Monthly Archives: July 2010

Getting Ready for Fall

I know you probably think I’m crazy. After all, talking about fall gardening might seem nuts when it’s been near 100 for a week, with little chance of much relief for another week, and a forecast in the 90s for the foreseeable future. However, one thing that might give you a little hope looking at that long-range forecast (even if it is about as reliable as a campaign ad) is that the overnight lows are going to be dropping down into the 60s in another 7-10 days. That means that the weather is starting to get cool enough that some of our fall veggies will tolerate it!

I’m going to be doing 2 separate trials in the garden this fall.  One involving spinach, planting dates, and overwintering with row cover fabric and the other involving a variety of root vegetables and overwintering with row cover plastic. I’ll give you a lot more details about those projects next week, after Tomato Day is over!

I did do one thing beyond planning to get started though. I planted some leek and onion seeds yesterday. I’m a little late on them…they probably should have been planted 2-3 weeks ago, but it just didn’t happen. My goal is to plant them out in the garden by early September. They’ll be on the small side, but there’s nothing like pushing the envelope on an overwintering trial!

What is the Difference?

In the world of tomatoes, especially heirloom tomatoes, we often see something like “100 days” or “70 days.” This is referring to the Days to Maturity. In the case of tomatoes, it means how long it will be from the day you transplant a seedling to the day you start picking ripe tomatoes. A lot of hybrids tend to fall in the 60-75 day range, while the whole spectrum of tomatoes can go from 50 days to 120+ days. I have to be honest that I glance at that number when I’m picking tomatoes, but I usually don’t really pay much attention. However, the difference becomes quite stark when you have a 60 day tomato planted right next to a 100 day tomato, as is the case in the Demo Garden this year.

Here’s the difference between a 70 day Brandymaster (hybrid Brandywine) and Brandywine itself (100 days).

The Red Brandymaster has several tomatoes that are nearly ripe.

The Brandywine plant is just starting (finally!) to set tomatoes. Actually, I’m impressed that it’s setting tomatoes as hot as it’s been.

Harvest Report

Even though the garden is looking a little bit scorched, we still had a good haul of produce this morning. There was a big pile of cucumbers from the Asian Garden, over-sized long beans, several nice tomatoes, and a few gold zucchini from around the garden.

The Family of 4 Garden yielded quite a bounty, especially since we harvested the rest of the carrots and beets today. We’ll be replanting soon, so this will give the spot a short rest.

This Week’s Harvest:

2 bunches of beets @ $3.00/bunch = $6.00

2 bunches of carrots @ $2.00/bunch = $4.00

4 cucumbers @ $0.75/each = $3.00

5 oz. peppers @ $2.50/pound = $0.78

10 squash blossoms @ $0.50/each = $5.00

1 bunch Swiss Chard @ $2.99/bunch = $2.99

1 lb tomatoes @ $2.00/lb = $2.00

3/4 lb zucchini @ $1.50/lb = $1.13

Weekly Total = $24.90

Yearly Total = $163.86

Watermelon & Tomato Salad

I love watermelon, but I am usually content to eat it all by itself. It really seems unnecessary to adulterate it in any way. However, the past couple years, I’ve seen lots of recipes come along that use watermelon as an ingredient. Savory salads, grilled, sorbets, sautes, etc. Well, I happened to buy a huge (25+ pound) yellow-fleshed watermelon while I was traveling in Oklahoma last week, and then I had to figure out how to fit it into our refrigerator. Since I had more watermelon than we could possibly eat, I moved onto some of these alternative preparations.

This is the result of my foray into savory watermelon salads. You are looking at cubed yellow watermelon, cubed purple tomato, minced basil, and feta cheese. In my opinion, the feta is unnecessary, but my husband is a fan of it. This was all tossed with  simple vinaigrette of  apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Yum! What a delicious, cool, summery salad. It was definitely better the first day, but still tasty today. I think I would have liked it just as well with only the watermelon and the vinaigrette.

Next up in the watermelon adventure…Watermelon Salsa!

Friday PhotoEssay + Family of 4 Harvest

The garden changed quite a bit while I was gone, and not all of it for the better. Yikes, it’s been hot!

Our big, 100 gallon smart pot is a little slower than other things in the garden, I think largely because it is in a slightly shadier spot. However, the cucumber has finally taken off! It grew up the side of the tomato cage and is now working its way up the chain that was hanging above it. Crazy cucumber!

The peppers aren’t looking quite as nice as I might wish. They are a little bit pale in color, which is probably a nitrogen deficiency. They aren’t really producing either, which is probably partly due to the lack of nutrients. I gave them some fertilizer, so they should be looking better by next week.

The smart pot isn’t drying out much differently than any of our other containers, but it maybe isn’t a very good test since it is in a slightly shaded spot.

This is the ‘Honey Bun’ cantaloupe that was such a cute baby just a week ago. You can see the netting starting to develop on the end, but it is still very green!

The ‘Cherry Brandy’ Rudbeckia in one of the cutting flower gardens has burst into bloom. It is almost too pretty to cut!

Surprise! The Bells of Ireland are blooming! Actually, it’s quite impressive that they are blooming, given that they much prefer cooler spring weather. I was fully expecting them to either croak or hang out and wait until the weather was cooler before blooming.

There is no getting around the fact that these are just weird flowers, though.

The top cucumber is one of the ‘Diva’ Cucumbers from the Family of 4 Garden. The other two are from the Asian Garden. The ‘Diva’ is actually about 6+” long, which helps you appreciate how huge the other cucumbers are!

Here’s the Family of 4 Garden Harvest for the week:

1/4 bunch of carrots @ $2.00/bunch = $0.50

2 cucumbers @ $0.75/each = $1.50

1 lb. non-bell peppers @ $2.50/lb = $$2.50

1/4 lb tomatoes @ $2.00/lb = $0.50

1 bunch Swiss Chard @ $2.99/bunch = $2.99

Weekly Total = $7.99

Yearly Total = $138.97