||Summer's here, and the
garden's busting out all over....
This is the time of year that all gardeners look forward to. All the loving care tending your plants will start to produce fresh vegetables and tree ripened fruit.
Shirley and I picked the bing cherries. We canned 12 quarts in light syrup. we water bathed them for 20 minutes in boiling water after seeding them. then we seeded 20 pounds of bins, cut them in half, and placed them in our dehydrator for six hours. This made six pints of dried cherries. I like to mix them into my oatmeal for breakfast. Shirley also uses them in muffins.
The peaches are starting to show color and the apricots are about 10 days from ripening. Some of the earlier varieties of apricots in the Valley are ripe now. I picked a handful off Kris Klibo's tree and they were delicious.
Valley gardeners who have used the silver plastic mulch are praising the results. Fran and Barry Shulman grow gourds four miles west of Buellton. Barry took my advice and planted 6,000 feet of gourds on silver mulch. He planted another 1,000 feet of gourds on bare ground. The plants on the mulch are twice the size of those on bare ground. The bugs are eating the gourds on the bare ground so bad that Fran may abandon them.
Fran is very artistic. She paints and varnishes the gourds and sells them at the Goleta, Santa Barbara and Montecito Farmers Markets. Last year she sold many to Sage in Santa Ynez under the name "Frannie's Gourds."
Early blight on tomatoes is rampant this year. Spraying weekly to prevent the disease is the only method to prevent this fungus from spreading throughout the plant. I planted 40 foot row of pickling cucumbers 10 days ago on silver mulch. These seeds came up in five days and are now over six inches high with no cucumber beetles showing.
Some of the better gardeners in the Valley are calling to see if I have red tomatoes yet. "No," I say "just green ones."
To get red tomatoes before the Fourth of July is a feat I haven't mastered. If you have red tomatoes now, you get an "atta boy" from Farmer Ed.
With all the 100 degree weather we have had to endure, some plants suffer more than others. Gardeners are complaining of bitter cucumbers. The reason cukes get bitter is the plant is stressed, either because of fungus diseases or lack of water. Pickles need to be watered and fertilized so their growth is not slowed down. If your cukes are bitter, remove all cukes from the plant, then water and fertilize more often. The new fruit should be OK.
There is still plenty of time to plant sweet corn, cucumbers, pepper plants, pumpkins, zucchini and tomato seeds directly into the ground. I planted two hills of tomatoes where I cleared the ground of turnips.
The method I use that works well is to work the ground with a pot-hole digger and dig a hole about 18 inches deep. In the bottom of the hole put about three trout from Lake Cachuma (after they have been filleted). Cover with dirt and plant about four or five seeds. After the plants get four or five inches high, pull all but one. Tomato roots go up to 10 feet deep. As soon as the roots find those trout you will see vigorous growth. No other fertilizing is needed.
A well-tended plant with ample water and nutrients can overcome many insects and fungus. Do not over fertilize tomatoes or peppers. This only promotes foliage and little or no fruit.
My Vidalia onions are harvested and hanging in the drying house. These are the size of a soft ball. The other varieties are still growing and should be five pounds each or more. They were last year.
A sandwich made with sourdough bread, a thick slice of onion, tomato, and one leaf o lettuce direct from the garden is a treat some people never get to enjoy.
Next month we will discuss recipes for using, canning, freezing and drying the harvest.
For the computer gardener, there is a website with pictures of my garden and all the back articles on gardening. Check out www.solvangca.com/ed
Buellton resident Ed Ando writes a column every four weeks. Look for one again after August 8, 2000.