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Archive for the ‘peppers’ Category

Turns out, having a baby takes a lot of time! ¬†Add in a smart and energetic toddler/preschooler, and things like writing blog posts take a back-seat role for a while ūüôā

I’m popping in today to share part one of a few¬†wrap-up posts about the garden this past summer. ¬†I took photos throughout the summer, but it proved to be too hard for me to get them edited and posted on the blog in anything close to real-time. ¬†So I’ll share some now, with some things I learned and want to remember as I plan my future gardens.

The three photos below show what my garden plot looked like in mid-July. ¬†On this particular day, I harvested one zucchini– the very first piece of produce from this year’s garden!

garden today

cucumber, pepper, zucchini

tomatoes

Let’s talk about the zucchini first, shall we?

I had two varieties in my garden, a Lake Valley seed company variety and a Burpee seed company variety. ¬†I got a grand total of one small zucchini (a strangely-shaped 1/2 pound one) from the Burpee plant, which surprised me. ¬†The Lake Valley plant grew to a monstrous size and gave us 10 fruits! ¬†Yum. ¬†We grilled some, we made fritters, and of course we made zucchini bread! ¬†The plant got quite unwieldy by the end of the summer, and started breaking when we harvested. ¬†However, this is the first summer where my zucchini harvest even approached the “feed your neighborhood” quantity touted on the packet!

Cucumber

The cucumbers were underwhelming this summer. ¬†After last year’s amazing yield, I was super-excited for cucumbers to come out my ears! ¬†But they seemed to get started late, and the vines never got very full. ¬†In fact, I got half the number of fruits off of approximately twice the garden “real-estate.”

Carmen pepper

our first carmen pepper

Also in the “disappointment” category are the peppers. ¬†I didn’t expect much from my from-seed-seedlings, which was good: they died almost immediately (or got trampled??). ¬†But I had high hopes for the store-bought plant. ¬†We ended up getting two red peppers from it.

The tomatoes, on the other hand, were plentiful!

Indigo Rose tomato

Indigo Rose tomato

The Indigo Rose tomatoes (purchased plants) were beautiful to look at. ¬†The flavor wasn’t anything spectacular, though, so I don’t think we will get them again.

Bonnie Grape tomato

We absolutely loved the Bonnie Grape (purchased plants) tomatoes.  They yielded like crazy, and we could hardly keep up with them.  The flavor was fantastic and they were perfect for salads.  Usually I am loathe to cook with delicious home-grown tomatoes like this, but we had so many that I actually tried them in a soup recipe that called for cherry-type tomatoes!

We got only a few tomatoes from the plants I started from seed (Best Boy and Fourth of July varieties).  In comparing them to the other varieties, though, we did decide that we liked the fleshiness of the Best Boy fruits, especially for things like sandwiches.  The flavor of the Fourth of July tomatoes was much better than the flavor of the Indigo Rose fruits.

Well, you can tell which half of the herb box is under the overhang...  whoops.

My herbs were a bust. ¬†I don’t think I even used any from this box!! ¬†How disappointing. ¬†I was good about watering them until the baby was born, and after that, they were dependent on the rain. ¬†As you can see from the photo above, part of the box is shielded by the second floor overhang of our house. ¬†Bummer. ¬†They all dried out and died really quickly. ¬†I’m glad they were freebie seeds or I would be even more sad than I already am.

gorgeous harvest from our garden today

quite a harvest awaited us in the garden when we got home from our trip!

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We got some really beautiful harvests this summer. ¬†The colors were gorgeous, and even though I was picky about the tomatoes’ flavor, I really did enjoy the luxury of home-grown produce. ¬†I am most thankful to Husband, though, because he ended up doing almost all of the work for the garden this summer. ¬†In the first part of the summer, I was so pregnant that I couldn’t even get over the fence easily, and in the second part of the summer, I discovered that if I went outside, especially into the garden, I got eaten alive by mosquitoes. ¬†I got bitten in at least 19 places to collect the tomatoes shown in the photo with the kitchen scale! ¬†Husband seems to be mosquito-resistant, so he graciously harvested for me.

