June 18, 2018

Harvest Monday, 6/17/18

I've just got a couple tiny harvests from Sunday to share.
The first cherry tomatoes. Two are from Sun Gold and the more orange one with green shoulders is from Be My Baby. None of them were very sweet because they were picked a little too soon.
Teeny tiny ground cherries. These are from fruits that developed before the seedlings were in the ground so they're extra small. They had fallen already from the plants and were protected by their papery husks. Ground cherries definitely have a crunchy texture and light savory flavor, the third one I ate was sweeter reminding me of crunchy Fuyu persimmons.
I was going to harvest kale as well, but we decided to start a 5 day fast tomorrow. Just a little fast to reboot the system. We've done lots of fasts through the years. My husband has done a straight water fast for 21 days, but at most I've only done 14 days. We've, also, done fruit smoothy fasts, and lemon juice fast as well. We usually do them in the spring to kind of clear us out after all those rich meals that people fall into during the winter/holidays.

Please join us for Harvest Monday as presented by Dave at Our Happy Acres. A wild and wonderous place where the little known vegetable gardener lurks, and where you can catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat.

June 17, 2018

Fruiting Vegetables in the Garden

A little tour of the different vegetables that are setting fruit in the garden. It's strange to think how July is only a couple weeks away. By the end of August I'm usually digging up beds and planting the fall garden.
Riesenstraube cherry tomato is a mass of blooms. It's just starting to set fruit, so is later than all the other cherries and it's a shorter plants as well.
Sweet Aperitif has set lots and lots of fruit and is a fairly tall plant having reached the top of its cage already. My packet of seed only contained 10 seeds so I'll definitely be saving seed from this variety.
Black Vernissage with its pretty striations. It has some bad reviews on Baker Creek, but texture and flavor has so much to do with climate and soil I decided to grow it out. The plants are massive and incredibly vigorous. They're a larger sized cherry, bigger than Big Cherry and Black Cherry which I've grown previous years.
Indigo Blueberry cherry, so cute with their dark shoulders. Another healthy vigorous plant that is well behaved structurally, meaning I don't have to constantly push side shoots back into the cage.
Ground cherry fruit with their adorable outer covering. Aunt Molly's and the unnamed variety have both set fruit. Ambrosia has yet to even bloom.
Pink Berkley Tie Dye is another striped tomato variety. They're pretty early for a beefsteak sized tomato. Most years they're a shorter variety that stop producing before the end of the season.
This is labeled Big Zebra but looks more like a paste variety. It's totally possible I mislabeled it. But I'm only growing Anna Russian and Orange Icicle long tomato types, neither of which I've grown before. And I think they're foliage are supposed to be much more wispy or droopy.

It makes me wonder if there are any other mislabeled plants in the garden.
Black Brandywine is a smaller plant for me this year. Maybe it's the extra hot summer we've been having.
In contrast Dark Brandywine is doing better this year. But I remember Black Brandy as having a more memorable flavor.
Jaune Flamme is setting nice long trusses of fruit. I'm very excited to try this variety.
Pink Brandywine sometimes gets yellowing leaves as a sign of magnesium deficiency in my garden. This plant is more affected than the other two of the same variety and is blooming later than the others.
Pink Brandywine is my favorite tomato, so juicy and delicious.
The fruit of the Brandywine. I just find them so adorable with their crumpled edges.
Granny Cantrell's German Red is actually a pink tomato with clear skin. Their young fruit are so pale they almost appear white.
There's something wrong with the Green Zebra plants. The side that get's full sun is dying which I've been trimming off. I've finally decided wilt is making its way through the garden. Cosmonaut Volkov is showing signs of wilt as well. The disease can be caused by either fungus or bacteria, but I'm guessing one of the fungal wilts.

I went ahead and ordered Serenade, which is an organic method of control utilizing the soil borne microorganism Bacillus subtilis.
Marianna's Peace tomato with its potato leaves is a big plant. This is another new to me variety that should have pink fruit.
Green Cherokee is a surprise. Another very large plant it's setting a lot more fruit than Purple Cherokee ever did for me. It's supposed to be one of the best tasting green tomatoes out there. I'm also growing Aunt Ruby's German Green, which is a delicious albeit late tomato so we can have a comparison.
All the cucumbers are setting fruit except for Boothby's Blonde, which also happens to be the smallest plants. I've spotted what looks like spotted cucumber beetles but they're pink/red, hopefully they're just little ladybugs.
It looks like Charentais has set a single fruit. I'm hand pollinating the melons residing in the pepper beds. I haven't seen any bees in the garden yet, not even the tiny sweat bees which usually pollinate tomato plants.

