Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mystery of the Missing Peas

My peas are missing.  I planted them two weeks ago tomorrow, after soaking them, and inoculating them, and adding manure and potting soil to the bed.  Planted to climb up the sunflower stems.  Two came up, one on each end of the bed.  Nothing more.  So, yesterday morning I dug around a bit, and no peas.  No rotted peas.  No unsprouted peas.  No evidence of any animals digging them up to eat.  No peas whatsoever.  Where'd they go?  It's a mystery...

Pea Bed
One of Two Peas Sprouted
So, last night I dug in all-purpose fertilizer, and replanted.  This time, no soaking, no inoculant, just pushed the peas in an inch and watered.  The weather is still a bit hot for peas, still over 90.  Nights are 40 degrees less! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

... the Beginning of Fall: part II

I am trying something new!  A fall planted garden with crops I have never tried growing before!  So, while it may not sound very exciting, it is very exciting to me!

But, before the fun of planting came the headache of more digging, amending the soil, and working around my still-tender toe. 

I had to pull out the Japanese Trifele, Sungold, and the bush beans before they were quite done producing.  It should be much cooler weather by now, so it is already getting late to plant a cool weather garden.  Unless I was up to building a new bed, and hauling in more soil, I need to use this one!  I left Yellow Brandwine (no sign of stopping), Lemon Cucumber, and the eggplant (again, just for looks). 

Bare spot where Japanese Trifele was - September 16
My new babies!

Cole Crops:
I bought 6 packs to transplant of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts at The Grange.  They have all survived their transplanting. (Shouldn't it be "Brussel's" sprouts?  Apostrophes are my pet peeve.  Yesterday was National Grammar Day in the US!)

Cole Crop Bed (former Bean Bed) - September 23

Snow Crown Cauliflower - September 22
Packman Broccoli - September 23
Jade Cross Brussels Sprouts (this one is a Guinea Pig for planting in the cinder block holes) - September 22

Jade Cross Brussels Sprouts (former Sungold container) - September 22
In the old watermelon bed (never again will I attempt melons of any variety!) I added 2 cubit feet of steer manure, and 1 1/2 large bags of potting soil.   This bed is 4 x 4, so that gives me 16 squares to plant.  I planted one square of Salad Bowl (last year's Burpee seeds),  one square of Salad Bowl (Territorial Seeds oak leaf seeds that were half price at The Grange), and one of last year's Territorial Seeds Wild Garden Mix.  I know I was dissatisfied with TS lettuce in the spring, but thought I would try again, since I already had the seeds. 

Lettuce and Bok Choy Bed (former watermelon bed) - September 24
 This pot was planted with Salad Bowl a few weeks ago.

Salad Bowl Lettuce - September 23
Bok Choy or Pak Choi:
I couldn't find transplants, so I planted seeds and will hope for the best.  I didn't expect the seeds to be rather like large poppy seeds.  I planted 4 squares of bok choy  in the lettuce bed.  I like baby bok choy in a homemade won ton soup.

Another fall crop I planted about two weeks ago is chard.  It is an Italian variety, the seeds from Ferry-Morse, Liscia Verde da Taglio.  I will just call them chard!  I planted these in the old Legend tomato container, after adding in some manure and potting soil. 

Chard - September 23
So, fall is looking good so far!  Once the cucumbers and tomatoes are gone, I will plant more.  Probably lettuce.  In the cole crop bed, and the remaining squares of the lettuce bed.  

Oh, I forgot about the peas!  Stay tuned for pea news...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Last Summer Harvests and the Beginning of Fall: part I

Today's the first day of autumn.  Around here we call it fall.  Our days are still hot (upper 80s the past few days, down from the low 90s), but our nights have been down in the 50s.  Strange to have a 40 degree difference between night and day, but it sure makes it easier to sleep!

Unfortunately the vegetable garden doesn't know where it stands.  Neither do I.  It is way past time to pull out the summer producers, but they are still producing.  So, the planting of the fall and winter crops is late.  Our first frost date is Oct. 18, and if so, I'm in trouble! 

The Yellow Brandywine is making tomatoes like there is no tomorrow, although I keep cutting it back. 

Yellow Brandywine - September 16

But, the lemon cucumbers are dying from the bottom up. The tops are still blooming, and setting fruit. I found a lost one today, hiding in the eggplant, as big as Boo's tennis ball!  It was a bit seedy...  of all the vegetables these are the ones I will miss the most.  I can always buy a nice hot house tomato, but a good lemon cucumber is impossible to find out of season. 

Lemon Cucumber - dying back from the bottom up
The harvests are larger...

September 11
September 16
The eggplant is still beautiful, and still flowering. I cut off the spent flowers, since I don't want any more fruit.
The Jade green beans were having a second wind, but there were so few left, I went ahead and pulled them out yesterday to make room for...  well, just wait for Part II coming soon! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mini-Minis Harvest!

How disappointing, yet how cute, to have mini-minis!  By that I mean my mini-versions produced minis of the minis. 

Jack B Little and Baby Boo Pumpkins...

They look great until you see them in proportion to my hand!

Baby Boo and Jack B Little Mini Pumpkins


Sugar Baby Watermelon...

