Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Ate Them

Yesterday was the day. I took out my seeds and sorted them all out for all you folks that wanted them. Yes they got mailed off. But I apologize. As I was doing the beans, I came across a problem. There were no Ottawa Cranberry beans to send off.

A few days ago we had left over Christmas ham. I only get a ham bone once a year, so it is special. I was wondering what beans to use. The Ottawa Cranberries seemed perfect. I was on a mission to make soup. Planting the garden was not on my mind. I totally forgot to save any for planting.

On the up side the soup was really good. My son even asked what kind of bean I used since they were so good. Really, really good. Luckily I have about 20 seeds left over that were from last year. So I can still grow them out next year. But I don't have any to give away. I'm really sorry. Sorry for all of us, as I was going to plant more than 20 seeds. But I suppose that gives me more room for trialing different varieties.

My beans seeds are rolling in however. I can't thank you all enough for sending them to me. I've also got about four picked out from the Seed Savers Yearbook, one from Fedco, and more promised from others. I'll have to count how many I have and see if I have enough space to trial them all. Maybe I should only order a couple from SSY.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Harvest Monday - 27 December 2010

I've got nothing. I didn't harvest. I barely cooked anything from my stores. I did finished up the onions and I made fried rice with some of my Asian greens. I used a bit of salsa. But I didn't bother to make anything for Christmas from my stores or greens.

So what I figure I should do today is my yearly overview of what I harvested. 2010 was a fabulous year in the garden. This was mainly because I was growing mostly warm weather crops over the summer, and the weather cooperated by having record heat. If I had had the 2009 record cold weather then I wouldn't have fared quite as well.

Alliums: 8.85lbs. The breakdown is 3.5lbs of garlic, 1.4lbs of green onions, and only 3.9lbs of storage onions. I really need to do better with storage onions next year. I had to pick them early because of the move, but honestly they wouldn't have been that much bigger if I waited longer.

Beans: 8.8lbs. With 3.8lbs of them being green beans and 5lbs being dried or shelling beans. Next year I really need more dried beans. I eat way more than that during the year.

Cucurbits: 48.6lbs. 32.9lbs of that was cucumbers, 11.7lbs was zucchini, and only 4lbs was butternut squash. I need more squash for the winter next year. I would have had plenty except for the evil groundhog. Next year I have a good fence. I haven't a clue if it will keep him out. I really hope so or I'll have to cover it somehow.

Greens 47.68lbs. About 11lbs of chard, 0.6lbs of kale, 8.2lbs of lettuce, a tiny bit of mizuna, 1.4lbs of komatsuna, 0.9lbs of Senposai, 7.9lbs of various bok choy, 1.55lbs of Chinese broccoli, 4.4lbs of Fun Jen, 2.4lbs of spinach, 1.8lbs of Yakatta-Na, 4.1lbs of tatsoi, and 0.3lbs of Tyfon. The greens were a pretty good match. Though the fall greens I just couldn't keep up with. They grew too well without the massive quantity of slugs that I usually have.

Herbs 9.63lbs. 5.4lbs of basil. 1lbs of dill, 3.2lbs of parsley. With the move I really didn't have the normal range of herbs. I only had my must haves. I'm sure next year I'll get those perennials and other annuals in.

Peas 8.37lbs. With 5.2lbs of Cascadia snap, and 3.2lbs of Blizzard snowpeas. I had a good amount of peas for the spring. It was all in my old garden though.

Peppers 8.31lbs. 2.1lbs were sweet peppers and the rest were chili peppers. I really didn't have enough of any of the peppers. I would love to make my own chili powder, but I really need a lot of chilis for that. I want paprika peppers too. And I'd love more sweet peppers. Basically, more, more, more.

Radishes and Turnips 6.2lbs. Which is really plenty for me unless I do storage turnips, but I've never been a fan.

Tomatillos 17.26lbs. Which is way more than I really needed, but it is only two plants worth. I don't want to grow just one as if it fails I have nothing. Too much is better than none.

Tomatoes 186.38lbs. This was a good amount for me. It gave me enough to can for sauce and salsa. It is probably enough for the year. Next year I'd like to can some BBQ sauce and ketchup if I can find recipes I like.

You will notice some staples that aren't on the list. I had no potatoes this year. I expect to next year. And I had no carrots. The spring carrots didn't germinate at all and I was too busy with the house to deal with them like I usually do. I had only the barest touch of broccoli this year and next year I want a lot. I ought to have plenty of room for it.

