Absence makes the heart grow fonder - starting vacation and missing my garden!

I am completely smitten with my 2018 garden. Whether it is because this was to be a mostly to totally garden-less season (due to a lengthy road trip that never materialized), a more focused plan leading to better results, or the integration of different crops, enabled by expanding straw bale use - or a combination of all three factors doesn't matter. It is simply a blast and a pleasure - one that is providing consistent delicious results.

 Raw materials for a Caprese pasta salad

Raw materials for a Caprese pasta salad

We started a week family vacation today at the coast. Ordinarily this would completely stress me out, as it is prime time and in need of regular care (watering, feeding, pruning, picking) to maintain its productivity and health. However, I will head home briefly on Tuesday (for an event at Duke Garden that evening), so will be able to check things out that day and the following before returning here, armed with squash, beans, cukes and tomatoes to sustain us through the rest of the week.

Additionally, the forecast is showing a moderation of temperatures and chances of daily rain. If that happens, and the battery in the water scarecrow holds out (newly changed last night), the return home next Sunday should result in a reunion with a still-happy driveway of plants.

Some highlights of an already exciting garden

The following are just thrilling me so far: some of my favorite indeterminate tomatoes in straw bales, basil planted in straw bales, bush green beans in straw bales (picked while sitting!), summer squash in straw bales (the first picked less than 30 days from direct seeding),  cucumbers in straw bales, and eggplants in 5 gallon grow bags.

 Dwarf Moby's Cherry - a Dwarf Tomato Project work in progress, in a 5 gallon grow bag

Dwarf Moby's Cherry - a Dwarf Tomato Project work in progress, in a 5 gallon grow bag

Future joy will come from dwarf tomatoes in straw bales and 5 gallon containers, which for the most part are doing very well and loading up with tomatoes. The peppers in the 5 gallon grow bags simply look great. Newly received indeterminate family heirlooms and dwarf tomato project plants are all on the cusp of revealing their mysteries. 

Disappointments are very few and far between. The basil in containers on our back deck is, alas, now severely impacted by downy mildew. Two Sun Gold hybrids in one of the straw bales never have kicked into gear and look pretty consistently unhappy. Nepal went down to Fusarium wilt (and yet the Red Brandywine that shares the basil is thriving still). My 18 plants in 1 gallon pots that represent my dip into a micro dwarf breeding project initiated by a few gardening friends are interesting, doing well, but for the most part, the flavor we are seeking isn't there yet.

Best tomato performers thus far - Cherokee Green, Cherokee Chocolate, Cherokee Purple, Egg Yolk and Polish have been outstanding in yield and flavor. Coming along now and similarly heavy yielding will be Dester and Brandywine. OTV Brandywine and Ferris Wheel, though delicious, didn't like our early summer heat wave and experienced the most blossom drop....the plants are reloading for a mid August bounty.

 Cherokee Green, Polish, Cherokee Chocolate, Red Brandywine and Cherokee Purple - clockwise from upper left - green, pink, brown, red and purple tomatoes!

Cherokee Green, Polish, Cherokee Chocolate, Red Brandywine and Cherokee Purple - clockwise from upper left - green, pink, brown, red and purple tomatoes!