Tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes:
With a few peppers and some basil thrown in for good measure.
I always throw some kind of experiment into our garden every year, something fun and different. I always go with the assumption it might be a total and complete failure but if nothing else it might turn out well.
This year's experiment: watermelon. I thought with the new large raised bed, we might have enough room. As it turns out, I apparently picked the perfect watermelon variety for this otherwise horrible gardening year here in middle Tennessee. We've had a drought all summer and the temperatures for all of August have been beyond bad for any kind of agriculture. The watermelon variety I picked is called Desert King and it does best in hot and dry summers - what a crazy coincidence of planting! On top of picking the best variety for the weird summer we've had, we also planted the seeds much later than is really ideal for this area. But again, we hit that hot weather at the perfect time for our melon!
Without further ado, here is my happy watermelon, growing happily away. I took a picture without something for a size comparison, and you totally couldn't tell how big it was. Thank goodness Tim is a good sport (although it's a bit of his own fault - he kept saying the watermelon was as big as his head):
There are actually two problems though. First, the whole "we've got plenty of space to grow watermelon now" idea? Yeah, um... NO, not at all. Not only did the melon vines (which I thought were supposed to be more like bushes for this variety?) take over the entire top section of the raised bed (oh well, who needs zucchini?) they've made fairly aggressive moves into our yard, into the rest of the large raised bed, and actually behind our fence into the neighbor's yard (oops!). Second, I have no clue how to tell when the melon is actually ripe. There's some way you're supposed to watch when the vines around the melon start to turn brown as a barometer for ripeness, something else about thumping the melons, and then an also amusing idea about just checking that the melon has been growing for the appropriate # of days (81-90 days). The last idea seems the most pseudo-scientific, but to be honest, I have no clue when the melon started. Bad gardener! Our CSA farmers said to use the nearby tendril method when Tim asked them this weekend.
The rest of the garden is looking, to put it mildly, quite rough. Even with daily watering using our drip irrigation system, several of the plants got some nasty scalding from the sun - some of the tomatoes actually got sun burn! I've never seen anything like that before. In previous years, we usually have tomatoes to harvest well into the fall - early October at least. But I think this year, all of our tomatoes and peppers are going to be done in the next week or two. And they're all going to be ripe at the same time. Yikes! I feel some tomato sauce making in my immediate future.
See? Not the pretty happy garden I expect to see at the start of September. I'm not even going to consider posting a picture of our Japanese maple. She recovered brilliantly from that late spring frost, but the poor dear is just a shell of her normal self at this point. Leaves all with sunburn. We've been giving her a good dose of water every few days but man... this year has been rough on all plant life in Nashville, except for possibly the weeds.
The really good news? Our absurdly bad heat wave appears to have broken (at least a little bit). I find it almost amusing that I consider 90 degrees to be pleasant at this point, after all those days in the hundreds. I'm definitely not looking forward to seeing what our water bill for August looks like. We're on budget billing for the electric company (we get the same bill every month, based on average yearly usage from previous years) so at least we're not seeing any crazy electric bills yet. Keeping my fingers crossed that it's going to cool off even more in the next couple of weeks and that we'll get some of the rain that we desperately need.