Container Garden Update — September 17, 2017


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.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — September 4, 2017


Despite the dry summer, the tomatoes, as a group, are late:

(L-R) Roma, Old German, Black Krim
(L-R) Roma, Old German, Black Krim

A closeup, looking down on the Romas:

170904 Roma

The Wednesday harvest. Mostly Oregon Spring. On the top right are Black Krim, bottom right are Cherokee Purple:

170904 harvest

Many of the Carmens will likely get harvested this week:

170904 carmen

For the Minnesota Midget melons it’s a race between ripening and the “funk” taking over:

170904 melon

The Trombonico didn’t do well this year. I get the feeling that bugs were attacking the fruits just for the moisture. It was that dry here. This week we chopped out all but the greenest growth with the hopes of getting fruit in the next few weeks:

170904 zucchini

And today we transplanted most of the winter veg (Arugula, Dill, Spinach, Mache, Chard, Winter Cress, Winter Density Romaine, Joi Choy, and Cilantro):

170904 winter veg 2

Some of the Romaine, Arugula, Joy Choi, and Bright Lights Chard went into the recently vacated Tomatillo EarthBox. The Tomatillos are now roasted, buzzed up, and frozen for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.

170904 romaine, joi choy

Most of the rest went into the salad table:

170904 salad table

Everything is still a little floppy after the transplant. I’m guessing it all perks up by the end of the day today.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — August 20, 2017


Fall is approaching. There are lots of tomatoes but they’d better hurry up!

The Romas. To be fair, we harvested the 8 ripest fruits last night, so these are all leaning green:

170820 roma

This is going to be the biggest Black Krim we’ve ever seen:

170820 black krim

This is our first year with the Old German variety. This one is close to ready, it’s supposed to get some amount of red to go with all that orange:

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — August 20, 2017”

Container Garden Update — August 13, 2017


It finally rained last night after fifty-five days of no rain. Today was cool and drizzly, but it was a good day to get out and do some heavy pruning on the tomato plants. The harvest, including ripe Oregon Spring, Roma, and Black Krim tomatoes, tomatillos, and cucumbers. The green tomatoes for our pet store guy:

170813 harvest

An overview before the pruning:

170813 overview before

After pruning:

170813 overview after

Tomato alley:

170813 tomato alley

We harvested about 1/3 of the basil a couple of days ago. The plan is to harvest about half of what’s left tomorrow. In previous years we’ve waited too long and the basil got sort of bitter. We’re not going to make that mistake this year:

170813 basil

The Carmen Peppers are having a good year. We didn’t cage them and now they’re all threatening to flop over. We had to insert tomato stakes and run twine around everything to prevent disaster:

170813 carmen


170813 tomatillo

The seedlings got too much water and not enough sunlight. Some did ok, but we’re having to start over in many of the pots. Even without the shade cloth some of them are looking pretty leggy, so shortly after this picture was taken I moved them to a sunnier spot:

170813 seedlings

The Minnesota Midget melon plant has… melons!  They’re bigger than baseballs, but smaller than softballs. Hopefully they’ll ripen before the frost gets to them:

170813 melon


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — July 16, 2017


It’s the middle of July, and we’re about to turn the corner from “growth” to “production”. The raspberries are in full swing:

170716 raspberry

There’s a lot more where that came from. Nice output from a pot on the patio:

170716 raspberry plant

The other fun find today were what I think are filet beans — the pods were all hiding under leaves:

170716 beans

We’re going to have a caprese salad tonight using some of this basil:

170716 basil

The Tromboncino zucchini are doing well. There are a few fruits, this one is about 1′ long:

170716 zucchini

The 8′ zucchini trellis:

170716 zucchini plant

Hiding on the north side of the zucchini plant are some spinach, basil, and romaine seedlings. A critter got into them last night, so now they have bird netting over the top:

170716 seedlings

The Minnesota Midget melons are coming along after the slow start:

170716 melon

The cucumbers. There’s one on the bottom right that should be ready in a few days:

170716 cucumber

We’re going to get a *lot* of tomatillos this year:

170716 tomatillo

The Lilac peppers:

170716 lilac peppers

The Carmens:

170716 carmen

The Oregon Spring. Doing their usual crazy early thing:

170716 oregon spring


An overview from the “hill”. It rained a little bit this morning:

170716 overview


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — June 25, 2017


We’ve had our first couple of really warm days, and the fans are now out of the garage. The warm-weather veggies are digging it. I love gardening this time of year because everything is young and vibrant, and the garden is growing and doing it’s own thing with a minimum of work input.

