Garden Update

General garden Well, it’s been about six weeks since the garden went in, and things are going great guns out there. I’ve been through the cool weather crops — spinach, arugula, turnips (mostly greens), and broccoli rabe — I spent last weekend pulling up two rows of bolted arugula that was 2 feet high with pinkish flowers, as well as pulling a bushel basket worth of turnip greens. So now we’re on to warm weather crops, which here in Montana include fava beans. fava beans I haven’t harvested any of them yet, some of the pods feel like they’ve only got one or two beans in them. I hear this happens when the weather gets hot — they don’t set beans. We’ll see.

My tomatoes are really happy in their new raised beds. I’ve grown them on strings a couple of times before, but I’ve never really been disciplined about cutting back all the side shoots, which is what they say you should do in order to force the plants to put all their energy into fruit instead of into growing greenery. So this year I bit the bullet and did it — so far, my plants are covered with big bunches of green fruits: here’s the Milano Plum tomato 2008, this one is Jaunne Flamme Jaunne Flamme 2008, and this one is Sasha’s Altai (a Russian tomato I got from High Altitude Garden/Seeds Trust)Sasha's Altai 2008. I think the heavy pruning is great for the indeterminate tomatoes, but I’m not so sure about the bushy determinate ones. Next year I might do the determiniates like Sasha’s Altai and Prairie Fire in cages instead. But I’m thrilled — they love the bed along the fence, and my remote thermometer over there regularly reads in the 100s during the daytime (the white powder is diatomaceous earth — I was having trouble with flea beetles).

I’m growing a couple of new things this year as well. I have Gallego Kale, a Spanish variety and it’s enormous — nearly three feet tallGallego Kale 2008 and broccoli. I’ve never grown broccoli before and it was a surprise to me that it gets so big. I’m waiting for anything that looks like a head, so far I just have these big plants: broccoli July 2008.

We lucked out this summer — although we had some high winds (I lost half an old apple tree) we didn’t get the golf-ball-sized hail that they got over in Bozeman. From what I hear, gardens and crops over there were nearly wiped out. The only real failure I’ve had so far this year was my peas — it got hot very quickly and I wasn’t on top of the watering so most of my peas burned up. There were a few, enough for Nina’s twins, Vivi and Lola to spend a lovely afternoon in my yard picking peas and eating them raw out of the pods.

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