2016 garden Archive

Garden update

Posted July 25, 2016 By Ruth

The garden is coming along nicely for the most part.

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The first White Cherry Tomatoes

 

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The first of the Blue Berries Tomatoes

 

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More cucumbers, two Black Icicle tomatoes and a Buena Mulata pepper

The various melons are ripening.  I did staggered plantings of the watermelons and cantaloupe this year in an attempt to keep from being overwhelmed with fruit all at once.  We’ll see how that actually works.

Anyone know anything about the Golden Crispy Melon?  I got a packet of freebie seeds, and went ahead and planted them, but I can’t find alot of info on them, including how to tell when they’re ripe!

Something appears to be killing off my carrots.

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Not sure if its a watering issue or what.  I guess I’ll go pick some carrots and see what I’ve got.

Overall though the garden is doing quite well!

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In other news, I sold this Saturday at work:

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I can’t decide if I ought to praise the guy for planning ahead.  Or if I ought to be pissed at him for reminding me winter is coming!

Anyone know what this flower is?

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It looks REALLY familiar, like I ought to recognize it.  But nothing’s jumping at me.

Garden Update

Posted July 19, 2016 By Ruth

Blue Berries tomatoes are ripening

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Black Icicles are getting there too, plus the tallest one just topped the 7foot tall cages:

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There’s at least two more that’ll definitely make the 7foot mark, and a couple more that may or may not.

 

Sugar Baby Watermelon:

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Cantaloupe:

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Melon Pear fruit:

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Note-I didn’t realize till it was to late, but quite a few places recommend caging these plants, like tomatoes, and for much the same reason.  The weight of the fruit flattens the plants out.  Something to keep in mind if we decide to grow them again.

 

Paprika peppers:

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I’ve pulled two zucchini out of the garden, and made a batch of zucchini bread, just cause.

Oh, and this is Friday’s cucumber harvest:

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JUST Friday’s harvest.  Of course I’ve had at least a few almost every day for the last week-plus, which I’ve mostly been eating, cause these are seriously good eating cukes.  So I made two quarts of refrigerator pickles.  Which used up less than half of Friday’s harvest.  Gave away 8 or so to a friend.  Harvested another pile at least that big on Sunday.  Gave away another handful to a neighbor.  Gave away the whole pile to a former co-worker who planned to do a serious batch of pickles.  And between yesterday and today (Tuesday) I refilled the strainer with cucumbers.  I think my cucumber plants are happy.  Time to play around with a wider variety of pickles I think.

 

Garden update

Posted July 11, 2016 By Ruth

My four rain barrels have come in handy this summer.  I keep saying that I know, but its so true.  Our water bill would be SO HIGHER this summer without them.  I’m planning on how to add 4 more.  It won’t happen this year, or likely next year unless I’m lucky, but it will happen.

My mystery squash plant is thriving:

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I originally assume the vine was cantaloupe, but it clearly isn’t.  The giant leaves look like zucchini leaves, but the zucchini variety I grow doesn’t vine like this clearly is.  The squash itself is marked much like the baby pumpkins (well, the Long Pie Pumpkins I grow anyway), and that would explain the vining habit.  But the insanely quick growth (it was still a baby with bloom attached when I took a picture on the 26th, and is now a good foot long) is more zucchini style.  The Long Pie Pumpkins grow quickly, but not THAT quickly.  So do I treat it like a zucchini?  Or like a pumpkin?  I’m kinda tempted to let it keep growing and see what happens……

For comparison, a zucchini (which I’ll be picking this week, its a good size for it):

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And a baby pumpkin:

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Anyway, the rest of the garden.

The Melon Pears are THRIVING.  And to think I was worried about them.  There’re even baby fruit forming!  And yes, another mystery squash, this one looks straight forward Long Pie Pumpkin though.

