Mid-August Harvest – Veggie Update Aug 21

Our gardens have continued to be productive over the last couple weeks.  The latest things that are ready to eat are the orange mini bell peppers and the scarlett runner beans growing up the pillars of our front porch. We also harvested our first cucumber (hopefully we get a few more!).  We are still getting a lot of tomatoes, in particular the black cherry tomatoes, and a lot of ground cherries. Brian put together a veggie feta salad with the ripe tomatoes, cucumber and mini peppers.  Below are some photos of the latest veggies to ripen and Brian’s salad.

On a less positive note, I think that the red tomato cherries I was growing in pots are finally dead.  They have been battling what seems to be a fungal disease and they have officially lost.  According to this article on possible causes of tomato wilt and death I think they suffered from vascular wilt. Oh well, we planted so many tomatoes that I think we can spare three plants!  Here’s picture of one of the unhappy tomato plants.

I also finally got around to planting some cool season crops to harvest in the fall.  I am probably at least a couple weeks late since I think we get our first frost October 5, but I still planted buttercrunch lettuce, snowball turnips and arugula anyways (thanks Patricia for the arugula seeds!).  We left Mika alone in the backyard that same day, and she made quick work of digging up my freshly planted garden.  So the following day I replanted and surrounded that part of the garden bed with chicken wire. Frustrating but she’s been pretty good this year so hard to complain too much. Below is a picture of the back garden and the chicken wire protection.

Speaking of the back garden, we have lots of kale that is ready to eat.  I’ve never cooked with it before, so if anyone has any good recipe ideas, let me know!

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Tomato Overload! – Veggie Update Aug 11

Well, its finally that time of year where we don’t really need to buy produce at the grocery store… we’ve got more than enough veggies to make salads and for side dishes.  We have an abundance of tomatoes, and have been testing out a few recipes since we have so many (will post some recipes soon) as well as giving them away.  We’ve been eating the red cherry tomatoes for about a month now and the black cherry tomatoes are definitely ripe as of last week.  Can’t wait until the yellow ones are ripe so that we can have a rainbow of tomatoes on our salads 🙂

The tomato plants were a bit out of control, so last weekend Brian helped me to stake up the plants in my garden.  The red cherry tomatoes are only about 4 feet, but the black cherry and yellow cherry tomatoes are definitely reaching 6 feet and were totally out of control.  The staking system we came up with is  based on the stake and weave method I saw in this you tube video, but since we didn’t have super thick stakes we ended up putting the stakes closer together and stablizing the stakes by attaching them to the fence and tying them to the ground.  They’ve held up pretty good so far, given that we’ve had a lot of rain storms this past week. Here are some tomato pictures, and some pictures of my garden with the new staking system.

Before staking..

After!

Here are a few other pictures of the veggie gardens and the veggies we’ve harvested in the last couple of weeks.  We’ve been getting quite a few purple beans and ground cherries, and our first cucumber is just starting to get big. It also looks like its time to start eating the kale and swiss chard 🙂

Zucchini! (Veggie update – July 15)

This week we harvested the first zucchini of the season! It was pretty big and starting to turn green, so we figured it was ready to eat.  It was delicious – we cooked it in a stir fry and ate some raw.

We also tasted our first ground cherries.  They are pretty small right now when you take them out of their husks, but sweet and delicious just like candy:). And we now have some purple beans which are also quite good.  They are smaller than the scarlet runner beans and the yellow wax beans we had last year, but the color is amazing. They weren’t as prolific as most beans I’ve planted, so might need to plant a fall crop somewhere else in the yard.

And in other gardening news, the tomatoes are starting to ripen with all the 30 degree+ weather we’ve been having and the pepper plants are starting to produce peppers.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing is that Brian decided to build a protective cage around his rubarb plant, because Mika has stepped on it a few times.  The size of the cage is the amusing part… He really thinks it is going to grow to that size this season.  I think it might take a few seasons to get to that point though ;)Oh well, we can use the cage to hold extra leaves and compost this fall 🙂

Here are some pics from this week. If you click on the pictures you should be able to view them in a larger size as part of a slide show.

Veggie update – July 7

So its been a while since I’ve last posted anything.  We were away for a couple weeks and we spent the previous weekends vacation planning instead of gardening:)

Our gardens have exploded in the last few weeks.  At least it felt like it when we walked into the backyard when we got home from our vacation.  I unfortunately only have one pic taken right before we left for vacation.  It is a pic of my garden.  Here’s a before shot and some after shots:

Before

After

The tomatoes grew a few feet, and the tallest on opposite side of the fence are probably between 4 and 5 feet. Before we left my tomatoes were looking kinda small and pathetic compared to Brian’s because I planted them quite deep, but they seem to have caught up.  Some of the turnips in my garden are also ready to eat, and the purple green beans are just starting to flower.

 

Brian’s veggies have also grown exponentially – the yellow zucchini in particular.  Brian’s getting some zucchinis in his garden already.  His tomatoes, ground cherries, cucumbers and peas are also looking good.  We now have some snap peas that are ready to eat in Brian’s garden and the back garden, and have been munching on those.   Here are some pictures of his garden:

 

In the back garden we have a lot of lettuce and kale.   I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the arugula early in June. We had a lot of it, but either we weren’t eating it quickly enough or it got too hot, because it went to seed before we left in mid June.  The spinach did poorly again this year.  Just a few small leaves and then it went to seed.  Disappointing since it was planted quite early and we did a good job of watering it this year.  Maybe its just too hot in Ottawa for it, or we need to find some super star variety to try.  Before we left I ripped out what was left and planted more lettuce instead.  The lettuce tastes quite good and we’ve already made a few salads with it. Here’s a pic:

 

Here are some photos of the potted plants on our patio.  The tomatoes have only a bit of damage from bugs, and they seem to be doing quite well.  Maybe a little wilty from the heat (hopefully nothing more serious).  We have tomatoes, peppers and ground cherries starting to form, and we really want them to ripen soon so that we can try them.  The ground cherries in particular turned out to be a good potted plant.  Relatively compact and doesn’t need support, and the fruit are interesting to look at.  Definitely something we will have to plant again next year.  I have to admit that Brian’s impulse buy turned out quite well…

 

And last but not least, we owe a big thank you to Patricia and Lars for looking after things while we were away! There were a couple heat waves while we were gone, and the plants definitely wouldn’t be looking so great without their help!

