April 28, 2010: Granny Scores at the $ Store

I used all of last year's pots (Dollar Store wastebaskets) for the dwarf tomatoes, basil and miscellaneous stuff, so that left me with none in which to plant my golden bell and hot peppers. There is only room in the garden for the dozen Quadrato Rosso D'Asti sweet peppers, so all of the others have to be planted in pots. The wastebaskets worked pretty well last year, but the hard plastic shattered when trying to drill drainage holes in the bottoms. That makes them perfect for the small tomato varieties, and they slipped over the fence posts easily, but I wanted something a bit sturdier for the pepper plants.

Are these perfect, or what? They are really large, really sturdy and flexible enough that holes were easily drilled with no breakage. Best of all, they were only $1 each at Dollar Tree! I bought seven, but I'm tempted to go buy more. Even if they have to be half buried to keep them from absorbing too much heat, I think they will make great planters.

April 27, 2010: Rainy Days & Tuesdays (part 1)

***Today's blog has so many photos, I'm doing it in two parts. Please scroll down for part 2.

Of course, I should have known it would rain today, since I gave the entire garden a double soaking yesterday. Not to complain, though. We get so little rain here in Eastern Washington, every drop is welcome. I braved the wet, and pushed a cart of seedlings out to enjoy a big, natural drink. When the sun comes out, they should put out a new growth spurt.

Tomato and pepper seedlings enjoying a spring shower.

This past week was spent planting out more seedlings, as well as moving all the potted plants from the patio table into the garden. I left the one Gartenperle tomato on the table to give Mr. Granny something to baby. That will be his own special tomato plant, as he's not allowed in the main garden. I doubt I'll ever train him to be a gardener, and I really think he doesn't have the slightest interest in being one, anyway.

Mr. Granny's Gartenperle tomato, complete with moisture meter,
to let him know when to water.

You may notice I've changed Mr. H's name to Mr. Granny. Many of us read Mr. H.'s (H with a period) blog, and my references to Mr. H (H with no period) are getting confusing.......thus, Mr. H (no period) will from now on be known as Mr. Granny. I think that name fits him better anyway. *snicker*.

Anyway, back to the garden.

So far, seventeen tomatoes have been planted. The main indeterminate garden, with its green bottomless buckets, holds one each Cherokee Purple, Kellogg's Breakfast, Sudduth's Brandywine and Nyagous. Four more indeterminates were planted behind the garden shed, against the back fence, and drip irrigation lines put in place for them. Those were two Cherokee Purple, one Brandywine and one Eva Purple Ball. There are two more spots to plant back there, but possibly too shady to grow anything well. I'll utilize those for a couple of leftover plants later on. Six of my larger (nearly bottomless) pots have been set over the metal fence posts that I was going to have Mr. Granny remove, now that I'm no longer fencing in the north garden. I decided they would be good supports for the several varieties of dwarf or very small determinate tomatoes I'm trying this year. They contain one each Minigold, Clear Pink Early, Golden Dwarf Champion, Sibirskij Stambovyj, Husky Red Cherry and Dwarf Champion. There are two pots of one each, Dwarf Champion and Golden Dwarf Champion, in the east garden, and Mr. Granny's Gartenperle on the patio table. Today was to be the day we set up the containers for the cherry tomatoes, but the rain has delayed that job.

Buckets, pots and in-the-ground tomatoes.

The raspberries are absolutely loaded with blossoms! I'll bet I get enough berries for jam, as well as fresh eating this year. Last year I got only a few handfuls that were eaten right on the spot.

Beautiful raspberry blossoms!

Exactly one year apart, (top) raspberries April 2009 and (bottom) raspberries April 2010.

The Contender bush beans are putting on their first leaves, the corn is about an inch high, and the Butternut squash have poked their pretty little leaves out of the hill of compost. I'm seeing some red globes beneath the radish leaves, and the lettuces are beginning to look like real plants, rather than small seedlings, even though the green ones are still recovering from being eaten by birds.

Contender bush beans.


Butternut squash.

Cherry Belle radishes.

Red Sails lettuce.

Buttercrunch lettuce, still showing some bird damage.

Last night I replanted the beets. I don't know whether it was the lack of rain/irrigation water early on or the quail that came through the garden, but hardly any of the beets came up. I've never had a problem with beets before, and the seeds were new, so I don't quite know what happened. I'm thinking this moon planting business isn't worth the hassle, so I ignored the moon phase and planted the root crop at the wrong time.......the "right" time didn't work, so why not.

TA-DA!! The first harvest from the Washington garden! The spinach needed to be thinned, and the thinnings were large enough to eat. I pulled two of the Walla Walla sweet onions to add to it, and we had an excellent wilted spinach salad for dinner.

The first thinning of the spinach bed gave us......

