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cucumber.. no wait... muskmelon...

So I completely don't have the time/energy to keep my crop list up to date, but this year I planted cucumbers. Or I thought I planted cucumbers. It turns out they are armenian cucumbers which are actually a particularly cucumbery variety of muskmelon. Many people like them but I am slightly weirded out by the density of the flesh and the sort of zucchini-like texture and flavor.

Fortunately my landlady says she's fond of armenian cukes so she took the giant cuke I brought her to make a cucumber salad of and perhaps I will learn to love them once I know what sorts of flavors to pair them with. They aren't untasty, it's just they were a bit surprising.

Tomato: Late blight?

I just pulled this from my "patio" tomato plant (which is actually in-ground). I'm suspecting late blight. It poured rain all of last week.

So, for those with more experience...is this late blight?

Untitled

Harvest time!

I harvested two of my Cherokee Purple tomatoes today and turned one of them into a delectable tomato sandwich. It was divine.

I've also harvested about forty of the Sweet 100 tomatoes and roasted them. I'm hoping to turn them into a small amount of tomato sauce. For two people, that should be plenty.

THINGS

My dill plant died about a month ago. I tried to keep it going but the poor guy had just had enough.

The sage, mint, thyme and chives are all fine. Sage and mint have gotten kinda down once or twice but perked up with a bit of care.

The supermarket basil plant I've been trying to keep alive since my housemate brought it home seems to be coming back from the dead.

Oh, and I buried some potatoes a while ago. No idea how I'll tell whether they're growing or not.

My garden survived the Hail Storm!

We had a wicked hail storm here this past Thursday. I've lived in this area for about 25 years and never saw anything like this.

Hail in the herb garden

Pouring hail

I had recently planted my gardens but miraculously the only damage was to my Early Girl tomato plant and I don't believe it was a mortal wound. I still have 2 strong branches so I'm hopeful that the plant will soldier on. Also sorta amazed that my baby nasturtiums in my herb garden survived unscathed.

My interests

Chickpeas, Lentils, All vegetables, Apricot, Grapefruit, Peach, Cantelope, Oats.

Eep! Need advice - seeds got rained on

Hi there,

I was forgetful and left a bunch of bulbs and a few seeds outside through a major rainstorm we just had. They are all soaked! They were not ready to be planted as the direct sow was in June for our hardiness area - is there anything that can be done?

Thanks,

~Genevieve

Composting

I started a compost pile almost a year ago when I got the house. The county gives out these plastic rings to compost inside of (county green initiatives to save the bay include getting people to compost and use that instead of inorganic fertilizer). I got two because with the size of my yard, the first was quickly filled. Except compost shrinks. So for most of this time, I've had two not very large piles. I have also not gotten any good compost from them. It's all wet leafy bits and matted grass.

Finally, last week I decided to get serious. I bought a 20" long thermometer to measure the temperature inside. It arrived yesterday (Saturday). Meanwhile, on Thursday my other half moved one bin a few feet it get it out of the way of a trench he was digging. So I measured that one, and it was 115°F/46°C (the other was 80°F/25°C). So, turning means rebuilding, not just moving it around a bit when I add stuff? Oh.

The books I have say larger piles get hotter, so yesterday I decided I must be shooting myself in the foot by having two small piles. I combined them. Today, it measured in at 140°F/60°C!

Here's how big it is now:

And here's the thermometer:

rename account?

Hi! I just put in my garden for this year and I'm ready to enter it in Growstuff, but I've realized that I'd like to link my Growstuff account to my worksafe ID rather than my, uh, non-worksafe internet handle. Is there a way to rename my account, or should I just get a new account and start clean? (I'm considering getting a paid account, if that helps, but would want to link it to the worksafe name.)

Tomatoes!

I have tiny little tomatoes growing right now! They're the size of my pinky nail, but they're growing! I will soon have purple tomatoes to eat!

I have a lemon about the size of my thumbnail growing as well and lots of flowers. If I'm lucky, I'll have lots of lemons this summer.

Finally planting things!

When I bought the house last year, the date I took ownership was pushed back about a month due to paperwork red tape. Consequently, everything died waiting for transplant from little seedling cups to big dirt.

