Monthly Archives: October 2015

Friday PhotoEssay – October 30, 2015

The garden is almost ready to for the winter. We removed the remaining sad tomato plants and the squash and trellises this week. The only “warm season” things left are the pole beans, the flowering sages, and the annual flowers.

We don’t have a lot of cool season plants either. Just the lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and a few herbs and strawberries. You might notice that we left the straw after removing the plants. I feel like we are constantly trying to balance protecting the soil by leaving the straw on over the winter with reducing insect pressure by removing a place that insects could overwinter (in the straw).

We harvested the remaining squashes as we took down the trellises, but most of them weren’t mature yet. Squash is technically edible at almost any stage, but a winter/hard squash that is not fully hard yet will likely not have very sweet or good flavor. They were still cool looking though!


Since we talked about ripening green tomatoes last week, I thought I’d show you a couple before and after pictures. My office gets pretty warm, hence the quick ripening. Again, if they were in a cooler spot, they wouldn’t have ripened so quickly.

 Even the really green tomatoes in this batch have mostly ripened! There are still a few holdouts, so the question is if they were truly mature and will ripen eventually or if they weren’t completely mature and thus will not ripen at all.

The pole beans are still doing well. The green ones have slowed down some, but the purples are still producing like crazy. The purple variety is ‘Carminat’ and it is probably one of the sweetest snap beans I’ve ever eaten raw. Different bean varieties really do have slightly different flavors, and this particular variety is very sweet. Some varieties are nutty without having any sweetness and other just taste green/like grass.

The most photogenic thing left in the garden is clearly the Pineapple Sage (red) and the Mexican Blue Sage (purple). They have pretty much taken over their bed and with the tomatoes gone can really show off now!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – October 23, 2015

We decided to put an end to the misery of the tomato plants this week. We felt that given the weather, there were not all that many tomatoes that would actually reach the point of maturity where they could even ripen off the vine. We ended up with one large bag of ripe tomatoes, 2 large bags of green tomatoes that were unlikely to ripen, and 3 trays of tomatoes that I thought would ripen.

The garden is clearly different with the tomatoes gone! We also snipped the remaining squash plants off at the ground so that we could more easily take them off the trellises next week.

We also harvested about 2/3 of the peanuts this week. We have set them to dry for roasting later on. The yield wasn’t as high as we had hoped, although many of the pods were nice sized.

One of the reasons that the yield wasn’t what we might have wished is that our heirloom peanut varieties were a lot taller and lankier than we had expected. This meant that when the flowers bloomed and produced the “pegs” (the ovary bud, which are the purplish stem-looking things in the picture), the pegs couldn’t reach the soil and produce peanuts. We could have had dozens more peanuts!

So, the moral of the story is that we should either have chosen a modern variety with shorter plants where the flowers occur closer to the base OR we should have planted the heirloom varieties in a spot with more space to flop over and reach the soil. Now we know!

The ‘Schronce’s Deep Black’ peanut has rich purple colored skins on the peanuts before drying. I washed the pods and have layed them out to dry for the time being.

No, this isn’t the entire harvest! One of the Master Gardeners took the rest home to wash, dry, and roast for us to try later. I wanted to keep a handful to show on the blog.

I also have our ripening tomatoes in a couple trays in my office. The warmth will ripen them faster than if they were in a slightly cooler (55 degree) setting. Some of them have ripening quite a bit just this week.

The way you can determine if a green tomato will ripen is to look at the blossom end. A “mature green” tomato will have a white star at the blossom end, as you can see on the tomato above. A tomato will also typically start ripening from the blossom end, so if there is even a tinge of color there, it will ripen. It is important to make sure that you cull out any damaged fruit and set the fruit so they aren’t touching to prevent any rotting. The cooler the temperature of the place you put the tomatoes, the longer they will take to ripen. If you want garden tomatoes for Thanksgiving, you should be able to stretch the ripening out!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – October 16, 2015

I’ll be honest that I’m just waiting for it to freeze so we can be done with things. Not that we couldn’t pull things out already, but it’s hard to do! You always want to see if just a few more things can ripen before the yanking happens. I’ve got a couple squashes that I want to ripen, but it probably won’t happen as the nights get colder.

We have slowly been removing tomatoes, but everything else is still growing strong.

The pole beans have really come on strong in the past couple weeks. The moral of this story is that fall planted pole beans can produce well, but spring planted pole beans are awful. Now the question is yield per square foot compared to bush beans…something to look at another year.

We haven’t had much for caterpillars in the garden this year, for whatever reason. We do have a few of these Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the fennel this week.

Not only are the pole beans doing well, the other varieties are producing well too. Beans are a versatile and productive vegetable, although I don’t often recommend them for a small space garden. Now I’m wondering about the pole beans again…

The Mexican Blue Sage (Salvia leucantha) is finally in full, glorious bloom. It is also very attractive to our bees. When I was trying to capture some good pictures, I realized that the grasshoppers are also enjoying the plant!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – October 9, 2015

I wonder if anyone has done a study looking at the relationship between the ugliness of a tomato plant and its productivity? Our tomato plants are UGLY, but the number of tomatoes we are still getting from them is a little bit ridiculous.

We are slowly taking a few more plants out as they die. Our squash vines are starting to die back as well, but we won’t remove them for a couple more weeks. Past experiences tell us that trying to remove live vines from our cattle panel trellises is extremely difficult. Dead vines are much easier to deal with. Sometimes I’ve even had to cut the vines off at the ground and let them dry for a week before we can take everything down.

One of our projects this week was to extract this Green Striped Cushaw from where it had grown through the trellis. It took a big knife!

We buried the knife! We cut the back part of the squash off, then had to trim it a bit more before pulling the other part off the trellis.

That’s one way to get a square squash!

This lettuce plant went and bolted this week. I’m not really sure why. I suspect that the weather fluctuations probably played the biggest role in it.

I know, I know…obligatory Swiss Chard photo for the week! I had to change it up with the yellow chard instead of the red.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – October 2, 2015

It’s October and all of a sudden the weather also feels like October! Not a lot to report on from the Demo Garden this week, although I did harvest a squash today and the Master Gardeners harvested quite a few beans, greens, and tomatoes earlier in the week.

There has not been much change in the overall look of the garden this week from last week.

That said, as ugly as most of our tomato plants are, they are still quite productive. The ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ was an All America Selection this year and is definitely living up to its reputation with all the late season tomatoes. This variety was rated highly in my earlier review post and it is only increasing in my estimation.

Our fall lettuces continue to shine. The front left lettuce is ‘New Red Fire’ (leaf lettuce). The far back left variety is ‘Muir’ (leaf lettuce). The back right variety is ‘Thurinus’ (red romaine). The front right lettuce is ‘Flashy Butter Oak’ (oak leaf lettuce).

Our Herb & Pollinator Garden hasn’t been as spectacular this year as it was last year, until all of a sudden the Mexican Bush Sage, Pineapple Sage, and Zinnias have burst into bloom. I guarantee you that no picture I take is as beautiful as it is in person, so come check it out!

I broke down and harvested this squash/pumpkin, the ‘Thai Kang Kob’ this morning. The rind wasn’t as hard as I would have liked, but there was a crack around the stem that was starting to rot and let bugs in. Watch for more on this lovely specimen next week!

Have a great weekend!