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!
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.
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.
Starting to look a bit tidier. These 4 bales are doing great. The tomatoes are the healthiest looking and producing well. Just one tomato plant per bale, plus two pepper plants. And a few random rudbeckias for the bees.
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.
View from this angle. Tomatoes this end are Great White on the left, a small Green Sausage bush in the middle, and Black from Tula on the right. I took these pictures today. The bales are really beginning to sag and fall to bits, the strings are all loose!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Some new photos I took this morning. The structure is beginning to lean a bit. Most plants have grown right over the top and to the other side, many are still growing. I will chop the tops off soon I think, slow them down a bit.
Yellow Pear, still doing ok. I stopped feeding these too. Ive had enough. This bale is still in great condition, dont know why. Actually, this one, and the others I places strings up, have held their shape better than the strings down bales.
Some Peppers I picked last week. From top left clockwise: Thai Super, Cayenne, Habanero Red (centre Habanero white. but they look yellow to me), Thai Hot, and two unknown varieties that I grew from seed I collected myself somewhere. Does anyone recognise them? Oh and Hungarian Yellow Wax in between them all.
Kent: Not my neighbours, but a friend recently saw pics on my online blog and asked for info. He seems genuinely interested in giving it a try. I sent him what info I could, as well as a link to DG :-)
Great pictures Lena. Great garden you had this year. Those peppers on the bottom left I think you said you aren't sure of? Could they be ripe jalapenos? Also, try resizing your pictures down to half size before you load them. That might make it easier. Try to resend one doing that.
Kent, look at her picture of the yellow pears. It looks like she has the bales turned with the strings to the side.
Jeanette; I remember she had some one way and others the other.
Last year I had all of mine with the strings on the side.
This year they are all going to be string down. I only have nine so far. They don't go all the way along the one edge of my garden. I just feel like they should. I took a few more pictures today. However I'm still pushing to get everything done before Friday. I watered them down, no nitrogen or anything just plain water. When I get back I'll get some blood meal and start watering that in. Planted 10 more asparagus roots today, ran the tiller there to loosen the soil. But to get the holes deep enough, I used the post hole digger. Lets face it I wear out too easy, digging by hand. I put a piece of vinyl house siding on one edge of the row, to keep the brome grass from creeping into their root zone. That makes a nice deep edger for them.
Well my young helper came by tonight to help put the topper on the pickup, so now that is ready to haul the plants. Just have today, tomorrow and a little time Friday, to be ready to go.
Have onions, radish and spinach coming up. Looks good to be able to see the rows of green.
Best get busy. more later.
Jeannette: I think Jalapenos are quite thick walled and fleshy. These are thin walled like a cayenne. They do look simelar though dont they. I have some Jalapeno seeds for next season. I will know for sure then.
Jeanette; I see I skipped part of your question.
Cedar Rapids is around a 3 to 3 an a half hour trip. But We are stopping at the Amana colonies to visit Larry's garden and Give him my trade there, so he can set them inside and the SPs won't suffer much of a shock.
Leana I don't recognize those peppers either. But if they were yellow I would think They were a sweet banana. That is if I'm thinking of the right ones.
I havent had a fresh Jalapeno before, only the pickled ones. So I wouldnt know. The Jalapenos I have seen in pictures look a bit different too.Darker and bigger. These are yellowish when unripe. How big do the plants get, do you know? These plants are short and sprawly.
Those don't sound like Jalapenoes. I have tried to spell that every way and my spellcheck does not like it at all. Maybe it doesn't like the capital. Think those Jallys (lol) plants are more like the bells.
Jeanette: Yeah I have, they are hot! A short red chilli pepper. I have named them "short red" for my own identification purposes.
Russ: thanks for the picture. Your sweet bananas look simelar to my hungarian Yellows, which are slightly hot though, not sweet. The pepper we are trying to identify is the little red one in the bottom left corner. And the other red ones to the right of them, they came out of a mix packet of seeds. Enjoy your trip :-)
Yes Jeanette we had a great time. I had a second helping at the BBQ Friday evening. That didn't help my sleep any afterwards. Too much food and a little heartburn.
Then a big picnic lunch on Saturday. Wow, Good thing it was slightly on the cool side and windy. That helped to burn some of those calories.
Then a bunch of us met for supper . Barb & I just had a salad, that we neither one could finish. The main thing of course is we got together and had a great time.
There were enough door prizes, that everybody got their name drawn 3 times. Then for the plant swap, The went by tables. I know each table was called about the same number of times. that was to chose 1 plant. before they just turned everybody loose, to pick plants untill they were all gone. We brought home about as many as we took for trade.
But I did get a nice Autumn Clematis, a couple tropical Hibiscus, a Kalanchoe, high bush cranberry, about 8 different lilies, 8 ever-bearing raspberries, bell flowers. and much more. Now I have to plant most of it. Several of course are not hardy and will have to be in containers.
When we went out we went down to the interstate and across as we wanted to stop in the Amana Colonies, to visit a garden there and to complete a trade that had been agreed upon already. So that was 294 miles going and when we came home we only went down to highway 30 which saved 40 miles off the trip.
Now that we are home and the pickup is unloaded, we are feeling more like taking a nap. We didn't get much rain out of all those storms this weekend, so I suppose I should set up the soak-er hose on some of the garden. I will water the bales first, as I do want to get them started.
2 days on the other garden sure made a difference. Looks like some of the stuff grew 1" to 2".
Was sure glad I didn't leave any plants in the GH as when I opened the door the heat just about floored me. The thermometer could only read 120 F and that is where the mercury was. Right at the top of the glass.
Oh well it was great to get away, and visit other DG friends. Even though it was still a little to cool for everything to be in bloom. We all had a wonderful time. Even though I forgot one persons Trade. But I will mail that to her, so all will be well and good.
Boy Russ, sounds like you guys had a great time. Wonderful. How many were there? Isn't it fun to meet people you have been talking to all this time? Wish I could go. I think they had one over on the coast last year. Across the water from Seattle. Doubt I would go that far.
I was wrong The total was 55, so I am told. But that was still a very good turn out for as cold as it was. We all wore coats. Was wishing I had my long Johns too. I did not see the temp Barb said it was 59 but I don't think it reached that untill we were starting to leave and the wind died down a bit.
That is a good turnout Russ. And to have that many hot dishes was good. I used to find at the ;potlucks at work that nobody wanted to bother with the hot stuff but just a few of us so we always got stuck. Not bad with the crock pots they have out now.
I was willing to bring something hot but those, keeping a list of who was bringing what assured me that a sheet cake would be sufficent.
I really believe that the organizers of this RU Really done a great job, and I know it wasn't cheap they had to have used up a quite a bit of gas, to gather all the door prizes. Some were donated, some were bought. A lot of miles in gathering them, from all the different places.
Every one seemed to go out of their way to make this a GREAT gettogether.
So that was two years ago that I started my first bale garden. Last spring I could not get more than one overpriced bale (which I needed for mulching) because of the hot dry previous summer and the draughts that came with it. There was a nation wide shortage of hay and straw, animals were hungry and prices went through the roof.
This year I managed to get 8 barley straw bales @$6 each, 3 have already disappeared in the garden as mulch, I plan to plant into a few of them. Here are three that I have set out in the yard, they serve as a day care centre for my seedling at the moment, but I will start wetting them down soon to have them ready for planting in late October. A few eggplants, peppers and cucumbers will take up residence in here. Tulips have just opened.