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Gardening: 2002-2009 Seasons


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I also highly recommend using some kind of quick-release couplings for your hose and attachments. This type from Gardena, with the pull-back release, are primo (just including the link to show the type – Hell's Depot carries something similar for a lot less money). This lets you switch around your attachments without having to wander back to the faucet and turn it off every time. Between the sprinkler, the fertilizer sprayer, and the pistol-grip sprayer, I do fair bit of switching them around, so it saves a lot of wandering.

I've edited the above link to give eGullet a commission if anyone buys it. Please use eGullet commissioned links when purchasing from Amazon.com.

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Anyone else in the Upper Midwest totally dismayed by the Lack of Summer? My tomato plants, on July 6, have a pathetic 3 blossoms. Not even the beginnings of a set fruit. I think those of us in Zone 4 can kiss our peppers good-bye. But, it has been a good year for greens (especially spinach) and peas. We have seen a few tiny, less than pencil-thin beans, but that's about it.

I'll have Paul call the 101 market and check on the pending sweet corn crop. I have my fingers crossed.

We can count the number of 80 or above degree (f) days we've had on one hand. The number of nights above 60 (good for peppers and tomatoes) are even less.

Sigh.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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We have a somewhat similar situation here in Denver this year much rainier and a little cooler than usual. It was great for lettuces and for some reason my tomatoes are enjoying it--tons of blossoms and quite a bit of fruit setting already. But the peppers are still about the same size they were when we planted them a month ago. They are putting out blossoms, but on these pitifully small plants--it's not a good thing.

Totally unrelated to vegetables, I am so excited about these opium poppies (papaver somniferum) that I grew from seed this year. I've never grown them before and wasn't at all sure that they would take the heat and bloom in Denver, but the first of many buds popped open today into this gorgeous, delicate white poppy, about 2 feet high. It's so cool and exotic to me. I also planted some red ones (chedglow) that aren't budding yet, but I have high hopes.

Edited to add some latin names so that I seemed a mo' betta gardener than I did before.

Edited by fredbram (log)

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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How can you tell when corn is ready to pick?

On a lark, my brother planted about 8 to 10 stalks in a large pot and they've grown like weeds. They almost look like a bamboo plant, they're so close together. And I guess they liked the cramped quarters since they all seem to have healthy looking ears of corn on them. It's amazing.

But my brother is at a loss as to how to tell if the ears are ready to pick other than peeling back the husks like you would in a supermarket.

Any suggestions?

 

“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”

 

Tim Oliver

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How can you tell when corn is ready to pick?

On a lark, my brother planted about 8 to 10 stalks in a large pot and they've grown like weeds. They almost look like a bamboo plant, they're so close together. And I guess they liked the cramped quarters since they all seem to have healthy looking ears of corn on them. It's amazing.

But my brother is at a loss as to how to tell if the ears are ready to pick other than peeling back the husks like you would in a supermarket.

Any suggestions?

When the silk turns brown the corn is ripe.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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My gardener picked a bunch of tomatoes and peppers in the big garden and I picked a few in the kitchen garden plus basil, parsley, sorrel, more peppers and a couple of small cukes.

i9561.jpg

Pesto is on the schedule. And chiles rellenos for tonight.

I just had a tomato and onion sandwich for lunch.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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But the peppers are still about the same size they were when we planted them a month ago. They are putting out blossoms, but on these pitifully small plants--it's not a good thing.

Add some extra nitrogen to the soil to promote more foliage. If you have an extra wet year or not enough sun this is the first thing to go. As soon as you see the plants producing new stems and leaves, apply a high phosphorous compound such a bone meal to promote flowering and fruiting. By the time this begins to have an effect the plants should have developed enough new foliage to support fruit production.

I always dress newly planted tomatoes, peppers and squash with a higher nitrogen organic fertilizer to promote vigorous plant growth then add phosphorous to promote flowering and fruiting then shift a couple of weeks later to a regular vegetable fertilizer that is balanced for maintenance.

I always pinch off early blossoms on immature plants.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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On the left from top to bottom the tomatoes are Faribo golden heart (also in the center), Cherokee purple and Beefmaster. Several other tomatoes were also picked but I gave them to my gardener and some to my neighbors.

On the right are 3 pineapple tomatoes, two beefmasters and one Cherokee purple.

The dark green peppers are poblano, very mild, Sweet Hungarian, Anaheim and Caloro.

Underneath the fruit the basket is full of basil, flat leaf parsley and sorrel.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

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It's awfully quiet here, so I thought I'd offer this little update.

