Back home at last after 6 weeks of absence, and from frosty Europe right into the middle of the southpacific summer! My garden turned into an untamed jungle while I was away. Despite minimal care, most plants are in a relatively lively condition, as are the weeds.
The giant sunflowers have finished flowering, are now feeding a mass of birds. Some had fallen. A pumpkin plant had managed to climb the tomato poles up to roof height! I have completeyl removed this adventurer, as it had not set fruit but was creating alot of shade. There are a few oversize kohlrabi, alot of huge and unfortunately floral basil (does anyone know a use for floral basil?) and two smallish caugette plants are still struggling to escape the shady onslaught of tangled tomato vines. One bore a huge fruit though.
The pepper plants have become trees, absolutely LOADED with peppers, alot ripening already which is very early. This extremely hot dry summer has provided incredible growing conditions for peppers, they have never been this hot before. Time to start making hot sauce. And some cucumber pickles. Alot of apple cucumbers sit on the vines.
Tomatoes!!! So many, so big, I cant believe it. Some plants have toppeled to become sprawlers, but are big and healthy. Ill just do some light pruning and let them be. Yesterday (first day home) I picked a whole kitchen bench full. Have taken a photo. And took some photos of the untouched jungle as it was. Ill proceed to upload some photos now... and update in a week or so when I have tidied everything up a bit.
Plenty of tomatoes to share... your are all invited to visit and pick a few!
Back in New Zealand, some pictures of my garden
Lena, Lena, Lena! Gorgeous! Just, simply gorgeous pics! You have done a fantastic job, even while you were gone! :-)
Call your local newspaper (or a gardening magazine) to do a story on your bale garden.
What are your neighbors saying?
How hot are those Thai peppers compared to Habaneros? or Cayenne?
Keep up the good work.
Kent: Ill wait till its all tidied up before I even think about calling the newspaper or anyone else to come and see! Im working on it though. I havent seen my neighbours since Ive been home. Maybe they are on holiday.
Yes the Thai chillis are nice and hot. Not quite like Habaneros, but pretty close. Cayenne are a bit milder. I made a big batch of chilli jam with kiwifruit, lime, and feijoa yesterday. My 50 odd plants are producing alot.
I also bottled 5 huge batches of tomatoes last night, it kept me up till 1am. All sepparated by variety. The difference in colours looks amazing. More to do again today. Maybe Ill try a batch of Ketchup with a mix of the smaller crops. Need to make some labels too. Feb 29th... leap year!
These are the Yellow Pear tomatoes, doing supprisingly well in their bales, with very little feeding or fussing over. I gave everything its first feed in weeks this morning.
Wow Lena!! Fantastic. What in the world did your friend feed them? Those plants are so nice and lush. They are nice and strong to hold all of that produce. You did a good job.
I'll bet your eyes popped when you first saw what you had. What a shame the sunflowers bloomed while you were away. I'll bet they were gorgeous. Look at the big seed heads!!
It just seems like yesterday that you were asking whether you should put your bales on the lawn or on the cement in the shade. Think that was it. Looks like you did both.
Whatever you did it surely was right. I see some salsa in your future girl. LOL
Lena; We are ready to pack our suit cases. Unfortunately, it's only a dream. Sorry I didn't see this post any earlier. My DW & I as well, got hit with the flu bug that wasn't covered with this years flu shots. We both felt like we had been hit by eighteen wheelers pulling triple trailers.
I think you done excellent.
Unfortunately I know all too well about a garden getting out of control, when you are away. So it is very easy to understand your concern for cleaning it up a bit first.
We are starting to feel better. Today was the first time we ventured out and visited with friends at the local coffee shop ( THE BARN ) LOL
We just didn't want to spread the flu to any of our friends.
We still have snow and ice covering most of the garden area, with a little of the dirt exposed. If the day warms enough. It gets rather greasy under foot. In other words we have a few more weeks of winter yet.
Enjoyed all the pictures. Thanks
Russ and Barb
Dear Russ and Barb,
I'm so pleased to hear that the two of you are finally recovering from the dreaded lurgi! I was worried for you both as it sounded quite bad. My zucchini plants have finally started to set some fruit - it has really been too hot and dry here and they have been very slow. The eggplant however is doing well and is now setting multple fruit. I am back on the bulb planting grindstone as of this week. What fun! I am looking forward to living vicariously through all of you during our winter
Yes it was a little rough. Probably our age, may have made us feel it more. But we are on the mend. Kind of. We need to be careful yet as it wouldn't take much to have a relapse.
Right about now we could use some of the hot weather your are having. that would probably help perk us up.
Right now it is 22F, And we had a light snow last night. The temp has been up and down. Like from aah nice to brrr cold. Perfect for catching the bug.
But in a few weeks spring will be here and we will be out in the garden again.
We have received many new seeds from other garden friends and are anxious to get them all planted. Some from around here who we have shared with and some from our on line garden friends as well.
Must stop writing now and do some other things
Russ & Barb
Russ, I don't think your age has anything to do with it. You 2 are very active people for "your age". Good grief. Wish I had half your energy. That bug just hits some people a lot harder than others. Or it is just a different kind than other's might get. A friend of mine who is half "your age" seems to have the same kind you both had and she is still down with it. Been in bed over a week now. However, you are absolutely correct in that you need to be really careful to not have relapses.
Yes, I do believe some spring would cheer us all up. We have some nice beautiful sunny days and almost get up to 50 or slightly above and then it gets down to the low 20s at night.
I have petunias, dahlias, cucumbers and a lot of other things sprouting now in my kitchen. I didn't think they would come up so fast or would have waited longer. But then I say that every year.
