Sunday, October 3, 2010

Garlic Planting Time

Planted 90 garlic bulbs today. Have a vague notion of going into NYC and hitting the Union Square Green Market to see if I can get some cool varieites.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Butternut Weekend

Harvested the butternut squash today. We had maybe a dozen plants, and our total harvest was 10 squash. Not the biggest squash you've ever seen either. I think the problem lies with fertilizing. We had a little compost on them, but we could have done much better. I think I'll dig up the bed and mix in as much compost as I can get my hands on. For the winter I'll try laying a thick layer of leaves over the bed to keep weeds from sprouting.

Also got 2 lb, 6 oz of tomatoes today. Jill turned that into a nice tomato sauce.

Also whipped up 2 batches of hot sauce, one red, one green. Used about 5oz of peppers for the red sauce, somewhat more for the green.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Late Planting

Went a little nuts and planted some green beans, cucumbers, and yellow crookneck squash. I think there's little chance the squash and cukes will provide much in the way of a harvest, but I expect the green beens have time emough before the first frost to give us a load of beans.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What have we learned this year?

We had some rough times this year:

  • Hail storm
  • Zucchini vine borers
  • Zucchini white leaf fungus
  • Set some plants out too late
  • Squirrels munching tomatoes
  • Squirrels and birds eating all the corn
  • Cucumbers dying off
  • Winter Squash/Pumpkins dying off
  • Barley is too much effort
  • Tomatoes don't do great in buckets
  • Our upside down tomatoes didn't do too great, and the fruit had extremely tough skin
  • Our lettuce was bitter
  • Peas need to be planted crazy early, then pulled to make way for other stuff
  • Cucumbers being eaten by something - maybe deer?
So for next year we'll make some changes.

  • Tomatoes and corn will grow in cages, but these cages need to be accessible. Our current cage system is a pain, too much effort to get into it (small access ports, which we wire up).
  • We need to plant several different kinds of winter squash. We have gotten a decent amount of squash, but it's all butternut. Woulda been cooler to have several varieities.
  • Don't plant onions and carrots under landscape fabric, not many of them came up.
  • Don't bother with tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets, they didn't produce much. However, peppers in buckets did well. Next year we try more peppers in buckets.
  • Tomatoes need some better trellising. Next year they get tomato cages when young, and when older get a pvc trellis (covered with chicken wire, with easy access ports).
  • Zucchini will be started much, much earlier. We'll put out traps with yellow buckets of soapy water to catch the vine borer bugs. Also we can put row covers over the zucchini to keep the vine borers out. I don't know what we can do about the white fungus (mildew? mold?). if we start the plants much earlier, we'll get a lot more zucchini, so maybe we won't care as much when mold kills the plants in late August.
  • Potatoes are pretty cool, we should do more. We should also start them much earlier and try a few different types/colors.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Magic Beans

Well, the beans are up, and the Mrs. has been grazing. Today I did a real pick and came up with 14 oz of them. It was enough for a meal for 5 (ok admittedly the kids ate all of 5 of them). And we have another meal left over. Or possibly two. These were from the seed leftover from last year, I was pleased that it even came up. I think the output was a lot more than last year - suspect that's due to the compost they were sewn in.

Oh, must mention that a week ago we salvaged 2 ears of corn that the squirrels and birds. They were pretty starchy, I think they were overripe (Lego brick shown for scale).

Also two new types of tomatoes from the garden - Big Boy and Cherokee Purple. Still haven't seen Mortgage Lifter, Summer Choice, and Steak Sandwich.

Cucumbers are dying out. One of the dills I planted is coming up. Next thing on the agenda is picking the peppers and doing something with them. Going to try drying some and making some hot sauce. Tonight we make amber pickles from the yellow cukes we picked recently.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back from Vacation

Just before we left, we had approximately zero ripe tomatoes, and a seeming handful of green ones. Yes, the squirrels were even eating the green ones. So we built an impregnable wall of steel around the tomatoes (ok, chicken wire...). The squirrels were DEFEATED!

We even have some red tomatoes in there. Tomorrow we work on extraction.

The peppers that were turning red have now actually turned. Very nice looking.

