No triumphant return. Sigh!

As promised, I dragged my two boys away from their video games and we went to the Mega Store to buy some plants. We picked up some tomato and peppers and bought cucumber and watermelon seeds (my boys picked the seeds of what they wanted to grow)

Knowing the unpredictable Kansas weather, I waited until the 21st of April to plant the young vegetable plants. Alas!, it was not to be. On Monday, we got a torrential downpour with plant-destroying hail; then, on Tuesday, the overnight temperature dropped to 25 degrees.

As I’ve said before, the motto for Kansas gardeners should be “Resistance Is Futile”.

And of course, my fruit trees lost all their blooms. So no fruit either.

I can only hope the cucumbers and the watermelons do well so I can have something to post here.

Posted in storms. Tags: . 3 Comments »

Wow it’s been over a year!!

Well, this is the year. If I have to go to the store and buy a tomato plant already started I will do it!

My boys are older now and they both asked me at different times this Spring if I am going to do any gardening. I think I have a willing workforce! LOL!

If you chance upon this long-dead blog, check back once in a while as it may sprout again.

Thank you for looking!!

Posted in Spring. 1 Comment »

My zombie gardening blog

I so wish I could start growing plants again! Life has taken me in various and sundry roads that I was unprepared for. As a result, I could not start a plant without knowing if I could give it the time it needed.

The future is still uncertain but whenever I look at the empty space where my garden was, my heart aches with the longing of watching the miracles of germination, blooming, and fruition.

I hope to be able to start at least one plant this season!

Posted in Spring. 1 Comment »

Abandoned Blog? No, merely out-hussled

As it happens every Winter, I look out and I am reminded of all the work I need to do to prepare for the coming planting season. As I did that this morning, I remembered that I have not posted anything here. It was quite a late Summer and Fall in 2010. My 6 year old learned to ride his bike and many an afternoon was dedicated to rides around the neighborhood. We decided it was time to learn how to skate as well (including me!) and time was alloted for that. Boy Scouts (although we were forced to drop out temporarily due to work time constraints on my part). The list of competing activities go on and on. I am not complaining though. My most successful and important garden has two very active little boys.

As for the garden. I will grow much less stuff this year.  Last year there was no way to keep up with everything. I will start planning what I will grow soon.

‘Til then…

Summer Bounty

It’s been very busy around here. I barely can keep up with the watering and the weeding and the eating of the produce. I have roasted peppers and I have made chiles rellenos. I have roasted tomatos and I have made tomato soup. I have eaten many veggie sandwiches and I will eat many more before the season is over. Oh yeah, and I don’t have to wonder what went into growing my veggies; I know: dirt, water, and sun.

I began selecting what tomatoes will grow in the garden next year:


  • Siberian
  • Juliet
  • Jubilee
  • Yellow Pear
  • Sungold
  • Black Krim
  • Black Russian
  • Great White
  • Amateur’s Dream
  • Otradny
  • Tiny Tim

This may actually be the final list. A surprise for me this year were the Juliet tomatoes. Wow! They are tasty and the plant is prolific but what I REALLY like about them is that by the time all my other cherry tomatoes are getting mushy on the dinning room table, these guys are as firm and delicious as when I picked them. Another surprise was the Great White. I REALLY liked the flavor of this tomato. The plant however is a little picky on setting fruit, at least under the conditions of my garden. The Otradny were really good and while many tomatoes in my garden cracked with the crazy rain patterns, these little guys stayed nice and round. The Sungold cherries lived up to the hype and boy! are they sweet! The Black Krim and Black Russian are very good black tomatoes. I would have liked to compare them to Cherokee Purple but none of my Cherokee Purple plants have set any viable fruit. Last but not least is the Tiny Tim. I grew it as a novelty but it won my heart with it’s hardiness. It is truly a compact tomato and I will try to grow it year round inside the house. I will experiment with it to see if it will provide me with fresh cherry tomatoes during the Winter.

I have harvested and eaten many cucumbers including Lemon Cucumbers which I liked well enough to grow them again next year.  I have harvested and eaten many Minnesota Midget cantaloupes as well.


This year I was not able to grow a single bean. I don’t know if it is the heat but all the bean blooms fell. The peach tree fell apart under the weight of the fruit. I never got around to pruning the tree or thinning the fruit and the poor tree paid for it. My radishes have been spotty. I’ve grown a few but most just grow nice tops and no bulb.

Here are some pictures of some of my bounty:

Jubilee tomatoes -with Anaheim for added color

Hungarian Yellow Wax, California Wonder, and Mini Bell.

Cucumber and Yellow Pear tomatoes


The cage experiment was a success to a point. It was a great way to grow some early tomatoes. The cement under it made it nice and warm for the tomatoes to develop early. Now however, the cage is a death trap. I still have a few tomatoes in it and all are heat stressed. At any rate, my dog Lexie has calmed down considerably and I think I won’t need to protect my plants with the cage next year.

Over and out.

Free seeds!

Kelly from was generously giving seeds away and I, being a sucker for free stuff –and vegetables, was quick to add myself to the list.

