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.

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Wind-blown Sunday

It rained yesterday. Around 4:30 pm or so we even got tiny hail briefly. Today it was sunny most of the day but very windy. Still, it was a good day to work outside.

First I set up my 35 gallon rain barrel. I bought this rain barrel some years ago before I knew better. It was terribly expensive but it has held up well. My dog ate the hose on it several times and even began chewing on the spout. I bought a second rain barrel last year but it broke due to my negligence. By the way, Lexie ate the hose on that one too. A couple of months ago I bought a 50 gallon rain barrel at Sam’s. It was reasonably priced at about $80 American dollars. We have a rain barrel maker here in the city. I keep thinking I am going to buy a rain barrel from him but it hasn’t happened yet. I still have a spot for a third barrel so maybe later this season I will buy one from him.

Expensive 35 gallon barrel at the ready

After getting the barrel set up, I prepared a new area for plants in my yard. I planted 10 tomato plants and put a home-made sub-irrigated container for some peppers. I planted Ancho Magnifico, Jalapeno M, Sunbright, and Mini Bell. I planted 6 plants total in the container. I normally would not have planted more than 4 in a container this size but the instruction booklet that came with my upside down pepper planter claims that if you crowd pepper plants, they produce more peppers. I don’t believe that but I will try it here. By the way, all the plants in the Upsy Turvey pepper planter were killed by the high winds.

Growing room

AMATEUR’S DREAM

My Amateur’s Dream tomato plant in the cage has blooms already. It’s not even May and this plant is ready to go.  We are expecting a few nights in the low 40’s Fahrenheit (approx. 5 C) so even if the flowers are pollinated the plant may not set fruit. Again, this plant is proving to be my earliest performer.

Amateur's Dream ready to go!

BLACK BERRY…no not the phone; the plant.

While mowing, I found that the Black Berry plant has began spreading. In the blurry photo below, you are looking at a shoot from the plant about 4 feet away. I accidentally mowed another shoot that was growing about 6 feet away. My 4 year old son stepped on yet another shoot growing about 3 feet away. My neighbor’s yard is only about 10 feet away from this plant. I can see I will have to manage this!

World Conquest and Domination!

THE PILE

I’ve read in a couple of other blogs about their Piles. The Pile is basically a place where all manner of dead vegetation goes. I dug a hole and promptly filled it with dead plant matter. I have a composter but I am managing that differently and more carefully than the pile. We’ll see what comes of this.

The Pile. Where dead plants go to....mmmm...die?

POTATOES

My potatoes in bags and such are growing fast. I unfolded the bags completely and filled dirt again. I will pour dirt into them one more time in a few days and then I will wait for the harvest. My early potatoes may be ready to go by the end of May. My Kennebec potatoes will take longer.

Potatoes in the bag

TOMATO PROFILE

I began attempting to grow Brandywine tomatoes after reading the book The 64 Dollar Tomato by William Alexander. I successfully grew them last season. Although they are a bit too sweet for me I liked them well enough to grow them again. You can find black, red, and pink varieties of Brandywine tomatoes. I am growing red ones here. The plant is Indeterminate and will grow to over 6 feet tall.  It is a potato-leaf tomato and its flowers are the type that will allow for cross breeding so if you want to save seeds from this plant you may want to isolate it to make sure you get the same tomato next season. The tomatoes are large and the plant produces well.

Brandywine before it reaches for the sky