A slice of store bought tomato with two slices from the garden
All the garden entries from the 2013 growing season have been placed here, in this single entry to reduce clutter on the blog.
While the blog entries are organized most recent entries first, the log will be listed from the start of the season in the spring, to the end of the season in October.
This entry contains many pictures.
Prepping (and Expanding) the Growing Bed, 13-April-2013.
About twice as big as last year. _____________
The spring garden — Slightly more than double the area of last year's garden.
Off to a nice start, 21-May-2013.
Radishes are very fast. They're ready to pick. _____________
Radishes Ready to Pick — Radishes (ready to pick) in foreground. Tomatoes in background.
Peas — Peas in foreground, Tomatoes in background.
Beets — Beets... sort-of... I tried beet and carrot seeds in strips to save some time when sowing. Bad move. Both of those crops are decimated, and growing poorly in the cold spring. You live, you learn. From now on, loose seeds, or pre-planted.
State of the Garden, 29-May-2013.
And the last of the radish harvest. _____________
Final Radish Harvest — The left-over dregs from the radish patch. These look knarly because I didn't properly thin the crop. These were left in the ground for an extra week after the main harvest.
Overview — Three tomato plants in front, sharing row with some decimated beets. Carrots (also decimated) and snap-peas to the right. To the left: more beets, and fallow ground (back-left corner) where the radishes were growing.
The State of the Garden, 6-June-2013.
Off to a good start. _____________
Italian beets in foreground next to tomato plants (right). Regular beets behind. Carrots and peas back in the right-back corner.
Carrots — I used seed strips for these (instead of loose seeds). They would probably be perfect had we had a normal spring, but it was a very cold spring, so the rows are decimated.
Lesson? Loose seeds or pre-started are probably the best way to go.
Peas — Starting to produce.
Beets — Sparse, but growing nicely.
Ode To The Compost Pile, 13-June-2013
Be it ever so humble, the compost pile is the star of the garden _____________
The compost pile. Humble as can be, yet it is the undisputed star of the lawn and garden.
It is mostly grass-clippings, so a lot of the expensive fertilizer you buy to make your grass grow gets recycled and re-used.
Many other things you'd normally have to bag and throw away as waste go right in here too. This includes leaves, kitchen scraps, and all the non-edible parts of your garden plants.
BTW: If you are going to compost grass clippings you will need to switch to the no-name, non-weed killing fertilizer (plain ol' 10-10-10, or 12-12-12 work fine). The expensive name-brand crap has all kinds of bad things in it, like crab-grass preventer. If that's in your compost pile and you use it in your garden, you wont be able to start plants from seeds. That's because those fancy name-brand, weed-killing mixes work by preventing all seeds from germinating. Exactly what you want for keeping crab-grass at bay, but not for vegetable gardens.
Beets. First and second harvests, 19-June-2013
First and second harvests of beets. _____________
Regular beets on the left. The row of smaller red beets across the top are Italian beets.
I never thinned the beets early on, so these are the rejects from a very late thinning. The red beets are Italian, the purple beets are regular. They are small because they compete with their neighbors for sunlight. This forces them to commit most of their energy and resources for leaf-production instead of bulb-production.
Italian beets are sweet like the purple ones, but grow in concentric rings. This should make for a nice plate-garnish, or salad presentation. Shown here is a cross-section of Italian beets showing red and white rings.
Tomatoes, and the last of the early beets, 26-June-2013
Beets. Third (and last) harvest. Tomatoes, still green, but growing well. _____________
This is the remainder of the beet crop, which had been left in the ground from last week. Beets (unlike radishes) are somewhat forgiving about when they are harvested.
Tomatoes aplenty, but still green — Lots of tomatoes, currently green, coming to a tomato plant soon.
The Tomato Harvest Begins (sort of), 2-July-2013
The tomato harvest has started. _____________
Only a couple of ripe ones so far, but it looks very promising for the near future.
There are lots of green tomatoes that will (God willing) be ripe tomatoes soon. The little pile on the ground were either ready-to-pick, or fell off when I was pruning dead/yellow branches.
Lots of tomatoes no matter from what angle you look.
After beets and radishes - What to plant, 7-July-2013
After harvesting the early crops, there is fallow ground. _____________
One important task for a gardener is to properly plan, in order to ensure utilization of the growing season.
The harvest of the radishes and beets left a lot of fallow ground to fill. Here are four honeydew plants in the foreground. I don't know if honeydews require trellis or not. They're there just in case, until I research it. There are two red bell-pepper plants behind the honeydews. Still quite a bit of space that needs planting.
. . . . .
It turns out you don't need trellises. If you use them, you will have to construct "slings" from cloth in order to hold the weight of the fruit, since the plant's tendrils will not be enough to support the weight of the melons.
To grow them without trellises place flat tiles under the fruit as they form, so that they will not sit in water, or rot on the damp ground.
Tomato Harvest in Full Swing, 11-July-2013
Even a bit of vandalism seems to have been taken in stride. _____________
The tomato harvest is on the up-swing — There was some vandalism this week. It looked like somebody leaned against two of the tomato cages to get a better look and pushed one of them completely over. Could have been a big critter (skunk or possum). As you can see here, some strategically placed stakes, along with more bread-ties than I care to admit, and they're back upright. About a half dozen tomatoes were lost. Still, not a bad haul for this week. Hopefully the plants will recover and keep producing.
All you need is a little salt.
