Sunday, August 9, 2009

Raised Vegetable Bed - An Update, Part Trois

So here's the latest update with my modest raised vegetable bed. As you can see there has been some significant growth, mostly with the zucchini's and the red brandywine tomatoes. The porch tomatoes are growing well; however, one has grown so much that I needed three corkscrew supports to hold its weight and train it to not overtake the asparagus growing behind it and the zucchini/cucumbers growing in the front of the raised bed.

The red brandywine has been growing more out then up and I had to tie twine to the branches to sustain the weight of the tomatoes. It almost looks as if I have a tall ship in my back yard.

The tomatoes so far haven't been affected by late blight, though I have sprayed them as a preventative. A few are starting to blush, but it's taking a really long time for anything to ripen. So far only one tomato from the porch tomato plant is even close to ripening.

The zucchini and cucumbers have been a big disappointment. Everyone told me about the incredible yield I would get by planting 6 zucchini and 6 cucumber in my raised bed. Out of the ones I planted, 3 zucchini have grown to a good size and 1 cucumber plant has made decent progress while the rest died, but so far, only 1 actual zucchini fruit has grown to a size worth picking and eating (it was excellent). The rest have grown flowers that just fall off before the fruit can get a chance to start growing.

I have run into some Powdery Mildew on the zucchinis. I've been combating it with a solution that's 9 parts water, 1 part milk (1%). So far it seems to be working, but I need to apply it often, in the mornings/evenings and regularly through the weekend. We'll see what happens.

It has not been a good season for our basil. This is the best it's looked all season and is a pretty sad example. I can see the new growth, but it was just too rainy and cold at the beginning of the season to have a good start.

In addition to the raised bed, I have a fig tree. The fig tree by itself is a family heirloom. When my grandfather came over from Portugal in the 30's, he wanted to bring a little bit of his home with him, so he took clippings of the fig trees on their land and sewed them into the hem of his pants. A fig tree took root in Danbury, CT, where the weather wasn't generally hospitable for aMediterranean plant, but every fall, he'd cut the tap root to lay the tree on the ground and cover it with leaves until eventually the tree got used to the weather and he simply took the leaf rakings and pilled it on the tree (which looked more like a bush). When my grandparents died, my aunt took a clipping of the fig tree and cultivated it in her apartment, where it took root and has been living indoors for a good 10 years. Recently, she gave me the tree to put outside in my yare, where it's now flourishing in the sun and (lots of) rain. It's started to grow green figs, which are small but very sweet.

Lastly is our red pepper plant. We decided to try the hanging method and put it on the porch, and the peppers are beginning to blush. It was quite an ordeal getting this plant into the upside-down, self-watering contraption that deserves a post all its own, so that's for later.

But that's the update thus far. We hope the next post will feature some edible progress.


MrILoveTheAnts said...

Those upside down hangers are a novelty at best I think. The pot itself is to small, and the plant still wants to grow upward. The tomato plant in ours has attempted to grow up so much that it's twisted around several times and the stem has lots of splits in it.

The best way I've found to grow tomatoes is let the plant fall over and produce roots along the ground. They'll easily get 25 feet long and produce all the way, the only down side is you have to much fruit that's often hard to spot.

new york city garden said...

Those upside down planters!

Steven Ashley said...

The upside down planter is an experiment, the store that we bought it from had an impressive display of raised beds and upside planters which got me thinking to try one and see how it goes. Getting the plant in there was comical, so I'll post the images of that ordeal.

Doctor Mom said...

Keep us updated on your milk and water powdery mildew treatment, please! Are you spraying it on? And how is it working?

Steven Ashley said...

I'm spraying it on with an old spray bottle I found in the basement. I'll keep you updated on its progress.

Dori said...

I'm impressed by your peppers. Dave and I tried to grow green bell peppers and some kind of chili pepper a few years ago, and were extremely unsuccessful. Congrats!