First, the tomatoes needed some pruning and staking. The row of tomatoes along the back of the veggie plot are supported by just a rough homemade bamboo frame (made out of bamboo stakes stuck into the ground with a couple of bamboo "cross-beams" running horizontally). Since there is nothing to attach the frame to the side of the house, the weight of the tomatoes is starting to pull the frame over. I should have taken a photo of it earlier - you can kind of see in this older photo how the plants are starting to list to the left.
The vines have been growing like crazy in the heat, so I needed to pinch off many of the suckers (which grow in the crooks between the main vine and the leaves). Some of them had grown quite large, so I felt bad about pruning them but it had to be done. I needed to figure out some way to support the bamboo stakes so they would sit a bit more upright. So I tied the right side of the bamboo frame to a pipe that sticks out from the side of the house.
Then I took an old metal stake that I found rusting in the backyard when we moved in to the house and hammered into the left side of the plot and tied it to the bamboo frame on that side.
So far, this seems to be working. We will see what happens as the tomatoes continue to grow:
|slightly more upright|
The extra orange bucket you see there is filled with water mixed with the tomato clippings I pruned today. We read that water steeped with tomato clippings makes a good insect repellant. After it steeps for a while, we will drain it and put it into spray bottles to spray on the plants to keep bugs away.
While I was pruning and staking the tomatoes, I noticed this:
|One of the tomatoes is starting to ripen!|
|Another ripening tomato!|
Second, I continued my cleaning up of the veggie plot by removing a bunch of the marigold plants. You may recall that when I first planted the marigolds (which I did to deter insects from eating my veggie plants), they looked like this:
But, before long, they turned into this:
In other words, many of the marigolds have been completely overtaken by the other plants. I was planning to just pull a bunch of them out and discard them, but for whatever reason, the Moth has developed an affection for them and wanted me to save them - despite the fact that we have more than enough marigolds in containers on our front steps:
|The Marigolds are just there to protect the basil plants I have growing in containers|
After clearing out the veggie plot, and harvesting yet more of the basil plants, the peppers are finally getting a little room to breath. I noticed that some of the hot peppers were bowing over a little, so I hammered a couple of bamboo stakes into the ground and tied them up:
|I just use ordinary twine (which I cut into pieces from large ball)|
to tie up my tomatoes and peppers
And some new teeny purple peppers on one of my black pearl pepper plants:
|Kissed by raindrops (yes, I'm poetic)|
Another more disturbing thing I discovered while I was doing all this pruning and cleaning is that the stems of my zucchini plant (closest to the ground) looked as though someone had been chewing on them. After some internet research, I realized this was probably not a furry pest, but an insect. Maybe a cucumber beetle or squash vine borer. There's a lot of different advice on how to combat them, but this is what I decided to do in the end:
I cut into the affected area with a sharp knife. Any disgusting insects that crawled out (of which there were many) I shmooshed and killed. Then, I sprinkled the vine with Diamotaceous Earth (which I had purchased on Amazon previously because I read it was a good insect repellant and/or killer). Then, I sprayed with hot pepper spray, buried the vines with moist soil and then sprinkled again with DE. This is how the area looked after all of my machinations.
I hope I'm not too late and the evil bugs have not already killed my plant. We will see. For good measure, I sprinkled the rest of the veggie plot, including the squash plant, with DE and sprayed some hot pepper spray. Of course, a couple of hours later it rained, so it may all have to be reapplied.
Finally, I pulled up some very small onions that I have interplanted throughout the garden:
I was hoping they would be a bit bigger by now, but - okay - we will just call them red scallions. How about that? They are supposed to cure for a while before using - at least according to the internet. Although, since I'm not exactly planning to store them for the long cold winter (this about half of the amount of onion I use for one dish) I'm not really sure if that step is necessary.