Enough for a big wilted spinach salad.

Continued (below).....

April 27, 2010: Rainy Days & Tuesdays (part 2)

***Part 2

I drove out to Burbank to visit Mr. & Mrs. DaBeardeOne yesterday. I wanted to take them some plants, and to tour their garden. They certainly have room for a lot of raised beds, and had most of them planted. I'm envious of his beautiful lettuce, and his cabbages look huge next to mine, but my seedlings are bigger than his (*smug grin*). I took a few tomato, pepper and flower plants to them, but still have a lot more for which to find homes.

Speaking of flowers, I got carried away with the several seed packets I'd picked up at 20-cents each. I'm afraid I scattered seed where I don't really want it. Try to visualize: To the left is the ladder with the bird house on top. Under the ladder, I've planted the beautiful blue morning glory, and provided a strip of chain link fencing (attached to the wood fence) for it to climb. There were pansies in front of the ladder, but they didn't withstand the uprooting in AZ and the trip to WA as well as I thought they would, so they are looking rather ratty. To the right of the ladder is a group of light yellow lilies (from Cheryl). Then, and this is what I'm not liking, I scattered seeds of giant snapdragons and some zinnias. To the right of that are pink and white hollyhocks, and white Shasta daisies. I'm not going to like the bright mixed colors of the snapdragons and zinnias in that bed at all! I have a bunch of dark pink Sweet William, and a packet of blue bachelor buttons that would have looked so much better there. I'm afraid I'm going to have to pluck out the zinnias and snapdragons like weeds, and chalk it up as this year's garden faux pas.

Peas, pots and more photos of the garden.......

April 22, 2010: Think Big!

Last year I used a single large tomato cage for each tomato plant in the indeterminate bed. It was such a jungle, it was hard to find and pick the tomatoes, and I'm sure I missed a lot of them.

My 2009 tomato jungle.

This year I'm thinking BIG! I got Mr. H out to help me today, and we constructed a heavy duty tomato caging system. The buckets are nearly bottomless, and allow the roots to go really deep. The buckets are all sunken into the ground a few inches and wired together, the lower tomato cages are inserted through small holes in the buckets, and the top cages are wired upside down onto them. The horizontal wood bar holds everything down, and is wired to the metal cross braces. The vertical stakes are double screwed into the horizontal bar.

Think BIG!

I got all the rest of the tomatoes potted up into 16-ounce cups today. I knew there were more than the forty I showed on the cart the other day, so I took inventory of them and came up with a grand total of 71 plants. My neighbor, Pat, called her grandson over to help her prepare a nice strip of ground along our shared fence. He weeded it all out, then hauled in and spread a half yard of composted manure on it. Pat has said I can plant my determinate tomatoes there, if I also plant some beans and zucchini for her. I should easily get 6-8 plants in there and still have room for a hill of zucchini and a wide row of Royal Burgundy bush beans. I gave Pat's grandson four of my nicest tomato plants for his garden. He just built his raised bed garden last year, after seeing mine.

2010 Tomato Plants

Amish Paste 1
Angora Super Sweet (Velvet Red) 2
Black Cherry 3
Brandywine, Sudduth's Strain 3
Cherokee Purple 3
Cherry Roma 2
Clear Pink Early 5
Dwarf Champion 2
Eva Purple Ball 3
Gartenperle 3
Golden Dwarf Champion 2
Green Grape 2
Homestead 3
Husky Red Cherry 3
Kellogg's Breakfast 6
Kimberly 2
Marglobe 5
Market Miracle 3
Mini Gold 2
Nyagous 5
Persey 3
Sibirskij Stambovyj 3
Sungold F1 4
Unknown (Angora SS seed) 1

Gartenperle blossoms

I was surprised to see my Gartenperle tomatoes are developing blossoms already! I just planted the seeds March 20th. I went ahead and put this one into a pot, as it's supposed to be a determinate plant that is good for container growing. "Bush (Determinate). The Tumbling Tomato! Ideal for growing in baskets, containers and windowboxes. The heavy crop of delicious 'rosy red' cherry sized fruits will tumble over the sides from early in the season and continue throughout the summer. Easy to grow, naturally trailing, needs no stopping or sideshooting. Gartenperle tomatoes are most often associated with fresh salads and snacks."

I think I'll hang this pot from a hook on the patio. I hope it performs better than the Tumbling Tom I grew last year. That one really wasn't very good, and it got huge and didn't tumble at all. I'm not going to devote too much time and space to Gartenperle though, after reading the following review: "Actual garden test trials with Italian seed purchased from Harvest Moon spanning three consecutive seasons have proven 'Gartenperle,' to be an uneventful and unspectacular tomato. I have deleted 'Gartenperle' from future plantings based on its mediocre taste and sub-avarage performance. It is unworthy of its space."

