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.


jyc said...

thanks for sharing your urban garden.

I have two Sheboygan tomatoes (indeterminate) growing in my first-year EB and have lost many fruits to BER. Fingers crossed for the remaining healthy fruits!

The soil in my EB did seem dry at times, so I do add about 1 liter of water from the top down when I notice it drying up. I decided to go local on the potting medium and got potting soil at the Union Square the Greenmarket from the East Side Ecology Center (about 40#/EB)

Bucolic Bushwick said...

During the heat wave the tomatoes were sucking down water like nobody's business. I added a 3L drip irrigation soda bottle to the GrowBox container to make it through the day. Don't ever let the soil dry out. I notice if you let the soil dry out even just once in a SIP it pretty much guarantees you'll lose some fruit to BER.

I stuck with all determinate tomatoes this year. They've been much easier to care for than the indeterminates I grew last year.

William said...

Were you able to find pickling lime? My local nursery and grocer didn't have them. My tomatoes probably got BER from inadequate watering. I poured one third cup of Espoma garden line into the reservoir and have been watering the EB three times a day. Fruits seem find so far.

Chris said...

jyc - I've had good luck with LES Ecology Center products...and have mixed in some vermicompost from a worm condo I had operating earlier in the year.

Bucolic Bushwick - I'm sort of a lazy gardener so the drip irrigation sounds right up my alley to help the EBs make it through the day. DEFINITELY doing half-determinates next year...tired of trying to manage the big indeterminates when they start growing rampantly and start going over the railing and trying to make their way into the apartment!

William - I resorted to the luxury of the internet (had to restock on preserving lids anyway) for the pickling lime. Seems to be working. Hadn't thought of putting the espoma directly into the reservoir but that sounds like it would work (I am using espoma in the mix). Living in a neighborhood where many people have gardens full of determinate tomatoes come fall it's easy to find preserving supplies in hardware stores...but in late summer/early fall it seems.