A very rainy spring and summer here have made plants and weeds alike grow lush. We’ve had over 25 inches of rain since April 1st – with 2 inches already in July. The vining plants of summer are loving it though and taking off.
I’m growing luffa gourds this year for my wife. We’ve talked about using them for soaps, but she no doubt has other crafty things in mind for some of them too. We’ve got regular luffas and the miniature spiny Hedgehog variety growing, using old tomato cages I made from fencing material. They were planted late and are just now starting to run.
By now the tomato vines have overrun the tops of their five foot tall cages. Looking inside, we see ripening tomatoes. The Mountain Magic variety in the photo is a cluster type, with golf ball sized tomatoes. We will be tasting the first one today. Cluster tomatoes are often sold in the stores still attached to the vine and usually command a premium price. We will be picking them when ripe however, and I have no doubt they will taste 10 times better than any grocery store tomato!
I’ve got cucumbers vining up cages made from concrete remesh. I harvested the first White Wonder and Dasher cukes this week. The Armenian is blooming but we’ve seen no fruits yet. The Armenian is supposed to make monster sized cucumbers. We will see! There’s a Dasher cuke hiding there in the foliage that is about ready to pick.
I also planted two late cucumbers that are hanging out over by the luffas. My goal is to have a steady supply of cucumbers for as long as I can. The late ones are Tasty Green and Summer Dance, both are burpless types that get about 9 inches long. We’ve also got both of these at the Impact garden and they are already producing, though the vines are so big down there it’s hard to tell the cucumbers apart. I plan on doing an update on that garden later this week. We are hoping to dig our first potatoes there.
Down in the main vegetable garden, I have several vining plants. I try and locate them so they don’t run all over the rest of the garden, though they sometimes seem to have a mind of their own. The Small Wonder spaghetti squash is a rampant grower. The ‘small’ in the name refers to the size of the squashes, not the vine. Last year we got over twenty of these tasty cuties that keep like a winter squash but are really in a league of their own. They are climbing on the deer fencing and weighing it down.
The Butterbush squash vine is a little better behaved. This ‘bush’ type butternut has several squashes developing. I’m spraying the leaves and the lower part of all the squash vines with a Neem oil mix about twice a week. I did this last year and we had no issues with squash vine borer. It’s hard to say if the Neem helps with the borers, but it sure doesn’t hurt. I can only offer my own anecdotal evidence, not make recommendations for this treatment. I do know that Neem oil is kind on bees, and I use it in the garden for several pests, including flea beetles.
Last year was a disappointing year for a lot of things in the garden, including our sweet potatoes. The weather was dry for most of the summer, and they just didn’t size up. This year the vines are lush and I have high hopes for a big haul. Of course I always have high hopes for the garden! This year we have Centennial, Beauregard and Hernandez planted. The Hernandez is new for us, and it comes highly recommended by the fine folks at Robin’s Nest where I got the slips.
The pole beans are vining up their trellis now. No, they’re not almost as tall as the trees! That’s an optical illusion in the above photo, but the Helda and Marengo varieties are at the top of the trellis already. They are just now starting to blossom. The others won’t be far behind, including Fortex and some red and green podded yardlong beans.
And I can’t forget the vining Tromboncino squash. This heirloom zucchini, aka Zucchetta Rampicante, has beautiful large leaves and long slender squashes with a bulb on the blossom end. I guess they resemble trombones, though they sort of remind me of dipper gourds. These can be left on the vine to harden like winter squash, but I plan on harvesting ours while still young and tender and using them as summer squash. All the seeds are in the bottom part, which means the long slender neck is solid and seedless. Like most zucchinis it has a mild taste.
One vining plant I wish we didn’t have is bermuda grass. It is probably our number one pesky weed. It can jump several feet in no time, sending down roots wherever it’s runners touch the soil. I would be happy to send it to Bermuda if I only could!
Last but not least are some vining flowers. I started these Wave petunias from seed back in February. They give us color in several areas of the garden. We have a hanging basket of them just beyond the deck, where we see them on the way to the yard and gardens.
We also have them on the front porch, and in planters over by our peony bushes where they give some summer color after the peonies are finished. The Wave petunias are carefree bloomers that will flower all summer with a minimum of care.
That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed the little Tour de Vines!