>The Sad Lament of a Late Summer Veggie Patch

>I know, I know, all us Texans complain about the drought and 100+ temps and then show gorgeous pictures of our gardens. How bad off can we really be? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s all about the magic of macro photography in the cool of the morning. It’s easy to get a picture of one gorgeous bloom…and not show the plants in states of distress all around it.

So let’s get real. What does my vegetable garden REALLY look like right now. Well, check out my squash above. That is how they look every afternoon in the 100+ temps we have been enduring for weeks. This is one of the hottest summers on record in Texas (in sharp contrast to the coolest summer on record last year). The heat and drought, coupled with maturing plants on the downturn have really driven vegetables to distress right now. Bugs have moved in and made the most of the weakened plants.

Take, for instance, my cucumbers. Spider mites have completely engulfed them and they have been getting a steady treatment of Neem Oil to try and alleviate the problem.

But they have really taken a beating. The soyu variety is still producing, perhaps helped by being trellised off the ground. But you can see the bugs all over them.

The pickling variety I planted on the ground is decimated. Leaves are curled up and toasty. Flowers are there but I have yet to see one cuke from this variety.

And the squash. You saw my one remaining yellow squash plant up top. After the Great Squash Vine Borer Massacre, many of the plants had to be pulled. Those remaining may wish they had been pulled earlier. The hot afternoon sun drives them to wilt. I have been shade-clothing some of the plants to give them a bit of a break, careful to let the bees have access for pollination.
And you can see I am still getting a supply of patty pan squash. One every week or so.

But with the constant damage of the borer, even with proactive measures taken, I have developed a steady practice of mounding dirt over the stalk every few weeks to help the plant develop new roots and not depend on the section of stem that has been, or will inevitably be eaten by the borer.

You can see in this picture the old stalk, with considerable boring activity and then the newest part of the plant with the dirt mounded up at it’s base.
And tomatoes? Ugh, don’t even talk to me about tomatoes. I think I maybe got 2 tomatoes total off of 5 tomato plants. I cut them back by half a few weeks ago to try and revive them for the upcoming fall season. May or may not work. Flowers on plants mean nothing right now as most plants won’t set fruit. So I’ll just let them be and hope they stay healthy until cooler night allow them to do their thing.

Ahhh, such is the lament of the late summer vegetable garden.


11 thoughts on “>The Sad Lament of a Late Summer Veggie Patch

  1. >I have been having pretty good luck with my tomatoes and peppers by using 85% shade cloth, regular daily drip irrigation, and regular applications of compost and mulch. Plants in the shade after 4pm are also doing OK. I always have trouble with any sort of squash, so I am impressed with how you are keeping yours going under the kind of stress we are experiencing. Until we start getting cooler nights, things probably won’t improve much in the veggie garden.

  2. >Oh, wow. That looks…gruesome. And I just watched MSS’s video of her garden from 2006. *shudders*I should probably take a picture of the crappy sections of my garden as well. Unfortunately, I hacked most of them down this afternoon in a fit of disgust, so what you’d see is a lot of brown, wilted stalks of things lying on the ground, and a really pathetic-looking charred and yellowing climbing rose. I’ve been thinking warm thoughts about cactus. I’m pretty sure you can eat cactus, right? šŸ˜‰

  3. >We’re getting a few peppers and a small, steady supply of ‘Juliet'[ grape tomatoes, but the plants look as awful as yours do, Bonnie. My new camera has a macro setting – once I figure it out taking extreme close-ups of individual blossoms may be more sensible than trying to make the whole plant look good. My barometer bushes told big freaking lies about Eduardo.Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. >I never have tried a veggie garden, so I can only commiserate with you, not show wilted and burned up images from my own plot. On the other hand, even some of the native perennials are looked wilted and burned up, so maybe I can!

  5. >The only thing left in the vegi patch now are the peppers. I decided to roto till in compost and get ready for fall and wouldn’t you know it, the little mini tiller won’t start. I don’t know what is wrong with it but I’m blaming it on the heat, that darn heat.

  6. >Ok – so now I have to go take some shots of my miserable garden! Is that what happened to my cukes? I thought they just fried, but maybe it was mites. They turned all white….What do you think? I’m gonna go work out there so I will inspect them closely.

  7. >It has been a miserable summer for Texas gardeners…I am so sorry. We have big 3 to 5 inch cracks in the earth from lack of rain and we have had unusually high temps but nothing like you all have had to endure.Gail

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