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Tomatoes: it turns out the Black Icicle Tomatoes may have had a magnesium deficiency.  They’ve been awfully pale and droopy in comparison to the rest of the tomatoes.   I had a couple people try to assure me that paste tomatoes are always “kinda droopy”, but they just didn’t look right.  After doing some digging around the internet I mixed up a couple gallons of water with some epsom salts and sprayed down the leaves and drenched the soil with it.  About a week and a half later the plants are much more normally colored and far less droopy.  In addition, I was worried that they had blight, they had almost all the symptoms (and so do several other tomato plants), and now almost all those symptoms (on the Black Icicles) are gone.  I’m still going to treat the entire garden with Actinovate, just to be safe (cause I don’t have the space to do proper rotations and I refuse to stop growing tomatoes), but I’m also going to treat all the tomato tires with epsom salts too (and seriously considering doing the entire garden).  A magnesium deficiency wouldn’t be a huge surprise in retrospect.  I’ll have to see if I can arrange some soil testing either this fall or next spring.

Black Icicle tomatoes before epsom salt treatments (and one a few days after treatment):

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And yesterday:

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The difference in color is NOT a trick of the light, I promise!  In addition the tallest plants are pushing 6ft tall now!

All of the tomato plants have baby fruit on them, well, except for the volunteer plants that appeared in two tires, but thats not a surprise since they didn’t get the headstart the rest did.  For that matter, pretty much everything has baby fruit on it!  Possible exception is the habaneros, but they do that to me every year, get thinking I’m not going to get anything and then POOF, hot peppers!

I’ve picked enough cucumbers to do up a good sized batch of refrigerator pickles.  Putting them on a trellis DOES make a difference in how easy it is to find and pick fruit.  But I swear the plants are VERY HAPPY being allowed to sprawl on the ground:

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Or maybe its just the insane summer weather this year, donno…..

 

Garden update

Posted June 21, 2016 By Ruth

The weather has been insane.  Hot.  Not quite record breaking, but close on more than one occasion.  Dry too, rain barrels are coming in handy.  Then we get a “cold” snap, which drops us to normal seasonal weather for a couple days, then back to hot.

End result, the garden is GROWING FAST.  Since I tend to pick for short season, cool weather tolerant, varieties we’ll have to see how this works in the long run, but most of the plants are growing huge.

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Buena Mulata Peppers

 

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Black Icicle tomatoes, those plants are pushing 4feet tall now

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Volunteer SOMETHING growing in one of the Black Plum Tomato tires.  I was originally figuring cantaloupe, but looking at those leaves I’m wondering if they’re a hybrid with something, time will tell I guess!

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Potatoes

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Miniature White Cucumbers, last two years I put them on a trellis, this year I decided to just let them spread and see if it makes a difference.  So far they’re quite happy as they are.

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Sugar Snap Peas, I grew a bushing variety this year, they might be smaller plants, but so far I’ve gotten far more peas off of them!

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Onions and lettuce.  This is one my bed failure, that white tube is supposed to allow me to feed water into the sub-layer of gravel, and on this one container it has somehow gotten blocked and water isn’t feeding right.  So I’m going to have to dig up the container and figure out what happened.

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Blue Berry Tomatoes.  According to Bakers Creek, where I bought these seeds, this variety came from Wild Boar Farms, not the European GMO variety.  I’m not rabid anti-GMO, but I do like growing different things than what I can get in the stores!

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Long Pie Pumpkins

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Cantaloupe

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Jalapenos

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White CHerry tomatoes

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Tzimbalo Melon Pear, and volunteer something…..

In addition I didn’t get photos of the watermelons, zucchini, okra, sunflowers, carrots, Hot Wax peppers, paprika peppers, habenaro peppers……

Baby birds! And updates

Posted June 11, 2016 By Ruth

We’ve been watching a pair of Song Sparrows flit around the area by our back deck all spring.  This week, on several occasions I noticed that they appeared to be carrying something in their beaks as they did so, and NOT nesting materials.

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So yesterday, since I had some time, I started the search for the nest.  Partially out of curiosity, but also so I’d know where to avoid with the dogs once the babies were fledging.  I found it:

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It’s hard to tell in that picture, but there’s four babies in that nest.  And it’s about two long steps from our back porch stairs.  Talk about a bad spot for fledglings!  At least it’s in a flower patch we’re not going to mow over…..

