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ChrisTaylor

Gardening: 2013–2015

491 posts in this topic

I suspect a few of us down south are starting to (or have some time in the past two or three weeks) get to work in the garden. I'm in the process of poisoning/ripping out/nuking from orbit (only way to be sure, right?) the weeds that took a stranglehold on things during winter and replacing/adding in a few things that died off or I didn't have much luck with last season.

  • A jalapeno and habanero plant to sit alongside my serrano plant.
  • Jerusalem artichokes. I didn't have much luck with them in a (large) pot last year so this year I've dedicated an entire bed to them. I'm tempted to rip up another bed--this one would be hard work, considering it's been overgrown since I moved in three years ago--and plant some shallots there.
  • A few varieties of tomato, although not as many as last season. I realised last season, too late, that tomatoes require a lot of real estate. Some of the plants did well but a few died as I planted them close together. I've got Black Russians, tho', which are my favourite tomato. I also have San Marzano.
  • Fleshing out the herbs that died off over winter: coriander, dill, bay, mint, thyme (this didn't die, but I use it enough to justify having more than the one tiny plant), tarragon, oregano, sage and sweet basil. Will probably pick up some chives and Thai basil, at the very least, next time I go to the hardware store.

I'm tempted to plant some strawberries again. I had two from last year that survived most of the way through winter until a few days of heavy rain washed them out, Noahstyle. I need to find or create a more sheltered and better drained position.


Edited by Smithy Changed title (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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I had to think a moment and then realized you meant "down under" South.

I live in a very temperate climate (Los Angeles) which has had odd weather. We had an extraordinarily cool summer until just this past month or so. The tomatoes were not particularly pleased. Now as our days are getting shorter but the possibility of an "Indian Summer" looms, I am vacillating on new plantings. I have pulled all but one tomato (can't wrap my head around the winter tomatoes being promoted). I often get hot pepper year round as well as herbs, though parsley seems to prefer cooler weather. So....I am sort of watching the forecasts and planning on some seed plantings of parsley, lettuces, radishes and mustard greens once I see if we are past the high 80's in temp (F). On the fruit note the apples and pears are falling from the trees- unfortunately usually with nibble marks from the #$%@ squirrels. Don't get me started on the avocado damage. I really really hope we get some decent rain this winter as the drought has been going for a while.

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Well, our apple crop this year is a complete disaster. Our immediate backyard has two trees: a Mac and a Northern Spy. Thousands of wonderful blooms turned into thousands of tiny apples, all scabbed and horrible. Glad we don't rely on this crop for anything.

Strange. Some years the apples are amazing and plentiful. Two years ago we had a gazillion apples and we spent days juicing them and cooking apple sauce. Then last year our two backyard trees had exactly 7 apples on them. And this year...total disaster.

Our farm, when we moved here 18 years ago, had a total of 19 apple trees on it, all over the place. I think there are many more now and in fact this year one of them produced wonderful apples for the first time. (Apple pie was supper tonight.) Some of the apples are very old varieties which you can't find now. Always exciting. Not to mention finding bear scat on our perimeter path, full of chewed apple.

Oh, we are a hemp farm, with our lands leased to a neighboring farmer.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Hemp. Right. Medical Hemp?

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Yes, industrial hemp growing is legal in Canada. Ditto much of the EU and many countries in the ROW. (ROW = Rest of the World) Darienne's profile indeed shows that she is in Ontario, Canada. ;-)

p.s. Hemp has less than 1% (upper limit) of (–)-∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol. :-) Not enough to make one high unless one smokes an inordinate amount (lots. LOTS.) of hemp.

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Hemp oil is commonly used in a culinary context by at least one ethnic minority here in Guangxi, Southern China.

With typical forthright language they don't resort to euphemism on the labelling

Cannabis Sativa L. (Oil).jpg

It is used in a soup which is served at least once a day. And also in dipping sauces. It contains negligible amounts of THC.

I'm not suggesting you cultivate it in your garden. That may lead to complications!

I don't have a garden or a usefully positioned balcony, but if I did it would be herb central. Everything else I leave to the local farmers who know what they are doing a lot better than I ever will.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Chris, I would say that herbs and tomatoes are your best bet. Tomatoes, because home grown tomatoes ripened on the vine in full sun are incredible, compared to the watered down rubbish you buy in the shops. Make sure you plant them where they get plenty of sunlight and water them every day. On very hot days, water them twice a day. Also make sure you support them on a trellis or similar.

Last year I grew black russians, but by far the tastiest tomato were baby roma tomatoes. Don't plant green heirloom tomatoes - it is hard to tell when they are ripe. You have to squeeze them every day when they reach the "right" size to determine ripeness. Annoying.

I have never tasted home grown strawberries which are as good as the ones in the shops when they are in season. Usually home grown strawberries tend to be really small and tart - I don't know why.

You might want to consider some greens as well - lettuce and other brassicas grow really easily.


There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

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Thanks for finding that article on industrial hemp, Heidi. I shall save it.

Our hemp is French in origin. It is not grown for the fiber as it has a very short staple. It's used for hemp seed as in granola, etc, and also for the oil which in this case is mostly for horses I believe. We have given it to the dogs. It may be for people also. I am no longer keeping up with the line. We live in an area which has a lot of horse farms although many of them are closing down because the government subsidy (who knew?) has been rescinded and horse racing is disappearing to a great extent. The production process is done a few miles from where we live by the farmer who cultivates the hemp. He also leases many other farm lands in our district.

Its THC content is .00000000 I don't know when the zeros stop. You'd have to smoke an entire field to get high. No one would grow marijuana hemp in an industrial hemp area because the industrial hemp cross-pollinates and you'd lose the THC content. We had to be investigated by the RCMP before we were allowed to have hemp on our lands. The government agencies have the right to drive onto your property at any time without telling you to check on your crop. And they do. And also planes fly overhead to do this checking. Apparently pot has a different temperature than does industrial hemp. And even though our hemp has no THC to smoke, a USA government agency sterilizes the seed so it can't be grown.

The hemp is being harvested right now with huge combines.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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I added some other things yesterday: bird's eye chilli, rosemary and chives. I'm picking up some Viet mint and savory, too.

Keith: that was my thinking with the tomatoes, too. The only time I've had very good tomatoes from a store is when I've gone to one specific stall in Queen Vic Market and paid through the nose through them. This is not a day-to-day solution to the problem of bad supermarket tomatoes.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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"-------- Don't plant green heirloom tomatoes - it is hard to tell when they are ripe. You have to squeeze them every day when they reach the "right" size to determine ripeness. Annoying.-----"

It is not that difficult to tell GWR tomatoes if they are ripe. The problem is finding them under dense foliage, which is good, because birds and squirrels can't find them either.

Taste-wise they are amazing. 85% of my plants are GWR tomatoes.

dcarch

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My brother plants his tomatoes in small barrels. He's gotten into growing heirlooms these past couple of years. He said his crop flourished this year and he can't give them away fast enough. I don't live near him so I haven't been a lucky recipient of the excess bounty. :sad:

My mother's tomato plants (she's in the same city as my brother but living in a different area) haven't done well at all. Early in the season she had a plant that was starting to bear fruit. One morning she went out to find some critter had not only eaten all the fruit but almost all of the plant, as well (she guessed it was deer noshing on the plant).


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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As well as grabbing some savory and Viet mint I stumbled across something I'm hoping to have a whole lot of fun with. A wide selection of chilli plants. Normal times, you'll find jalapeno, habanero, cayenne, bird's eye and maybe two or three generic 'red chilli' or 'hot chilli' or 'sweet chilli' types. Names that mean little. I didn't get everything but I did get my hands on some ghost chilli, African bird's eye and fatali.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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  • Fleshing out the herbs that died off over winter: coriander, dill, bay, mint, thyme (this didn't die, but I use it enough to justify having more than the one tiny plant), tarragon, oregano, sage and sweet basil. Will probably pick up some chives and Thai basil, at the very least, next time I go to the hardware store.

I'm tempted to plant some strawberries again. I had two from last year that survived most of the way through winter until a few days of heavy rain washed them out, Noahstyle. I need to find or create a more sheltered and better drained position.

Hope you didn't get rid of your tarragon. My French tarragon dies back completely each winter but comes back and is looking really good this year. My sage seems to be coming back, too, and the mint might. Chives seem to go forever and I hope some of it flowers. Once you get one plant going you can easily divide chives and get as many as you care for. The herbs are all in pots.

I have had pretty poor luck growing vegetables here but my DB managed to get some broccoli to grow in a raised bed and we are harvesting now. Tomatoes seem to get some nematode or virus or something - start looking great then just die. The garden area that was here when we moved in probably gets too much shade and could use some serious organic material. I have a raspberry and a strawberry plant back there and they seem to be hanging in, but I didn't get much in the way of fruit last year.

We are going to try artichokes again. Last time one withered away and the other was too close to the slobber-ball pitch and got run over too many times by the Dalmatian.

I just put in a 22000 L rainwater tank but it was probably delivered too late to do much for the garden this year because I want to reserve some water for CFA in case of bush fire.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Hope you didn't get rid of your tarragon. My French tarragon dies back completely each winter but comes back and is looking really good this year. My sage seems to be coming back, too, and the mint might. Chives seem to go forever and I hope some of it flowers. Once you get one plant going you can easily divide chives and get as many as you care for. The herbs are all in pots.

