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Gardening: 2002-2009 Seasons


Hopleaf
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We have a friend, Worm Boy, who is actually a worm farmer. He gave me some worm castings (aka "worm doo doo") to use in our garden. The roses on the deck are healthier than they've been in years. The tomatoes next to the house are going to climb in the windows and choke us in our sleep, I think.

Anyone else know the miracle of the lowly earthworm, who are doing God's Work in a big, big way?

I have been worm composting for many years. Very little goes down the garbage disposal.

It is amazing how quickly the worms can break down stuff as tough as watermelon rind, corn cobs, etc.

I have 6 huge tubs which have a screen that sets on legs in the bottom. The worm castings work their way down through the coarse screen and can be raked out because I have cut a hatch in one side of the tub at the bottom.

I have a barrel on a low platform, put the castings in that with water and some blood meal or bone meal or other additive that might be needed then turn the tap and drain the "tea" into a bucket for application to plants that need a bit of extra nutrition.

"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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okay, so the planting is done. i will be so surprised if anything sprouts. on the basil seed packets it said to plant them at roughly 1/4 inch depth--but who has a 1/4 inch measurer handy? serious gardeners? well, sure. the thyme, it said to just cover lightly with soil. i punched holes all over the pot with a pencil and dumped in seeds fairly haphazardly and covered. then i sprinkled thyme seeds all over and spread some soil on top. then i watered. if anything sprouts they'll probably all fight and choke each other. if not, i'll have a large pot full of herby goodness.

okay, so the buggers have started sprouting--have no idea which are basil and which thyme. i'd tossed in millions of seeds--presumably only some will survive into viable seedlings. at what point do i need to worry about thinning them out? i've read that in an outdoor garden mature basil plants need 12 inches of separation from each other. does this mean i will eventually have to cull whatever grows in my pot down to one plant? and when will this eventuality occur?

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Essentially, every plant ought to have its own space cleared for it comparable to the spread of its leaves. So, when the leaves begin to overlap between your herbs, its time to thin them.

Keep in mind though that as you thin them, it does not necessarily have to be thin them all at once.

Use as you want, thinning as you use. That's what I do for beets + carrots. Wonderful results.

Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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But my, I've had lovely hollyhocks. Hollyhocks are the new delphiums around here. A hardy, tall, reliable biennial that reseeds itself, and bears blossoms that look like upside-down tutus.

Didn't your mama show you how to make hollyhock dolls? Nest two blossoms together, then poke a toothpick thru the centers and into a bud (for the head of the doll.)

I was picking half a bushel of tomatoes a day, but we are having that cool weather too. It is just not right to stand on the front porch on an August morning and see your breath.

:angry: Especially not when you have just had a pool installed. :angry:

Anyhow, I have canned a batch of pizza sauce, a batch of salsa, and I made 10 quarts of tomato juice last night.

The garden is dry as a bone--I tried to till last night, but had to quit because of the clouds of dust I was raising.

Not much left out there, anyway--okra and lots of pumpkins, white and orange, and tomatoes, of course.

sparrowgrass
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report: my tomatoes are being attacked by some kind of fungus. the leaves are turning black in between the veins. some of the fruit is still suffering from blossom end rot; the rest of it appears to be OK, but the tomatoes themselves are big and kind of dry, even for romas. this is very sad; it was the first year since i've moved into this house that things grew as expected.

as it turns out, growing tomatoes in pots on a deck in the city isn't that easy. especially since a lot of the remedies for funguses or cankers or whatnot is "destroy the plants and get them away from all the other ones" which isn't really an option when you're pressed for space--especially since everyone around here has gardens and we're all right up next to each other.

hang on i'll post some pics and maybe y'all can advise me if there's anything else to do about it?

i11184.jpg

i11185.jpg

i11186.jpg

i11187.jpg

i11188.jpg

so very sad.

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I think you need a bit of nitrogen, and bigger pots. But the tomatoes look great!

nitrogen, eh? i'll give it a shot--i have fertilizer. the pots are the biggest that will fit on my deck, so if they're too small, i'm screwed. i tested the soil before planting this year, and it tested fine..... ah well.

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Essentially, every plant ought to have its own space cleared for it comparable to the spread of its leaves. So, when the leaves begin to overlap between your herbs, its time to thin them.

Keep in mind though that as you thin them, it does not necessarily have to be thin them all at once.

Use as you want, thinning as you use. That's what I do for beets + carrots. Wonderful results.

isn't there also a limit on number of plants per pot? or will this become a non-issue because only some will make it to maturity anyway?