Beans are thriving, flowers all over the place. Suspect we'll have a decent harvest.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crab Apple Weekend

Spent much of the past weekend processing crab apples into apple butter and jam - about 3 quarts of each. 18.75 lbs of crab apples!

But these aren't actually from our garden, so it's just a side note.

The squirrels are pure evil. What they don't eat of the tomatoes and corn they still destroy. Oh well. The current plan is to tie the tomato vines up (they've collapsed under the weight of the vicious evil squirrels) and surround them completely with chicken wire. Like completely encased. While it will make it difficult for us to harvest tomatoes, it will make it hard for the squirrels to get at them as well. Here's a sad hint of the devastation.

But wait! It's not a complete loss, that is a winter squash (butternut I think) in the background. We've got quite a number of them coming along.

And we've had a trickle of zucchini, a steady flow of peppers, and a firehose to the face of cucumbers. A few carrots. Reminded myself that I don't care for carrots.

The side plot is overflowing with spinach and lettuce. Sadly the lettuce is kind of bitter.

Pepper candelabra.

EDIT - Attempted some hot sauce. 4 oz chilis, 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt. Blend. Boil. Skim foam. Put in hot jar. Cover with cloth. 

Skim off vinegar in three days and pop in the fridge.

Friday, July 23, 2010


The fence is holding against the cursed deer, but now we have squirrels running through the fence and sampling every ripe tomato. Chili powder did not keep them away. Tomorrow we advance to mothballs and chicken wire.

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Maybe I shouldn't look at them as a nuisance, but instead as a possible source of protein. That's right, squirrel. I'm looking at you. Back off or you're going in the stew pot.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Big Pickles

The zucchini is infested with squash vine borers apparently. Gross little beasts. I pulled two good sized plants out. Another one looks like it might have them as well. I think we're close to out of the woods as far as when infestations occur, maybe we'll be ok with the rest of them.

Nice haul of good cukes today. Decided to take another whack at refrigerator pickles (since we're almost out of the initial four quarts). This time used a gallon jug. Here's the video. Here's a still photo and the recipe.

  • 12 medium-sized cucumbers
  • 1 Hungarian Wax pepper
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic (our garlic!)
  • 1 Tbsp Dill Weed (our dill hasn't come in yet)
  • 6 c water
  • 2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c Kosher salt
  • 1/2 c sugar
Lets see how this one works out.

The Hubbard squash [ed note - I believe it's butternut, not Hubbard] is flowering. If we get average yield, we'll have 175 of them. I'm thinking it won't be that many. But even if we get 25, we'll probably wish we planted some other kinds...

Duncan's pumpkin is thriving. I don't see any baby pumpkins on it at the moment, and the one that was there shriveled (in the heat??). We'll see how it works out.

EDIT 07/26/2011 - Oops, I said 12 medium zucchini! As you can see, it's cucumbers. Corrected above.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The corn got blown over in a wind storm. We're going to hill it up and see if it recovers. What a pain!

Tried our first Cherokee Purple. It was fabulous.

Just sampled a slice of Hungarian Wax Pepper, whew, HOT!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beans up

The newly planted beans from last years seed are up. 11 / 20 broke the surface. In-laws claimed none of the ones we gave them sprouted. Obviously they lack the magic touch! Hehe.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First real harvest

The first real harvest is in! I bought a few baskets at a yard sale and made use of one today. This was a total of 5 lbs of veg.

Our first decent-sized tomato haul, we brought in these beauties:

The Early Girl was maybe a little under-ripe. The Super Sweet 100s lived up to their name. Teeny though. The Mrs' favorite. The rest were all good, but the Super Beefsteak was delicious.

We've got 10 varieties growing now, we're probably going to drop most of those. So far Early Girl has been a bit disappointing - It was not earlier than 4th of July - more than a week and a half later, in fact. I'll try a riper one before officially giving it the axe.

EDIT - Fried up the first zucchini rounds of the season. Half of them with grated Parmesan, half with garlic from our garden. Good stuff. Decided yesterday to try and go through the day only eating locally grown food - preferrably from our garden. Have done well so far, although had to make allowances for parmesan and oil and vinegar.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More plotting

Pulled up the peas and prepped a nice plot a few days ago (see entry on the 6th). Took that roughly 11' x 1' (12 - 15" really, not perfectly striaght on one side).

