by TAMI SCHLIES
It is hard to believe that summer is almost over already. It has not felt cold enough to be fall yet, but the trees have that bronzy sheen that speaks of the golden days of autumn just around the corner. Perhaps milder days will give me the incentive to clean up the garden a little better than usual this year.
The summer here on the Schlies property went well, with a bumper crop of strawberries even through the weedy grass I accidentally allowed to take over. I plan on moving the strawberry beds this fall to new, 100% organic beds.
Tomatoes also did well, both in and out of the greenhouse. The plants outside ripen about 2 weeks later for each variety, but the plants in the greenhouse have just about succumbed to gray mold by now, even with additional ventilation and an extra fan. The tomatoes outside are almost untouched by the fungus. I grew Johnny’s 361, Bellstar paste, Early Temptation, Stupice, and Milano plum this year. Stupice and Milano are my all time favorites, but I try new varieties every year. Johnny’s 361 produced large fruit that ripened even outside, and the flavor was decent, so I shall try it again next year. The Bellstar produced as well as the Milano, but the flavor is not quite as good. I was not impressed with the Early Temptation.
This year I did find a broccoli, Burpee’s Green Goliath, that did amazingly well, yielding huge, tightly budded green heads, and 3 inch side shoots afterward. I let it go too long, I thought, and went back out to check, expecting the heads to have opened and maybe even begun breaking bud, but the heads had only grown larger and remained tight. Great for the freezer! I also used predatory nematodes this year the second week in May and had zero trouble with root maggots.
I also tried King Richard Leeks, Ventura celery, Precocious sweet corn, Goldmarie pole beans, and Northern Pickling cukes outside. The only one I was not impressed with was the cukes, due to the failure of pollination. I have grown Aria cucumbers outside for years and love them for fresh eating (I grew this variety in the greenhouse this year, since it is parthenocarpic and warps if pollinated by other cukes), but wanted to try picklers this year.
My apple trees did fine this summer. I pruned to a central leader and 3 or 4 side branches and mulched the ones in the ground with year old chicken litter to keep the grass away. I got 2 plus feet of growth and two apples on these 2 year old trees. This was their first year in the ground. I still have a lot of trees from the grafting workshop in 2000 in pots which I will probably plant this fall. One of them, the Noran, produced an apple this year (I couldn’t resist letting it go!) Actually, my Trailman produced as well, but my 5 year old was playing near the pots and fell on it this summer, snapping it off a half inch above the graft. I thought it was a goner for sure, but kept the rootstock buds pinched off, and it sprouted from that tiny bit of scion, putting on 6 or 8 inches. It just goes to show that you should never give up on these hardy trees.
I also acquired 2 Silken apple trees from Dan this year, but they are on MM111 rootstock, not likely to be hardy up here. I planted one of them deep in a huge pot and used rooting hormone, hoping it would develop it’s own roots, but am doubtful of my success. The Silkens grew as well as everything else in pots this summer, and if nothing else I should get some scion wood off of them this spring before they realize they have no roots and are dead.
My Evans cherries are also still in pots, but did not put on nearly the growth of the apple trees. The branches are spindly and only about 6 inches on most of them. I pruned them this spring to encourage upward growth instead of the bushes they were trying to be, so maybe I set them back. Each tree is only a little over two feet tall. Hopefully getting them into the ground in the next few weeks will be good for them come next year.