Let it Flow

Boothby Blonde leaf trimmingAfter a week spent ogling gorgeous Nashville and New Orleans gardens, POD returned to news of staggering heat, hail, and thunderstorms, understandably worried about what was to be discovered on deck.

Thanks to Startin’ Yer Garten’s loving hands, though, cats and plants all fared well.

Although things look pretty good, a little trimming is in order. As summer cooks up, certain leaves (like certain gardeners, despite repeated applications of SPF 50), start showing their age. Like freckles, it’s just a fact of cucumber life: the lower leaves will eventually shrivel into dessicated skeletons of their younger selves.

Rather than fretting about all that could be amiss, POD opted to take a see-no-evil approach: the trim. Knock on blue wood, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of pests, fungi, or mildew (yet). So, to increase air flow (an important consideration in preventing the aforementioned cucumber ailments), the older leaves are snipped and carefully removed from the deck.

Cucumbers Collected

Moroccan Bread SaladYum.

This bread salad (featuring POD’s own cilantro, parsley, Boothby Blonde, and True Lemon cucumbers) arrives courtesy of the amazing Casa Moro cookbook.

Of course, each bread salad is adapted to fit whatever ingredients happen to be on deck, but the spirit belongs to Moro.

Serves 2

1 pepper, roasted and peeled
3 c. bread, cut or ripped into small pieces
3 cucumbers, peeled and cubed
2 tbs parsley, chopped
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
1 tbs capers, chopped

Dressing
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt (a mortar and pestle work great here)
1 tsp pan-roasted cumin seeds, roughly ground
1 1/2 tbs sweet, excellent quality balsamic vinegar
4 oz tomatoes (canned are okay, but fresh would probably be better), pureed into a juice.
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs argan oil (you can substitute some extra olive oil, but if you have a highly flavorful nutty oil, use it. This stuff ain’t cheap, but it’s oh-so-good.)
black pepper

  1. Toss the bread onto a baking sheet and stick it in the oven (heated to 425) for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it until it’s lightly toasted.
  2. Slice the roasted red peppers into strips
  3. Mix the garlic paste with the cumin, vinegar, tomato puree. Whisk in the olive oil and argan oil. Whisk well. Taste for salt and pepper
  4. When your bread is toasty, transfer it to a large bowl and pour most of the dressing over it. Stir. Let it sit for a couple of seconds before adding the peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, and capers. Stir. Pour on the rest of the dressing, if desired.
  5. Yum. Yum.

Magnesium Miracle

Wow. Impressive. Apparently Isis was, indeed, suffering from a Magnesium deficiency. It’s hard to believe that just a week ago this plant:

Isis Candy Cherry Tomato
It's a June Miracle!

Looked like this:

Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium Deficiency

To achieve this miraculous result, mix 1 tbs Epsom salts and 2 tbs organic fertilizer (like the stinky fishy stuff) with 1 gallon water. Spray the hell out of the plant(s) and dump the rest on/in the pot(s). I threw a handful of worm poop on the soil for good measure.

Reading Leaves

Oh, crap.It’s always something. Each week these spoiled beasts receive a dose of fish emulsion or compost tea. (They also live in cushy organic soil that was further enriched with a generous handful of worm casings at planting.)

After consulting a few trusted sources, it appears as though this Isis Candy has something of a nutrient deficiency. Magnesium, perhaps? It may not affect the yield (fingers crossed) but we do hope that some epsom salts will do the trick.

Tell POD Tomato Miracle Gro is bad. Tell POD to be strong and resist the urge.

Heat Wave, Baby

It’s hot. Damn hot. And it’s just gonna’ get hotter.

The lettuce? It’s unhappy. (So are the kittens and humans, for that matter.) Anyhoo, it’s time to yank the spring mix and replace them with the summer mix.

Traditional gardening wisdom says that lettuce is a spring crop. And it is, but POD’s had decent luck planting heat-resistant varieties that provide yields throughout most of the summer. It’s best to position your lettuce container in an area that receives limited mid-day sun. Water daily. Maybe even twice daily. And that, dear gardeners, should keep you in salad all summer long.

Lettuce Trees
Lettuce Trees

Seeds

Summer Lettuce Planted
The Future of Lettuce

Mildew Voodoo

Oh, the plants on deck are happy. So happy. Sure, they get plenty of water, but nothing beats a nice, gentle soaking from Mother Nature.

Or does it? In this South Philly zone 7(ish) garden, summer showers are usually followed by a tropical heatwave. Tropical heat + cucurbits = powdery mildew.

As the ever-patient garden widower would would mumble, “Damn farmers, never happy.”

Powdery mildew  (a fungal disease that’s no fun at all) is one of the inevitable POD kill-joys. So this year, we’re giving You Grow Girl’s mildew spray (sorta’ — POD’s adding a little milk to the mix and shrinking proportions) a shot and hoping that it’ll keep those filmy white spots away from the Boothby Blonde, True Lemon, Minnesota Midget, and Mystery Melon.

POD's Powdery Mildew Spray

POD’s Powdery Mildew Spray
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4  tsp.  thick, non-detergent soap
2 c. water
2 c.  skim milk

Mix the ingredients together, pour it into a spray bottle. Shake. Spray the mixture all over your plants, make sure you hit the undersides of the leaves. Apply once a week and after a rainfall.