This year was full of disappointment. The spring was very short this year and we jumped into a hot dry summer. The black weed block fabric collected a lot of heat and the bean plant leaves just started to dry up. No matter how much watering was done it didn’t seem to make a difference. Luckily we caught it early enough and put up hoops covered with Agribon to give the poor plants a break. It took awhile but most of the plants not only recovered, but flourished under the subtle shade of the covering.
Once the beans started growing again we had another issue. A strange instance of curly leaves started taking over the worst of the burnt plants. Because these plants curled, they didn’t get very tall. The short plants they beans that crew touched the ground before the were full size. This resulted in curly beans laying on the fabric. We have no idea what causes it but it had an impact on overall production and quality.
Next year I plan to plant early to make the most of the spring rains to allows the leaves to grow faster, covering enough black fabric to minimize the heat. If the curly leaf is a disease, hopefully throwing out the twice used fabric will get rid of any residual. Wish us luck!
We immediately planted all the seeds once the beds were ready. We did not want to lose any time since we have such a short growing season. The picture shows a new tactic we’re taking to prevent the birds from eating the peas this year. We hooped some fencing over the planted area as a deterrent. It would require a desperate bird to work it’s way through the fence to even realize what type of plants they are. There is plenty of greener plants around to peak their interest. Spoiler alert….it worked!
Next, the lettuce seedlings came up quickly. Since we never use weed block fabric on the lettuce rows it’s also the beginning of weed pulling! Be honest. Take a look at this picture. Can you tell me which are weeds and which are the lettuce? No? And this is why the woman of the house is stuck weeding the lettuce and root vegetables until they are 2 inches tall!
Beets and carrots take longer to surface. We hand water the carrots in particular as soil dries quickly here, seeds are shallow and they seem to take forever to take a hold and leaf out. Unfortunately they initially look like blades of thin grass. Another reason the man of the house will never weed the carrots this young. Bean seeds come up quickly and we can use weed block since they grow farther apart. Luckily another reduction of manual labor. We try to minimize it as much as possible. In the next few weeks we will be able to bring out the transplants we have been growing inside. Until then we have hand watering and weeding to do!
What started it all! Our famous heirloom green beans! We didn’t change a thing with our green beans this year. We still included yellow and purple pod varieties. They are easy to grow and everyone loves them. We have 4 rows and we can’t pull them fast enough. Luckily we have many customers who buy a lot at one time so they can freeze them and have them over the winter. We still have enough to collect plenty of dried seeds at the end of the season.
It does take a little time for the actual beans to grow so we tried to grow some as transplants this year to get a head start. Live and learn. The transplants did poorly and were quickly overtaken by the ones planted by seed later.
With so many extra beans at the end of the season we decided to pickle some. But that is for another post. Next year we will only plant half as many unless we get a larger up front commitment.
I know you haven’t heard a lot from us lately. That’s because we’ve been very busy! Most of the work is keeping the weeds at bay. We are also carefully managing the water with the alternating hot and bone dry weather to heavy thunderstorms. Lots of extra hand watering one day and then turning off the irrigation the next day.
So, what’s coming up in the garden? We’ve been tasting items out of our test plot before selling to be sure they are good. Some are good enough we aren’t willing to let go of them! Our favorite is beets. We’ll eat our fill before letting them go.
The biggest seller is the beans. At first we were pulling them so fast we couldn’t sell them fast enough, but now we are begging the plants to grow more.
The lettuce mix just keeps growing no matter how much we sell. The collards are finally at a good size, although I don’t think they grow very well outside of the south.
The snap peas and cucumbers are on a roll now.
We are finishing harvesting the corn for ourselves. It takes too much space and resources for what little you get.
The heirloom celery is amazing! It’s thinner than the grocery store celery but the flavor is strong so you don’t need as much. We’ve also been harvesting broccoli, basil, gold squash and zucchini.
Finally, the tomatoes are starting to turn red, the peppers are taking off and the Okra is just starting to get to a size of harvest.
There is still a lot more that is growing and we can’t wait to share it with our customers!
It’s May 10th and big surprise, we are having a winter storm warning AFTER our beans started to grow. Beans are the only non-cold tolerant plants growing right and will suffer in the storm. We are out of tunnel arches to create a row cover.
In order to protect the beans from the cold we staged the center of the row with quart sized pots to hold the fabric above the plants and then draped the ag fabric over the whole row. We used bricks to hold the fabric down at the edges and crossed our fingers.
The storm did some damage. We had to replant about 25% of the beans but most of the plants survived. Unfortunately, anywhere there was a sag in the fabric that touched a plant during the storm, the plant either died or ended up with a fungal infection later in the year.
That being said, we will be planting beans later in the season going forward. Only after we are sure all cold spells are over. They grow so fast we are not losing much by waiting. We lost more beans due to disease. The disease also made it’s way to other plants causing reduction in yield as well. It’s just not worth it.