Lookin good Lena. That is one healthy tomato.
Hope ypu don't mind I'm going to show a friend that sandwich LOL
Everything looks good Lena. Maybe your friend can come take care of my garden this summer. He did real good.
These two tomato plants in front kind of escaped their poles while I was away. I have just left hem to it, they are growing so well! Black from Tula and Delicious, my two most productive plants in the whole garden, and they recieved the least care. Funny how that happens sometimes. They must like the sunny back lawn, the wind hasnt caused too many problems. The bale island on this side of the house is doing alright too. There are so many tomatoes still to ripen, Im running out of jars already. 2 whole big pantry shelves are crammed with full jars of caned tomatoes. I am starting to puree the tomatoes and let them simmer a while to reduce the volume by about half, so I can fill them into bottles as concentrate. About to go and burn my fingers again, 4th batch for the day. Phew! Just having a little pc break.
Beans. Purple King and Blue Lake. They didnt do so well. I managed to pick a few beans, and the plants got quite tall, but they just dont look happy in their bales. I had some scarlet runners in the ground, and they are still big and green and bushy, a lot better looking than these poor things. Maybe Ill just leave them in the ground next year. Has anyone tried peas in bales??? I could put some in this bale after the beans and see what happens. The bale itself is still in pretty good shape.
I can almost taste the tomatoes. Great pictures.
I have finally started some tomatoes and peppers in flats in the kitchen.
one flat I have transplanted into bigger pots. and moved off of the bottom heat shelf, They just get light now, no more bottom heat.
Oh you can go ahead and start picking your peppers and eating them at any time, they get adequate size to them.
The flavor won't change that much when they turn red. Possibly a tiny bit sweeter.
Once again Great pictures.
Lena, your fruit looks wonderful. That is exactly what I do for tomato sauce. Just reduce it down. It takes quite a lot to fill up the jars but it sounds like you have plenty.
I really like those bamboo trellises you made. Especially the overhead. did you do that? Looks great.
Jeanette, guess we will have to have her come up and build our gages. LOL Course wouldn't you know it, I don't have access to bamboo. Yes I think that was a marvelous job. Those peppers looked great too.
I'll take the cages. Even I can start seeds. EXCEPT Russ, those tomato seeds I sent you. I paid a lot for 15 seeds and they were all bad. How were yours?
Jeanette The one in the fish tank is still holding on. It is starting to get a little thicker stem. I do think however I will plant it outside, later.
I will Have to clean the aquarium pretty good as with the nutrients in the water It is getting nasty enough. I don't believe I will try growing any more in the house.
I may try again with a greenhouse, if I can keep it warm enough with a homemade solar heater.
That will be a project in it's self. I have a large square flat glass window that has the glue in between like the old flat car windows. It will withstand a pretty good hail storm, and not break like regular window glass.
I don't have it all planed out yet. It is something I want to try though.
I have some of those tomato seeds left yet. If you would like I could send them back, if you still wanted to try growing them.
My thinking is that if I can get one to produce outside, the seed could be saved, for another attempt. That is if we can come up with some improvement in the systems we have tried so far. Let me know.
Russ, I will write D-mail since I doubt if anybody else is interested in this experiment. LOL
Lena: What are apple-cucumbers? They sound amazing! Got any seeds?? WOnder if they'd grow in Pennsylvania.
Your garden looks great. Thanks for the photos.
Apple cucumbers, or more correctly "crystal apple" (Cucumis sativus) are a round pale coloured cucumber about the size of an apple. They grew and produced well, but personally I didnt like them much. Alot of seed, and a slightly different taste to regular cucumbers. Not unpleasent, but strange. Kind of appley almost! I have a whole fruitbowl full and dont quite know what to do with them all, so I probably wont grow them again. They are keeping extremely well at room temperature though, the plants kept producing untill I pulled them out last week. Maybe they do have their uses after all... my green cucumbers all finished in feb already. Heres a picture of them from last month, sitting on their bales.
I do have some seeds left over from spring. It was one of those handy double sealed "now and later" packets, so they should be fine. Dmail me if your interested.
What is your Pennsylvania climate like?
Lena: I'd love some of those seeds. (What is DMail?? I keep seeing this on the posts)
Right now it's between 40 and 70 during the days (I swear, I DO believe Mother Nature has altzheimers!) My daffodils are starting to bloom, forsythia and crocuses are out, the willow trees are turning chartreuse- it's so beautiful here. We're in zone 6 or 7, I can't keep it straight. Fairly even seasons - although the winters have been pretty wimpy lately; not much snow. I love the snow in the winter- makes you truly appreciate the Spring!
My step-mother was from Australia, and though I really have no interest in going there, I'm fascinated by what little I know of New Zealand. I'll look forward to your posts and pictures, and to those seeds, if I can figure how to get them from you!
Suzan: D-Mail is our internal messaging system here at DG. By using our internal messaging system, you can communicate with any other member on the site without revealing your personal email address.
By the way, take look around at all the features at DG. Lots of resources, ideas, etc, etc.
WOW Lena, look at all those tomatoes!! What kind of fertilizer were you using? Even after all the canning and sharing you did you still have them ripening. That is wonderful. Good for you.
Hi Jeanette :-)
It takes so long to upload the pictures, I keep walking away and forgetting about it. Slowly slowly ill get it done.
Havent fertilised for a while actually. The last application of Yates general purpose was about 5 weeks ago. I think the roots will be well into the ground below by now.
This bale had 3 Romas but only one is still going. And the nasturtiums and basil of course.