Vermont has been unseasonably cool for the last few days, and suddenly fall seem so inevitable. These pictures were taken over a week ago, when the steamy heat was accelerating everything (I planted more arugula and beets and mixed greens that evening & two afternoons later it was all well sprouted). Now I'm taking inentory to see what I can reasonably expect to mature before first frost.

Lettuce and other greens have outpaced our daily salad consumption since mid-June. That tall spikey thing lower right in the bottom photo is a romaine head that I'm letting go to seed. Mache, arugula, mesclun and about 10 varieties of lettuce...I'm going to build my first coldframe this fall so I can keep the greens coming.

The winter squash are slowing down; a lot of good fruit to ripen, but the female flowers are few and far between now. And the pattypan squash, too. I have a nice basketful of 2 1/2 in. fruit to make sense of. Tired of grilled & sautéed, I was inspired by Anna N.'s tomato and zucchini gratin over on the Dinner thread, so tomorrow I'll improvise something in a pert little gratin.

All the squash plants have benefitted this season from our synergy with a family of phoebes. For you non-birders: phoebes are small, agile flycatchers and prolifically reproductive (and cute). We have a pair that have returned for 2 years now, and we let them nest under the third-floor deck, where they pop out two broods a season of three or four fledglings each. They all like to hang around the garden, and to perch on the clothesline, the bean poles, the tomato cages, and a few shepherd's crook stakes I have stuck in the ground, from whence they patrol for snacks. In return for our hospitality, they keep the garden clean of squash and potato beetles and heaven knows what else. It's hilarious to watch them swoop and dive, especially the youngsters who haven't quite got the hang of the F-16 they were hatched into.

We've eaten through the first harvest of beets. Roasted and paired with mache, some crumbled blue cheese, a few toasted walnuts and just a mist of balsamic vinegar and olive oil....oof.

The garlic gave up some delicious scapes – best grilled with just a film of oil and some S&P, and I've just harvested some 80 or so heads to hang for curing. That was one full raised-bed box, 8' x 4', and I predict that garlic will all be gone by Thanksgiving. Me an' hub guess that 5 boxes planted ought to get us through a season. Maybe.

This morning's reconnaissance turned up willowy young filet beans that should be harvested tomorrow...blanched and shocked and tossed with shallots sautéed in butter, yes, ma'am, that's how we like 'em. Poblano pepper plants are covered with 1-in. pepperlets, jalapeno plants laden (and the fruit has some HEAT to it), mini-fingerling eggplant trying very hard, brussels sprouts knurling up the stalks of their parents. The big surprise was the green cabbage: I gently pulled away the furled center leaves to check on head-development and found...pristine tight heads of cauliflower. Mismarked at the nursery, but I'm not complaining. We love cauliflower, roasted and (as I discovered a few weeks ago) grilled, like any other decent vegetable.

The tomato plants are all groaning with fruit. A few of the Sun-Sugar cherry tomatoes have been ripe enough to sample and they're hands-down the best cherry tomato I've ever tasted. We've had just the right amount of rain for tomatoes this season, so the cherry tomatoes aren't insipid or over-tart or cracking. One fist-sized Marmande is ready for harvest, with brethren to follow within the week. Nebraska Wedding are starting to color, and Black from Tula are giant and starting to show darkening at the shoulders.

Tomatillo plants are overrun with little green lanterns, but a squeeze to a few shows they're a few weeks from maturity. 3 rhubarb plants given a mound in June could stand a little harvesting, maybe just enough for a few pints of jam.

Leeks looking handsome, shallots vigorous; I poked a hand down into a potato barrel and struck nothing of interest, but potatoes always surprise me at harvest time.

It's a happy garden out there, just beyond my office door. My co-workers in New Jersey, Maryland and England have forbidden me to gloat during our Monday morning conference calls, while they sit crammed in their windowless cubicles, and I wander through the garden with my headset and cordless phone, weeding, deadheading, watching the phoebes and listening to the river. "Hey, you guys...can you hear that?".

