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 🙂

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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!).

Seed starting time!

I’m a bit behind with my indoor seed starting this year because it took me a bit longer than I expected to find the seeds I wanted.  I’ve learned that it pays to do a bit of research to find varieties that are easy to grow, unique, or do well in small spaces. I probably could have ordered from a catalogue, but in the end, I found what I was looking for with a trip to Richie’s Seed and Feed.  I also picked up a couple packets of seeds at the Seedy Saturday event back in early March.

Last year I had more seedlings that I knew what to do with and ended up giving a bunch away. This year, I tried to exercise some restraint, and planted about half a tray of seeds.  I also only started things that absolutely need to be started indoors (in past years I started basil and other veggies such as zucchini from seed, but clearly its much easier to just direct sow whenever its an option).

It doesn’t seem like much now compared to previous years, but I have to remind myself that once I transplant the seedlings into larger pots, they will take up a lot more room!

Here’s a picture of my baby seedlings, after 9 days.

From left to right:

  • 4 Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry (McKenzie) – Brian’s pick, and probably one of the plants I am most excited about so far.
  • 6 mini bell peppers (McKenzie) – I saved just the yellow and orange pepper seeds from last year, since they were the crispest and sweetest. We will have to see how they turn out this year. I found that we had much more success with these smaller peppers, given our shorter growing season.  This variety still apparently takes 70-90 days to maturity though.
  • 6 hot pepper super chili – Last year we planted a couple seeds from a plant we bought in 2010, and they grew amazingly.  They are too hot for our taste, other than to spice chilis or salsa, but are very ornamental and prolific.
  • 8 Tomato Tumbler F1 Hybrid (trailing) (McKenzie) – Had great success with these cherry tomatoes last year. They are determinate plants,so they didn’t get too out of control which is great given that we have a smaller veggie garden.  They produced explode in your mouth tomatoes by the handful, so I decided that they were worth repeating.  They mature in only 55 days, but they were the priciest seeds I bought ($3.89 for 8 seeds), especially since you can’t save the seeds from hybrid plants for next year.
  • 6 Black Cherry Tomato (McFayden) – These are a heirloom variety I wanted to try after doing some research.  I am excited to see how the color turns out, and although this is an indeterminate variety, the packet says they should only grow to about 60 cm.  We’ll see.  Maybe in a future blog I will write about the various tomato varieties I am excited about trying in years to come.
  • 6 Morning Glory Heavenly Blue (McKenzie) – I started these indoors for earlier blooms as advised on the package.  However, they are already quite large so perhaps this was a mistake! I havent grown morning glories before, but decided to give them a try since the moonflowers I grew last year weren’t quite as tall and viney as I was hoping.

Here’s a picture of the shelving unit I have set up in the window.  The seedlings are on a box so that they are right up against the florescent light that is mounted on the bottom of the shelf.  I used this light last year to prevent leggy seedlings.  Not sure how well it works, but it was pretty cheap and easy to set up.