Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 5/30/11

A little late but the update is here!  I was not able to do it yesterday but here it is nonetheless. I caught up with some garden chores along with making dinner with fresh veggies from the garden.  An acorn squash was made into soup and another was cooked in with a few other veggies. Of course, some are eaten fresh and almost right off the plant.

Enough talking about the food and show it off. Today we start with one of the upside down tomato planters that was made from a 2 liter bottle of coke. This one has 2 large tomatoes. I'm not sure as to what these are and all I know is that these will be eaten once ripe.


Here is my favorite shot this week and the most delicious lettuce I've ever eaten but then again, I may be a bit bias. The lettuce is still producing but as the weather heats up, I'm looking for ways to shade the greens and hopefully keep them producing longer.

I'm not holding my breath on these and have possible plants that may take their place. I have tomato, eggplant and may try growing some carrots between it all. The carrots I planted in the main tomato raised bed are looking good and will be enjoyed as well.

This is one of the few peppers popping up all over the place. This specific one is a poblano but green bell and banana peppers also coming in. I promised my wife some banana peppers last year but was not able to grown them successfully.

The peppers will be hopefully be enjoyed through the entire season.


My early girl tomatoes are getting bigger and some are turning red! There are many tomatoes all over the yard and here is a nice shot of a small bunch. I even picked some yellow pear tomatoes today and put them in the kitchen window to ripen up. I know some people out there prefer the ripen on the vine process but I don't mind picking them a little early. I think if I leave too many on the plant, they will take longer to ripen.

On the tomatillo front, I am happy to say that I found a few that are getting larger! It looks like I will be ok. It may be that there are pollinating insects out there helping me out.

The last photo this week shows more than a few buds growing on a falling cactus. This cactus puts out some amazingly gorgeous night blooming flowers in the summer. These flowers are not only gorgeous but also smell divine.

We saw this last year and fell in love with them. The rains from this last winter soaked the ground so much that the main part of the cactus started falling over but there are 4-5 new stems that are under a foot tall and look pretty healthy.

This is it for this week and I will be back next week with more photos!

Luis

This week's photos can be found HERE!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weekly Farm Update: 5/22/11

I know tomatoes are the most abundant right now but there are also a few other things coming in. We start with a poblano pepper plant. Of course, the main attraction is the large one in the center, but there are smaller peppers just starting out to the right of it. The seeds for the poblano pepper plants came from a store bought pepper. I cut out the seeds and let them dry a bit in the window. I have maybe 3-4 plants for these and they may be too many but I'm sure somebody will take them.

I don't believe these are very hot but my wife may be the only one here to eat them. I see may salsas in the near future that will use these and the tomatoes.



Our next pepper in line is the green bell pepper. The seeds for this one were actually a gift from my mother in law last year. She found seeds in three packs and this was one of the seed packets. I grew these last year and they are very tasty. I guess I stored them well enough to still be viable as I think I have 4-5 of these plants around the garden and in pots. I even gave one of them of my mom, along with eggplant, yellow pear tomato, banana pepper and poblano peppers seedlings.  These didn't get too big last year but this photo was just taken yesterday and that exact same pepper is about twice the size today.




To make those salsas, one also needs onions and I've got the first one already. I was walking in the garden and accidentally stepped on an onion top. Once I heard it, I  knew what I had done and thought the onion was lost. To my surprise, I hadn't actually stepped on the onion itself, but rather on the top and it caused the  whole thing just popped right out. The roots were still good and I probably could have just covered it back up but the smell was intoxicating. I like onions as much as the next person, but I'm not in love with them. It is about as big as a golf ball and I haven't decided as to what I'm going to do with it.

Our next stop is the large acorn squash that will be enjoyed soon. I'm not sure how it will be cooked, but I am looking forward to it. This would be the second one of the season but it is twice the size of the first already. I'm not sure how much longer I will leave it on there but it may be good for dinner this coming week.

This plant also came from store bought produce and it is producing like crazy. You can actually see a baby squash sitting on top of it.

