"He who shares joy in what he's grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Raised Beds and More Garden Updates for 2014

Driveway garden
It has been so long since I updated my blog with photos from our home garden, so this post will be for that.  Our new senior plot is keeping me busy, running back and forth every few days to water.  It was nice to be able to stay home this morning and take a few photos, walk around the yard with coffee cup in hand enjoying all that is blooming and growing. The weather is fantastic today, nice and warm.
This first photo shows the garden we always have along the driveway.  I planted 5 tomatoes here and still have room for more once I pull out the kale and swiss chard. It is just now beginning to bolt so I will harvest what I can and then remove it today.  We have the full moon and I want to plant the rest of the tomatoes this evening before it begins to wane. Remember: don't plant anything on April 20-21. Planting by the Moon


Green Zebra

San Marzano

Cherokee Purple

Black Krim
Lacinato Kale

Giant Mustard

Lacinato Kale, Swiss Chard Onions and more Swiss Ruby Chard

Raised bed in citrus grove with Kale, Swiss Chard, Carrots, Beets, and 4 newly planted tomatoes.  1 of each of Bi-Color Cherry, Brown Cherry, Sun Drop and Green Grape.

This shows our new "L" shaped raised beds.  The left side is planted with Eversweet strawberries, an everbearing plant that is supposed to grow and produce fruit from summer through the fall months.  This is Tony's new project, hopefully the birds will let him have a few. He also planted our strawberry pot with a dozen plants!

The new tomato cages will support 1 of each of Southern Night, Chocolate Stripe, Flame or Hillbilly, Gold Medal, and Goliath. 

Eversweet Strawberries

Loquat fruit
 The loquat grows towards the end of the driveway and is loaded with fruit this year. These should be ready to pick in a couple more weeks; usually in early May.

This is the rose at the end of the driveway.  I bought a seedling of this rose from an old German man about 3-4 years ago. NO kidding this rose was just a foot tall when I planted it and has grown this big in just 4 years.  He couldn't remember the name but told me it was an old variety that he always took cuttings of and grew to sell.  I am so glad that he did!

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
Emma Goldman

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tomato Update 2014 List of Tomatoes I am Growing This Year

No photos today, just an update on the varieties of tomatoes I am growing this year.  I didn't get a chance to make my spreadsheet but this will do to keep my blog updated so I can review from year to year.

I have 23 plants between home and the community garden plot we now have.  I am super excited (as usual) at this time of year in anticipation of my tomato harvesting days!

I started all of these plants from seed with the exception of Goliath. That one is a hybrid that I grew last year and really liked it for canning.  It is the only plant that I bought.  I still have 5 Big White Pink Stripe plants, 1 Green Zebra, 1 Gold Medal, 1 Dr. Wyche's, 1 Southern Night, 4 Chocolate Stripe, and 1 Flame/Hillbilly left. We will share what we have left with friends so they won't be wasted.  It is tough to let go of the plants when you have cared for them from seed for so many months.  I know, I am a tomato addict! 

Note: some are planted in our Senior Garden plot and some at our home garden in raised beds and along the driveway

What we are growing this year 2014

Big White Pink Stripe Tomato (1 plant)
95 days to maturity  
Indeterminate: regular leafed, pale-peach colored 4” slicer with pinkish blush on blossom end and peach-cream colored flesh inside. Meaty fruits with tropical flavor similar to melon but slight sweet-tart tang. Low yield, but worth growing for its unique color and flavor. (home garden driveway)

Black Krim (1 plant)
75 days to maturity
Indeterminate:  originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet union. This rare, and outstanding tomato yields 3-4” slightly flattened dark red mahogany colored beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. (home garden driveway)

Cherokee Purple (2 plants )
90 days to maturity
Indeterminate: regular leafed type. Grown over 100 years ago by the Cherokee Indians, this heirloom variety is from Tennessee.  Plant produces high yields of 6 to 12 oz. purple-dark pink tomatoes.  Tomatoes have a sweet rich flavor and turn dark pink with purplish tint and green shoulders.  A favorite among heirloom growers. (home garden driveway and senior plot)

Chocolate Stripe Tomato (2 plants)
70-80 days to maturity
Indeterminate: regular leafed, one of the most stunningly beautiful tomatoes.  Very rich and earthy flavors, large fruits upwards of 4-6” across weighing as much as a pound.  Smoky red fruits with dark green stripes and rich flavor, it’s a favorite for sandwiches and salads.  Very productive and has a good yield. (1 senior garden and 1 raised beds)

Dr. Wyche’s (1 plant)
80 days to maturity
Indeterminate:  regular leafed type. This heirloom was introduced to Seed Savers Exchange by the late Dr. John Wyche, who at one time owned the Cole Brothers Circus and used the manure of elephants to fertilize his heritage gardens. The 1 lb fruit is solid and smooth; their color is a glowing tangerine-orange that always stands out on the vine. One of the best heirloom orange types, with its smooth texture and tropical, sweet taste. Heavy yields. (senior garden)