Yesterday I finished running the soaker hose throughout the garden.  150ft total.  Two hookups though, one with a 50ft hose and one with the remaining 100.  Both worked perfectly.  Now I shouldn’t have to fiddle with it till either fall or if I can find enough cheap fittings to change out the hose over the pathways.  There’s something addictive about this “being prepared” thing though.  Four 55 gallon barrels should water my garden for a couple weeks no problem, and this area is very unlikely to go without rain for any longer than that.  But I’m finding myself looking at the two unmodified downspouts and debating the addition of more barrels.  Heck, I could add a 3rd barrel to each of the current downspouts no problem!

The Black Icicle tomatoes are now several inches over the top of their tomato cages.  I guess I’m going to have to rig a 2nd layer of some kind.  The Black Plums usually end up over the tops of their cages, but not till closer to August, and then not by more than a foot or so, so I can weave a stake into the cage and tie them to that.  I don’t think that’s going to work for the Icicles!

I hilled the shortest of the potato plants, but most of them were tall enough by yesterday that I didn’t see the point.  I’ll pick up some straw this week and just do a layer of that next.

There’s several very awkwards spots right around the house that are a pain to mow, but for various reasons aren’t prime spots for plantings either.  One of them is in the corner between the bedroom and the living room addition.  Its on the south-east side, so it gets sun till about noon, but up until we put on the gutters it was excessively wet as well.  Now with the gutters on the house it’s just wet.  Former owners had an azalea in the sunniest spot of the corner (the outside edge), and a happy hosta in the middle of it, but that left a 4 or 5 foot wide stretch right in the corner with nothing but weeds.  The azalea wasn’t thrilled either, so last fall I pulled it out and replaced it with a hibiscus.  As for the rest, I have, at various times, tried planting a few different things there with no success.  Nothing thrived.  Even the daylilies had to be transplanted out after half of them disappeared.  Now, with the gutters on the house I started looking closer at the hosta that was there.  I’m not a huge hosta fan.  But if the one is thriving……started looking closer at the hostas for sale at work, and this week came home with 8 pots of 4 different varieties (two pots of each) and planted them around that area.  Cross fingers for me!

 

Purple Peppers!

Posted June 9, 2016 By Ruth

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Garden update (again)

Posted June 5, 2016 By Ruth

Rain barrels are full, and I had to rush out and put in the overflow drains (cause I’d been lazy and not done them) to divert the extra water away the way I wanted.  For proof of concept I bought a 50ft soaker hose, put it on the end of a 25ft regular hose, and wove it around the garden for as far as it would go, and there was enough water pressure from the barrels to push water all the way to the end of it.  I’ll need more length for the rest of the garden, and it’ll take some fiddling to make sure that everything is getting appropriately watered, but as proof of concept, I’ll take it!

For reference, all the tomato cages are made out of 3ft tall welded wire.

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These are the white cherry tomatoes

 

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Blue Berry Tomatoes

 

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Black Plum Tomatoes

 

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Black Icicle Tomatoes.  No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, yes, they are that tall.

 

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Melon Pear.  Not sure these are thriving, but they aren’t dying either, so we’ll see.

 

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My Variegated Japanese Willow bush.  I planted this as a little 2ft tall stick a couple years ago, now its taller and wider than my Husband.  I need to give it a quick trim and even it out, but its survived and thrived through two screwy winters.  The only reason I’ve not planted a ton more of them is cause I’d really prefer either flowering or native or both.

 

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The darkest of my Lupines.  I’ll have to remember to save the seeds from it this year and spread them around.

 

The Hibiscus have sprouted, and are infact a couple inches tall already, no pictures, I forgot.  And we’re going to have a bumper crop of strawberries this year.

Potatoes……last time I tried potatoes despite my attempt at hilling them they only produced more potatoes around the base.  Doing some research it turns out that many short season potatoes will do that.  So I got longer season ones this year…..but do I keep hilling?  I mean sure, I’ve seen those “grow 100lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet) things, that have you hilling and hilling and hilling.  But “conventional wisdom” says hill twice and after that just do a layer of mulch or straw and thats it.  I have enough of the garden bed kit to put at least two more layers on the bed, so in theory I could just keep going up……

Garden

Posted June 1, 2016 By Ruth

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Buena Mulata Pepper plant, and flower.  Pretty little thing!