Time for some greens that look so good that I want a salad now. This greens bed has lettuce blends and white swiss chard. On the right we can see a squash bloom that is coming from zucchini plants.

I love eating all of the salads so far but I know that they won't last all season and trying to figure out what will  be planted there.

The last photo for this week is one of green tomato heaven. These guys are all growing amazingly fast and will probably ripen faster when the heat kicks in a little more. My wife can't wait for these to be ready and she will probably eat these right off the vine.

Til next week!

Luis

The photos for this week can be found HERE!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekly Farm Update - 5/15/11

This week starts with the latest sunflower in the garden. There are more coming up and will hopefully last throughout the season. The garden lately has been putting out tomatoes like crazy. The only ones we've been able to eat are from the same cherry tomato plant from last year. I have ID'd the Moneymaker, Early Girls, Roma and the Yellow Pears. It wasn't too hard to figure it out and that adds to the excitement because now I know that all there is at least 2, or more, plants for each variety.


We start off with the Early Girls and they are simply everywhere. I think there are more of these than any other but it does not make them any less special. These were pretty easy to spot since I grew these last year and know what they look like. These  get to be about golf-ball size and have a sweet taste to them. These are fairly smooth all the way around and a high producer. Each one of these plants has 3-4 bunches of them an each group has 5-6 each, if not more.

These will probably be the first ones ready to pick and eat right off the vine.





Up next is the second cucumber of the season. This one is almost twice the size of the first one. This one is still around but may be sliced up and tossed into a salad tonight. This is my first  attempt at cucumbers and I think I'm doing fine so far, but this is a small plant still and is slowly making its way up the nylon netting. It is tied to a tall post on one end of the garden and will have more than enough support. There are many more buds on the vine and those should put out many more cukes.

I will have to find many ways to eat these.



Going back to tomatoes., we move to my favorite variety. The Yellow Pear is just one that I completely fell in love with. These grow in massive groupings. Each bunch has 10-15 tomatoes, and sometimes more. I will toss about 10 or so into small baggies and have these as snacks at work or just a healthier alternative while at home. These are everywhere and one of the plants is starting to look more like a bush with buds everywhere.

The last photo of tomatoes this week are the Money Makers. I tried growing these last year but it being my first attempt at seed starting, none of them  made it. I'm not sure on the taste but I am open to it and may enjoy them, who knows? I know my wife really won't care as long as it is a tomato.

I also have Romas that have already but I didn't realize it until the photos had already been processed. I will include photos of them next week. I know they are pretty high yielding plants and they are good to make into tomato sauce.




Up next are the carrots with onions and a small piece of acorn squash. We have enjoyed a few carrots in chicken soup as well as fresh in a salad. When I grew carrots last year, I remembering having to literally dig them out but this time around it is much easier. I added large amounts of compost and it is slowly softening my clay-like soil. I pulled them right out without really doing much. I haven't pulled any onions yet but I will at some point.

The acorn squash plant can be seen on the bottom right as it peeks into the photo. If you look closely, you can actually see a squash forming. The first squash was enjoyed already this week. The vine the squash was growing from, somehow broke off. I think I had moved it too much as it was forming and this was all it could take. It was not full size and wasn't ready but it still tasted wonderful. It was peeled and diced into a soup, along with some carrots. The flavor wasn't too strong but good nonetheless.

This is the greens bed and it is still producing like crazy. The fresh salads are amazing and the leaves are full of flavor. My wife likes fresh chard in her salads because she like the even stronger flavor. I like chard better when it is cooked somehow. I found that when it is cooked, the flavor is diluted a bit but it still stands out and is really good.




The last photo for this week is a shot of the newly filled bed! This is part of the garden/farm expansion. It is filled with only home-made compost. The 5 plants in it where all started from seed and already have set fruit.

This is the same size as the other beds at 3x3. I put different varieties of tomatoes in it and there is one plant per corner. I couldn't let any space go to waste and tossed in a pepper plant right in the center. I haven't added supports to it but a quick run to the 99 cent only store will be all I need to do for those. I plan on adding a layer of grass clippings as mulch to help it conserve moisture and not dry out. I am adding more beds over time and will update as to how that goes.