 Flame or Hillbilly (1 plant)
70 days to maturity
Indeterminate:  prolific French heirloom that bears in clusters of 6, 1½” round golf ball sized tomatoes that are persimmon-orange colored inside and out. A delicious full-bodied flavor that literally bursts in your mouth, very pretty tomato. Note: this may be Hillbilly in which case it will take 80 - 85 days and is a huge, bi-color heirloom with brilliant yellow color and red marbling. Very large with a rich, sweet flavor. Beautiful when sliced. An heirloom believed to be from West Virginia. (raised beds)

German Queen (1 plant)
75-80 days to maturity
Indeterminate: potato leafed type, very rare, old heirloom German pink (see note) beefsteak tomato that has large, sweet fruits.  Lower in acid and quite meaty, making them perfect for slicing.  Vines will grow tall and bear fruits all summer long.  14-18 oz fruits.  Note: there are two German Queen Tomatoes I found on the internet and this may be the yellow stripe one. (at senior garden).

Gold Medal (1 plant)
80-90 days to maturity
Indeterminate: regular leafed type. Introduced as Ruby gold by John Lewis Childs in 1921.  Ben Quisenberry renamed it Gold Medal in 1976.  Sweet, dark, golden yellow tomato, some reaching over 2 pounds; gourmets delight, meaty gold color flesh with beautiful red steaks running though out.  Very impressive sliced tomato.  Heavy yields. (raised beds)

Goliath (1 plant)
65-85 days to maturity
Indeterminate: Hybrid regular leafed type, beautiful, smooth bright-red, deep oblate beefsteak fruits averaging 10 to 15 oz., to a sweet luscious flavor that lives up to its virtually blemish-free exterior  Goliath hybrid tomatoes have classic shape and flavor with firm, light red fruit that have few seeds. Plan on harvesting 70 or more fruit from each Goliath plant. The indeterminate vines are vigorous, so you will want to stake them or use a tall cage. Tall vigorous plants produce yield after yield, and modern disease resistance.
Resistant to many diseases:  verticillium wilt (V), fusarium races 1 & 2 (FF), nematodes (N), and tobacco mosaic virus (T). (VFFNTASt) this is the only hybrid I am growing, I was so impressed with this one last year that I am growing it again this year. (raised beds)

Green Zebra (1  plant)
80-90 days to maturity
Indeterminate:  regular leafed type, this one was developed in 1985 by tomato breeder Tom Wagner, and this is an unusual green tomato.  2 inch round fruit ripens to a yellow-green gold color with dark green zebra like stripes. The flesh is lime-emerald in color and has a lemon-lime flavor. Even though this tomato is not old it is now categorized as an heirloom tomato by many. (driveway garden)

Ponderosa (2 plants)
86 days to maturity
Indeterminate: regular leafed type.  A meaty pink-red beefsteak introduced by Peter Henderson & Co. in 1891.  Heavy yield, some reaching over 2 pounds, needs adequate support of a tall growing tomato up to 12 feet. Great for canning and freezing. (1 senior garden and 1 driveway)

San Marzano (3 plants)
75-80 days to maturity
Indeterminate: regular leafed type. A large plum tomato with 5-6 oz fruit formed in clusters of 6-8 fruits, very heavy yields on tall 6-plus foot vines.  San Marzano tomatoes have been grown in the Campania region of Italy for centuries.  Provide tall, adequate support for this heavy producer. (2 at senior garden, 1 driveway garden)

Southern Night (2 plants)
84 days to maturity
Indeterminate:  potato leafed type.  A rare, old traditional Russian heirloom with black-shouldered, slightly-flattened, blackish-red fruits. Reputed to be darkest of all when grown in very warm conditions.  Plant produces lots of 12-16 oz., purple-brown beefsteak fruits with some green shoulders. Good disease resistance. (1 raised beds and 1 senior garden)

Rainbow Cherry Tomato Blend (1 of each)
65 days from transplanting. Indeterminate, bushy, tall, climbing cherry tomatoes.
Sundrop = orange, round
Brown Cherry = brown, round
Green Grape = green, oval grape shape
Bicolor Cherry = pink/white striped, round
(all 4 in raised beds)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Garden Update 2014

We are officially members of our local senior garden community.  They have 26, 16x16 plots.

We started working the soil and amending with compost and organic fertilizers on March 7th.  I planted my first seeds and plants on March 9th.  The photos  below were taken on March 26th.

We have 8 tomato plants, 1 Poha, 2 eggplants, 4 summer squash areas, carrots, lettuces, beets, beans, peas, 6 basil, 6 plus tatsoi plants, 1 found spinach plant and marigolds. 

We recycled some wood from our tomato cages and built smaller ones for this garden.  They have a 6 foot height limit and I hope that is high enough for the tomato plants.  I know they will go at least two feet over that but I planted them next to another so they can, hopefully support each other.

