Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saturday, August 22 saw a large handful of volunteers enjoy perfect weather for gardening: not too hot, a little breezy, a little sunny, a little cloudy, maybe slightly too cool at times but things warmed up towards the end of the afternoon (and we did have some rather nice coffee and muffins).

And we did have some unusual visitors checking out the Rudbekia (possibly a sweat bee from the Agapostemon genus):

There have been a couple of side effects of Chicago’s unseasonably cool (some would say “comfortable”) and wet summer. One is that our harvests are smaller than usual for this time of year. This week we harvested only about 85 pounds.

We’ve got lots of tomatoes on the vine, but they just aren’t ripening as quickly as they would normally. The same goes for the pattypan squash (the ones that look a bit like yellow flying saucers). But the greens aren't bothered at all.

To be honest, there were only a few volunteers, so we didn’t harvest the potatoes, which is a big job and last week accounted for at least 10 pounds. The potatoes will be fine waiting another week to be dug up. And we are letting some of the green bell peppers stay on their plants so we’ll have red peppers to take up to Vital Bridges for a change. We talk about doing this every year, but somehow in our zeal to harvest we are impatient and pluck the peppers when they are nice-sized but still green.

The cucumbers, however, are doing surprisingly well. We harvested about 24 pounds this week. That long, pale serrated-looking cuke is colloquially called an “Armenian cucumber”. In reality, it is a type of melon. When sliced open it has very few seeds and tastes nicely of cuke, but it is a melon.

Some funny-shaped (but delicious!) heirloom tomatoes ready to go to Vital Bridges:

The other side effect of our unusual summer weather is that the leaves of the squashes and the cukes are covered in powdery mildew. This is a concern because it is affecting not only our summer crops but our winter squashes as well (we’ve got some acorn squash and some pumpkins already coming along nicely and we don’t want to lose them). We’ve had another go at spraying the affected plants with a neem oil solution to try to stop the mildew from spreading. It seems like it may be working.

And there are hints of veggies to come later in the season. Check out the three stages of the acorn squash all on one vine, all right next to one another: flower, early pale squash, later green squash.

And a happy-looking pumpkin:

The plums are looking pretty tempting and should be ripe any day now, but somehow we forgot to take a photo of them. Check back next week for that!