August vegetable garden list

Harvest time-Dutch shallots harvested and curing on deck away from sun and rain for several weeks

 

August veggie gardens is the time when things get out of control in the garden. That’s when I surrender to the chaos! Growth is rampant and harvest usually goes into full blast. It’s the moment I look forward to when it’s hard to keep up with harvesting and preserving the crops.

It’s hard to believe that fall is almost here. Below are some things to do in the vegetable garden besides enjoying it (which I hope you are)!

 

STILL PLANTING SOME CROPS! In all the coming chaos, it is not too late to plant some veggies for a fall garden if you’re not too burned out. I’m direct seeding arugula and radishes outside and starting spinach seeds inside this week. Warm season lettuces that I started 3 weeks ago are now planted out and I already planted out some broccoli from transplants a couple of weeks ago.

 

WATERING
I’ve been adjusting my watering schedule depending on the weather. August can be dry and hot or wet and cool so pay attention and either give your garden more or less water depending on the weather.

 

TRIM
As plants get older, take off any old, diseased, severely damaged or dead leaves to help keep unwanted fungal diseases or unwanted bugs away. Dispose of trimmings. I never compost any diseased plants.

 

FUNGAL DISEASESLOOK at your plants.
I’ve noticed in July after I took off the row covers off the tomatoes, some of them have Early Blight (EB). This is a common problem for tomato plants.  If you have yellowing dying leaves starting at the bottom of the tomato plant, it might be EB. For more info on how to ID and control it, go here.

I know with the monsoons (what monsoons?!) and our warm weather, that Powdery Mildew (PM) will start showing up on my squash and cucumbers (and flowers) in August. If it looks like a dusty powder is covering your plants, it may be PM. I already sprayed my plants with Serenade as a preventative. For more info on how to ID it go here. For info on how to control it, go here.

 

INSECT DAMAGE-LOOK at your plants-some will start to show their age and will weaken and allow insects to
Use the following organic insecticides for insect problems.

Aphids-Use Neem or Azamax. First spray off aphids and then spray one of these organic insecticides on your plants. Avoid hitting bees by spraying at sunset after they go to bed. Also plants can burn if spraying them in the heat of the day.

Squash bugs-Ah, the nemesis of squash growers. No insecticide seems to work so you’ll have to be diligent and get out at least one time a week and LOOK for adults, nymphs and eggs and remove them by hand and put in a bucket of soapy water. If you let them get out of control, they will kill your plants.

These bugs gone bye bye by now-hooray!
Squash vine borer-It’s gone by now so no worries but I used row cover early in the season to protect my plants from this bug.

Beet Leafhopper-It left when the monsoons came, so you are probably safe with your tomatoes. I keep my tomato plants covered from May thru the beginning of the monsoons in July and uncover them then.

 

 

 

 

 

Perennial fruit vignette tour

 

Here is a vignette of a short tour of perennial fruit in my garden and what varieties work here for me in Santa Fe, NM. I forgot to show I also have a rhubarb variety called Victoria which does well here. I found it in a nursery here in Santa Fe.

More information on this vignette tour:

You’ll see I keep a 30% sunscreen on many of my plants in the video as I find some plants here in our high altitude like a little shade from our intense UV light here in Santa Fe. I’m hoping it will give the plants some hail protection as well from our summer monsoon storms. I got it at Johnnyseeds listed under shade cloth.

My raspberry variety is Polana. It is a fall bearing variety that I cut down to 3 inches high every March and it gets about 40 inches tall each year and doesn’t need trellising but does like a fence to grow next to. I got it 3 years ago from Nourse Nursery online. Another friend, Mike, turned me on to them. I’ve had some different varieties of raspberries but this one is the only one that kicks ass in fruit production here in my garden.

My blackberry is a thornless variety called Triple Crown.  I got it from Newmans Nursery here in Santa Fe but discovered it in one of our Santa Fe Extension Master Gardener gardens. I love it doesn’t have any thorns and it is also 3 years old. This year is the first year that it is very productive. It is a semi-erect variety and does need a trellis to grow on to keep it from spreading too much with runners.

