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Archive for the ‘peppers’ Category

Two Sundays ago, it was snowy here in central/upstate NY.  What better way to deal with that than to plant some seeds?

Vivian supervised.

From what I learned from last year’s garden + the fact that daily life is a bit busier around here because of our little girl, I decided to to scale back the garden this year.  If all goes well, the garden will contain:

  • two California Wonder (red bell) pepper plants
  • two cucumber plants
  • two zucchini plants
  • two Jelly Bean (grape) tomato plants
  • two Fourth of July tomato plants

Since the groundhog was instrumental in decimating my cucumbers and zucchinis last year (but left the peppers and tomatoes alone), I planted some extra tomato seeds so that I have plants to replace any gnawed-upon squash plants.

And this past Sunday, I was delighted to see that the tomato seeds have started sprouting!!  Hurray!

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On Friday morning, I went out to see how my garden is faring.

It’s having its last gasps of production– frost is imminent.

Really, it’s pretty pathetic looking, and I keep debating whether it’s time to just cut it all down, even though we haven’t had a frost yet.

Since I’m still recovering from a leg muscle injury, I thought massive garden destruction wasn’t quite the best plan on Friday.  So I decided that I would just pick the ripe-enough stuff and bring it in.  There have been a few warm days in the forecast, so I left the really green tomatoes on the vine– who knows, maybe more will ripen?

What I picked looks deceptively good in this photo.  In reality, the large (non-Jelly Bean) tomatoes are rather insipid, so I forsee a batch of sauce in the very near future.  Here’s what I collected:

  • 8 Early Girl (1 lb, 15 oz)
  • 4 Red Lightning (11 oz)
  • 23 Fourth of July (2 lbs 15 oz)
  • 46 Jelly Bean (13.5 oz)
  • 5 peppers (one of them red, two of them turning red, and two of them green)
  • 1 small cucumber

In the next week or so, I will be tearing out the remaining plants.  Does anyone have any suggestions for green tomato usage?  We’ve done the fried green tomato thing, and they’re yummy, but two people (+baby on the way) can only eat so many of them and remain relatively healthy!  Please link or send me recipes for other green tomato goodies if you have them!

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I am loving all the tomatoes from our garden!  Not enough at one time to can (maybe someday in the future I’ll attempt a garden that big…), but enough to share with neighbors, make tomato pie, make tomato sauce (if you have tomatoes on hand, TRY THIS RECIPE!!), and make Caprese salad.  YUM!

We had an extra big harvest on Sept 4…

September 4:

  • 13 Early Girl (3 lbs, 11.875 oz)
  • 15 Red Lightning (2 lbs, 12 oz)
  • 18 Fourth of July (2 lbs, 1.75 oz)
  • 53 Jelly Bean (1 lb, 0.75 oz)
  • 31 Yellow Pear (1 lb, 3 oz)

September 10:

  • 2 Early Girl (6.375 oz)
  • 4 Red Lightning (11.625 oz)
  • 12 Fourth of July (14.5 oz)
  • 28 Jelly Bean (8 oz)
  • 8 Yellow Pear (4.5 oz)

And we’ve finally gotten our first red pepper (on Sept. 8)!

Uunfortunately, it did have a bad spot (which I cleverly hid in this photo!). But once it was cut out, it was glorious on our salad this weekend!

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The garden is a jungle.  Some of those tomato plants are taller than I am!!

Even the tomato cages (which are bigger ones than I’ve had before in my container gardens) are having trouble standing up under the weight.

The cucumber plants are looking a bit weak.  I don’t know whether it’s been so hot and dry, or if its due to the cucumber beetles.  Or both.

I am suspicious that the groundhog has been snacking on the zucchini plants.  I have yet to see any zucchinis forming, and there are always a few snipped/bitten-off stems whenever I check.  I feel like I might be the first person in gardening history to get NO zucchini fruit from my plants.  Aren’t zucchinis supposed to be coming out of your ears by the end of the summer?  Not here, yet!

Before I show you what I harvested, let me show you what’s on its way!

a nice sized pepper
Red Lightning tomatoes
Fourth of July tomatoes

The ripe tomatoes in that cluster made it into this “hall of fame”:

harvest 8.4.2011

All the tomatoes that I harvested today are Fourth of July variety.

And by the way, we picked a cucumber on Sunday (7/31), but we ate it before I thought to take a picture!  It was about the same size (and weird shape) as the others.

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First of all, I want to mention (because I keep forgetting!) that I haven’t seen the groundhog since about the weekend of June 18!  Maybe Mr. Groundhog got discouraged because I brought the herbs inside (I still haven’t found a good way to have my pots inside.  I was hoping to find an inexpensive baker’s/plant rack to elevate them out of the groundhog’s reach and put them back on the porch, but no luck finding one so far.  Anyone have suggestions?).

Yesterday I went out and did a bit of garden maintenance.  Like I said in a previous post, the mulch has done wonders for suppressing weeds.  I have no idea how I could have thought to manage without it! Maybe you can tell from the top picture how crazy and jungle-like the garden was getting…{click any of the photos in this post to see them larger}

The bottom photo shows the “after” look.  Maybe it’s not so obvious from the photos, but there was a lot to be done to the tomato plants themselves.  I trimmed a ton of suckers** off of them and actually just pruned some of the large, sprawling branches.  I also threaded escapee branches back into the tomato cages.  Note to self:  stay on top of trimming those suckers!

Here are some photos showing the progress of the zucchini, cucumber, pepper, and tomato plants!

zucchini

cucumber

pepper

Early Girl tomato

Fourth of July collage

Jelly Bean tomato

Yellow Pear (top) and Red Lightning (bottom) tomatoes

 

**P.S.  When I say suckers, I am not using it in the slangy sense (although it’s kind of funny when you read it that way!).  I’m talking about the extra branches that grow out of the crooks of my indeterminate tomato vines.  According to McGee and Stuckey (see full book info in my Garden tab), you pinch off suckers to prevent bushy foliage and few fruits.

 

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The dramatic growth of a garden amazes me each year.  Do you remember what it looked like back when I planted it?  Here’s a reminder…  Now look at it!  It’s been about a month and a half (click photos to see them larger):

zucchini (left and middle) and Jelly Bean tomato (right)

And the plants are starting to fruit!!

Just buds so far on the California Wonder pepper plants:

lefthand pepper

righthand pepper

But there are small tomatoes starting on all five different varieties!

Yellow Pear

Jelly Bean

Fourth of July

Early Girl

Red Lightning

Even the cucumbers are starting to produce…

2 small cucumbers-- can you spot them?

Unfortunately, if you look closely at the photo above, you can see that there is some trouble in cucumber paradise.  Here’s a photo I took a few days ago that shows the trouble even more obviously:

striped cucumber beetle

::sigh:: I’m going to have to do something about these tiny pests!  According to some brief research, these little beetles not only damage the plants by eating them, they also carry and spread disease to the plants.

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You’ll notice that the garden is looking extra spiffy, because when Husband’s parents were visiting last week, they helped us spread some beautiful black mulch over the garden bed (as well as the decorative beds at the front of the house).  Let me tell you, that mulch works *wonders* suppressing weeds!  I haven’t had to do weeding since the 17th!  Before, it was absolutely necessary for me to weed at least once per week to keep the garden looking nice.

one more Jelly Bean (tomato; on left) and two zucchini

 

empty pot (so sad) and two cucumber plans

 

In non-vegetable garden gardening news, Husband’s mom also showed me how to divide and transplant hostas.  It’s so easy!  So now I have a nice ring of hostas (from the ENORMOUS plant in our front bed) around the base of the beautiful pine tree in our back yard.  It looks so nice!

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Just pictures…

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Lest you think that my garden is nothing but a pitted war zone, let me reassure you that it really isn’t all bad.

garden on 07 June, after a vigorous weeding session

The tomatoes and peppers are growing nicely.  Most of the tomato plants have grown enough to be approaching the bottom ring of the tomato cages.  The peppers are still small, but they have grown since they were planted in the ground.  I moved the pot with the pepper plant from the back porch to live next to the garden plot after the herb-eating fiasco.  You can see it in the photo above, next to the air conditioning unit.

Other hopeful signs:  the cucumbers and zucchinis have started flowering!  The vines still aren’t very long, so these are just preliminary blooms (I think), but I did spot bees on the flowers!  Maybe I won’t have to do any hand pollinating this year!

zucchini bud

 

cucumber flower

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On Tuesday (May 17, for those of you keeping score), I finally planted my garden outside!

I had been “hardening off” my seedlings for the past several days, and when I forgot and left them out all night Monday, I figured they could survive if they were in the ground!

On Sunday afternoon, Husband and I went to Lowes and picked up some 54″ tomato cages and two 64-quart bags of Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.  I had hoped to plant everything on Monday, but it poured down rain the entire day, so I waited. 😉

Allow me to take you on a tour of my freshly-planted garden!  I made a diagram with an otherwise not-very-good photo of the main plot (southern exposure) so that I can remember which varieties of tomatoes I planted where…when the labels on my pathetic popsicle-stick plant markers fade!

As you can see, I have 5 varieties of tomatoes, a total of 8 plants in the plot.  Of the five varieties, only the Jelly Bean is new this year. There are pepper plants on each corner, and the corn is planted in hills along the back of the plot.

Since there wasn’t enough room in the plot for everything we wanted to grow, I also planted things in our pots (from previous years), hence the potting soil.

three pots of cucumbers on the front side of the fence

two pots of zucchini (left) and two pots of watermelon (right) on the back side of the fence

I’ll train the cucumbers and zucchini (maybe) to grow up the fence (I’ll add strings for support once they get going).  In a previous post, I mentioned that I didn’t know much about whether watermelons would work in pots, but a search on growing watermelons in containers yielded this link, which confirmed that Sugar Baby watermelons (the variety we have) are one of the varieties that can do okay in a pot. (And just for the record, searching on “sugar baby watermelon yield per vine” took me to this site, from which I gather we’ll have about 3 per plant, if they survive).  I’m pretty sure that the pots are placed in sunny locations, but I will be keeping an eye on them, and I’ll move them if it looks like I chose their spots poorly.

You didn’t think I forgot about the herbs and lettuce, did you?

herbs, lettuce, and a lone pepper plant

These smaller pots are on our back deck (western exposure).  In the photo above, the top row, from left to right, contains: basil, a pepper plant, and Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce.  The bottom row, from left to right, contains: flat-leaf parsley (not looking so hot from when I transplanted it… hopefully it perks up!), chives, curly parsley, and a Mesclun mix of lettuce.  After planting all the big and little pots, I had leftover potting soil, another biggish pot, and another pepper seedling, so that’s why a pepper got mixed into the herbs and lettuce 🙂

Let me tell you, I have *definitely* seen signs of our little tree-rat friends (squirrels) in these pots.  Not 2 hours later, I noticed that the little rascals had been digging in the pots, especially the ones with the lettuce.  ::sigh::  I wonder if these plants will survive?  I have seen a little bit of evidence of animal digging in the main plot, but not as much, thankfully.  We’ll see!  As a precaution, when I planted my seedlings, which I started two-to-an-egg-carton-space), I left both of them intact.  If I had been more sure of animals leaving my garden alone, I would have thinned them immediately, but I’m going to wait for a bit and see what survives.

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