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I think that this blog is overdue for an update post on the garden; after all, it is¬†Vegetablog¬† ūüėČ

 ~ ~ ~

Let me just start by saying¬†that Husband is awesome. ¬†Since I am pretty much unable to do anything in the garden, he spent some time in the hot sun on the day before Father’s Day,¬†weeding (and pulling out a ridiculous number of tomato volunteers) and tying up the tomatoes to the stakes. ¬†He is so great ūüôā

I couldn’t bear to even take photos of the garden before the weeding, but I did take a bunch afterward!

 

The garden today, after a big weeding session by my wonderful husband.

 

First, the left side of the garden:

cucumbers in background, peppers in middle, zucchini in front

cucumbers in background, peppers in middle, zucchini in front

 

I was glad to see that there are finally cucumbers coming up. ¬†They seem to be off to a slow start, though. ¬†I’m impatient to eat what is probably my favorite of my garden produce!

cucumbers: getting a slow start, it seems

cucumbers: getting a slow start, it seems

 

I think it’s interesting to see the disparity in the two¬†zucchini plants. ¬†The plant from the Burpee seed is in the corner, and the plant from the Lake Valley seed is in the foreground. ¬†Planted at the same time, and sprouted at almost the same time, too!

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The Lake Valley zucchini has some buds on it.  Hooray!

zucchini-- blossoms coming!!

In the photo two above, you can also see the Carmen pepper plant. ¬†There’s a little pepper growing on it!

pepper: Carmen

 

 

The pepper plant we started from seed is¬†barely there (no photo this time). ¬†But somehow it still seems to be alive. ¬†We’re leaving it for now, but I don’t think we’ll be getting much off of that plant this year!

The right side of the garden is the “tomato side.”

tomatoes.

tomatoes that we started from seed: 4th of July in foreground, Best Boy in background

tomatoes that we started from seed: 4th of July in foreground, Best Boy in background

 

tomatoes: Bonnie Grape

tomatoes we purchased: Bonnie Grape

tomatoes: Indigo Rose

tomatoes we purchased: Indigo Rose

 

I’m happy to see that at least the tomato plants we purchased are starting to form tomatoes.

Bonnie Grape

Bonnie Grape

 

Indigo Rose

Indigo Rose — can you see the purple tinge?

 

On the back porch, the herb box is filling out. ¬†It looks like just basil and dill have come up (the savory and marjoram didn’t appear), but that is totally fine with me, since those are the herbs I would have chosen anyway.

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And my daughter’s cherry tomato plant is full of tomatoes! ¬†I’m so excited for them to turn red so that she can pick them ūüôā

V's tomato plant

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So we gave in and bought some new plants. ¬†Four of the tomato sprouts¬†and two of the pepper sprouts had died (or all but died), and since Husband put in so much work to get the garden ready, we didn’t want it to go to waste.

garden today.

We picked out two varieties of tomatoes (Bonnie Grape and Indigo Rose varieties) to try, as well as one new pepper plant (Carmen variety).

new (purchased) plants for the garden

Since it’s a lot of work these days for me to get down near the ground to work, Husband graciously planted them out for us.

planting the new tomato plants

Here are some closer peeks at the “new-and-improved” garden:

First, the cucumbers (back)– I added a few more seeds in front of each trellis, since I’d only seen one sprout so far, peppers (the new¬†plant¬†is on the left, if it’s not completely obvious ;-)), and zucchini (front):

2014_05_17_cukepepperzucchini-Edit

 

Here are the tomatoes [columns left to right]: Fourth of July (front stake), Best Boy (back stake); Bonnie Grape; Indigo Rose (apparently this one is a purple tomato that turns red when it’s ripe!)