So the year end tally is:

  • 350.90lbs of produce
  • $1434.77 incoming
  • $501.72 outgoing
  • $910.03 total

This year I had a lot of money going out. $300 is pretty normal for me, but with a new house, more things get bought. Next year will be even higher I'm sure. Some things will get amortized, but a lot will just go into the year.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Meeting the Neighbors

I grew up in the mountains of Colorado where people live on acres but still everyone knows everyone else. If someone moves in. There is a coffee or party or something so you can meet them. My mother is too blind to drive and she gets a ride into the pool every week with one neighbor. Another owns a nursery/greenhouse were you can order plants or flowers. So if I want to send flowers to my mother I always order from her. Most won't deliver up there and she will bring it up when she gets out from work. The nearest bus is two miles away. When I used to walk to and from the stop I would get offers from the neighbors for a ride, so I wouldn't have to walk as far. My dad had a tractor and a plow for it. On the rare times the county couldn't get to our little dirt road for days, he would plow it. The fast internet is a co-op which was started by my dad. The women would gather yearly to make crafts and sell them for money for our volunteer fire department (which at the time wasn't funded by taxes, but that has changed). We all relied on everyone else.

City living is different. You might say hi to your close neighbors, but the ones two doors down, you might not know at all. I'd gotten to know a few of our neighbors, but not many. People really keep to themselves. They will return the hi, but don't want to talk. So this year I made up 10 holiday baskets. It is amazing how people will open up at least a bit when you give them something homemade. It was nice to talk at least a few minutes to those that surrounded me.

One just two doors down is also another MIT couple (both my hubby and I have degrees from MIT). So we chatted a bit. One neighbor I really have been wanting to meet. He composts; he has a garden; he plays with boffers with his son. (Boffers are foam swords and my daughter and I took German longsword classes years ago, so they are well known to us). He must be our kind of neighbor. Right? He lives right behind me, but the fence is 6' tall and we can't talk over the fence. Well we gave the basket to his daughter who answered the door. Then the next day he came to our door with his own home made gifts. Pickled quail eggs and mint mead. We talked for quite a while and I invited him to my birthday party.

Of the 10 baskets only 9 were delivered. The other we could never find. I'm guessing they are gone for the holidays. Do you all want to know what was in those baskets? Well too bad I'm telling you anyway. So here goes. I made blueberry ginger jam, chocolate fudge (Fluff never fail fudge, not the harder to make kind), English Toffee, whole wheat ginger snaps, oatmeal raisin cookies, Russian tea cakes, and snickerdoodles. I have to say. The family really enjoyed eating the last basket.

Daphne's English Toffee

  • 2 c butter
  • 2 1/2 c brown sugar
  • T corn syrup (more or less I never measure this, just a little)
  • T water (more or less I never measure this, just a little)
  • chocolate chips
  • slivered or chopped almonds (optional)

Prepare two pans ( I use either 9x13s or cookie sheets) by lining with parchment paper. Sprinkle with almonds so the pans are just covered. Put the first four ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat slowly stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Cook over medium heat (stirring not necessary) until you reach 290F on a candy thermometer. Now most recipes call for 300F, but if I do that it starts to burn too much. So I go to 290F. Pour half the candy into one pan and half in the other. Let it cool for about five minutes then sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Once they melt spread the chocolate over the top evenly. Let it cool until it is cool enough to go into the fridge. Then put in the fridge until totally cool. Take out and break into pieces.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Harvest Monday - 20 December 2010

This week I harvested absolutely nothing. I did however use up some of my stores. I made chili with my tomato sauce and tomato paste. It also had the last of the shelly beans that I froze a while back. But there was one can of "not my kidney beans" that was also used. I really hope I can grow enough in my huge garden next year. Though I'll be playing around with how much grows in what bed for a few years I'm guessing.

But the big news. I used the one and only butternut squash that my neighborhood groundhogs didn't eat. It was really pretty to cut open. I cut it into cubes and tossed it with olive oil, cumin, and paprika. Then it was roasted. I used them in a black lentil salad.

I wasn't greatly in love with the salad. But it wasn't the recipe's fault. It was the lentils. The lentils were bought from a local Indian store. They have really cheap beans, lentils, and such, but the quality is really poor. I don't mind picking out the little rocks and washing well, but quite a few on the lentils didn't hydrate at all. I had to cook them to death just to get them soft enough too. They were very old lentils. I think I'll stick to the more expensive ones from now on. I also used the squash in a -- hmm not sure what to call it. Maybe an open face burrito. It featured, my squash, my salsa, and "not my refried beans". I do have some dried beans sitting on my cabinet. But they look so pretty and there are so few of them, that I'm waiting to use them up.

No tally today as nothing has changed since last time.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Early Birthday

My husband gave me an early birthday gift this week. Now my birthday isn't until January but I'm not complaining. He figured if he was getting it, earlier was better than later. And I so agree. He gave me a gardener's dream gift.

I've now got my own personal weather station. He originally got me some hardware that automatically posts to the web at the Davis instruments site. I nixed that really quickly. Do you know they only keep a limited history and if I use that, there is no way to get it to my computer. So we went for the Weatherlink software instead. Then I downloaded the DLL to make it connect up with Weather Underground. Now everyone can see my data and Weather Underground will keep history forever (though the location is off by a block and I'm still trying to figure out how to fix it). In addition I have all the data stored on my computer. Whoohoo!

The station is sends out signals to my inside unit. We don't need power to it however since it has a solar panel on it. We figure that is how it tells if it is cloudy or not.