In the far left corner is Dr. Wyche and Ponderosa.  In the right corner, back is Southern Night and San Marzano.  In the center is German Queen and in the red cage is the Poha I seeded. The four 'round' sections in the center are the seeded summer squash.  I planted Ronde de Nice  a French heirloom zucchini that will be wonderful for stuffing.  Also planted Cocozelle Squash, an Italian heirloom striped green zucchini.  It was called Cocozella de Napoli in the 19th century. Next we have an early yellow heirloom Crookneck Squash and then the final one on the right front is  Scallop or Patty Pan Squash another heirloom blend that will give me three colors; a light green, a white and a pale yellow. I love to stuff these too.  Click HERE for a photo of my frozen stuffed patty pan from 2012 (you will need to scroll down past the frozen tomatoes).  I have lots of recipe ideas on my cooking BLOG so feel free to check them out.

 This is Tatsoi

In the back is the Basil plants.  There are many clumped together, I didn't feel like separating all of them so the plants will be thick and bushy.  This is what happens when you see plugs with more seeds then you think will germinate!  I think every one came up.  In the center of the Tatsoi plants is one Anaheim Chili Pepper. The left corner cages have Cherokee Purple and Chocolate Stripe tomatoes.

 This is a few of the lettuce plants, Speckled and a couple of red Romaine along with some marigold plants.

 Carnival carrots in the box, which is a blend of red, purple, white, yellow and orange carrots.  Along side the box I seeded a wonderful French heirloom carrot called Paris Market, they are small, short and round. I grew these in the winter last year in my raised bed at the house and they did very well.  They are a perfect carrot to grow if you don't have a lot of space or planting depth since they are so short.

In this area I planted Soy cucumber, a Japanese Soyu Cucumber, a long, straight, sweet cucumber with ridges.  It will get 18 inches long on the trellis we provided.  Hopefully!

 In the back is more lettuce, two eggplants in the center, one Rosa Bianca an heirloom round, light pink lavender color with a bit of white.The other one I planted is Japanese millionaire, this is a hybrid that is very popular so I thought I would give it a try. It doesn't have very many seeds so it should be great on the grill.

 Romaine lettuce, Rouge D'Hiver an organic French heirloom.

Looking at San Marzano

Rouge D'Hiver

Looking at Ponderosa

The back, left corner cages is another San Marzano tomato.  Center beds are also seeded with beans, lettuces, radish, beets, spinach, summer squash as noted, also mixed in the the lettuce plants along the fences are some snow peas, and beans and cucumbers.

My list of tomatoes plants in this garden is: 
(these I grew from seeds started in January)
2 San Marzano
1 Cherokee Purple
1 Chocolate Stripe
1 German Queen
1 Dr.Wyche
1 Ponderosa
1 Southern Night

Plants of:
1 Anaheim chili pepper (El Plantio Nursery)
12 lettuce plants (varieties noted above) El Plantio Nursery
Italian Basil (seeds I started in February)
Tatsoi (El Plantio Nursery)

The rest of the garden is seeded with:
Poha (in the red cage) these are seeds I saved from last year
4 type summer squash (varieties noted above)
several colors and varieties of carrots
Japanese soyu cucumber
Straight 8 cucumber
Gold Rush beans
French Fillet beans
Blue Lake beans
Royal Burgundy beans
 Sugar Snap peas
French Breakfast radishes (seeded)
Easter blend radishes (seeded)
Farmer's Market blend lettuces (seeded)
Bull's Blood beets
Chioggia beets
Gourmet blend beets

I will post another update later with what I have planted in my beds at home.  I will not have as many beds since I have the senior plot now, but I will be growing more tomatoes.  I have 4 planted right now along my driveway bed.

That's it for now from a Tomato Addict Gardener!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Orioles are back!

Even though we really never had winter the orioles are just now back.  Of course they may have been around and I just didn't see them, but normally I hear them before I see them.  This beauty has been around for a week now, but so far I have not seen his mate.  He is enjoying the birdbath daily and getting himself all groomed for his mate's arrival, no doubt. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

16 Doves in the Avocado Tree on a Rainy Day

I took these shots a few days ago and just now got around to posting to my blog.  It was raining and the doves all roosted together on this old avocado tree.  One day I saw 5 different species of birds all together.  Now if the rest of us could just get along as well as birds we would be a far better world.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Tomato Seedlings, Tomato Update 2014

I put the tomato plants on the window ledge during our rainstorm this past weekend. I have had them outdoors now for several weeks.  My plan is to put them out in the raised beds sometime around the third week of March, if the weather permits. We have had hail storms in mid-March in past years so waiting until the end of March will be a wise choice.

My plants this year are as follows:

San Marzano
Southern Night
Ponderosa (also know as Henderson's Pink Ponderosa)
Gold Medal
Chocolate Stripes
Black Krim
Cherokee Purple
Big White Pink Stripe
Flame (also known as Hillbilly)
Dr. Wyche's 
German Queen
Green Zebra
I still may put in Goliath if I can find a plant at the nursery.  I didn't save seeds from last year and I really liked this one for canning.  

Cherry Tomatoes:

Gold Nugget
Brown Cherry
Green Grape
Super Snow White
Bicolor Cherry

Poha (also known as Cape Gooseberry  Physalia peruviana L.)

Steve Goto will be speaking at Green Thumb Nursery on March 8th and the 18th and I plan on attending his seminar.  Hopefully they will have some San Marzano and Goliath plants for sell.