Come back next week for another update!

Luis

This week's photos are HERE.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weekly Farm Update: 5/8/11

This week starts with a shot of the sunflowers that decided to grow back to back. I don't know why or how this happened but that does not make them any less gorgeous.

These two have actually been cut and now sit on our dinning room table along with a rose and a small hydrangea cluster in an a vase. It is a great feeling to be able to say that all three came from my own garden.

This kicks off this week's update.



We start with a green bell pepper plant that is growing in a small square pot from the 99 cent store. As you can see, the blooms have started and will hopefully put out some nice peppers. I thought of moving this to a bigger pot but it seems pretty happy now and will probably stay put for the season.

I have some tomato plants in the same size pot but those will more than likely be up-potted. Heck, if I find the space in the garden, they will be planted directly into the soil.


Speaking of tomatoes, here is a shot of some yellow pears. These plants produce so much and I simply love these. My wife is the real tomato lover and she will be mainly enjoying everything else but these. These have a different taste to them and are pretty sweet. I really can't get into the any other variety of tomatoes but I love them. It just goes to show that regardless of your preferences, you will probably find a tomato that is right for you. I never thought I would like tomatoes this much but I simply can't get enough of the yellow pears.



Cucumbers are new to me this season and I am happy to report that I already have my first one! This cucumber has not been eaten yet but will probably go into a salad later on today or may just be eaten by itself.

There were two plants put into a planter of sorts and I was concerned about pollination but it all seems to be fine. I haven't looked into the pollination of these but they seem to be growing fine. I have another cucumber vine growing up a nylon trellis and it seems to be doing fine. This is the biggest one I've found so far but there are more out there that will hopefully be enjoyed as well.


Speaking of pollination, we now go to the squash. These plants have simply gone crazy, as you can see. I  had some u-hoops holding them up but that was not enough support and they are slowly taking over the area behind the raised beds. I also put them in between the beds because I really didn't think they would take off like this. I've had to wrap them around the bed by tying or bending the vines. We will just wait and see how much fruit they set.

The best part is that I think I've figured out what kind of squash these all are. So far I have spaghetti and acorn squash. If any of the butternut made it, I simply don't see it.


It's time for the shot of the beds and these are overflowing with plants. We start on the left and move right.

Bed 1:  There are tomatoes on the back side with pepper plants in the front. There are buds on everything and many baby yellow pear tomatoes.

Bed 2:  Eggplants, peppers and more tomato plants are found in this one. The tomato plants have buds and also have small fruit on them. I am happy to say that I have found the first eggplant bud for the season! I am not sure the variety but I'm only growing black beauty and front runner.

Bed 3: My main tomato bed and the have many bunches of fruit. This is were I put in the carrots in between the tomato plants. The carrots have sprouted and the tops are still small but it all looks good. This bed includes, what appears to be, yellow pear, moneymaker and/or early girl but they will all be enjoyed equally.

We now move to the last large area of the garden where all my potted plants currently sit. This area mainly has tomatoes but also includes eggplants, peppers, cucumbers and flowers. The marigolds are in small containers and sit in between everything. I love looking out there and seeing all the blooms.




This week's last photo is the very early stage of the garden expansion area. I only have two beds in it for now but hope get to six. The area back there is about 10x13 or so. These beds are made with common redwood dog-eared picket fence boards and redwood studs. I already had some outdoor/decking screws and used those. The beds do not take long at all to make and pretty simple t build. I will be doing a DIY post on these and one of the great things about these is that they only run about $10 per bed. I will also be doing a post about the expansion itself but all in good time. My main need right now is what to fill them with as far as growing medium. I am trying to keep the cost as low as possible and doing well so far, I think.

That just about does it for this week but the fun doesn't end here. The link to the photos for this week's update is below. You will find many more pictured that include; tomatoes, squash, flowers and more.

Luis

Find the photos for this week HERE.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 5/1/11

We start this week with the acorn squash that is coming in. It is still too small to pick. This plant came from a store bought acorn squash. I was happy to see that this is a bush variety and extremely high yielding. There are many that are growing but all the flowers don't get pollinated and that is why I've been hand pollinating,
There are not many pollinating insects out there yet, and there is no reason these should go to waste.


