Tuesday, July 7, 2015
End of the line
Well, the cuke ladder did its job, keeping the cucumbers up off the ground. The vines actually climbed it themselves with only the slightest help from me. So I'm pretty sure that's a setup that I'll keep going forward.
But I'm not sure the cukes still have their hearts in it. I planted National Pickling, an open-pollinated variety famous for its quick start and heavy yield. The start was no problem, and there were days where I swear I could hear the fruits growing. We've been in cukes all summer and I'll be doing up a big batch of pickles tonight. Last night I harvested two orange/yellow monsters - more than a pound each - so we are in seeds for next year. That all sounds great, so what's the problem?
Well, I'm not sure. About a week ago, the vines started turning yellow and production all but stopped. A few shriveled fruits remain up high, and some of those are turning brown.
There are a couple of things that can cause such yellowing. It could be aphids or spider mites, though I've sprayed it down with Dawn a couple of times and while I have bugs, I don't have all that many*. It could be downy mildew, as we had a really wet spring, but we've been pretty dry for the past few weeks. It could be a magnesium deficiency, but I've sprayed epsom salt in the ground a couple times, plus this is an area that was never planted before; it should be good for a single season, no matter how heavily cukes feed.
Or it could just be that the season is over for them. I planted a 50-day variety in early April, so we are about 90 days in. I'm rather leaning toward this answer, as some of my other early plants, like the potatoes, are starting to show signs of exhaustion, and the mustard and cilantro are well into seed. And as much as I'd like the vines to produce right up until the frost arrives, sometimes the world ignores my desires.
So I'm going to watch it for another week, kill some bugs, pull some weeds. If things don't turn around, I'll pull them up and maybe plant more green beans there. After all, you can't get two crops per season if you're not willing to rip the first one out**.
* On the cukes. The pumpkins are another story.
** Or if you live in Minnesota.