Sunday, August 19, 2012

What's Going On In My Summer Garden

This year's summer garden went sooooooo much better than last year's. The key (among other things) appears to be to plant what works well here, not what used to work well in California. (The books told me that some of those California vegis could make it here. My garden seemed to disagree.) Now that I'm on track with more heat-loving plants, I've got some nice success stories. 

The melons are going crazy. Yum! I already picked one earlier this week, I've got two more big ones waiting in the wings, and lots of teeny tiny ones getting ready to take off. 

I've got two grape plants. I'm relieved to say that they seem to be not only surviving through the Arizona summer, but actually growing. I'd say that they were thriving, but something's eating the grape leaves, so "thriving" might be pushing it. Still, despite being some critter's lunch, they still seem to be happy. 

This is my 4' x 6' raised bed with sweet potatoes. My mom jokes that the vines will reach inside the house any day now. I suspect the whole harvest will come at once later this fall. Good thing sweet potatoes store well! Looks like we'll have a lot of them.

One of my lovely okra plants. They really are beautiful when they're thriving and in bloom.

Today's okra haul. Not bad! Gumbo tonight? 

Teeny tiny pomegranates have started growing on my pomegranate bush. According to my internet sources, I should expect it to take 6 months for this baby to reach full size. Although I've also heard that when a pomegranate plant is young (under 5 years old), the fruits will fall off before reaching maturity. (La! La! La! I can't hear you internet sources who tell me such things!)

Based on a tip from the Arizona Victory Garden, I dug in for the corn this year (instead of creating a raised bed). It's doing well so far! This is one of the sunniest spots in the garden. Previously, I had an itty bitty raised bed here (2.5 'x 2.5'). I think the combination of lots of sun and little soil to insulate it just cooked pretty much all the plants that I put in this spot before. A sunken bed seems to do a better job of protecting the plants from the heat now.

It's hard to see in the pic, but those are itty bitty green bean shoots underneath the corn. (I tried pumpkins too--three sisters style--but the Arizona weather got the best of them.) 

Those are this summer's beauties. Others didn't do so well. I tried tomatoes (a heart breaker) and only got a few before they got totally cooked by 100+ weather. But I'm not ready to give up on them yet. They're just too yummy. I've got schemes for how to do better next year. Surprisingly, the zucchini never took off this year either. Basil did well enough for a while to get me a few good batches of pesto to store in the freezer, but the plants didn't survive the Arizona summer long. My green pepper plants never did much either. Still, I'm so much happier with this summer's vegis than last summers. And I can hardly wait for fall! Arizona is a wonderful place to garden during the fall!


Innisfree said...

Love the garden! Tomatoes and peppers/chiles should love the heat! They might need extra water to start out. Maybe the trouble is planting out? If you get plants from a nursery, they might not be very tough. So when you plant them, you might need to baby them for a while, water them a lot and give them some shade. Then you kind of gradually expose them to the full sunlight for longer and longer periods, until they are fully tough. Its called "hardening off" I think.
Have you tried growing zucchini?

My garden is suffering from the opposite problems you are having. Heavy soil and too much rain, cool weather. Many green tomatoes. :(

claudette said...

Great idea Innisfree! Il. Definitely try them from seed next year and do a better job of hardening them off. I'm also thinking I'll dig in for tomatoes next year instead of planting them in pots or raised beds. The soil shouldn't overheat then.

I'm sorry to hear that you're having a tough time with the garden this year. I hear it's benn a pretty soggy summer up there :(

Patricia Walker said...

I just discovered your blog via a post from AZPLANTLADY on Facebook. I am enjoying your posts and admiring your fortitude with the gardening!
My garden is a lot smaller but when we re-do our yard, I would like to put in several more beds.

I have seen a few yards with grapes and often admired them. Have you ever seen someone with the grapes growing over a patio? I have seen folks put up roof-like lattice work or fencing and the grapes provide some awesome summer shade. That might be an idea to do over another garden?

I use the 2" x 4" fencing (home depot) and put that over my garden and the cucumbers and squash grow up over the garden and give some shade to the garden below along with sunflowers.

I also actually saw this on Pinterest of all places and thought it was such a great idea!

Also, do you pre-start your seeds in anything or do you just plant & water them in the indoor starting system?

claudette said...

Thanks for the great idea, Patricia! The hubby has vetoed any plants actually touching the house. He's heard that it can help termites to get to it. So no grapes over the patio for us. I do love the arbors over the beds though! I actually have hoops over the bed to drape frost fabric over. I'm hoping to attach some netting to them this summer so I can grow green beans in an arch over the hoops. :) I'll keep you posted. If you're anywhere near Gilbert, it's worth going to Joe's Farm Grill sometime. They have beautiful grape installations there.