2017 Growing Season – September Update

It's Time For An Update - September 2017

September Update

Looking back at recent posts, I’ve realized something is missing. That would be an update! The last of which was done back on May 22. A lot has happened since then, including our second daughter being born a few days ago (9/11). I apologize for not doing this sooner. 

If I’m being honest, I’ve been pretty bad about documenting things this year. Life has a funny way of catching up with you, especially when you’re a parent and trying to start a business. Some of these pics have been uploaded to the Facebook page so you may have seen them before. I’m simply trying to put them all in one place.

That being said, this will be a long and very photo-rich post. So my apologies if the page loads slow. It’s an unfortunate side effect for my procrastination…

End of May

The end of May (after the last update) was when most plants were either planted, or had been for a week or so. As you scroll you can see the progression of how things have grown. 

Note that some plants have been removed and/or replaced after their short life spans. One of those plants in particular was Spinach. It went to seed fast.

As you’ll see towards the end, I think the Spinach seeds are what is sprouting as opposed to the Swiss Chard I recently planted in the same area.

September Update
5/28 - Sugar Snap Peas on trellis
September Update
5/28 - Sugar Snap Peas in front, Cucumbers in back
September Update
5/28 - Collards, Kale, Spinach & Lettuce
September Update
5/28 - More Kale, Lettuces & Swiss Chard
September Update
5/28 - End of Kale, Pak Choy & Garden Beans
September Update
5/28 - Seed start peppers transplanted

Now June

Like I said, some of my photo documenting of things has been very poor this summer. 

As a matter of fact, looking back to 2016 the same thing happened. But I wasn’t running a blog then so it wasn’t a big deal.

Seems like summers have way of making one kind of lazy. Maybe the other half of it is just being so busy with a million other things that one forgets…

Unfortunately I only have 2 pictures for June. They are of the self-watering buckets I made for the tomato plants. Btw, these buckets work great! I highly recommend making some for your own garden. 

September Update
6/7 - Self Watering Buckets Built
September Update
6/7 - Self Watering Buckets also planted

On to July!

September Update
7/1/2017 - Radish harvest

As usual, July in Michigan proved to be a month of significant growth. Of course I kept everything well watered… and that can get a little expensive. Unfortunately we didn’t get much rain. 

If you read that post from May 22 linked above, you’ll see that plants tend to grow a lot at night. So my watering habits were usually during the afternoon/evening hours every day throughout the dry summer heat. This gave everything a significant opportunity to uptake plenty of water during the growth period. 

I also fed everything with Miracle Grow All Purpose Plant Food every 2 – 3 weeks. Between feedings I would hand sprinkle Epsom Salt (found it BOGO at our local supermarket) around the base of the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers before watering. 

We saved our egg shells for a few weeks and on 7/20 I ground them up and sprinkled them around the bases of the plants mentioned above. This provides the plants with calcium and helps prevent blossom end rot. The magnesium in Epsom salt helps the plants uptake the calcium and other nutrients. 

In the pictures below I will attempt to show side-by-sides of early and late July. Fortunately this month did get a lot more pictures. You can see how much growth was made in just a few weeks time.

September Update
7/4/17 - Kale, various lettuces & Swiss Chard
September Update
7/4/17 - Spinach (2nd planting)
September Update
7/4/17 - Grow Frame; Includes Sugar Snap Peas, Cucumbers & Tomatoes
September Update
7/27/17 - Entire grow bed with frame
September Update
7/4/17 - Okra & Cherry Tomatoes
September Update
7/22/17 - Okra
September Update
7/22/17 - Cherry Tomatoes
September Update
7/22/17 - Cherry Tomatoes up close
September Update
7/4/17 - Outlier Cucumbers
September Update
7/22/17 - Outlier Cucumbers
September Update
7/4/17 - Pickling Cucumbers
September Update
7/27/17 - Pickling Cucumbers
September Update
7/4/17 - Pepper Bed, left side
September Update
7/4/17 - Pepper Bed, right side
September Update
7/22/17 - Whole Pepper Area - Cilantro in the middle
September Update
7/22/17 - Beefsteak Tomatoes in Raised Bed
September Update
7/4/17 - Potted Tomato Plants - multiple varieties
September Update
7/27/17 - Potted Tomatoes of Multiple Varieties
September Update
7/4/17 - Potted Tomatoes, multiple varieties
September Update
7/27/17 - Potted Tomatoes of multiple varieties
September Update
7/22/17 - Beefsteak Tomatoes in Raised Bed
September Update
7/22/17 - Dill - Planted as seed shortly after Radish harvest from 7/1
September Update
7/22/17 - Kale, Collard Greens, various lettuces, Spinach (at far end) & Swiss Chard
September Update
7/22/17 - Swiss Chard

How About August?

Once again I fudged on getting consistent update pics. I promise I will try and do better next year. The pics below will mostly just showcase some of the excellent harvests we had throughout the month.

One thing I will say is that my wife’s grandma (straight from Italy) has an amazing recipe for Swiss Chard. Had I known how much we’d all like it, including our 1 yr old, I’d have skipped the Kale and grown a lot more of it. 

Ahhh hindsight. You’re always 20/20. Kale was not thoroughly enjoyed in our household, and it grew like crazy in our garden. We actually donated a lot of it to a local food bank. But I will say that recently I cooked it the same way as the Swiss Chard and it came out great!