Tuscany has set 2 or 3 fruit. Look how fuzzy they are! So cute.
The peppers are finally blooming. I might try hand pollinating in the morning to see if that helps.
And I'd like to share my experiences with different tomato supports:

There's lots of different methods for growing and supporting tomato plants. I have a friend who prunes her tomatoes to one stem so as to get earlier tomatoes. Whereas, I allow side shoots or suckers to develop and fruit since we have such a long growing season. When we lived in the mountains we only grew stout determinant plants because the seasons were so short.

I've tried different methods to support tomatoes. Letting them lay on the ground is the worst in terms of production. Staking is ok for bush or determinant varieties, kind of fiddly with the tying of the stems. Florida Weave takes work especially with indeterminant or long vining types, but string is cheap. Sandwiching plants between fencing is easy to put up and easy to take down, but harvesting can be difficult if you're short.

This is the second year we've used tomato cages. It's by far my favorite support system. I have both the thin gauge and powder coated cages. Since I plant tomatoes in double rows within a bed, the thin gauge cages get tied together at the top to give them more structural stability.

June 16, 2018

Six on Saturday in the Vegetable Garden

I'm sharing six things from the garden on this lovely Saturday. Just a few vegetable related things.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator. Where gardeners all over the world share the goings on in their gardens.
1) In a shady corner of the corn patch grows a free range tomato plant. Who are its people, where did it come from? Possibly it will be a hybrid since we had tiny sweat bees pollinating tomato blooms last year.
2) Another self-sown plant is this little cucumber in the sweet potato patch. And the little plant in the bottom right hand corner is the tiniest of the tiny sweet potato slips.
3) Leaf celery. One of my triumphs after trying for years to raise a few plants from seed. Now we have a whole bed of them behind the greenhouse.
4) Asian chives. It only took two packets of seed to get 7 chive plants. But if you're counting, there are only 6 plants shown. Yes, a chive was lost to a weeding incident.
5) A ladybug amongst the bush bean blooms? I think not. More likely the dreaded spotted cucumber beetle.
6) And last but not least. I wanted to show the first ripening tomato. This variety is Sun Gold (F1) a cherry type.

June 14, 2018

The Weedy Garden in June

We planted the garden about a month ago, so I wanted to give a little tour of what's been going on.

It's been a fairly hot summer already with temperatures in the 90's since the end of May. Certain varieties are adversely affected by the unrelenting heat. A few tomato plants that did really well last year are half the size this year, and they're setting less fruit. Namely Cosmonaut Volkov, Peron, Coustralee, Black Krim, and Black Brandywine.
Caged tomato plants. The front row are all cherry tomatoes.
Sweet potato bed. The Purple on the left are spaced maybe 3 feet apart, whereas the unknown orange type (likely Beauregard) are spaced about 1.5 feet apart. Some of the slips I grew of the orange are ultra tiny so I figure they probably won't make it.
The kale are doing surprisingly well. They're in the shadiest part of the garden so that is likely helping. There's a Portuguese kale and a Nero de Toscana kale.
The Asian chives are still alive, although one accidently got weeded. But the shallots are all dead. It was during the time we got 4 inches of rain and then it immediately went to 98 degrees for a few days (36.7 Celsius). I think they actually got steamed to death.
The lemon basil is loving the heat. To the left of them is a row of ground cherries, being next to the lawn is probably hard on them. The ground cherries planted in the tomato beds are easily 2-3 times bigger.
Siam Queen basil is doing really well. They're surprisingly bushy without having to pinch off the main growing tip.
It's really nice to have parsley around to use, but at the bottom of the pic are a couple of leaf celery plants which I expected to get a lot taller. It would be a bummer if they stayed this small with tiny stringy stems.
I'm experimenting with caging Aunt Molly's and the unnamed ground cherry. They really want to flop on the ground, but I keep forcing them into the cage as the stems get long enough. 
Most of the cucumbers have reached the top of their cages and they're just starting to set fruit. There are few bees out and about, so I hand pollinate these along with melons.
And a very weedy patch of Morado corn, it's about waist high. A few of the plants were knocked down by heavy rain, hilling up soil around the stems seems to be helping with that.