The seeds arrived Friday, Yeah!  This is what she sent:

  • Winter squash ‘Delicata’
  • Tomato ‘Yellow Ruffled’
  • Hollyhock Pink
  • Tomato ‘Green Zebra’
  • Purple tomatillo.

I had none of these seeds so I am excited to try them all. I am especially excited about the Purple Tomatillo and the Hollyhock. A friend in Facebook sent me Hollyhock seeds last year but my then young puppy Lexie dug all my seedlings up. None survived. Lexie is less wild now so I am hopeful for Hollyhocks next year.

Kelly operates a seed bank. You can visit the seed bank’s website here:

Thank you Kelly!!!

Free seeds from

Posted in Summer. Tags: . 4 Comments »

Here we are


Summer is officially here and the tomatoes responded accordingly. Many of the tomatoes that set in the Spring began to ripen on the vine this week. I have harvested and eaten many tomatoes, both cherry type and regular type. I ate my first Black Russian tomato this evening. It wasn’t very pretty so I did not take a picture but it sure tasted alright!. Incidentally, I have observed that the tomatoes that set in Mid Spring are all ugly. Many are cat-faced (funny shaped) and many had some kind of blemish. Hey, I eat them anyway. Some are pretty no matter what, like these Otradny tomatoes (determinate type). The plant is rather small and compact and the flavor is not bad so I may grow them again in spite of my promise not to grow determinate tomatoes anymore.

Otradny Tomato

One of the tomatoes I am awaiting with curiosity is the Great White. Although this tomato is supposed to be large, my Great White tomato plant is smallish. It is growing in a mix of coir and top soil. By the way, all my tomatoes growing in coir are small. I have heard many theories about this but the Internet has not settled on an answer yet. Coir drains well and keeps moisture for what seems like an eternity so it’s not that. I read that adding Epson salt helps. Ultimately, it may have something to do with the source of the coir. We’ll see.

Great White


I emptied one of my potato bags and found that the potatoes therein had boiled with the heat. The soil was wet and very hot. Expecting the same with my other bags, I emptied them all and was glad to find 10+ lbs. of potatoes. If I had left them in, they may have grown larger. I will enjoy them nonetheless. Next year, I am going back to growing them in the ground.

Potato goodness


One of my Anaheim plants has began to produce peppers. Last year, my Anaheim plants were prolific. I expect the same this year. One of my Jalapeño M plants has peppers as well as one of my Mini-Bell plants. If things work like they have in the past, the rest of the plants will catch up in late Summer and really go crazy in early Fall.

Anaheim. I see a roasting in your future.


I ate the first cucumber of the season last night. It was delicious!. There are more on the way. Also, the Lemon Cucumber container has began setting fruit. I can’t wait to taste the Lemon Cukes.

I see you...

Lemon cucumber. It's supposed to taste like citrus.


I did not plant Watermelon this year. I did not have the room. I planted Minnesota Midget cantaloupe however, because it’s supposed to be a compact vine (someone forgot to tell the plants!). You can eat these guys rind and all. They are very sweet if you let them ripen all the way in the vine.

Minnesota Midget: The size is small, the flavor is BIG


The volunteer Giant sunflowers have bloomed. They add a nice yellow accent to the greenery. The birds will enjoy them. The holes on the leaves are from hail.



Space your tomato plants generously so that you may work on them comfortably. I never experienced this problem until I had 40+ plants.

Over and out.

State of the garden.

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last post.

It is June 19th and my vegetable and fruit operation has grown out of my control. I can barely keep up with weeding. Watering is easier this year than it was last year and the fence has kept my dogs out of the plants. No major diseases have struck but the plants are not picture perfect.

It's a real mess

Still, the fruits of my labor have begun to appear. I pulled all the carrots out two weeks ago and I am still eating them. I began to pull the garlic out. Not knowing if I could eat the tiny bulbs, I threw them in the composter. My peas are all gone and the rest of the spring veggies all went to seed (literally!).  Here are some of the upcoming stars in the garden:


The cucumber plants are growing exponentially (I don’t know what that means!)

Coming soon to a salad near you!


Oh Pepper, how do I love thee!


I have harvested many tomatoes already. I even shared with my neighbor. She made a salad for her husband and he exclaimed that the tomatoes were delicious. He did not know they came from my garden. Yes, I am proud. Unfortunately, the tomatoes are consumed almost as soon as they come in the house and I have no pictures except for this one.

Galina and Large Cherry tomatoes

The blossom rot end (BER) problem was confined to my container tomatoes and it’s gone now –for the most part.

One firm conclusion I have arrived at this year is that I will no longer grow Determinate tomatoes. Unless someone convinces me that a Determinate tomato is SO delicious that I must grow it, I think this is my last year for growing them. I came to this because my Prairie Fire tomato plant is done. It has about 8 tomatoes left growing on it after I pruned the ones that were afflicted by BER. The tomatoes are beginning to turn color and the plant has began to die and it’s not even the end of June.

