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Friday PhotoEssay – August 19, 2016

We have been busily harvesting a number of vegetables – especially peppers and tomatoes. I’m pretty pleased with most of our tomato varieties. Although some have had cracking issues, most of them have been yielding pretty consistently.

28473952483_f027a32dc6_zEvery week the garden feels more and more like a jungle. For better or for worse, not much has really started dying off yet. Usually by this point in the season, there are things that are clearly going downhill. At the moment, everything just continues to encroach on the aisles.

28804424280_fbcf140afcThe first flush of peppers on the ‘Escamillo’ sweet pepper plants has finally ripened to the golden yellow color. The plants had a very good initial yield. I hope they can set and ripen another flush of fruit before it gets too cold this fall.

28985916812_e8e9e9145cWe harvested a whole bag full of the ‘Fushimi’ peppers from the Oriental garden. These peppers are not supposed to be hot (despite their appearance), and they are often sauteed in oil and sprinkled with salt as an appetizer. I’m hoping to have time to try that recipe out soon!

28804461070_091415e232If I’m honest, the ‘Lucky Tiger’ cherry tomatoes still look a bit sickly in color to me. The plant all of a sudden had tons of ripe fruit. Despite this pile, at least this many were thrown away due to significant cracks.

28903498346_666f294e70We harvested the first of the Korean Golden Honey Melons last week. They are very cute! They do taste exactly like you expect an Asian melon to taste like (if you’ve had the opportunity to try them before). Meaning, don’t expect the sweet cantaloupe or watermelon flavor we are used to! Most Asian melons are a little crunchy and have a flavor more like a sweet cucumber than a melon. The flavor is often a little floral and mildly sweet, compared to the high sugar content of an American melon.

28830400612_919e28407cWe’ve harvested the first handful of the hot paprika peppers (‘Leutschauer’) and they have taken up residence on my office table to dry. They will dry naturally if they have reached the point where they are starting to get just a little bit soft and wrinkly on the plant AND if there is no damage to the fruit that will let decay get started. The best thing to do would be to put them in a dehydratro, which I may do if we have enough at one time.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay – August 29th

I think our garden is about ready for fall, as you can easily see below:

Clearly the pumpkin and the tomato on the nearest trellis have seen better days. I suspect that by next week the garden is going to look significantly different! Fall garden, here we come!

One of the reasons the pumpkins are looking so sad is because there are dozens (or more) squash bug nymphs all over them. I’m actually rather impressed that they didn’t show up before now, when the pumpkins are almost done producing. Since the plants are nearly dead and we picked all but 2 pumpkins this week, I think we will just be removing the plants rather than trying to treat for the squash bugs.

This is one of the fruit from the ‘Tondo Liscia Manduria’ cucumber vine in the Italian Garden. We let it go all the way to “melon” stage, and you can see that the stem had slipped (separated from the fruit) and it was starting to crack.

From the inside, you can see it looks quite a bit like a honeydew melon. It tasted pretty good – not dissimilar to a honeydew melon. Maybe not quite as sweet. The texture was very much like a melon. So it’s a dual purpose plant – cucumbers and melons!

We have ornamental peppers in many of our containers this year, and they are just starting to look really spectacular. This is a variety called ‘Sangria.’ I love the mixture of red and purple peppers.

This pot has three different varieties, and the color combination is really interesting. I love the purple plant in front, then the green plant with orange fruit, then the “black” plant at the back. The sizes of the plants worked well too!

Have a great weekend!

Thinning Seedlings

I think one of the hardest gardening tasks is thinning out seedlings. It is too easy to just let it go, because you are so excited to see the plants growing, and then everything is an overgrown, tangled mess that you can’t thin out. That’s one of the reasons that I try really hard to space things out when I plant the seeds. However, that doesn’t always work out.

On our trellises for growing vining vegetables, we usually want no more than 2-3 plants per side of the trellis. It seems like so little when you are planting just a few seeds, but planting too many can be a disaster later on!

You can see that there are at least 5 plants along this trellis, and I think there may have been another one or two that I didn’t get in the picture. Even though these plants will be growing up the trellis, if we left all of the plants in place, they would be so thick that we could have problems with diseases – especially if this hot, humid weather keeps on.

We removed all but 3 plants from each of the trellises, which will still be plenty thick by the time the plants are full grown.