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okay, now that i've got the envy out of the way allow me to follow the sublime with a little bit of ridiculous. tired of always forgetting to try and grow basil at the start of the summer, i've decided to try and grow some instead at the end of the summer. went to market, bought big terracotta pot, bought potting soil, and basil seeds.

tomorrow i will do the following (please tell me if i am going wrong anywhere):

fill the pot 3/4 full with soil--water, pat down, fill back up to 3/4 full, re-water.

dump in seeds at reasonable intervals--i'm guessing it wont be good percentages to just plant 3 seeds.

putting the pot in a sunny spot on the deck.

so far, so good?

now, how often will i need to water? the guy at the store i bought all this from waxed rhapsodic about the intensity of the sun at 5400 feet above sea-level in beautiful boulder and the damage it can do to plants in pots. he advised trying to find a spot where the plant can be in sun but not the pot (he warned against the pot "cooking" the plant). is this correct?

our townhouse has a very nice sunroom by the deck where i'm thinking this baby (if it ever sprouts) may just be able to make it a little longer into the winter than if it were planted outside. say it, say it, i am a fool.

i know i am starting late in the season--but all this means is that i'll get to enjoy the basil for only a month or so before frost hits, right? 6 weeks to harvesting?

and now let's go back and re-read ggmora's post.

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I think I would buy some little plants at a nursery or home improvement center if they are available. It's kind of late to grow basil from seed, especially at your elevation. Basil is very tender. It doesn't need to be freezing for it to die. When is your first frost date? Basil doesn't like it to be even cool, much less freezing.

Next year, start them much earlier. The seeds need to stay damp until they germinate. If they dry out even ONCE, they won't survive.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but next year you'll have better success from seed. I'm at 4700 feet, and I started my basil in June. I should have started them earlier than that.

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Can you start from seed indoors in April or so?

Our garden is just a big ol' nothing this year. The Chinese say, "The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow," and Bob is just not out there. He tells me, "Nothing's stopping you from going out there, you know."

He's wrong. I lack a green thumb so badly that I killed an air fern. I do fine with roses (the first and only plants with which I've ever had success), but nothing else.

Besides, HE gardens: I POINT. ("Over there, honey!") But since I cook seven nights a week for the most part, I don't think I should have to grow the food, too.

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Here in MN (zone 4, the north part of zone 4), it has been a most disappointing gardening season. Everyone I know has 6 tomato plants. For all of us, two have no tomatoes at this point -- just blossons -- so I'm pulling those two tomorrow. The other plants, for all of us, have seberal fruits set that are the size of marbles. A couple that are the size of two fused golf balls. I've been trimming like mad to get the sun to the parts that need it. To get the plants to quit putting stuff into the green and into the tomatoes. Tomatoes are almost precious at the farmer's market. My neighbor's pole beans have just started setting beans. This is not unusual.

But, it has been a good year for greens. That's what a lot of rain and nights under 60 degrees (F) will get you.

We realized today that we have turned the A/C on only twice this summer, and it's only been on for about 24-48 hours a stretch.

We did have a bit of summer when we were at the cabin. But, as soon as we left, the nights we cooling to 35 degrees (F). Geez. It's still the beginning of August.

The summer of '04 will go down as the summer that did not get out of April.

On the other front, I am making headway on removing the dreaded rock. Over half is gone from the front. I am removing rock from the back, at this point, only where necessary to get some good stuff in. We have yanked some more OverGrown, Poorly Plants and Ugly plants. The Spruce From Hell was chopped down this past week.

This yard certainly looked better in the dim light of December when we bought the joint and the ground was covered with the S word. And, to think I thought the squishy parts were a garden. Little did I realize that the yard had never been raked -- the leaves every year had merely been blown into piles and left to rot for years, and years, and years. We have eradicated most of the fossilized dog poop, as well.

Time to go to bed, get up, roll up my sleeves (high tomorrow mid-60's in August -- yikes) and get to work again tomorrow.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Oh, Mongo...did I forget to mention my 12 basil bushes? Sorry, sorry, couldn't resist.

You know, as someone who'll try just about anything in the name of gardening, I can only encourage your basil endeavor. It might fail, but if it succeeds, well....more basil for you and Mrs. Jones, no?

A few thoughts:

While waiting for the seeds to germinate, I'd keep the pot indoors in a warm spot, away from direct sunlight. You can even cover the top of the pot with plastic to from a sort of greenhouse. I'm guessing the nights are cool in Boulder, so leaving the pot outdoors to germinate is asking a lot of it.

Once the seeds have sprouted, take the plastic (if you used it) off and move the pot to a sunny spot, indoors or out, but if you're really serious about growing your own basil this time of year, coddle the pot like you would an old dog: carry it out in the morning once the chill is off and carry it back inside before the heat of the day dissipates. Basil's a warm-climate plant, so fool it best you can.

You might consider a small grow light for your plant. I find that really herbaceous plants go spindly in a heartbeat when forced indoors, but a well-placed source of fake sun can do wonders.