We’re going to get lots of raspberries this year. Speaking of work- I need to do a better job with the bird netting:

170625 raspberry

The beans. The edamame have been much more energetic than the filet beans, and much more bug-resistant too:

170625 beans

The cucumbers are just starting to climb the trellis:

170625 cucumbers

One of the four melon plants made it. We filled the space in the box with a Siletz tomato. In theory they should coexist well:

170625 siletz and melon

The Oregon Spring are drinking by far the most water of anything in the garden. I’m not sure if that’s a function of the box, their location, or just how much respiring is happening with all that plant mass. It may about time to thin the interior of the jungle:

170625 oregon spring

The rest of the tomatoes (L-R) Roma, Old German, Black Krim. There’s a Purple Cherokee hiding behind the Old German:

170625 tomato

The tomatillos are up to the top of the 6′ trellis:

170625 tomatillo

The Tromboncino:

170625 zucchini

A closeup of the bottom of the Tromboncino. We’ll be eating zucchini soon:

170625 zucchini closeupAn overview:

170625 overview


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — June 11, 2017


A few pictures of the June garden-

Overview #1, from up the “hill”:

170611 overview

Overview #2:

170611 overview2

The left column has three boxes of tomatoes, with the Tromboncino zucchini in the big trellis at the back. Continuing to the right in the front row- the next box over has the Oregon Spring tomatoes. The rest of the front row (L-R) is three pepper boxes and then a box of basil. The rear trellis contains the tomatillos, the center trellis has cucumbers, and the rightmost trellis has the surviving melon plant and a new Siletz tomato plant.

The tomatillos are chest-high:

170611 tomatillo

The Oregon Spring are doing their usual early thing. There are lots of blooms and a few fruit:

170611 oregon spring

The Tromboncino will need to be trained to the trellis soon:

170611 tromboncino

Moving to the front yard — we got another good batch of (very big and fat) peas:

170611 peas

There are still more on the vines, though the vines are beginning to look a little “cooked”:

170611 peas2

The lettuces in the top of the salad table are doing well:

170611 lettuce

The front yard now has four little volunteer pansies:

170611 pansy


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.


The 2017 Summer Veggies


We chose to simplify a little bit this year and go more with things we know “work”, are easy to process, and will see quick use if they make it as far as the freezer. We added a few new things too, including melons. The descriptions below are copied from the Tilth Plant Sale PDF.

The non-pepper division.
The boy cat checking out the non-pepper group of boxes.

Melons –

4 of-  Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe:   65 days. Open pollinated heirloom from 1948 when it was introduced in Minnesota. Measures 4 inches across at maturity, when the rind is a soft yellow and slightly soft at the stem end. Sweet orange flesh with a good muskmelon flavor. The compact vines produce decent yields. Slice into thin delectable servings with an herb infused soft cheese and salted pistachios for a fantastic summer appetizer.

We were going to try these melons last year, but we missed the Tilth plant sale. This will be our first attempt at growing these. From what I’ve read the vines are supposed to get about 4′ long, and the fruits will likely need a pantyhose or sock support or something similar. Hopefully it’s a warm summer, otherwise we may be underwhelmed. 4 plants is one full box.

Sweet Peppers –

6 of-  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.

6 of-  King of the North:   76 days. Open Pollinated. Here is a sweet bell pepper that will mature in short season climates. Its crisp, blocky fruit will turn from medium green to red if left on plant longer. Excellent raw in salads or dips. Great to use as stuffed pepper or in tempura recipes.

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.”

Sweet Chocolate:   60 days. Open pollinated. Early sweet, lobed, thick-walled fruits. Ripen from dark green to a rich chocolate color. Cold tolerant.

The Carmen and King of the North do well every year. They’re versatile in the kitchen, they’re easy to process, and they’re relatively work-free. One box of each.