2014_05_17_tomatoes02-Edit

Bonnie Grape:

Bonnie Grape tomatoes

Indigo Rose:

Indigo Rose tomatoes

While Husband planted our new plants, I investigated our daughter’s cherry tomato plant in the pot on our deck. ¬†I was happily surprised to see a little tomato forming on it!

tiny tomato starting on Vivian's cherry tomato plant

 

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Yesterday, I posted about the planting of our 2014 garden, and today I wanted to share a bit of an update, as of Thursday of last week.

First, the not-so great news:

It looks like only 3 tomato plants have survived so far… 2 Best Boy, and 1 Fourth of July. ¬†You might be able to barely pick them out in the photo below (they are on the left two stakes in the back row and the far left stake in the front row). ¬†I fully admit that this is mostly my own fault– I didn’t “harden off” my seedlings, and they weren’t looking so hot to begin with. ¬†After all the work Husband put in to prepare the garden, we just might be adding some store-bought seedlings to the empty spaces.

2014_05_12_survivingtomatoes-Edit

 

The peppers aren’t faring so well, either. ¬†The right-hand pepper (of the three sprouts planted) died pretty quickly. ¬†The remaining two are looking a bit worse for wear. ¬†It kind of looks like something is getting into the garden (despite the fencing) and nibbling on the leaves.

left pepper.  barely surviving.

left pepper

right pepper.  barely surviving

right pepper (formerly middle pepper)

 

But there is a bright side!

My herb seeds are sprouting!

look at those herb sprouts!

look at those herb sprouts!

look at those herb sprouts!

I’m not sure what dill, marjoram, and savory sprouts look like, but I’m pretty sure the shorter sprouts with the rounded leaves are basil. ¬†My (wild) guess is that the spikier ones are dill.

And there are zucchini sprouts!

Lake Valley zucchini sprout

Burpee zucchini sprout

And one lone cucumber sprout under the left trellis.  Can you spot it?  (I hope that in all of the in-ground garden photos you are graciously ignoring the fact that weeding needs to be done!)

one cucumber sprout under the left trellis

 

Finally, my daughter’s cherry tomato plant is growing happily. ¬†She makes sure to look out at it each morning when she wakes up, and we have been faithfully watering it with her tiny “watering bucket” (as she calls it) on the days that it hasn’t rained!

Vivian's tomato plant-- seems to be growing happily!

 

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On the first weekend in May, Husband worked super-hard and got our yard into great shape! ¬†One of his projects was to prepare the garden (isn’t he a great guy?).

garden before tilling/planting

This is what it looked like “before.” ¬†We’d dumped all the leaves that we’d raked from the yard into the garden to cover it for the winter. ¬†Husband has decided that he will not do that again! ¬†It made tilling it (by hand) extremely difficult, and there are big chunks of partially decomposed leaves throughout the soil now.

compost from last year

This is an oh-so-glamorous shot of our compost bin. ¬†We ended up “cold-composting.” ¬†All last growing season, we added material to the compost bin. ¬†When the growing season ended and we deconstructed the garden, we stopped adding to the bin and just let it sit. ¬†We didn’t turn the contents at all. ¬†So when Husband opened the bin, we found a layer of nice compost at the bottom, but there was still material above it that hadn’t transformed. ¬†Not a bad result for basically no work! ¬†Husband mixed the layer of compost soil into the garden, and left the other material to start this year’s cold compost.

After the back-breaking work of tilling the garden and working in the compost soil, Husband let me plant my (rather pathetic) seedlings, at my request. ¬†(Side note: it was way harder than I expected to be kneeling on the ground and working around my big ol’ belly, haha!)

seedlings before planting

 

And here are those sprouts, above.  The leftmost column are the peppers, next are the Best Boy, the three in the middle-right column are what is left of the Jelly Bean sprouts (sad), and the Fourth of July sprouts are in the far right column.

I direct-sowed cucumber and zucchini seeds, as well!

 

Now for some not-very-illuminating photos of the planted garden:

Garden planted and mulched!

Garden planted and mulched!

