Gardening Archive

Garden planning

Posted January 11, 2019 By Ruth

Last year, knowing I had surgery coming, I bought most of my seeds way in advance, and I got a fair bit of the location planning done early.  This year I’m way behind, having only just ordered seeds.

There was one breed of hot peppers I’d wanted to try last year, but none of my regular sources carried them.  I was able to find them elsewhere, but was reluctant to pay yet another shipping charge, plus I realized I was already going to have a full garden.  This year I have ordered a few different varieties of Capsicum pubescens peppers to try.  Sometimes called Manzano or Rocoto peppers, they have black seeds, tend to be thicker walled, and are more cold tolerant than pretty much every other type of pepper.  I have five varieties arriving to try this year.

I’m also going to try more varieties of melon again this year.  There are several smaller, short season, varieties that keep catching my eye in the seed catalogs, so I’m going to try some new ones again this year.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to grow cucumbers this year or not, might come down to what I have for space.

Lots of tomatoes again though.

I’d been thinking on growing celery from the root of a store purchased bunch, but while scanning seed catalogs I discovered that there are pink/red celery varieties.  So now I’m going to grow celery from seeds, cause its pink!  (Have I mentioned seed catalogs are evil?!)

I also couldn’t resist the Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds.

In other news, I spent way to much on seeds this year…..

I also have a head start on a more permanent greenhouse.  My employer received several new fixtures in a 6’x6’x6′ wooden crate.  After several other employees asked what the plans were for the crate my employer decided to raffle it off (funds from the raffle went to the employee fun fund).  And I somehow won the thing.  I sealed it with deck sealer, since it isn’t made of pressure treated or other weather resistant wood.  Now I just have to cut out windows, buy clear corrugated roofing panels to cover it with, figure out how to move it to where in the yard I want it, cut a proper door (one whole side swings open, which is cool, but not great for heat retention), get it set up……probably not happening in time for this spring, but hopefully next year!

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Despite the funky growing season that screwed with every single pepper plant I grew (even the jalapenos that I always grow didn’t do nearly as well as usual), my one surviving Datil produced a huge number of pods, and is by far the largest and healthiest of all of the pepper plants I grew.  Its trunk is as thick as several of my fingers put together, and while its not TALL, its huge in comparison to every other pepper in the garden this year.  The peppers are easily habanero hot, but Husband likes them.

However it is also, by far, the most temperature sensitive pepper I’ve grown.  I had to shade it from the sun!  Admittedly we had a hotter than normal summer, but “hotter than normal” for us barely hits “normal” for Florida.  And yet I lost two plants to the heat before I realized I needed to shade them.  Not one other pepper plant I’ve grown, this summer or previous, has had that problem.  And now that the fall temps are dropping, its wilting in the cold long before any other pepper plant.  We’ve not had a frost yet, though we had one night dip down to 40(F).  Every other pepper plant out there is still going strong.  And the Datil is showing what sure looks like frost damage!  I’ve got it covered in frost cloth in hopes of keeping it going long enough for the rest of the pods to ripen.

I’m debating digging it up and attempting to to over-winter it in a pot so as to give it a headstart for next year.  We’ll have to see how it goes I guess.

Peter Pepper

Posted October 6, 2018 By Ruth

Pictures below the fold, so that some poor person who’s viewing this at work doesn’t get in trouble…..

Read the remainder of this entry »

Peppers

Posted September 24, 2018 By Ruth

A bowl full of ripe peppers (thats a fully ripe Corbaci on top):

 

And my first Florida Datils:

Garden update

Posted September 21, 2018 By Ruth

Now that I’ve had my whine for the day…..

The garden is winding down.

Tomatoes are done, a few green ones left to ripen, but essentially done.  Which is to bad because about half the plants are trying to stage a comeback.  But the chances of the weather holding long enough for the new growth to produce is essentially nil.

The peppers took the hint give them by the cold snap and a fair number of green peppers are starting to show color.  Cross your fingers!

