Wednesday 1 September 2021

A walk through the Planty Garden in early September

The current state of my vegetable garden: what's going well, what's not, and what to sow in all those empty vegetable patches.

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Enjoying some sun
2021 has been an odd year, let's just put it that way. 

Take the weather here in Holland: a really cold spring, 33Β°C in June, flooding in July, and generally more rain and lower temperatures than we're used to. 

But for a vegetable garden, it's not that bad. We humans just have a few extra challenges on our plates πŸ˜‰

Here, let me show you my garden: 

My August garden box

I'll start with the box that I sowed on August 1. This is what it looks like now:
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My August garden box
The French breakfast radishes that we've been testing are ready to harvest. They're begging to be eaten - see how they stick out of the soil mix?
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French breakfast radishes ready to harvest
The bak choi, loose leaf lettuce, and turnips are also doing really well. The carrots and beets are growing slower but they generally need more time - and patience - anyway.
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Tiny carrots

May, June and July garden boxes

Most of the vegetables in these boxes are growing strong. I'd already harvested a lot of the patches completely and removed the plants, so they're growing their second round of vegetables now.
 
But a lot of plants have stuck it out. Like the Romano pole beans and bacon beans. They're producing a lot this year. And thanks to the heavy rainfall, they stay crunchy.

There are some ugly leaves here and there, but I can also see new shoots, flowers and beans. For now, we'll just keep harvesting. 
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Pole beans in the making

Cucumbers, tomatoes and courgettes

This summer has been colder and wetter than the past few. Not really ideal for summer vegetables. Still, we've managed to get good results.

Cucumbers

The cucumbers continue to flower and new fruits are popping up all over:
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Cucumbers baby boom
The plants themselves aren't looking so great, but with a bit of good weather, we can keep harvesting. 

Zucchini


The zucchini plants are still growing up the trellis. Every few days, I have to tie them up a bit higher:
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The ambitious climbing zucchini tied to the trellis
But all that rain and cold has brought us some unwelcome mildew. I've noticed the first signs of it already: 
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First signs of powdery mildew
I've got a quick fix: just cut off the affected leaves. This should prevent the mildew from spreading.

You can find tips for dealing with powdery mildew - and how to identify it - here.

For me, it's too much of a hassle to do remove affected zucchini and pumpkin leaves. Besides, plants with mildew often can survive a long time. Usually until the really cold weather sets in. And the fruits themselves aren't affected.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes can't get enough of the sun. Literally. This year, it's been so damp and cloudy, the tomatoes just aren't happy.

They ripen more slowly, taste less sweet, and are overwhelmed by blight.

Read more what tomato blight is and what you can do about it here.

I cut off all the affected leaves. That's why most of my tomato plants look pretty naked now, apart from a few leaves and tomatoes. Fingers crossed that those last fruits still ripen. 
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Leafless bush tomato plants with ripe fruit
Bare tomato plants aren't a problem: professional growers do that too. 

Still, I removed a few of the blighted plants and put the tomatoes in the windowsill to ripen. 

That's more than enough for a big jar of tomato sauce:
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Future tomato sauce
Topping time

If you want as many ripe tomatoes as possible, then now's the time to prune the tops. The plant will put all its energy into ripening the tomatoes that are already there, instead of producing new flowers and fruits.

Topping is easy: just cut the main stem off above the highest bunch of tomatoes. And leave one leaf at the very top if you can:
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Topped tomato plant
But watch out: if you top a tomato plant, it will grow more suckers. Remove them right away.
 
Baby pumpkins

The pumpkins are thriving. They're getting even bigger than last year. More toddler than baby 😊
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Not-so-baby pumpkins on the trellis

Sugar snaps and snow peas

The snow peas and sugar snaps sown in early August are taking off.

But the plants aren't as strong in the fall and they produce flowers and pods faster.  

Be sure you harvest right away. Their main purpose in life is to produce seeds - peas - before winter hits. So the peas grow faster inside the pods, which isn't exactly what you want for your snow peas. But don't worry: the peas are delicious.
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Peas inside sugar snaps and snow peas grow extra fast in fall

Beets and carrots

I can be quick about these: after a rough start in spring, they're doing better than ever.

They grow fast, look beautiful, and are super tasty and crunchy. 

I sowed these ones in early July:
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Big, firm beets after just 8 weeks πŸ™‚
And what do you think of these carrots? Are they gorgeous or what?
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Carrots: harvested after 10 weeks

Lettuce, chard and other leafy greens

Most of my leafy vegetables are doing insanely well this year. Once they passed the seedling stage, they kept growing like crazy. 

My loose leaf lettuce can't get enough of the wet weather:
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The loose leaf lettuce is growing faster than ever
But the endive and bibb lettuce don't look so hot. Some of the leaves are getting brown around the edges.
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Endive leaves can turn brown after a lot of rain
And all that rain means more slugs and snails. Without the slug fence this year, it's been a bit of a shock:
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Slugs got to the bok choi
The good news is that the MM-Hero garden tables were totally unaffected. Snails don't seem to like climbing up the steel legs. 

But butterflies and caterpillars don't care whether your garden box is on legs or on the ground. That's why the dino kale has some holes.

But you'll see: it'll recover and look beautiful again soon enough. Dino kale is super strong.
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Dino kale is super resilient

Keep your vegetable patches full

The growing season is far from over. With a bit of luck, it'll be another two or three months before the really cold weather sets in.

Don't be too shy about removing plants. If most look ready to harvest, I'll pick them and the stragglers too. Just to empty out the patch. 
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I'll harvest all these Romano pole beans and remove the plant now
Then I can sow something new right away. That's how you maximize your harvests and get the most out of garden box πŸ˜‰
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Don't wait to sow something new in your empty vegetable patches

Starting a garden in September: what can you still sow?

According to the app, you can sow all this:
Dino kale and marigold are also options. Sow them now for a head start next spring.
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Winter lettuce at 3 weeks
I may even sow some Asian salad mix. Not all the varieties in there will grow well, but the mizuna and the mustard should come up. 

They can handle cold weather, so I'll leave them alone for a while. With a bit of luck, I'll harvest them all winter. Great for stir-frying πŸ˜€
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Red mustard and mizuna in the Asian salad mix
We tested out Red Russian kale this year, and it looks like it's still growing strong. It's another vegetable that can be sown this month.
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Red Russian kale from our test seed pack
Keep in mind that the days are getting shorter now. The plants won't grow as fast as they did earlier in the summer. But they should grow fast enough to harvest before winter hits.

Still want to get started?

You can set up and start growing in September, no problem. It's not too late. And you don't need much space either.

Take a look at this MM-Airbak. I sowed it at the end of August last year. About two weeks later, it looked like this:
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MM-Airbak in mid-September 2020
So, now you know what my Planty Garden looks like at the end of August / early September.

Let us know how yours is growing. You can share updates with us on Instagram or Facebook. Looking forward to it!

See you next time,

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