Container Garden Update — August 11, 2019

The few days that we had in the 80’s didn’t last. Here in the north Seattle area it’s back to 70’s, overcast, and spotted showers.

190811 harvest 1

(Clockwise from top left — Roma tomatoes, Taxi, Oregon Cherry, Tromboncino zucchini, Carmen peppers, Oregon Spring tomatoes, Sun Gold.)

We harvested the Tromboncino at a relatively small size because there are two other fruits on the plant in the same place — the harvested fruit was directly between the two pictured here:

190811 tromboncino

We’ve found that three fruits that close together rarely ends well, so we pulled the one that was in the center.

On the other sheet tray is 2.5 pounds of Marketmore 76 cucumbers and 2.5 pounds of Fortex beans:

190811 harvest 2

We found three of those cucumbers after we thought we’d already found them all.

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — August 11, 2019”

Container Garden Update — August 4, 2019

We’re finally stringing together a few days around 80 degrees, which gives us The First Real Harvest Of The Year!

190804 tomatoes

Tomatoes — Front L-R:  Roma, Taxi, Sun Gold, Oregon Cherry.  Back:  Oregon Spring

190804 cucumbers

Marketmore cucumbers, basil, and (I think) Guardsman bunch onions.

190804 fortex beans

No Fortex bean harvests since Thursday means 2.5 pounds on Sunday.

Hopefully more warm weather means that the nice harvests are just beginning.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 28, 2019

It’s been a very mild summer. The Tromboncino zucchini aren’t doing much of anything but the beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are doing well.

Oregon Spring tomatoes are always our earliest producers. By the end of the season we should have harvested around 40 pounds total from the two plants in the box:

190728 oregon spring

The first Romas:

190728 roma

The Taxi is “sharing” a box with a less-than-stellar Oregon Cherry. The Taxi plant starts on the left…:

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — July 28, 2019”

The First Sun Golds — Is The Garden Late This Year?

We harvested the first two Sun Gold tomatoes on Thursday the 18th. Is that “late” or “early” or “neither”?

180719 sun gold

Fortunately we have a non-memory dependent answer. We’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of the harvests since we started gardening in 2013. Here’s what it says:

Year First Sun Gold Date
2013 July 7
2014 August 3
2015 July 17
2016 August 3
2017 July 20
2018 July 28
2019 July 18
Average July 22

As it turns out July 18 is almost right on the average first date for Sun Golds.

What is late is the Tromboncino. Most years we would have already harvested a few. As of right now there is one fruit of any size on the vines and none have been harvested.

The Fortex beans are rocking though — over three days and two harvests we pulled almost a pound off of the plants:

July 18:

180719 fortex beans

July 20:

200719 fortex beans

Today will be a day to start “cleaning up” the bottoms of the tomato plants. At least that way we’ll be able to see new fruit easily.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — June 23, 2019

Do you remember the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk? Thinking about it, I remember the beans, and I remember that they got so tall that they reached the clouds, and that was about it.

From Wikipedia:

Jack is a young, poor boy living with his widowed mother and a dairy cow on a farm cottage. The cow’s milk was their only source of income. When the cow stops giving milk, Jack’s mother tells him to take her to the market to be sold. On the way, Jack meets a bean dealer who offers magic beans in exchange for the cow, and Jack makes the trade. When he arrives home without any money, his mother becomes angry, throws the beans on the ground, and sends Jack to bed without dinner.

During the night, the magic beans cause a gigantic beanstalk to grow outside Jack’s window. The next morning, Jack climbs the beanstalk to a land high in the sky. He finds an enormous castle and sneaks in. Soon after, the castle’s owner, a giant, returns home. He smells that Jack is nearby, and speaks a rhyme:

Fee-fi-fo-fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman:
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

 

In the versions in which the giant’s wife (the giantess) features, she persuades him that he is mistaken and helps Jack hide because the woman knows that he is poor. When the giant falls asleep, Jack steals a bag of gold coins and makes his escape down the beanstalk.

Jack climbs the beanstalk twice more. He learns of other treasures and steals them when the giant sleeps: first a goose that lays golden eggs, then a magic harp that plays by itself. The giant wakes when Jack leaves the house with the harp (who calls out to the giant) and chases Jack down the beanstalk. Jack calls to his mother for an axe and before the giant reaches the ground, cuts down the beanstalk, causing the giant to fall to his death.

Jack and his mother live happily ever after with the riches that Jack acquired.

That’s really something, isn’t it?

What brought that to mind is that the Fortex beans are much taller than everything in our garden, and that’s been the case since about two weeks after we planted them:

190622 beans

If you’re going to author a fairy tale about garden plants that get really tall really fast, beans are the obvious choice. The story practically writes itself, except for the castle, the giant, the singing harp, and the golden goose. And the poor cow that drives the plot.

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — June 23, 2019”

Container Garden Update — June 9, 2019

An overview picture of the garden. In the foreground are the peppers. Tomatoes are on the left. Fortex beans are in the back right, with tomatillos in the middle-back. The Tromboncino trellis is in the far back left. (For reference, the garden is in the back yard on the west side of the house. The patio is the sunniest location we have available to garden. We now use a dozen EarthBoxes after having had good success years ago with herbs and other little edibles in our “starter” EarthBox.)