This is a Corbaci pepper.  If I could stretch it out flat it would measure a solid foot long.  They’re a sweet pepper, with only the barest tingle of heat right in the center.  And I say that as someone who doesn’t tolerate hot peppers, I grow them for Husband, not me!  These plants aren’t very big, but they’re all loaded down hard with peppers like this.  Husband and I both liked this one, I expect I’ll grow it next year.  I’ll have to remember to give them some support though.  One of the little locally owned hardware stores had some 2′ tall, fairly narrow, tomato cages for sale when I was in there a couple weeks ago, I might swing through and see if they still have them.  All of the other sweet peppers I planted this year are among the “very late to ripen” group.  So we’ll see if any of them turn out.

The giant cucumbers turned out to make stellar pickles.  That very firm texture translates to a very nice crisp pickle.  Husband is delighted.  So I ransacked the plant for the remaining cucumbers and did up another batch of pickles this afternoon.  Now I’ll have to decide if I actually want to grow them again.  If I do I’ll need to remember that they need a proper trellis.  They produce HUGE vines!

Garden update, and notes to self

Posted September 6, 2018 By Ruth

Thats one day’s harvest, over this past week.  Admittedly I’d not managed to get out to the garden in a couple days, but still.

Notes to self

Tomatoes.

I keep trying other varieties of tomatoes.  I need to just stop that and stick to my Black Plums and maybe the Black Icicles.    Nothing wrong with any of the other varieties I’ve tried but we keep going back to the Black Plums.

But if anyone’s looking for a good container tomato, you might try the Black Japanese Trifele Tomatoes.  1: potato leaf, very cool looking 2: they stayed much more compact than any of the other varieties so far 3: they also appear to be less affected by whatever blight or fungus or whatever it is that’s affecting the rest of the tomatoes this year.

The Bill Beans are a nice slicing tomato, but they’re so big, and take so long to ripen, that they tend to end up buggy.

Peppers.

Several of the new varieties I grew this year apparently need support.  Corbaci are falling over hard, as are the Shepherds Ramshorns.  Both paprikas are also falling hard.  The only thing keeping the cayenne’s reasonably upright is that they’re planted in one of the stock tanks.  All just from the weight of the peppers on the plants.  Meanwhile the Sugar Rush are having no issues despite the large number of peppers there.  If I grow any of these varieties next year I’ll need to remember to find a way to help support the plants.

Also, the Shepherds Ramshorns are barely producing, and the plants aren’t very big, that MIGHT be the fact that they’re behind the giant cucumber though.

Bishops Crown isn’t producing at all, though the plants look good otherwise.

Fish Peppers look ok.

Super Nova’s are iffy, plants don’t look bad, but they don’t look great, and there’s only a couple peppers there.

Datils and Peter Peppers both had a harder start, but look awesome now and have a ton of peppers on the plants.

Corbaci plants aren’t huge, but they’re covered in peppers.

The Hungarian Hot Wax peppers came back practically from dead, and now look awesome, now to see if the weather will hold on long enough for them to ripen.

Carrots suck this year, they’re all tiny.

Did I mention I was growing giant cucumbers?

Posted August 19, 2018 By Ruth

Last weekend I made dill pickle spears out of two giant cucumbers:

These two cucumbers made 6 pints of spears!

Then this week I picked these four cucumbers:

Maybe a quart of fridge pickles…..

I’ve been giving them away too, not to mention that I also grew my usual Mini White cucumbers, which I’ve also been giving away at least a few of, as well as eating.

I will probly stick to my usual Mini White cucumbers from here on out, but these are fun at least.

In other news, I made a batch of tomato sauce yesterday.  I realized that I never actually take a photo of the final sauce, and I ought to, since black tomatoes produce a much darker sauce that folks expect:

I love the flavor of these tomatoes though.

More garden

Posted August 18, 2018 By Ruth

Not an entirely happy garden year for me.  First the screwy issues with some of the peppers.  Now more of the peppers have some nasty leaf spotting, which kinda looks like bacterial leaf spot, but not quite.  And now a bunch of my tomatoes almost look like they’ve blighted.  But not quite like they’ve blighted (late blight always affects the fruit too, and the fruit are universally unaffected here).  Ugh.  Broke down and bought a copper fungicide to treat with later today.  The blights, and most similar type problems, are fungal, as are many of the bacterial leaf spot look-alikes.  Plus we went from DRY DRY DRY to WET WET WET, which makes a fungal problem even more likely.  Here’s hoping I can save the rest of the tomato crop at least.