The station was put above our fence. We talked to the adjoining neighbors to make sure they wouldn't hate a weather station there. They were fine with it. It isn't a perfect location. If you look to see where you are supposed to put it (not near black top, over grass, no buildings in the way, etc., you will probably understand that East Arlington only had about one spot like that in its whole area - at the park and soccer fields. Mine isn't up to NOAAs standards maybe but it does reflect the true conditions in our neighborhood.

WU even has a little widget to add to a web page reflecting local conditions. So I've added that to my sidebar. So now you can see how cold it is here. The bad part is the page takes longer to load. The bad part about the weather station? Well it won't measure snowfall. Rain yes. Snowfall no. Still an awesome gift.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Harvest Monday - 13 December 2010

This last week I did get around to harvesting a lot of greens. It ought to last me a while. I've been eating them but still have a huge container of them in the fridge. The first set of greens were picked after the temperature had just gotten under freezing in the plastic tunnel for a couple of days.

The second group of greens were picked after two days of having 25F temps in the tunnel. I waited to pick them until we had a warm day and things thawed out a bit. They seems to be fine. I'm going to let them sit in the fridge for a week. For greens that are picked totally unfrozen this is easy for them. In fact these greens take over two weeks in the fridge just fine as long as the head hasn't been cut. But I'm not sure the frozen ones will last as long. So I just have to experiment.

This week I've been using the Fun Jen in fruity salads. I add whatever to them, but it always seems to have apples and either pineapple or mandarin oranges. The dressing is a terriyaki based one. I don't use a recipe, but just toss things together. From the garden is Fun Jen, radishes, and onions. I also made a nice stir fry out of boc choy yesterday. So the greens are slowly getting used up.

  • Greens 4.59 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 4.59 lbs
  • Total for the year 350.90 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $910.03

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seeds in Need of a Good Home

It has become a tradition every year to give away the extra seeds that I've saved. I never require trades. It is always a joy to share my seeds with others including new gardeners who haven't even thought about saving seed yet. Maybe this will get them to try next year. In the past I've had more to share, but this year because of the move, only easy to collect seeds have been saved. No biennials, no herbs, nothing that needs extra time to bear seeds and nothing that needs isolation.

I'll ship anything except bean seed anywhere in the world. I put them in a card and that usually keeps them safe enough and its cheap for me to ship. Beans are too big and fragile. They need special packaging. I'll ship them to the US and Canada. I will probably ship all the requests out after Christmas unless I need to go to the PO before then. I avoid the PO at this time of the year.

I do ask for things though. I ask any of you to send me seeds that I'm looking for. Last year I asked for Asian greens and lettuce. I ended up with way more than I could even trial this year. Luckily the seed lasts, so I'll do more lettuce trials next year. This year I'm looking for pole beans. I grew several new varieties of bush beans this year, but I'm not a fan of the bush bean. I want pole beans. They look beautiful on their supports in the garden; make better use of space; and let the squash ramble over the ground. I'm not looking for green beans. I like Kentucky Wonder (though maybe I'll ask Granny to send back a few Fortex to try again). What I'm hoping for are dried beans. I'm guessing not many of you grow them. I may be wishing into thin air, but I have a lot of space allotted to them next year. I wish I could find a pinto or kidney bean, but I've never seen one offered. I think when the SSE yearbook gets here I'm going to have fun looking at beans. But if any of you have pole beans that you love and can spare some seed, send me an email.

Now on to the list of seeds.

Tomatoes - sadly I can't find the seed of Amish Paste. I'm quite sad. I saved seed of both Amish Paste and Market Miracle and neither of their seeds are anywhere to be found. I have exactly two Amish Paste seeds left. So if anyone can spare a few that has some I'd love some.

For the following listings below the date in the parentheses is the year I harvested. None of the tomatoes were isolated.

1) Progeny of GabrielleAnn, Sungold F4 (2010)- Sungold is a hybrid tomato so the seed doesn't grow out true to the plant. These are seeds from the F3 plant I grew this year. It produced prolifically. It didn't split as much as my other cherries. It was the second most prolific tomato in my garden. It was not as sweet as the normal Sungold, but then my Chocolate Cherry wasn't as sweet as usual either. It could be the seed; it could be the weather; it could be the soil.

2) Heinz 2653 (2010) 68 days - Seed originally from Fedco. Heinz was not a pretty plant. It was scrawny and a bit sickly, but it was very productive for the short time in the garden. It put out all of its tomatoes very quickly. It started ripening at the same time as the cherry tomatoes. And it finished fast too. It is a paste tomato and good for canning as the harvest all comes at once. There should be time for fall crops in the space after it is finished. The tomatoes had a great taste, better than San Marzano, but not quite up to Amish Paste.

3)Cherokee Purple (2010) 77 days - Seed originally from Dan. A black beefsteak tomato. In the warm dry summer we had (80s and low to mid 90s mostly), it was fabulously productive. Out produced all my other plants by two to four times. It was the best tasting of all the tomatoes in the garden.

