May 30, 2015

Losing the Flea Beetle War

Ping Tung eggplant
Aswad eggplant
Ugh, how I hate flea beetles. I've sprayed with Spinosad and dusted with diatomaceous earth. The eggplants are still suffering. The Spinosad label says it needs 12-24 hours without rain after applying. We haven't had a full 24 hours without rain in awhile.

The bigger Aswad eggplants aren't doing as badly as the others. I'm going to try dusting with diatomaceous earth and then putting clear cups over the smaller plants, maybe give them a reprieve against the voracious little bugs. But really the flea beetles are everywhere.

May 29, 2015

On New Beginnings

 Cucumber seedling with its silky smooth cotyledon leaves.
Bittermelon with its bright chartreuse leaves and stems.
 The cotyledon leaves are ginormous on the Extra Long loofa.
The pole beans are up! These are yard long beans also known as asparagus beans.

I love seeing newly emerging seedlings rising up out of the soil. It reminds me how there are things going on under the surface. Like the life and death struggles that happens beneath the beautiful blue ocean waves.

May 28, 2015

About the New Garden

I’ve mentioned my new garden space. It’s actually at our new but very old house. My partner has been working diligently to make it move-in ready. So I’ve been visiting the garden a couple hours two days a week when time permits. With a baby, only one of us can be working at the new old house at a time and his remodeling takes precedence over the gardening bit. So this has definitely curtailed the amount of blogging I can do since there’s not much garden blogging material to work with. No time for pictures. I mostly run over there to weed and plant and there’s actually very little weeding going on.

My husband is doing a big push to finish the bathroom by the end of the weekend. But whether he’s finished or not. We are moving in.

The squirrels in the new neighborhood are incredibly fat. Incredibly fat. A neighbor calls them killer squirrels. She said they destroyed every one of her roma tomatoes, she didn’t get a single one from her plants. They would take one bite out of every green tomato. I’m hoping the tomato fencing will help to keep the squirrels out. The growth gets pretty dense inside the fencing, so hopefully they’ll have problems getting in there and maneuvering around.

May 27, 2015

Asparagus and Artichokes Planted Out in the Garden

The asparagus and artichokes were looking very yellow after all the rain washed the nutrients out of their six pack cells. But after being planted out in the garden for a few days they are looking pretty good. The yellow color is fading quickly away. Just 2 more years and we can start harvesting asparagus. There’s 46 asparagus plants of the Mary Washington and Percoce d’Aregenteuil variety and the artichokes are Purple of Romagna. Perhaps you can see the bean plants here and there sharing the asparagus and artichoke bed along with the weeds, it’s a very weak stand of Pink Eye Purple Hull Peas which are a kind of cowpea or summer pea. We couldn’t plant them at the front of the house because there’s work on the foundation that has to be done. This winter when they go into hibernation the asparagus and artichokes will get moved to their permanent bed.

There was a baseball pitcher’s mound in the middle of my new garden space. When my husband cut back the 30-something trees in our tiny backyard he found a strange mound in the middle of the yard. Dug down and it was pure sand and on the other side of the yard a baseball home plate was found underneath a giant rotted deck. After being distributed around, the sand was tilled in along with the composted rabbit manure.

I think the bush bean bed germinated poorly because of planting too deep. The soil around here tends to very heavy clay and it’s better to plant the beans only ½ inch to ¼ inch deep depending how big the seeds are. It’s just impossible for the beans to drag their big fat cotyledon first leaves through the sticky mucky soil, and if they’re underground to long they end up rotting when there’s lots of rain. The soil was deceptively crumbly in the middle of the garden because of all that sand and I planted the bean seed deeper than normal since the soil was so easy to work. I’ve decided the Brussels sprouts will take up residence in the bush green bean bed since it’s so sparsely populated anyways. At least the pole beans are up and running!

May 26, 2015

Tomato and Variety Update

Cherokee Purple tomato. I love the hairy stems and flowers, so interesting.
These might be Jersey Giant blossoms
Yoder's German Yellow cascade of tomato flowers
Brandywine tomato blossom 
Might this be a Pruden's Purple tomato plant with its potato leaves?
The potato leaves of Pink Brandywine are so different than regular tomato leaves.
It looks like a Pruden’s Purple tomato plant may have sprouted in a pot that was already growing asparagus. Along with Pink Brandywine it is the only other potato leaved variety that I grew and the leaves are tinged a pretty purplish black along the margins. That means I have all 25 varieties of tomatoes planted in the garden. And now I can do a true taste comparison between them. They should be all open pollinated heirlooms except for the cherry tomato. A lot of these tomatoes I grew in 2013 but by the end of summer I was too pregnant to bend over the tomato fencing to get at them. And my husband is fast and furious when it comes to picking vegetables, so there was no keeping track of varieties.

We're planning on making lots of tomato sauce this year but it looks like Jersey Giant is the only paste tomato, I must have gotten San Marzano Lungo No. 2 mixed up with Ingegnoli Gigante Liscio.

