The Salad Table Wears Trellis Bling, Or, More Posts Obliquely About Peas


Each year when we grow peas I push some stakes into the ground and add trellis netting. It never looks awesome. The peas usually do well until the sunny days kick in. At that point their pots dry out quickly and the peas suffer.

Attaching the trellis assembly to the salad table is an attempt to address those issues:

170303 trellis salad table

It’s the same Ultomato stakes and netting that was used last year. The netting just happened to almost perfectly wrap around the North and East sides of the newly seeded salad table. I used cable ties to attach the stakes to the table. Quick and easy.

It’s a sturdier build than just pushing the stakes into the ground. As an added bonus, the pea pots are spread around the shady sides of the salad table. They should be relatively protected from the sun, and therefore cooler.

Here’s the line of pots on the North side of the table:

170303 peas from the back

Once they get a bit taller the plants will poke out above the salad table. That’s the theory anyway.

All in all, combining the trellis with the salad table makes for a cleaner and more compact solution, and the peas aren’t as crowded this year. Hopefully it works out great.


Two other thoughts:

We’re getting a lot of mileage out of the pea trellis.  Here it is stuck into the soil at the edge of the walkway almost one year ago. After the peas were done we attached it to the lemon cucumber trellis for extra support.

The clamp light rig seems to keep the soil near the lights around 78F. No need for a heat mat. The other good thing is that the clamps can be attached to the top bar and pivoted to face downward. Lots of room for vertical growth:

170303 lights


No more posts about peas in the immediate future. Probably.


Finally, one inspiration for the title of this post — From the album More Songs About Buildings And Food; Talking Heads version of Take Me To The River:


The Peas, Nine Days Later


The peas nine days later:

170224 peas

Crazy, huh? They’ve spouted and grown between 6 and 10 inches tall in just over a week. If you look closely you can see the roots poking out of the bottom of the rolls. (The empty looking pots have recently planted dill and cilantro seeds. They should make an appearance sometime in the next week or so.)

Today was their first day with time outside. I left them outside for a couple of hours after work. The temperature was in the mid-forty degree range, and I didn’t think it’d whack the peas.

Hopefully the weather will be decent enough in the next few days to plant them outside. The forecast calls for night-time temperatures in the 20’s tonight and in the 30’s until Wednesday, possibly with some snow mixed in. We may just have to take our chances, since I don’t think the peas will fit in the current setup for another week — they’ve already grown almost to the top of the lighting rig.

That, and the toilet paper rolls are really beginning to show some mold. My inclination right now is not to use toilet paper rolls the next time around and instead use some of the reusable plastic “pots” we’ve gotten from nurseries over the years.

Previous “toilet paper pots” post here.


Starting Seeds In Toilet Paper Roll “Pots”, And The Improved Lighting Rig


Over the winter I came across a blog post that recommended using emptied toilet paper rolls as mini pots for starting seeds. It looked neat, clean, and easy, and it seemed like a great way to use up a free resource. The author simply cut the tubes in half, placed the smooth (uncut) side down in a baking dish, and filled the tubes to 1″ from the top with damp soil. Seeds were placed on the soil and buried to the appropriate depth.

I could have been neater about it — here’s what I wound up with when I planted peas:

170215 rolls

When I added a little water many of the rolls immediately  began to unravel. Right now I think they have enough integrity that when the seeds sprout I’ll still be able to plant the plugs without too much drama. As it is, added water needs to go on the bottom of the dish, otherwise all the soil would wash out of the tubes.

I also did some tweaking on the lighting rig. It’s now smaller, at about 20″ x 8″:

170215 seed rig

The lights are now nearly touching each other, and the light is much more concentrated. The lights themselves are around 1-1/2″ above the soil. It’s very bright, if only in a small space of 16″ x 8″. That’s enough room for direct light on about 15 paper roll tubes. The dish could probably hold 25 tubes or so. It seems like a good compromise that doesn’t totally dominate the counter top.

The first time I tried the lighting rig (version 1.0) most of the plants wound up leggy, partly because the lights were a ways apart, and (I think) partly because I needed to leave the lights on for more hours than I did. This time I’m targeting ~16 hours a day. 16-18 hours seems to be the consensus on the interweb. We’ll see. Assuming this works we’ll start beans and Brussel Sprouts the same way in a couple of months.