190609 overview 2

A picture from next to the Tromboncino, near the garage door:

190609 overview1

We try to harvest the Fortex beans when they’re smallish and can be cooked as haricot verts. They’re going nuts even though they’re in the worst location on the patio — they get shaded by the back deck and don’t get sun until around 1-2pm. There are two City Picker boxes end to end under the trellis, allowing for 40 plants total. We gave the beans their own trellis this year so they’d keep to themselves:

190609 fortex beans

The tomatillos. Every year it seems that there’s a stronger and a weaker plant. That’s true again this year:

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — June 9, 2019”

The 2019 Vegetable List

We’ve been doing most of our veggie shopping at the Seattle Tilth plant sale. Descriptions are condensed from their PDF. My notes are in italics.

The List:

Tomato (2 per box):

Black Krim (2 plants) – 75 days. Indeterminate. Open pollinated heirloom. From the Black Sea region of Russia, these 10-12oz beefsteak type tomatoes have a strong, rich flavor that is common with black tomatoes. (Ed: By far our favorite tomato.)

Old German (1 plant) – 75-85 days. Indeterminate. Fruits are golden with reddish streaks. Produces large, rich and full bodied tomatoes. Great for fresh eating tomato, salads, and salsa.

Sun Gold (1 plant) – 65 days. Indeterminate. Wow! Sungold’s fruity or tropical flavor is a big hit with everyone who tastes it. Apricot-orange round 1 1/4 in. fruit. 10-20 fruits on grape-like trusses. (Ed: While the description is a little over the top they are a universal hit.)

Roma (2 plants) – 75 days. Determinant. Premium canning tomato, ideal for sauce and paste. Pear-shaped scarlet fruits are thick and meaty with few seeds. (Ed:  Interestingly, the plant tags say “Roma’s Best”. Hopefully they’re the same thing we’ve been growing for years.)

Taxi (1 plant) – 65 days. Determinate, early, prolific production. The best yellow tomato for short season gardeners. Open pollinated. Expect heavy yields of mild, non-acid tomatoes for 3-4 weeks. Grows well in a container. (Ed: They do grow well in containers. In a typical year we’ll get somewhere upwards of 20 pounds per plant.)

Oregon Cherry (1 plant) – 60 days. Determinate. An early cherry tomato released from Oregon State University. The small-fruited red tomatoes are 1 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide, and load up heavy on 1 1/2 feet tall by 2 feet wide determinate plants. These thin skinned tomatoes have a sweet flavor and are a reliable PNW treat

180812 harvest3

 

Zucchini (2 plants in one box):

Tromboncino – 60-80 days. Open pollinated heirloom. A Tilth favorite, the flesh of this variety has a smooth buttery texture and a mild flavor—the taste of summer! The 12 to 18” long fruits are “trombone”- shaped and can grow in curly cues or hang like
bells on a trellised vine. (Ed: Tromboncino work well for us because we garden on a concrete patio and normal zucchini would likely burn on the cement. Tromboncino grow vertically, so we save space. They’re also relatively more powdery mildew resistant. Each square on the trellis below is 8″. The fruits themselves are around 2′ long.)

160814 tromboncino

 

Cucumber (4 plants in one box):

Marketmore 76 – 63 days. Open pollinated. In the Marketmore series, ‘Marketmore 76’ is very popular with organic growers due to its high level of disease resistance. This dark green slicing variety produces abundant, high quality, uniform fruits about 8 inches long with a wonderful cucumber flavor.

160724 cucumber

 

Tomatillo (2 plants in one box):

Verde – 70 days. Open pollinated. A classic deep green tomatillo with high yields, ‘Verde’ is ready when the husks have split andare drying. Very intense rich flavor which pairs well with sweet summer tomatoes and makes a fantastic salsa.

180701 tomatillo

 

Peppers (6 per box. This year it is two boxes of Carmen and 3 plants each of Jimmy Nardello and Anaheim.):

Carmen – 60 – 80 days. Lusciously sweet when left to fully ripen to a deep red, this pepper is perfect for chopping and tossing straight into a salad. A great container plant and a good addition to a sunny veggie bed. 6 inch fruits on an upright plant.

Jimmy Nardello – 76 days. Open pollinated heirloom. Thin-walled 8″ long curved tapering pointed fruits turn deep red when ripe with shiny wrinkled skin. Great eaten raw and super tasty when fried–very prolific! This seed variety is considered by Slow Food USA to be an endangered member of their “Ark of Taste.”

Anaheim College 64 – 74 days. Open pollinated. Medium hot flavor make these short season peppers a hit for dips, sauces, stuffing with cheese
or roasting.

