Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Window box gardens are an easy way for beginners to get started with gardening. They can offer easy maintenance right from a kitchen window. They are simple to maintain and much less work than preparing an entire backyard garden area. For more advanced gardeners they can become auxiliary specialty gardens.
Even starting them in the Fall you can produce a cornucopia of herbs and vegetables. Broccoli is a productive plant, and turnips will mature quickly. Dwarf variety tomato plants can be more of a pain, but may alternately be productive plants. Lettuces and salad greens, combined with herbs, such as compact basil, chives and oregano make for a beautiful edible display.
When considering a window box garden consider the following:
- Pair plants with similar cultural needs (i.e., watering needs, sun/shade preferences, etc.)
- One key to success is not putting too many plants in one box
- Consider plant heights and growth habits, such as spreading, upright and trailing
- For best growth, set box in an east or west-facing window outdoors, or a south-facing window indoors
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
4 large or 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped or diced (with or without seeds)
1 large green bell pepper
2 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
1 medium or large white onion, chopped or diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, diced fine
1-2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, diced fine (with or without seeds - depending on desired level of heat
sea salt, to taste
juice of one lemon or two limes
According to Wikipedia, "In Mexican cuisine, Pico de gallo (Spanish for "rooster's beak) is a fresh condiment made from chopped tomato, onion and chilies (typically jalapenos or serranos). Other ingredients may also be added, such as lemon or lime juice, fresh cilantro (leaf of corriander), cucumber or radish."
I use pico in place of salsa because of its freshness and bold flavor, and because it has less liquid than typical salsas or chutneys, I use it in tacos and fajitas.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Today upon inspection of the tomato plants, I was surprised to find many ready for eating. I have actually been harvesting jalapenos for about a month, and they are truly hot. Spicy would be an understatement!
I shared tomatoes and peppers with my Mom and neighbors, and still had a handful to sprinkle over a fresh grilled chicken salad. I am literally salivating for more.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
These are some of the best salad-quality cucumbers that you can grow. They are seedless, not bitter, with tender skins so that you don't have to peel them. Diva is award-winning and is one of the tastiest cucumbers out there. They look like typical salad cucs, but with thin skin and crisper fruit.
Cucumbers need full sun, at least an inch of water per week, rich soil and pollinating insects to produce. Pick fruits regularly so that the vines will continue to produce. Bush varieties are suitable for containers, but if you have the space try vining types because they will produce more fruit. (via johnnyseeds.com)
My favorite variety of green bean --- sleek, tender and flavorful. This type of bean has to be picked when it's young and tender, in order to avoid toughness. This new variety is stringless! These seeds are organic, but nonorganic is available. They produce medium-sized, medium dark green plants. Get growing and bon appetit! (via johnnyseeds.com)
A serious must-have for gardeners at all levels. This is a book/manual that has the latest information soils, plants, tools and techniques. The methods suggested are all organic. It has a huge plant list, expanded in this edition. Includes garden design plans. It contains dozens of superb line drawings, but that happens to be the only thing about the book that I wish were different. When it comes to plants, I prefer photos. It also contains organic pest control methods. (via amazon.com)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
In spite of the excruciating heat that we have been experiencing here --- my plants are doing more than fine. I would say that they are coming along splendidly.
They are all heavy with their various fruits, surrounded by dense green foliage.
Today, I got up early enough to escape the most severe heat of the day. I potted two new "Black Cherry" tomato plants, laid down brick platforms for them, fertilized and watered everything else.
Above is the photographic evidence of the current state of my garden plants.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Blossom-end rot is physiological condition caused by calcium deficiency in the blossom end of the fruit. It occurs most notably in tomatoes, but also occurs in peppers, squash, watermelon and any other fruiting vegetable. It is characterized by the decay of fruits at their blossom end; appearing as a dry brown spot about the size of a dime, that may blacken and sink in as it grows to about the size of a half dollar. This disorder is most severe following extremes of over or under-watering.
There are steps that can be taken to greatly reduce this condition:
- Lime soils to a pH of 6.5 to 6.7 before planting. Gardens not limed within the past 2-3 years will need 2 cups of lime per plant. The lime should be worked in to a depth of 12 inches.