 

Arty of course was delighted to help me in the garden:

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He was only interested in the potato bed too, and not for digging either, he just wanted to stand in it.  Go figure….

And there’s a House Wren building a nest inside the pump head for the old manual water well pump.  I know we don’t  use it much, but we DO try to keep it functional……thats going to be a fun one to clean out!

General updates

Posted May 30, 2016 By Ruth

My rain barrel system that I was putting together when I caught myself with the drill bit is up and running.  Course, it helps when you remember to close the drain taps before you try to fill them.  But I’ve got one barrel full, and two more half full, so I’ll take it.

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Now to set up the soaker watering system so I can use that water!  BTW, that scratch is well healed now, just a shiny scar down my arm.  Though you can still see the marks from the bandaids too.

Good god Robins are stupid birds…..ever since we put in solar power the Robins have been determined to nest on top of the switch box for the panels.  Several home made deterrents failed and we resorted to bird spikes to keep them off the box.  It was a bad place for several reasons, including that in the event of a fire we would need access that box in a hurry.  Plus it was easily accessed by a pair of dogs.  A week or two ago a Robin tried to build a nest on top of a tiny light fixture on the side of the garage, equally accessible to the dogs, though at least a few more feet higher in the air.  I went to go dig out the spare bird spikes, but by the time I got back I discovered that the nest had fallen off the light!  Over the next 4 days the scene was repeated, Robin would build a nest, and an hour later it’d fall off the light.  The bird finally gave up.  Yesterday I found where it had moved too.

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Those boards are the remains of the A-frame I used to cover the broccoli over the winter.  The nest is nose height on Apollo, along a path we walk along several times a day with the dogs.  Its under the edge of the pool, which is only about 4feet high, which is why we’d not noticed it till I happened to look in the right direction while gardening.

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To late to try to convince the bird to nest elsewhere, we’ll just have to watch out for the nestlings I guess.

The weather has been an almost literal killer lately.  We’re pushing record breaking heat, temps in the upper 80’s to even low 90’s, and harsh sunny.  Very little rain, what there is has been only in scattered showers, or thunderstorms.  So I’ve been watering the garden daily.  Course, then there’s me, working in the garden dept of said big box store, during the Memorial day sale madness.  Normally SPF 55 is all I need, but when its this hot even reapplying it twice throughout the day isn’t enough.  I came home from work Saturday decidedly pink.  On top of almost collapsing from the heat despite drinking water constantly.  I spent my last two hours on Saturday inside the building doing non-difficult tasks after that.  Yesterday I picked up some of the sun screen that is supposedly sweat proof, and while I was at it made I picked one that was 70 SPF.  Gotta find a hat I can stand to wear at work that’s legal for the dress code too.  They’re predicting a hotter than average summer, so I’m going to need it.

Yesterday (Sunday) started out equally hot and nasty, but mid-afternoon a string of storms rolled by and we even got some rain, cooling things off enough to make it possible to work outside.  I got the 2nd level of the potato bed on and the potatoes mostly hilled:

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Here’s a shot of the entire garden from a few days ago:

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Planted tomatoes

Posted May 20, 2016 By Ruth

I started planting out my insane tomato seedlings today.

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These are the Black Icicle Tomatoes.  They look leggy, but the stalks are nice and thick, they almost don’t need support.  And none of the other seedlings look leggy.  Just how tall are these going to get??

 

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White CHerry Tomatoes

 

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Blue Berries Tomatoes

I’ll plant out the Black Plums this weekend hopefully, I gotta construct more cages first.

 

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German Butterball Potatoes are doing nicely

 

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Notice the one big carrot on the right?  Thats the one that survived the winter

 

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Lettuce, and onions (oops, and radishes, how did I forget the radishes??)

 

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Sugar Snap Peas