Saturday, August 7, 2010

Everything else in the garden

We generally have a whole bed dedicated to peppers, another to tomatoes, another to alliums, another to squash, and then, finally, a collection of smaller spots for everything else. This post is about the Everything Else crops.

The herbs have done well this year. Chives and sage and oregano and thyme and rosemary and dill. Most are past their peak now, although the sage tends to get a second growth spurt after its blossom cycle is completed. The dill (self-seeded true, unlike the squash!) has been abundant.

The basil went in late (due to the rainy, cold spring), but the July heat spurred some good growth. A friend had a lot of trouble with bug damage to his basil this year, and we had some while the seedlings were on the deck, waiting to go to the garden, so we ended up with fewer plants than usual.

The lettuce (green simpson and red sails) has been thriving in planters on my co-gardener's deck, even through the extended July heat wave. We're planning to do more lettuce (and tatsoi) planters on my deck next year, although mine gets less sun than hers does, which might actually be good for the lettuce, in terms of providing some shade during the hottest weather.

The beans only went into the ground recently. Whatever was eating the bssil seedlings also did some serious damage to the first batch of bean plants direct-seeded in the garden, and then to the replacement seedlings in peat pots on the deck. The potted seedlings have recovered (unlike the ones in the garden), and are now settling into a corner of what was the allium bed.

One more, that I almost forgot, because it's tucked into hidden areas of the garden and yard: swiss chard (the Bright Lights variety). It went in late, most of it is in relatively shady spots, and some of it is in a container that we tend to forget exists. We have probably a dozen plants, half in the garden and half in the container. They always seem to grow slowly until late August, when they're gorgeous.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hybrid surprises

No butternut squash this year, and that's my favorite squash. I was grieving until it dawned on me that it was actually possible to buy buttnernut squash at the grocery store or, even better, at the farmer's market. I never think of it as something to buy, just as something to grow.

The reason there's no butternut this year is that I'd forgotten about squash's proclivity to hybridize. We grew four varieties last year: butternut, spaghetti, yellow and zucchini. This spring, I threw the seeds of the last remaining butternut and spaghetti (which were no longer edible) in two different patches of the garden, and expected to get butternut and spaghetti plants. I've usually had pretty good luck throwing old butternuts into the compost heap and getting volunteer butternut plants.

Not this year. Instead, we have two patches of plants, each of which is a different hybrid of winter and summer squashes. I think we'll find at the end of the season that some of them are spaghetti squashes, and some are pretty obviously summer squashs, but I'm not seeing anything with the distinctive shape of a butternut.

Fortunately, we planted some of the yellow squash from commercial seeds, and they're growing true. We also have one zucchini plant, again from commercial seeds. We grew just one zuke intentionally this year; I'm finally -- after 50 years! -- learning my lesson about zucchini, since all I want is enough to make a single annual batch of zucchini bread or muffins.