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Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Today we’re having one of those slow steady rains, the kind that lasts all day, the kind you sometimes get after an extended hot dry spell, you can almost hear the land sighing with relief. The birds are singing and much more active than they have been, it’s cool and overcast and just what I’ve been hoping for for weeks! It’s also giving me time to finally post on the garden.

We have gotten so much done this season, it probably isn’t as obvious to the rest of the world but we see the work we’ve done and it is looking so much better already.

Here is the truck taking away dumpster #1 which we filled with mixed trash, everything from old rotting stuffed lawn chairs, to broken clothes drying contraptions, to miles of rotting electrical wire, ancient unearthed plastic bags, rusty nails and screws, broken window glass, vodka bottles whole and broken (must have been nearly 100 bottles scattered and buried) you name it, we’ve found it here. This is all stuff that we have slowly been harvesting from the property (courtesy of the old tenants!) as we dig and clear new areas.

Dumpster guy left us another dumpster which we filled with over a ton of rotting wood that was laying around in piles all over the property. I swear this place was like a landfill, we are still unearthing things as we dig planting beds but I think the bulk of it is gone now. We’re talking 2-3 tons of trash…unreal.

So anyway, I’ll give you a little tour of some of what we’ve been planting around here. The pictures all look a bit over-exposed because I took them on an incredibly hot, bright morning a few days ago…too much sun.

Here is a freshly dug bed that runs along the front of the house, next year I’ll fill it with perennials but for this year I’ve planted some sunflowers which will get about 6ft tall. I have also sowed dinosaur kale and raddichio just on the other side of that concrete brick, it is just beginning to sprout.

And here is my long awaited Zephyrine Drouhin rose. It took over 2 months to finally acquire one, I was beginning to lose hope. It is currently about 1 1/2 ft tall and has one very tiny bud. I don’t care about flowers this year, I just want it to establish enough to survive the winter and maybe even reach the first bar of the trellis ;O)

In front of it, I’ve planted 3 ‘Hidcote’ Lavender plants. Everything is so tiny!

This next bit is more of a ‘wildlife installation’. The brush pile has been there since last fall and we have been adding to it this season too. Since early spring it has been taken over by dozens of ground sparrows. I had the pleasure of their company all winter as well, as they spent their days eating all the seed off the ground which fell down from the bird feeder.

The brush pile seems to be a congregating point, a social meeting/mating spot for them. They have built their nests in the roof of the big barn across the street and some are nesting in crevices under our roof as well, but they spend alot of time on the brush pile. I love having them there.

The next addition to my ‘wildlife installation’ was a DIY bird bath. I have felt really sorry for the birds during this incredibly hot and long dry spell so I just used what we happened to have laying around and built this bath.

It consists of a big concrete block that the previous tenants had buried in the ground as an anchor for their laundry thingie, talk about over-building syndrome! Poor P spent an entire afternoon trying to get it out from the bottom of the 4ft hole he had to dug to get to it . He got it out using nothing but long crowbar-like levers and lots of swearing, it weighs a ton.

On top of the huge block of concrete I set a large plastic plant pot bottom, it’s about 2 ft in diameter, in the middle I set a large stone to hold it in place and to also provide an island for any unfortunate critters (like bees) who might fall in while drinking.

It’s not much to look at but the price was right and the birds love it!

Here’s what the studio is looking like currently. The rose to the left has been there for about 3 years but I haven’t been too successful about getting it to climb up and over the roof, I hope the trellis P built this year will make a difference, I’m also, admittedly, giving a bit more attention than I had been doing, it is definitely showing progress so we’ll see.

In the tub in front of the studio I have sown some beautiful pink rose mallow. It’s growing but not fast enough for me ;O)

In the cracks along the stone path I have planted creeping ‘Bressingham’ thyme, also very tiny at the moment.

Here’s a clematis I planted earlier this spring, it’s grown about 2-3 ft since then! It’s an early bloomer, with large lavender flowers, called Mrs. Cholmondeley.

This is a late blooming clematis that we planted on the wood shed, it’s called Jackmanii and has gorgeous dark violet flowers.

These are red currants which are nearly ripe, we only have a few canes currently so I just leave these berries for the birds. Next year we will plant a large berry garden on the other side of the house and then we’ll add more of these so we get a decent harvest.

