Thursday, May 20, 2010

(late) Mid-May update

Maybe - just maybe - the weather is starting to settle down a bit.  Although putting a rash statement like that in writing does make me just a bit nervous; even if Spring has finally sprung (so to speak), things like hailstones are ever with us in the warm season.  And we have seen a few of them already this year.
Nonetheless, the forecast for the next 6 days shows highs of 2 digits that start with a 7 or an 8 every day, and lows well above freezing.  And that's new for 2010, so I'm hopeful.  The effect on the "crops" is modest so far - a few of the peas have reached heights sufficient to reach out and grab one of the trellising wires, and the lettuce is starting to approach an edible size (not that we're going to be having any of it just yet unless I plant some random mesclun, which I might just do).  One of the strawberry plants produced a red berry, which was promptly eaten by something (not me); I'm probably going to have to investigate netting or something in order to eat any of the ground-level berries at all.  The raspberry canes are producing flowers and branches.  Two of my tomato plants are peeking up above their wall-o-water, and I finally felt reasonably confident in putting in 2 eggplants and planting the kid's pepper plants - all of them in wall-o-waters.  And we have a lonely volunteer potato - apparently the seed potato was overlooked when we harvested and when we turned all of the dirt out to line that top box last month.
The tomato plants' progress is of interest for future planning.  The plants that have overtopped the wall-o-water are in one that had 2 cells emptied by leaks, creating much more of a "teepee" effect (the top more or less closed in).  In the wall-o-water that didn't have this issue, there is about an 8-inch diameter opening at the top, and the tomatoes there are still pretty short.  So next year, I think I'll leave a couple of cells dry and make sure that the top closes up for all my wall-o-water plants - I think we're getting a better greenhouse effect that way.  But I'll keep an eye on progress; maybe the shorter plants will produce more tomatoes or something.
Wall-o-waters are always tricky, it seems.  They really want a flat surface to sit on, and leaks in the wrong places can be disastrous.  I put one up around the pepper plants last weekend only to find that a) it had several leaks adjacent to one another, and b) they were on the low side, as far as I can tell.  The peppers survived the collapse with no particular damage, it seems so far, but I'm keeping an eye on the replacement wall-o-water.
As for the asparagus, I believe I have sprouts visible in at least 7 of the 8 crowns I planted now.  I've added dirt to some of the taller ones, although we have a way to go before the box is leveled out.  Most of the taller sprouts are becoming fernlike, as expected.  They're not very big, and I can't quite envision how a single summer's growth will be enough to allow us to eat some next spring.  Still, it IS only May.
The blueberry plants seem happy enough in their barrels of peat.  One of them flowered a bit, but seems to have thought better of it, and the other may be about to.  Since I bought them later than planned, they're both the same variety, which I hear depresses the fruit production.  If we don't get much out of them in the next couple of years, other than landscape interest, I will investigate buying a couple more of some "other" variety - a bit tricky since the original pair were labeled only "blueberry".  Although, you know, in nature it seems unlikely that they'd produce a patch of blueberry bushes of various varieties, so we must be likely to get something out of two of the same kind in proximity.
I think I'm going to start putting in my other warm-weather seedlings this weekend, given the forecast.  But the pepper plants are staying in the wall-o-water until they show signs of producing substantive fruit - supposedly they want a "long, hot summer", and by golly, I'm going to do my best to give them one.  Hopefully this year I can find starts of single zucchini, cukes, and canteloupe - last year's 2" pot of 6 cuke plants was a bit difficult to manage.  But the pickles they produced are extremely tasty!