I checked on my fallen Blackberry bush. I am just in awe at the resilience of this plant. The blackberries continue to ripen and I even beat the birds to a few. They were so sweet!

Birds denied

Other things competing for my attention are:


They are my life and they keep me busy. Here they are before we went exploring around the Arkansas River the other day. You can’t see their canteens, of which they were very proud!

The boys


Oh yeah! It’s that time again. The World Cup  is on! This year, all the perennial favorites have met VERY stiff resistance from the rest of the world. The US is as strong a team as any and recently got robbed of a win but I still have hopes of advancing to the next stage. My other team is Mexico and my biggest fantasy is that the US and Mexico will compete for the Cup in the finals. Hey, a man can dream!

The North Korean team is awesome and could really be the Cinderella story of this cup. Politics have no place in Futbol (sure we call it Soccer but the rest of the world calls it Futbol) and the North Korean team won my respect by giving Brazil a run for their money.

Of course, if God loves me, he will let an African country reach the finals. If you don’t follow futbol, you may not understand the passion the game ignites in people and you may not understand the INCREDIBLE lift a spot in the finals could give a whole continent. I keep thinking of the millions of little boys and girls in Africa whose dreams will reach a new level if an African team reaches the finals.

Over and Out.

Summer is Here

To me, Summer has officially started when I harvest my first ripe tomato from the garden. Tah-Dah! I present to you Galina. This was my first ripe tomato last year as well. Galina is sweet with a bite of acid at the end. It is a cherry type tomato that varies from bright yellow to orange in color.  The seed packet said it is an indeterminate plant but for me, this plant grows more like a bush than a vine.  I harvested this beauty yesterday so the official date of Summer at Benjamin Hill Farms is June 5th.


I’ve had a bad time with Blossom End Rot (BER). I believe this is due to the many rainy days we experienced a few weeks ago. Apparently, too much water will keep the roots from taking calcium, which then causes BER. I have pulled many tomatoes afflicted by BER and I am happy to report that the new tomatoes forming are ok.


My novelty tomato; Tiny Tim, reached maturity at 8 inches tall. It has been setting fruit like crazy. I count 11 cherry tomatoes on the plant.

Tiny Tim doing its share


My Silvery Fir Tree tomato plant is producing lots of tomatoes. I pulled a few that were affected by BER and still have lots and lots left on the plant. How I wish this was an Indeterminate plant. I do love the flat nature of the fruit!

Silvery Fir Tree tomato


A couple of weeks ago, a strong gale blew through my garden and flattened the blackberry canes. It broke them actually. I left them where they fell because they were still somewhat attached. The fruit continues to form on them and to ripen.



Incredibly, there are three pepper plants surviving on the Upsy Turvy pepper planter. The planter itself seems to be doing poorly in the sun but three plants in it survived and are developing.

Not quite a success but not a complete failure

Overall, things are ok in the garden. My tomato plants don’t look perfect. There is evidence of water-stress, blossom-end rot and caterpillar damage but then I did not expect them to look perfect. I don’t spray anything on them so they fend for themselves. I am betting that if I feed them and water them, they will be strong and do fine.

My onions did not grow. They were salad onions so I did not expect bulbs but I expected them to grow bigger than they did. I pulled them and ate them this morning for breakfast.

My garlic is not growing either. It got to a point and stopped. It’s not doing anything actually. Just sitting there.

My Peas are done. I will pull them this evening when the temperatures drop a little. I already have a few tomato plants where the peas grew.

I wanted to pull my cabbage and my broccoli plants out but I decided to let them sit a while longer. I went out last evening and found no cabbage loopers on the cabbage. Where did they go? I checked the broccoli and saw none there either. Did it get too hot for them?

The cucumber plants are growing well. The lemon cucumbers have blooms now. I can’t wait to taste these round cucumbers.

My Minnesota Midget canteloupes are growing and some are begginning to hold on to the fence. I planted them on a big tub this year. I hope they fruit.


I found fruit flies around the peaches today. Sigh! I hope there are enough peaches on the tree that I get to eat some this year. I don’t want to spray the trees so I don’t know what to do. All the peaches I bagged fell. Incidentally, fruit trees drop fruit to self-thin. It’s called June Drop. Mine started dropping fruit in May so I hope it is still the same thing.

Over and Out.

Drum roll please…

Recently, Gardener on Sherlock Street gave me an award for being a versatile blogger. My part was to tell a little about me and to pass the award forward to another blogger. So I considered all the bloggers whose blogs I read. At first I only thought of gardening blogs since that is the kind of blog I read mostly. There is Our Engineered Garden whereas the blogger shares with us all the neat and cool stuff he does to grow plants. Then there is Green Roof Growers. Their middle name is versatility! I could go on and on about all the wonderful, creative gardening blogs out there. However, I read one blog that has little to do with gardening. This blog is primarily a story telling blog with music, poems, photography and more. Versatility comes to mind when you read this blog. Thus, I hereby grant the Versatile Blogger Award to Prairie Air.

Rock On!

Posted in Spring. Tags: . 1 Comment »