My tarragon also dies back each year and comes back bigger and bushier the next year. It is, however, in the ground next to the deck in the remains of a tub so the wooden "walls" around the clump do protect it a bit. My thyme and sage, in pots, also come back but they too are on the deck. I found over the years that in my case it's the more "basic" ones - e.g. the sage is "standard" sage, the thyme is English (culinary) thyme which are more successful at overwintering themselves.

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I suggest holy basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum, if you're doing Thai cooking.

This year I added a pot of Moroccan mint, a very aromatic spearmint, to my patio garden. I love the scent. (Here: http://www.morningsunherbfarm.com/product_info.php?products_id=508&osCsid=ckv8pkkfba7krsg0rsficd49e5 )

I also added a pot of za'atar, Origanum syriacum, a kind of oregano for Eastern Mediterranean cooking. I had only seen it before as a dried herb. An unfussy plant & it smells good, too.

A month ago I visited a friend on the East Coast who has a black thumb. She was happily growing cherry tomatoes in a self-watering grow box on her deck. Lots of cherry tomatoes. I realize everybody here is a good gardener. I mention this solution for people with soil or space problems in their gardens. You can grow other kinds of tomatoes in grow boxes, also. My friend was using a brand called EarthBox.

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I used two self-watering planters this year and got wonderful tomatoes. The brand I used are call GrowBox. Same thing as EarthBox, really.

This is my first year gardening. Everything is in containers and I've already exhausted and cut down the tomatoes in the GrowBoxes - they grew a lot faster than my conventional planters. My two big planters of mixed herbs did well. I had 3 types of basil, plus parsley in one, and thyme, rosemary, oregano & lavender in the other. The basil has all flowered and are done so I cut them back.

The highs in my area are low 70's this week, with nights getting down to low 50's. My remaining tomatoes only get about 4-5 hours of sun a day at most, but I have one tomato plant with about a dozen large green tomatoes that have yet to ripen. My question is...do I pick them this weekend and just make a mess of fried green tomatoes, or give them another week?


Edited by LizD518 (log)

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I'm in Lexington, KY. My tomatoes had a terrible year. San Marzanos were the size of grape tomatoes and most had blossom end rot. Old German's weren't much bigger and I only got about 3 of them.

Chiles on the other hand have been going nuts. Lots of cayenne, jalapeno, Thai hot, lemon drop and chervena chujski.

I've made two batches of hot sauce and will make another this weekend. Smoked a dozen chipotles and will do another dozen this weekend. All from 1 plant of each.

I use the lemon drop to make a hot hard candy. Basically, just hard candy with lemon extract, some yellow food coloring and sliced lemon drops.


That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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Garden9-13_3170.jpg

A photo of my post-summer garden, part of it anyway on my front deck. Most of my culinary plants have been scrunched together for the pic. From about 12 o'clock, going clockwise: sorrel in a clay pot; silver thyme; Duchesse de Parma violets in the blue pot (not edible, I like the fragrance); za'atar; Moroccan mint that's just had a haircut; Italian oregano; "blue spires" rosemary; holy basil with the purplish leaves; marjoram; chives that needs a haircut; genovese basil. Not shown, a pot of sage, a kaffir lime tree that needs to be pruned, a Mediterranean bay shrub that needs to pruned, some lavenders, a sprawling lemon verbena plant that needs something from me, I'm not sure what--so gardening goes.

The large clay pots in the center-ish of the pic are own-root roses from cuttings. I've gotten involved with the local heritage rose society lately and acquired these plants from them.

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a sprawling lemon verbena plant that needs something from me, I'm not sure what--so gardening goes.

They sprawl. Makes a lovely tea hot or cold.

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a sprawling lemon verbena plant that needs something from me, I'm not sure what--so gardening goes.

They sprawl. Makes a lovely tea hot or cold.

Thanks for telling me about the sprawling. I thought I was a bad mother. :shock:

I xeroxed a recipe for Lemon Verbena Poached Nectarines from Kate Zuckerman's cookbook, The Sweet Life. You poach 8 nectarines (2 1/4 lbs) in a simmering mixture of 1 cup dry white wine, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 10 fresh lemon verbena leaves, and 2 cups H2O. I wanted to try out this recipe, but didn't have the chance. It was that kind of summer.

Lemon verbena can make a real good ice cream, too.

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It's pretty cold this time of year in New York - so what to do? Plant a tomato plant! This plant was planted from seed just after New Year's - it took about 4-5 days to germinate, and look at it now! The bucket is an improvised hydroponic cloning machine - inside is nutrient liquid, a submersible pump and manifold with a bunch of spray nozzles hyperoxygenating the liquid and spraying the roots... for now, the grow light has been on 24/7 - but once it gets a little older, I'll put the lights on a 18/6 program until the plant gets to be about 4-5 feet tall, then I'll change the lights to 12/12 to stimulate flowering.

