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Well, actually, first I will gripe about Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). Is there anything the little bastards won’t eat? My poor witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is not looking too happy right now. They’ve also been feeding on the eggplants (Solanum melongena), but I can live with that. I hate the stuff, but the plants were foisted off on me in spring. I figured it would be a good learning experience in case I’m ever asked how to grow them…I can always give the nasty things away to the neighbours when they start producing.

Anyway, I harvested the garlic (Allium sativum) last week, but it’s been disappointing. The heads are not as large as they could be because of the unusually dry year (spring) we’ve had. The lemon cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are still alive, which is a small and pleasant surprise. They’ve been hit with bacterial wilt because of the damned striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma sp.) and I’ve been carefully pruning off anything that looks infected, so I’ve actually been getting a reasonable harvest off them.

Here is a picture of a couple lemon cucumbers – the one on the left is one that I somehow kept missing, so it’s grown to full size (about the size of a baseball) and gotten ripe. The one on the right is more what a harvestable specimen should look like. Although lemon cucumbers don’t get bitter with age (as I did) like other cucumber types, the seeds do get large and hard. Also, once cucumbers are allowed to ripen, the vine slows down production or stops completely. But you can  see why they’re called “lemon” cucumbers.

Lemon cucumbers

Lemon cucumbers 2016

Back in spring a colleague offered me a seedling of a purple-headed cauliflower (Brassica oleracea). Cauliflowers have never been my favourite brassica, but I was intrigued, so I took it and potted it up. The curds are a beautiful shade of purple. I assume it’s edible, but I can only imagine what a bowlful of cauliflower cheese would look like made with this variety. The head is pretty small right now, so I hope it will expand as summer progresses.

Purple cauliflower

Purple cauliflower

The lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and arugula (Eruca sativa) are well and done now. The sugar beets (Beta vulgaris) and the black Spanish radishes (Raphanus sativus var. nigrum) are well on their way, and the tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are bearing well. I’m trying rapunzel (Valerianella locusta) as a summer green for the first time, but who knows how they’ll do.

I guess that’s it for the vegetables for now. Other new developments are the ‘Black Walnut’ gladioli, which have finally bloomed. Funny thing, I planted them in batches two weeks apart, but the first batch is only a few days ahead of the second. I’m a little disappointed with the colour; I was expecting a deeper shade and I don’t see why a cultigen called ‘Black Walnut’ has a white throat. The buds are a nice deep red, however, and the blooms are huge.

'Black Walnut' gladiolus

‘Black Walnut’ gladiolus

Finally, a couple years ago I begged some nigella (Nigella damascena, not the edible sort) seeds from a colleague. Hers were a beautiful shade of blue and I really liked them. I never got around to planting them last year, but I did this year, and – most of them have bloomed white. Sigh. Apparently her patch has turned more and more white in the past couple years too, so I guess it’s just unlucky genetics for us. Of the several plants I got, only one has bloomed blue, so I think I’ll pull up the others before the seed ripens and keep the blue one for seed. You can see both colours in the picture below.

Nigella damascena

Nigella damascena

And that’s it for now.

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