I picked this Cayenne pepper the other day:

Or maybe that should read “peppers”??

An amusing harvest from my Sugar Rush plants:

We were given a Sugar Rush Cream pepper last year, husband liked it so I had him save several of the seeds.  I also bought Sugar Rush Cream seeds, just to be safe.  But I ended up with two plants from the saved seeds.  What you see here is one pepper from each plant.  The rounder one is fairly typical Sugar Rush Cream.  The longer one is typical Sugar Rush Peach, the variety that the Creams were bred from.  I was amused.

 

Ripening paprika peppers:

Fish peppers:

 

Unhappy tomatoes:

 

Less than happy pepper plants:

 

 

Surprisingly happy Hungarian Hot Wax peppers:

Corbaci peppers:

 

Cayenne peppers:

 

My hibiscus plants:

 

We also took down the dead pine in the front yard.  Part of me hates having done so, the birds loved it.  But it was perfectly positioned to take down the power lines to the house if it ever went over.  Infact we were shocked that it DIDN’T go over this past spring, with all the high wind storms we had!

 

In other news, I figured out how to tell when the pears are ripe…..

Garden update

Posted August 3, 2018 By Ruth

We got the first Gagon Cucumber this week:

It measured 12″ exactly, from tip to tip, and weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces.  I don’t think it’s technically quite ripe, but I was tying up the vines to give them more support and it broke off the vine.  So.  Definitely on the tough side, however it is by far the most aromatic cucumber I have ever cut into.  Husband was taking the dogs out as I cut it up, and he walked in the front door and asked what I had been cutting up “because I can smell cucumbers all the way up here!”.  I’m thinking it would make awesome infused water for anyone so inclined.

A picture of the tied up cucumber vines:

They’re basically as tall as me, and most of them have stretched back down to the ground again.

Today’s garden harvest:

the first zucchini of the year, a few Mini White Cucumbers, a nice load of tomatoes, and that big yellow thing is a less ripe Gagon cucumber.  You can’t see it in the photo, but the stem end has only JUST started to turn the pink-brown and scaly of the ripe ones.  This is just as aromatic as the first one, and is just as big, but has much more edible flesh.  It’s still a very firm crisp cucumber, but not to the point of being tough.  I’m thinking these’ll make some awesome dill pickle spears.

A few hot peppers have been dribbling in, but most of the plants are loaded, so at whatever point they hit I’m going to be buried.  The Snow leopard melons are doing well, but it’ll be a bit still before they’re ripe.

I MAY (cross fingers knock on wood) have managed to defeat, or avoid, or something, the bug that was chewing holes in the various sweet/less hot peppers previous years.  So far only one paprika pepper and two jalapenos have had to be tossed for holes.  I’m not holding my breath till I have ripe peppers in my hands, but so far so good!

So, when planning and planting my garden I mostly try to stick to things that I know we’ll eat.  But I also believe in trying new things on occasion, and so when the seed catalogs arrive every year I sit down with a couple different color highlighters and start marking off the seeds I NEED and the seeds that look cool and the seeds I want.  And I try to pick at least one or two from the latter two categories to try every year.

For this year’s garden the one really weird thing I ended up trying was Gagon Cucumbers.  They’re cool looking!  I skimmed the description, made sure that they had at least a chance of growing well in my screwed up climate (” thrives in cool northern climates, but also stands up to intense heat and humidity” sweet!  It has a chance!), and didn’t look much closer.

I took THIS picture on 7/18:

It was maybe 5-6″ long, looking good!

Today I took a few minutes before work to walk the garden, and decided to check on the baby Gagon cucumber while I was at it…..

Holy……Its  now a good foot in length, and still not yet fully ripe.  It weighs several pounds at least.

I went back to the seed link and took a closer look at the description “up to 20” long”……ooops, and there’s several more forming on the vines!

So um, I guess I have cucumbers this year!

I also found these:

Which are my first ripe Black Vernissage Tomatoes.  I haven’t had a chance to eat one yet, maybe after work.