Saturday, May 25, 2013

More Tomatoes, and Peppers at Long Last

Yes, more tomatoes. I do it every year!  I find new varieties and want to try them out.  Also, I wanted to find a small one to try out the Topsy Turvy.  So, at Walmart (which has some pretty nice plants, although not specific to my region like local nurseries carry) I got a Black Cherry tomato.  Also, two peppers, a Fajita Bell (spicy) and a Bonnie Green Bell.  "Bonnie" in the name just means it's from Bonnie's Plants, it's just a variety of green bell pepper.  I also got a pot of lemon cucumbers, with four plants growing in the pot.  I threw in a lobelia and a fuchsia too. 

Then, I stopped by the Grange Co-op  at the other end of town (near Walmart) where they have more plants than the one near me.  Oh... so many more plants!  Too bad my foot was hurting (it isn't well yet), or I could have spent much longer there than I was able to.  I got two peppers, California Wonder and Golden Summer (a yellow bell).  Also, an eggplant, Dusky.  I don't eat eggplant, but the plants even without fruit are so beautiful I like to plant them in the garden. 

The two larger peppers are in white plastic cat litter containers, the kind the company has discontinued and replaced with cardboard.  That's a shame.

Golden Summer Pepper - see the lemon cucumbers in the background?  Those are the ones that were overgrown, and now doing quite well!
The two little ones are in the recycled gate bed.  That's where the eggplant is too.

Dusky Eggplant, Fajita Bell Pepper, Bonnie Green Pepper, and the Mystery Tomato, Tom.

I put two of the lemon cucumbers in the cucumber bed, and two were left together planted in a Topsy Turvy.  I planted the Black Cherry on one too.  We'll see how they do, I have yet to see any actual upside down planters that look anything like the photos in the ads! Mostly I see dying and dead plants hanging on porches. 

Black Cherry Tomato in Topsy Turvy

Sunday, May 19, 2013



My four berry varieties! 

Strawberries: A few berries a day are ripe, but I am fighting a battle against the pill bug brigade.  Each night they eat more and more of ripe berries, then burrow into the soil beneath it.  So far I scoop them out, but I am going to have to resort to "pill bug bait." 

pill bug damage - they end up finishing the entire berry
A popular gardening blog had a feature on strawberries lately.  The writer was planting a hanging basket of strawberries, and recommended June bearers, because they "don't put out as many runners."  Well, that is just not true!  She got it completely backwards, but since it is such a popular blog, readers will be very disappointed.  June bearers are the ones that put out many, many runners.  That is why my original 20 or so plants are not a 4 x 8 bed of 50, with 12-15 off the deck, and countless others given away.  I lopped off runners just the other day, but they seem to replace themselves like Medusa's hair.

runners a few days after pruning

as you see, they are a bit too big for hanging planters!
some of last year's runners or daughter plants - they will fruit next year
The berries are larger than last year, their first crop since I bought them.  (Craigslist!)

Blueberries:  Blueberries are something I have never grown before, so the whole process, flowering, setting fruit, etc. was a complete mystery.  I expected them to form inside the little cups, but instead the outer cup part becomes the berry.  For such little bushes I think the harvest will be quite big.  The plants look much better than I expect them to also.  I did buy special acid-lovers soil, and I feed them acid-lovers food.  I got four of the five plants on Craigslist, the other is a different variety for pollination from a nursery.

Draper blueberry

Raspberries: Well, I only have one raspberry plant, a Meeker.  But, it is growing by leaps and bounds!  I was planning on getting more and building a bed, but then got the boysenberry starts instead.  I bought this at The Grange, no Craigslist here!  Although I have successfully avoided temptation, in that I have had many opportunities to get them there!  I may do that next year, the golden ones sound good!

Boysenberries: I am really excited about these berries!  I know they won't fruit this year, since these canes now growing are primocanes, the first year canes.  Next year though, I should have a wonderful harvest!  All of the "sticks" grew well, and a few are climbing the trellis by themselves.  A few have their vines going the wrong way, but I'll soon sort that out for them!  They are visibly bigger day to day.  These were free off Craigslist!  They may be Tayberries, but Boysenberries (blackberry, raspberry, loganberry cross) and Tayberries (blackberry, raspberry cross)  are basically the same thing. 

boysenberry primocane starting up trellis

All my berries are in planters or raised beds.  As mentioned before, my soil is clay and unsuitable for planting anything directly into it.  Also, even with amendments, it is soggy in the winter, and much of it is under a few inches of water.  Berries grow fine in raised beds and planters.  In fact, many of them prefer it, so long as you use special soil for berries.  This is vitally important for blueberries. 

I discovered something interesting about lettuce, and nasturtiums.  They seem to love acidic soil.  I sowed some mixed lettuce seeds and nasturtiums in the boysenberry containers, with great success.

Pretty flower of the day... newly unfurled Sunset rockrose. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

PEAS! and other garden updates

The peas are ready for harvest!  We got a few the other day, which I added to pasta salad. This morning I picked an entire pan full.  Good thing we all like them!

Cascadia Peas
Now, we'll be eating peas every other day.  I don't mind.  I eat them raw in the garden, they are that good!

Cascadia Peas - after harvesting May 17, 2013

The tomatoes all have blossoms, and the Brandywine has set fruit.  I pinched some off one of the Aces, the plants don't look as good as any of the others.  Next time I water I am going to add tomato food. 

Tumbler - May 17, 2013
I had to replant the pole beans.  Three came up, the rest disappeared.  The soil was too wet and cold I think.  There are Jade bush beans planted in each cinder block hole, and they are coming up.  The holes in the larger cinder blocks are just right for a single bush bean.  No sense wasting space! 