Another day, another dozen (or so) tomatoes. If a drenching storm is in the forecast, you should pick the tomatoes that are starting to turn orange. Otherwise, your ripening tomatoes will split open. I took another bunch on the 12th, bringing the total tomato count for the first week to 60.
State of the Garden, 16-July-2013
Everything seems to be braving the heat, so far. _____________
The garden. Tomato plants braving the heat as best they can. To the right there are the honeydew plants, and on the extreme right are the carrots (still not right, kinda stubby, any ideas?). There are also peppers behind the tomatoes that you can't see.
If there were a calendar for tomatoes, these girls would be on it. — There are still about a dozen on the plants that I'll pick before going back to O.C. That will bring the haul for this week to just under 3 doz
The State of the Garden, 28-July-2013.
Tomatoes are . _____________
Vive La Difference — A couple of slices of a tomato picked from the garden, vs a slice of store-bought tomato.
Overview — After yesterday's tomato harvest, it looks like there will be another dozen or so. Would never have guessed this much yield from only three plants. They're really doing well, even in this heat. Bell peppers directly behind the tomato plants. On the right, the newly planted honeydew crop has LOTS of flowers. Once again, with the finishing up of the carrots and peas, I'm faced with a great deal of fallow growing land. I'll have to find something good to plant soon, so as not to waste too much growing time.
Tomatoes are looking good — This is the first harvest of the week that had (mostly) ripened on the vine before I picked them. These will probably be even tastier than usual. The plants are really holding up well under the heat this year (so far, knock wood )
More Tomatoes — The second, and final, harvest for this week. Brings the total for the week to just over four dozen.
The State of the Garden, 20-Augus-2013.
Tomatoes are making a slow but sure comeback. _____________
Tomato harvest turning the corner — After three weeks of picking small, ugly tomatoes, they seem to have finally turned a corner. My best explanation is that the tomatoes I've been picking were a result of the heat bump in the last half of July, and the first week in August. Seems like there is a three-to-four week lag between the harvest and the weather that affects it.
Failed cucumber starts — My failed experiment with starting cucumbers inside. I planted 3 dozen (each in it's own egg-carton compartment). Only five sprouts came up, which I planted on these mounds. Of the five there is only one sprout left. That isn't enough for cross pollination, unfortunately.
Tomato plants improving — Since the weather has moderated, the tomato plants seem to be bouncing back.
Mellon Patch — The honey-dew patch seems to be doing well. Underneath that blanket of leaves, there are 13 melons, ranging in size from "large grape," to "small... well... melon." I place each one I can find on a small tile (as per Internet instructions) to keep it from getting ground rot.
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The tomatoes are back, 18-September-2013.
They took a while to recover, but they're going like gangbusters now. _____________
Never give up — Yields, quality, and size are retuning after about 4-5 weeks of small ugly tomatoes. This (foreground group) is yesterday's pick. I got another 40 today for another 3 dozen. There are still a few more out there that I'll need to pick, so the total yield for this week will be close to 7 dozen. THAT'S THREE PLANTS! Though there are still a lot of nice looking greens, there are fewer flowers now, so it may be winding down. We'll see.
Late Season Garden, 18-September-2013.
Don't let the ratty look fool you. It is still a VERY productive garden. _____________
I spoke with a first year gardening newbie the other day, who told me he had ripped out his garden because it had become overgrown and ratty. I'm on my third year. Still a newbie. But it seems like it may be a good time to share the uglier side of the garden.
Late season tomato plants (1 of 3) —
Here is a picture of my late season tomato plants. The foliage is yellow and brown in many places, even though I'm constantly picking those off the plant. There are also vines going every which way. It looks like a ratty mess.
The important thing to to understand, however, is that they are producing great tomatoes and fantastic yields.
It's true that for about a month following the July/August heat they were producing small, ugly tomatoes in smaller numbers, but THAT DID NOT MARK THE END of their useful season. When the more moderate temperatures returned, so did the quality and growth of the fruit (see 3 of 3).
The foliage continued to be ugly, but the harvests grew in yield and quality.
Late season honeydews (2 of 3) — Here's the honeydew patch. Notice the ratty, viney, yellowing foliage. Note the lovely honeydews too. There are 20 in the patch currently, of which I realistically expect to get 15-17.
Late season harvest (3 of 3) — As stated, even though the foliage looks horrible, the harvest continues to bounce back, producing high yields and good quality.
The Freeze Prediction, 9-October-2013.
Sadly, the growing season must end. _____________
It's sort-of sad and tragic to get the season-ending freeze report.
There are many ways to prepare green tomatoes — So many tomatoes were developing toward the goal of ripe maturity. There were lots of flowers too, looking for a bee. Oh well. There are good ways to utilize these greens. Someone has said they'd like to make fried green tomatoes. Someone else wants to make green salsa. Hoping they don't go bad like lasts year's last batch.
The remaining honeydew melons — Why do I suddenly feel like I'm on the cover of an old 10cc album?
The garden as a metaphor
In gardening, God provides something to which you can give, which gives back. You don't give just because it gives back food. You know, for example, there will be times when disease or disaster mean it will be able to provide little or nothing in return for your toil. It remains a blessing though, that you give and it gives back. It provides food, but also peace, and lessons about life, and how the creation is structured at the level of consciousness. It provides a reality check too, allowing you to understand, with indisputable certainty, just how much effort it really takes to sustain us. Even in the weeds there are lessons. The subtle ways—for example—in which they are able to establish themselves and thrive, employing their strategy of only taking.