My strawberries are a June-bearing variety that I got some starts from a friend some years ago and I don’t know exactly which variety it is. I like the fact it bears all it’s fruit in June so I only have to keep birds away during the month of June vs everbearing varieties that bear smaller fruit all season. There are many different varieties of June-bearing strawberries to choose from online.

My grape vine variety is called Himrod. It is a green, seedless table grape for fresh eating not winemaking. It has incredible flavor that can’t be found in the grocery store. I have one plant that is about 40′ long along a fence and is very productive. I’ve also tried other varieties of grapes that didn’t do as well here in our climate but this one is a winner.

Thank you!

WOW! Today I hit a milestone-over 500,000 people have visited this site! Half a million people! I started this blog in January of 2010 and it has taken 10 years to have that many visitors.

When I started this blog, I did it to keep track of what was going on in my garden through each season in the garden. Instead of having a written garden diary, I decided to do it digitally back then as a reference to refer to throughout the years, and I do refer back to it often.

The blog has now morphed into more than a diary as I’ve gained gardening knowledge and experience that I want to share as well as what I’m currently doing in my garden. So I hope you all keep coming back to visit or if you like it enough, you can sign up to receive an email notice of every new post that I put out. Either way I never dreamt that one day a half million of you would visit. I am honored. Thank you!

First cucumbers into pickles

I had enough cucumbers from the garden to make the first pickles of the season. Many more to come I hope!

On the left is Boothsby Blonde which will become bread and butter pickles. It is a whitish-yellow cucumber that really is beautiful when you add the turmeric in the recipe. The cucumbers on the right are Parisian which will become Cornichons, a tiny tart pickle famous in France. Here they are both soaking in salt water.

 

Left is finished bread and butter pickles which were done using a waterbath method. On the right are the cornichins which I do as a refrigerator pickle to keep their crispness.

Giant Beet!

Lookee what I found under a bunch of leaves! A Chioggia beet that weighed 9.6 lbs! I bet if there had been a State Fair this year, it would have taken 1st place for biggest beet! Notice the beet tops look like my hair!

 

Here you see me opening it up.

 

and then I sliced it into ‘beet steaks’.

 

We grilled them on the BBQ!  I thought it would have been woody and tough but it was not. I was going to drizzle balsamic vinegar on them but they didn’t need it. It was so delicious and sweet and soft. Of course I would never grow them this big on purpose but rather grow them much smaller. I was just glad it turned out well.

 

 

A vignette of the entry way in my veggie garden

 

I decided to do some short vignettes of my veggie garden throughout the season. This vignette done in mid-July shows the area around the entry way. You’ll see flowers, leeks, beans, dill, fennel, cabbages, squash, rhubarb and grapes growing close to my entrance with my grape arbor. Flowers are an important part of my veggie garden attracting beneficial insects and pollinators besides adding beauty. Other short videos to follow. Please excuse my fingers in the video!

Monsoons are here!

Monsoons are finally here! Check out this weather forecast below-this is what I was waiting for!

I will be taking the row covers OFF! my tomato plants this weekend.

With the cooler temperatures and rain predicted everyday for the next 10 days, it appears that the monsoon pattern has set up. Best news in quite a while! People might wonder why I get so excited over rain patterns out here in New Mexico but if we didn’t get the monsoon pattern in the summer, it would be miserably hot as we all just experienced with the 100°F days we experienced. Not unbearable heat like in Arizona but still hot for us and being a native Phoenician, I remember how hot it can get. I even tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk in Phoenix when I was a kid (it didn’t fry but evaporated instead.)

Can’t wait to see the tomato girls without having to peek inside the row covers. Hmm, I wonder if I have more tomatoes ready to eat under those row covers…

 

Tomato growing-Beet Leafhoppers and Curly Top Virus (CTV)

I have written about this problem a few times on this site and it might be worth a visit to one of my previous posts if you are interested in learning about CTV:

Identifiying Tomato Curley Top Virus

In addition there is more info on this problem through New Mexico State University (NMSU) here.

