April 10, 2017

Garden Tilled and a Greenhouse

Friday was spent weeding the entire garden and then afterwards my husband tilled. We're still planning to amend the soil with composted rabbit manure and rock dust which will also be tilled into the garden.

He finished putting up the greenhouse a week ago, and of course I immediately moved all the seedlings out there. It might actually be a little too warm for the cool weather crops, on 70 degree days it can reach almost 90 in there if I forget to open the windows.

 Some cool weather seedlings like kohlrabi, spinach, mizuna, tatsoi, leeks, and bulb fennel.

Tomatoes galore got potted up into individual containers and quickly moved into the greenhouse along with peppers.

 Some Jalafuego chili peppers seedlings.


 In the foreground are 3 eggplant seedlings with their spoon shaped true leaves.

And of course the tomatoes are basking in the added warmth.

Tomato and Pepper Varieties

Tomato seedlings needing to get potted up into individual containers, or else there will be dire consequences. The flowers planted in the same tray are taking forever to come up.

Pepper seedlings were started weeks before the tomatoes but of course they took ages to come up and as always they are much slower growing.

I had a lot of old tomato seeds which are planted just to see if they are still viable. I've already made a list of the number of each variety I'm planning to grow this year, so there's going to be lots of extra seedlings. (Usually half the plants are lost to bird activity.) Most of the tomato varieties are known for their flavor rather than their ability to produce. Luckily we usually have the perfect weather to grow Brandywine, so that sometimes makes up for it.

List of hot peppers that have germinated:
Early jalapeno
Hungarian Hot Wax
Jalafuego
Numex Big Jim
Numex Joe E. Parker
Santa Fe Grande
Aji Lemon

The only peppers that didn't germinate are Serrano and Anaheim.

List of tomatoes that have germinated:
Fat Cherry
Black Cherry
Sun Gold Cherry
Amish Paste
Ananas Noire
Aunt Ruby's German Green
Big Rainbow
Big Zebra
Black from Tula
Black Krim
Black Prince
Black Brandywine
Dark Brandywine
Pink Brandywine
Yellow Brandywine
Celebrity hybrid
Cherokee Purple
Chocolate Stripes
Cosmonaut Volkov
Coustralee
Golden King of Siberia
Goldie
Granny Cantrell
Hillbilly Flame
Jubilee
Kelloggs Breakfast
Lilac Giant
Manyel
Mexico
Orange Icicle
Pantano Romensco
Paul Robeson
Peron
Pilcer Vesy
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Red Pear
San Marzano Redorta
Taxi

The tomatoes that haven't germinated are Djena Lee's Golden Girl and Pruden's Purple. These are some of my oldest tomato seeds so there's no surprise with the lack of germination.

Pink Brandywine is my favorite tomato, on good years the flavor is outstanding and production heavy. I've only had one good year with Cherokee Purple whose flavor is excellent, most times they split terribly and rot in our sweltering humidity but I'm going to give it another go. Friends who regularly grow Cherokee Purple say they are much more consistent in raised beds.

Tomatoes usually get potted up twice. They go from seed starter tray to little Styrofoam cups, then onwards to quart-sized yogurt containers. Yes, we eat a lot of yogurt. Out in the garden, tomatoes and peppers get crushed eggshells and used coffee grounds in their planting holes.

This year I'm keeping rock dust and beneficial nematodes to my lineup for soil amendment as well as adding garden inoculant for beans and peas. So we shall see, what we shall see.

Peppers Sprouted

At the end of February I started a few vegetable seeds in the basement next to the furnace and water heater. On sunny warmish days the seed tray goes outside to soak up some sun. But alas, birds found the tray and pulled up a few just emerging sprouts.

It took almost 3 weeks for the first peppers to germinate. Early Jalapeno, Numex Big Jim, Jalafuego, Joe E. Parker, Lemon Drop, Santa Fe Grande, and Hungarian Hot Wax have all germinated. Neither Serrano and Anaheim chili peppers never did come up even with heavy reseeding .

The little pepper seedlings were potted up into individual Styrofoam containers. I'm a bit worried about the peppers that haven't emerged, Serrano and Anaheim are great peppers for salsa. It's definitely getting late in the seed starting season.

Back in March my husband came home with a couple of quart jars of salsa he found in the shop. Both jars were from the 2013 growing season. That was just a fantastic year for our homemade salsa, it's like eating bottles of sunshine.

Hopefully this year will be a good for tomatoes and peppers, so we can do some serious canning.

March 11, 2017

This Year's Garden Plan, version 2017

The garden runs about 30 feet by 40 feet. Beds will be between 3-5 feet wide by 30 feet long. I'm being good this year and trying to rotate the plant locations with bed #1 being closest to the house.

Zucchini and summer squash plants might get big and ungainly but they'll keep the winter squash from encroaching on the bush bean bed. And once the bush beans have run their course, it'll become a melon bed.

Gardening in our neck of the woods depends on the spring rains, whether the soil ever dries out enough to allow tilling. And peppers have to be planted out early enough so they can set fruit before high nighttime temperatures sterilizes the pollen.

Last year was a disaster with the squirrel population playing havoc with the tomatoes, but it looks like hawks had moved in and cleaned them out. There hasn't been a single squirrel sighted all winter.

The 3 beds of tomatoes are probably overkill but it's insurance after last year. I'm hoping to put up lots of salsa, tomato soup, and tomatoes this year.

I actually just purchased some short tomato cages from a friend which will get used on the bushy determinate tomato plants and cucumbers. And later they can be used in the fall for short pea vines.

Bed 1:
Okra, cucumbers, pole beans

Bed 2:
Hot peppers and melons

Bed 3:
Tomatoes

Bed 4:
Tomatoes

Bed 5:
Tomatoes

Bed 6:
Bush beans, then melons

Bed 7:
Summer squash and zucchini

Bed 8:
Winter squash

February 19, 2017

This Year's Garden

I'm doing a little garden this year after all. My husband thinks we have time, painting the house shouldn't take all summer. Hopefully.

The garden will be small with just a few tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, snap beans, cucumbers, melons, and winter squash. Just the usual suspects, instead of my elaborate trials of newness.

We didn't have a winter this year. No snow to speak of, and just a few frosty windshields in the early morning. We're getting a string of days in the 70's next week, and then March and spring is just around the corner. A friend of mine is on her 3rd cutting of spinach already, she's been feeding the extra to her rabbits.

But for ourselves, we're still waiting for the ground to dry up to get the tilling done.