4)Romeo Roma (2010) 75 days - Seed originally from Unique paste tomato. If you want large paste tomatoes for easy processing this is the one for you. The tomatoes can get over a pound. Very dry flesh with hollow interiors. The plant has weak not very branching stems and likes to sprawl. With a cage, it has to be tied to the sides or it will collapse. Taste is fine, but nothing to write home about. Not terribly prolific.

5) Market Miracle (2009) 70 days- Seed originally from This is my workhorse tomato. Originally a Siberian tomato, it can handle cold northeast (or northwest) conditions. This is a standard red beefsteak. It puts out beautifully perfect tomatoes of 6-8 oz. The taste is good, but not great like Cherokee Purple. A standard homegrown tomato taste. It is fairly prolific and can produce in conditions other tomatoes can't.

6) San Marzano (2006) 80 days - Not my saved seed, but some left in a packet. No need for it to go to waste even though I won't be growing it. San Marzano is the standard of paste tomatoes.

Other Solanums

6) Sport of a Pueblo Tomatillo (it really needs a name - any ideas?) (2010). Seed originally from Fedco. Most of the tomatillos from the seed I got put out 1"-1 1/2" tomatillos. This one had tomatillos over 2" and the plant was much more upright. It branched less and was a prettier plant. Even with that it seems to set the same amount of tomatillos, which means it was more prolific as each one was larger. So I saved seeds from this plant. It might grow out as the smaller one, it might grow out as the bigger one.

7) Early Jalapeno (2009) (isolated with a cage) - Seed originally from Pinetree. Nice jalapeno. Doesn't get very hot unless it is stressed in some way.

Beans - none were isolated. There might be crossing.

8) Trail of Tears (2010) - Seed originally from the Ottawa Gardener. Very prolific pole beans. Said to be carried by the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears.

9) Ottawa Cranberry (2010) - Seed originally from the Ottawa Gardener. Pole bean.

10) Tiger's Eye (2010) - Seed originally from Dan. Bush bean.

11) Red Kidney (2010) - Seed originally from Fedco.

12) Black Coca (2010) - Seed originally from Fedco.


13) Ground Control Marigold (2010) - Seed originally from Pinetree. A large rambling marigold that was bred to kill off nematodes in the garden. I interplant with my tomatoes. Often hacking the plant back to keep in under control.

So there you have it. Thirteen different things to choose from. The first year I sent out just a few packets of seed. Last year it was about 24. I wonder how many I'll be sending out this year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Harvest Monday - 6 December 2010

I meant to have a huge harvest this week I really did. Yesterday I was supposed to pick a lot. The weather forecast was for mid 20s last night for the first time. The weather is supposed to continue and get even colder. We are supposed to get down to the teens later this week. So it is the first time that it would freeze in my little low tunnel. I wanted to get a big harvest before anything might be damaged. Now they are all hardy plants, but the white stemmed bok choy in particular is very finicky. I wasn't sure if it would hold up well.

But I didn't. My daughter skyped me. She is autistic and has issues understanding people. She uses me as a sounding board to try to understand. We ended up talking for over four hours. Then my husband wanted me. Its nice to be needed, but the garden never got picked. I had some time after dinner and really thought about it, but it was cold and dark. This morning the temperature was 31F. Yup below freezing but not horribly bad. Once it warms up today I'll go out and harvest. Some I'll leave in for a long time as I want to see how hardy they are, but most I want to get picked so I have them as a harvest.

This weeks harvest

I still did get a small harvest this week. But I was mostly using up the rest of what I'd picked previously. I made a big salad for the week which I meant to take a photo of but forgot as usual.

I washed up all the bok choy, tatsoi and Chinese broccoli in that I picked and was left in the fridge. BTW the colander is normal size. My sink is huge.

And made soup. I made three quarts. I gave one pint to my townhouse mates and ate the rest over the week.

  • Greens 0.73 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 0.73 lbs
  • Total for the year 346.31 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $884.56

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, December 3, 2010

2010 Overview - Tomatoes

I won't be doing many overview posts this fall as switching gardens really messed up things like yield. But I will do a couple. Mostly from the new house. Tomatoes are probably the most important, so I'll start there.

I have another issue with my move. I can no longer find my record sheet for when things were planted. I think they were planted around their target date which was April 17th. They went in the ground around May 24th. So they were 5-6 weeks old when planted. I know some people like 8-10 week old transplants, but for me they have always grown better if they start small. The main reason for that is once they get big I have no good place to put them and they get stunted by bad conditions. If I had a place where they could grow a foot tall and could get a nice 4-6" pot they would be fine. But I don't have room for that. So they always go in small. It works pretty well.


They were planted in the rock wall garden. The summer was very hot and dry. I had to hand water about every three days. Even with that when I finally pulled them at the end of the season, the soil was bone dry to at least eight inches (as far as I looked). However their roots were deep so they all survived quite well. The soil was slightly alkaline to start and some plants showed a mild iron deficiency, but overall they did well in the slightly alkaline soil (7.2). There was very little blossom end rot. Usually I have much more. I'm guessing it is the soil pH that did it as water was always an issue.