The raspberries are growing before my eyes! I don't know if you can tell by the next photo, but the horizontally woven canes are sending up beautiful vertical growth. If they bear fruit as well as they put out new growth, I'll be in raspberry heaven this summer!

Vertical growth.

April 20, 2010: Garden Progress

The pots that were planted yesterday got moved from behind the shed to the patio, where they will be easier to care for.

Gonzales cabbages and yellow marigolds. The marigolds are from seed saved from my favorites in 2008. I was surprised and happy they were still viable. On the other side of the chain link (dog kennel garden) is a 10' double row of Fortex pole beans, a gift from Daphne (as were the Gonzales seeds), that I planted today.

Today I also planted a pot of Spacemaster bush cucumbers. These have performed very well for me the past two years, grown in pots and trained to grow vertically. This year I'll also have this new section of the kennel garden fencing to help keep the vines upright.

Along the east fence, in the first bed, I planted six Calabrese broccoli. Some of these were direct sown, and some were transplanted today. The direct sown are really small, and not all of them germinated, so growing the seedlings was definitely the way to go. I also transplanted two Golden Acre cabbages, one Red Acre cabbage and a dozen Walla Walla sweet onions which were thinnings from the onion bed, and will be pulled before the broccoli and cabbages need the space. The bucket is planted with Double Yield cucumber, a gift from Dan. It will be trained along the top of the fence.

The next east fence bed holds my rosemary and more of my saved marigolds, along with some Petite Yellow marigolds. The Petite Yellow already have flower buds on them. They are really nice plants, and came from a 20-cent packet from American Seed (dollar store buy).

The third east fence bed is the same as the first, except there is dill planted at the back, instead of cucumbers, and the broccoli variety is Waltham.

The last bed along the east fence is filled with chives. Behind the chives is an unplanted area, which will probably hold one of the pots I planted yesterday, possibly one of the eggplants. Beyond this bed, I planted Shasta daisies (the seed was a gift from Hometown Seeds) and pink hollyhocks. The hollyhock seed came from Toni. The front border consists of narcissus that had been dug last year and stored in the shed....and forgotten. I went ahead and planted them this spring, as they had begun to sprout. They are growing now, so I think they'll probably reward me with blooms next spring.

The lettuce/radish beds are finally safe from the birds, and showing real growth. Even the plants that were chewed nearly to the ground seem to be recuperating. The radishes have just sprouted in the lower photo, and the lettuce seed mats have been planted.

The peas, Little Marvel, didn't all germinate, but it looks like there will be enough to give us at least a few meals. They also have bird netting for protection.

The sugar snap peas, Sugar Lace, had even poorer germination. It may be I didn't get the bird netting on the pea beds soon enough.

The potatoes are really popping out of the ground these past few days. It won't be long before I'll have to begin hilling them.

This bed has Chantenay, Ingot and Short 'n Sweet carrots planted between the rows of radishes. The Chantenay and Ingot are showing good germination, the short 'n Sweet are looking a bit spotty.

I planted my one and only De Cicco broccoli in this small bed. It was from seed I'd received from EG a couple years ago, and was just too old to germinate well this year. A leftover Red Acre cabbage is on the other side, and my shallots in the center. You may notice the jar rings around my broccoli and cabbage plants. I didn't have enough toilet tissue rolls saved up to use as cutworm collars, so I grabbed the rings as a substitute. If they work, it will be a great discovery, so easy to use!

The spinach is growing, and will soon need to be thinned. There is a row of red onions growing between them and the beets on the other side of the bed. So far the beets aren't doing much of anything. I may be doing some replanting to fill in the bare spots.

These Walla Walla onions will be pulled to use as green onions. The cilantro, in the pot in the center, was from seeds sent by Stefaneener.

These Walla Walla sweet onions will be grown to full size, although I do have to do a bit more thinning. Ill have to find a spot for about two dozen of them, maybe more pots.

There will be only four indeterminate tomatoes in this bed, Market Miracle, Kellogg's Breakfast, Suddith's Strain Brandywine and Cherokee Purple (the last two from seed sent by Dan). Today I set the plants in the nearly empty buckets, where they will spend their first night outside. They have been in an unheated shed at night, and outside every day for the past couple of weeks, so this is the final step in hardening them off. The buckets should give them good protection if the wind happens to come up. To the right of the buckets is a double row of Gourmet Mix lettuce (a gift from Hometown Seeds), which were directly seeded. To the left is a double row of recently planted Contender bush beans.

Market Miracle tomato, comfy in its bucket.

The raspberries are growing like weeds. They are doing as I thought, putting up vertical shoots all along the horizontally woven canes. The sparrows are nesting in the birdhouse now.

Strawberry patch is lookin' good!