Sunday, October 18, 2015

Did I Mention...?

It's been a very good year for pickled summer squash.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tomato Finale

The average first frost date for our fair city is October 13th. We've managed to dodge that this year, but if the prognosticators of the weather are correct we'll have frost overnight in a couple of days. So these are probably the last vine ripened tomatoes of this growing season. Maybe one of these days I'll have the resources to grow fresh veggies year-round. Until then, like most people, I'll just have to make do with what I have.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Hoosier Tradition

If you're ever in the Fort Wayne area of Indiana on a weekend near the 26th of September, you might want to check out the  Johnny Appleseed Festival, named after one of the most unique characters and successful orchardists ever produced in the U.S. You can check out some fast facts about this legendary gentleman here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

First Time Is Sometimes The Charm

I'm in my third season of trying to grow Pepino Melons and things are not looking good; plenty of blossoms, but no melons. However, my Alpine Strawberries are a different story. The blooms finally started appearing a few weeks ago and the fruit is now ripening. I was afraid there would be nothing before the first hard frost, but it looks like my worries were unfounded. You can bet I'm looking forward to tasting these little gems which I am growing for the first time this year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Equinox Is Upon Us

“Equinox” comes from the Latin words “equi” meaning “equal” and “nox” meaning “night.” This implies equal amounts of daylight and darkness, however this is not exactly the case. On September 23, 2015, the sun will rise at 6:56 a.m. EDT on the equinox and will set at 7:04 p.m., so there will be 8 minutes of day over night. Although the sun is perfectly over the equator, we mark sunrises and sunsets at the first and last minute the tip of the disk appears. And because of atmosphere refraction, light is bent which makes it appear as though the sun is rising or setting earlier.

By the way, this year, equal day and night won’t occur until September 26 with sunrise as 6:59 a.m. EDT and sunset at 6:59 p.m.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Deja Grew

Three seasons ago there was a contamination scare that involved melons. It made me very glad that I was growing my own melons that year. Now I am experiencing the double whammy of a salmonella scare involving cilantro and cucumbers sending shock waves through the produce sections of American food stores.

Fortunately the FDA is right on top of this and has isolated the source of the contamination in each case. And even more fortunately, I can get all the cilantro and lemon cukes I want from my garden.

Food safety isn't the main reason I like to garden, but it is a really great side benefit.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tomato Grower's Lament

When nightshade fruits come out to play.
They ripen in the sun all day.
They may come in the summer.
They may come in the fall.
But it's a real bummer.
When they don't come at all.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

In A Pickle

Or at least, that's where these squash are headed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How Big Must A Container Be?

Asking how big a container must be for a tomato plant to reach fruiting stage is a little like asking how many licks it takes to get to the chewy center of a well known lollipop. The answer seems to be, it depends.

In the case of this Black Vernissage tomato plant, the answer is seven inches across by seven inches deep. That one could be grown in such a small pot is quite a surprise since this variety is considered to be indeterminate in nature. I placed the pot in the bottom half of a plastic gallon jug I had cut in half. This made it possible for a ready supply of water to always be available.

It's always nice to have an unexpected success in the garden.

Monday, August 24, 2015

گوجه فرنگی

Although the tomato is native to the New World, it has become global in its reach and its many variations have often returned to its home to delight many a palate. One such variety is Banjan Rumi, which first made its return in 1937 from the nation of Afghanistan. The name of this delicious variety actually comes from Persian(Farsi). So there is every chance that Iranians had a hand in helping develop this variation along with Afghan tomato lovers. I was fortunate to be introduced to this variety this year by the generous seed keepers at I can't thank them enough for this unexpected gift that came in exchange for some seeds I sent to them.

At a time when Americans have been encouraged to think otherwise, it's good to know that something wonderful can come from Iran and Afghanistan.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Berry Interesting

Every once in a while I like to let one or two of my large containers sit out a season. I think the rest does them some good. Of course, Mother Nature never lets anything truly rest, does she? Everything is always in flux and life is always trying to break through at some level. So I shouldn't be surprised to find something growing in one of my large containers that remained unused this year. 