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I think you need a bit of nitrogen, and bigger pots.  But the tomatoes look great!

nitrogen, eh? i'll give it a shot--i have fertilizer. the pots are the biggest that will fit on my deck, so if they're too small, i'm screwed. i tested the soil before planting this year, and it tested fine..... ah well.

I refer you back to Jaymes' beer-cooler garden: punch holes in the bottom of a large styro beer cooler and thunk your tomatoes in. The result here is that the roots stay cooler longer during/after watering, and don't get fried out like in the thin plastic-ky pots. And even if your dirt tested fine at the start, Mother Nature can take a whack at perfect growing conditions with considerable glee.

Mongo, I believe you have the beginnings of a kitchen herb garden. Go with it.

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report: my tomatoes are being attacked by some kind of fungus. the leaves are turning black in between the veins. some of the fruit is still suffering from blossom end rot; the rest of it appears to be OK, but the tomatoes themselves are big and kind of dry, even for romas. this is very sad; it was the first year since i've moved into this house that things grew as expected.

You would be better served posting your question on this board:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/tompests/

Your question will likely be answered by Carolyn Male. If you don't know who she is, just do a quick Google search.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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You would be better served posting your question on this board:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/tompests/

Your question will likely be answered by Carolyn Male. If you don't know who she is, just do a quick Google search.

My, aren't we persnickety. Do you suppose this thread has lasted several years and twenty-five pages from unanswered questions? And perhaps mrbigjas is looking for friendly, over-the-bandwidth advice, mahvelous Carolyn Googlesit notwithstanding. :biggrin:

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You might consider one, two or three of these.

I have a friend who lives on a boat in a marina and has three of these (plus some other planters) on her slip deck.

"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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You would be better served posting your question on this board:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/tompests/

Your question will likely be answered by Carolyn Male.  If you don't know who she is, just do a quick Google search.

My, aren't we persnickety. Do you suppose this thread has lasted several years and twenty-five pages from unanswered questions? And perhaps mrbigjas is looking for friendly, over-the-bandwidth advice, mahvelous Carolyn Googlesit notwithstanding. :biggrin:

I didn't mean to offend anyone, by my statement, but I figured, the faster it's diagnosed the better. I figured if anyone could answer a question about tomato disease, it would be Male. She answers posts pretty quick too, unless she's sick or something.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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okay, so the planting is done. i will be so surprised if anything sprouts. on the basil seed packets it said to plant them at roughly 1/4 inch depth--but who has a 1/4 inch measurer handy? serious gardeners? well, sure. the thyme, it said to just cover lightly with soil.  i punched holes all over the pot with a pencil and dumped in seeds fairly haphazardly and covered. then i sprinkled thyme seeds all over and spread some soil on top. then i watered. if anything sprouts they'll probably all fight and choke each other. if not, i'll have a large pot full of herby goodness.

okay, so the buggers have started sprouting--have no idea which are basil and which thyme. i'd tossed in millions of seeds--presumably only some will survive into viable seedlings. at what point do i need to worry about thinning them out? i've read that in an outdoor garden mature basil plants need 12 inches of separation from each other. does this mean i will eventually have to cull whatever grows in my pot down to one plant? and when will this eventuality occur?

Basil: The first two leaves (cotyledons) are kind of fat, about I'm guessing 1/4" in length and maybe width, and kind of look like two halves of a circle. I tried to find pics, but can't find any.

Thyme: I forget how the cotyledons look, but they are going to be very small leaves, much smaller than the basil.

I will bet that all of them at this point are just basil.

if I were in your situation, I would consider just planting a bunch all over the place, and as they matured and started to crowd each other, I would start (carefully) pulling out or cutting off too close plants, until you have about 1 plant every 9-12 inches. I kind of crowd my plants anyway, because I like the leggy stems, as they are easy to make into a bouquet and give to my friends.

As the weather grows hot, the plants will start to flower. As long as you pinch or cut off the starting-to-flower parts, your basil will keep giving you lots of basil leaves. In fact, you will end up regretting planting so many. Savor it while it lasts, because they'll shrivel, die and turn black with the first cold spell.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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You would be better served posting your question on this board:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/tompests/

Your question will likely be answered by Carolyn Male.  If you don't know who she is, just do a quick Google search.

