Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Exceptional growing season?

It looks like it's time for the dog days of summer, and in the central US that means plenty of heat and humidity.  Later this week the predictions are for the hottest days so far with highs in the upper 90's (35 C).  Having said that the growing conditions so far have been exceptional, with plenty of sunshine and timely rains.  I have watered from the pond three times so far this year, which is not that much.

The winter squash have especially benefited from these conditions.  I've never seen this kind of growth from the squash.  The large bed is a mass of green foliage now, and emerging squash are everywhere beneath the green cover.  I'm also seeing the benefits of growing a cover crop of oats/field peas in early spring.   The cover crop not only suppressed weeds and provided food for the bunnies, its death formed a nice mat of mulch for the squash to develop on.  Here's an overview of the large bed.

There's Metro Butternut, Golden Nugget, and Teksukabotu in there.  The Golden Nugget in the foreground is more of a bush type although it is now sending out some vines.   Growth of the vining squash is so robust that they are going over the potato plants:

As well as going under them:

It's obviously time to take out the potatoes and let the squash take that space, but the soil is very wet from yesterday's downpours and the air is thick with humidity now that the sun is back.  Not only was the camera lens fogging up but so were my glasses.   So I'm planning to take out the potatoes first thing Thursday morning, before the heat gets really brutal.  Here's a look at the mass of healthy squash foliage.  If you look close a few small butternuts can be seen:

Here's what is really remarkable about the squash - I have seen no squash bugs.  None.  I noticed last year that the squash bug population was far reduced from previous years.  This year I haven't seen one.  And the squash certainly seem to appreciate it.  Did the bugs simply go away?  I doubt it.  I think it more likely that predators have adjusted and now get most of them.  Birds regularly hang out on the trellises and the beds are full of toads.  I can't think of any other reason why a pest so ubiquitous in past seasons would simply vanish.  And I'm not complaining.  Now if only the vine borer would suffer the same fate.

While I'm not yet up to the task of digging up potatoes, removing the onions was a more doable task in this humidity.  First the remaining Red Long of Tropea onions came out:

Two of them don't look like the others, especially the white onion, which I suspect is not really a Red Tropea onion at all.  Then I pulled up the Ruby Ring onions.  I was pleasantly surprised when I had to get the other drying rack out of the pole barn to hold them all.  It's a nice harvest from about 20 square feet of planting.

The fate of the summer squash was sealed.  It got the borer higher up, which did not kill it.  Neither could it produce any more female flowers with the growing tip gone.  Into the compost bin with it!  It's replacement is growing in the right side of the picture.


Phuong said...

Your onions look so amazing and your squash plants are going crazy. It looks promising in the squash department. I've only seen a couple squash bugs but their eggs are showing up, I'm going to try duct tape to remove them from the leaves.

Mark Willis said...

I am really envious of those red onions! I have decided I will try growing some myself next year. I don't think I'll try an Squash though - just one plant could take over my whole garden if it were like yours.

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