskmelon should I guess. I don't really know because it's my first time growing one of these.

And of course I'm still getting lots of tomatoes. One more handful from the tiny tim plants (I keep calling them tiny tom) and they should be done. And perhaps another big bowl of black cherry tomatoes. I had such low expectations for the tiny toms but we discovered that they work really well in a garden salad so maybe I'll grow them again next year. They take up very little space.

Spider mites and aphids have made a comeback, although usually I see them much earlier in the year. So far it's just the beans and strawberries hosting the spider mites. And only a small number of aphids on the peppers which I haven't been paying much attention to. I guess that explains why I'm seeing more yellow jackets (wasps) buzzing around. They like to lick the sweet aphid excrement off the leaves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Muskmelon

Before I left last week I  hand pollinated six or seven female flowers that had appeared on my muskmelon vines. All appeared to take and started getting larger and pointing downward. That was a good start. When I got back from holidays, only one appeared to be growing. It's somewhere between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball.

My muskmelons are a hybrid known as Sugar Cube. These are small sweet melons with shorter vines which are great for container growing. But my main reason for picking this one was it's tolerance to certain diseases. I've had problems with melons in the past so I figured I'd go with something mildew and wilt tolerant for a change. So far so good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back from Holidays

Leaving the garden for an extended period of time is always stressful. This time it was for six nights which is a bit too long to go without water. The larger self watering containers are ok. I just fill them full and they can manage. But some of the other containers need help. I setup my Claber Oasis to manage a few container, some ceramic watering spikes for the onions and I used my water timer with a gravity drip system for the remaining containers. And it looks like everything worked out ok. I got back just in time. The only plants that didn't do too well were the celery. I think the Claber ran out of water a day early.

Before I left I picked the Hungarian wax peppers that I thought were ready to eat. My plan was to pickle them. I even bought a canning pot to do it in. I had just enough peppers to fill a pair of 250ml jars. Sadly, the canning pot is not designed for a flat surface cooktop so I couldn't get it done before we left. I need to find a better pot to use with my stove. Maybe if I treat the two plants I have nicely they'll provide me with another harvest like this at the end of September.

More than enough tomatoes ripening on the vines when I got back. The tiny toms were starting to split. Only a few black cherries were splitting on the vine. I made sure to leave the tops on those tomatoes when I picked them to help keep them from erupting after they were picked.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ready to Eat

Tiny Tom and Black Cherry tomatoes picked this morning. The tiny toms make nice salad tomatoes. There are lots more to come but the black cherry tomato vines that grew over the top of the trellis are loaded with tomatoes and the vines are sagging under the weight. I might lose them if it gets stormy out there.

My celery is looking better but I didn't give it enough sunlight and it hasn't been growing as fast as it probably should. Certainly could be thicker. The outer branches are a bit bitter but I kind of expected that. The Hungarian wax peppers are ready to pick. I only planted two plants. In the same container is a single Jimmy Nardello pepper plant and it has a half dozen peppers that are a good size.

Friday, August 5, 2016

No Beans

Despite the growth, I'm not getting any beans on my scarlet runner bean plants. I've been getting lots of flowers but they don't set fruit. There are several possibilities but none seem likely as I've grown beans in this container on this spot in the past and never had problems.

After lots of googling and filtering out information that appears wrong or misleading, I've narrowed down the possibilities and lack of pollinator insects is the most likely cause. I believe the flowers on these plants, although capable of self pollination, need a pollinator insect to help activate that mechanism. Not all beans are like this, but scarlet runners appear to fall into this category. I wonder if I can somehow do this myself?

If these plants aren't producing beans, I might need to do away with them soon. It's a hassle to have to water them all the time and they are starting to crowd out my melons that grow next to them.