Mostly sweet pepper patch with melons planted in the center. They've just started to bloom but peppers have a hard time setting fruit when nighttime temperatures are high.
I actually weeded the Buhl corn today and I managed not to pull or step on any of them. They seem to be forming quite a bit of tillers even when the plants are small.
Can you see the leeks amongst the weedy grass? I weeded half the onion patch a couple of weeks ago and half the onion plants died. It's made me nervous about weeding the leeks and the rest of the onions.
The bush beans are blooming. Hooray! Snap beans, here we come!
The potatoes in pots had yellowing leaves, so I trimmed them up and fed them. But something is still going on with this pot. They haven't bloomed or anything so I don't think they're close to being harvestable. This was just from a mix of red and yellow seed potatoes.
The Adirondack Blue potatoes are doing much better after being fed. No more yellowing leaves or anything.
The Blues are even blooming, hopefully they're actually making potatoes.
The plan is to weed the Morado corn tomorrow after work, and then weed the leeks and onions this weekend. I'll have to spend a lot of time with the leek patch so they don't get accidently get pulled along with the weeds.

I'm having a really hard time getting New Zealand spinach to germinate indoors. I might try using the area that used to house shallots as a seedling bed.

Thank goodness it rained a few days ago. I was hand watering sections of the garden in the morning before work and other parts after work. Which is part of the reason I'm so behind in weeding.

I'll be sharing pics of fruiting vegetables soon. I won't be getting big tomatoes at the end of June like last year, mid July more like.

May 21, 2018

May Garden Update

We finally started planting the garden last week, with the long winter and wet spring it ended up being later than even last year. The tomato plants have been in the ground less than a week but they've put on tons of growth.
The Indigo Blueberries tomato plant has interestingly dark stems. It's been raining every other day with bright sunny days in between and the plants seem to be settling in even with temps around 88 degrees (31 degrees Celsius).
There are two pepper beds mainly planted with sweet peppers except for a few Gigantia Jalapenos and Pablanos.
In the pepper beds are a few melon plants of True Charentais and Tuscany. I couldn't get Ginkaku or Green Nutmeg to germinate, but I'll try again indoors where it isn't as hot as the greenhouse.
The leeks are enjoying being in the ground, but the onions in the bed on the left are still recovering. I started the onion seeds in February so they've been waiting a long time to get planted out.
Cutting celery or leaf celery was planted behind the greenhouse. It's a darker wetter spot which I thought would be a good place for them. Better than growing weeds.
I was only able to get 6 Matador shallot seeds to germinate and live on. Pretty funny, I don't know what I'm going to do with just 6 shallots.
And shockingly enough, 7 Asian leeks/chives are still alive. They're so tiny you can hardly see them in the photo.
There are two leaf celery plants on the right and the rest is Gigante d'Italia Parsley. We have a bed specifically for annual herbs this year. The basil still needs to be planted and I'm having a hard time getting the shisho/perilla to germinate.
Portuguese Cavolo Laciniato kale and Nero de Toscana kale. With the hot weather coming I don't know how long these will last. They'll probably get replaced with New Zealand spinach, amaranth, and chard.
And the bush beans are up in just 5 days. Fresh garden green beans are a favorite in our household.
And both varieties of corn are also up. The Morado/Kulli corn is a 100 day sweet corn and grows around 8-12 feet tall supposedly. But Buhl is supposed to be a 75 day sweet corn, so hopefully I'll be able to save seed from both varieties without danger of crosspollination.

It took 2 days to plant the garden with temps well in the 90s and high humidity.

I still need to seed zucchini, summer squash, pole beans, amaranth, and Brussels sprouts, and then reseed New Zealand spinach and perilla. We had such a late winter, it's odd to think it's almost summer.

I hope everyone's spring is warming up nicely and it's not raining too much wherever you're located. I'm really hoping it'll be a fun and fruitful gardening year.