New Seeds For 2017


Last year’s post was titled “Too Many Seeds, Probably“. While we did manage to use up some of the inventory, not everything was consumed. Still, I wanted to try some new things. The list:

SP783/L Escalade Spinach Organic – Escalade
HR1114/L Garlic Chives-Nira Organic – Nira Garlic Chives Organic 1/2 gram
ON557/S Guardsman Onion – Guardsman Onion Seeds
OV580/S Joi Choi Pac Choi – Joi Choi Pac Choi Seeds
BN039/S Maxibel Bean – Maxibel Bean Seeds
BN062/L Midori Giant Bean Organic – Midori Giant Bean Seeds Organic

The left column is the Territorial Seed catalog number. The thinking behind the “new stuff” –

Escalade Spinach Organic:  We used up the last of the spinach packets, so it was time for more.

Garlic Chives-Nira Organic:  Rick Bayless loves garlic chives, and it sounds like something we’ll love too. As an added bonus, slugs don’t mess with alliums. We should be able to seed them about “wherever” and have success. (Rick grills them. He then dices the garlic chives and adds them to many different dishes.)

Guardsman Onion:  Replenishing the scallion supply. We planted the last of these seeds in the fall.

Joi Choi Pac Choi:  A Chinese Cabbage variety that’s supposed to grow faster and be more bolt resistant than regular Bok Choi. We’ll see. Because it’s a Brassica the cabbage moths and aphids will come after them. We’ll likely grow the Joi Choi with Brussels Sprouts, cover all of it with tulle, and dose with Neem Oil (wikipedia link). In theory that should work to keep the bug population down. In theory.

Maxibel Bean:  A french/filet bean. Think Haricot Vert. The slugs may like these too much to be worthwhile. I figure we can try them in a few locations and see what shakes out. No trellising required. So long as the slugs don’t decimate the plants we should get something. Super fresh Haricot Verts have the potential to be awesome.

Territorial Seed Company picture.
Territorial Seed Company picture.

Midori Giant Bean:  An extra-early maturing Edamame. I love Edamame. No trellising(!)


I see now that everything that’s really “new” is either indestructible or potential slug/pest bait. So it goes. We’ll know how effective Neem Oil is by the end of the season.


Container Garden Update — July 24, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here. July 26, 2015 post here. July 27, 2014 post here.  July 28, 2013 post here.

A quote from the 2015 post:

2013 total weight to date:  24.6 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  22.3 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  56.4 pounds

I believe we’re at less than ten pounds of produce so far this year. My guess is that 2015 was the “sunny and hot” outlier, and that 2016 is the “cool and cloudy” outlier…  The weather this week is supposed to be sunny and warm, so hopefully the yield will start to look a little more normal soon.

I think the pictures this week are similar to last week’s — only a few peppers are really starting to show color.

The overview:

160724 overview

The “Marketmore” cucumbers:

160724 cucumber

The “bit of color” — Gypsy peppers:

160724 pepper


“Verde” Tomatillos — the fruits are starting to fill the husks:

160724 tomatillo

Basil and Marigolds:

160724 basil and marigold


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 17, 2016

by A.J. Coltane

Previous post here.  July 19, 2015 post here. July 27, 2014 post here.  July 21, 2013 post here.

We’ve been thinning out some of the Tromboncino zucchini with the idea that the plant only has a finite amount of energy to pour into fruits.

A photo of a few small zucchini and the first cucumber:

160717 harvest

I tried to bend the Tromboncino over the top of the 8′ trellis. I’ve done it in previous years. This time I bent a little too hard, and the plant now has a 90 degree angle turn at the top. Hopefully it won’t die above that point:

160717 tromboncino

Some of the basil became part of a pizza Margherita:

63% hydration, 3% oil. Last year's frozen "assorted tomatoes" as sauce.
63% hydration, 3% oil. Last year’s frozen “assorted tomatoes” as sauce.