We all (three of us) had a small bite and deemed it delicious.
This was the one and only watermelon to survive to adulthood.  If you can call this adulthood! 

Sugar Baby Watermelon

Sugar Baby Watermelon Interior

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baby Pumpkins, Gourds, and Sunflowers

A garden assortment today. 

Baby pumpkins, both Jack B Little and Baby Boo...

Jack B Little Pumpkin
Baby Boo Pumpkin
 The stems are so fragile that I have had to support them, so I am not sure the fruits will be able to gain full growth.  A few of the Baby Boo vines have climbed into the lemon cucumber container, and little white globes are hanging in with the cucumbers. 

Speaking of Baby Boos, get a load of our Baby Boo!

Newborn Baby Boo - June 2010
Turban Gourd... This is from a seed I got from a saved gourd from last November's gardening symposium.  So, while I only got one gourd, I am pleased with it!

I won't take up garden space next spring for these crops though.  I started seeds in the house in April, again in May, transplanting in May to containers near the back fence, where they failed to grow more than one set of true leaves.  Planted too early?  Too much heat?  Too much water?  pH wrong? Who knows, but they did very well when planted in the old pea bed in late June. 

Turban Gourd
My daughter's sunflowers are blooming!  She got them in late, so we were keeping our fingers crossed.  Boo chewed on their leaves when they were still his height, now the leaves are out of his reach. 

Sunflower - September 5

September 6

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Melon Failure

Melons are harder to grow than I anticipated.  I thought they would take the same care as pumpkins, which I have grown successfully in the past, if not this year.  No.  Melons are pickier!

1) I am pretty sure the soil is completely wrong in both beds.
2) I have obviously over-watered at times.

I planted Charentais cantaloupe and Sugar Baby watermelon.  I started them indoors, from seed, in April.  Then I directed seeded more in May when the transplants weren't doing well.  The cantaloupe was heavily damaged by hail in June, but the plants came back well.  The first fruits set on both melon varieties nearly two months ago, or at least 6 weeks, much longer than the average date on the packages from planting!  The remaining melons are still very small, and don't seem to be growing a bit. 

Watermelon Bed - September 5 (yes, those are Boo's legs...)     
I have one cantaloupe left, and 4 or 5 watermelon.  The rest of the cantaloupe and several watermelon split from over-watering.  I can see it.  Too much water, and the excess goes to the fruit, which can't handle it, and splits open. That makes sense. But, the soil would dry out quickly in the raised beds, so I would water!  Watermelon can take the dry soil, so I was not caring for it so much as killing it. 

Watermelon - split from over-watering

Cantaloupe - split from over-watering
Oh, the cantaloupe smelled so good inside! 

The melons were not a good use of garden space.  The watermelon had their own 4 x 4 bed, the cantaloupes shared an 8 x 4 with the pumpkins, which were also a failed crop this year.  48 sq. ft. of garden space which yielded three pumpkins, and maybe a small watermelon.  I have manure and potting soil to amend the soil in the beds.  I might get a sack of peat to throw in too.  What a disappointment...

Last Remaining Cantaloupe (with Boo squinting in the sun)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lovely Tomatoes!

Wow!  I am getting the nicest tomatoes lately!  Just take a look at this from our dinner Friday night.  The red tomatoes are Ace, which are just a bright, beautiful solid red when ripe!  The yellow is of course, Yellow Brandywine, the biggest tomatoes bar none that I have ever grown!  A bit lumpy, but juicy and delicious!
A few lemon cucumbers round out the plate.

Yellow Brandywine, even taking into account the height of the raised bed, is taller than I am! I pruned off the ends of the branches to stop the plant from forming new flowers.  The tomatoes are so large they hang over the bread slices in a sandwich. 

Yellow Brandywine - September 2
Ace is ripening to an absolutely solid, bright red.  It is delicious too.  This one is in a fairly small container, and seems to like it fine. 

Ace - September 2

Ace - September 2

The Russian variety, Japanese Trifele, is the big producer, of that there is no debate. But, I don't care for the taste, or the large core.  I eat them off the vine, but am not bowled over by the taste.  I found a recipe for tomato sauce I am going to try with these tomatoes once they get a little bit over-ripe.  

Japanese Trifele - September 2
Even Mr. Stripey, for all his ill health earlier in the summer, is finally ripening fruit.  I have yet to taste it.

Mr. Stripey - September 2

Sungold, the cherry tomato, continues to look spindly as a plant, but is covered with tomatoes.  Something is bothering it in the night, as I am finding ripe and green tomatoes on the ground every morning. Not many, and there are still plenty for us. 

Sungold Cherry Tomato - September 2
I've pretty much decided what tomatoes to grow next year, along with where to buy them.  

1) Ace - from the "Tomato Lady" selling out of her car in the Central Point mini-market parking lot!
2) Yellow Brandywine - the Garden Fair at the county fair grounds.
3) Some sort of cherry tomato - Sungold is fine, but so are the red ones, so I will just see what I see next spring! 

And what not to plant - Legend, Stupice, Costoluto Genovese (all recommended for my area, but did not produce, thrive, or even live for me) and Mr. Stripey.