The reason I put row cover over my plants is to have a physical protection to keep the Beet Leafhopper off of them. I remove the row covers when the monsoons come in July as they seem to either leave or become suppressed and then I usually don’t have any problems with leafhoppers and CTV. No insecticides seem to work. If it seems that I harp on this problem, I do! I just want you all to be successful with tomato growing here.

First tomatoes!

First tomatoes in 2020-Black Cherry Tomatoes (shown) and Egg Yolk tomatoes (sorry I ate them!)

Well I got my first few cherry tomatoes harvested. I planted all 36 tomato plants really early on May 3rd-snuck them in with such a warm spring. I peeked inside my Egg Yolk cherry tomato plant underneath the row cover (yes it’s still on but hopefully coming off soon) and my Black Cherry tomato plant. I got 2 Egg Yolk tomatoes and 5 Black Cherry tomatoes. Mind you, not a lot but it’s a start! The flavor was divine and now I remember why I wait to eat tomatoes after the season is over. Haven’t had a tomato since last October–well worth the wait!

Lots of blossoms on all the other tomato plants but we will get some blossom drop on some of them with this heat. No matter, they will produce more blossoms that will set fruit again. I’ll see how many have set fruit after I remove the row covers. Speaking of row covers…

Looking more promising regarding the monsoons. Starting this Thursday the temps will drop back in the 80s and thunderstorms are predicted from Thursday on from 20-40%. Hang in there, I am almost ready to remove the row covers-but waiting for the monsoon pattern to really set up to get rid of the leafhopper. Maybe next week. You’ll be the first to know!

I killed my potatoes…

I’m sorry to say I killed my potato crop this year. I started with some fingerling potatoes seeds (and I have grown them in previous years with no problem). I planted them in a trough that was 12 inches deep and covered them with 3 inches of soil. Then I put my drip system on top of them. They grew nicely and after about 6 inches tall, I buried them with more soil. So far so good. Then when they got another 6 inches taller, I buried them again. Still no problems-they grew up through the dirt. Each time I moved the drip line up with them so it was always on the top not buried underneath.

I guess that was my problem as I left on a flyfishing trip and when I came home they never grew up through the soil-they just disappeared. I’m sure they died because of lack of water down by the roots. In hindsight, I figured maybe I should of left the drip system buried where the water would have reached the roots-I think it was too far away from the roots. This heat hasn’t helped either.

So that’s it, I killed the potatoes. If anyone has any advice, I’m open to it. Just leave your advice in the comments.

PS: I’ve decided I’m going to use that bed for fall crops-beets and carrots.

Heat wave here!

So I am very frustrated that the weather apps and weather people are saying we are going to be hot, hot, HOT for about the next 10 days here in Santa Fe and NM which means the monsoons are not quite here yet even though the clouds are building and a few drops are falling.

What does this mean for us veggie growers who are waiting for the temps to cool down and the monsoons to come? Two problems:

ONE: leafhopper is still here (won’t leave till the mosoons comes) so keep the tomatoes covered. I know it is torture at this point but you’ve waited this long so stick with it.

TWO: tomato plants get blossom drop when the temps are 92°F and hotter. So if your plant has already set some blossoms into fruit, they will be fine BUT if there are new blossoms during this time period, they will probably drop off. When the temperatures cool below 92°, they will produce blossoms and self-pollinate and set new tomatoes and the cycle starts again.

Hang tight-Patience will reward you!

Warm season lettuce-Batavian or Summercrisp lettuces

I like salads, especially in the summer but most lettuces bolted here in my garden in the summer. Last year I grew some lettuces that grew well in the summer. Most lettuces are cool season crops that bolt with the heat but Batavian (also known as Summercrisp) lettuces did surprisingly well here. I grew them in partial shade and not in the direct sun. Not only was I happy they did not bolt and nor get bitter, but they have a crisp sweet taste to them and lasted all summer. There are many more Batavian lettuces online but these are what I tried. Many of these warm season lettuces are on multiple seed company sites but below is where I got the seeds.I just started these lettuce seeds on July 1 in pony packs to transplant later.

