Garden Update February ’16

IMG_1096Most of the garden is doing well despite the dry season being in full swing. We are continuing to use our grey water from laundry, dishes, and more to water along with some from our precious cistern supply. The mulch has greatly helped to retain moisture and it will allow us to have a garden through the dry season; without it, we wouldn’t have enough water, plain and simple. Water is precious right now.

IMG_1074I’m excited that we were able to harvest our first onions from the garden this last week. They were extra spicy and tasted wonderful in potato salad and homemade pizza. They are still growing well and I plan to plant some more soon.

The sweet potato is doing well, despite some leaves browning; it has even begun to flower. The sweet corn is also doing well and started tasseling a week or two ago.

IMG_1061Our blue lake green beans sprouted fine but died from too few watering’s, so I decided to try another variety this time instead of replanting those; I planted Dragon’s Tongue which will have bright yellow pods with purple marbling. They should be beautiful and tasty and so far they are growing well and seem to be more bug-resistant than the Blue Lake.

The Swiss chard is also doing well and is the exact same line that I planted when we first got here – it continues to regrow and do well so I’m going to wait and see how long it will continue to reproduce before I have to replant.  So far, it’s kept up and impressed me. I will eventually need to move the line for crop rotation purposes but I am curious just how long it will continue to produce, prior to replanting, since we never have winter here.

IMG_1069The new giant variety of kohlrabi that I planted is doing very well. So many germinated that I needed to transplant them into a second row. The largest plant has a bulb larger than my fist already. It really seems to do well here. Even transplanting it didn’t seem to bother it too much as long as the roots were kept intact as much as possible and they are getting ample watering. The heat doesn’t seem to phase them which also makes them a great cabbage alternative for this time of the year.

I have replanted our Golden beats and another variety of normal red ones. The last variety did ok but never got very large. So far the new red variety has yet to come up.

IMG_1071Our tomatoes are not thriving, though some are producing. I have been VERY surprised with how poorly tomatoes in general have done here. I was expecting massive bushes and buckets of tomatoes like you can get in IL, but so far that vision is a far cry from the reality of growing them here. I’m curious if there is some deficiency in the soil here that is essential to their growth and production. I plan to do some research so see if I can come up with anything to try – if anyone has a suggestions, I would love to hear them! The plants tend to grow very tall before even beginning to bush out and set fruit. The fruit that they do produce (not much) are often smaller than what they should be. The cherry or small varieties are producing the best along with, surprisingly, the Tigerella striped variety.

A black cherry variety


IMG_1066The new line of collards and swiss chard are doing well, as is the new patch of okra. I am expecially excited about the okra because it is an unusual red/orange variety. It has started to flower already and form tiny red pods. The cabbage variety ‘tete noir’ didn’t really germinate in the heat; only one came up. I’ll try the again when it cools off in the rainy season. I hope I can get them to grow then – it’s a variety I really enjoyed during our time in France.

IMG_1078The amaranth is doing great and has already started to form grain heads. The lemon squash has started to flower and form fruit though it isn’t long enough to train on the trellace yet. The Blue Hubbard squash is also flowering and fruiting though one vine died and another started to yellow. I uncovered it from the mulch and stopped watering it to help with this and it seems to be doing better. All the other melons are still very small but are putting on flowers.

IMG_1095We recently planted some panama passion fruit vines next to our chicken and turkey pens and it is doing well. The other melon-type fruit from South America seems to be doing well but is growing slower than what I would have guessed.

The next variety of climbing yard-long bean has sprouted next to the trellace and is doing as well as the other variety so far. We will see how it compares in flavor and texture to the red variety.

IMG_1092The cucumbers are doing well and have started to produce small fruit. Hopefully we will get enough to make up some pickles. There has been some bug damage but nothing serious.

So overall things are doing very well thus far into the dry season. There is some bug damage and some plants seem to be suffering from the heat more than others, like a few of the tomatoes, but so far I’m very pleased with my “dry-season” garden. IMG_1082This next month will be very telling in whether we can maintain such a large garden throughout the dry season each year, or whether we will need to have a smaller one for this part of the year. If it comes down to it, I may just have to pick what plants will receive water and which ones will be left to produce as much as they can before drying up.


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