Sunday, June 17, 2012

This week in the garden

Compared to last year, the weather in Central Texas has been cooler and wetter. As we approach summer's official start on June 20, temps are in the mid-to-upper 90s, with only one day above 100 so far, and 17 inches of rain for the year. The meteorologists are predicting rain again this week, hooray -- with the best chance (40%) on Wednesday. (Last year, we'd had ten 100-plus days by this point, and only 8 inches of rain for the year.)

This week in the vegetable garden, I spotted several good-sized tomatoes (finally!), but they aren't turning red. I did plant three green tomatoes this year ('Green Zebra', 'Cherokee Green', 'Aunt Ruby's German Green') but they are as hard as rocks.
green tomatoes
This is unusual for my Austin garden, where normally the tomatoes would be ready for harvest by May. I planted a lot of varieties I haven't tried before, and perhaps these varieties mature later, or simply aren't the best choices for Central Texas. But even the reliable 'Juliet and 'Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are still green, so I'm suspecting a cultural issue.

So far the bugs have left the tomatoes alone, but I did find this single tomato hornworm on one plant. I plucked off the leaf it was nibbling on, shot this photo, then tossed it under the red oak for the birds to snack on.
tomato hornworm

In the Three Sisters garden bed, I have one -- count 'em -- one 'Country Gentleman' corn stalk that is producing a single small ear. I've harvested about half a pound of 'Trionfo Violetto' green beans, but not a single 'Scarlet Runner' bean. The 'Tatume' squash is still producing a few squash, but the vines are winding down.
three sisters

The Persian lime tree is hanging on to about 4 dozen fruits. Jack checks on them every day and thinks they aren't getting any bigger. I reminded him our last good harvest (two years ago) took place in August, so the fruit needs more time to grow. (Patience isn't our strong suit.)

In the flower garden, my baby hedgehog cactus has been blooming for two or three weeks. The flowers only last a day.
hedgehog cactus

The flame acanthus is in full bloom and is irresistible to bumblebees and hummingbirds.
flame acanthus

Are you ready for summer? Because here we go!

Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. That Country Gentleman is beautiful! I'm planning for corn next summer.

  2. I felt like this spring/summer transition was much kinder than last year, but it definitely shows in the numbers. Your flame acanthus looks great! And I hope your tomatoes start turning soon.

  3. I saw my first tomato hornworm yesterday, but he's a little too late. Most of my tomato harvest is in now, which is good because my plants are totally infested with red spider mite. I've also started seeing stink bugs. Ughhh. Summer would be so much better without all these pests.

  4. We have a fair amount of green heirlooms that seem to be taking forever to ripen and our cherry tomatoes, like yours, seem slow to ripen this year, too. Weird. Glad I'm not the only one. Beautiful limes and cactus!

  5. Oh yes, here we go, indeed! Looks like 100 temps in the forecast for this weekend. Looks like it will be time for fresh squeezed margaritas in your garden before too long!

  6. My tomatoes haven't started turning yet either...though, of course, I also have no idea what type of tomato they are (seeing as how I picked it up at the East Austin Garden Faire). But I did plant mine about a month later than I should have...