Harvesting, Crop Woes & The Importance of The Weather

Autumn is here, although the temperatures seem to have only just been notified. We were still getting 28-30degC (82-86F) highs and warm nights that only cooled down in the final couple of hours of the morning. Today things have cooled off a little, with some good cloud, so that is very nice. We finally had some rain the weekend before last and a little yesterday, which we are exceedingly thankful for! But we still need heaps more to heal our land from the drought and fill our water tanks.

The praying mantises don’t have a problem with this colour:

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Driving towards the rain and the rainbow – there’s nothing like it at this time of year!
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Rainbows over our place bring us hope.

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I have harvested a few pumpkins and butternut squashes. The Husband is pleased with a few prospects for pumpkin racers for The Great Pumpkin Carnival on 29th March. I pulled out the last of the cross-pollinated ‘Wee Bee Little’s’ from the Veggie Garden, the ones that were siblings of the Wee Bee Rampant spaghetti squash hybrids. These more well-behaved plants bore orange pumpkins, but they are still bigger and more oblong than Wee Bee Little pumpkins, so they are not true to type either. With those plants gone I planted out five pumpkin plants grown from a different seed line of Wee Bee Little. Then there are two in a planter on the deck from a different seed line again. I am hopeful that I’ve still got a true Wee Bee Little in there. To avoid more cross-pollination woes I am pulling all the flowers off the spaghetti squash plants. They are getting overrun by powdery mildew anyway.

We can’t eat the giant pumpkins but we’re planning to use them for a pumpkin creation for the carnival. We just need to figure out what to make.

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It’s that time of year when the pumpkins start taking over the outdoor table. I probably need to build a pumpkin shelf.
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Pumpkins mean autumn weather must be coming, right?

We have bee using grated Wee Bee Rampant squash from the freezer in mince and bean dishes and butter chicken.

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Butter chicken is a good outlet for Wee Bee Rampant squash.

The Front Plot is a picture of crops ailing in dry weather. But it is also a picture of orange pumpkins and squashes to harvest now or soon. It’s more brown and bare since I took this photo and I have harvested some of the giant pumpkins, of which I left far too many on the plants, but hey, it was a jungle in there, and all the Jack Be Little pumpkins.

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The Chuck’s Winter squash are ripening nicely. They are pretty large, much larger than the regular-type butternut squash. I have picked one so far, which weighs 2.75kg (6 pounds).

Only a few weeks ago the corn was looking nice, like this:

But it dried out really quickly, quicker than I realised, and didn’t grow nearly as well as it would have in better (less crazily dry) conditions. It also didn’t taste as good as last year due to lack of water. Some lessons learned for next year:

  • Get the corn in earlier.
  • Control those grass weeds.
  • Water them more, as far as possible.

The upside is that I have plenty of corn cobs drying to use for seed next season.

We have been harvesting mostly tomatoes, bush beans, chillies, pears, blueberries and raspberries, plus the as-we-use-it crops like salad greens and the first of the sweet peppers. The ‘Aspiring’ raspberries are doing exceedingly well. I highly recommend this variety for our area. It is very vigorous and productive and this is the second harvest we’re getting from it since it’s a dual-bearer (fruits in spring and autumn). We have to pick raspberries every day now.

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Somehow I’ve managed to keep up with successions of lettuces. This is Rouge d’Hiver.
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The Aspiring raspberries are doing very well for us.

I discovered tomato-potato psyllids on some of the tomato plants. Eek! It’s the first time I’ve had them, to my knowledge. The adults look like teeny weeny cicadas, about 3mm long and the nymphs are wee oval pale yellow-green things, but the most obvious sign of their presence is the white sugary deposits on the leaves. They suck sap from the plants and can spread a nasty bacterial disease. I need to spray my tomatoes with neem or something else organic and have gotten rid of the worst-affected plants.

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Tomato-potato psyllids. They look tiny and innocent but they’re not!

The Brandywine Pink tomatoes and some of the Amish Pastes have been the worst affected by the psyllids. They can also affect potatoes and peppers and have affected some of our sweet pepper plants. The Black From Tula tomatoes have done very poorly from the start and I’m not inclined to grow them again at this stage. I am on the lookout for varieties with better disease resistance. The Gardener’s Delights started coming into their own as the other tomatoes started dwindling. However, there are also the few plants of the bigger varieties that I planted later, giving us more tomatoes now.

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Gardener’s Delight cherry tomatoes – our late season stalwart.

Stay tuned for a chicken update, which includes the arrival of babies!

 


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