 

Here’s one last picture of all three gardens:)

oh no, tomato bugs!

So the first pest has struck! Tiny holes have started to appear in some of the tomato leaves, and the leaves of the eggplant and ground cherries as well.  I noticed that there are tiny black bugs on the plants that jump/fly away when I get close.  I did some googling, and I think they might be flea beetles.

Here are some pictures:

I found a homemade insect repellant recipe online, and I mixed it up tonight.  Here’s the recipe I followed:

1 med onion, diced up very small.
6 cloves of garlic
1 tbs of hot pepper flakes or as much as you want to use
1 tbs of dish liquid. not antibacterial
1 qt. of water

Let it sit over night. 24 hrs is better. Strain pour into a spray bottle. You can buy them at the dollar tree. Soak the leaves early in the morning or very late at night. You have to reapply after watering or rain.

I got the recipe from the I dig my garden forum. Someone else was having a similar issue, and this recipe was recommended.  I found a few other recipes elsewhere, but I liked this one because it combined a lot of the recommended ingredients (onions, garlic, hot pepper).  I actually added another teaspoon cayenne pepper for good measure. I will let you know how it works out.  I’m probably going to have to reapply many times, because we are still watering with the overhead sprinkler (waiting for seedlings to come up).

Article on Ground Cherries

Brian randomly picked out some ‘Aunt Molly Ground Cherry’ seeds while we were at the garden centre a while back, and they seem to be doing quite well.  It turns out that they are well adapted to our climate, having originated in Poland.  This article on the Canadian Gardening website had some good tips on growing ground cherries, so thought I would link to it. Looking forward to tasting this unique plant 🙂

Here’s a picture of one of Brian’s ground cherry seedlings, planted last weekend.

Veggie Update – May 22

So the veggie gardens are planted!!!

Last weekend we planted out the tomato, ground cherry and yellow zuchini plants we started from seed, and this weekend we planted the Black Beauty Eggplants. We also planted the last few seeds (cucumber, Purple Peacock Beans and green zucchini).  Here’s some photos of the three garden beds.

My garden

I planted my tomatoes pretty low in the ground, so they look pretty scrawny right now.  The two rows down the middle are turnips (‘early snowball’ variety, a white turnip) and there’s a Savoy King cabbage at one end and a Mamoth Red Rock cabbage at the other end.  By the fence, there’s the two Black Beauty Eggplants.  I”m still waiting for the cucumbers to come up in the centre, and purple peacock beans to come up at the two corners nearest the fence.

 

Brian’s garden

Brian’s garden is looking great, in particular his tomatoes and ground cherries. I buried my tomatoes deep, and I’m regretting not planting them higher like Brian did.  The ground cherries also look super healthy.  He also has cabbages at one end of the garden, and peas in the centre.  I think he also planted tomatoes.

 

Back garden

The back garden was seeded back in April, and is filling in quite nicely, in particular the Astro Arugula and Buttercrunch Lettuce.  The sugar snap peas are also growing well, and are almost tall enough to start training up the fence.

Here’s a picture of all three gardens, and a link to a previous post that has the layout for each of the gardens.

 

It may have been a bit premature to plant the tomatoes, because we had a couple nights that went down to 4 or 5 degrees, and then then the temperature soared above 30 this past weekend. The tomatoes that look a little worse for wear are the yellow cherry tomatoes, which because they were started a few weeks later, weren’t quite hardened off yet but we were so eager we planted them anyways (we wanted to plant all the tomatoes into the gardens at the same time). They got a bit sunburned, as per the pics below.

 

Here’s what’s left in terms of seedlings we started.  A couple yellow cherry tomatoes, a black cherry tomato, and a ground cherry. The peppers (super chilis and yellow mini bells) are also still in the process of being hardened off.

 

 

Most of the left over tomato seedlings have already been planted into pots.  I decided that to save money, I would grow tomatoes in the planters instead of pricey annuals (this is also how I justified buying a whole bunch of perennials for my new garden – more on that in an upcoming post!).  Plus tomatoes are one of the most satisfying things to grow 🙂 Not giving up completely on the ornamental aspect, I planted some marigolds in the planters as well (I got a big flat for $10 at Costco). Marigolds are also supposed to be great for deterring pests, and apparently like the same soil conditions as tomatoes.  And because that didn’t seem like enough, I also sprinkled some basil seeds 😛 I sprinkled sweet basil in the three smaller pots, and Genovese basil in the larger wooden looking pots.  The sweet basil grew super well in the garden, so I’m hoping it also turns out well in the pots.  And Genovese basil is supposed to be the best for making pesto, so I’m also excited to see how it turns out. In the three smaller pots, there’s a red F1 tumbler tomato. In the larger wooden looking pots, there’s one tomato of each variety: black cherry, yellow cherry, and red F1 tumbler tomato.  I think it will be fascinating to see how much everything grows over the summer.  I’m worried some of the tomatoes might get quite large, so I put bricks in the bottoms of the pots! I also need to buy more cages or start training the tomatoes up stakes! Photos below:)

Soon I will probably be planting the peppers and what’s left of the tomatoes into free plastic containers I got at Loblaws, (unless I give them away first!).