June 17, 2010: The Mid-June Garden (part 1)

This weather is unbelievable! Our normal temperature for June 16 is 83F. Yesterday it only got up to 69F. Our low temperature should be around 55F, or even higher, and it dropped to 49F. The past two mornings the furnace has been running when I awakened, where normally I'd have my windows open at night to cool the house. My tomatoes will never ripen in this weather.

Speaking of tomatoes, look what I discovered smack dab in the middle of my sugar snap peas yesterday.

I've no doubt it's a Juliet tomato, as that was the only one growing in that area last year, and I've been hoeing out the volunteers for weeks. This one escaped me, and she's over two feet high, so I think I'll let her live.

Here is another volunteer that will get a chance for life this year. I'm hoping it is the child of Interpretive Dance. Please, do click on that link to read about Interpretive Dance. She was such a valiant and brave little Green Grape tomato, who overcame great odds to survive. When I left for Arizona last October, she hadn't yet given me any tomatoes, and she was suffering from a lot of frost damage, but I was too busy to bother ripping her out and disposing of her. When I returned home this March, there was Interpretive Dance, still clinging to the fence in death. I said a final farewell, and ripped her out by her roots. As I tore her free from the land, three little squishy tomatoes fell to the ground from her dead body. Interpretive Dance had lived, and she had given birth to fruit! Now a volunteer has grown in her place, and I am protecting it with my life. Well, I'm actually protecting it with a tomato cage and a loop of the garden hose, but I am protecting it, non the less. Please, let this be her child and not the offspring of the nearby cherry tomato that was healthy and productive and absolutely tasteless.

Elsewhere in the garden......

The Little Marvel peas are loving the cool weather.
I still haven't picked any, but they're getting close.

I've recently shown you my two main lettuce beds, with their lattice shade structures, but I haven't shown much of this lettuce patch that grows in the shade of my indeterminate tomatoes. Most of the front row has been harvested, and a triple row of carrots has been seeded in their place. This is why I grow my tomatoes in buckets. If they were planted directly into the bed, there wouldn't be room to grow crops on either side of them. This 4' wide bed has a double row of bush beans on the other side of the tomato buckets, so I'm getting a lot of food from a small space. Lettuce varieties in this bed are Buttercrunch and Austrian Red in the back row, and Anuenue in the front row, next to the carrots.

A closer look at Austrian Red and Anuenue. Except now that I look at the photo, I think just the one on the left is Anuenue and the next two are Buttercrunch. This bed was attacked by birds early on, and some of the lettuces had to be replaced with new seedlings. Only three of my Anuenue seeds germinated, and I vaguely remember only one surviving. I'll have to make sure I harvest that one head for a taste test, before it bolts. I was hoping I could leave some in the garden to see how long it would grow before bolting.

On the other side of the indeterminate tomato bed, the Contender bush beans are blossoming, and tiny beans are forming. All four tomato plants have blossoms, and I noticed a small tomato on the Cherokee Purple yesterday. The ugly green buckets, that the tomatoes are growing in, aren't even visible any more. If we'd get a few days of warm weather, the entire tomato structure would probably be hidden by foliage. In the background, one of the three barrel containers of corn is growing taller.

These indeterminate tomatoes, growing behind the garden shed, are also doing very well. They don't get quite as much sun as the ones in the raised bed, so they are just a little bit behind in maturity. This area was unplanted last year, except for a volunteer cherry tomato, and enriched with leaves, pine needles and grass clippings. The compost barrel also sat back here, and that's where the volunteer squash in the foreground came from. I'm hoping it's a yellow crookneck. I think that was the only kind of squash that got composted.

Here's "Tomato Row", with its five pots of tomatoes, four of which are dwarf varieties. This area of the garden was fenced last year, but I removed the fencing for easier access this year. I was going to pull the fence posts, but decided they'd be good for securing these bottomless pots of tomatoes. Mr. Granny has managed to hit only one of the pots with his lawn mower so far. Minor damage to the pot, none to the plant. The dwarf plants are so pretty! They are stocky, with really thick dark green leaves, unlike the plant in the front pot, which is a determinate tomato, but not a dwarf variety.

Again, the dwarf varieties seem to take very well to pots, even these that have their bottoms intact. Soon this ugly green bucket should be hidden by the leaves of the nearby zucchini plants.

The Black Beauty zucchini is growing well and blossoming, although all the blossoms are male. Already I've detected a bit of powdery mildew on these leaves, so I gave them a good spray of diluted milk yesterday.