The Jimmy Nardello is a pepper I’ve been reading about for years. Tilth finally had them in stock this year. I have high expectations.

Sweet Chocolate is another pepper we’ve been meaning to try and represents a little more variety in the pepper boxes.

Hot Peppers –

2 of- 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. They are just like the anaheims you find in the store but without having traveled all those miles to get to you!

Anaheims are very mild hot pepper — we still have bags of Jalapenos and Serranos in the freezer, as well as dried Thai Chiles. We have no shortage of hot stuff, so we took a pass on the lava and went mellower.

We have two open slots for peppers, to be filled in the near future.

Tomatillos –

2 of- Verde:  70 days. Open pollinated. A classic deep green tomatillo with high yields, ‘Verde’ is ready when the husks have split and are drying. Very intense rich flavor which pairs well with sweet summer tomatoes and makes a fantastic salsa. The high yields will allow you to freeze them as you pick, saving some for winter sauces and stew ingredients. Give tomatillos room to spread and they will favor you with their riches.

Our favorite type of Tomatillo. Larger fruits = less handling. We grow these in an A-frame trellis and run extra twine for support for the branches. 2 plants fills one box.

Zucchini – 

4 of- Tromboncino (aka Zucchini Rampincante):   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. Harvest when they are a pale, grass green or leave a few fruits at the end of the season to mature to a buff color and enjoy them as you would a winter squash.

Historically we’ve done two Tromboncino plants in one box. I sort of screwed up when I picked up four. This variety is relatively mildew resistant and they grow vertically up a trellis, so I’m hoping that four plants will work anyway. We’re partial to the taste and texture of Tromboncinos. We’re unlikely to ever grow “standard” zucchini again.

Tomatoes (2 tomato plants go in one box) –

2 of- Oregon Spring:   60 days. Determinate. An extra-early variety that sets loads of meaty fruits weighing 3 to 5 oz., with excellent flavor. Compact plants set fruits even in cool weather and continue to yield all season long. Nearly seedless. A perfect choice for ketchup and sauces.

2 of- Roma:   75 days. Determinant. Premium canning tomato, ideal for sauce and paste. Pear-shaped scarlet fruits are thick and meaty with few seeds.

2 of- Black Krim:   75 days. Open pollinated heirloom. Indeterminate. From the Black Sea region of Russia, these 10-12oz beefsteak type tomatoes have a strong, rich flavor that is common with black tomatoes. One seed catalog noted that the fruit is best when half green and still firm. Very productive. Reportedly is a consistent favorite at tastings, so why not give it a shot?

Old German:   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.

Cherokee Purple:   85 days. Open pollinated heirloom.Indeterminate. Slightly flattened, 6-8 ounce tomatoes with a purple cast. Shoulders will remain green when ripe. Deep, rich, smoky flavor that’s not too acidic. For fans of the black/purple tomatoes, Cherokee Purple is one of the best This seed variety is considered by Slow Food USA to be an endangered member of their “Ark of Taste.”

We chose not to do eight different tomato plants this year. We passed on Taxis because their yellow sauce is very sweet and requires cutting with other red sauces. We also passed on Sungold (or “Sun Gold”). The small fruits of Sun Gold require a lot of fiddly work and the orange sauce is very very sweet.

The Oregon Spring are early and dependable. They taste good and they’re high-yielding. Normally we’d pair these with a Taxi.

The Black Krim win basically every taste test we do, and the deep purple fruits make great sauces.

The Romas were selected specifically for sauces. I thought we’d have more success this year if we did a mono-box and they didn’t have to compete with anything bigger or unruly.

We wanted one more “black/purple” tomato. We’ve grown Cherokee Purple in the past and enjoyed them, so that was the selection. Looking at the PDF, we may want to try “Carbon” next year.

The Old German sound like a great fit due to their size, versatility, and color. We’ve never grown these, but on paper they’re a winner.

That leaves one box left over, which will contain six sweet basil plants once the weather warms up.


Risotto with Porcini, Peas and Prosciutto – in Pictures

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I had forgotten I intended to do this. A few months back, I picked up an amazing few fresh porcinis and fresh english peas and made a risotto (the base recipe is here). Here is my result, in pictures.



I forgot to include a picture of cooking the risotto, so sue me.