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Oh, poor snowangel--I remember well trying to grow tomatoes in Ely. I got a couple of cherry tomatoes one summer--had to fight off the chipmunks, as I recall.

I am buried in tomatoes--picking about a half bushel a day. Made two gallon batches of salsa yesterday, gonna try my juicer today.

Okra is coming on, I have enough white pumpkins and orange pumpkins for every kid in Pilot Knob, I think, and somewhere out there in the weeds are some Sugar Baby watermelons, and the squash are still piling up.

sparrowgrass
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thanks to all those who responded to my feeble basil related queries.

i am fully prepared for failure this time around. i am doing it so that the seeds, pot and soil are here when next spring rolls around--otherwise inertia will mean i'll be thinking about this again at the end of next summer.

that being said, our sun-room gets plenty of direct sun, so it should not be so hard also to fool the plant about the season--plus boulder will remain warm for almost another 2 months (we're in colorado but it isn't all blizzards and wolves all year long).

so other than season, are the rest of my steps correct? just add water once a day?

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I think your plan sounds good--of course there is always the option of sneaking off to the Boulder farmer's market and grabbing a couple of the basil plants they have for $2.00 apiece right now (if the same grower is at boulder that is at the cherry creek market).

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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thanks to all those who responded to my feeble basil related queries.

i am fully prepared for failure this time around. i am doing it so that the seeds, pot and soil are here when next spring rolls around--otherwise inertia will mean i'll be thinking about this again at the end of next summer.

that being said, our sun-room gets plenty of direct sun, so it should not be so hard also to fool the plant about the season--plus boulder will remain warm for almost another 2 months (we're in colorado but it isn't all blizzards and wolves all year long).

so other than season, are the rest of my steps correct? just add water once a day?

Water when the soil is bone dry and the plants are on the verge of drooping. And really soak it. Don't flood, just soak through and through.

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As long as you expect failure, you probably won't be disappointed. At 5400 feet, you can probably expect frost ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. Around here, they had a freeze this past week, the first week of August, at 5700 feet.

If you can put your pot on wheels, then you can bring it in when needed. With basil, it doesn't need a freeze to die. It only needs to get down to about 40, before it wilts. It needs nice warm moist conditions to germinate.

Next year, start the seeds much much earlier, the pots covered with plastic. You won't need to rewater until you remove the plastic. Remove the plastic when the plants start to touch it. At that point, you need to water, but not too much or too little. You'll have to use your judgement.

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As long as you expect failure, you probably won't be disappointed. At 5400 feet, you can probably expect frost ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. Around here, they had a freeze this past week, the first week of August, at 5700 feet.

If you can put your pot on wheels, then you can bring it in when needed. With basil, it doesn't need a freeze to die. It only needs to get down to about 40, before it wilts. It needs nice warm moist conditions to germinate.

Next year, start the seeds much much earlier, the pots covered with plastic. You won't need to rewater until you remove the plastic. Remove the plastic when the plants start to touch it. At that point, you need to water, but not too much or too little. You'll have to use your judgement.

the pots will come in by sundown every evening.

just so people understand though: boulder's max-min temp. range in the summer, early fall is about 50-90 degrees fahrenheit.

thanks for the tips!

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You weren't out sledding during that snowstorm last week, Mongo? Remember to wear your parka when you go out on the balcony to water the basil.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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just so people understand though: boulder's max-min temp. range in the summer, early fall is about 50-90 degrees fahrenheit.

I used to live in the coldest spot in the nation. It was determined by having the most number of days with the coldest morning temperature. The funny thing was, all of the days were in the summer! We too had 50 degree swings daily. It might be 35 in the morning, and 85 in the afternoon. We didn't even bother growing vegetables. I really admire people who try with that type of adversity.

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I think your plan sounds good--of course there is always the option of sneaking off to the Boulder farmer's market and grabbing a couple of the basil plants they have for $2.00 apiece right now (if the same grower is at boulder that is at the cherry creek market).

fred,

went to mcguckin's--they of the 5000 aimless, overly-helpful staff--and purchased a 4 plant mini-pot thingy. probably paid twice what i would at the farmers' market but really who can wake up that early? i mean, other than you.

so, while i see if this basil in the pot in late summer experiment will work i'll have some basil to draw upon. i'm also considering bunging some seeds for perennial winter thyme in the same pot--mistake? or amazingly smart of me? i'm already mixing seeds for italian and thai basil to begin with--perhaps this is getting to be too much like dr. moreau's herb garden

thanks again,

mongo

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