Here are some varieties I grew:

Cardinale-recently saved from extinction. A wine red Batavian crisp-leaf, especially suited to cutting for salad mix because of its juicy crunch, heft, shelf life and well-proportioned leaves. Forms open rosettes for easy picking until full maturity, then folds itself into a beautiful red crisphead. seeds: wildgardenseed

 

Manoa-A special mini head from University of Hawaii, grown widely in the Islands for its resistance to heat and tip-burn. ‘Manoa’ is actually a tropical-stress selected version of the century-old ‘Green Mignonette,’ itself recognized as a standout heat resistant lettuce. Medium deep green, semi-savoyed leaves form small, compact plants that may be baby cut with an open head, or allowed to mature into a blanched round heart. seeds: wildgardenseed

 

Anuenue-Another A sweet green header from Hawaii. ‘Anuenue’ (rainbow) works as a thick green cut-leaf for salad, or as an easy, heat tolerant, non-bitter, full-heading lettuce. Undemanding, mellow heads, bred for sun, heat, and humidity. seeds: wildgardenseeds

 

Jester-Crisp as ice, glossy, juicy as an apple, perfectly proportioned for a plate or a sandwich, flashy red speckles on semi-savoyed leaves with crazy-crisped margins like a Jester’s attire. Slow bolting in any season, this crispleaf type can be harvested at the open head stage, or later as a semi-tight pink-hearted blanched head. seeds: wildgardenseeds

 

Merlot Batavian-It is an open-headed, Batavian-type with upright, waxy, savoyed leaves. Merlot is perfect for baby leaf cut and come again harvesting or for growth to crisp, full-sized, burgundy heads. Its  juicy flavor and crisp texture will light up the most discriminating of palettes. seeds: John Scheepers

 

Nevada-Excellent summer variety forms large, open heads of thick, vibrant green leaves. Glossy and beautifully ruffled leaves with a satisfying combination of crunchy texture and buttery smoothness. Summer crisp characteristics. seeds: highmowingseeds

 

 

Skyphos-Most adaptable butterhead. Beautiful, large, dark red heads with nicely contrasting green centers. Excellent flavor and texture. seeds: johnnyseeds

 

 

 

Muir-Muir is an extremely heat tolerant variety and was the slowest to bolt in our summer trials. Technically a Batavian type, the light green, extra-wavy leaves form dense heads at a small size and can be harvested as a mini or left to bulk up into large, heavy, full-size heads. The leaves are crisp and have excellent flavor. seeds: johnnyseeds

 

Magenta-A red Summer Crisp with good flavor. Shiny, slightly puckered, red-tinged leaves form a whorled, conical head with a crispy green heart. Ideal for spring and summer plantings. Tolerant to bolting, tipburn, and bottom rot. seeds: johnnyseeds

Garlic scapes!

Garlic scapes are the curly stem of a garlic

The garlic that I planted last October is now producing scapes. What are scapes? First you need to know that there are two types of garlic-hardneck or softneck. Softneck varieties are the kind that are sold in the grocery stores because it has a longer shelf life than hardneck varieties. Softneck varieties can be braided. But hardneck varieties are suppose to be more flavorful. Hardneck garlic varieties tend to do best in colder climates as they are winter hardy.

So let’s talk about what are scapes. Hardneck garlic varieties produce a tender flower and stalk called a scape which is long, dark green and curly. Removing the scape makes the garlic concentrate it’s energy into producing bigger heads. Cut the scape off where it starts on the garlic. Garlic scapes are harvested in the late spring and the bulbs are harvested later in mid-summer (if you planted garlic in the fall).

garlic-scapes-courtesy of Chatelaine

Garlic scapes taste like a blend of scallions and garlic although less fiery than garlic bulbs. Keep garlic scapes in the crisper—they can last up to two weeks when fresh. You can also chop them up like scallions and freeze them in plastic bags, which will preserve them for much longer. They’re great in stir fry. They can be diced and used in any way you might use scallions.

