Monday, August 12, 2013

August at the Community Garden Plot

Here's an update to show how my garden is doing so far this year.

We had so much rain at the beginning of the season and now the temperature is much lower than it should be this time of year. Last year I harvested over 300lbs of tomatoes and this year it will be under 100 I think.

Everything has been slow to grow. The only thing that seems to be doing well are greens and winter squash.
I just planted some fall crops in 2 waves, hopefully I will have some nice cole crops in a couple of months!

My poor tomatoes have disease already.Slowly the fruit is ripening, so it's not a total loss.

The watermelons are happy, but growing slowly.

As you may see in a couple of the pictures I'm slowly starting to build raised beds. 
One of my garden neighbors gave me some raspberry canes, so I'm planning to build a bed for them as well and transplant them this fall.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Keeping a Garden Journal

I've been keeping a garden journal for a while now. It helps me to easily jot down notes and plans throughout the season. In the beginning of the season it helps to keep track of what is planted when and how seedlings are progressing. When the season is in full force organization slips to the wayside for me. I find it easier to keep the book on my nightstand and just before bed take notes on how the season is progressing.
My journal is a plain lined note book.

The inside is sort of a scribbled mess of sketches, cross outs and misspellings. But this time of year, when I'm planning next years garden the information is so valuable.

Some things I learned this year:
-Plant tomatoes early to mid March. Last year the plants grew really large in the warm basement.
-Planted 17 Roma's. Spaced 18" apart in a 4X18" bed, 2 plants wide.
Had an incredible harvest of around 350-400lbs. Next year plant 12-15 plants
-Planted 5 Heirloom (2 Principle Borhgese, 2 Black Krim, 1 Mr Stripey). Used a Florida Weave style trellis.
Yield was lower than expected for Black Krim and Stripey. This was partly due to the heat that caused the blossoms to fall off. Next year try more plants and use a cage. Had very high yields of Principle Borhgese. These were a favorite of the birds- add netting and only plant 1 plant next year.
-Don't bother growing cucumbers at the community garden- it is infested with cucumber beetles. Grow them at home instead.
-Plant a crop of Zucchini around the 4th of July to avoid a squash vine borer infestation
-Only plant 1 tomatillo plant due to high yield.
-Place a row cover over eggplants in the spring to keep away flea beetles.
Ground Cherries
-Grow ground cherries at home garden as they were the favorite snack for the field mice.
-Start seeds earlier. Grow at the community garden where there is more sun.
-Grow more... a lot more!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Garden Resolutions and Goals 2013

The year is about to come to an end and as I type this it's just starting to snow outside. For the last week or so as the seed catalogs have started to arrive and I've already started to make plans for this years garden.

I just started my sweet potato slips. Some of the sweet potatoes in the basement started to sprout, so I put them in water on the windowsill. The slips take a long time to grow, so I figured giving them an early start wouldn't hurt.

Here is a list of a few garden goals for this new year:
1. Start onions earlier
2. Start tomatoes later
3. Order seeds all at once to save money on shipping
4. Build 2-3 raised beds at the garden plots
5. Build wood compost bins
6. Plant front garden with perennials
7. Plant more heirloom tomatoes

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and I wish you a happy new year!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The State of the Plots in Mid September

Here we are in mid September already and I'm wondering how the summer flew by so quickly. In mid-summer I took on a big project at work that left me little time for anything but work and canning tomatoes. I did manage to have a fun and relaxing vacation in Martha's Vineyard in August and several day trips. Having grown up in New England I never truly feel like it's summer until I dip my toes into the ocean.

Summer for me is days at the beach, swimming, walks in the woods, the smell of a campfire, road trips, relaxing days with breezes blowing through the open windows and of course gardening.

This summer the garden did very well and provided me with fresh produce to eat as well as lots of extra to preserve and fill the pantry. I had to battle all kinds of bugs that I had never seen or dealt with before in my home garden. Next year I will be better prepared now that I know what to expect.

