Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest

01
June
2011

Cool Garden Update

When I say ‘cool’ garden I mean COLD. I finally planted my tomatoes last weekend, a whole month later than last year. Stupice, Moskovich and Sungolds — three short season troopers that may or may not yield this year. Another noticeable change is the lack of honeybees in my garden despite an abundance of volunteer Cerinthe, the lovely plant pictured above.  Commonly called Honeywort, these purple tubular flowers are normally swarming with bees at this time of year. So far I’m only seeing a bumblebee or two. If things don’t pick up, I may have to resort to DIY pollination, which actually sounds like it could be fun but let’s hope we don’t have to resort to that.

I’m almost embarrassed for my beautiful little tomato seedlings now enclosed in cages and wrapped up in bubble-wrap to keep them warm. Since our plants are spread out and aren’t planted in a row, a cloche wouldn’t work and this seemed like a good inexpensive solution. The plants actually seem kind of happy in their bubble-wrap snuggies and this way they won’t have to compare themselves to the overwintered kale which is having a serious second wind and producing like crazy. By the time I can unwrap them, the kale will be long gone.

Speaking of overactive greens, my lettuce, arugula and spinach are all happy as clams and are producing as quickly as we consume them. I’m even planting seeds now in anticipation of the “June gloom” that’s normal for our part of the country giving them more of the cool weather they (and only they) love so well.

The most anxiously anticipated and pampered plant in my garden this year is a Japanese cucumber I bought from Mair Taki Farm, more affectionately known by some as the Farmers Market Samurai. In years past, I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money for these cucumbers. So sweet they can be eaten straight off the vine, I’m hoping to grow enough to keep my addiction from breaking my farmers market budget as it has in years past. Luckily, Japanese cucumbers actually like the cool weather. Both male and female flowers are produced by each plant so if you have limited space, you can get by with one plant. They grow best on a trellis so Charlie built this one with bamboo, garden twine and a 6 x 12 piece of plastic netting.

I planted the cuke inside the trellis to save space and provide a little protection since we have some tight corners but cut a little hole for it grow through and start up the front of the netting. We gave it a bamboo stake to help it get started. Since cucumbers are mainly water, you need to water the plant every other day when (and if) the rain finally stops. If the bees don’t show up for their pollinating duty, and you end up hand pollinating, here’s some instructions to get you started. While it might be interesting to try, I hope we start seeing more bees and can just let nature do it’s thing.

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re getting a late start with the warm weather crops. We’re all in the same boat. Here are some of Sally’s photos from her garden including a cloche for keeping her tomatoes and eggplants nice and cozy.

Once again, her greens are in cool weather heaven….


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9 Responses »

  1. I shouldn’t say this out loud, but this cold spring is bringing me to my knees in the garden in a nutcase kind of way. I’ve decided it might not hurt to converse with heat-loving plants like tomato and eggplant and exhort them to buck up and grow up in spite of the chill. We’ll see how that works out.

  2. Sally, you tiger mom, you. I’ve been known to threaten to remove a shrub if it didn’t bloom. But hey, it worked!!

  3. is the netting on the cucumber 6 ft. by 12 ft.? If so, is the trellis nearly twelve feet high?

  4. Rick, sorry I didn’t make that clear. We folded the netting over the top so each side is 6×6.

  5. I just got my garden in today. For the first time ever I resorted to buying starts to make up for lost time. That Honeywort is beautiful!

  6. Debora, I think using starts may be the best solution this year. Seeds for plants that are super simple to grow like arugula are the only ones that have done well for me.

  7. Girl,

    I loved this read and photos. I wish we could do a walk together thru your garden:) I decided to put my tomatoes in the green house this year, with the hopes of getting RIPE tomatoes!!!! My cukes are not doing so great and may need to transfer to greenhouse too. I did buy a plant that is a bee attractor and they are swarming. I will get name for you.

  8. Hi, I stumbled across your blog via Google. I wanted to see how everyone else’s garden looked like because mine is full of weeds 🙁 But your garden looks amazing, especially the trellising veggies! I’m hoping to grow some more veggies like that next year as well. Have a wonderful Thursday! =)

  9. I’m still hopeful that we’ll get some ripe tomatoes but it may not be for a while. My Japanese cukes are doing surprisingly well despite the lack of sun. We’ll eat our first this weekend.