Lettuce, carrots, and onions feature prominently. Also a spot for dill - need that for pickles. Nothing sprouted yet - hey, only planted yesterday! But I have the highest of hopes. The lettuce, spinach and green onions I planted on the side of the house are looking good.

Jalapenos are popping up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another fine pickle

Tried refrigerator pickles again (first batch is almost gone). This time used a bit more vinegar, only one clove of garlic (but crushed it) and added a Hngarian Wax pepper (sliced lengthwise).

  • 1 c water
  • 3 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c Kosher salt
  • 1/4 c sugar
Set that to boil. Stir occasionally. In the mean time take 5 pickling cukes and spearize them (cut in quarters longitudinally). In each of two quart mason jars put 1 clove garlic (crushed in a press), 1 tsp dried dill, and half the spears. I only used 4 cukes, and I really needed 5. Also added half a Hungarian Wax pepper (cut in half lengthwise) in each. By now the liquid should be boiling. Take it off the heat and let it cool for a bit. Then dump it into the jars. Should have some left over. That you can dump. Make sure you cover the pickles.

Let the pickles cool on the countertop for a while, then pop them in the fridge. Wait 2 days preferrably before eating. I will report on taste later.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot. Damn hot.

How does one celebrate the hottest day of the year? Why by taking out the mass of dead peas, of course. Then weeding and raking the pea plot, and hauling three loads of compost several blocks in the blistering heat (thanks to Haverford township for the compost, by the way). The rock garden and the pea plot look great now though. I am going to put in some radishes (just because we saved the seed), some lettuce, and some beans (also saved seed). Here's what the plot looked like, including all the biomass I hauled out.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hardneck Garlic Harvest is in

We dug up our hardneck garlic. Some bulbs were small, but a decent harvest all in all.

Our first zucchini stopped growing and started shrivelling! I think it might be due in part to our crazy high temperatures and in part to the black landscaping fabric it's been sitting on.  I spread a little handful of grass clippings, hopefully that will cool it off a bit.

We've had a pretty steady stream of cukes, first from the slicemaster and now the Norhtern Pickling Cukes have started flowing. We couldn't hold off on the refrigerator pickles and we ate a bunch of them already. I think they'll be better after a week or so, but they're pretty good now. Not sure they'll last long.

A few tomatoes, four or five Fourth of July (2 - 2.5 oz) and one Steak Sandwich (5 oz).

One of Duncan's pumpkins is growing. Just an inch across at the moment. We'll see if it's jack-o-lantern sized by Halloween.

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Tomato!

Ate the first tomato, 2.5 oz of Fourth of July hybrid Friday. Good. Had another Saturday. Another couple ready. Picked four cukes and pickled them. Just refrigerator pickles.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Closing Fast on the First Tomatoes and Zucchini

Here's the first tomato turning red. There are a couple turning already, they're all Fourth of July Hybrid.

And the first Black Beauty Zucchini.

One heck of an ugly Cherokee Purple tomato.

Also got a little green pepper forming. About the size of a quarter.

And finally a view of the cucumbers, peas, and tomatoes in the background.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Tragedy! Hail cut a bloody (ok, sappy??) swath through our tomatoes. Also messed up the barley pretty bad, although I think that was more the high winds. I'm not even sure of the full extent at this point, I've cut off some seriously broken branches, but I'm sure I'll find a lot more damage as other broken branches die off.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pepper Action

First pepper looking good. Didn't know what kind it was when it first poked out, but process of elimination suggests it's neither a jalapeno nor a bell pepper. So this is our first Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper. This is four days of growth. Not sure exactly when to pick, will have to do a little research.

We've had two cukes so far, and another few coming along. Had a few peas from the late pea planting as well. No tomatoes yet. Maybe I'm imagining it, but it seems like some of the tomatoes are turning slightly yellower...