- Fertilize properly. Applying too much fertilizer at a time can result in blossom-end rot. Following soil test recommendations is the best way to ensure proper fertilization. Terracycle makes a Tomato Plant Food based in worm poop that has a calcium boost. I have found it to be very effective.
- Mulch plants. Use straw, pine straw, decomposed sawdust, plastic or newspapers. Mulches conserve moisture and reduces blossom-end rot.
- Water when necessary. Tomato plants need 1-1.5 inches of water per week during fruiting. Extreme fluctuations in soil moisture can increase blossom-end rot.
- Spray calcium. Plants may be sprayed with a calcium solution at the rate of 4 level Tbs of calcium nitrate or calcium chloride per gallon of water. The spray should be applied 2-3 times per week, beginning when the second fruit clusters bloom. Several foliar sprays containing calcium are available and all work well for tomatoes. Calcium chloride is only suggested for tomatoes.
- Quick fixes. Foliar application of a weak Epsom Salt (magnesium) solution can effect calcium uptake. Other suggestions include powdered milk, crushed egg shell tea, bone meal tea, Tums tablets, etc., but prevention is the key. Removing affected fruit is also recommended to reduce stress on the plant. "Gardens Alive" sells a product called Rot-StopT Spray that can be applied to plants weekly to supplement calcium reserves and prevent rotting.
Friday, June 19, 2009
After the storm
June 15th, Monday nights storms produced hurricane-force winds. I did not know the full extent of the destruction until the following day. The hard drive on my computer crashed. The pride of my garden, an almost 4 and a half foot Black Cherry tomato plant, had been broken in two.
I know that it's only a plant, but it hurt to see it damaged to that extent. I admit to "babying" my plants --- short of talking to them and playing classical music.
I went down to a local garden center and purchased bamboo rods to shore up and stabilize my plant. Part of the reason that it broke, is that it had outgrown its cage by a few feet. I got to work and now the plant looks as though its going to live and still produce tomatoes. I guess I really lucked out this time.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
What a curious plant! They open in the shade of the day, and closes in bright sunlight!
- Like Daylillies and Day flowers, each blossom lasts only one day.
- The common name refers to the numerous hairs on its sepals and buds. They look like a spider's nest of webs, especially when covered in dew.
- "wort" is an archaic word for plant.
I love these plants and their "alien-like" appearance. Their strange habits. The fact that they are perennials pleases me to no end. I can expect to behold their wonder, year after year.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
They are exceptionally easy to grow, and they keep away aphids, thripes, Mexican Bean beetles, squash bugs, tomato hornworms and whiteflies.
Marigolds also repel harmful root node nematodes (soil-dwelling microscopic white worms) that attack tomatoes, potatoes, roses and strawberries. The root of the Marigold excretes a chemical that is toxic to nematodes, and kills them as they enter the soil.
Marigolds will bloom well into November. These flowers make charming and beneficial garden companion plants for many different types of herbs and vegetables: including beans, basil, cabbage, cucumber and tomatoes.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I received a recent order that I made to Richters Herb Specialists in Canada today! The contents being three foundling Piss Off plants and three Mojito Mint plants. Richters is a favorite of mine because of their wild selection of vegetable and herb plants and seeds.
The Piss Off plant is reputed to repel cats, dogs and rabbits. After my earlier experiences with the local feral cats, this sounded pretty good to me. According to the Richters website, "The Piss-Off Plant was developed four years ago in Germany when a Plectranthus canina plant was crossed with a Plectranthus esculentus plant. The goal was to produce an ornamental plant with compact growth habit. It was only later that the plant's unique animal-repelling property was discovered." We'll just have to see.
The Mojito Mint is a native of Cuba and the true mint to use in my favorite Summertime alcoholic concoction. It is mild and warm, not overly sweet like other mints. I tried my hand at overwintering the plant this last winter, but was far from successful. I'm not sure if it was spider mites or just the atmosphere in my greenhouse. At any rate, I was left with sickly, spindly plants that eventually bit the dist. So, I'm psyched to get my hands on these healthy specimens. They will no doubt flourish in the mid-Spring sun.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Tomato plants like it warm, and the weather has only been mild so far this spring. I haven't grown tomatoes in over 30 years, and I'm excited. This year, I am growing five different varieties of them. The peppers don't excite me as much, but they're pretty cool, too.
As the weather gets warmer I'll add Asparagus Beans, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. I can hardly wait...