Friday, June 14, 2013

Coming right along

So I cleaned up the area near the house where I normally have peas. The groundhog cleaned out the peas for me - what a helpful fellow. In their place I put 5 tomato plants - Super Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple, roma, Tigerella, and Black Krim. I had tomatoes there one year before and they did pretty well.

I also have 19 spots out in the fenced in garden tomato'd up.

  • 2 Super Beefsteak
  • 2 Taxi
  • 1 San Marzano
  • 3 Rutgers
  • 1 Brandywine
  • 4 Sungold
  • 1 Cherokee Purple
  • 2 Fourth of July
  • 1 Tigerella
  • 2 MYSTERY! - these sprang up from last year's dirt
I also have a couple buckets ready to receive tomato plants. I'm going to start some Yellow Pear (a cherry variety) from seed, with hope of getting something before they die off. I'm very disappointed that Black Cherry didn't come up (thanks kitty). Next year they're back in the rotation. So all told I have 40 plants in 12 varieties. 

Some pictures:

Community garden plot - June 2
My volunteer potato from the previous gardener
Zucchini! Grow fast little guy, beat the bugs.
These pictures are a bit outdated, I need to get a fresh crop of pictures. See what I did there? "crop"?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Almost done planting

A few weeks back I bought a rototiller at a yard sale for $25. Sadly, it didn't work. Happily I have a friend who does small engine repair. He worked his mojo and I now have a functional Craftsman tiller. It may be 30 years old, but it's in good shape after the tune up ($45!). The back third of the fenced in garden in the backyard was seriously overgrown. Had to mow first - the tiller is not happy with chewing through tall grass. And it was no small task getting the mower maneuvered through the narrow confines of the fenced in garden.But I mowed and I tilled and I now have about a 10' x 20' area read for planting. Well, mostly ready. I think it might require a little more work. But it's in pretty good shape. Tomorrow I turn that back area into cucumber city.

The community garden is doing well so far. Except the cucumbers who did not appreciate the abrupt transition from the basement to the garden. Here's the current set up.

Community Garden
The whole plot is 10' by 25'. The potatoes aren't very accessible but I only really need to get near them to harvest, so that works. The brown areas are walkways. The numbered spots are tomatoes. The tomato rundown.
  1. Super Beefsteak
  2. San Marzano (teensy tiny little seedling currently) [06-14-2013: Added another slightly healthier San Marzano, will snip the weaker when they've grown a little.]
  3. Super Beefsteak
  4. Cherokee Purple
  5. Yellow Short Vine Taxi
  6. currently occupied by a sad little YSVT (same as 5). Not sure it'll even survive, may be replaced. [06-14-2013: Replaced by Rutgers]
  7. currently unoccupied - likely Rutgers [06-14-2013: Replaced by Brandywine]
  8. currently unoccupied - likely Brandywine [06-14-2013: Replaced by Taxi]
  9. Tigerella
  10. Black Krim
  11. Brandywine
  12. Fourth of July (not 100% sure, labelling mishap...)
  13. Amish Paste
  14. Amish Paste
  15. Amish Paste
  16. Roma
Not 100% certain what I'll use to fill in the blanks (6-8). This leaves me with 20 spots for tomatoes and 39 plants left. Since the groundhog wiped out my peas, I might try tomatoes in the spot near the house, that would give me 4 or 5 more spaces. Here are the top contenders for those remaining slots.
  1. 2 Cherokee Purple
  2. 2 Black Krim
  3. 2 Tigerella
  4. 3 Super Beefsteak
  5. a few Brandywine (have six small seedlings)
  6. a few Rutgers (have 7 small seedlings)
  7. 2 Fourth of July (Are they really Fourth of July? Not certain)
  8. a few San Marzano (have 4 tiny, somewhat sickly seedlings)
  9. maybe 1 or 2 Roma (have 6)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Community garden up to speed

I've just about got the community garden plot planted for the season. Garlic, potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, cucumbers, and 16 tomato plants. The plot before weeding...

So many weeds!
 And after!