Made a pilgrimmage to a friend's garden. I've had the opportunity to see his backyard go from lawn to tomatoes, very nice job. He's done raised beds with 2x6's (2x8s??) and it looks really nice. I like his tomato support solution - some 2x4s driven into the ground and twine hanging down in a V shape. He wraps the twine around the plants and they seem very happy. It also has the benefit of not looking awful like my support system does. I think next year I will build something out of pvc and paint it dark green so it's not quite so hideous. The other benefit being it'll last a long while. My two year old raised beds are swarming with termites, so wood (non-pressure treated) doesn't really seem to be an option. Anyway, this friend's zucchini is twice the size of ours, and he's got zucchini already. I'm so jealous! Next year I'm going to start the zucchini earlier. I don't know how far behind we are, but he did say the growth in the last week was explosive. I guess ours has been growing pretty well too, so maybe zucchini is not too far off for us. His tomatoes looked miserable when he first planted them. I though he was going to lose most of them. But they've all come back big time. In fact, they seem maybe just a little behind ours, which had a great start. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Coming right along...

We enjoyed the first cucumber, and there's another ready to eat shortly. The rest are rather teensy at the moment though.

The first pepper is peeking up.

Zucchini looking good, though no flowers yet.

Tomatoes, tomatoes, everywhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Peas tapering off

The peas are tapering off. We picked 11 oz today and popped them in the freezer. The Sugar Snap Sprint peas look like they may have a few more flowers on them, the regular Sugar Snap are flowerless.

I should do a tomato count. I'm thinking at least 20 at the moment, and lots more on the way. [ed. - census of all 31 plants revealed 61 tomatoes, 124 flowers total on the regular varieties, 15 tomatoes, 27 flowers on the cherry varieties. Counted even pea-sized tomatoes and any flower where I could see yellow. Overwhelming leader was one fourth of july hybrid with 15 tomatoes and 18 flowers. This is a lower limit, I didn't move foliage to search - MC]

Peppers are starting to flower.

Cukes are looking good, seeing a few sub-inch cukes already.

Beans are up and growing like weeds. Corn is growing well, winter squash us up (Hubbard). A bunch of zucchini is on the grow - some planted a while back indoors, some seeded directly not long ago. The big corn patch is now covered with corn plants an inch or two high. Planted half of it at 6 inch spacing, half at 1 foot spacing. We may have a lot of corn. The upside down tomatoes are looking decent, but the rightside up ones are looking better.

Finally the barley is looking awful, but we've got some seed showing.

Update - Dug up a nice strip of earth just outside the north side of the fence and planted 11 Northern Pickling Cucumbers. Be nice if the deer leave them alone.

Monday, June 7, 2010


1 lb, 14 oz of peas picked today. That brings the grand total to 3 lbs, 3 oz. Half a pound is good for a meal for us. We popped 1 pound of them in the freezer for later. Jill suggested Thanksgiving, I'm not sure they'll still be tasty by then.

The garlic harvest is in and slowly drying. This is just the storebought softneck garlic crop. The hardneck has a ways to go. We gave away a few and ate a few already. I think we'll plant some more next year.

Tomatoes are growing. Not too big yet.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

More Peas

Pulled another half pound of peas off the vines. Still more peas maturing and some flowers. Up to 1.3 lbs total so far. They've been good.

Added in 8 zucchini hills just outside the fence. Deer never seemed to touch the zucchini. Going to add a bunch of cuke hills behind the fence so they don't block the sun.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lots of Peas

Harvested a third of a pound of peas Sunday for guests to sample. Then another half pound today which we devoured eagerly.

Oh, did I mention the upside down tomatoes? I've been moderately obsessed with upside down tomatoes, so I built a structure out of 4" x 4" pressure treated beams to hang them from. Here's what they look like.

They seem to be doing well.

Pulled a garlic over the weekend, bulb looked great, but I'll let the rest grow a bit more.

Potato flowers.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Peas in Bloom

A quick count found 71 flowers on the Sugar Snap Sprint along with maybe half a dozen pea pods in various states of growth. In comparison, the Sugar Snap have four flowers at this point. The Sugar Snap are much taller than the Sprint though. I wonder if they'll produce more peas in total.

The Three Sisters garden is ready. We've got a grid of 3 x 5 mounds and we planted the corn today in each of the circled mounds.

A larger scale view of the garden, with the pavers and raised beds. Flourishing potatoes hogging the camera.

Also got a first taste of Sugar Snap Sprint peas. Pretty tasty, even the boys liked it.