Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Ginormous Tomato, Proteknet and Flexzilla in My Garden!

Sally's Outdoor Salsa, heavy on the vine
This weekend has turned to overcast with the odd rain shower. Evenings are already cool and mornings are damp with dew prompting  powdery mildew on leaves. With shorter days the plants are slowing down production. 
Time to wrap it up for Fall and Winter!

The weather was all over the map this summer; very warm early on, then cool, minimal rain, a shorter heat wave than the past few years and thankfully, no smoke from forest fires. The flora and fauna were confused it seemed. 
A record breaking 2 lb. 5-3/4 oz. Sally's Outdoor Salsa!

I did not see many pollinators around and although I planted more flowers than usual, I had to take on the task of hand pollinating the tomatoes, greenhouse cucumbers and winter squash. Through all my efforts, the harvest was not as bountiful as it could have been.

Most of the tomatoes struggled with small fruit or only 2-3 per plant! However, my 'Outdoor Salsa' tomato (that has become quite famous on Denman and sold by Annie as 'Sally's Salsa') produced a record breaking tomato this year tipping the scale at 2 lb. 5-3/4 oz! I have been saving select seed from this unknown, heirloom variety for about 20 years. My goal was and still is, to save from the largest fruit, that have a minimal amount of seeds. 
Sally's Salsa- very few seeds and meaty, perfect to save seed

Therefore I chose the name 'Salsa' because they are very meaty, not juicy or sloppy and make an incredible, thick salsa or tomato sauce. Some years in the beginning, they were completely seedless and I panicked, for fear I would lose my species! That is when I began sharing seed with friends and the 'Denman Seed Savers' ... and my 'Sally's Salsa' variety came to be! 

Winter Squash ~ Sunshine and Butternut
The Sunshine and Butternut winter squash struggled with the on and off again weather, even with hand pollinating. Feeling that my soil needs more nutrients, I now have a manure supplier and the raised vegetable beds will be amended with composted manure ... once it dries off a bit out there. After the beds are topped up with a mixture of new soil and a good dose of manure, they will be covered with heavy black plastic for winter. This will keep the rain from leaching them out over winter, keeps the weeds controlled and promotes the soil to heat earlier in the Spring. 

The winter carrots have been weeded, thinned and are still covered with Remay to keep the carrot rust flies out. According to Linda Gilkeson, the covers must stay in place until the end of October. They are a pain to deal with so I've found a new solution.
Proteknet-100' in a small package

In preparation for next Spring, I have already purchased 100 feet of 'Proteknet' insect netting and 25 pvc hoops through William Dam Seeds. Organic Market Gardens on Denman Island cover all their crops with this amazing material. Providing it is suspended above the crop on (the recommended) pvc hoops, insects cannot penetrate to lay eggs or munch on your plants! It is a synthetic knitted mesh that allows about 89% light transmission and about 60% moisture transmission and allows air to travel through so the plants don't become too hot. It is UV resistant and lasts about 1-3 seasons. I have heard from Veronica of Alveroni Gardens on Denman, that it is also machine washable on the gentle cycle. I'll have photos next year and am looking forward to using the Proteknet insect netting rather than Remay, floating row cover.

My new favorite thing in the garden for 2019!!
Another new purchase for my yard and garden this year was the 'Flexzilla Swivel-Grip Garden Hose' ... what a dream!! Light weight, supple with no spool memory, flexible even in cooler weather and lies flat when in use. The new 'Swivel-Grip' connectors are worth the extra few dollars and make it easy to tighten or loosen the thread fittings at either end and also serve as anti-kink cuffs. A word of caution though when unraveling it from the packaging, it will kink and knot up. I'd suggest especially with the longer hoses, to unravel it carefully when first out of the packaging. 

Most of us still have lots of work to finish outside to wrap it up for the Winter months. I'm thankful for the rain, it has given me a change of pace to get a much delayed Blog Post out!! Also the break from daily watering has been a welcome reprieve. I've spent many hours at the end of my new Flexzilla this summer. I have set aside my garlic seed from this summer's harvest and the red onions are drying in the garage on racks with fans for air circulation. This is just the beginning, still so much to get done, let's hope for some dry September and October weather! 

Until next time... Happy Gardening and Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae