Thursday, July 9, 2009

Seed Starting Time

Believe it or not, fall is just around the corner (I say that sort of tongue-in-cheek as we are definately in the throes of the summer heatwave). At least, I am dreaming it is. And with the fall, I will be starting some new tomato plants. Some people just cut theirs back and keep them, as they really aren't annuals, although we treat them as if they were. But I always seem to do better with new plants, so that is what I am doing. I definately still have lots of new green fruit on the ones I have, so I won't be pulling them out any time soon. However, I am thinking I would like these new plants to be plenty big by September, so I am starting seeds now. I am starting seeds instead of buying plants at the nursery, because I have decided that I really do prefer the flavor of heirloom tomatoes. It is so hard to describe the difference, but take my word for it, they are so much better. And because it is hard to find heirloom tomato plants, although it can be done, I am starting mine from seed. I have purchased some of my seed from local stores and some I have ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at this link: And I recently came across this wonderful pdf file at If you haven't seen Mary Jane's Farm magazine, it is definately one to check out. Love it! And they have an awesome forum. You do have to become a "farmgirl" but since I consider myself one that is living in the city, that was easy! The pdf file link is: It is full of really great pics of heirloom tomatoes. Love it too!

Listing of tomato plants started today in peat pots inside:

German Red Strawberry



Green Zebra


Big Beef


Looking forward to watching them sprout!

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's HOT!

[caption id="attachment_145" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Just picked today."]Just picked today.[/caption]

It is so HOT outside these days that in order to check out the garden, I seriously have to get up at 6am to beat the heat. We are hitting 108 degrees today, which feels more like 118 degrees to me. I simply can hardly hack it! And of course, most of the garden needs to be shaded from the brutal afternoon sun.

[caption id="attachment_148" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="Armeninan cucumbers growing up two 4 ft. tall topiary forms."]Armeninan cucumbers growing up two 4 ft. tall topiary forms.[/caption]

The cucumbers seem to be doing ok, though. You can just see the tip of the topiary forms.  They are producing more armenian cucumbers than we can possibly eat, and I keep giving them away to relatives and neighbors. We usually just slice them up to munch on, although my daughter likes to dip hers in the ever present ranch dressing.

[caption id="attachment_150" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="A small caterpillar on the pickling cucumbers."]A small caterpillar on the pickling cucumbers.[/caption]

I found a little friend on my pickling cucumbers today, and it has found itself a new home in heaven. I did see a preying mantis that was quite large on the tomatoes today also, and that one I happily left alone. I cannot get rid of my infestation of squash bugs. They have moved onto my watermelon plants and as I now have some new starts of zucchini out there, I really want them GONE! I have tried insecticidal soap and picking them off as I see them and smashing them. I also have tried to look under all the leaves to get the little brown eggs and smash those. None of this has been working well at all. I have plans for the morning, to take a jar out there and pick off all that I can find and put them in the jar and then throw it away. I can hardly stand to touch the things. I think I will wear gardening gloves for this particular chore.

[caption id="attachment_151" align="alignnone" width="200" caption="Asparagus ferns."]Asparagus ferns.[/caption]

The asparagus has gone really crazy lately, making new shoots, going to seed and ferning. They seem to be doing just fine, also, without any extra shading.

[caption id="attachment_152" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Overall view of entrance to garden area."]Overall view of entrance to garden area.[/caption]

I love the way those new pavers look at the entrance to the garden. Landcraft did such an amazing job on them. It has made the area feel like a little secret garden. To the left of the chicken coop, although you cannot see it, is a small garden shed. We put it in a few months ago, and it has been so handy to put all the supplies in there and not have them spilling about the garden like last year. One handy thing that I read about somewhere, is to hang an inexpensive shoe organizer on the back of the door. I keep all my garden tools in it as well as drip irrigation pieces and twine, zip ties, etc. It has worked out well.

Not much is coming out of the garden right now. It is just simply too hot. I am still getting some tomatoes and that is pretty nice. It should pick up again at the end of August.

[caption id="attachment_154" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Zucchini starts under the shade fabric."]Zucchini starts under the shade fabric.[/caption]

The above picture shows the pvc hoops that the shade cloth is zip tied to. I went to my local hardware store and bought some 12 inch pieces of rebar and poked them into the ground on either side of the bed and then put the pvc pipes into them onto either side to create the hoops. Cheap and easy. In the winter, I use them also, but instead of the shade cloth, I put 4 mil plastic over them and make a kind of green house. I got the idea from Dave the Garden Guy, and it really works well.

[caption id="attachment_155" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="New planter box on back patio."]New planter box on back patio.[/caption]

Well, I believe that's all for now. Keep cool!