But what was surprising is that a wonderberry plant sprouted and is now producing fruit. I grew Burbank wonderberries in that container about two years ago! I can't quite figure out why no wonderberry plants sprung up last year, but are appearing now. It's downright puzzling. But as mysteries go, this one is quite easy to live with.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Children Of Abundantia

Presented for your consideration(clockwise from top left) Rumi Banjan tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, straight neck summer squash, banana peppers and Black Vernissage tomatoes.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Container Cabbage

I love growing cabbage in containers, especially when it produces a nice, solid head as this variety does. And unlike lettuce, cabbage doesn't bolt at the first sign of high temperatures. I harvested my first container cabbage today to use in a dish called cabbage jambalaya. I still have four more remaining and visions of soup, cole slaw and sauerkraut are dancing in my head.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Flowers I Love To Hate

 I have a real love/hate relationship with these flowers. Don't get me wrong, they don't make me sneeze or anything. They are really nice to look at and the red ones attract humming birds. The problem is that their appearance means that summer is more than half over. And that's something I'd rather not think about just now. Especially since the fruits of my labor are starting to appear in abundance.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mutant Squash: The Next Generation

Last year I planted seeds from a bush delicata squash that produced large, ovoid shaped winter squash that looked nothing like a bush delicata should. This year I planted some seeds from those oddly shaped squash and this has been one of the results. I really can't believe how little they resemble the shape of their squash parent. And I can't help wondering how they will taste.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bargain Bin Bounty

I've been planting summer squash for over a decade now, but I've never seen plants that are as consistently robust and prolific as the ones I've grown this year from these seeds I purchased at the end of last season in one of those 10-packets-for-a-dollar sales. It just goes to show that you never know where your greatest bounty will come from.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Can I Nudge You Into Getting Your Green On?

If you've never tried gardening, you really should give it a go. It's hard to think unpleasant thoughts when you're watching things grow.

Here are a couple of links to help you get started:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Me, Winter Me

I was assured by the info on the seed packs that the summer squash on the left and the winter squash on the right were both of a type that occupied a "compact" environment. So I planted them both in the same modest sized lasagna bed. After a month and a half of growth, they don't seem so compact do they?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

This Week In Squash

It has been one of those years where Mother Nature has decided to keep us all guessing. First, there was the tug of war between Spring and Winter that lasted far longer than it should have. Then we had a similar situation between Spring and Summer. And then, there has been the rain, lots of it! All in all it has been a season to remember as far as the weather is concerned. 

So I put things into the garden and crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The first of the summer squash are now here and once they start coming, they come fast. I'm glad to have them and hope my plant can stay healthy for at least another month. If Mother Nature cooperates, of course.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Overwintered Success

This rhubarb chard plant had only just sprouted when I brought it inside just before the first hard frost last autumn. Even though it was placed in a south facing window, it barely survived because there were so many cloudy, overcast days last winter. Fortunately, it made it through to spring and as the days grew longer it perked up and began to grow. Now it's a stunning example of how gardening can be done year-round even at this latitude.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mystery Solved

When I planted bush delicata squash seeds last year, one of the plants produced squash of the shape you see in the photo. When I asked people on the Internet about what sort of squash were being produced, it was generally agreed that somehow patty pan squash seeds had been accidentally mixed in with the delicata seeds. However, I suspected that these were not summer squash because of their hard skins.

I was proven right today when I finally cooked the squash. These were  definitely winter squash. If they had not been, they wouldn't have kept well in the cool, dark corner of the garage where they have been stored since being harvested last fall. I'm going to try planting some seeds from these squash this season and see what kind of results I get. It should be most interesting.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Getting My Green On All Year Round.

I've no need of a calender to tell me that we're much closer to the vernal equinox than we were a few weeks ago. The increasing amount of daylight since the winter solstice has triggered new growth in the cilantro plant I brought in from the garden last fall. Although we had some gray, dismal days during the past three months, there were enough bright, sunny ones to keep this plant alive and vital. Now it's coming out of its low key growth.

I'm still debating whether I'll plant it out or keep it inside. But either way, its flavorful leaves and stems will definitely keep finding their way into my cooking.