"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We are Picking Orangeglo Watermelon

Orangeglo Watermelon picked August 27, 2012

We picked our first watermelon yesterday and it looks and tastes just as stated on the seed package.  This guy weighed in at 19.4 pounds. We have 7 melons on the vines, not all this big but most are close and may even weigh more once we pick them.  We ate half of it yesterday and this morning, but Tony took the other half to work to share with his co-workers.

These are six inch tiles, I am guessing this melon is about 16 inches across.
I wonder if the marking on a watermelon mean anything.  You know how birds and butterflies have markings to resemble predators?  What do you think this one is trying to show?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tomato Update 2012, Lots of Pictures

Gold Medal Tomato
 A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins. –Laurie Colwin (1944–92)

The heat finally arrived on Sunday hitting 90.  The rest of this week has been 98 to 100 degrees each day. Today will be around the same.  I wanted heat for the tomatoes and we got it! Be careful what you wish for....
Cherokee Purple 1 pound 9 ounces
This plant has about 6 big tomatoes.
I've been picking tomatoes each day; the older plants are slowing down now and I've picked all of the Persimmon Orange, Black Krim, San Marzano, Purple Russian, and Big White Pink Stripe that were in beds 1,2 and 3. I went ahead and pulled out most of those plants.  I would have pulled them all but some of them are tangled in with Green Zebra, German Queen, Anna's Russian Pink, Mortgage Lifter and Cherokee Purple, and I am still harvesting from these plants.  San Marzano that is in bed 4 is doing pretty well, I picked about a dozen yesterday morning.

Green Zebra Tomatoes; I made green pasta sauce with these.
The tomato plants that are on the driveway bank are doing very well.  I picked one Cherokee Purple that weighed in at 1.9 pounds; this is the plant that I planted May 28th I picked it a little green since I don't want the birds pecking at it once it is ripe.  I also pulled out the two Southern Night plants that were planted along here.  They didn't have any large fruits left on them and I can use the space to plant some winter vegetables in September.  Gold Medal still has some large fruits that are just beginning to color. This plant will be finished by the end of next week, at which time I will pull it out and use the space for winter vegetables.  The two Ponderosa Tomatoes that I planted in May are setting some nice large fruit.  I am still harvesting from the Ponderosa Tomato that I planted in March on this bank.  This plant is still free from any diseases and doesn't seem to show any signs of stopping. I love this plant!  The Black Krim, San Marzano, Dr. Wyche's and Chocolate Stripe that were planted June 24th are about 3 feet tall now.  Lots of blossoms but I have not looked closely for fruit.
Black Krim that was planted in July
San Marzano that was planted August 1 from one of my extra seedlings.
 Here we have the Cherokee Purple that has the large tomatoes.  The plants are so heavy with fruit that the stakes were falling over.  I had to anchor them with additional stakes and twine.  Tony hammered the stakes in the ground 1 foot or more but they were still being pulled over.  So far this additional support is working. They are leaning together now so I may tie them all together with a few more stakes.  This is why I don't like to stake my tomatoes, they just get too heavy.

Flame or (Hillbilly) Tomato
The aloe's are around 5 feet and Flame' is just about as tall now.
 Flame/Hillbilly, that is planted in the backyard by the birdbath has reached the top of the red wire cage.  I need to add some more stakes for this guy, I think it will be huge. A few tomatoes are showing themselves but are small right now. I am looking forward to this one as it is new for me this year.

Tony's watermelon's are getting huge. The Charentais melon's are also doing well, I can't wait to cut into these; this is the first year I have grown them and I have heard the flavor is wonderful.

Orangeglow Watermelon Aug 15
Orangeglo Watermelon Aug 15
Charentais Melon Aug 15

Tony has calculated that we have picked close to 1000 tomatoes this year!!! Most of these plants are finished now, except for the ones along the driveway that were put in much later.  I should be able to harvest from these plants through October.  But for now I can use the break, I have processed the majority of these tomatoes, just keeping a few to eat until we can pick more.

No wonder my hands are raw!  

I will leave you with another shade of red, this one from Lady Baltimore Hibiscus that is growing by the chimney on the West side of the house.  She is a beauty!

Seed pod

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tomato Update, Melons, Harvest and Second Crop Plantings

Orangeglo Watermelon from Baker Creek
Lots of photos to keep my garden blog updated.

Our Orangeglo Watermelon and a French cantelope melon called Charentais are doing well.  Both should be ready at the end of this month or early September.  Most are hidden, but I was able to get a few photos of the melons.

Charentais Melon from Baker Creek
Charentais vines
Orangeglo Watermelon and Charentais vines
Charentais Melon
Orangeglo Watermelon
Japanese Eggplant, I have picked 3 so far.
Florida Market Eggplant from Baker Creek 
I picked 2 so far. I have three plants but this one is doing the best.

Gold Medal Tomato 1 pound 7 1/2 ounces! Probably will weigh more when completely ripe.  Seeds were from Baker Creek.
Gold Medal 1 pound 6 ounces!
This Gold Medal filled my hand!
I wear plastic gloves when I pick or tie up my tomatoes. This keeps my hands from turning green and often the vines make me itch!!

August 1st harvest, I froze the ones in the tray yesterday.  I also can some, but I make stewed tomatoes when I can.  Freezing is so easy and I often roast several sheet pans in the oven first, then lift off the skins and toss into bags.  I use a Food Saver Machine.  Quick and easy.

The grapefruits in the bowl to the left are from our tree, also the lemons.  I know how lucky we are!!
August 2nd harvest

Cherokee Purple
 This is a Cherokee Purple tomato that I planted on May 28th.  The stake that is holding it broke last night when I was working around the plant. It broke the part of the main stem at the bottom when it fell. I checked it this morning and the leaves all look good and not at all wilted. I did cover the break with new potting soil and soaked it real well late last night.  This plant has some of the largest Cherokee Purple fruit that I have seen.  At least 4 inches across.  It also has clusters of 4 fruits. No wonder the poor thing fell over.  I also added another stake to brace it.  Next year I will have Tony build more cages. That is the only thing I have found that will hold up my tomato plants.

Cherokee Purple tomato
 This is the Ponderosa tomato that I have been harvesting from. It still looks good and is still putting out fruit each day. Ponderosa is a light red, pinkish tomato. I really like this one and will plant again next year.

Ponderosa, picked Aug 1
Ponderosa, 10 ounces
View of the cages by driveway on August 1st. Ponderosa, San Marzano (as above).  What's left of Southern Night, these did very well for me.  And Gold Medal, still full of huge tomatoes.

 Here are two more Ponderosa tomatoes that I planted on May 28th, fruit is now setting.  I will see how these do with staking. They are next to the Cherokee Purple that broke.  I generally don't stake because you need to cut the suckers out and they actually help with shading the fruit on hot, sunny days here. I just hope the stakes hold up the weight of the plants.

 Here is Black Krim, San Marzano and another Black Krim.  These were planted just a few weeks ago (July).

San Marzano tomato planted in July
 A San Marzano that replaced a yellow squash in mid July.  My San Marzano tomatoes have not done well for me this year.  The photo below shows the two plants.  The one on the left is pretty much finished. All the leaves dried up early in June.  The one on the right does still have some fruit but nothing like I had last year.  Next year I will replace all the soil in all the raised beds. I think the problem is from using it three years in a row. Even though I amend it with compost and manure, it still failed in some of the beds this year.

Poor San Marzano in Bed 1
 Here we have German Queen, Dr. Wyche and Chocolate Stripe.  The were planted in front of the melons June 24th.  All the plants are healthy and setting flowers.  The bees are busy with the melons but hopefully they will stop in and pollinate these for us.

Bed 3 is still giving me Gold Medal, Mortgage Lifter, and a few Black Krim. 
At last we have Flame' or Hillbilly.  I planted this one on June 24th in the backyard by the birdbath.  It is larger now, I took this photo a couple of weeks ago.  Fruit is setting already.  The birds love sitting on this red cage waiting for a turn in the birdbath. I hope they are keeping the worms off!  So far this year I have not seen one tomato worm so I guess the birds are doing their jobs for us.

The southern sun shines brightly on this summers' day, as the leaves of the great Mayall shades me. I sit alone in my sacred garden, of all my precious plants and herbs. For I have gained their infinite knowledge, now I absorb their mystical powers. The gentle northern breeze, rustles through their leaves and flowers. Infusing the air with their sweet scent. Their aroma becomes quite therapeutic as I muse over their ancient lore.
-Wendy Eversen 2000