Sunday, October 11, 2009
Transitioning to Fall
This week the weather has been so gorgeous: mild, cool, (60-70 degree) and crisp nights (50ish). I'm trying to enjoy it the best that I can, autumn is a very short season in SoCal, its likely to jump back to 90 degree temps to get cold and drizzly and rather depressing on natures whim. I've heard and read that autumn in SoCal is the equivalent of spring back east; we're finally wandering outside again after the brutal summer sun and heat, and the ground is warm enough for seeds and plants to take off but not too warm as to need to water every hour and hope the plants make it.
I harvested 12 nice sized tomatoes from the 'Bush Champion' plant on the balcony. I haven't called the plant "done" yet because its still producing new flowers on the top, hoping to get a few more tomatoes from it. I finally had to cut down and toss the other 2 'Patio' tomato plants because they were over run with spider mites, and being determinants were looking rather lackluster and not flowering or setting more fruit. I cut down the 'Jaune Flamme' tomatoes after their last batch a few weeks ago because whatever disease the plants had just took over completely. Pole beans look nice, they have stretched all the way to the top of the trellis netting I installed and are flowering like crazy, I even spotted 1 lone bean pod this morning, prob the first flower the vine made was pollinated right away! I also planted some pea plants I got from our community garden fundraising booth. I lightly tied them to the netting with some tomato tape, I hope this cool ( 60-70 degree) ish weather stays for awhile longer to give the plants time to settle in and take off, praying for no more crazy heat waves like the one last year that decimated everyone's cool season gardens.
My pole beans have some sort of issue where the older leaves are turning yellow, dying, and falling off. My first guess would have been nitrogen deficiency since its starting with the oldest leaves and leaving the veins green at first- but this is a legume here, aren't they supposed to MAKE nitrogen? I didn't inoculate the beans first tho, so that may be a reason.
With my limited growing space I have to rotate plants sometimes if it seems some things aren't getting enough sun, or last week when the spider mites were really bad I tried to space things in a certain way so when I blasted the plants with plain water with a tank sprayer I wouldn't get mites onto uninfected plants- turns out they got on everything anyway. I'm pretty sure the constant breeze didn't help me there. It was pretty hot and dusty last month- which spider mites love- so I kept trying to mist them daily with water to try and keep the mite population down. When that didn't work I tried garlic & oil, soap and water, even water and cayenne pepper. Nada, they just kept breeding like rabbits and as fast as I could knock them off with water they rebounded and spun millions of tiny webs all over my plants. This week after seeing how badly they were damaging my new planting of tomatoes I finally gave in and applied a neem oil solution to all my plants. At least its an organic miticide but I still hate spraying something that can harm beneficials as well, so I sprayed it at 11pm at night so for sure no stray bees or hummingbirds would be out and about. Today when I checked on the plants I saw very few live mites, so I hope a few more doses at neem to get whatever hatches out again should help knock the population back down a few notches.
I ran out of potting soil, I need to get some more compost to mix with the vermiculite and coco peat I have in the garage, or I may be lazy and just get some Dr.Earth or Ednas best or something all ready to use. For fall I still want to plant some Swiss chard, baby beets, dwarf bok choy, nasturtiums, lettuce, and of course mesclun. I'm craving some sweet fresh salads again.
Ok, gotta go, I need to finish up that pomegranate jelly :) My dad's tree is packed with fruit this year, so he gave me 2 buldging bags worth ( barely dented whats on the tree) and Chris helped me remove the seeds. Then I ran them thru the blender quickly to puree ( without liquefying the seeds as much as possible), then strained in a colander lined with a clean cotton cloth. I squeezed as much liquid as I could from the 'pulp', then poured the juice into clean quart jars to let any solids settle out. After a couple of hours I have jars full of translucent dark red pomegranate juice with a layer of white seed particles settled at the bottom. I hope by carefully decanting the liquid I can get nice clear juice and some beautiful clear pomegranate jelly! More photos on that to follow shortly.
In the meantime, enjoy my little slide show of how my garden has been faring over the last month or so.