Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thanks Don!

I'd like to send out a word of thanks to Don Shor, host of "The Davis Garden Show" radio program for helping out with answers to some of my gardening questions, and for mentioning and posting a link to this blog for all the gardening world to see.  For anyone who would like to know more about vegetable gardening, or gardening in general, you can download the podcasts for the Davis Garden Show, as well as another great podcast, "Get Growing with Farmer Fred".   These folks put out great information and their podcasts help me get through my 48 mile one-way commute to work.

I'm trying to work out the "comments" problems that I'm experiencing on the blog - some have told me that they have tried to post a comment, but the blog wouldn't take it.  Until I figure it out, try posting as "anonymous" and see if that works.  Any feedback is welcomed.

On to the garden, I know you have been worried sick over those pepper plants I posted a couple of weeks ago.  The plants look a little better, but I'm hoping that some warmer weather will set them on the right path.  If the new growth comes out wrinkled and distorted after it warms up, then I'll know for sure that it's some form of virus and the plants will have to go.  Remember the "strung out felons" quip from an earlier post?  Well I guess you can say the plants are on probation.

The first actual tomato has formed, and it's on the - you guessed it - Early Wonder.    Blossoms are on the others, so let's hope they form en masse and there will be tomatoes by July.  I came across a couple of articles on "upside down" container growing  and was thinking about experimenting with one to see if there is any difference, or if it's just a gimmick.  I have a Celebrity seedling in reserve, so maybe I'll give that one a shot.

Monday, May 24, 2010


They grow up so fast, don't they?  Here is the difference a month makes as the tomato plants begin to mature. I'm watering for 60 minutes at a time, twice a week.  This watering business is killin' me because while the tomato and cucumbers like this schedule, the pepper plants seemed to be having a problem  because the ground is still saturated.  The cool, wet weather has also complicated things and I think maybe I'll increase to 75 minutes once a week until things heat up.  The adage holds that you water intensely, infrequently.  By watering this way, the roots of the plants are forced deeper into the soil to get to the better nutrients.  I've never had the patience to practice that rule in the past - when the soil surface looked dry, I watered.   I've never been completely satisfied with that method, so we'll try it by the book.

                             Blossoms on the Paul Robeson tomato


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pepper problem

I guess it wouldn't be gardening at my house if everything went according to plan. This is one of the jalapeno plants in the garden which seems to be in some sort of distress.  I've noticed that all of the new growth is stunted and the leaves are wrinkled and twisted. It's as if the plant is unhappy with each new shoot of growth, gives up on it and starts another with the same results.   I am seeing the same type of growth on the other pepper plants as well, although none as advanced as this. While it's possible this could be the result of the wacky weather, I'm concerned it could be something more serious such as a soil problem or some type of virus.

Further to follow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Peaches and Herb

Peaches and Herb? No, not that rockin' super duo from the 70's who sung that blazing chart topper "Reunited".  I'm talking about peaches and herbs. First, the peach tree.  I'm growing one in the yard and it's about 8 years old.  This is a white peach which produces the sweetest fruit, your teeth ache with each bite.  I'm sure some of you have tried to grow peaches or nectarines that never grow larger than a golf ball and would give any Spree candy a run for its money.  What's the trick?   Thinning of the fruit.  Unless your tree is considered self-thinning, you have to perform the task yourself.  Here's how to do it:  Take a branch laden with fruit and spread your thumb and pinky finger in a "hang loose" fashion.  Line it up with the branch and leave fruit at your thumb and pinky.  Remove all of the fruit in between. Do this along the length of each fruit bearing limb. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to throw away perfectly healthy looking fruit, but this will make the difference between growing golf balls or baseballs.   You will see and taste the difference I promise.   9 out of 10 neighborhood squirrels can attest.

On to the herbs. Here's what I'm growing this year:  Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Chives, Thyme, Mint and Rosemary.  All of these love the full sun and heat, especially the basil.  I prefer the large leaf Genovese basil as well as the flat-leaf Italian Parsley- don't bother with the curly-leaf variety, it doesn't taste as good.  For convenience, try to grow them in the same area, close to your back door or kitchen area.  By summer, you'll have the essential ingredients to enhance any creation in the kitchen.  

When the heirloom tomatoes come in, I like to make a nice Caprese Salad with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella from our pet water buffalo. Drizzled with a good olive oil, it's outstanding.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movement in the Wire

So I go out in the backyard this morning to survey the kingdom when I look up and see this little bastard oops, I mean cute, wonder of nature, clinging to the SIDE of my house under the eave of the top story.  Don't let his innocent-looking furry little face fool you.  I know what he's up to:  Reconnaissance.

You see, my peaches are developing on the tree in the corner of the yard and from this vantage point, he can see all the way across the top to size up his points of ingress and egress.  It won't be long before the sight of him sunning himself on the top of the block wall, warming his peach-laden belly with straddled legs and wearing a fruit-eating grin on his purple juice-soaked mug, finally pushes me over the edge.  

I have never seen the squirrel in this place before and it's clear that he's changing tactics. That's alright, I'll just have to step up the game.  I'd like to introduce to you one of the many enemy combatants who'll come out to play this year.

This incursion will not stand.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You're getting warmer

Well friends, the month of May has finally arrived and I think it's safe to say we've seen the last of the cold.  Now that the soil has warmed, the peppers have found their place in the plot along with the tomatoes and a pair of eggplant.  I put the finishing touches on the drip irrigation system and everything is up and running.    The onions, garlic and shallots have broken through the surface and seem to be doing quite well.

                         Bugs eye view of the onions and shallots

This year I've decided to grow two tomato plants in the Earthbox.  This system works very well if you follow the instructions for the proper setup which include using a soil-less potting mix and adding dolamite lime and granular fertilizer.  Once the plants go in, position the box in full sun and add water daily to the funnel pipe until it runs out the overflow hole near the bottom.  Since the fertilizer is added at the time of planting, it lasts the entire growing season.  It's impossible to overwater or overfertilize, the hallmark of most failures in the garden. The plants take what they need when they need it, and as long as you position in full sun, you can't go wrong.  In fact, I would venture to say you have to have a special skill set to fail at this endeavor!