150829 peppers

 

For a little background — when shopping for vegetable plants we’re looking for certain things:

  • We want relatively short season plants because the growing season in the Pacific Northwest can be unpredictable. (Note that nothing is much over 80 days to maturity in the list above.)
  • We typically don’t grow miniature versions of anything because it can get very fiddly to clean and process little fruits. And there tends to be more waste as a percentage of the yield.
  • We’ll often select tomatoes that do well in Russia or Oregon. That’s broadly true of all the plants we grow — ideally wherever the plant is popular shares a latitude and climate similar to the Pacific Northwest.
  • We generally focus on high value – high yield plants. We have limited growing space and we can buy something like corn for next to free at the height of summer.

Finally:

  • It’s been my experience that people tend to grow what their parents grew. And most gardening advice is based on experience gained from small sample sizes. My sample size is small too.
  • When we were starting out I hit as many “vegetable gardening” message boards as I could find, searching for people growing food near us. I tallied up what people said grew well (literally, tally sheets for recommended tomatoes, etc). We used that information as a base and we’re learning more every year.
  • The nice thing about gardening is most mistakes are still edible.

2018 Garden Recap (Redo)

We lost every blog post after mid-September 2017 in the move to the new host and address. Public Service Message: Back Up Your Files Frequently!

The final 2018 Garden Yields And Notes:

195.5 pounds total.  That does not include the basil, beans, or anything from the salad table. A bit of a down year probably caused at least in part by extremes in the weather.

Tomatoes:

Black Krim — 19.5 pounds

Cherry Bomb — 5.9 pounds.

Hungarian Heart — 5.1 pounds. These were mislabeled at the plant sale. They don’t really have anything going for them and we won’t do them again.

Oregon Spring — 28.4 pounds — A good indicator of just how “down” the garden was this year. Last year was 48.0 pounds.

Roma — 2 plants — 23.9 pounds — Down from 31.6 pounds last year.

Paisano — 16.8 pounds. An experiment looking for a sauce tomato other than Roma.

Taxi — 5.2 pounds.  Down from 22.7 pounds in 2016.

Continue reading “2018 Garden Recap (Redo)”

2017 Garden Recap (Redo)

We lost every blog post after mid-September 2017 in the move to the new host and address. Public Service Message: Back Up Your Files Frequently!

The final 2017 Garden Yields And Notes:

238.6 pounds total.  That does not include the basil, beans, or anything from the salad table. 

Tomatoes:

Black Krim — 20.9 pounds — Rich, dark, earthy tasting fruit. Our favorite.

Cherokee Purple — 10.5 pounds

Continue reading “2017 Garden Recap (Redo)”

Container Garden Update — September 17, 2017

-A.J.

It’s been a busy ten days. Everything decided to ripen at more or less the same time. Altogether it’s been somewhere north of 70 pounds of mostly tomatoes and peppers. And melons(!)

Starting on Friday, September 8 (Tomatoes: Old German, Purple Cherokee, Oregon Spring, Siletz, and Black Krim.  The big peppers are Carmen, the little bells are King of the North, there are also a couple of Jimmy Nardellos and a mis-labeled-when-we-bought-it regular bell pepper.  The beans are french filet beans from one of the whiskey barrels):

170908 harvest Friday

Tuesday, September 12 (L-R, top to bottom:  Oregon Spring, Marketmore 76 cucumbers, Black Krim, Roma, Purple Cherokee, Filet Beans that just keep coming, Old German, Minnesota Midget Melons):

170912 harvest Tuesday

The smaller of the two melons was the first to ripen. The others still on the vines are the size of the bigger one. Here’s a close-up of the melons:

170912 melon close up

The little melon at dinner:

170912 melon

I’m pleased that we got *something* with the melons. The melons that didn’t survive the transplant and cool early season weather were replaced by a Siletz tomato plant. We’re going to get quite a few Siletz tomatoes to go with the 5-7 pounds of melons from the lone surviving melon plant.

Onward to Saturday, September 16. It’s around 35 pounds of stuff. The left top box contains Carmen peppers. Middle left is mostly Roma, bottom left is mostly Old German. The top right box is a collection of assorted pepers. The bottom right box contains the mis-labeled-when-we-bought-them bell peppers, more Carmens, and King of the North.:

170916 Harvest Saturday

Even after all that, there are still more Romas. I’m guessing there may be 10-15 pounds hanging around:

170916 roma

As I write this, the wind is picking up. It’s supposed to be cool and rainy later today through Tuesday. We’ll see how many “jumpers” we get with the wind.

The melons are about done. But they’re ripening, so “done” is ok:

170916 melon

The basil will need to be harvested in the next few days. We been harvesting aggressively all summer and the plants seem to like it that way. That will be the new strategy in future years. Basically, instead of just managing the very tops and flowers we’ve been cutting a full node below the tops. It’s resulted in better product, and more of it:

170916 basil

Finally, a picture of the salad table. We’re getting our first fall peas now. We’ll remove the shade cloth either today or very soon — we’re still getting days in the 70’s and one of the arugula plants decided to bolt. Better safe than sorry with the shade cloth. The trick will be reattaching it as neatly in the spring — or, remembering which way it goes back together:

170916 salad table

 

We’ll also make a point to aggressively harvest the salad table in the spring. It’s hard not to “wait” and hope the stuff gets bigger, but the plants almost always respond by going to seed.

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Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.