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. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Early Summer Heat Wave

We are in the middle of an 11 day heat wave, Sunday is expected to reach 101F. There has been very little rain as well, so I've been trying to pay close attention to water needs in the garden.

The tomatoes, peppers and watermelon are loving the heat. I definitely think the plastic and salt hay mulches are helping to keep the ground moist. Below are the Black Krim tomatoes:


I'm still trying to figure out how to tell if the watermelon is ready to pick. I've read that when you tap a ripe fruit it will have more of a solid "thump" sound vs. the hollow sound when you tap an under-ripe fruit. They all sound the same to me right now so I'm waiting to pick the big one.

Squash are also doing well. No sign of Squash vine borers yet... but I fear its only a matter of time. I've been spraying the vine a few inches above ground level with insecticidal soap every 7 days.

So far I've only found squash bugs on the pumpkins. I've been picking off bugs and eggs for weeks now. All of the bugs seem to prefer the pumpkins and so far no fruit has set. If I get no pumpkins this year they will at least have been an effective trap crop.

The runner beans are growing slowly, but the kidney beans already have bean growing on the plants:

I was worried about the eggplants. They had tons of flowers, but the flowers were dropping and not producing fruit. Eggplants require 2" of water a week vs. the 1" that tomatoes require. I increased the how much water they were getting and now there are lots of little baby fruits on all of the plants!

One of my garden neighbors had a bird build it's nest in their plot. This week the baby birds hatched. I saw the mama bird (robin) feeding them yesterday!