Tomato1.jpg

Tomato2.jpg

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Healthy looking tomato Kenneth. What type is it? Of course your set-up is fodder for the gadget-guys/gals here!

We generally start our tomatoes in the greenhouse in February. As soon as they look sturdy we "harden them off" outside (which in Los Angeles is not exactly a brutal thing). Planning on my Berkeley Tie-Dye, and an orange volunteer that was fabulous and I have the seeds from. I will probably wander over to Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes when she has an on-site Sunday sale in March to pick out one or two interesting new ones. Oh and tomatomania will be at our local botanic garden in April - this could be a tomato heavy year. This may be the year I start making ricotta and finding good fresh mozzarella to complement the tomatoes.

I sowed seed for some winter greens but our weather is so freakin bizarre it was a disaster. We are in 80's daytime and mid 40's at night in January (see also raging wildfires)

Will wait till/if weather settles into a reasonable pattern before starting anything else.

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It is a Goose Creek plant. A few years ago, I got a Goose Creek plant from Laurel's, and the tomatoes were probably the best I've ever had - and it did quite well growing indoors in my apartment - although, when it reached the ceiling, I mistakenly topped it thinking it would stop growing, but instead it turned into a giant tomato hedge and took over half the living room. When I finally took it down many months later, I found tons of rotten tomatoes deep inside the bush - I had no idea they were even there because they were obscured by all the foliage! Anyway, Laurel doesn't carry the Goose Creek anymore, but I was able to find seeds online about a year ago, and they've sat while I haven't had the time to do anything with them ever since. I had a few days off around New Year's, so I decided to give it a go.

So, this year, I'm trying something new. It will stay as an indoor plant - I have a very sunny southern facing window with no obstructions, and supplementing that light is a very powerful LED grow light. It's so strong, you can see it from the street - across the avenue - and I'm on the 21st floor set in quite a ways from the street! But now, I have installed a string line to the ceiling - the kind professional greenhouse tomato growers use... you train the vine up the string, then, as it reaches the ceiling, you let some string out every few days. From what I remember about this plant a few years ago, only the top 4-6 feet of plant had good leaves - the ones further down the vine always died off - and that's supposed to happen - in my reading, it seems that greenhouse growers always trim off the bottom leaves only leaving the really good top leaves for catching the light.

It's always tough to time when to sow/plant out if you're planting outside - so many more variables to consider. One thing I like about "greenhouse growing" is that it's a closed system - you can almost treat it like any mechanical system which appeals to me. Plus, no dirty fingernails.

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Will wait till/if weather settles into a reasonable pattern before starting anything else.

Same here up north in the Bay Area, Heidih. I'm holding off on any new planting until the weather normalizes. For now, I'm cutting back on some plants because of the drought. In the fall I ditched my sage plant, a biergarten sage with extra big leaves that are great for frying. It was too prone to mildew. The basils died off, which is normal. I'll replace the genovese basil, but possibly not the purple basil (I didn't use it much). My other herbs are hanging in there.

I forgot to water my lavender plants for a couple weeks, so maybe I knocked off some of them. When lavender is dormant, it's hard for me to tell if the plant is dead or alive. These are all culinary lavenders (lavandula angustifolia), unusual varieties from the Stonegate nursery in Oregon. Since the nursery closed for mail order last year, I wanted to be sure to preserve these cultivars--they would be hard to replace. Oh well. Meanwhile, an own-root heirloom rose I acquired last fall, Jeanne Corboeuf, shocked me by revealing a bud when I watered it yesterday. My Duchesse de Parme violets are in full bloom, about 3 weeks ahead of time. Their scent is intoxicating. This burgeoning garden doesn't make me as happy as you might think, because we need our normal winter weather and rain.

WinterGarden_3302.jpg

A pic of my winter garden on my front deck (part of it, anyway). From the left corner, clockwise: za-atar, or Syrian oregano; lemon verbena, looking sorrier than ever; marjoram; sorrel with a fistful of new leaves; a couple culinary lavenders (Melissa, Folgate); chives showing signs of life; some pots of Duchesse de Parme violets; an overachieving heirloom rose, Jeanne Corboeuf; Moroccan mint, which grows steadily regardless of cold or warm temps--this one was a surprise.

W‌interGarden_3304.jpg

The book is my bedside reading these days, Vita Sackville-West's Garden Book. The tony English prose of yesteryear can get on my nerves, but I do like what Sackville-West says about plants. I'm enjoying this book in small bites.

Chris Taylor, how does your midsummer garden grow?

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