Tomatoes


Hello, ladies and gentlemen! I’m back after a bit of a hiatus. I’ve been preoccupied with some personal issues that have taken a toll on my physical and mental energy levels for a few weeks. I’ve been reading the comments I’ve received on some older posts, and I thank you for all of your input. Never fear, I’ve been more or less keeping up with the garden, I just haven’t had the desire to sit down and report on it. No reflection on you, of course….I’m sure all five of you are waiting with bated breath to find out how my peppers are. And the answer to that hot button question is, they’re doing beautifully!

IMG_4645

I got them in the ground a couple days ago, after the 3 month long struggle to keep them alive in the P-E-A-T pots. Shhhh…..I refuse to say that four letter word again. Ones I transferred them to the large plastic cups that I had my tomatoes in they absolutely flourished. I hate to think how much bigger they’d be if I hadn’t lost so much time in the beginning.

I’ve finally started harvesting lettuce too. Yay!

IMG_4543

IMG_4544

IMG_4552

IMG_4568

IMG_4652

I’m only grabbing enough for the two of us at a time, so my harvest weight isn’t too big, but it sure is nice to walk outside and grab a handful of greens, walk inside and serve them. I made a caesar salad for myself yesterday.

IMG_4658

I’m not having such good luck with my brassicas. None of the cauliflower has started to form heads yet, and I’m assuming they won’t. I know they’re very finicky, and they need ideal conditions to grow, which we absolutely have not had this year. Massive temperature swings, tons of rain…..the leaves look beautiful, but you can’t eat the leaves! And I was so proud of myself for saving the one that flopped over on its side using a drinking straw around the stem. Watch out, MacGyver! I don’t have anything else to put in their place so I guess I’ll just leave them and see what happens. I also have small broccoli heads that are already starting to separate due to the hotter temperatures we’ve been having. And only one of the two varieties is forming heads at all. I guess I know which one to focus on next year. Packman all the way.

IMG_4649

IMG_4542

All of my tomato plants are either in the SWCs or have been given away to friends. I’m so pleased with the way they’re turning out. They were doing very well inside and didn’t seem to be screaming for more room, but once they went out they really started to take off.

IMG_4535
IMG_4538

I’ve even got a few babies on the Mortgage Lifter. I know I should probably take them off so the plant can gain some more height first but I just can’t!!!
IMG_4537

In the bulb bed, the garlic just keeps growing and growing! The plants are so beautiful I think I’m going to stick some in other parts of the yard this fall.

IMG_4548

And the onions from Dixondale Farms are still plugging along. I really need to get in there and do some weeding.

IMG_4550

The cukes have sprouted! I hope they do well, I’m anxious to try to make pickles.

IMG_4546

The squash seeds didn’t take very long at all to germinate. I had started some inside a couple weeks ahead of the direct sown seeds but the seeds quickly outgrew the starts. I don’t think I was too late in direct planting so I’m just going to stick with those. I had row covers over everything because I had read that it was a good approach to keeping the squash bugs away for as long as possible. I read to only remove the covers for a brief period while the flowers are in bloom to let the bees have a go at them, and then to cover them right back up. However, with the rain we’ve had I think the row covers might be doing more harm than good. Is this Powdery Mildew?

IMG_4642

IMG_4644

It doesn’t scrape off, and I don’t see the spots I had last year when it devastated my crop. But it does have that powdery look, although it seems to be starting on the veins. I’m really not sure.

I’ll have to come back for a second post later tonight to show off some flea market finds!

I hope everyone is well and enjoying a plentiful harvest. 🙂

I’m not going to use peat pots anymore. They dry out so quickly that I keep losing plants from lack of water, even though I check them every day and water accordingly. Within 24 hours my peat potted plants went from looking okay to looking dead. Most of them sprung back to life overnight but one pepper and one eggplant are beyond hope.

p5020117

Everything I have grown in peat pots has had one problem or another. But everything that went into plastic containers is great. This makes an even stronger case for getting block makers next year. The tomatoes in the plastic cups are going like gangbusters!

p5020120

Outside, the peas I planted last weekend have all sprouted and are looking pretty strong so far.