The biggest pests were cucumber beetles, even a row cover didn't seem to help. Those buggers crawl under anything. Second place went to field mice; they would take bites out of the tomatoes as soon as they started to turn red. Third place went to the squash bugs that took out my pumpkin plants just after they set fruit.

The tomato plants got what appeared late blight at the end of August. I clipped off all of the dead and leaves and began treatments of copper fungicide. Most of the plants survived but were never the same. There are still lots of small green tomatoes, but the plants will be pulled this week to make room for fall crops or a cover crop.

Here are some pictures from the community garden plot in early September. The corn was planted on July 15th. I wondered if it would be too late, but I harvested all of the ears this week. I will let the stalks to dry and use them for Halloween decorations on the front of our house.

Borers took out my early planted zucchini but a second planting in early July has provided zucchini through summer. The plant is still setting fruit.

The mice ate most of my bush dry beans, but the dry pole beans have remained untouched. Next year I'll plant more of them.

I purchased this cantaloupe plant on sale in mid July. I started harvesting the fruit this week.

The best producers were tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatillos. I had more than I knew what to do with and many were canned, frozen or given away to friends.

 Another great producer was watermelon.

Most of my fall crops were started from seed and have been planted. I covered the beds with row covers to keep cabbage moths from the young plants.

I've taken notes all summer and am already planning what I will plant next year. 
What was the most successful in your garden this year?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tomatoes, Tomatoes,Tomatoes...

Tomatoes...and more tomatoes! Not a bad problem to have if you ask me.

So far the Roma's have been very productive. I have 17 plants and so far I've harvested 350+ tomatoes. Some were picked just under-ripe so that the mice didn't eat them first. I just let them ripen on the windowsill... until that filled up...

and the windowsill in the kitchen filled up, now they've spread onto the buffet table.

It's not quite the same as letting them ripen on the vine but once they are canned I don't notice much of a difference. I'm hoping to get at least 12+ jars of whole tomatoes and then some sauce and tomato jam out of the total harvest. So far I have only 4 qts of whole tomatoes, so there's still a long way to go.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday...And Let the Canning Begin!

Last week I harvested quite a few tomatoes and tomatillos. A total of 11lbs of plum tomatoes and 4lbs of tomatillos.

JR made some delicious bruschetta and I canned the rest whole. From the tomatillos I made a batch of salsa verde. The salsa verde came out a little too tart, the canning recipe called for a whole cup of vinegar or lime juice. So I'm going to use it as a chicken or fish marinade. In the future I will use less acid and eat it fresh or freeze the tomatillos. I also dried some of the Principle Borghese tomatoes.

Last night we finally got some rain. Hopefully it made the ground at the plots softer so I can finally pull up the remaining weeds and create the 4th bed.

Daphnes Dandelions hosts Harvest Mondays, click on the link to see what other Gardener's harvested this week!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mouse Bites and the End of the Pumpkins

It's still hot here and it needs to rain. When I went to the garden each evening I noticed tomatoes with bite marks on them.

I've seen field mice at the plots so I think it was them snacking on the tomatoes (YUCK!!).
Needless to say they went into the compost pile. I've had to start picking the tomatoes a little under-ripe so that I'll actually get some for myself.

Other bad news: I had to pull the pumpkin plants. The leaves quickly became yellow and brown and wilted. I wanted to get the diseased plant out of the garden as quickly as possible. I'll have to try pumpkins again next year.

I'm planning to plant more beans in the empty spot as soon as I have a chance.

2 of the sunflowers are forming seeds. The birds ate one of them already, so I wrapped the other one in netting, I hope it keeps the birds away.

I thought I had lost all of the cucumbers to cucumber beetles, but the 2 remaining plants have really perked up and have cucumbers growing on them.

So far I've gotten a bowlful of ground cherries. The plants are smaller than I expected but producing well.

Here are a few more pictures from plot 1 today:

I've made some nice progress with the second plot despite the heat. 3 beds have been created, 1 more needs to be made. I planted corn, beans and cantaloupe in the first bed. The second 2 beds were planted with a cover crop. They will be used to grow fall veggies. The sunflower in bed 3 had self seeded and I didn't have the heart to pull it up.