Over the winter, my back yard was driven over by a large truck when the old shed was demolished and replaced. In the barren spot that used to be lawn / clover / violets, I've been using the garden fork to loosen the soil, then putting down newspaper, soil, and compost. So far, I've got tomatoes, potatoes, and some onions planted. I have seeds for the three sisters (corn, pole beans, and squash), and seedlings for squash, zucchini, eggplant, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

I see ratatouille in the future.

I also just picked up seeds for Romanesco broccoli, cabbage, and beets, but those will be fall crops in my region.

The squash seeds I have are kind of a mystery. There's a pack of butternut and a container in which I put seeds from...something. It was either more butternut or acorn squash. I don't think it was pumpkin.

A cement mixing tray I filled with dirt and compost last year for the ill-fated seedlings will be getting chocolate mint. The driveway is bordered in spearmint already. I'm also looking at putting two basils with the tomatoes. I have seeds for Genovese and Greek Yevani.

wasabi & horseradish in containers

I've been growing horseradish in a container for about 7 or 8 years now (it especially loves being in the self-watering container). I've been growing wasabi in a (non-self-watering) container for 2 years. Both do just fine -- surviving thru' the winter, putting out a fantastic amount of leaves every year -- except where one thing is concerned: actually producing roots that are big enough to be used for cooking. On the horseradish i get super skinny roots that don't leave much leftover after peeling, and the wasabi hasn't put out any usable roots at all.

Any suggestions? I'm thinking that the 1st obvious thing to try is changing the dirt, but i'm not sure what sort of change to make.

Sprouts!

There are sprouts! The mustard spinach is starting to appear in The Nursery. The red kale, wild arugula, and marjoram are still pending, but I'm very pleased to have some sort of seedling action going on.

Killer apps

Tomatoes are "the thing" in my summer garden - they're what I plan everything else around, they're what gets me motivated to plant. Sure, I also grow and enjoy squash, eggplant, and other stuff, but tomatoes are my killer app, the thing that keeps me gardening when I'm blah and unmotivated and in the middle of a remodel and don't want to do anything.

Garlic is the motivator crop of my fall planting. Hardneck garlic with huge cloves and a flavor you can't get at the store.

What are yours?

Garden-level photos

Currently it appears I can only add planting-level photos. My garden is so small one photo covers the entire thing, so I'd be posting the same photo for each planting.

Would it be possible to get photos at the garden level?

New Feature/UX: Add "Plant something" to planting summary page

I've just planted my (tiny, maybe ill-fated, but still mine) container garden on my balcony.

So I click "Plant" on the home page, fill in the resulting form, and am presented with a nice summary of the crop I just planted.

The problem is that I have 6 different crops to log/plant. It's not entirely clear how to do this, so I've been going to Your Stuff > Plantings > Plant something button, which is a minor pain.

It would be very helpful if the "planted crop summary" page included a "Plant something" button right there so I can immediately add my next crop without having to jump through so many menus.

spring 2014 seed-starting

On 3/16 (sun.) i tried starting some hot pepper seeds:
- Big Jim @ 5
- fish pepper @ 2

This past weekend i saw that 1 of the big Jim had sprouted! Amazing, since this is a pepper the spouse bought dehydrated at the farmers market, so to have one of them sprout is amazing. Very interested to see if it grows at all, if it produces fruit, if the fruit grows true to type, et cetera.

Neither of the fish peppers sprouted. I've had problems with seeds from this company germinating. I just threw down the last 7 seeds in to see if anything happens. Really frustrated trying to get a fish pepper plant going here. We'll see what happens. If nothing germinates, i guess i'll try to get to the Seattle Tilth fair this year and just buy a plant.

Today (4/4 | fri.) i began starting some tomatoes:
- black cherry (my favorite / the most successful of the tomatoes i've grown -- saved these seeds myself) @ 4
- ditmarsher @ 4
- hahms gelbe @ 4

Hope any of these germinate. Seed-starting is still a new adventure for me and it doesn't always go terribly well, which leaves me frustrated and sad.

Next i need to look at what seeds i want to sow directly in their pot. I might just do that with the herbs and onions. Then to decide what other veggies i'm going to grow this year -- i think edamame for sure, for one thing.

Hooray, spring!!

Starting to plant; and rearranging

Shifted the mini greenhouse against the fence earlier in the week; today stacked up some paving slabs by the back door (where greenhouse previously was) and put some herb pots on them. P requests most-used herbs (especially winter herbs) to go here so I shall have to think about this and maybe plant some smaller pots this year for over-wintering.

