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Evaluating Tomatoes – and other things

tomato1Well, your old Aunty got skunked. Oh yes I did. My fault, completely – nothing like saving tomato seeds and then not labeling them properly. Somehow ‘Paste Tomatoes from 2014″ just doesn’t cut it because what I thought I was going to get were plum-type past tomatoes (like San Marzano), but instead, I got THESE!

Now, technically speaking, these ARE paste tomatoes – they are much dryer than salad or beefsteak-type tomatoes, but you tend to get far fewer on a plant, which is pretty annoying if what you are looking for is big production for canning or freezing sauce.

Grumble. (more…)

Garlic Number 2

Vietgarlic1] So, the garlic harvest and testing keeps rolling along. This is the second variety to mature and is called “Vietnamese Red” (because of the skins on the cloves are a purplish color).
Now, even while growing, I could tell that these were going to be big bulbs. First, the stems were much thicker than the stems on Susanville, which matured first. The stems on Vietnamese Red were thicker than my thumb, whereas the stems on Susanville were only the thickness of my pinky finger. More leaves makes for more photosynthesis which makes for bigger bulbs.

Which they were, both on the individual side and on the total production side. Again, recall the rules of this particular game: 8 ounces of cloves for each of four varieties, all planted under the same conditions (all at the southern ends of the garden beds so theoretically, they all got the same amount of sun and I watered all of them several times during dry spells early on). Now, all of these varieties were described in the catalog as ‘mid-season’, but Susanville was definitely earlier in terms of maturity; the other two varieties are dying now as well, so from that aspect, Vietnamese Red and the last two varieties are more of a piece than Susanville, but we will see how they do when we harvest them. (more…)

Purple peppers and other garden notes

dead garlic Although we really are coming into our gardening season where the veggies are really starting to produce, produce, produce, there are a couple of things which are starting to wind things down.

Like this bit of plot at the back of one of the garden beds. Well, this looks pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? This, my friends, is garlic ready for harvest. It is the first of four varieties that we are trialing here at Chez Siberia (because if it will grow here, it will literally grow anywhere), Susanville. Now, in the catalogs, this is referred to as a ‘mid-season’ garlic, but it’s died back very early here. This growing season (and for garlic, as you recall, we planted the cloves last fall, so the growing season went through the winter and our very chilly and wet spring as well) has been very challenging. Although the garlic was under heaps of snow during the winter, it still was extremely cold (minus 27 degrees F. a couple of times) and we got a couple of late frosts in the spring. So, we are very curious to see how all of the garlics handled the non-perfect growing conditions. (more…)

Evaluating veggies

ripetom It’s always good to take a look at what’s happening to the vegetables in the garden as well — where are they in terms of development? If they aren’t where you think they should be at this point (mid-July, which for us is mid-point in the growing season), what do you think caused it? Anything to be done to help at this point?

In this photo, you can see the Tumbling Tom ™ tomatoes in their hanging baskets. “49 days from transplanting” is what it says on the package and I think we’re pretty close on that. And considering what a horrible May and June (9 inches of rain in June alone – great on the water side but not much on the sun side) we had, I’m thinking these are one terrific tomato for container growing. Not exactly what I’d call a ‘cherry’ tomato – they are slightly larger and more ovoid than those are but so far, a very good deal. They are still setting tomato flowers, so with some attention and judicious watering, I think we will be able to get production all through the rest of the season. (more…)

Garden Journal

milkweedbeeAt this point, we are entering ‘high summer’ here and things are, shall we say, disappointing.

It was a rainy and cold spring. And, it’s become a rainy and chilly late spring and then it warmed up a bit the last couple of weeks and it rained some more. We had 9 inches of rain in June, alone. I could not get out in the garden because frankly, it was mud and then when it warmed up and dried out a bit, the weeds just went nuts, so I spent this weekend weeding. Now, I hate weeding, but it’s the best we can do in order to keep the competition down. Yes, I could use row covers, but I like to keep the amount of plastic down. (more…)

E-scape to the wild side

scape If you do your shopping at farmers markets or even perhaps a fancy local grocery, you might be seeing these particular items now or in the near future. They are called ‘scapes’ and are a clever by-product of growing garlic. (more…)

Peat…and re-peat

transplant1 All my other hanging plants look great. Why does this one look on its ‘last legs’?

Well, to be blunt, this is not ‘my’ plant. It was a gift to me. And like a dummy, I did not follow my usual standard operating procedure, which is to knock the plant out of the pot, shake off all the planting mix and replant it in ‘my’ mix. I just never got to it and I watered this plant at the same time I watered all the other plants, which are in ‘my’ mix (and some of them have, as I’ve mentioned before, a disposable diaper in the bottom of the basket which acts as a ‘water bank’. We’ve actually had quite a wet spring so far – there should have been enough water, but this plant is in major pain here (more…)

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!!

baskettomato2-6-15Well, things are really starting to take off here at the garden. Plants IN the garden itself have had sort of a rough time of it – lots of rain and the weather has not been very warm or sunny.

And yet – there is something about this time of the year when given half a chance, the plants just…take off. The past two weeks, all we’ve seen on the tomato plants in those baskets has been flowers. Lots of leaves and stem growth too, but just flowers. But patience is a virtue here. (more…)

Pinched

basilmeri“Rosa whispered again, “Willy, you did squeeze me, so I will pinch you.” And she pinched. “Ow!Who pinched me?” said Cousin Joan. “Oh, Joan!” said Rosa. “I wanted to pinch Willy, not you.” “And she squeezes, too,” said Willy. Do you know what you two are?” said Cousin Joan. “You are little alligators. Now be still. I want to read.”
(“No Fighting, No Biting!” Else Holmelund Minarik, 1958)

We are now (well, where your Aunt Toby is, at Chez Siberia – anyone who gardens someplace in a higher climate zone has probably already faced this issue, but still) at a stage where annual plants (whether flowers or veggies) have settled in nicely, are rooted firmly, are sending out some good growth and in general, look like that basil plant at the top:
The growing tip at the top is sending out leaves and farther down the stem between the other big leaves are little leaves, nestled in their little spots. What to do? (more…)

Catching Up

basketmatos I’m not going to make any excuses for ‘being away’, but let’s just say that it’s been a miserable spring. Miserable weather-wise and miserable in many other ways which made me frankly not in the mood to share much of anything. But, I did keep things going in the greenhouse and once things finally warmed up here (which basically has only been in the last two weeks), we were able to get out into the garden and start putting things in. We had two massive frosts during this same period (I was starting to feel as if we were having weather whip-lash here) — literally going from the high 80s to the mid 20s — having to run out and cover up the berry bushes and spray the apple tree because the heat had pushed the tree to blossom all at once (spraying a fruit tree when it’s in blossom in the evening before a big frost will help protect the blossoms from being killed). And then, the next day, having to run out and uncover everything again the next morning. It’s been a crazy spring. (more…)

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