They were planted as usual for me. The bottom leaves were cut off and they were planted a couple inches deeper than they were in their pots. In the holes I put a cup of 5-3-3 organic fertilizer, 1 cup of bone meal, and 1 cup of powdered eggshells. They were all given 18" wide cages. Unlike usual summers I never sprayed the plants (usually spray with compost tea and aspirin mixture). The summer was dry and fungal issues weren't too bad.

I planted 14 varieties. One plant of each. One plant died and had to be pulled very early on so I really only had 13 varieties. I picked 186.38 lbs of tomatoes for an average of 14.5 lbs per plant. This is a higher than normal yield here.


I had two Sungold F3s. EmmaAnn and GabrielleAnn. EmmaAnn was planted between the other two and she had issues. She never grew very well and got diseased very early. She was pulled before any harvest. GabrielleAnn quickly took over Emma's cage. She was fairly healthy and grew well into the neighbors lilac. She probably got over 10' tall, but I couldn't reach that high and kept trying to keep her in bounds. Her fruit was not quite as tasty as a Sungold usually is. But she didn't have a lot of cracking. Since it was so dry cracking was a common problem whenever we got rain. Next year I should grow her progeny alongside a real Sungold to test the difference. She put out a whopping 26.84 lbs of cherry tomatoes. She was my second best producer of all the tomatoes.

Chocolate Cherry was constantly fighting some illness. I've no clue what it was. It grew and produced anyway. The flavor wasn't as good as last year's harvest. It wasn't as sweet. Very similar to the GabrielleAnn in that way. It still got tall. Almost as tall as GabrielleAnn, but it didn't have the fullness. It was an open spindly plant. It produced 9 lbs of tomatoes.

Principe Borghese is usually not thought of as a cherry, but they were cherry sized and slightly elongated. The strain I had was not particularly dry. And though I dried some, the other cherries were almost as good at drying. One of the paste tomatoes would have been a better choice. The taste however was very good fresh. It was quite sweet and tasty. PB produced 10.14 lbs.

Paste Tomatoes

This year I wanted to try out a lot of different paste tomatoes to see what would grow best in my garden. The issue is that the weather was so abnormal it wasn't a good test of what grows well in colder climates. But I will go down the list of bad to good as they did this year.

Opalka only produced 7.65 lbs. The plant was not very healthy and couldn't fight off the russet spider mites that plagued us (first time I've had issues with these). All the other paste tomatoes didn't have as much of an issue. The taste was nothing to write home about. It was fine. It made fine sauce. But it just wasn't very productive nor was it early. It was two weeks later to produce than Amish Paste.

Romeo Roma had the typical roma shape at the start of the season, but switched to a more heart shaped tomato by the end of the season. I've no clue as to why. The main claim to fame with this tomato is that it is a huge one for paste tomatoes. Some were over a pound. The plants grew very much like the Chocolate cherry. They weren't bushy, but long and lanky. Also the stems didn't seem as strong as most tomatoes. I had to tie it to the cage to get it to grow up. It really wants to sprawl even when it isn't weighed down by its massive fruit. The plant wasn't very productive. It gave 6.23 lbs. But it was easy to process as the fruits were huge and hollow. The seeds came out fast. The taste was fine, but nothing to write home about. It was one of the latest tomatoes to ripen in the garden, so not really best for my normal climate.

San Marzano is the standard of paste tomatoes. It performed well at 11.11 lbs. It tasted good. The fruits were fairly small, and hard to tell from Opalka once picked. Good but still isn't going to make the cut into next year's garden.

Heinz 2653 is not an inspiring name. Any name with a number in it just has to leave you flat doesn't it. Well I picked it because it does well in cool summers. It is a short determinate (the other are all indeterminates). This plant and Amish Paste both produced during the week that the cherry tomatoes started producing. So they are early. Heinz also has a very fast production then it is over and out of the garden. It could have been pulled as early as mid August. Which means that I can plant a crop of spinach after it or a cover crop that has time to grow. It produced 10.98 lbs and can probably be shoved together closely as the plants are small. Its taste was very good. Better than San Marzano. I will grow this next year as out of all the ones I trialed, I think it can handle my normally cool summers.

Amish Paste was the best of all the paste tomatoes in the garden. Unlike the others it has a heart shape. It is the best tasting of all the paste tomatoes. It is good enough to eat fresh in salads. It started producing early and it produced an amazing 18.66 lbs. It is amazingly vigorous. It needs a huge cage next year. The one I had wasn't tall enough. It does have one flaw however. It is slightly moister than most paste tomatoes. So it does need a bit more boiling than some of the others. But then to me it seems more like a hybrid eating/paste tomato as it can be used either way. This too will find a place in my garden next year.