Sticking with squash, we move onto spaghetti squash? I remember pollinating a few flowers but I guess I forgot about them because I was shocked to see these two hanging around. I also have 2 more squash on the plant I put up front of the house. One of those is just taking off but the other is a little slower.

I know there are probably some out there that wonder about hand pollinating squash and it is not that hard. I found some help online and when you get down to it, it isn't difficult at all. I had to resort to it last year because all of my spaghetti squash was just dying. We ended up enjoying 3-4 squash last year and fell in love with them.


Enough of the squash for now and to show off some tomatoes. The larger two of this bunch, are the first two of the season. The others in the bunch have grown that much in about a week's time. Like I said last week, these are the first of the season but there are more all around the garden. The yellow pear tomatoes, my favorite, have also started to set fruit. My wife just can't wait for the tomatoes and is about to burst. I simply told her that she can eat them all but she must leave the yellow pears for me. I am finicky about tomatoes but I just love those little yellow morsels. I plan on taking those to work as healthy snacks.

Of course, the updates here will continue and you will see the process with me.


Our next picture is not a vegetable but a flower. This flower came from the same sunflowers from last year. My sister's boyfriend knew that I was into gardening and just plants. He brought over a packet of sunflower seeds that I simply tossed into a small pot with potting mix. I watered it and before long, I had these gorgeous  flowers. Throughout the corse of the season, I potted the flowers up and they now sit in a 5 gallon pot. I grew the entire seed packet and once the flowers faded, the plants have since re-seeded themselves.

Sunflowers are not the only flowers growing in the garden. Marigolds can also be found in pots all over. These were grown to keep away the bad insects and bring in the beneficial ones. I started with a full packet of seeds in trays and these have just taken off.

This is just one of the many flowers that are all over the yard and I am in totally in love. I don't know what it is but I have always admired marigolds in the different varieties. As a kid I remember walking home from school and seeing them growing at a few houses. I now know why they may have been grown.



I know I didn't talk about my lettuce/greens bed too much last week. Everything continues to grow well and many salads have been enjoyed. The heat is kicking in and I water everyday and I hope to keep them going for a while.

The white swiss chard is in two rows in the center and has different varieties of lettuce on either side. The chard has been eaten fresh in salads and cooked like spinach and provides great flavor.

On the edge of the greens bed, zukes were put in and a trellis of sorts will be built. I want to build it to where it provides shade for the greens. I'm not sure how that will work but some ideas have been bouncing around in my head.

I have seen many tutorials that uses pvc pipe, but the sun will make it brittle and may not last too long. My next idea is conduit pipe but I don't know if the pipe will be too hot and burn the plant. The pipe would be a sturdier option and won't cost too much. A frame can be made and nylon netting used to hold up the plant.

I don't know yet but we'll see. Although, the garden funds are being used to buy redwood  dog eared picket fence boards to make more raised beds. More on that later.

The plants in the current beds are bigger everyday and will hopefully put out a good yield of organic food without the high cost. The tomato/carrot bed on the right fills in more everyday.

The middle bed has eggplants, peppers and tomatoes in it. Everything in it is also getting nice and big. The peppers also have small buds on them. The only thing I gotta watch right now if the massive squash plant that has emerged between the last two beds on the end. If you remember, I am not great at labels. I honestly didn't think it would get so massive and a little trimming has been needed.

The last bed on the left has 3 tomato plants and 3 pepper plants. The tomato plants are a decent size and the peppers are also getting there. More buds and new leaves can be found almost everyday. I hope it all makes it though and provides some great food.


The last photo of the week is one of a green bell pepper plant that has been potted up. It may actually stay in this pot for the season. Buds on these have started to form and should hopefully be putting out some great peppers.

I think this is one of the bigger updates this season but I hope I will be reporting about the many pounds of organic produce that come out of the garden. It will definitely help with the grocery bill.

Until next week!

Luis

This week's photos are HERE!