Garden Party: Bells and Boys of Summer

The little bell pepper bed, looking so much more tidy than last year, when is housed cantaloupe.

The little bell pepper bed, looking so much more tidy than last year, when it housed cantaloupe.

The bell peppers are finally making real progress. I remember that they seemed to take forever last year, so I should not be surprised by how long they are taking now. On top of that, we have had some very odd weather recently. It has even set back the tomatoes. The Early Girl, after a fine start, has slowed down and only has a few oblong little fruits hanging now.

The odd weather consisted of two days of rain and almost a week of grey skies. Such temperatures are nigh well catastrophic for tomatoes, especially if one is trying to find something to add to her cucumber salads. The lemon cucumbers in particular seem to be on an inexorable production schedule, no matter what the weather does. As a result, I’ve been eating a lot of cucumbers without tomatoes. We do have a whole lot of lettuce, but the idea of a lettuce and cucumber salad without tomatoes just doesn’t work for me. I am very tomato-dependent.

The mini bell peppers are coming faster than any of the big ones. they are still all green.

The mini bell peppers are coming faster than any of the big ones. they are still all green.

The bell pepper plants are not all displaying little peppers, but about half have legitimate offerings in the works. The mini bells are the busiest, with at least six small peppers on each plant and more blooms coming. I’m not sure how mini these bells are supposed to be, but I imagine they will start turning colors when they are ready.

It has occurred to me that the bell peppers might not be in the best situation. Last year, my bell pepper was in one of the pots that trees had been delivered in. As a result it had a fairly small surface area to itself but it had about two feet of soil underneath it. Now the peppers have about the same amount of surface area, but much less soil beneath them. This bed was, after all, designed for melons, which I knew only needed shallow soil. I think that less than 12 inches beneath the soil, there is some old concrete.  I put ratproofing down before I shoveled the dirt in, so I must not have been sure the concrete was right there.

The bell peppers may also be getting less sunlight, crowded in as they are. I can never visualize properly and plan accordingly for space. I have been trying to make up for it by occasionally putting fertilizer or plant food down for them. They seem pretty healthy now but I can’t tell if that will mean a good harvest.

At least I don’t have to worry about gophers. Gophers are why I thought to plant on top of concrete in the first place.

One plant that I will have to be very patient with is the first bell pepper I planted this year. The poor thing was immediately and repeatedly attacked by snails. This is one reason I did not put wire around this bed- I am pretty sure turkeys eat snails. The pepper survived the snails only to be shaded by the red rose bush, which I am also fond of. It is quite the dilemma. I finally tied the rose bush up with some wire to give the pepper more sun. The rose bush complained and dropped some blooms but it is surviving. The pepper is not producing anything yet but it is looking pretty good:

Green bell pepper showing no signs of snail damage now.

Green bell pepper showing no signs of snail damage now.

The second green bell does have a couple of visible peppers:

Second planted, first to produce of the green bells.

Second planted, first to produce of the green bells.

One of the red bells is staying about even with that green bell, though neither plant has anything larger than the mini bells. I loved the red bells so much last year, I don’t mind that I have planted more reds than anything else. Of course this assumes that the tags were correct when I bought the plants.

Everything is still green. thank goodness I put the tags by each plant so I know this should eventually turn red.

Everything is still green. Thank goodness I put the tags by each plant so I know this should eventually turn red.

I am optimistic, the tags can’t all be wrong.

Now that the weather has normalized, the tomato Boys are finally putting out. They are each finishing up one not-green tomato:

My first Lemon Boy ever!

My first Lemon Boy ever!

The lemon Boy and the Early Girl both have a yellow branch or two. I am not sure what this means. I hope it is not cause for alarm. My father keeps talking about a pestilence that attacked his tomatoes a few years back. Apart from the yellow branches, these tomatoes seem to be doing just what last year’s did. The leaves curl up pretty regularly but they are still making fruit so I will try not to fret.

The Better Boy has a little spider problem, but it doesn’t seem to be making the plant sick. Really, the whole ranch is having a spider problem, it would appear that the weather very much agrees with spiders. Overnight they will fill a bucket or a doorway or even a vehicle window if they have access. Since I do not know how to refuse spiders access, I spend a lot of time waving brooms, branches and rags around to clear a path.

I don’t think spiders eat tomatoes or plants so I won’t bother them as long as they aren’t right on the tomato I want.

First red Better Boy tomato of the season. Not pale haze on the right: that is a spider web.

First red Better Boy tomato of the season. Not pale haze on the right: I *think* that is a spider web. I guess it could be caterpillar silk.

It just crossed my mind that that really doesn’t look like a spider web. It looks more like caterpillar silk. Oh dear. I know caterpillars eat plants, but do they eat tomatoes? I don’t see any significant signs of eating but I may have to look closer.

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