Also scattered some rocket seed in gaps in the beds, and planted 3 pots of basil in the greenhouse.

Discovery day in the garden

The invasive, sunlight blocking, and previously thought by me to be a fruitless wonder of a passionflower vine that my neighbours have inflicted on the fence and my tiny garden, turns out to be Passiflora caerulea. I was going to write to next door's landlord and ask them to replace it with something less invasive (I pull shoots out of my garden every weekend) but now that it's possibly supplying food, I might hold off. Paghat says they can be made into a nice-ish relish but doesn't give any recipes. Anyone ever done that with this fruit? I'm having a bit of a mammal 'bright red equals poison' moment and not sure if I want to try it.

I've put a picture up here http://lolapomona.tumblr.com/post/77564818960/passiflora-caerulea-blue-passionflower-fruit

Ready or not, here I come

Due to the all the snow and cold we've had this winter (comparatively, for this region), I've been lax about prepping for the coming growing season. But I had some time (and containers) so I started wintersowing a bunch of seeds.

8 wintersown containers

We'll see how they do. One of the reasons why I've been hesitant to start the wintersowing as early as previous years is because this winter has been erratic. We've had subzero wind chills... and then the next week is high 40s/low 50s. I normally wintersow my seeds in order (cool weather crop first, hot loving crop last) for this very reason but that spread is just too much. Today we're in the mid-60s! Last week at this time, I had over a foot of snow blocking my front door.

I have some snow peas I want to plant but I need to figure out how to handle that. My backyard is still covered with snow (though maybe for not much longer given how warm it is today) and the ground is hard as a rock right now. I normally sow the snow peas directly but at this rate, it might be mid- to late March before the ground warms up enough that I can work the soil. Maybe I should start them in pots first?

February harvest!

All of you Australians are making me jealous again, so I decided that if life gives you a Minnesota winter, you make maple syrup, and tapped the big sugar maple out front.

I put one tap in last Friday afternoon - right after what will hopefully be our last big snow - and have gotten about eight gallons of sap so far. I'm aiming for 10 gallons, which if all goes well, will boil down to about a quart of syrup. (I'm not expecting all to go well.)

One thing I didn't quite expect about this is how very aware of the weather it has made me. Regular gardening gives me a reason to be aware of the weather on a larger scale - have we had enough rain this week or too much rain, will there be a late frost or an early on - but maple sugaring is so much more sensitive. Sap flow will double or quadruple based on slight shifts in temperature and sunlight, and since I'm collecting in one-gallon jugs, that's the difference between a new jug every other day and a new jug every six hours. Meanwhile, the sap has to be kept at refrigerator temperatures or below, and since I'm storing it on the porch, that means I have to be very aware of overnight lows - is it goin to get cool enough to re-freeze everything, or will I have to add more ice in the moring? It is going to get cold enough to freeze the sap, so that I can cold separate in the morning and save some boiling time? Suddenly every five-degree-F shift in the temperature, every hour of sunlight, is important.

I'm tapping with a method I got from the book Maple On Tap by Rich Finzer, which I checked out from the library after I couldn't find the book I already had. I'm using a plastic 5/16" spile I got online from Leader Evaporator (after I discovered that no local stores carry sugaring supplies anywhere.) The plastic spiles are designed to hook up to food-grade vinyl tubing, which I have running down to a gallon milk jug with a hole in the lid - when the jug is full, I just swap out the jugs, and then put an un-peirced lid on the full one.

It seemed like the most low-maintenance system I've read about, and so far it's working pretty well; the only issue is with swapping the jugs out often enough on really fast days. Most of the people using this system ssem to suggest 5-gallon jugs, but with only one tap, that seemed excessive - besides, I already had a lot of milk jugs. I put the last on on today, though - I'm going to have to find another solution tonight.

If things keep going at this rate, I'm probably going to have my ten gallons by the weekend, and I'll try to make syrup (how hard it is to make the syrup determines whether I keep collecting sap...) We have a small aluminum firebowl with a grill in the back; I'm planning to use aluminum warming pans over a wood fire for most of the evaporating. Any advice from anyone who's done maple syrup on a small-scale, makeshift system is welcomed! The tapping and collecting sap part has gone surprisingly well - even drilling the tap hole with our ancient brace and bit was easy - so I'm expecting the boiling process to be awful and frustrating to make up for it.