September Update
8/8 - Ripening Beefsteak Tomatoes
September Update
8/14 - Cross Pollinated Peppers!
September Update
8/8 - Ripening Tomatoes, not certain of the variety
September Update
8/14 - Pepper area getting big!
September Update
8/14 - Jalapenos
September Update
8/16 - HUGE Jalapenos! Great for suffing.
September Update
8/16 - Pineapple Hierloom Tomato
September Update
8/21 - Huge bag of Kale we donated
September Update
8/19 - Softball Size Tomato!
September Update
8/23 - Massive sliced tomato. Delicious.

All Caught Up To September

September Update
Can we say "stuffed peppers"?!

If you read the post about fall garden opportunities, it talked about how Swiss Chard (as well as Kale) is fairly frost tolerant. Since we didn’t enjoy the Kale nearly as much, I ripped almost all of it up and planted some Verde De Taglio Swiss Chard that I ordered online. 

They were planted on the 7th and thus far they’ve barely begun to sprout. It’s approximately one month until the first frost is due, so hopefully they will be well along by then. They are in a portion of the raised bed that gets full sun so hopefully they’ll get all the light they need. 

Basically all of our tomatoes have managed to get a disease that I believe is Septoria Leaf Spot. The rains have begun to come and have perpetuated this with long bouts of moisture on the leaves which allows the fungus to easily spread.

This is why it’s a good idea to water at the base of your plants. I did this, but they still managed to get the disease. Plus I may have taken too long to do anything about it.

September Update
9/7 - Future Swiss Chard Patch (and maybe some random Spinach)
September Update
9/7 - Future Swiss Chard Patch
September Update
9/7 - Praying Mantis! AKA a garden nope.
September Update
9/7 - Some kind of spider. Also a garden nope.
September Update
9/7 - Transplanted Pepper Cutting
September Update
9/7 - Planted to this depth, roughly 4 - 5"
September Update
9/7 - It was beginning to bud before I pulled it up.
September Update
9/7 - Kale root structure - I find this really interesting. It gives an idea of plant spacing.

From Today - 9/14/2017

So going back to the problem with the fungal infection on the tomatoes, you can see that the plants are nearly bare. I have been stripping back the most infected leaves and branches. I’ve done this twice now and it’s possible I may have gone too far. We’ll just have to see… 

To combat the fungus I made a simple homemade baking soda and soap anti-fungal spray according to this recipe. It is said to be scientifically proven to be a good fungicide. It seems to do a decent job so long as I can spray it and we have dry weather. But as soon as the rains come it gets washed off and must be reapplied. 

Even with the disease the plants are still growing at the top quite a bit. I’m just hoping the fungicide will help prevent it spreading too much more. That and pruning back what’s been decimated should help too.

I could have swore I took before and after pictures for documenting the effectiveness of the anti-fungal spray. But I can’t seem to find them anywhere. Shame, I’ve been doing this for several weeks now. 

One last thing I did today was rip up all the cucumber plants. They were pretty much dead. In their place I planted more Sugar Snap Peas. They are frost tolerant and should help replenish nitrogen to that area of soil. 

September Update
Very pruned tomatoes
September Update
Also very pruned tomatoes
September Update
Right side lost all it's leaves 🙁
September Update
'German Johnson' Heirloom started from an overgrown sucker a few months ago.
September Update
More perpective of leaf loss
September Update
Fungal damage is no fun
September Update
Dill that's about to go to seed. Just past it is garlic and some other "experimental" stuff.
September Update
Okra. Last year these were over 6' tall. This year not so much. The one in front came up on it's own.
September Update
Super 100 Cherry Tomatoes. They grow like crazy.
September Update
Yummy Collard Greens
September Update
I think this is Spinach sprouting, not Swiss Chard
September Update
No Swiss Chard here yet either

Slight Disappointments - Still 9/14/2017

When I first started peppers from seed this year I was psyched about them being Scotch Bonnets because they’re one of my very favorite peppers. Well, I was wrong.

When I started them, the seeds I had were just stuck to the placenta and not an actual whole pepper. They were the shape of Scotch Bonnets that I had saved from the year before (2015). So I assumed that’s what they were and went on. 

Turns out they were Cherry Bomb peppers. Later when buying more peppers for the garden, I picked up 1/2 a dozen more Cherry Bombs because I also like them a lot. My mistake wasn’t discovered until the plants started fruiting.

So I’m definitely out Scotch Bonnets this year. However there is a redeeming factor to this. Due to the efforts a friendly bumble bee, some of the Cherry Bombs got cross pollinated with the Jalapenos (see pic from August).

Now I can’t wait to try these. They’re huge! And I will probably try to save the seeds for next year to see if they’ll come back the same way. Stick around for updates on that.  

September Update
Pepper area, left side
September Update
Pepper area, right side
September Update
Sump pump outlet providing constant water to pepper plants nearby.
September Update
Just look how tall this plant is next to the outlet. It's past the top of the fence!
September Update
Future Sugar Snap Pea area - left side
September Update
The raised bed is currently looking pretty bare.

All Caught Up!

September Update
End the day with a nice snack: 'Old German' tomatoes with Cayenne & Jalapeno

Whew! That was a long post. It also took a long time to put together. Next time I’ll try to keep up things better. Hopefully you enjoyed seeing the progress from late May until now. 

If you learned something I’d love it if you’d let me know in the comments. Or if you have some tips that’d be great too. 

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