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:

TOMATOES

  • 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.

FAILURES

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

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.

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Free seeds!

Kelly from Populuxe.ca 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: http://theseedbank.net.

Thank you Kelly!!!

Free seeds from http://www.populuxe.ca

Posted in Summer. Tags: . 4 Comments »

Here we are

TOMATOES

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

POTATOES

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

PEPPERS

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.

CUCUMBERS

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.

MELONS

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

FLOWERS

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.

Pretty

WHAT I KNOW

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:

CUCUMBERS

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

Coming soon to a salad near you!

PEPPERS

Oh Pepper, how do I love thee!

TOMATOES

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:

MY BOYS

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

WORLD CUP

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.

Lessons learned

With Summer well upon us, I find myself with precious little time to blog. This deficiency however, does not mean that things are quiet in the garden. Oh no! Early June brought a list of bad news and new lessons to this semi-novice grower of plants.

First, the garden I had planned and the garden that came into being are two very different enterprises. The advent of my new dog forced me to change my plans midstream and to direct my efforts to mostly futile attempts to keep my puppy from destroying all growing things.
With that said, I allowed grass to grow in my onion and garlic bed which caused poor ventilation conditions. I believe this is the reason why my onions developed what I believe to be Fusarium Basal Rot. I should have taken pictures but I did not so all I can do is describe what happened to my onions. All the onions with the exposed tops appeared to have been eaten from outside in leaving hollow bulbs for me to harvest.

I will blame the grass for competing with the garlic for moisture which resulted in very small garlic bulbs.

The last thing that happened to my onions and garlic was an unintended assault by my puppy Lexie. In her efforts to get a squirrel inside the fenced area, she ran at bullet speed (witnessed by my stay-at-home neighbor)and jumped the fence landing squarely on the garlic and onions, leaving a definite dog-shaped crater in the middle of it.

So I find myself planning next year’s vegetable operation already while I harvest peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash, and cucumbers.

Oh, and the weather has been hot and humid leading to blight on a couple of my tomatoes (not my hanging tomatoes which are healthy as a horse though a bit small)

I hope to return to blogging regularly with pictures.

Over and out.