Pictures: Tapped maple tree with tube leading to jug Tools: drill, hammer, tap, nail, tubing, book (the white thing is a syrup filter I haven't used yet, but I got it in the same order as taps, because the shipping would have been ridiculous for just the taps.)

Hope Springs Eternal

Right around New Year's Day I start itching to plant things. It's a little ridiculous, because even in our mild Seattle winters, cool weather crops go out--earliest--in February, but more realistically in March-April (or at least, that was my experience from last year).

We bought a house at the end of 2012, and did our first garden in 2013 with sort of freakish results (our best cultivated crop was our tomatoes and peppers. But the cool season greens were a flop. What?)

Last year, I tried starts in our southern facing window and got stuck with these spindly, leggy, weak little plants. Some survived, some didn't; none of them really thrived. So for this year, we got a Grow Light and set it up, and a couple of days into January, I put some flats in underneath it to try it out--nothing for the garden--just some lettuce micro-greens for us, and wheatgrass and buckwheat forage for the chickens.

Come later January (23rd, I think), I added my first flat of lettuce and Swiss chard destined for the yard. Soon after, a fresh new set of herbs--my other ones seemed sad last year (they had been transplanted and moved a few times from our previous home), and my chickens (who are not supposed to like herbs) think they are the best thing ever for a wintertime snack.

I'm also going to try wintersowing in plastic containers, as my friend V has been telling me about. Possibly today!


Super excited to find this site! I really struggled with garden journaling last year because I didn't have a good format to organize my thoughts, and this place looks just about perfect for my needs. And the ability to track harvests is fantastic--that's one of the things I wanted to add this year so we could start making some benchmarks.

The hunt for a Tangerine!

A little while back, I posted about my hunt for a Tangerine tree and how fruitless my efforts had been. One supplier put me onto the local wholesaler who, while seeming a bit gruff and abrupt, told me to contact them around November last year.

I didn't get around to it until now, however it seems that we're a bit closer.

They were able to look through their records and have suggested that Citrus x Reticulata Clementine is the closest strain to a tangerine that they have available and that it's sold by Bunnings.

Looking on the Bunnings site, the description of the fruit gives me a vague memory of the tree at my parents house:

Heavy crops of deep orange-coloured fruit with a juicy, sweet flavour. - Medium size fruit, with medium thickness rind. - Colour deep orange to reddish orange. - Flesh deep orange, tender and melting. Sweet tasting.

Wiki also refers to them as an 'Algerian Tangerine'

Natural pest control

As a newbie to veggie gardening, what natural methods work best for controlling aphids, worms, etc. on the veggie plants?

I have read articles about mixing water, cayenne pepper and a little liquid soap into a sprayer. Has anyone tried this with any success?

I may give it a shot today as we have some aphids on the underside of some of the chard. They wash right off, but I don't like having to really wash and examine every leaf THAT closely before I eat it! I am sure I may have eaten a few . . :)

Growing turmeric in North Texas

Would love advice on all aspects of growing and harvesting turmeric in North Texas climate!

good intentions

I have a problem. I technically like gardening. I really like the idea of gardening. What I like above all is buying interesting seeds and letting them languish in a cupboard.

Where I fall down is sustaining the willpower to go out every week come wind or rain and maintain the garden. I find the work satisfying when I actually get round to it, but often put it off. Last year I also had horrible depression and didn't make it off the sofa a lot of days. I planted a bunch of things and then neglected them; it wasn't pretty.

But 2014 is another year. I have a beautiful garden (when it's been tended, anyway), and it deserves better from me. I'm not going to make grand claims that I'll be the perfect gardener this year, but with Growstuff I think I might have a chance at keeping track and thus keeping on top of things. And knowing I have somewhere to keep a proper record of my results should be a motivator. We'll see.

Happy New Year and good gardening, internets.

watercress

I can never find good watercress, so I thought that I would grow my own. HELP! :-) I'm really not very good with plants, but don't tell the bosses at the indoor landscaping and the garden nursery where I used to work. It's winter here in Maryland, 8 inches of snow last night, so I would like to plant my seeds indoors. What kind of soil should I use and do I need a growing light and how often should I water them, how deep a planter should I use, etc. Thank you for your help! And Happy New Year!