2014 Garden Plans: Bed 1

We had the first of our subcommittee meetings yesterday to work on the planning for Bed 1. I don’t know what I’m going to call this garden, because it is really three different parts all in one. One end is the Vertical Garden, the middle part is Quinoa, and the other end is a Spring/Fall Italian Garden. Maybe I’ll have to nickname it the Conglomerate Garden? The Motley Mixed Garden? The Heterogeneous Garden? The Italicalnoa Garden? The Quinicalian Garden? I’ll take nominations!

Bed 1If you recall, this is the raised bed that has the two, 4’x4′ more raised areas in the center. Those two sections are where we will plant the quinoa.

Italian Garden  

The Italian section of the garden features spring and fall vegetables, with the intention of exploring what there is beyond tomatoes and basil, the quintessential Italian foods. We had a lot of fun perusing the Seeds from Italy catalog and website and trying to find the best choices for different types of vegetables. As you can see, the spring plantings include  several types of greens, beans, and cippolini onions. The beans are a shelling type called ‘Lingua di Fuoco’ which translates to ‘Tongue of Fire.’ The pods have bright pink streaks!

There are lots of types of chicories to choose from, including plain chicory, endive, escarole, and radicchio. We chose a couple “Italian Dandelion” varieties of chicory to try, an endive/escarole mesclun mix, and a red radicchio/chicory for the fall.

We also will have Tuscan Kale growing all year. Sometimes the Tuscan type is called Dinosaur Kale, Nero di Toscano, or similar names.

We are going to try a bulbing variety of fennel in the fall to see if it will produce, as well as some purple bunching onions.

Vertical Garden

We are continuing to demonstrate some of the vertical gardening techniques, and the trellis/arbor over one of the walkways was such a hit last year that we decided to try it again.

‘Tonda Liscia Manduria’ Cucumber is an Italian cucumber melon that is fairly small, round, and has fuzzy skin. It tastes like a cucumber when young and ripens to taste more like a melon.

‘Escorial’ Melon is a Charentais-type melon. It is earlier maturing and hopefully will be less crack-prone than the heirloom Charentais melon.

‘Small Sugar’ Pumpkin is a pie pumpkin that produces sweet, 4-6 lb pumpkins. I’m looking forward to pie this fall!

Quinoa

Quinoa is a Chenopodium, which means that it is going to look a lot like lambsquarter/goosefoot when it starts growing. The flowers/seed heads are supposed to be beautiful colors, which we are all looking forward to. Depending on how hot it gets for how long this summer, we may or may not get a seed crop, but it should be interesting to try growing it! We chose the ‘Brightest Brilliant’ mix and ‘Colorado’ and the two varieties to try.

Friday PhotoEssay

I have so many great pictures from this week that I feel like I need to do two or three PhotoEssays. Or perhaps I should just plan to write a couple more posts for next week? That might be a plan…especially since I’ve been struggling to get something posted on Mondays this year.

Here’s the whole garden picture from this week, but from the other side of the garden today. The trellis and sweet potatoes are really impressive, but the tomatoes are equally crazy!

It is starting to feel a little bit like a tropical rainforest around here, and some of the plants are clearly thriving in this weather. Some of the begonias are just lush and this zucchini plant has HUGE leaves and flowers. (The white/silver you see on the leaves is just natural coloration for this variety, not powdery mildew.)

We had the hardest time getting the cucumber vine started on the trellis this spring when there wasn’t much moisture. After replanting multiple times, we finally had one seed germinate, and it is just now producing. It is one of the ‘Salt & Pepper’ Cucumbers that we had last year.

After having caterpillars munching on herbs for the last several weeks, it looks like we’re starting to see some butterflies!

We turned the soil in this bed again to keep working in the remnants of the crazy buckwheat. It looks much cleaner after that second turning.

I was busy roasting garlic yesterday so we could taste test it all next week, and I thought I’d take a picture of one of the elephant garlic bulbs and one of the larger regular garlic bulbs. Quite a difference! (In my opinion, the Elephant Garlic doesn’t taste very good roasted either. Maybe it just isn’t garlick-y enough?)

Hmm…this ‘Rosa Bianca’ eggplant seems to be more purple than rose. I wonder if the color is an effect of the cooler night temperatures? It’s certainly pretty, and I’m sure there is no effect on the edibility. It’s just interesting that the colors are so much more vibrant all of a sudden. The ones I picked at the beginning of the week were almost white.

Have a great weekend!