Garden Cleanup, Harvest, Apples

Time to add some pictures of how the garden is doing along with some of various things we've done!

At this point, the two cucumber plants (a Burpee Pickler and a Marketmore 76) have been tore down.  They were looking pretty bad when this picture was taken.  There was a lot of garden up-keep that was done on Monday of this week.


The cucumbers were right next to the tomato plants – so I wonder if the fungus rolled over to the cucumbers.  Anyways, the two Roma tomato plants were also tore out – but both of the Best Boy plants were left.  One Best Boy tomato plant has six small tomatoes that started a few weeks back – and the other plant has a few flowers that may produce a few more tomatoes.

Tomato Plants

Looking pretty poor right?  You can see the PVC irrigation system in this photo as well with two pipes lying on the ground.  One goes all the way back to the cucumbers and the other feed the tomatoes.

Moving to the potatoes – we dug up some potatoes on Monday – this was just one plant that I planted right next to one of the roma tomatoes.  I was happy to see we actually got just under three pounds of potatoes from this one plant!

Kennebec Potatoes

There are six – eight other potatoes planted in another area – and as you can see, all of those vines are dead now as well.  I don't want to take them out of the ground for a bit until we are ready to use them though – I hope they don't rot!

Kennebec Potatoes

The one potato plant in the potato box is still growing strong – and shows no signs of it being ready to die back!  With almost three pounds of potatoes from the one plant that was just in the ground, I can't wait to see how many are in this 2.5-foot tall box!

Potato Bin

Some of the Sugar Dots corn was picked on Monday as well.  While pulling the corn that was 20 – 22 days after the silks emerged, I also pulled a good amount of corn stalks that didn't produce anything.  While I am happy we got some corn, I'm not impressed with how the corn turned out.  But, that is my own fault for leaving them in the small planting containers for three weeks.

Sugar Dots Corn

In this area of the garden, most of the corn didn't produce anything.  This was an area where there were only a few ears that produce out of the 36+ that were planted.


I was surprised that most of the corn in the front garden produced!  However, the corn in the picture above barely got any sunlight throughout the day because of the forest behind our house on the south side – so it shades this area for most of the day.

But, the front garden gets full sun all day.  Out of the 20 or so corn planted here, only one of them didn't produce anything.

Front Garden Corn

Here is some that was planted in buckets and placed in the safety of the deer netting under the arbor.  The deer sure like to get into anything they possibly can!

Grape Arbor, Strawberries, and Corn in buckets

Lastly, the corn in the side garden between the house and garage – which was the Peaches & Cream corn – is HUGE!  Look how tall it is compared to the gutters on the house!  Either it really is the soil that made them spurt the growth like that – or the Peaches & Cream variety grow just as tall as field corn.  Unfortunately, the corn started putting silk on about a week after pollen began falling.  So just a day or two after the pollen was completely gone, there was another 17 ears of corn that were ready for pollination – drats – because they would have been some nice ears of corn!

Peaches & Cream Corn

Moving on to the green beans – the green beans in the front bed are all insect infested.  The plants are dying off and production is slowing.  But, I've left them in the bed to help shade the ground and keep it cool and moist.  But this weekend will see the end of all of the plants.

But, the plants in the bed on the driveway are thriving and doing well!  These plants are about 45 days old now and are doing spectacular!  Just yesterday we picked just above three pounds of green beans.

Green Beans

The peppers in the front garden are also doing well.  We've found that we like the red peppers better – the California Wonder peppers are first green but when they mature, they will slowly turn red.  So, we've been waiting to pull the red peppers because they have a sweeter taste to them.  Today I picked six more peppers – almost 1.5 pounds worth!

California Wonder Peppers

Now for the lettuce – I'm not especially happy with the lettuce.  The planting we had in the spring was very good and there was a lot of lettuce.  However, the lettuce has now been in the ground for more than a month – and only a few are growing well – while the others seem stunted.  I wonder if it has something to do with the peppers shading them until about noon – when they begin to get sunlight.

Black Simpson Elite Lettuce

And finally – for our apple trip.  After looking for orchards online, I came across a small mom/pop orchard in Monticello, IL called Wolfe Orchards.  I gave them a call and told them that we wanted to make some applesauce – and was curious to know how much their apples were.  They told me that their apples were $8 a peck – but they did have "seconds" with bad spots in them from hail damage or disfigured ones.  They said those are half price and only $4 a peck.

So we took the short 20 minute drive to Monticello and purchased five pecks of apples for $20.  Wofe Orchards had quite a selection of different apples all nicely arranged.  We took almost all of their seconds – which was a great mixture of different varieties.  So, we got about 50 pounds of apples for $20 – that is less than 50 cents a pound!

We might go back again this weekend to get some more – because we still have about 38 cans to fill.  The 50 pounds of apples were all peeled and cored – and then ground into applesauce – all manually!  The wife & I were up until just after 3 am (started around 6:30 pm) making applesauce!  We made about 19.5 quarts of applesauce.