Apples slowly ripening on our Roter Berlepsch apple tree, these are good eating apples. We also have a Gravenstein which is mainly a cooking apple.

This is an attempt at making a bumblebee house, but unfortunately no bumble bees moved in. I think maybe the hole is too vertical and so there would be rain getting in and falling on the little bumblebee heads…not good. They do however live in the crevices in this stone wall, so that’s ok, at least they are here. I still haven’t given up on the idea of bumblebee housing, but I think the hole needs to be horizontal. Anyone ever tried this with flower pots? Any suggestions?

And speaking of bumble bees if you look closely you’ll discover that the center of the pink flower is actually a bumble bee bum :O)

I am growing two varieties of cherry tomatoes on my porch. Tomatoes don’t do well here unless they are kept out of the rain, they are borderline greenhouse plants here, you can grow them outside with alot of care and attention but they do so much better in a greenhouse, or under cover. They are doing well for me in pots on the porch so this is what I will do until we eventually get a greenhouse.

And lastly, a few pics of my poor kitties who can’t stand the heat and tend to move from one shady patch to the next until they finally get to where they are going.

Any little patch of shade will do!

Well, that’s not all we’ve done but the rest of the pictures didn’t turn out so well. I’ll give you an update as things grow. Hope you are enjoying your garden too!

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This year we got off to an earlier start but still I think we were a bit late. Next year we will have a greenhouse and that should help quite a bit with getting things going on time and also with many of the plants that are not as hardy and need additional heat and shelter like; tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc. Last year we didn’t manage to raise even one tomato, we raised the plants from seed on our veranda and they were just too small and slow growing to produce any fruit before the cold Fall weather arrived.

This year we bought greenhouse-raised tomato plants from the farmer’s market which were already beginning to flower and were about 1 ft tall. We moved them out into the garden a few weeks ago and they are doing really well. We also tried once again to raise a few plants from seed but they are again, way too small.

Last year we were so frustrated and disgusted with our dismal results that we didn’t even bother to properly close down the garden, we just left everything as it stood, weeds, dead plants and all, and so this year Peer had to completely dig the beds again.

Last year we had a very dark and wet growing season which no doubt contributed to our failed garden. This year we are having the opposite… it’s way too hot and hardly a drop of rain so far. Using tap water to water our garden isn’t even an option. Water is way too expensive here and it is just not the way it is done. You never see sprinklers or irrigation systems in our area, instead we use rainwater. Up until recently we didn’t have a very large rainwater catch and so we hauled water in buckets from the creek that runs under our property. Now that we’ve got our large rain barrels hooked up, we fill watering cans from them and water the garden that way. We are having to water every 1-2 days currently and it’s about an hour’s job.

But here is what the garden looked like yesterday. We purposefully kept it small this year. We figure it is better to have a few smaller successes than one huge failure like last year. We’ve got potatoes, white cabbage, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, peas, broad beans, bush beans, pumpkins, cucumber, tomato, radishes, carrots, onions, garlic, spinach and sunflowers…a small amount of everything.

Another problem last year was the bugs. We had a HUGE amount of snails and slugs. We were determined not to treat them with anything poisonous, we want to let the land work out the balance between good bugs and bad bugs naturally, but damn, is it hard watching them devour and destroy all your hard work! We waited until nearly the end last year and then put down snail and slug bait. Not poisonous to anything but slugs and snails. It helped but was like spitting on a forest fire at that point. This year we began right away with the snail and slug bait and it is making a huge difference.

We definitely aren’t pest free though. We started keeping out cucumber and pumpkin plants covered at night because we lost 2 plants during the first night to something which just bites the stems completely through down near the base. It didn’t even bother to eat the plant just chewed them in half and left them laying there! I think it was slugs or snails but I’m not sure. The lids seem to be helping, I’m pushing them down about 2″ into the dirt.

A closer view of our potatoes and cabbages, these seem to be doing really well.

Of course we’ve also got a ton of aphids. My MIL gave me a climbing rose bush last year for my birthday and I planted it beside my studio. Of course this year it has just about every kind of pest that a rose bush can have. Along with the tons of aphids, it’s also got something that is completely chewing the flower buds in half. I haven’t seen what is doing that but I’m first going to focus on the aphids…more about that in my next post.

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