Chinese Heirlooms

I grew a selection of three Chinese heirlooms this year. Hong Yuen (4.71 lbs), Peiping Chieh (6.06 lbs), and Early Kus Ali (11.79 lbs). None of them were a tomato I'd grow again. None of them tasted all that good. Better than store bought? Yes. Like a good homegrown tomato? No. In addition their description was that they were all good for fresh eating and for canning. I found that not to be true. They were watery and the flesh was thin so not good for canning by any means. It is true that Hong Yuen would make some cute canned whole tomatoes as they are all uniform small tomatoes, but the yield was so low that I couldn't get enough to can at any one time. None of these will be grown again.


I grew two varieties of slicing tomatoes. The first is my tried and true Market Miracle. I know it does well in cool summers as it did well last year in our record breaking cool June. But it pulled out here too. It puts out a lot of very pretty unblemished red tomatoes. They don't hold a candle in taste to the Cherokee Purple, but they are still good and reliable. This year they were planted on the wrong side of a taller determinate. So it was in partial shade a good part of the day. It still produced 20.20 lbs which is the third best producer this year. It is a good plant for bad conditions.

The best of all the tomatoes this year was Cherokee Purple. It survived into late October, which probably won't happen in a normal year, but it held up better than any of the other non-cherry tomato. It was hands down the best tasting tomato of the year. Better by far than any other. And it produced a total of 42.99lbs. Amazing. I have no clue if it will do as well in our normal summers, but for this summer it was king. We even had some that ripened on the counter for Thanksgiving and though they were picked green and were the last ones to make it through I got comments on how good the tomatoes were. And they were. They had lost their intense sweetness, but their underlying flavor still held up. The last couple were eaten on November 26th. I can't say enough about this plant.

I will put out a list of seeds that I saved in the next couple of weeks. It will include the best of the tomatoes that I grew this year so if you want to grow them too you can. However don't ask now, wait until I put up my list as I can never remember who asked for what. It is better for me to do it all at once.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harvest Monday - 29 November 2010

Not much got harvested this week. I have plenty of Asian greens still out there, but except for Thanksgiving there wasn't much cooking going on this week. I still have plenty of Asian greens from the week before in the fridge. It is really hard for one person to eat up almost five pounds of greens in a week.

I only picked one bunch of Fun Jen on Thanksgiving. I made a fruity Asian salad. No photos were taken as I barely had time for anything that morning. The above photo is what is still left of that head of Fun Jen in my fridge.

  • Greens 0.63 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 0.62 lbs
  • Total for the year 345.58 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $880.94

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This and That

I haven't had much time to write so I'll do a quick post on what has been going on. The first is that we finally got our fence in. I can't wait to have a rose growing over the arbor.

The second is that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had way too much food. Everyone brought enough to feed at least twice as many as themselves and that means the tables were still full when we were done. My son made two dishes this year so I didn't make as much as usual. I did decide that I needed to bring Asian greens so I made a salad with them. Also from the garden were my pickles. And I brought a lox plate. The lox were on a bed of my red lettuce. I also had red onions, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, and pickled serranos as sides to the lox - all from the garden. It was one of the few dishes that was actually finished at the meal. But that was because it was an appetizer and people hadn't stuffed themselves yet. I swear I meant to take photos. But alas I don't even have photos of the Asian green harvest.

Then I noticed yesterday my garlic is coming up.

This I could take photos of as I wasn't rushed.

I suppose I could give you more garlic photos, but really, do you need 20 of them? I think not.

My garden catalogs have started arriving, but so far no Pinetree or Fedco catalog. I hope they come soon.

I hope those of you who celebrate it had a great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harvest Monday - 22 November 2010

Two things made the harvest really good this week. The first is that all the Cherokee Purple tomatoes that I picked ripened. Yay! 5.46lbs of tomatoes were added to the harvest this week. And though I will at some point get around to doing an overview of tomatoes (I hope). I just have to say 43lbs of tomatoes was the final tally for just this one plant. Cherokee Purple was the most prolific tomato I've ever had. It out produced most of the other tomatoes by 2-4 times. I can only hope it produces well in one of our normally cool summers.

The other thing that made it a great harvest week, but a bad gardening week was our first freeze. Well our first two freezes. So I harvested all the lettuce, chard, and spring onions and cleaned up the bed. They won't be doing any more growing anyway.

I also put up a plastic hoop over my row covers on my Asian greens to extend my harvest a bit longer. But I only had enough metal hoops to cover part of them. So the rest of the bed was harvested. Most of it got covered up though. I find at night it keeps it about 5F degrees warmer than outside and during the day it is about 20F degrees warmer. The rock wall leaks cold air into the soil so it will be hard to keep it warm. The most frozen part of the soil was along the rock wall. I would have guessed that the rock wall would be a good heat sink and keep the soil warm, but it doesn't seem to be true. I'll be hoping that I can keep them alive through December with the plastic added, but it probably depends upon how sunny we are.

