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….