My, aren't we persnickety. Do you suppose this thread has lasted several years and twenty-five pages from unanswered questions? And perhaps mrbigjas is looking for friendly, over-the-bandwidth advice, mahvelous Carolyn Googlesit notwithstanding. :biggrin:

I didn't mean to offend anyone, by my statement, but I figured, the faster it's diagnosed the better. I figured if anyone could answer a question about tomato disease, it would be Male. She answers posts pretty quick too, unless she's sick or something.

You sure didn't offend me, jschyun! I appreciate that kind of knowledge. I'm not insular about eGullet, or knowledge, and if there is a good or better source for quick answers, sign me up.

If Carolyn Male is devoted to swift and expert answering of gardening questions, then I am grateful for your link.

This forum is not the be-all and end-all of knowledge. (Am I missing some sarcasm? I saw the smiley face thing but it was incongruent with the rest of the post.)

Thanks again, jschyun.

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We here in Zone 4 are about to say bye-bye to the gardeneing season and just save the nurtrients in the garden. I have only one tomato (on 6 plants) that is larger than a golf ball. With tems dipping into the low 40's at night, there is no hope any more. My neighbors are finall pulling the first of the green beans off their pole beans. Even at the farmer's market, the "hot summer" crops (peppers, tomatoes, green beans) are pathetic.

This is truely the summer that never happened. We have kept sweatshirts at hand, which is not typical. Most disappointing. I had so hoped for a tomato from our "new estate" this year.

And, so I whine. I really shouldn't, as we did have 9 days at the cabin that were warm and sunny and "bathing suit worthy."

So, tomorrow, I pull the tomato plants. Stick something else in, like lettuce or spinach or some of the perennials my friends have so generously donated to my new cause. Sigh. I live for summer. Wish we'd had one.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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This is truely the summer that never happened.  We have kept sweatshirts at hand, which is not typical.  Most disappointing. I had so hoped for a tomato from our "new estate" this year.

...summer.  Wish we'd had one.

Boy, howdy. This was the year I planted nearly a dozen tomato plants of varying varieties. I think two tomatoes of the whole lot have ripened. At least the basil, sorrel and other herbs are flourishing.

At least you *got* summer, and up north at that! I got a few days of summer here near Duluth, but then I trotted off to California for a visit and missed the rest of the heat. *Sigh*

Fried green tomatoes, anyone?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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This is truely the summer that never happened.  We have kept sweatshirts at hand, which is not typical.  Most disappointing. I had so hoped for a tomato from our "new estate" this year.

...summer.  Wish we'd had one.

Boy, howdy. This was the year I planted nearly a dozen tomato plants of varying varieties. I think two tomatoes of the whole lot have ripened. At least the basil, sorrel and other herbs are flourishing.

At least you *got* summer, and up north at that! I got a few days of summer here near Duluth, but then I trotted off to California for a visit and missed the rest of the heat. *Sigh*

Fried green tomatoes, anyone?

Since so many went without a real summer this year and seem to have a load of green tomatoes on hand you might want to check out this Peppery Green Tomato Corn Relish I posted in RG.

Of course, I love fried green tomatoes, too! :biggrin:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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More pics from the garden:

Cauliflower

i11517.jpg To be separated into florets, lightly oiled and grilled.

Delicata Squash

i11518.jpg Best baked plain, seasoned with a little S&P. Maybe used in Thanksgiving cheesecake?

Pattypan Squash

i11519.jpg Looking forward to another of these.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My few paltry tomatoes are no where near ripe. I resisted the temptation to pull the plants.

But, the few spinach seeds I sowed early in August are showing promise, and my several basil plants (one Thai, the rest regular pesto-making stuff) are going strong. They have yet to bolt or sprout a flower thing.

Rhubarb. When we sold our former home, I included in the purchase agreement the right to come and get some plants. So we did. One of the things I took was a rhubarb plant. It came from my folks first house in the Twin Cities, and before than from my grandparents farm. In the past few years in said former house, it didn't do a lot. So, when we moved it, we split the plant. Dug a really, really deep hole. Filled the hole with compost before planting the split plants. Bingo! I know I shouldn't pick any after the 4th of July (is that a myth), but, geez, oh peet, it is beautiful.

Think I should pick just a very few stalks and take them to The Cabin and make them into a chunky syrup to put over waffles with yogurt for the coming long Labor Day weekend.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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  • 2 weeks later...

When we moved this past March, the purchase agreement gave us the right to go back and get some plants. Which we did. The rhubarb was one of them.