I spent more money this week. I spent about $100 on hoops for next year. I bought 20 pieces of 18" rebar and two rolls of tubing. I pounded all the rebar into the ground so when it is spring time and I want to defrost the soil, the stakes to hold up the piping will already be up. Two beds have been treated like this. I also spent about $25 on some thick plastic for the Asian green bed. I tried to find a piece of plastic big enough that I already had, but no luck.

  • Allium 0.40 lbs
  • Greens 4.81 lbs
  • Radishes 0.63 lbs
  • Tomaotes 5.46 lbs
  • Spent this week: $123.64
  • Total harvested this week 11.26 lbs
  • Total for the year 344.95 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $877.78

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Today I noticed I still hadn't done anything with the hot peppers. I thought about making more pickled peppers, but I wanted to do something different. So instead I made hot sauce. I looked at a recipe for Louisiana Hot Sauce, but it was so boring. Yes I wanted mostly chilies and vinegar, but you have to have at least some garlic and a little bit of sugar helps you deal with the heat.

Daphne's Green Hot Sauce

  • 14 green cayenne peppers and 22 serrano pepper (or any kind you've got)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 c vinegar
  • t sugar
  • t salt

Roughly chop the peppers and garlic. Toss everything all into a small saucepan. Boil covered for 10 minutes or until the peppers are soft. BTW I should emphasize that the pan needs to be covered. It really turns the house into a smelly place and a cover helps a lot. You really don't want to choke on hot pepper fumes. Put it into a food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a sterilized jar. I used an old vinegar jar.

You could process this I suppose. But why bother. Anything with this much vinegar will keep forever. I just put mine in the fridge. Though if I had a lot of peppers, I could process it and give it out as gifts. I certainly don't need more than one bottle in a year. Hmm but if you gave it out as gifts you couldn't have it in a tall thin bottle. And hot sauce in a canning jar just isn't right. Do you know of anyone that makes canning jars for things like vinegar or hot sauce?

One drop of this is really hot. It is perfect to spice up anything. If that chili is a bit too mild just a touch of this and instant heat.

And speaking of heat. I opened the windows in the lower part of the house to get rid of that peppers and vinegar smell. I turned the heat off but so far the house hasn't dropped a degree. It is amazingly warm today. It might get up into the mid 60s.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harvest Monday - 15 November 2010

Fun Jen right, Bok Choy left, Tatsoi and Chinese Broccoli behind

This week saw a basket of the oldies but goodies. Are you getting tired of seeing the same basket of greens every week? I'm not getting tired of eating them yet. I have a ton still in the garden. I still can't eat it all myself though. I always send some over to my townhouse mates. Caroline will come over asking if I have anything to go into soup or spaghetti sauce and I'll say the only things coming out of the garden right now in excess are Asian greens. Please, please take them.

This week was a bit of a change since I also sent over a lot of lettuce and parsley. The rock wall garden was getting hit constantly where the lettuce was planted. I would say about once a month it gets hit. So we put up a couple of posts to keep it from happening. And we got the wall repaired. Which means they had to take it apart and I had to pick all my lettuce from that section. One parsley plant got pulled too, but I still have one left.

And it was clean up week. I took down the beans and got a lot of shelling beans in the process. I've never cooked with scarlet runner beans before. I haven't a clue as to what they taste like either. Also on the list, but no photos were some peppers. The frost didn't really take them down. It killed a lot of leaves, but the lower leaves that were more protected survived. I pulled them all and picked what peppers remained. I forgot to put them into my sidebar tally. I'll fix that next week. But they are in the tally below.

So far the garden is still going strong. We have had only one frost hit the garden. Saturday night I saw frost in the morning on some of the roofs, but not much. It didn't get my garden again. The weather has been so nice that we have been speculating that winter just isn't coming this year. Will this be the first year I bring Asian greens to Thanksgiving? Last year was abnormally warm too and I brought red lettuce, but I didn't have the abundance of Asian greens that I have now.

  • Beans 1.52 lbs
  • Greens 2.99 lbs
  • Herbs 0.80 lbs
  • Peppers 0.36 lbs
  • Spent this week: $48.00
  • Total harvested this week 6.76 lbs
  • Total for the year 333.66 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $953.62

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cleaning Up

Last week should have been fall clean up week. We had a frost. I should have taken down the tomatoes and beans, but I didn't. So yesterday I got myself off my derriere and finally got out and cleaned up the dead beans and zucchini plant.

Now I don't have to look at dead bean plants. Usually I crop the photos so you don't see the neighborhood, but I know some people are shocked when I say I live on a tiny bit of land now. This photo gives you an idea of the neighborhood. There are lots of two family condos in the neighborhood all crammed together. The rock wall garden usually has a car or two parked in front of it. Next year I think I'll put asparagus in here. I love the ferny foliage. So I'm going to call it an ornamental.

When I was cleaning up I ended up with a whole lot of shelling beans. Sadly the scarlet runner beans didn't set until very late in the year. I was worried that I wouldn't get any dried beans from it as seed, but I got a few pods. Enough to seed another year, but no more. I think it was just too hot for them early on. They didn't set until it had cooled down.

