georgevandenberghe's WunderBlog

the test of a warm fall

By: georgevandenberghe, 1:58 PM GMT on July 22, 2013

Only 40 pounds of irish potatoes from the 9x12 patch. Need a cooler climate!

One test of a warm fall in the DC area is to plant Silver Queen sweetcorn seeds August 1, and see if they mature. Most years so far they don't quite make it. July 24 corn on the other hand matures most years. Earlier varieties mature but are very poor quality in the short days of early fall when they tassel early and short so that doesn't
count as "decent corn" "Early" corn is only good for spring planting in this area.

I already see evidence of mites on potatoes so this probably won't be a good year for the fall crop. I haven't figured out the species but they bronze the growing points within a few days and then the plants die. They aren't spider mites.



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the problem with mid atlantic potatoes

By: georgevandenberghe, 6:37 PM GMT on July 16, 2013

It's been the best year in several years for potatoes which are favored by warm mid spring and cool early summer weather. We got the first half but not the second but compared with the blazing heat of the previous few Junes it was "better"

I am expecting over 50 pounds from an 8x12 patch planted in late April. But the rub
is potatoes are ready to dig in July here.

Yeah July, season of 90+ with 70+ dewpoints. Just the conditions to do backbreaking digging.

And I want to get to it because there is still time to get squash, sweetcorn or beans in. Even well started sweet potatoes might crop though that's iffy this late. Backbreaking sweet potato harvest happens in October.. much better digging weather.



Fall potatoes go in in a month but finding
seed potatoes is tough that time of year and some years mites are devastating.

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another good garden year

By: georgevandenberghe, 5:58 PM GMT on July 05, 2013

For different reasons 2012 and 2013 have been good veggie gardening years in DC so far. 2012 was good because of extraordinarily early warmth getting me a three week jump on cool season things and the best quality I've ever had when they matured in cool
early May weather rather than hot late May weather. Many records for earliness were set. The season went a little sour in late June when extreme heat killed or severely damaged crops, most notably tomatoes were killed by heat and disease, the first time that's happened so early in the season. However I anticipated trouble and planted a second crop of much younger plants so I had tomatoes from June to November with an embarrassing break in late July-early August.

2013 was the coolest spring in several years but the coolness was concentrated in March and the first week of April. After that it was fairly normal. Early summer has been very wet but not so wet that soils flooded and roots died. Almost everything has done well this season although the cool season things can't match 2012's performance. Most warm season things were two weeks later this year compared with 2012 and about normal for this area. I'm now two weeks into sweetcorn, tomato, snapbean and squash season. The only thing that's really disappointingly late is peppers and that's due to cultural lapses (I have other stuff to do)


The real gardening season for me starts in July when I plant the first greens and August/early September when I plant the rest. Success at this time determines whether I'll have to buy greens at all in winter or whether I can get them out of my garden till April. One goal is to have lettuce all winter and I usually fail sometime in late December or January but spinach (and surprisingly broccoli) do overwinter.

A lot of people do summer gardening and many do better than I do. But I'm pushing the limits on winter gardening in zone 7. Eliiot Coleman's "The Four Seasons Garden" book inspired me.


Updated: 5:58 PM GMT on July 05, 2013

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About georgevandenberghe

meteorologist and avid veggie gardener