The 6 black tomatoes we are trialing:
Black from Tula
Black Krim
Cherokee Purple
Paul Robeson
Pruden’s Purple
Purple Calabash

Green tomatoes:
Big Zebra
Aunt Ruby’s German Green

Yellow/orange tomatoes:
Djena Lee’s Golden Girl
Golden King of Siberia
Kellogg’s Breakfast
Pilcer Vesy
Yoder’s German Yellow – from a gardening buddy

Multi-colored tomatoes:
Ananas Noire
Big Rainbow
Hillbilly Flame
Pink Berkley Tie-Dye

Pink tomatoes:
Pink Brandywine
Granny Cantrell

Red tomatoes:
Costoluto Genovese
Ingegnoli Gigante Liscio
Jersey Giant paste tomato
Pantano Romensco
Red Brandywine

And one cherry tomato:
Red Grape F1 hybrid

All the tomato plants have flowers on them except for little Pruden’s Purple, and even a few have opened up and blossomed like Cherokee Purple, Yoder’s German Yellow, and both Pink and Red Brandywines. It is just about time to get their trellises up.

And I noticed something wonderful today, the peppers are just starting to form flowers. Summer really is just around the corner.

May 19, 2015

Unending Rain

 A few rows of bush beans are up, but there's spotty germination and limas on the right are missing.
 Those dull black specks are flea beetles. Some of the eggplants are completely shredded.
On the far end of the broccoli bed dog prints have been found and leaves broken off. 

So much rain. Unending days of rain. The ground is a soggy mess. I haven't been able to do much of anything in the garden except tiptoe around the edges and snap a few pictures. At least the bush green beans are up. Although the germination was very very spotty in some rows and nonexistent when it comes to the lima beans.

It actually started raining while I was out seeding the last bed on May 15th with cucumbers, bitter melon, luffa, Delicata squash, and melons. The pole beans will just have to be planted at a later date, and I couldn't find the seed packet for the Papaya squash. Ah well. Eventually the bed will get trellised.

Hardly any of the Pinkeye Purple Hull summer peas have emerged, so I will probably be replanting the bed with some fast growing gai lan and some yu choy. Once the gai lan and yu choy are finished the bed will be planted in Brussels sprouts.

The Catskills and Brawny Brussels sprouts seed packets say 90 days to maturation, which sounds crazy to me. Doesn't it take like 5 months or more to get Brussels sprouts?

Flea beetles are everywhere. They're decimating the eggplants, the smaller plants now have leaves that are see-through. And they've started eating the tomato plants. The rain means I can't keep the plants dusted with diatomaceous earth, so I'll probably have to figure something else out.

May 18, 2015

Tomato Blossoms in May

Just about all the tomato plants have flowers. The plants are looking healthy and robust even with flea beetle damage. I had been keeping the eggplants dusted with diatomaceous earth but it looks like the flea beetles have started to include tomato plants in their diet.
 Costoluto Genovese flowering, lower leaves have holes from flea beetles.
 Jersey Giant tomato blossoms.
 Tomatoes settling in after being planted out May 7th.

Only two tomato plants are without blossoms, one Jubilee plant that had been attacked by birds and a Hillbilly Flame plant that was just planted on Friday, May 15th. We just might be eating ripe tomatoes by the end of June or beginning of July.

Eventually the tomato plants will be supported by being sandwiched between rows of fencing. Supported plants usually produce more tomatoes than those allowed to sprawl on the ground. The beds are 3 feet apart with rows 2 feet apart and 1.5 feet between plants within a row.

May 13, 2015

Garden Tilled, Go!

50 tomato plants out of 23 varieties were planted in three rows, the Prudens Purple plant perished in a terrible accident. Plants were seeded just 42 days prior.

A row of tomatoes sharing a bed with 15 eggplants. Eggplants take a couple weeks to germinate but they size up quickly once they get their true leaves.

Sweet peppers and the mildly hot Poblano pepper.

Di Cicco, Waltham, and Summer Purple broccoli. Di Cicco are the smallest plants of the three varieties. Leeks will be sharing the broccoli bed.

In the middle are 3 beds seeded with bush green beans, bush limas, Purple Hull Pinkeye summer peas, and summer squash.
The empty bed next to the tomatoes will have a trellis for cucumbers, pole beans, luffa, bitter melon, Delicata squash, and Papaya squash.

The garden is finally tilled on May 4th! Yayyyyy! And now the planting and watching things grow.

A few people raise rabbits around here, so rabbit manure is available for free if you shovel it yourself or $5 per 50 pound bag. And our city provides mulch for $5 a truckload and compost for $15 a truckload. A truckload ranges between 1000-2000 pounds depending on who is working the front end loader, but they're usually a bit more generous with the more expensive compost.

The new garden space was amended with 500 pounds of composted rabbit poop, and it will be mulched with 2000 pounds of compost.

On May 7th the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers were planted out. And then on May 8th the broccoli was planted out, and the bush beans and Pinkeye Purple Hull peas and summer squash were seeded. It started raining while I was planting the broccoli bed and then proceeded to rain for 3 days. Hopefully the beans don't end up rotting in the ground.

The leeks still need to be planted in the broccoli bed, and the last bed still needs to be trellised and seeded. Then the whole garden can be mulched. The flea beetles are already starting to decimate the eggplant leaves, so I dusted them with food grade diatomaceous earth since it's going to be dry the next few days.

We were going to till and plant the old garden space, but there's just too many other things going on. There won't be a big stand of corn, and no winter squash or melons. And I ended up giving away a few dozen plants to coworkers and friends.