 

By the way, you can see our rain barrel all set up again to the left of the garden.  Thanks to some absolutely crazy rain storms recently, it is nice and full already, and we used it for all of our garden watering as we planted!   When Husband set it up a couple weeks ago, he added a second layer of cinderblock to give it additional height, which hopefully will result in more water pressure when we hook up the soaker hose later.

 

cucumber seeds planted at base of trellises, pepper plants in the three middle spots, and zucchini seeds planted in the two foreground spots.

cucumber seeds planted at base of trellises, pepper plants in the three middle spots, and zucchini seeds planted in the two foreground spots.

 

2014_05_04_gardenafter03-Edit

Best Boy seedlings in the back row, Fourth of July seedlings in the front row.

 

I also direct-sowed a packet of mixed herb seeds (basil, dill, marjoram, and savory) that I got as a freebie last summer at the county fair. ¬†We’re using the box on the porch railing for this, and I”m going to try to be much more reliable about watering it this year! ūüėČ

planted a mixed packet of herb seeds in the box on the porch

Finally, my little girl has been SUPER excited about the garden. ¬†All spring long, she has been talking about helping in the garden. ¬†So Husband and I decided that she should have a container “garden” of her own; the rabbit-proof fencing makes it difficult for her to get into the main garden!

2014_05_04_vgarden02-Edit

 

We picked out a compact cherry tomato plant at our local Home Depot, and she helped us to plant it in one of our large terra cotta pots.

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I’m so excited for her to help take care of it and watch it grow!!

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My sprouts seem pretty happy!

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From left to right, in this photo, the cups are Fourth of July, Best Boy, Jelly Bean, bell peppers.

They certainly make me happy, sitting on their tray, balanced on a luggage rack under the window in my craft room.

From left to right, in this photo, the cups are bell peppers, Jelly Bean, Best Boy, Fourth of July.

From left to right, in this photo, the cups are bell peppers, Jelly Bean, Best Boy, Fourth of July.

As I mentioned in my last post about this year’s garden, the tomatoes were pretty quick to sprout.¬† I didn’t see any sign of the peppers, though, and I’d just about given up.¬† I figured the seeds were just too old.¬† I considered poking some more seeds into the cups to see if I could get any to grow at all, but honestly, I was too lazy/busy/prioritizing other things.¬† So the other day, when I saw a little green sprout poking its way up out of the soil, I was pretty delighted!

after a long time, there are actually pepper sprouts coming up!

after a long time, there are actually pepper sprouts coming up!

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So here’s the plan!

This year’s garden is not going to be much different from last year’s.¬† For two reasons: 1) It’s going to be a busy summer!¬† 2) I didn’t feel like spending any money on new seeds, so I’m using what I already have.

garden2014diagram-Edit

I’ll have 2 cucumber trellises, two zucchini plants, and two plants of each of three tomato varieties.¬† I’m going to try and squish in two red bell pepper plants, too!¬† I’ve had mixed success with peppers in the past, so we’ll see how they do here in this garden plot.

I planted the pepper and tomato seeds on Saturday, 08 February 2014.

I planted seeds for our garden today!!

Just for my own record, there are:

  • Four seeds in each pepper cup
  • Three seeds in each Best Boy cup
  • Two seeds in each Jelly Bean cup (the last of that seed packet)
  • Three seeds in each Fourth of July cup

The cups are living on a tray balanced on a luggage rack in my craft room, where I can leave the blinds completely opened all day long for them to capture as much sunshine from the southern-exposure window as possible.

On the 15th, I was delighted to see cute, fuzzy, little Best Boy sprouts poking up in two of the cups!  Can you spot one in the photo below?

Spotted my first sprouts today!  Two tiny, furry little Best Boy tomato sprouts

On the 18th, I noted sprouts in the Jelly Bean cups, as well.  (From left to right, in this photo, the cups are bell peppers, Jelly Bean, Best Boy, Fourth of July)

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And one last photo from the 18th, because the sprouts look so cheerful in the sunlight, in spite of the snow on the ground outside!

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