Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Taming the Wild Cucumber

First, a shot of the whole garden:
As you can see, it is kicking butt and taking names. The black snake looking thing is the soaker hose I have been using to water it, although that will be coming out and going to take care of the (still neglected) roses in the backyard as soon as I can manage. I believe that will be tomorrow, or maybe this afternoon. I have all the stuff for a drip system and I REALLY need to get it going because the hot, dry summer is upon us. Up until now, things have been fairly cool and wet, but that trend is changing. It had to happen and I've been spoiled, but I need to get cracking. I'll write more about that tomorrow, but it seems to be a theme of the garden this year.

Anywho, today I tackled trellising the Boston Pickling cukes. I've had the material for the trellis for a while, but have been swamped or lazy or not here at varying intervals, so it's been put off. But the cukes are growing like mad and taking over the Blue Lake bush beans, so it had to be done.

I first assembled a (sorta wobbly) frame from some 1x4s that I had had cut to size. I fastened the trellis frame to the frame of the cucumber/bean bed (previously known as Bed Five) and pondered how to attach the bird netting I was going to use as the actual trellis to the frame. I have been a bit hesitant to use the bird netting, owing to a horrible incident a couple of years ago during which a king snake got itself enmeshed in a net I had haphazardly thrown over the long-suffering blueberry bush. (I'll tell you that story some day.) But it's cheap, it's durable, and it seemed like a good material upon which to trellis the cukes. Eventually, I looped the netting over woodscrews place every six or so inches around the frame and screwed in until only the head was visible. This seems to be holding the netting tightly, although it might need shoring up as the season progresses and the cukes get bigger. Here's a pic of the finished trellis:

Once the trellis was finished, I spent a goodly amount of time painstakingly untangling the cukes from the beans and then tying the cuke vines to the trellis with cobalt blue embroidery thread given to me by my Aunt Nunu when she cleaned out her craft room. I don't know why I chose cobalt blue; green would have been a more obvious (or rather, less obvious and therefore better) choice, but the blue called to me so I went with it. After the vines were tied up (and the teeninesy little baby cukes counted), I very gently twined as many of the runners as I could around the netting in the hopes that they would catch on and the vines would start training themselves.

The cukes seem a little angry with me right now: lots of downturned, droopy leaves, but the beans are thrilled. I discovered, unfortunately, that the beans also have attracted some sort of bug or pestamathingy which nibbles the edges of leaves and turns them over to form an envelope kind of dealy. Er. Not sure what is up with that, but plan on consulting my Ortho garden puzzle-solving book ASAP. ALSO discovered that the bean germination rate was lower than I thought. I'll fill in the empty spaces in the rows with more beans when the irrigation system is in.

I fiddled around a bit more, deciding to pull the plug on the sweet peas. They were lovely vines and probably would have lived a few more weeks before succumbing to the heat without producing a single blossom. But they were also aphid magnets (and therefore fireant magnets) and were taking nutrients from the little Hero of Lockinge melons which are hanging in there, although not growing as I thing they should. So out they came. I also did away with the broccoli after one last harvest of side shoots. Again, I could have left them. They were still producing, although the heat would get them soon, too. But they were drawing moths and shading the melons and I felt I could use their space to put in a few more bush beans. I have to say that I felt a little sad tugging them up. They were great little plants and produced really well for me. I'll chop them up and put them in the composter and hopefully they can give me some good fertilizer for everybody else in a couple of weeks.

Finally, I did a mini harvest. I got a couple of banana peppers and eggplants, the broccoli, and a couple of volunteer squashes. I also dug up two volunteer catnips. I sort of hated to do it, but I have catnip in the herb garden already and I'm trying to keep the volunteers to a minimum. (I just discovered that two of the volunteers in the Roma tomatoes are actually cucumbers. Where the heck are these guys coming from?)

Anyway, the harvest:

Note the slice I took out of the squash to see if it was edible still. Oddly, although it's almost orange and bizarrely bumpy, the seeds inside were nice and small and the flesh was firm and sweet. I wonder if it's a result of the volunteer part? Maybe this generation of plant has regressed?

In any case, it's always nice to bring stuff out of the garden. We'll eat the veggies for supper and I'm going to hang the catnip up to dry in the kitchen to make some playtoys for the kitties in our life. Once the irrigation system gets going. And the trellising for the tomatoes and purple hull pinkeyes. And...


Coleen Brooks said...

WOW! At last it looks like all the hard work and determination is paying off. Your garden is simply beautiful and I know it will be more than bountiful.



Hartwell said...

umm... the last post was wednesday the 28th? helloooo nothannah's greenspace, where juh at?

Not Hannah said...

I'm getting on it, dude. Mama's bizzy!