Jade Bush Bean
The lemon cucumbers are blossoming, but so far, only male flowers.  The transplanted compost pile cucs are looking good.  I am leaving a few large ones in the compost pile. 

So, the spring planting is off to a good start.  The weather this week is cooler, so it's just as well I didn't put in any peppers yet. I did buy a 4-pack at the FFA sale, but when I got them home I noticed they were covered in aphids.  Not what I wanted to bring home, so they went straight to the garbage.  Not the green waste, where they would continue to feed, the garbage can. 

On a closing note, while the iris are about done (oh, there will be two blooms on the new bed after all!), I am getting nasturtiums, snapdragons (over wintered), and roses. 

New Dawn - climbing rose May 17, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Compost Pile Cucumbers

The "mystery" vegetables in the compost pile are cucumbers.  English cucumbers.  Those are the long, expensive kind my stores sell wrapped in plastic.  The burp-free kind.  The only kind I buy in fact. I threw out a rotten one a while back.  I had no idea the seeds could grow.  Since the seeds we buy are dry, I thought these green (as in not ripe green) seeds would have no chance of growing. I was so wrong! I think that a few over-ripe cherry tomatoes have started growing too. 

Cucumbers when still "mystery" plants in compost pile

Compost pile cucumbers and I think tomatoes!
I transplanted four of the biggest, healthiest cucumbers and one tomato (if that's what it is). 

The compost pile has garlic growing too.  I know where that came from.  The asparagus bed.  When I moved in garlic had overtaken the bed, and the nearby area where I planted climbing roses.  I am still digging them out. Pulling just leaves the bulb, and up they pop again. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lemon Cucumbers

Such a disappointment this past weekend at the FFA sale.  Last year I got lemon cucumbers that were so productive I wanted to get many more this year.  But, as one student told me, they started their seeds earlier. So, they had a few lemon cucumbers (as well as other types and some squashes) that were already vining 18" or so long.  These vines are so fragile, I was afraid they would just snap off, so I only bought one four-pack.  At least it was only $1 and I won't be upset by the cost if they die.

lemon cucumber 4-pack - see how long the vines are already?

I showed them to The Tomato Lady (see previous post) and she wondered if I was going to bury them deep, like with tomato vines.  I hadn't thought of that solution!  So, I dug a trench, laying the vines down them with the ends up the trellis.  They look okay so far.  I do want more than four plants though. 

trench for cucumber vines

I planted half their vines in the trench and hooked the rest onto the trellis

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Seven new tomato plants made their way home with me yesterday! 

"Tom" the mystery tomato is from the high school FFA (Future Farmers of America) sale.  A mystery tomato since it lost its name marker, so there is no way to know what variety it is.  But, for $1 it's worth a try!

Tom the Mystery Tomato
Then, I visited The Tomato Lady for six of her plants. 

Sungold - an orange cherry.  I grew Sungold last year, and it was very productive and delicious!

Super Sweet - a red cherry

Super Sweet

Brandywine - not the yellow I was hoping for, but reputed to be just as productive and just as tasty. It has a lot of large blossoms already.  I gave this tomato a lot of room, and planted it next to a trellis, since the yellow Brandywine grew to over 6' tall last year.  My only potato leaf tomato this year.  (Unless I find a Yellow Brandywine somewhere!)

Brandywine (red)
Cherokee Purple - I wasn't impressed with last year's purple tomato, but Cherokee Purple gets such rave reviews I am willing to try purple one more time. 

Cherokee Purple
Tumbler - a small cherry with a low bush growth habit.  Tumbler may hang over the edges of a planter or hanging basket.  I have read it often stays upright, but it is small and appropriate for a patio planter.  I put mine in my new ceramic pot from Winco! 

Large Cherry - well, the name says it all!  A larger cherry tomato, a two-bite rather than one!

Large Cherry
Nothing says "spring" so well as tomatoes planted in the garden!  It may sound like a lot of tomato plants for a family of three, with only one member being wild for them, but I plan on canning some.  I had such success canning apples in November, I hope to add tomatoes and green beans to the pantry. 


Just when I think the peas (Cascadia) are going nowhere, I find pods!

Cascadia Peas

I bought seven (yes, seven!) new tomato plants yesterday!  That's a tale for another post...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

More Iris, Cascadia Peas, and Pole Beans

So, there are two different purple bearded iris, and three others.  One is a ruffly pure white.  The other two defy a written description, so here they are.  The first one we call the "Cheeto" iris, because it's beard looks like a Cheeto! 

The Cascadia peas are blooming!

I planted pole beans (Kentucky Blue, a cross between the old standards Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake) on April 29.  I sort of used the Square Foot method, as you can see by the grids in the 4 x 4 bed.  There are about 8 or 9 beans per square.  Then I tied bamboo poles teepee style for them to climb.  I also planted them on either side of one of the wire trellises my son made, in the recycled gate bed.  One bean in the 4 x4 ("bean bed") was up today. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Iris Beds

I just knew that the old (last year's) iris bed would bloom this year!  Just take a look, I am so pleased!

All but three of the iris plants are purple.  There will be one yellow (very light), on a winey color, and one that looks like darker yellow (more caramel color).  I don't yet know if they will be all one color, as they haven't opened yet!  They are so beautiful!

This spring's iris are growing well, so they'll bloom next year. I forget what the lady that gave them to me said their color is, but the standard and the fall are different colors. 

iris bed - note azaleas in bud on either end

 All of these iris were free off Craigslist!