Usually the hottest month, the weather has been more than pleasant. The local weatherman said we just had 8 consecutive days that did not reach 80 degrees (27 C). With the low humidity it's been great weather to get things done or just relax and do nothing. Production from the garden is already much better than last year, when the growing season began early but then turned into an epic heat wave and drought.
What's truly amazing this year is the lack of serious insect problems. Flea beetles appeared on the eggplants a few weeks ago, but by that time the plants were already well established and able to shrug it off. So far I've found one egg mass from the squash bug on the underside of a leaf, which I destroyed. I haven't yet seen a single squash bug in the garden. The Japanese beetles are causing some damage to the tops of the pole beans, but not much. Their numbers have been down for three years now. So far no cucumber beetles, Mexican been beetles or hornworms. The cabbage worm did a little damage but a few sprayings of Bt has kept it under control. And so far (knock on wood) no sign of damage from the borer. I think this is what happens when the first morning of spring registers 15 degrees F.
Most of the problems have been of the microbial sort, wilts and various fungal diseases. Hardest hit have been the cucumber plants and tomato plants, although the pathogens haven't stopped either, just slowed them down. I've found that the Diva cucumber can usually shake off these invaders and continue producing. Shortly after I took this picture I removed diseased foliage, something I should do every day but don't.
The biggest disappointment this year has been the tomatoes. The Cherokee purple plant is only going to produce a few tomatoes, fighting a losing battle with fusarium wilt. The San Marzano plant is small compared to most tomato plants. I could have put two plants in a cage or grown them on another kind of support, as they will not get to the top of the cage. The Supersonic plant is loaded, so loaded that the stems came off the supports and fell down, spilling a lot of semi-ripe tomatoes. At least the stems didn't break, but are curled in an 'S' pattern.
As long as the stems don't break it should be fine. For some reason the tomato plants and some of the pepper plants set a very large number of fruit at the bottom of the plants early on. In hindsight I should have pruned off a number of these fruits so the plants could put more energy into developing and produce their fruits higher up the stem throughout the summer. But all those early tomatoes and peppers looked so good that I couldn't bring myself to do that.
Of course there's another project going - it's summer after all. One of the joists in the deck was rotting due to a water trap next to the beds. I'm removing all of the deck boards, slow work as I try to avoid damaging them. I'll install a new joist and fix the water problem, and while the boards are off clean and stain them. Well there's still a place to sit and drink a beer, but not for long.