Monday, July 2, 2012

Out with the Old, or The Mayhem continues

Last spring I bought red onion sets from the farm supply store  to fill in after much of the yellow storage onion seed from last year did not germinate.  The recent windy weather broke the spine of many of them and knocked them over.  I pulled up a batch last week and let them dry on the edge of a bed.  Many of them are nice sized bulbs.  Sunday I pulled more up, most of them red onions.  I'll let these dry for a week or so in the abundant sun and heat (actually too abundant). 

Again a diverse harvest.  The first Black Krim tomato is almost ready but not quite.  There’s a little bit of a learning curve for harvesting heirloom tomatoes so I’m checking the plant daily.  For the week:  Beans 19 oz, okra 2 oz, summer squash 19 oz, cucumber 10 oz, kohlrabi 11 oz, and onions 2.5 lb, total for the year 45 lbs.  Also 1.5 lbs of catfish fillets.
It’s kind of early in the season to think of pulling up plantings, but that’s where the garden is at. The first patch of beans was seeded between two potato cages in the trapezoidal bed.  There was space, but little sunlight.   I got a few pickings of beans, and it’s always nice to get early beans, but by now there were only a few new flower buds.  Removing the beans allows more movement of air through the potatoes, which are succumbing slowly to disease.  Except for the blue potatoes on the right.  Into the compost bin the beans went.   

The squash were a hard call.  Saturday afternoon with the temps in the high 90’s I found that the Honeybear Acorn and the Cocozelle squash were badly wilted and many of the leaves were dying.  After dinner I started the pond pump (see last post) and gave them a good soaking.    Overnight we got some rain – the first rain since early May – a whole ¼ inch!  Sunday morning I stumbled out of bed and watered the beds again.   The beds got a good soaking.  Does the Acorn squash in the center look like out of sorts?  To me it does.

By early afternoon these squash were wilted again.  The leaves were an off-color metallic yellowish-green.  They just didn’t look right.  I found that none of the fruits on the Acorn or the Cocozelle were sound.  In fact the Acorn plant had produced  numerous fruit for weeks and not one of them had ever developed.  I’ve found that once a squash gets like this it’s not going to pull out of it.  Game over.  I pulled both plants up and put them in the compost bin.  The Cocozelle is below.  I had already trimmed off half the leaves the previous day.
Actually that’s not the end of the squash, here’s why.  I started three different squash plants indoors – Butternut, Acorn, and Cocozelle.  When I set the seedlings into the beds on May 1, I planted a few seeds of the same cultivars near the transplants.  They were backup plants.  Now all the transplants of each variety have been removed and ceded their squash turf to the backup plants that were direct seeded (the Butternut that was started indoors was pulled over a month ago).  And these plants, although not large, look healthy.  In fact this morning I picked a one pound squash from Cocozelle 2. 

Here’s some possible reasons why the squash started indoors did not make it:   1) The seedlings got a shiver from some cold weather shortly after transplanting and never fully recovered while the nearby seeds were still underground and not affected   2) Direct seeded squash just do better than transplants, or   3)  It’s more complicated, like subtle differences in weather over two weeks and I’ll never know.  It’s probably all of the above.  At any rate I’m rethinking the whole notion of seeding squash indoors.  Next spring I’ll direct seed the squash in stages, about one seeding a week in May and select for the healthiest plants.   
As for the summer squash, I planted a few seeds about a foot away from the remaining plant.  Why not?  This one may succumb to the borer.  It took the first squash plant only seven weeks from seeding to the first fruit.  That’s less time than a snap bean so it’s realistic to expect squash from a plant seeded now.  Seeds are cheap considering the potential yields so it’s well worth the investment. 
And the onions:  the sets were put in March 22.  That’s about 100 days to get nice bulbs.  Could I put in sets of short day onions now and get another batch by the end of September?  If I could find some sets it would be worth a try, but most likely all the stores have discarded their onion sets by now. 


Stoney Acres said...

I've never had much luck with squash transplants. It seems that the direct seeded plants always do better. This year I just decided to go will all direct seeding on both my squash and melons. All the plants are thriving at them moment despite the heat so I'm pretty happy with the results.

David Velten said...

Did you check your squash for borers? Sudden wilting of squash may be a sign of squash vine borers. They only produce one generation a year so if it was borers, your replacements may do just fine.

As far as onion sets, I have had poor results with them. I find it better to buy transplants from the garden center. My red onion sets last year produced marble sized bulbs, my transplants this year are already an inch or two in diameter.

gardenvariety-hoosier said...

Dave - Yes I checked for borers by cutting slices throught the stem every inch. No borers. Actually this is about the time in these parts when they are laying eggs and the larva are migrating so I wouldn't expect any borer damage for several more weeks. It's more likely microbial.

kitsapFG said...

I really have to start indoors and transplant because it takes too long for our soil to warm up enought to germinate squash and if I waited until then, they would not have time to mature. The only squash that gives me real trouble with growing them this way has been butternuts. For some reason, I just seem to lose them in the early stages all too easily. Luckily, I have at least one butternut that is apparently growing decently and has not managed to die yet. Nice onion harvest.

Anonymous said...

It's always fun to see when a new variety of tomato is ready for the picking. I wait for the color to change, and feel the fruit, once it feels soft when touched, it gets picked.

Mary Hysong said...

All of my squash are started in soil blocks, in the house when it's still cool or outdoors when it gets hot. They are all going like gang busters. If they are not setting fruit then perhaps you don't have enough pollinators. I've also noticed if the plant wilts from the heat or lack of water, none of the wilted blooms will set fruit, but when it cools off a bit they will perk up.

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