Friday, July 8, 2016

Garden Update - July

Because of the weather and other things, the garden got in late this year, so it is time for a quick update. I have two plots in the community garden, one with raised beds and one planted in-ground. The raised bed garden is a cinch to maintain with its beautiful soil that is easy to weed and great for most plants. The in-ground garden requires more work prepping and weeding, which I try to minimize with plastic mulches. I always wish I had space for more varieties, but I do have 32 tomato plants and 31 pepper plants between the two plots.

In the raised bed garden, I have two 4x6 foot (1.2x1.8 m) beds with an 8 inch (20 cm) depth. The tomatoes are planted around the outside east edge of the beds so they don't shade out other plants. The tomatoes are trained up a trellis cord, pinched to a single leader, and planted 1 per square foot. This spacing actually does work quite well.


So, going counter-clockwise around the beds, the tomatoes planted on the end this year are Jaune Flamme. This will be my third year growing these and they are doing quite well and will probably be my first tomatoes.

Next are a couple of Honey Drop tomatoes, new this year for me. These are not the Russian variety by the same name which are pear shaped, they are a gold colored sport of a pink grape tomato found on a farm in Chesterfield, Massachusetts. The flavor is supposed to be very good and they won a taste test when Fedco was looking to add a new yellow cherry to their catalog.

Of course, I have Juliet in the garden. I did a good job starting these but in their exuberance they singed their growing tips on the grow lights while we were out of town. As a result, they had to continue their growth from suckers, which is OK because they sucker like crazy, but it set them back. Juliet is usually the first tomato from my garden but not this year.

Another new tomato for me is Bing, a red cherry from High Mowing Seeds, and not the variety called Bing Cherry. This is supposed to be a 1 inch (2-3 cm) red cherry tomato with excellent flavor. The plants are exuberant, to say the least, and have the tallest vines of all the varieties in the garden (half way up the trellis at the end of June).

Finally, the Sweet Treats are at the end and are doing well. This is the second (third?) year for these in the garden and they are an excellent pink colored large cherry with a beautiful matte finish on their skins. Flavor is excellent and they don't crack. They are now setting large trusses of fruit (10-15 per truss), and will continue that all season up to frost.

In the in-ground garden are a couple of the new-to-me Black Beauty tomatoes (an open-pollinated variety from Baker Creek) being pole-trained. The plants are very sturdy and have a beautiful purplish stem. Fruits are slicer size and are supposed to be blue-black with a deep red interior and excellent flavor. Hope I get a few.

Another new tomato in the garden is Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye, a creation of Brad Gates at Wild Boar Farms. It is a slicer that produces large pink and green striped tomatoes. I was looking to add another slicer to my collection of  cherry tomatoes (gotta have my BLTs) and this was it. Plants are looking good and very vigorous. I'm hopeful (why else would I garden).

Among the peppers, the Hungarian Paprika are setting fruit. I have three healthy plants and a runt behind the volunteer cilantro. Hope I get enough to make a batch of paprika this year.

The Lemon Drop chilies are doing very well this year, much better than last year, and since this photo now are starting to form some flower buds. Maybe I will get to taste one this year.

I wanted to try growing a "Shepherd" pepper, the type used to make pimenta moida, but all I could find was a variety called Super Shepherd. Seeds started OK but I manged to kill all but these two. They are doing fine and have set these upright fruit. My backup up was to plant a lot of Carmen, a sweet red pepper that I have great success with. This year I used an entire pack of seed and did not get a single seed to even germinate.

At least it was a good garlic year and I think it is also going to be a good onion year. The Copra yellow onions above are starting to form bulbs but the foliage is still upright and looking good. There is a tiny amount of thrip damage on some of them so I need to spray some pyrethrin.

The Red Wing onions are also looking good but you do not yet see evidence of bulbing. I am not worried because the red onions take 2-4 weeks longer than yellow onions to mature.

I bought the Copra and Red Wing plants from Dixondale but the Takrima leeks I grew from seed. They took a looong time to germinate and I thought it was an expensive bust, but they did germinate and produce healthy seedlings. A few of the plants in the background are almost an inch in diameter. Leeks are not day-length sensitive so these will continue to grow for 2-3 more months. I like the bluish color of their foliage.

A new beet this year is Paonazza D'Egitto, a red Italian heirloom with a slightly flattened shape. They germinated very well, unlike the Shiraz beets, and are growing nicely, with beautiful foliage. A few of these will be in the Harvest Monday report.

The Blue Wind broccoli is starting to form heads. Since this photo, with the hot, dry weather, the heads are starting to open up. I already cut two small heads which will be in the Harvest Monday report. Given their size, it is hardly worth the effort and space to grow these.

Maybe I will just concentrate on growing plants like Spigariello liscia, where you eat the leaves. I am trying this variety this year and they look good.  I am still a little vague on how you harvest these. I guess I will just clip away and see how they grow.


  1. Re the Lemon Drop chillis: I think this is the same as the Aji Limon which I grow. They are always the last to produce mature fruit, but worth the wait.

  2. Your tomato and pepper plants are looking good. I love how big the peppers are on the Hungarian Paprika in relation to the plants. And your onions are swelling nicely.

    I've had trouble with spring planted broccoli as well, maybe a fall planting would do better. I think Daphne mentioned that broccoli leaves were one of her favorite greens.

  3. The Spigariello should start forming a small "head" and side shoots at some point, which you cut when they look like raab, or just harvest the leaves as you would kale. It's really all about the leaves and not the heads. Too bad about the broccoli, it may have stunted if it didn't get adequate water when the weather got hot. The rest of your veggies sure look great!

  4. Your garden is looking great! That's too bad about he broccoli - but maybe you'll get an abundance of side shoots. The Arcadia I grew last year gave me probably 6x the quantity of broccoli from the side shoot production vs the main heads, which were all on the small side. And the bonus was that the side shoots produced over several months so it was a nice, steady harvest over a long period.

    I'm growing a few of the same varieties including Lemon Drop peppers. After hearing so much about their flavour, I really hope they end up maturing in time.

  5. I definitely agree on the broccoli, I certainly haven't had any plants produce enough for the amount of space they take up. So no more for me after this season.

    Everything looks so good. I love the picture where I can see more of your setup, you have a great spot!

  6. My broccoli did not like our hotter than usual spring weather but I did manage to get enough to eat. I need to learn about the Spigariello too, since I am growing it this year. It's looking good, but no signs of any head or side shoots, just lots of leaves with a little curl to them. It's pretty plant for sure.


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