The Seed Catalogs are arriving

Immediately after winter solstice the seed catalogs start arriving. First one is Jung's. Can't wait for the rest to show up. In addition to the obvious OMG SEEDS GARDENING YAY, some of these catalogs have wicked good illustrative artwork.

I know for dead sure that I am planting a whole bunch of chard this year as it was my most successful crop last year. I was able to harvest from springtime right up to the end of October. I also know that I am not planting peas or beets or radishes in my raised beds. The soil mix is way too nitrogen heavy and I got lots of leaf and nothing else. So I am going to plant in the large planter pots on my upstairs balconey/deck. I have three good sized pots and one will be radish, one will be another go at the beets, and the third may be carrots or possibly snap peas on a trellis. Much easier to get the right type of soil for those specific crops in a planter than in the raised beds. My summer crops love the raised bed soil so I don't want to amend that and then have to re-amend it for the next batch of plantings.

Reticulation for Raised Beds

I'm trying to figure out the best way to set up reticulation for my raised beds.

The area is about 3m wide by 7m long with four beds; one about 50cm wide and 7m long, the others about 1.2m wide and 1.8m long. I'm looking at using poly pipe, but not sure whether to have upright sprinklers that do more of an aerial dispersion or have something lower down similar to one of those perforated lawn soaker hoses running down the centre of each bed.

What have people found to work well with their setups? Have you seen any negative side effects from watering above or below the leaf line?

New house, new garden

So, I am in my new house in Ballarat (zoom in!), a reasonable sized city of 88,000ish people an hour or so west of Melbourne. The move was gruelling, not least because of the garden, but it's all done now and the keys to the old place handed back.

Now my challenge is to get the veggie garden at the new place up and running really quickly as it's already December and things need to be in the ground. Not to mention that all the seeds I planted back in July-August-September, planning to use them at the old house, are now fully grown plants in pots and many of them are pretty seriously root-bound.

So, the plan is to turn a biggish chunk of the backyard into a no-dig garden, using my moving boxes as the bottom layer. This seemed like the quickest way to get things going. I took some photos so I thought I'd do a quick tour and show you how I did the no-dig thing.

This is the front yard:

Front yard

Nothing much to show yet, but I'm hoping to transplant my rosemary along the fence there, and plant some lavender and nasturtiums and warrigal greens to sprawl across what's currently grass. Next year I'd like to put a small pomegranate tree in the part of the garden that's in the foreground of this photo.

And here's the backyard:

Back yard

I want everything between the photographer and the clothesline to be veggie patch, and beyond that to have some fruit trees and chickens. Well, there are already some fruit trees right up the back, actually (an apple and a damson plum) but I'd like to add a few more: lemon, fig, and loquat are top of my list.

So, the plan is to make both sides of the photo above into veg patch, but for now it'll just be the left hand side. That's enough to fit all the plants I brought from Thornbury and then some. On the other side, and up toward the compost bins, I'm planning to dot little mounds and grow squash of various kinds, but I don't need to make a full garden bed for that.

So here's how I did the first section of no-dig garden.

Step 1: boxes!

boxes

I removed all the tape, tore them open, flattened them, and laid them so that they overlapped a bit. The goal is to provide layer that's impermeable to light, and will kill the grass underneath.

Step 2: pea straw. It comes off the bales in these sort of rectangular sheets, which you can just tile across the garden quite easily.

straw

Step 3: I added some stepping stones from a pile of rubble up behind the shed, and started sprinkling sheep manure around. Sheep manure is not very high in nitrogen and doesn't really need to rot down the way chicken manure, for instance, does. It won't "burn" your plants in the same way. I'm pretty happy to put it straight into the garden, and though ideally I'd like to let it sit and settle for a couple of weeks, in this case I just left it a few days and it seems to be fine.

stepping stones and manure

Step 4: I added more layers of straw and manure. For subsequent straw layers, I broke up the rectangular sheets from the bale and sort of fluffed them up and sprinkled them around, then sprinkled manure, and then more straw. I continued this way until the pile was about 30cm/1 foot deep.

more layers

At each stage, by the way, I watered it thoroughly. Then at the end I watered it some more. I also gave it a sprinkle of seaweed emulsion. And then finally I left it to sit for a few days, intermittently watering it or letting it get rained on. During this time it "settled" a little, the piles becoming less mountainous and the texture becoming more solid. Later, I planted some stuff in it, but I didn't take photos. I'll do so when I plant the next lot in the second section I've built up :)

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