I inherited the love of gardening from my paternal grandmother. When she died, I wanted two things only from her house. One was a rhubarb plant. One of the rhubarbs that had been a part of her life as long as she could remember. She got her first one from her MIL, who probably got it from a relative. It was not doing so well at our old house. I realize now that it just needed to be divided.

It now looks wonderful.

gallery_6263_35_1094771777.jpg

The exciting news here is that I have a couple of tomatoes (there are few, but there are at least some) are ripening:

gallery_6263_35_1094771914.jpg

I originally planted 5 heirlooms, all different varieties. They were a gift, and the giver lost the tags for them. So, I have no idea what they are. BTW, one of the plants, by mid-august, had no fruits set, so I pulled it to save the nutrients in the soil.

I think my Thai Basil looks wonderful.

gallery_6263_35_1094771841.jpg

It is a beautiful plant. I intended to make curry (which I like with a lot of these leaves) last night, but had too much other food. Perhaps for lunch or dinner tomorrow night?

Finally, one of the other of the multitudes of plants I took from our former house is not food related. I took a lot of perennials. This is one of my favorites. It is a clematis tangutica. It is laying on the ground because it has just been transplanted to its permanent home. I know, never transplant while blooming, but since it's a new wood bloomer, I knew if I cut it back, I would trick it into thinking that it was spring and I might be in for trouble. THe flowers on this particular plant are far less than remarkable, but the seed heads left behind when the flowers fade are quite something. Peter calls them Muppet heads. This thing actually self-seeds, and comes true to form.

gallery_6263_35_1094771971.jpg

That bit of orange is my garden nippers, which I will go and retrieve now.

Edited by snowangel (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Clematis tangutica, that's at least very common in NZ, if not unique to NZ.

I'd like to ask a favor...does anybody have any queries on how to grow Japanese herbs...other vegetables and food plants too, but particularly herbs because they are ready to harvest so soon. The answers would be a while coming, but I'd love to know exactly which plants are popular and what issues arise when growing Japanese plants in other countries.

I teach English at the horticulture department of a public university here in Japan (at least, that's half of what I do!) and am working on putting up an English website with tips on growing Japanese plants, written together with my students (that's the long-range plan...it might be a private website for a while). This university is not in a rural area, and the students are baby researchers rather than baby gardeners. I get hold of them before they have really started their horticultural studies - they don' know much, in other words!

However, they have plenty of people and resources to provide them with the answers, and it's a big kick for them to realize that they can use English to communicate with people who want to hear what they have to say, so ask away! Term starts in a few weeks, and I plan to get them working on it straight away.

I also posted this question on the Asian vegetables forum at Gardenweb.

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  • 1 month later...

My gardening season is over, and everyone here agrees it was the summer that never was, although we have had a beautiful fall. All I planted this year were tomatoes and basil, and my tomato plants did not produce well. The flavor was wonderful, but the texture off, and I'm sure that had something to do with the many, many cool nights and days.

Had I known that September and October (at least thus far) would be so spectacular -- eclipsing summer, in face -- I would have yanked my tomato plants in August and put in a crop of spinach and lettuce. The greens at the farmer's market have been the best I've ever seen and we've had them all summer, which is unusual.

How would everyone else rate their season?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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We too had it cooler -- athough in Central Tx that was not a bad thing. :laugh: The tomatoes produced for a longer period than usual because they weren't boiled in their own skins, but some of the peppers actually like it hotter than it has been. No luck with the heirloom tomatoes this year, but the old standby beefsteak, sweet cherry toms, and Super Fantastics did well and were 'licious. Eating the last of those, they're in the kitchen window basket now. And we will sigh when they're gone. . .

Under things that were not a wild success this year I would have to say that the squash was great while it lasted just didn't last long enough. Not hot enough for the banana peppers to be really prolific. The Snowy Eggplant was truly the sweetest and firmest flesh eggplant ever but I will plant it in a different location next year as it did not like the front bed.

Still, can't complain all around. The weather was kinder to the herbs and the Japanese eggplants will continue to produce until December sometime unless it gets really too cool. Usually there is a break, a rest for them in the heat of mid-August to mid-Sept, then they pick back up as the days are no longer near 100. Since it was so much cooler than usual here we haven't had to go without eggplants at all. The Tabasco peppers do like more heat but they have been so prolific -- just longer in getting there -- that I have two quarts of pulp to add to the other jars aging in fridge. (The oldest aged pulp which is being bottled now is three years old and flavor pops with a fire.) The rest of the gardens, veg and herb, have fared well, as have our tongues and tums. A satisfying season for us overall. :biggrin:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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