I’ve been trying to keep up with the ripening tomatoes since the first red alert cherries appeared, but somewhere along that timeline I fell pretty far behind, and my garden that used to be a sea of green has been blanketed with reddish orange romas and brandywines. Davy, Sandy and I spent about 30 minutes to an hour collecting the tomatoes that we hope to give away. You see we are all pretty sick of processing tomatoes, and now that we have 120 jars full, we see no need to continue stocking up.
Now that I’ve grown more tomatoes then I ever thought I’d see in a lifetime, I’m wondering just how many of these plants I should start in next years garden. While we got far more tomatoes then we need, none of them will go to waste. I may trim the plant count a bit, but I don’t think 100 plants would be too many. I can then use the space that would have gone to tomato plants for starting fruit trees in the greenhouse this spring.
After cleaning up the tomato patch, Jessica and I moved onto the pepper patch, and quickly filled a crate with Chablis, Flexnum and California Wonder peppers. Somehow a Purple Kohlrabi wound up in the mix.
After a cup of coffee or two, it was time to move onto picking grapes. We picked Concord grapes from three native vines, then sorted them out removing all of the rotten and dried out grapes.
Instead of making wine we decided to try out grape juice production just to see how hard it would be, and how much work was involved. As the photo shows, many hands make quick work. I haven”t yet tried the taste of the juice once it’s been chilled, and if it’s worthwhile, I’ll share the recipe.
You may also like:
I decided to take some photos from odd angles in an attempt to find some really unique perspectives. I started with this sunflower, positioning myself so that the sun would be directly behind the flower. While to photo has some nice qualities, the seeds are washed out. I do like the colors produced as the solar rays passed through the petals, and It’s really cool to see a bug flying toward the flower in the top left hand corner.
I then decided to try a similar shot with some of my Swiss chard leaves, and I got a similar shot of tones produced as the suns rays ran through the leaf. The yellow in the photo is just how the plant looks in real life, and I have not altered the colors in any way.
When I decided to try some other angles, and avoid the sun, I pointed my lens at these festive chard leaves basking in the sun. In the background, peas grow to about 7 feet tall, and here they look enormous. The blue sky in the background gives the photo a quality of paradise, and this is often how I remember the valley when I’m away.
Since I had already gotten dirty, I figured I’d take a ground level shot of the Kohlrabi I direct seeded. Here the base of the plant is about the thickness of a pencil, and it has a lot of growing to do before becoming the shape and size of a baseball if all goes well. I had wanted to plant kohlrabi after realizing I had missed it, and when I got to the seed section, they were our of most seeds, but they did have this purple colored variety. I figure it can’t taste too much different from the light green toned plants that sprung forth in last years garden.
At the end of the day I decided to try my luck waiting for the ground hog to appear while my scope and generous supply of lead were nearby. Soon I found myself creating a hammock, and not long after that, I found my self waking up in it. So much for keeping an eye peeled. I guess it’s that time of year where I can relax a bit, so long as I can keep up with the weeds that constantly grow.
On Tuesday I started planting Tomatoes, so by Thursday I decided it was time to switch gears to direct seeded plants. I started with some Lettuce, then Purple Kohlrabi, two flavors of Mesclun then I finished up with some Green Beans. I’ve been trying to pace myself so that I’m not too warn out for working the next day, and I now have 9 whole days to finish the rest of the planting before going back to work. You heard it right, this IT guy is going into full farming mode for over a week !
Here are the seed packets for the items I’ve planted as seeds.
When I was planning what to plant the other day I couldn’t find the Kohlrabi seeds I ordered, so I went to Home Depot to find some. Their seed selection was still pretty healthy, but there was only purple Kohlrabi available, so I bought three packets. When I finished planting that day, I found the original white kohlrabi seeds.
The table under the seed packets is a side project I’ve been constructing from locally grown/harvested rough cut lumber. You may notice the pattern at the bottom that was left by the sawmill when the giant blade cut this tree into slices. I decided to leave these lines slightly visible to give the piece some additional character. When it came time for staining it, I used a combination of Oak and Birch stains, which have turned out beautifully. I’d really love to be a full time farmer / furniture builder some day.
I’ve finally gotten my Goji berry plants, but I must admit I’m kinda upset with them. These tiny plants cost me $12 plus shipping and handling. I’ve always been one to hold my tongue and not complain, but that is quickly changing. I’m realizing that when things are unfair, light must be cast upon the shadows. I’m planning on calling the company in question and asking if my generously filled out order forms do not merit 5 living plants.
On a more positive note, my Rock Garden is starting to come together nicely. Most of the larger stones were in place when I started this project, and I’ve fitted the smaller rocks around them to build a set of steps. I’ve worked this area as an artist would swirl paint on a canvas, letting the end result be more of a product of the initial state, rather then my own will. I guess it would be simpler to say I’m building around what I’ve been given, and not forcing the project to a particular design.
After constructing the steps, I moved many of the larger stones in the foreground to build a planting area for my herbs. I have Basil, Parsley, Sage and Chives planted here. Behind the apple tree trunk shown, I hope to construct another planting area. Here I would like to place some of the wild Spearmint plants that grow all around the farm.
The garden has begun it’s slow transformation from a land of plenty, with rapidly growing plants to a shadow of it’s height in summer. Most of the plants are showing their fatigue for the year, and many have withered completely. Few plants flourish this time of year, and it seemed prudent to pick these root crops before the first frost. I picked a bag each of Turnips and Beets, a few nice size kohlrabies and some carrots. My niece picked the string beans, as she seems to be the only one who is not yet sick of them for the year.
As I was pulling up the turnips, I kept hearing comments about the beans. Some where shaped like funny letters, a J here, an I there. I’m surprised she didn’t lay them out in the soil and spell funny words.
Last year I took a pepper plant out of the greenhouse, and planted it in a small pot in my kitchen. The plant grew enough in the winter to set one pepper. This year, I’m trying a different approach. I found the largest Chablis Pepper plant in the garden, and planted it in a 5 gallon bucket. The stem on this giant plant was about an inch in width, and is starting to get a hardened bark on the stem, just like a tree. The plant is at least three feet tall, bucket and all, and looked pretty cool when it was moved indoors. There are at least ten small peppers on this plant, so I’m hopeful for fresh peppers after the frost descends on the garden.
In the past when I planted beets, they never did too well. It may be because I never weeded past gardens nearly as well as this one.
Swiss chard is something I’ve only heard about in the past. I haven’t tried to eat it yet. A quick google search has informed me that the leaves of this plant are the portion that should be eaten. I had no idea. The small plant in the bottom right is pig weed, a nastily invasive garden weed. Of all the weeds I’ve ripped out, I would image 9 out of 10 were pig weed.
Kohlrabi I have tried in the past, and although I didn’t really enjoy it as I do tomatoes or strawberries, it wasn’t offensive to my taste buds. I imagine if I find the right way to cook it, it should taste fairly good. It is an odd plant to see fully grown, with a large ball at the base, and leaves poking out like a vegetable from another planet.
Okra is a wild card of newness to me. I’m not sure if it will even grow to fruition, as it’s a generally a southern crop.
All in all, I’m on pursuit of new crops with new tastes. In the past, I’ve grown Chinese Red Lightning Tomatoes, Mexican Husk Tomatillos, and even odd cucumber from Asia similar to Dosakai. If you have a suggestion for other new crops which may grow in the area, please let me know.