I returned from the relative coolness of northern Minnesota to oppressive heat here in Kansas. But dear husband kept the garden watered enough to survive in my absence. That is, except for my oregano, which is wilting and sickly looking. These oregano plants have never before done anything but provide enough herb for seven or eight hungry households; their suffering communicates the plant reality of drought.
Pests are a problem but not so bad as last year (so far). Right before I left, I found two of the biggest tomato hornworms I'd ever seen, attacking a couple of beloved tomato plants. I was so worried about leaving them alone with the pests, but no more appeared in my absence and they are thriving, huge, unbelievable.
I'm growing several varieties of tomatoes this year, including some traditional red ones and red cherry tomatoes, but also golden cherry tomatoes and Cherokee purple and some other strange green and pink striped tomato that Rachel gave me. The first couple of pounds have come in and many more are ripening quickly. Actually, most of them have completely overwhelmed their cages. Some are strung out on the ground, having pushed the cages over and lifted them out of the earth. Others have simply exploded over the tops. Who could be so silly as to think plants would contain themselves in these tiny little cells we give them? Anyway, I'm going to have to figure out how to can the cherry tomatoes, for they are numerous beyond the stars.
Nearly all the onions came in, several pounds from such tiny little bulbs to start. In the end, growing onions was very easy. Next year I hope to plant them in rows alongside a sidewalk going up to our front door and grow enough to use and store too. In the meantime we enjoy going outside and digging one up every time we run out!
The sweet potatoes are poking out of the ground already. Their vines are spreading like crazy and I can almost taste the sweet potato enchiladas, fries, and soups that are to come. This makes two successful root vegetable ventures this year.
At this point, the most resounding failure of the year was kale, which I didn't manage to protect from marauding caterpillars, and carrots, which I didn't water enough and did some other bad stuff to. I fear that my squashes may suffer the same fate as last year; a few squash bugs have appeared, despite my best efforts to kill them promptly, and managed to lay eggs. At least I now know enough to crush the eggs immediately and check for them every day. And despite these setbacks, the garden is turning into a great success this year. Now to figure out what to do with the bounty!