Next time we are just going to cut the apples and core then – then put them through the food processor.  I read online that in the food processor, it will mince the apples to the applesauce-like substance and the skins are so fine that you won't notice them.  That sure will aid the process!

Wolfe Orchards Apples

Here is some that was planted in buckets and placed in the safety of the deer netting under the arbor.  The deer sure like to get into anything they possibly can!


Garden Produce Winding Down

The garden is beginning to dwindle with production – and it seems a bit early.

The weather has been extremely odd this year.  We had a couple of weeks of 90+ degree weather early on in June – and then the rest of the year has seen between high 60's to mid 80's for the most part.  There has also been a lot of rain very often – so there was an abundance of disease this year as well.

Many people believe that they had some kind of early or late blight – or a fusarium wilt fungus on their tomato plants this year.  In reality, it was most likely Septoria Leaf Spot.  This fungus kills the leaves and stems of plants by working up the plant.  So, it will look as though there is dead leaves and stems from the bottom up.  Luckily this fungus does not effect the fruit so we still got a decent number of tomatoes.  However, Septoria devestated our two cherry tomato plants.  In years previous, I've harvested a half-gallon buck of cherry tomatoes every three-four days.  This year, we probably didn't even get a half-gallon buck full all year long.  These tomato plants were then dug up early and composted.

The Dwarf Grey Sugar peas also began to get a bad case of downey mildew all over the plants just a couple of weeks before they stopped producing as well.

On a side note, there are still several things left in the garden to harvest.  While most of the tomatoes have been pulled, there are still just a few more Roma tomatoes that are ripening on the vine.  The Best Boy tomato plants have all quite producing and those will be pulled up shortly.

The Marketmore 76 cucumber plant began wilting and leaves dying several weeks back – and we haven't had any cucumbers from this plant in just that amount of time.  A few days ago I did get another cucumber off of the Burpee Picker cucumber plant – although that one is also yellowing and dying as well.

The potatoes in the ground are all dying back now as well.  However, the potato in the potato bin is still growing strong and is doing very well.

The California Wonder peppers are also growing strong and continue to put on new peppers!  We have now been waiting for the peppers to turn red before picking them – so we'll have a variety of green and red peppers in the freezer.  I've been pulling a couple of red peppers a week – but there are still at least three dozen peppers on the eight plants.

The green beans in the front bed have about given up.  We are not getting too much production out of them any longer, but I keep them in place since they shade the raised bed and keeps the soil moist.  Since green beans are a nitrogen-fixing plant (meaning they put nitrogen back into the soil), I keep them going.

The green beans in the newest raised bed on the back driveway are now giving us most of the production.  A few days ago, the wife picked about three pounds of green beans – but that did include the front garden.  Most of them all came from the newest bed though.

The lettuce that was planted several weeks back are doing well – although there have been many that haven't made it or are looking sickly.  There are about five good-looking heads of lettuce that are forming, a few smaller heads that are recovering from their leaves falling off (don't know why that happened), and then a few others that are just about fully dead – they have a small leaf attached and that is all.  It doesn't seem like the lettuce is growing near as quickly as what it did in the spring time.  The weather has been between 60's and lower 80's throughout their time in the ground so it hasn't been too hot for the Black Simpson Elite lettuce.

The corn – very strange behavior for the Peaches & Cream corn.  The Sugar Dots corn only grew to about four – five feet high, but the Peaches & Cream corn is all well over 9 feet tall now and is almost touching the gutters on our house on the overhang. 

The Sugar Dots corn also began putting on silk from the ears of corn a few days after the pollen began emerging from the tassels.  So, I didn't have any problem having enough pollen to pollinate the Sugar Dots corn.  All of the Sugar Dots corn only put on one ear of corn – except there was one stalk that has two.  The ears are also smaller than normal – but again that is because they were in tiny planters that made them root-bound for three weeks.

Now – the Peaches & Cream corn…. The ears on these stalks are quite a bit larger than the Sugar Dots corn.  There are even a few stalks that have put on two ears on one Peaches & Cream stalk.  I was a little worried about this orignlaly and said I would stick with Sugar Dots for that reason – two ears of corn from one stalk.  However, after experiencing some trouble with Peaches & Cream, I do believe I am going to stay wth the Sugar Dots variety.

The Peaches & Cream corn began shedding pollen way before the ears were even emerging on the stalks.  It has now been at least two weeks since pollen began falling from the Peaches & Cream corn – and there are STILL some stalks that are just beginning to have their silk emerge.  Over the past holiday weekend, I marked another 20 stalks where the silks were coming out nicely.  Unfortunately, I do not have any pollen in order to pollinate these ears and these most likely will be bad ears of corn.  I don't know why this happened either.  The only thing I can attribute this to is the amount of nutrients in the compost that was used to make the bed the Peaches & Cream corn are in.  It seems the corn put all of its energy on making the stalk shoot 9 feet up, started to shed pollen, and then decided it was time to begin making the ears.

Overall though, we should get around 40 – 50 ears of corn this year although many of them will be small from the Sugar Dots corn.