Saturday, June 21, 2014

Greasy Beans and Dry Weather

We are harvesting 'Lazy Wife Greasy' beans in great numbers right now. The "greasy" bean type has a mutation that makes the pods feel oily. They also keep better after picking than other types of beans. In addition, they remain stringless, even when the length reaches a foot! Bloom stems routinely carry 5 to 7 pods. The flavor is excellent, either prepared "Southern style" by long cooking with pork fat, or "Northern style," simmering them in chicken stock until they are barely tender.

The weather remains dry. Despite thunderstorms all around us, we have received much less than an inch of rain this week, forcing us to irrigate on a daily basis. One problem with any vegetable garden project is the demand for water. An inch of rain on a 10 by 10 foot bed equals 60 gallons of water. Keep this in mind when watering. A deep soaking is better than a daily sprinkling.

Try to water at a time of day when the leaves of plants can dry before dark. Early morning is best, but you can also water late in the day if you allow time for leaves to dry. Wet foliage encourages fungal disease. This is particularly true for cucurbits, which need plenty of water now that fruits are forming. This plant group is especially susceptible to mildew, when kept too wet.

Today is the Summer Solstice. We have about two more weeks to plant tomatoes, peppers and cucurbits for late harvests. July 4 is traditionally the last day to plant here in the Valley region. By July 15, it is already time to start a few fall crops. Seeds for fall brassicas, celery, and parsley can be planted in late July, in order to have plants ready to move out in August. If the heat keeps up the way it has been, this will pose a challenge unless you have an air conditioned greenhouse.

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