Sunday, August 30


I guess "everbearing" is the correct term. Just picked six strawberries from my rock-wall plants (not the Lipstick hybrid that was pulled and killed off, but the regular 'wild' strawberries) They're tiny, like all 'wild' strawberries are, but tasty. Yesterday's dreary weather must have kept the chipmunks from stealing these.


Saturday, August 29

Peaches - part 2

The remaining 22 edible peaches were harvested this week, providing enough fruit for freezer jam (18 peaches = 4 cups peeled/pitted/crushed fruit). Another two dozen bug-ridden fruits should have been picked sooner, but I'll learn better next time and they won't end up in the compost bin.

The plan next year is to take off work a day or two in August / September and actually can the peaches properly (jam, pie filling, fruit). This will depend upon the harvest, but I have great hopes for the little tree.


Late August Harvest

Peppers. I've never had good luck with bell peppers, at most getting two or three anemic specimens off any plant, never more than 4 inches long or even approaching a poor farmer's market pepper. So what is going on this year? My plants are having a wonderfully productive year. This afternoon in the gloomy 60-degree, overcast, misty weather, ten bell peppers were harvested, and another 7 or 8 'sweet banana' peppers. The bell peppers rival supermarket, and are "Big Bertha" and another cultivar I forget, I think "California Wonder", since I recall best success with those in the past.

So what is different this year?
  • Cooler than normal summer temperatures
  • Hardly watered the garden at all - relied mostly upon rain
  • Fertilized with an organic dilution twice (June and July)
  • Let the weeds overrun the bell peppers until July, when I cleared them all out & mulched in with grass clippings.
None of this neglect should explain the better harvest. Perhaps the new fertilizer combined with my typical topdressing of compost had greater benefits than expected.
You can see part of the rest of today's harvest in the photo - a handful of beans, I'm starting to let some dry for seed storage next year. The carrots (orange and purple) are very good, (Navarino, Purple Rain, and Hercules). The tomatoes are Roma and Salad tomatoes (Oxheart, San Marzano), with a few Jelly Bean cherry tomatoes thrown in there. The plants are very thick with foliage, and I'll need to prune some leaves to make harvest easier - or just give up and let the fruit rot.

I expect to be extremely busy within the next two weeks, conveniently coinciding with the tomatoes finally ripening - not a single beefsteak (Early Girl or Ace 55) has ripened to edible yet. Perhaps I'll have a 'pick your own tomato' party for neighbors and friends. The quantity of green fruit is ridiculus, and I had been hoping it would ripen sooner allowing me to process sauce and can it for the winter. Backup plans might include just peeling and freezing whole tomatoes for processing later this year.

Wednesday, August 12


Summer all wrapped up inside a nice fuzzy package. These are the juiciest peaches I've had in ages, sweet and tangy. Picked about a dozen off the tree this week and ate several already, trying to keep them away from the pests (yeah, one had a few bug bites, but we cut that part off). They're more "peachy" than store-bought fruit, but not quite as big (I suppose if I fertilized the tree & watered regularly they might grow bigger).

I fear next year I'll have so many I need to can/freeze the peaches, but there are plenty of peach-pie and cobbler recipes to keep me occupied. I may try some sort of peach salsa, and maybe a marinade for chicken or pork. Anyone have a favorite recipe they'd like to share?


Wednesday, August 5

Updates from 8-5-09

Sylvesta butterhead lettuce - it really is as yummy as it looks.

The beans, well some of them. On the left are Jacob's Cattle Heirloom. On the right are Fortex.

The pepper plants, you can see some sweet 'banana' style peppers on the plant in front on the left. I'm not really all that optimistic about the peppers this year.

Tomatoes - Nearest are cherry, then paste/salad, and finally beefsteak. Closeups of the fruit were blurry, so they're not posted. Nothing is ripe yet.

The weed patch, with zinnias and, yes, here are a few sunflowers that survived the frost!

Mint on the rock wall, I thought the contrast made a nice composition.