This Grey Zucchini is definitely under performing, and already covered with powdery mildew. It was terribly susceptible to it last year also. I gave it a good spray of the diluted milk too, but I'm thinking I'll probably just pull it and plant another Black Beauty here. You can see the large leaf of the other plant to the right for a size comparison.


  1. That's like the difference in my squash and zucchini. They're also right next to each other and in the same growing conditions. Odd that.

    I've missed poor Interpretive Dancer! Wouldn't it be fitting if she spawned a Modern Dance or Tap? Her legend lives on.

  2. It's so tough for a garden to perform under those weather conditions. Especially tomatoes!
    I hope things improve for ya.

  3. I know how you feel. It is 48 in Spokane right now and it is 9:30 am! I planted tomatoes and peppers in a raised bed and I despair of them ever maturing this summer.

  4. Ribbit, do you happen to watch "So You Think You Can Dance"? I hope Interpretive Dance gave birth to an Alex! No, not you, the male dancer that was magnificent last night. That would be so appropriate to name it Alex, after both you and the dancer.

    EG, the TV weatherperson says mid 80s for the rest of the week, the newspaper says mid 70s, and right now it can only manage a mere 63. All I know is it's damned cold for June.

    SuSaw, it was 35 in Yakima night before last! I think they said it was 32 in Ellensburg. It's cold and windy here today.

  5. Geez Granny, I can't believe what cold weather you are having! It's been too hot here until yesterday. Hope it warms up for you. Your peas and lettuce must be loving it! Your garden looks great as always :)

  6. How do you get all these volunteer tomatoes? I have never had a volunteer...
    I tried milk last year for powdery mildew with no success...do you have some secret? I am seeing signs already as well and think I may need to do something.

  7. Robin, probably the best pea and lettuce weather I've ever had. Carrots and onions, too. I'm surprised I had such a beet failure.

    Shawn Ann, I kind of got sick of tomatoes last year, so I let a few rot on the vines. Especially the Juliet, which was not my favorite, and was way too prolific. I always have cherry tomato volunteers, because some of them just manage to hide from me, so they don't get picked.

    I've never tried the milk on powdery mildew, so it's an experiment for me.

  8. I've always thought that would be a good way to get more out of a small space - grow tall things in pots and put the short ones in the ground next to them. They all get enough soil to grow that way. I'm trying to avoid pots this year. I'm not the best of waterers. I'd be fine if they have automatic irrigation.

  9. That lettuce looks lovely! :)

    And I love that lettuce patch with the potted tomatoes; what a good idea!

    Lovely garden :)

  10. Daphne, I bought myself a moisture meter, and I go out about every other day and check the pots. Some need water every time, others seldom need water....go figure. One was absolutely waterlogged and stinky, and it was the furthest one from a water source! I drained it and moved it, I'm thinking it was because it was sitting atop a small upside-down basket to raise it up off the ground, and the bottom of the basket was holding water, just like a saucer. I put it down on the ground! One of these days I'll figure out a watering system for all of them, but right now my only drip system is on the tomatoes behind the shed.

    Seana, thank you! People are always asking me why I use the pots and buckets. That's why!

  11. I hope that is a child of interpretive dance... what a fighter!

    Like you we are in a perpetual cool and wet mode around here. I am actually surprised that things are growing as much (which is not that much!) as they are. We really do need to get some summer soon.

  12. Kitsap, it did get up to about 71 this afternoon, just for a bit. Long enough to get some tomato work done, and to harvest our dinner. Pat hollered at me to come for iced coffee on the patio, and just as I sat down, it clouded up and got chilly again. She's going to have to change from iced coffee to hot tea!

  13. Hope your weather starts to cooperate soon! Your garden is still WAY ahead of mine :-)

  14. But, Amy, this is the land of 300+ days of sunshine a year! This is the desert of Washington! It's supposed to be hot in June! You watch, it'll be 110 next month, and I'll be complaining about the heat ;-)

  15. Now I understand why you use those green pots. Thanks, it makes a lot of sense. They might also have their roots a bit warmer in the pots, which might help this year with your cold temperatures.

    We are also having a cold June and I am in Southern California away from the fog belt. It should be hot here.

  16. Angela, the green buckets are also bottomless, so the roots can go as deep as they want. I tried them last year, with just drainage holes in them, and the tomatoes became root bound. Yes, the soil warmed up early in the buckets. I think the green color also helps absorb the heat.