Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Powdery mildew has invaded the tondo scuro and costata romanesco squash plants on the roof and the dragon langerie beans are slowing down, so I'm starting to think of what to replace them with. We've had success with basil this year so I may get six plants in one of the boxes to extend the harvest into fall and start some cooler weather greens in the other.

Tomatoes are doing well - since putting some pickling lime in and ensuring the mix stays wet, it seems the new fruits have escaped BER. I've started a BER graveyard to remind me to stay vigilant. Bucolic Bushwick did point out some troubles of competition amongst tomato plants, which is interesting since I think that's why the robeson and money maker are so challenged (they went in after plants that were put in alongside my existing prince and zebra went the way of compost). When watering this morning I did notice some leaves on the zebra getting the "purple-spot wilties," so we'll see how much longer the good harvest lasts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Harvests & Help Line

We've been having a reasonably successful harvest so far. We enjoyed handfuls of blueberries every day for some time and have since let the mockingbirds have their run of the runts. The etruria basil plans from Silver Heights Farm have not let us down, as they exploded in this heat wave we've been having; we cut them all the way back to barely two leaf sets and hope to have another huge harvest in a month or so. The dragon tongue beans are pushing out good handfuls every day - enough for a nice bean salad every day or two (though seemingly not as productive as the black valentines we grew last year).

Squash has been a mixed bag...the tondo scuro and costata romanesco are producing in fits and starts. Earlier in the season it seemed we had a pollination issue as fruit was withering mid-growth. Interestingly I think we had the squash started later last year and the fruiting coincided with the appearance of our band of bees. Since the bee activity picked up this year withering fruit has been less of a problem. I might stick to the later start as I am not one to be out there trying to hand pollinate squash...I just don't care enough to go to that length.

Tomatoes, where to begin....they are enormous, so I've taken to trimming the tops. I have had issues with blossom end rot (BER), so over the past couple of weeks I've had to lop off painful amounts of fruit. I'm in the process of procuring pickling lime, which has been identified as a quick-fix. Last year I had the same problem but read that often EBs take at least a year to "get balanced." (BER can be caused by a number of things, among them calcium deficiency)

I picked up the covers of the tomato EBs and noticed that the top was dry. Not sure if this is a function of the crazy heat we've been having, but I'm suspecting that the garbage Miracle-Gro Organic Choice mix I picked up this year is not wicking properly. I've had good luck with this selection in the past, but this year's bags seemed to be more "bark-y" than usual. This morning I'm going to try watering the boxes from the top down to ensure that the mix is thoroughly wet and therefore capable of absorbing the dolomite and fertilizer more efficiently.

BER took my one Paul Robeson, but I still have a decent amount of black prince, green zebra and money maker on the vines, which I am watching over obsessively for any hints of ripening. As for the size issue, next year I might go for a box of determinates instead of two boxes of indeterminates...since the missus and I have started canning some stuff.

Cheers to summer - and if there are any of you in NYC I'd love to hear your experiences with the season so far in the comments.