Hello, Hybrid

Seed List, CucumbersLast year’s struggles with diseases and less-than stellar yields means that POD’s giving hybrids a shot this year. Vaguely creepy, but if they work…

Onstage this year:

Adam F-1: “High yielding and long lasting parthenocarpic [POD translation: seedless] hybrid with crispy fruits. Smaller 2-4” fruit perfect for pickles. Resistant to powdery mildew, downy mildew, and cucumber mosaic virus.”

Akito F-1: “Main Season hybrid produces high yields of straight and uniform dark green 6-8″ fruit with market winning taste. Powdery Mildew resistance and CMV resistance.” Holy crap! As POD’s Seeds of Change shopping cart was being populated, these $24.50 (for 50 seeds) got the axe.  And, since Warminster’s Burpee will be providing tomato seeds anyway, we’re hitting them up for the Salad Bush Hybrid, too: “High yields in small spaces. Very compact, strong tolerance to powdery and downy mildew, left spot, mucumber mosaic virus and scab. Very tasty slicers 8″ long, with smooth, dark green skin.” It’s been a while since bush cucumbers had a space on deck, so it’s time to give ’em another shot anyway.

Bonus: And Burpee tossed these into my already over-stuffed shopping cart, the White Wonder, “Burpee introduced this now classic cucumber in 1893, after receiving it from a customer in western New York. Pale ivory, the 6-8″-long and 2-3″-wide fruits have an exceptionally crisp texture, making for excellent fresh eating or tasty pickles. Produces high yields, even in high heat.”

Adam, Salad, and Wonder will be direct seeded (assuming there’s room) into toasty 65-70 degree, light soil with a pH of 5.8-6.7.

Spring Cleaning

Somehow, blights and fungi always manage to find the tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans that live on the deck. Exactly how remains a bit of a mystery.

Cleaning Planters
Spring Cleaning

This year the seeding soil has been sterilized and containers have been washed with lots of soap and hot water. Even the styrofoam pellets have been washed and rinsed.  (Although pellets from last year will not touch this year’s tomato and bean planters.)

It’s Not Too Late! Hurry!

Have room for a 5-gallon bucket somewhere? 6-10 hours of sunlight? Good.

Plant your tomatoes in 5-7 gallon buckets or containers. They’re not pretty, but white painter’s buckets can be purchased inexpensively from any hardware store. They’re light (an important consideration for roof deck gardening), cheap, and reflect the sun’s most brutally hot rays.

If you live in the greater Philadelphia region (or are a zone 7ish gardener) Anytime between May 10 and mid-June will probably work for planting your crop. Nurseries and farmers’ markets are still selling plants so get going. (Try to find plants without any blossoms — fruiting takes a lot of energy and transplanting large plants can be fairly traumatic. To the plant. Not you. The plant will be better off in the long run)

Save those evil Styrofoam pellets and use them as a drainage layer. (They’re light and it’s gratifying reuse of a non-biodegradable material — you can even save them for use the following year.) Or, you can break large pieces of packing Styrofoam in more manageable pieces. A 2-3 inch drainage layer seems to work pretty well.

If your plant is small (say, 5-10″), bury 60-75% of the plant beneath the soil line. This will make for a much stronger plant. Snip the leaves that will be buried before submerging them in your clean, organic soil. If your plant is pretty well-established (as most are by now) you just need to make sure you nestle the plant deep enough into your container that the new soil line at least matches the existing one.

Stake them. (see RIP Poblano)

Cage them.

Water them.

Feed them.

Hope for the best.