Far fewer weeds, yay!
I bought an action hoe. It's a little D-shaped bit of metal on the end of a long handle. You use it by sliding it across the ground. It's cuts off the tops of weeds very effectively. I thought it was going to take a helluva long time to get all these weeds up, but action hoe really did a great job.

Sad cuke
The cucumbers I put in yesterday did not look happy today. I guess that's why you harden off your seedlings. At this point I think I might just sew some new seeds directly in the ground.

Green and bean
The green beans in the basement that I haven't put out yet have gone nuts. Here's the first green bean of the season, in the basement. I gotta get them planted outside.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Taking Stock

Some of my starts are off and running. Others... not so much. Decided to take stock and see where I stand. It's pouring right now, so I can't speak to the plants in the fenced in garden, but in the basement I have:

  • 4 Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - These are looking happy. They survived the cat incursion.
  • 0 Black Cherry tomatoes - They did not survive the cat incursion. These are kind of a must have, will need to get some going if I can.
  • 0 Red Cherry, Large Fruited tomatoes - These were either laid waste to by the cat or never came up. No one will ever know which.
  • 3 pumpkin - The boy's pumpkins came up, he is pleased.
  • 3 Bush green beans - Got a number of beans popping up outside as well from seed I saved.  
  • 19 Jalapeno peppers - I think they all came up. I shall have many glorious buckets of jalapenos in the back yard.
  • 9 Serrano peppers - These did great too. Not all sprouted, but a good number. I guess these will serve as my "hot" peppers this year. Hot enough for me anyway.
  • 0 Anaheim peppers - That is a tragedy. 
  • 0 Mortgage Lifter tomatoes - Only had a couple seeds, no sign of them.
  • 10 Amish Paste tomatoes - Yay! Going to plant several of these.
  • 2 Brandywine tomatoes - I got two coming up out of the same hole. I might try to separate these and grow both. Delicate surgery, that!
  • 5 Super Beefsteak tomatoes - Maybe plant a couple and give a couple away or something. Or possibly find space for them somewhere.
  • 4 Cherokee Purple tomatoes - These are too danged tasty not to make room for all of them.
  • 4 Tigerella tomatoes - I was real pleased with these... was it two years ago?
  • 5 Roma tomatoes - Ok Roma, we had our little falling out. We both said things we regret. I said you don't produce enough, and your fruits are small. You said I gave you poor growing conditions then let the weeds get established. This year let's bury the hatchet and make a real go of it you and I. I'll give you a spot with plenty of sun and you show me what you can do, deal? PS, this may be your last chance Roma. Amish Paste is just too awesome to put up with inferior paste tomatoes. 
  • 0 San Marzano tomatoes - So much for the three way paste tomato challenge.
  • 3 Black Krim - These are a nice enough tomato. If I'd never had the sublime pleasure of a Cherokee Purple I might even be pretty excited about them.
  • 4 Fourth of July tomatoes - Got the seedlings going late so they probably won't live up to their name.
  • 0 Steak Sandwich tomatoes - Too bad, the picture on the seed envelope looked really nice. Old seeds though.
  • 0 Hungarian Wax peppers - Hmmm, this is a problem, I need these for pickled peppers.
Some pictures.As I said, the jalapenos went bonkers.

Jalapeno pepper seedlings
The two Branywines that came up came out of the same hole. Doh!
Brandywine tomatoes
More tomato seedlings.

Super Beefsteak tomatoes
Roma tomatoes in the foreground, Black Krim center, 4th of July back.
Things are looking good at the community garden. The asparagus I got as a gift is pretty happy. Well, one of the crowns, the other two have been eerily quiet. The garlic seems relatively happy. also have 5 zucchini mounds that are looking pretty good as long as we don't get a frost. And a leftover from the last tenant, either a potato or a tomato. I'll grow it out and see what comes up.
My new 10' x 25' plot at the community garden
Next report - how are the buckets doing? The buckets in the backyard inside the fence with the seeds planted in them, not the buckets with  unwholesome looking rusty colored water in the last picture. The ones in the last picture are just to hold water for plants. And the water may look a little iffy, but it's fine, even potable, though probably don't taste too yummy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The cat decided it would be a great idea to explore one of the big seedling trays. Remarkably some seedlings poked up after the catastrophe. So far green beans, pumpkins, and Amish paste tomatoes have come up. Tonight's plan is to plant eggplant, a few tomato varieites and a few peppers in 2 gallon plastic buckets loaded with compost. I think danger of frost is past and I can bring the plants in on cold nights.
At the community garden I decided to take a chance and plant zucchini. Way too early to do so, but I figured for the cost of an envelope of seeds ($0.89) it was worth a shot. Made a line of five hills and an extra hill in the back of the garden. Be nice if I got a few zucchini before the bugs go to town.
Time to get serious about getting the back garden ready and planning how to support the tomatoes. I think for the plants in the back yard I'll stake them. I'm tempted to do something more elaborate at the community garden, but I may resort to staking in the end. I've also decide to make room for some cucumbers at the community garden.
Oh, and the gooseberries are flowering.