Kentucky Blue pole beans and Golden Rocky Wax beans

Kentucky Blue pole beans and Golden Rocky Wax beans

Provider bush bean

Provider bush bean

And some other updates…

Sugar Snap peas and Harmony spinach

Sugar Snap peas and Harmony spinach

Sweet Salad carrots

Sweet Salad carrots

Clear Dawn and Dakota Tears onions (the newly planted onions don't look too great but I think they need more time to establish themselves)

Clear Dawn and Dakota Tears onions (the newly planted onions don't look too great but I think they need more time to establish themselves)

Valmaine lettuce

Valmaine lettuce

Packman broccoli

Packman broccoli

Snow Crown cauliflower

Snow Crown cauliflower

Marvin checking out the camera

Marvin checking out the camera

Boy, are my peppers looking sickly or what? I’m baffled.

img_4275

img_4277

img_4278

Luckily, they’re the only plants that seem to be struggling. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, but last night I raised the grow lights to at least 1″ above all of my tomatoes. This morning when I was leaving for work I walked past them and did a double-take. They were all touching the lights! And when I came home from work tonight, they were growing inside the lights! I think the warm (read: HOT) temperatures outside this weekend translated into not-as-cold temps in the basement where the plants are. It must have been enough to give them a little growth spurt. Amazing.

img_4271

img_4273

img_4274

I’ve got some little zucchini and yellow squash plants growing inside now, and cukes have just broken the surface. Those will go out in a couple weeks.

img_4279

Outside things are really hopping too. We had very warm temps this weekend, 85 on Saturday and 88 on Sunday. It really set things in motion for some of the slower plants. I hope everything will stay happy until it cools down again later this week. I know prolonged heat wouldn’t be good for the lettuce and spinach. But I think the sun has warmed up the soil temperature so that the plants could thrive.

Snap Peas

Snap Peas

Harmony spinach

Harmony spinach

Sugar Snax carrots

Sugar Snax carrots

Valmaine (I think) lettuce

Valmaine (I think) lettuce

Packman broccoli (the new growth looks really good)

Packman broccoli (the new growth looks really good)

Bed 1 (and Calvin)

Bed 1 (and Calvin)

Bed 2 (and Calvin)

Bed 2 (and Calvin)

I got my Dixondale Farms long storage onion sample pack on Friday. They estimate approximately 20 plants of each of three varieties. Listen to this…I got 60 Copra, 60 Red Zeppelin, and 40 Sterling plants! I split them up into three groups, gave a third to a coworker, mailed a third to my cousin, and still had enough to fill a 4X4 bed with 4 per square, plus two empty squares in another bed. And they cost $10.50 including shipping!

img_4266

Well okay, before I start getting into the problems, let’s look at some things that are going well.

Let’s start outside, shall we?

It was a very foggy evening tonight…the yard looked so serene. Except for the PVC obstacle course!

img_4174

On Saturday I planted more seeds: a second round of spinach (2 varieties), a second round of lettuce (4 varieties), a second round of carrots (first round sprouting now), and leeks (already sprouting). I planted the second round of broccoli and cauliflower plants as well.

The peas are starting to send out their tendrils! It won’t be long now before they’re climbing the trellis.

img_4185

The spinach is progressing slowly, but I do see some growth from day to day.

img_4198

The garlic is growing like gangbusters! I think there has been a burst of activity since I hit it with some seaweed fertilizer last week. The forsythia bloomed overnight as well.

img_4201

Not everything looks so good though…..

…..am I the only person in the world whose lettuce isn’t showing any sign of growth after surfacing two weeks go? I mean, all four varieties…nothing!

img_4188

And the cauliflower has some red leaves. After some reading I think this is a boron deficiency. Here is one of the affected Cassius plants:

img_4189

This started happening inside to both cauliflower and broccoli. I doused the younger seedlings with seaweed fertilizer before it started affecting them and I think it might have done the trick. Here is a younger Snow Crown cauliflower:

img_4190

Has this happened to anyone else? The plants are still strong. I hope the newer growth will look healthier and that this won’t affect the heads when/if they develop.

Let’s venture into the basement….

img_4215

img_4216

Here is one of 3 Orient Express eggplants that germinated:

img_4205

The tomatoes are all looking really good, if a little short. I’m keeping the lights so close on them, I think they’re building up their stems and spreading out their leaves instead of growing leggy. I’m really pleased with the stockiness of the plants so far.

Sungold:

img_4213

Brandywine:

img_4214

Now here’s the 64K question. What is happening with my pepper plants? They are strong and healthy, and yet they’re developing purple leaves!

Here’s an unaffected Marconi:

img_4207

But then here’s a California:

img_4210

And a Jimmy Nardello:

img_4212

See the veiny purple sections on some of the leaves? They are much more purple than the pictures show…..Wordpress sure does desaturate the hell out of pictures. They look so nice before I upload them. Anyway, there are a few more affected plants as well. It doesn’t seem to be bothering the plants, I just can’t figure out what it is! I read one website that said not to put peppers on a heat mat, which they are, but another site said to keep them warm. One site said it could be a phosphorus deficiency and another site said it’s stress and it happens sometimes but it’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure if I dig around the internet long enough I’ll find someone who thinks aliens sneak in during the night and inject the leaves with a purple radioactive dye. Can anyone give me any insight? I don’t want to blindly fertilize without knowing for sure that they need it for fear that I’ll overfertilize them and stress them even more.

Ah well, as the garden turns….