Our honeybees swarmed!

Bee swarm on juniper branch

We are beekeepers and love our bees, their pollination of our plants and in some years the honey they provide. Plus we want to support them by not using chemical pesticides or fungicides.

This spring our bees were starting to outgrow their digs and were planning to swarm. How do I know? They made queen cups and started laying eggs in them and producing queen larvae. Once they decide to make a new queen, it is hard to turn their thinking around. So when we saw a queen cup with a developing larva and royal jelly in it and another queen cup with a new egg in it, we knew they would swarm and split their hive unless we split the hive before they did.

Swarming is good thing for a bee hive. It means it is doing well and has too many inhabitants and some need to move on. So we found the existing queen and transferred her and some brood and honey and pollen bars to an empty hive we had. Great! They seem to be doing well. So now we have two hives. But there were still queen cups in the original hive with about 10 developing larvae in them. We thought the other bees would take down the queen cups.

We thought that would be the end of it but no, there’s more to the story. Last weekend, I was out in the part of the garden closest to the first hive and noticed they were getting very noisy and started leaving and circling around in a great mass of bees and I knew they were going to swarm. I assume that one queen hatched and saw all the other queen cups with larvae in them and decided to leave with about half the hive before the others hatched. A hive can only have one queen and when a new queen hatches, it will go along and kill off any other queens that are ready to emerge with it except this one was quite further along in it’s development while the other larvae were not very developed yet.

The swarm ended up on a tree branch about 30 feet away and had formed a long ball of bees about 30 inches long by 12 inches wide where many thousands of bees had gathered. I’m guessing about 30 thousand! From there the swarm sends out scouts to find a new home in which to move to. The swarm waits to hear the reports from the scouts before moving again which can take from 3 hours to 3 days depending what the scouts find. Of course we suited up but when the hive swarmed, they are the most docile as they are out of their element so to speak. We ran over to another empty hive we had previously set up and put some more bars of brood and nectar in it from the original hive.

Then we went back to the swarm and I cut the branch down while Elodie held a big tupperware container underneath them and they fell  about six inches with the branch into the box. We then carried the box over to the new hive and put them inside. Hopefully they are happy and have a good queen to get them going. The original hive now has a lot fewer bees in it so hopefully this is the end of swarming. It is exciting we caught them before they left the property but also it is a little newvewracking too! Now we have three hives!

Lettuce bolting

When daytime temperatures get warmer, it will only be a matter of time before cool season lettuce that we planted in early spring bolts. Bolting is when lettuce starts to get a center stalk and eventually it will make flowers and become bitter. What makes lettuce bolt? Both summer heat and more sunlight in our longer sunnier days contribute to bolting. If you find your too late and it is already bitter, either compost it or give it to chickens. They don’t seem to mind the bitterness.

I read a tip where you can make bitter lettuce sweet again so I decided to try it as my winter lettuce is pretty much finished and bitter. The tip said to mix up 4 TLB salt with 1 liter of water till dissolved in a bowl and then soak your lettuce in it for ten minutes. Then rinse and it should be sweet. I did try it and the lettuce got totally wilted. Not edible. After I rinsed it, I soaked it in fresh water hoping to revive it and the lettuce was still salty and wilted. Still not edible. I didn’t even want to give the wilted lettuce to my chickens or compost it for fear of too much salt still in it. Oh well, so much for that tip!

If you still have lettuces that haven’t been picked, get out there soon before they bolt! To get the best from your lettuce, water your plants the evening before you plan to pick it. Then pick lettuces first thing the next morning before it gets too hot. After I wash it and spin out the water, I put lettuce in a ziplock baggie with a wet piece of paper towel folded (squeeze out excess moisture). Lettuce should last a good amount of time when doing this in the refrigerator.

There are other lettuces we can grow here in the shade in the summer. I will write a post soon about growing these warm season lettuces for the summer that are heat resistant and don’t bolt. They are called Batavian or Crisp lettuces. More on that later.