Fridays are generally my day to stay home and garden, then write about it. Lately though, I've had very little time to write. I've been spending most of my time in the garden trying to stay ahead of the weeds, disease, and pests (not to mention the overabundance the garden produces even in a drought). This afternoon with the heat climbing into the 90's and the humidity hovering around the same, I decided to pour myself an iced tea, kick back, and write about what I've been doing.
We always experiment in the garden, and this year has been no exception. A couple new (to us, that is) tomato varieties are wowing us. One, Stupice (which is new to us, but a favorite of many), has proven that big is not always better. It's sweet, zesty, red - everything "tomatoey" in a 2 ounce nugget of goodness. Principe Borghese is another favorite. It's small fruits are great in sauce and candied, as in a previous post. It's meant for sun-drying, but the humidity is way too high and we don't have a dehydrator. I'm not so happy with Black Prince, a favorite from last year. The fruits are much different than the plant we grew before and instead of being incredibly blight resisitant, this year's plants succumbed well before the start of August. I think it may be the down-side of heirlooms - plants with the same name can vary by location and supplier. In this case, we ordered from a different supplier this year. Next year, I'll look for the old variety and give it one more try on a limited scale. I'm going to try to save seeds from Kentucky Beefsteak and Spear's Tennessee Green and see how they do in comparison to ordered seeds.
Crows have been a problem this year. I think it has to do with the drought as much as anything else. Last Friday I hung old cds throughout the garden, especially around the tomatoes and from the scarecrow's arms. They flash in the sunlight. The ones on the scarecrow bang into his trashcan lid body, especially on windy days like today. It seems to be working. And best of all, I'm giving old, ruined cds new life. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
I've also been fighting powdery mildew with milk. Yes, milk. Mix 1/2 cup milk to 2 cups water and spray the leaves of cucumbers, squash, or whatever else seems to be succumbing (powdery mildew thrives in dry weather, oddly enough). So far, it's working. I had always been a little doubtful of this particular home remedy. Apparently for a brief time after application the milk, in combination with sunlight, turns into a natural fungicide. I've been applying it about every three days, always when it's sunny. Just remember to wash out the spray container when you're done - please don't forget and leave it in the sun. Trust me, doing it just once will keep you from doing it again!
Next I plan to attack the slugs, testing a variety of home remedies. This year has been worse than any other year. I think because the heavily mulched garden is the only place they find hospitable at the moment. Not for long slugs! You're going down...