Three hazelnut (filbert) bushes. They even have nuts this year, though not many. The bushes are filling out well, considering they started out as twigs in 8" pots. Each plant is about 4-5 feet in diameter, and 4 feet tall.

Something has been making dinners out of my apples this week... they're not really ripe yet, so I'm baffled by the lack of fruit suddenly. Perhaps a deer with a taste for sour?

My weird Black-Eyed Susans. These have always been green-ish petals, haven't a clue as to why, but I'll assume some weird recessive gene or a disease of some sort. I think they look pretty neat, so I keep them around.

Some wildflowers, grass, and a hosta... nothing very exciting, but a nice enough photo.

This is/was/may still be a lilac. "I'm not dead yet!"

Peaches! Lots and lots of peaches - at least three dozen still on the tree. The setting sun makes the blush on the fruit that much more appealing, but these fellas are still rock-hard. I'll be checking them every day or every other day at the latest - I have no desire to let them go to the wildlife.

Tuesday, August 4

Ok, I admit it...

Those photos below are from a few weeks ago. I owe everyone new photos.

The beans are teeming with pods & will be picked some this week for consumption - anyone have good green bean recipes? (mushy beans shall not be served in this house!)

Tomatoes have begun to lighten - no ripe ones yet, though :-(

A few peppers are visible on the plants, not many.

And last, but not least, I found a few sunflowers tucked in amongst the weeds, so some have survived. Perhaps I'll try to weed out a patch of that side of the garden and take a photo - the zinnias and sunflowers make a nice pairing, but there are far too many weeds to justify much effort.

Monday, August 3

Some of you may know I'm busy....

The rest of you can guess that I am. (long story that I won't publish)

Anyhow, the garden is still intact, mostly.

Lettuces are looking (and tasting) yummy. Here is the Romaine (Winter Density) that was planted. The Butterhead (Sylvesta) has mostly been consumed, and the only remaining specimens don't look all that good (slugs got to them). The Butterhead was great & I will definitely be planting it again.

The beans are growing, nearly ready to pick the first of them, but a bit small still. We should have tons of beans, which will be good for August - I need to look up green bean recipes that don't cook them into oblivion. These are Fortex pole beans, as you can see, they are climbing their trellis nicely.

Peaches are growing exceptionally well, considering all the trouble I had earlier this year with some leaf-curl type disease, and then a nest of tent caterpillars that required pruning of an entire branch :-( There were probably over a hundred fruits on the tree early in the season, but at least a few dozen have survived. I can't wait to try these, they're nearly full-size peaches like you'd buy in a store, and all that has been done to the tree is spray with an organic orchard treatment every few weeks to keep the disease down. That said, next year the spray gets applied earlier, perhaps prior to blooming, to keep the plant healthier.

The petunias and rhubarb (just for you RFM, photos of the rhubarb!) are surviving in their trial area by the electric meter. Rhubarb will live there permanently, petunias are there for an experiment - next year I'll plant them elsewhere, where they'll be showier and provide a bit of color to the rest of the landscaping. I was more concerned with how they'd take from seed - pretty well, it turns out. Over the next few weeks, I'll be putting little mesh bags (from a bridal supply aisle at the craft store) over spent bulbs, hoping to collect seeds from the petunias for starting next year. The petunias will be replaced by some light purple irises, and perhaps some daffodils. (Irises are freebies from a gardener who is digging up a bunch - Thank you, N!)

The Explorer Blue petunias are every bit as easy to grow as promised - this is a variant similar to the popular Wave series, but I can buy the seeds much cheaper than I can purchase the sprouted petunia plants. Since the seeds require light to germinate, and are extremely tiny, I guess the nurserys can charge a few dollars per plant. Not my taste to spend that much, and if the seed harvest goes well, I won't need to purchase anything besides peat pots next year.

Failures this year - Big Smile dwarf sunflower. They may have sprouted, but the late (JUNE!) frost probably killed all of them, more's the pity. I was looking forward to a dwarf sunflower bed. I haven't seen a single one in the bed that has now become weed-infested, with a few hardy Sunbow zinnias that survived the frost.