In other beany news, I figured my dried beans picked earlier would be dry enough at this point to freeze. Beans tend to have weevil eggs in them, but freezing kills them. So every fall is the great bean freeze. Not to be confused with last weeks bean freeze that killed all my plants. Anyway the hammer is there because beans will die if they are frozen and not dried enough. This wouldn't matter if I were just eating them, but I want some to be seed. They are dry enough when they shatter when hit by a hammer. Now I have bits of bean all over my kitchen. Last year I was smart enough to do this outside.

I'm wondering if I should use the seed saved this year. I swear the runner beans and the cranberry beans crossed. They all look like themselves, but some of the cranberry beans are growing way too big. I swear they are trying to get to runner bean size. If you didn't know runner beans are HUGE. Mine are usually an inch and a half long. But runner beans and cranberry beans are not the same species. So I would think crossing would be uncommon.

Today my chore is to take down the old tomato and pepper plants. It is supposed to be sunny and 60F today so it ought to be a pleasant chore.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bag Lady Strikes Again

I've learned over the years which weekend is the perfect weekend to start collecting leaves. It is after the leaves are 90% off the trees and right after a weekend with good weather. Everyone will go out and rake that weekend. And in the process leave garden gold (and red and orange) at their curbs to be hauled away. By me.

At my last house there was no trash pick up. So no gold left on the curbs. I had to go one town over to pick up my haul. This year I'm in Arlington with trash pick up right at my curb. Many people don't leave bags, but leave their leaves out in trash bins labeled "Yard Waste". We have weekly yard waste pick up in the fall and you don't even need those wonderful paper bags that I so love. But not to worry. Most people's yards have too many leaves to fit into their single yard waste barrel. Within two blocks of my house there were more leaves in paper bags on the curb Monday than I could possibly use.

My big issue with getting them is that I no longer had my minivan to collect leaves. I could use my husband's car which is a Prius, but you can't even fit the bags in upright. When I got rid of my old minivan I knew it might be an issue. So I gave my car to a friend that lives just a few blocks away. He lent me the car for a few hours. That minivan can fit an enormous amount of bags. And while I had the car I stopped by one of the local hardware stores to pick up two more pallets. Now I have four bins.

And three of them are totally filled with leaves. The other is for the leaves from our yard and the extra leaves in the bags. In the spring the leaves will all have compacted and this bin will be empty to start composting.

You will notice that I need two more small pallets to enclose them. I like the small ones in front because I can reach in if I need to and when I move them they are lighter. They still keep the leaves in well enough. The small pallets are harder to come by. These are from the Ideal Hardware store in Waltham. They use small pallets for their bricks. I didn't even have to collect them. They were from the bricks used to make our walks. I just wish I'd thought to tell them to leave more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday - 8 November 2010

This week we saw our first frost. This does not mean tomatoes won't be added to the tally.

The Cherokee Purples that I picked green earlier before the first fall frost warning a couple of weeks ago are ripening up nicely. I don't add the green tomatoes to the tally until they ripen. So throughout November I'll be adding in more Cherokee Purples.

Sadly it is the last of the cherry tomatoes. GabrielleAnn (which you can barely see tucked into the corner in the above basket) was a huge producer at 26.84 lbs this year. Wow. This harvest was pretty small though. It is also the last of the peppers and the zucchini. All I can say is that any harvest of zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers is amazing in November around here. This year we have been really blessed by hot weather - and cursed with a lack of rain all summer long.

Fun Jen, Tatsoi, Bok Choy seeds from Mac, Chinese broccoli from Mac

I decided I'd better pick the Asian greens and just try to use them up. Soon the ground will freeze and I won't get any harvests. I picked not quite a quarter of all the greens in the garden. You see here all the Asian greens I've got growing except the green stemmed bok choy. This was the first of the Fun Jen that I picked. It was the longest maturing of the greens I put in. I wasn't sure if it would mature or not, but it finally did. My favorite way to eat this is in salads. I mix it with a bit of lettuce and add some fruit and nuts. I use an Asian style salad dressing of some kind. This time it was a Japanese style dressing. Tasty.

  • Alliums 0,19 lbs
  • Cucurbits 0.14 lbs
  • Greens 2.99 lbs
  • Herbs 0.06 lbs
  • Pepper 0.06 lbs
  • Roots 0.51 lbs
  • Tomato 0.90 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 4.85 lbs
  • Total for the year 326.91 lbs
  • 2010 Tally $969.84

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Frost

Well our first frost came last night, November 3rd. I woke up and all the buildings in the area had frost on their roofs. So did my plants. The plants by the fence had just a touch of frost, but the plants at the end without the wooden fence had some pretty heavy frost.

I always love how pretty the frost is.

I guess it is time to take down the tomatoes now.

The marigolds however didn't seem affected by the frost. They are mostly lower and right on the blacktop (better known as a heat sink). They are also more hardy than my tomatoes and peppers.