A few pictures of the garden in early June. North of Seattle that means that we’re still a month or more away from the first real harvests.
The first picture is an overview from the “front” , facing east.
Front Left – tomatoes (indeterminates are on the north/left, determinates in the front).
Front Right – Carmen peppers.
Back Left – Fortex beans and Tromboncino zuchinni.
Back Center – basil (hiding) and cucumber trellis.
Close-up of the Tromboncino zucchini. The Fortex beans are in the background:
The Marketmore cucumbers:
The Joi Choi. Planted on April 6, the bigger plants are ready to harvest. The tulle over the wire hoops seems to have kept the bugs out this time:
The frilly cilantro and dill that was planted on March 20. They’re sitting in a place where they get morning sun, then dappled sun after that. I think they’re going to bolt within the next two weeks regardless of care:
One nice thing about planting in pots is that they can be moved around depending upon the season and the demands of what’s been planted. The next picture has young leaf lettuce that is covered by bird netting. We have lots of squirrels and they’ll destroy any seedlings that aren’t protected from digging:
I’m still getting the hang of succession planting. I think I’m always waiting too long between plantings, and I try to start outdoors when it’s still cold and the cold nearly stops any growth or germination. This year I tried planting lettuce outside in early March and the it didn’t germinate at all, though that could have been because the seeds were a few years old. I think that I may need to start in February/March indoors, then move that group out into the cold frame in a “warm” spot, then continue with a new group every two weeks through April.
The weather this year was generally cooperative. Our total harvest checks in at 175.5 pounds not including the beans or basil which we don’t weigh (too fiddly on a weeknight). 175.5 pounds from 10 boxes comes out to 4.7 pounds per square foot of growing media. Summary below the tomato pic –
Carmen Peppers – 1 box, 6 plants, 2.2 pounds
King of the North Peppers – 1 box, 6 plants, 2.9 pounds
Our historical yield for peppers has been around 1.5-2.0 pounds per plant. This year there were lots and lots of leaves and not a lot of fruit. I’m not sure what we can do differently other than hope next year is better.
Black Krim and Cherokee Chocolate Tomatoes – 1.5 boxes, 3 plants, 34.7 pounds
It was two Black Krim and one Cherokee. My feeling is that the Cherokee dragged down the average. We love earthy, rich taste of Black Krims so they’re staying. This isn’t the first year that a Cherokee was “meh”, so we’ll see on those.
In a related “unripe tomato” note – almost everything we harvested green ripened up on cooling racks on the kitchen floor over the last couple of weeks. I think that airflow and a fairly bright and warm environment are the keys to not having stuff rot. No more paper bags for us.
Very uninspiring yield. They tasted ok and they were attractive and something different.. But. The longer we’ve been gardening the more I lean away from cherry tomatoes because I’d rather spend the few minutes to harvest a few large tomatoes instead of tediously picking a zillion small ones.
Roma Tomatoes – 2 boxes, 4 plants, 47.6 pounds
One of the four plants did poorly and dragged down the yield. Either it was a weak plant or it didn’t get enough sun on the north/shady end of the stack. Still, almost 50 pounds of Romas makes a lot of sauce.
Oregon Spring Tomatoes – 1 box, 2 plants, 19.3 pounds
Oregon Spring are the first tomato plant I’d recommend to anyone gardening in the Pacific Northwest (we’re a little north of Seattle). They’re early, they’re prolific, they taste good, and they work pretty well for sauce too. 19.3 pounds isn’t the best year, typical would be 30-50 pounds for two plants.
“Slicing” Cucumber – 1 box, 4 plants, 31.7 pounds
31.7 pounds is on the low end of average. On the other hand they had good shape all summer — the plants waited a long time to start producing “fun house mirror” cucumbers. I’m totally happy with the cucumbers this year.
“Green” Tomatillos – 1 box, 2 plants, 13.7 pounds and
The tomatillos and zucchini shared a trellis with the idea that the pollinators would hit the zucchini as a byproduct of visiting all of the tomatillo flowers. I also helped out a little bit, pollinating with a toothbrush later in the season. It seems to have worked ok — in a bad year we’ll get five pounds of zucchini and in a good year we’ll get 15-25 pounds. We would have gotten more but critters (birds?) did some damage and destroyed a few zucchini when they were smallish. The tomatillos were right around the low end of average at 13.7 pounds, which is plenty of green sauce/salsa. I think we’ll try the same “share the trellis” strategy next year.
The trees are continuing to block out more and more sunlight as the years go by. Next year it may be that we reduce it down to one box of indeterminate tomatoes (Black Krim), just ensure that everything gets enough sun to be productive.
There were fewer destructive bugs than usual, but also fewer bees and more animals or birds destroying the random tomato.
It was a very marginal year for peppers and an average / low average year for everything else. October has been beautiful and sunny and if it had traded places with May the total yield would have been around average or a little better than average.
To paraphrase Yogi Berra: It’s getting late early around here. Our oak tree that always confirms the season is just starting to turn to fall colors and the garden is basically done.
On the 12th it became clear that the bugs were threatening to impact the pepper harvest, so we pulled what was left of the peppers:
The next week we harvested another sheet tray of ripe Romas. (not pictured)
As of the morning of the September 24 the garden looked like this:
A closeup of the “better looking” Roma box on the 24th:
The Purple Bumblebees on the 24th:
The tomatillo and Tromboncino shared a trellis. I think it worked out well. Our Tromboncino yield is up relative to the last couple of years and it didn’t seem to impact the tomatillos one way or the other. Yay pollenators:
Then after “picture time” we harvested everything except the tomatillo and Tromboncinos. We left those two boxes with the hopes we’d see a little more output. And the yard waste bin was full so that was a good stopping point.
The Rattlesnake and Fortex beans that we’re saving for seed or dried beans for eating. We’ve been harvesting the Fortex all summer in addition to what’s pictured:
And the last somewhat unripe harvest — it’s around 30 pounds of tomatoes:
We’ve had the most success with ripening not-ripe tomatoes on the floor of the kitchen on cooling racks. The kitchen is generally warm, and when the furnace starts up there’s a heater vent that provides good air circulation.
I feel like 2022 was a better year for the garden than 2020 or 2021, though the shade trees continue to grow and are gradually going to force us to reduce the size of the garden or just accept that the yields are not going to be what they were ten years ago. The wildfire smoke was minimal, and July and August were relatively warm and clear.
Next post will be the How Much Did That All Weigh? I’m curious to see if my perception of yield matches reality.
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.)
A picture from next to the Tromboncino, near the garage door:
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:
The tomatillos. Every year it seems that there’s a stronger and a weaker plant. That’s true again this year:
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):
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):
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:
The little melon at dinner:
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.:
Even after all that, there are still more Romas. I’m guessing there may be 10-15 pounds hanging around:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Despite the dry summer, the tomatoes, as a group, are late:
A closeup, looking down on the Romas:
The Wednesday harvest. Mostly Oregon Spring. On the top right are Black Krim, bottom right are Cherokee Purple:
Many of the Carmens will likely get harvested this week:
For the Minnesota Midget melons it’s a race between ripening and the “funk” taking over:
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:
And today we transplanted most of the winter veg (Arugula, Dill, Spinach, Mache, Chard, Winter Cress, Winter Density Romaine, Joi Choy, and Cilantro):
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.
Most of the rest went into the 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.
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:
An overview before the pruning:
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:
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:
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:
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: