So is anyone gardening this year?

  • Posted by: Smaug
  • June 3, 2019


Smaug September 19, 2019
Big times here- the tomatoes and peppers, in particular, tend to wait until it cools down to ripen, and I'm currently buried in the things. I freeze a lot- tomatoes for future sauces, and peppers all freeze very well, but I like to roast most of them first so that's a bit of work. My favorite newcomer this year was a pepper called "Roulette", basically a Habanero with most of the heat removed. Very tasty, and prolific even in a relatively small pot. This year's miracle- the squirrels left me enough apricots to make a bunch of jam.
gandalf September 19, 2019
When you freeze your peppers, do you cut off the tops and stems, or just put them whole in a plastic bag into the freezer? Or do you slice/chop them before freezing?

I have an excess of Aji Dulce peppers that I don't want to go to waste.
Smaug September 19, 2019
When I roast them I usually freeze them whole; otherwise I clean and seed them before freezing, which means at least halving and stemming them. They take up a lot less space that way, and it's convenient when you use them. I used to freeze them on a baking sheet before bagging them so they wouldn't stick together, but I found that it's unnecessary. They also seem to contain a natural antifreeze- thawing them enough to chop them usually only takes a few minutes at most.
gandalf September 19, 2019
BerryBaby September 18, 2019
Here they are...there were 19 apples this year. I've made a few into Pomanders for fall, one a backyard critter enjoyed and these came off the tree! All perfect, not one blemish or worm hole and they are tasty!
Columnar apples.
BerryBaby June 22, 2019
I know I said I wasn't doing a patio garden this year. However, I realized I had planted a big container of red potatoes on St. Patrick's day that doing fantastically! Also, my patio apple tree is loaded...17 apples this year, the most ever. Normally produces 4-8 apples. It's a small tree 5'. Very excited as these apples are delicious!
Smaug June 23, 2019
Glad to here you're at it to some extent- you can't stop a gardener from gardening. Decided to give potatoes a go this year, but it being mid February there were no seed potatoes to be had. I took a long gone looking grocery store potato and planted it, but evidently the sprout inhibitors they're using nowadays are more effective than they used to be. It refused to do anything for months and largely rotted away; I finally got one little clump of green- I eventually removed it from the remaining potato, with a couple of tiny root hairs- It's now summer, and my potato plant is 1/2" tall with no really recognizable leaves. At this point it's a science project- will this thing ever actually grow?- I'd be very surprised if I actually get any potatoes out of it.
BerryBaby August 11, 2019
These are the little beauties and they are delicious!
Smaug August 11, 2019
Just adorable. My nubbin did eventually grow some roots and is now a 6" tall plant- not real impressive for mid- August, but maybe I'll get a seed potato or two out of it anyway- the season runs late here.
ktr June 3, 2019
We are just getting into gardening season here in northern Minnesota. In fact we had frost a few nights ago. We are delaying building raised garden beds for another year or two so they won’t have to be ripped out when we do some remodeling. We did get some logs seeded with 2 kinds of shiitake mushroom spores. We have not tried growing mushrooms before and won’t see any growth until next year I believe. The kids thought it was a fun project though so we’ll see how it turns out. I am hoping to get our lettuce boxes planted this upcoming weekend. I need to try a different spot for them because they burned up last year. They were on our deck and in full sun most of the day.
Our long cold winter killed a couple of my perennials so I’ll be replanting them this year as well. I’m not sure if I’m going to try to get another rhubarb plant going. There were 2 sickly looking ones here when we moved into our house. I tried moving them to a better spot and they died. We have neighbors with huge rhubarb plants so I may just keep getting rhubarb from them instead.
BerryBaby June 3, 2019
🙁Probably not. Having patio redone. I always do tomatoes in pots so I'm sure I'll have withdrawals come August.
Smaug June 3, 2019
I hope your new patio is worth it and your farmer's market merciful.
gandalf June 3, 2019
Here in East Tennessee, I have been watering my vegetable garden due to the excessive heat of late combined with lack of rain for a couple of weeks: first using conserved rainwater until that ran out, now water from the outside faucet.

I have various peppers -- Serrano and Aji Dulce -- growing in large (18"?) pots, along with some dwarf and (semi-)determinate tomatoes; "regular" tomatoes -- Tidwell German pink, red Delicious, and Long Tom -- have been in the ground for about a month. I mulched the tomatoes and peppers, both in the ground and in pots, with pine straw this past weekend. (My peppers and tomatoes were all started indoors from saved seeds.) Okra, bush bean, and cucumbers are all several inches tall. I am collecting the seed pods from some collards that have vernalized from a fall seeding last year, and I hope to get enough to plant later this Fall.

As for herbs, my marjoram has really taken off after being planted last Spring, and my thyme is going gangbusters as well. I have mint and basil in pots, and they are doing well also.

Smaug June 3, 2019
Have you used the pine mulch on tomatoes before? It would probably take a lot to matter, but pine needles are very acidic, and acidic soils can cause nutritional problems; in particular, it can tie up calcium, the lack of which causes blossom end rot. I have, in the past, had mint escape through drainage holes in the bottom of pots, I treat it with extreme caution.
gandalf June 3, 2019
Usually I recycle each summer the pine straw mulch that I use to cover my shallots and garlic when I put them in the ground over Thanksgiving weekend. I wasn't aware of a potential issue with blossom end rot being exacerbated by use of pine straw; but it might be a reason for the apparent susceptibility of my Tidwell German tomatoes to suffer blossom end rot. Usually I add calcium to the soil where I plant my tomatoes, thinking that the inherent crappy soil conditions of my garden are the reason for the blossom end rot; but perhaps the pine straw mulch is the real culprit.

Do you have any suggestions for an alternate (i.e., readily available and not too expensive) mulch to use for the tomatoes? (Presumably I can still use the recycled pine straw mulch for my peppers.)
Smaug June 3, 2019
Can't really suggest a mulch, since I live on the other side of the country- Ruth Stout in her "Gardening Without Work"-an interesting if not life changing book- suggested mulching everything very heavily with something called "salt hay" (which apparently didn't contain a lot of salt). It was apparently easy and cheap where she was- I believe upstate New York but that was long ago. Tree trimmers will often give away chipped wood, which can be good but can draw nitrogen from the soil, so you'd probably want to amend with a nitrogen source- blood meal or cottonseed meal, maybe. I plant my tomatoes in a soil based on homemade compost, which runs a bit acidic; I amend with horticultural lime (and bone meal)- the lime not only counteracts acidity but adds calcium. I think it would take a lot of pine straw breaking down to seriously acidify the soil, so if it's working you're probably OK- I'd recommend a bit of lime anyway, tomatoes prefer a slightly alkaline PH, about 6.5. So do peppers, though they don't get anything as obvious as blossom end rot- or anyway, mine haven't. Or you could go high tech and get a soil test; there are simple tests you can do yourself, though I've never had any great faith in getting a representative soil sample; amended soil particularly isn't necessarily very uniform.
gandalf June 7, 2019
Is the Ruth Stout whom you mention the person who contributed to Organic Gardening magazine back in the 1960s/1970s?
Smaug June 7, 2019
Seems likely, though she would have been pretty old by then. All I really know about her, other than reading that book a long time ago, is that she was the sister of Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe books.
gandalf June 7, 2019
I remember seeing her name in the magazine back in the 1960s; I can't remember whether she was an author of articles, or the subject of someone else's writings.

Random neural connections on my part!
Smaug June 7, 2019
Where would we be without them?
gandalf June 13, 2019
I came across this youTube video recently,, which discusses/shows the Ruth Stout method of using hay mulch as a means of gardening. It does appear to be "life changing" in terms of how one manages a vegetable garden; I may have to start mulching with hay (or straw) this Fall, after my last set of plants have succumbed to frost.

Thanks for the mention of Ruth Stout!
Smaug June 13, 2019
Well, maybe it would be if you could find a good source for clean hay, and really committed to it. At the time I read the book I was far more interested in rock gardening and obscure ornamentals than vegetables. I only got serious about vegetables about 10-15 years ago, and I do them all in pots because where I live now I'm plagued with gophers. She also did some things with heavy mulches made of newspapers- I have used that occasionally.
Lori T. June 3, 2019
My garden is a lot behind schedule this year, because up north we've had a very wet and cool spring. It's only recently become possible to venture into parts of the garden without risking boot sucking mud. Fortunately it appears I will have a bumper crop of gooseberries, red currants, and pie cherries, though. I had high hopes for the rhubarb, but some wild creature seems to have beaten me to it. My herbs are also waking up, and I've got mint, oregano, lavender and thyme all showing. The chives are developing blossoms as well, and my bunch seems ready to divide again - even though I did that last fall, fairly heavily I thought at the time.
I've got a mixed batch of leaf lettuce in a pair of window boxes, and that's coming along nicely. I still have hopes of things drying out though, so I can plant a variety of beans, squash, and more tomatoes. I've got some Cherokee Purple, Old German Striped, and a Russian pink I really need to put out- or put in larger pots. I had a fairly large population of rabbits appear in late winter, but the neighborhood foxes visited and set up house- so with a bit of luck, that will soon be under control. Don't get me wrong, I like the bunnies well enough, but I like the garden veggies just a bit more.
C S. June 3, 2019

Thanks for keeping the conversation going. I mostly have herbs in pots and one patio tomato in a pot. I am in piedmont North Carolina and we have wonderful farmer's markets where I get most of my produce. There are so many critters that come in and eat my plants I have given up the fight. My fig is prolific though and the small fruits are starting to form.

In response to your comment about cutting back the oregano - I let a lot of mine go ahead and flower as the bees and many small butterflies really seem to like them. And I have more than I can ever use in cooking anyway. I also have fennel that gets unruly but the swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on it, so I let it grow up and look messy.
Smaug June 3, 2019
True enough, if your climate is reasonably benign most of the shrubby herbs like thyme, oreganos, rosemary etc. will produce far more than you can use and are very popular with bees. Oreganos do get pretty ratty when the blooms start to fade, though, and should be cut back hard at some point to keep the plants compact.
Smaug June 3, 2019
Not my favorite time of year in the garden- the floral bounty of spring is changing to a deadhead bounty. Still a lot going on, but deadheading-particularly mature climbing roses- is not fun. The war with the gophers is coming to a head, as usual this time of year, and the local deer are getting adventurous.Things start early here in semi-coastal California. I grow pretty much all of my produce in pots; currently have a bunch of tomatoes and peppers ready to pot up into 15-gals., which is a bit of an operation, particularly since I mix up my own potting soil. Which means I have to sift a large compost pile first (which is what I should be doing now). Getting some zucchinis,, and basil should be harvestable in a week or so, but not much coming in yet- shrubby herbs are year round now. By the way, if your oregano/ marjoram is suddenly growing very rapidly, with stems lengthening, it's going into it's flowering cycle, best to harvest and dry it before it's in full flower. With water and some nitrogen it will keep producing plenty of fresh herb after cutting. I'm not doing much new this year- one new pepper called "Roulette" that is supposedly a heat free version of habanero- I take that with a grain of salt, but I've heard such great things about the flavor of habaneros, which are simply too hot for me to taste anything else, that I'm anxious to try it. My magic Piquillo pepper plant has survived yet another winter- I believe it's 5 years now, with no particular protection, and it's already producing.
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