The Basil plants pose with Marigolds. Peppers back left, cucumbers back right:

160717 basil

The Taxi are getting close:

160717 taxi

The Tomatillos continue to produce huge husks:

160717 tomatillo

The Jersey Knight asparagus and strawberries now have a fence between them and the weeds. The strawberries came with the house. They were in a bad location, so we moved them. They’re loving the new place it seems:

160717 strawberry asparagus


An overview. Tomatoes on the left. Peppers front center. Basil on the right. Zucchini back left. Tomatillos back center. Cucumbers back right:

160717 overview


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 10, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  July 12, 2015 post here.  July 11, 2014 post here.  July 14, 2013 post here.

More wet. More clouds. It’s been an overcast spring and summer. In comparison to 2015 we’re waaaay behind, and I doubt we’ll catch up.

Though taken in isolation we’re doing ok.

The overview photo:

Tomatoes on the left, basil on the right, peppers in the center.
Front:  Tomatoes on the left, basil on the right, peppers in the center.

Standing near the leftmost pepper box:

160710 second overview

The basil looks better at this point this year:

160710 basil

The cucumbers are not digging the rain:

Continue reading “Container Garden Update — July 10, 2016”

Container Garden Update — June 26, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here. June 28, 2015 post here. June 28, 2014 post here.  June 23, 2013 post here.

Looking at last year.. we’re well behind. For comparison, in 2015 the zucchini was already over the top of the 8′ trellis. It’s not 5′ tall yet this time.

Today has been one of the nicest, sunniest days we’ve had in a while. There are supposed to be at least a few more nice days coming up. I doubt we’ll equal last year’s overall production, but the improved weather should help pick things up.

A few of the plants are doing at least ok. The Oregon Spring are first on the scene, as usual:

160626 oregon spring

The Tromboncino are growing. Hopefully we’ll be able to start harvesting in a week or so:

160626 tromboncino

Standing next to the cucumbers, looking north at tomato plants:

160626 inside

The flowers in the whiskey barrels are doing well. The nasturtiums have completely overrun their container:

160626 flowers

The tomatillos have lots of flowers too:

160626 tomatillo


The boy cat hanging out in the shade:

160626 boy cat


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — June 16, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here. June 14, 2015 post here. June 21, 2014 post here.  June 16, 2013 post here.

The weather lately has been all over the place. Looking at last year, overall we’re a little “behind”.

An overview:

160616 overview

[Tomatoes on the left, peppers in the front, basil on the right. The tall plants in the back center are tomatillos.]

It’s not super easy to see, but the Serranos (front right, rear right, center left) have gotten much much taller than everything else in this box:

160616 pepper

Something ate a hole in one of the Gypsy peppers this week. I suspect earwigs again. In addition, a few other peppers had their leaves chewed on. As a remedy attempt I dosed a very few grains of Sluggo Plus at the bottom of each pepper plant. Normally I wouldn’t use that around veggies but I’m sort of out of answers. In any event, it was only 2-3 grains per plant.

Onward — We paired Taxi and Oregon Spring tomatoes again. They’re doing great:

160616 taxi oregon spring

They’re of comparable size and they’re both very early. No reason to mess with what works.

The cucumber plants are almost to the size where they can be threaded through the netting:

160616 cucumber

In the meantime, the cucumbers are sort of flopping everywhere.

Finally, we didn’t wind up with two Tromboncino this year. The smaller plants in the picture below are lemon cucumbers. Assuming that the cucumbers are allowed enough space to climb the trellis I think it’ll be fine. The sun came out from behind the clouds just as I took this photo:

160616 tromboncino lemon cucumber

More sun would be appreciated.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Peas, Garlic, And The Summer Garden Layout

by A.J. Coltrane

The summer garden layout from the 2nd-story deck:

160522 overview

Top left row (L-R):  Basil, peppers, peppers, peppers, determinate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes.

Center row (L-R):  Marigold whiskey barrel, trellised cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes x2

Bottom row (Trellises (L-R)), Tomatatillos. The far right box has Lemon Cucumbers and Tromboncino.

From the “front”:

160522 front

To make room for everything the garlic had to be harvested:

160522 garlic

I think overall the cloves were slightly smaller this year. It may be that they need more space, but it wasn’t a bad harvest.

Finally, the Super Sugar Snap peas that didn’t get eaten as they were harvested:

160522 peas

I count ten. I’m guessing we ate about half of them before the photo. It’s a good start.


Plant list here.

Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.