August Arrives

When I'm in the garden day after day, it can sometimes feel like things aren't changing all that quickly, but looking back at the garden highlights at the beginning of July, it's clear that things are definitely changing a lot faster than it sometimes feels.  Of course, I know this, but it still surprises me when I get so focused on a specific project or task at hand that the big picture of the entire garden and entire garden season gets a little fuzzy.  I've really come to appreciate the wider view as a way to put things in perspective, so here's a quick tour of what's going on in the garden as August arrives: 
The Sugar Snap Peas were starting to look a little tired, so I  finally pulled them out to give the cucumbers more space to crawl up the vertical garden fence.  The slicers are racing to the top, but the Lemon Cucumbers are still hanging out pretty close to the ground.  I'm hoping that today's rain will coax a little more growth (and a few cucumbers) out of them.  The Jack Be Little pumpkins and the lone surviving Minnesota Midget melon (casualties of the neighborhood squirrels) are making good progress up the fence as well.
The watermelon are doing especially well this year!  There are easily double the number of Orange Tendersweet melons compared to last year, and the Will's Sugar watermelon is making an impressive showing as well.  I'm anxiously awaiting the day I get to lug a big 15-pound watermelon home from the community garden.
New Litchi Tomato blossoms are opening up every day.  The bees LOVE these flowers!  It's completely entertaining to watch them nudge each other out of the way as they jockey for a good position.  Needless to say, the plants are well pollinated, and quickly filling up with fruit.
The husks are plumping up nicely, but the fruit is still green, which seems to be the general theme of the entire nightshade family in this year's garden:
The tomatillos are likewise loaded with fruit, but are still a ways off from being ready to harvest.  
And then there are the tomatoes.  My two gardens with tomatoes are like night and day.  At home, the tomatoes are easily 7 feet tall, lush, thick, and loaded with gobs of green tomatoes.  There's been a little early blight, and I had to tie two of the tomato cages to the fence for extra support, but otherwise they've been problem free.  They're in no hurry to ripen this year, but I know they'll get there eventually, even if I have to start picking a few to ripen on the windowsill.  
The community garden tomatoes, on the other hand, have had a tough go at it this year, and I've had a tough go at keeping up with them.  They've been plagued with fungal issues and it's been quite a time intensive process to keep up with the pruning, spraying (with neem oil), and fertilizing necessary to keep just one step ahead of whatever it is that is giving me a run for my tomatoes this year.  The good news is that they are steadily growing and setting fruit, but at the end of the day, I'm just not sure if I'm winning the battle or prolonging the battle yet.  
Some of the pepper plants have also run into some fungal problems, but they seem to be far more resilient than the tomatoes.  I've already been harvesting a good number of Santa Fe Grande, Banana, and Anaheim peppers, and the drying peppers (Cayenne and Cyklon) are doing amazing!  Only the Serrano, Habanero, and bell/pimento varieties are still lagging behind a bit.  
The onions are looking really good this year!  The tops are just starting to die down a bit, so there will be a big harvest coming up soon.  I've already plucked out a choice onion here or there for cooking, and they have tasted as good as they look!  
Over the past couple of weeks, the weather has felt a lot more like September than the end of July/beginning of August, but that might be a good thing for the quinoa, which is now standing around 5' tall, with nicely formed flower heads.  If the cooler daytime highs persist, the odds of the flowers producing grain go up substantially.  The buds are still tightly closed, but I have a feeling that once they finally start flowering, it's going to be a pretty impressive sight.
The sunflowers will soon start adding a little bit of color to the garden as well.  I have an assortment of different varieties planted at the ends of one of the community garden plots, and the first ones are just starting to form buds.  Since I didn't keep track of what I planted where, it will be a fun surprise to find out what variety each plant is as they bloom.
Surprisingly, the squash bugs have been only mild irritation this year, which is a nice change from last year.  Powdery mildew has started to rear its ugly head in the past week, but it seems to be  something I can control for the time being.
There are already half a dozen pumpkins set, and this little Small Sugar Pie pumpkin is already starting to turn a little yellow!
I think I finally found the magic number of zucchini and patty pan squash to plant for our needs.  The harvest has been coming in at a nice steady pace, and I haven't had to beg anyone to take some off my hands yet!  I'm finally breaking down tonight and baking the first loaf of zucchini bread of the year.
Another crop that has been scaled back a bit this year is the beans.  I divided my short row of beans between Purple Royalty beans and Dragon's Tongue bean, and they are both in full swing right now.  I'm not quite as impressed with Purple Royalty as I have been in past years with Royal Burgundy, so I may be switching back next year.  
Out at the community garden, the dry beans are growing like crazy!  The Cherokee Trail of Tears beans have outgrown their supports already, and have started to set a few beans.  Good Mother Stallard has been a little bit slower to reach the top (they remind me a lot of the Hidatsa Shield Figure beans I grew last year), but I'm guessing within another week or so, they'll completely fill their tower as well. 
Broccoli continues to come out of the garden by the gallon buckets this year! The last of the Calabrese Green Sprouting broccoli will start producing soon, but then we'll still have the Purple Sprouting broccoli to look forward to after that!

Yes, I think it's going to be a good month in the garden!

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