UPDATE: I planted 10 two gallon buckets with various tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and beans. Oh and dill. The weather forecast shows nothing below 40 for the next ten days. Hopefully no frost, but if there's a risk I can haul in the buckets for the night.
Bucket brigade
Oh, so still need to plant some potatoes, starts some cukes and zucchino rampicante (the zucchini with the solid stem immune to borers). Also need to start some ground cherries. Lots to do!

Oh, and a groundhog ate the few pea plants that came up. CURSE YOU GROUNDHOG! I caught him in the act. He ran off. Jerk.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Time to Sow

Jacket weather seems to be fading nicely, although the threat of a frost is not officially passed. I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that within the week we might see high thirties again. I guess we'll see. The peas are in, and have been since mid-March. But the germination was lackluster at best. I have literally a dozen plants that are an inch or two tall now. But I planted easily over a hundred seeds. Admittedly, some of the seed was old and may not have quite the mojo that it once did. But I also had two new envelopes of seeds from a local store. So a pretty puzzlingly paltry return on investment. I had a section of welded wire fencing over the middle section of the pea bed so that bigger critters would be less likely to molest them. Yet the seeds under the fence section fared no better than the rest. Not sure what would be doing this. I'm tempted to plant some more seeds and see if I can do a little better - right now I hardly have enough plants for a meal of sugar snap peas. Here's one of the suriviors.

Pea seedling, yay!
Chives are doing well. I always relish the arrival of the peppery purple chive flowers, but no signs of flowers yet.

Number Chive is Alive
Garlic seems to have survived the ravages of the winter. I present this photo as a cautionary example regarding weeding. In my defense I have since weeded about half the bed, and I promised the poor plants I'd do the rest this weekend.

My weed bed with sporadic garlic
The Quaker community garden has seen fit to upgrade me to a 1/2 plot this year. Woot! My spot is 10' x 25' and will soon be overflowing with tomatoes. Decided that Amish paste tomatoes will feature prominently with several other varieties to see what does well. Here's what things look like right now. On the left is garlic transplanted from last year's quarter plot. The tilled area in the foreground is part of my neighbors allotment.

My plot!
Another exciting development, I got 3 asparagus crowns from another gardener. I can't harvest this year, but at least one of them seems quite happy in his new digs.

One day I will EAT YOU!
Other than the above, nothing is planted outside yet. May 15th is the last frost date for my area. However I've got the basement operation up and running. Perhaps a bit late. A month early rather than 2 months. Ah well. Here's the setup.

Getting started
Doesn't seem like too much, right? Well here are the varieties I've got going.

Tomatoes, Cherry:

  • Black Cherry
  • Red Cherry, Large Fruited
  • Sungold
  • Amish Paste
  • Mortgage Lifter
  • Super Beefsteak
  • Cherokee Purple
  • San Marzano
  • Roma
  • Tigerella
  • 4th of July
  • Black Krim
  • Brandywine
  • Steak Sandwich
  • Serrano
  • Jalapeno
  • Habanero
  • Hungarian Wax
So a decent selection. I'm doing some last minute panic shopping to pick up a few more things, hot peppers, Rutgers tomatoes, Ping Tung Long eggplant. Also need to see if I can find some Jerusalem artichokes. Finances are a bit tighter this season, so I relied on seeds I already had. Wish me luck.