Monday, July 27, 2009

Hot weather!

The weather has been so good this year. The hot weather veggies are loving it, growing fast with lots of fruit coming on. This may be the best pepper year for a long time up here.

Hungarian Black peppers ripening up.

English bush cukes are flowering and setting fruit. They are a nice size so far, tidy enough to put small tomato cages around them for support. Next year I'll grow full size vines out in our field, so they can sprawl as much as they want.

My first try at corn is going well. It's pretty easy. I'd been foliar-feeding every 10 days or so with a weak fish emulsion to keep it growing fast until it began to set ears. This is an ultra-early 60 day variety (Earlivee Hybrid), so it has smaller ears on a smaller plant. Next year I'll grow a 6o day, a 70 day, and an 80 day variety to spread out the harvest.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


First ripe tomato today! Like last year, it's a Stupice variety (the earliest "ultra-early" heirloom). This has been the best summer in Whatcom County for as long as I've lived here (7 years). We've had no significant precipitation in Ferndale for more than 2 months now, and many hot, sunny days.

The tomatoes are growing like crazy, easily my biggest and healthiest plants ever. They're almost as tall as me! This year I bought nice, tall, heavy-duty cages.

I had to add on to the top of two already.

I pruned each plant as well, with a pretty simple method (found here, from Fine Gardening)
1) Remove all growth below the first flower cluster.
2) Allow the main stem to grow un-pruned, trained up a central stake.
3) Prune out all suckers except for those in the "crotches" of the two branches above the first flower cluster. These two suckers are grown as additional leaders.
4) Pinch out all other suckers. (I haven't kept up on this very well).

The purpose of pruning in this fashion is to enhance the size and quality of the fruit. This is done by controlling the amount and growth of non-contributive foliage and encouraging only the most fruitful and productive stems (the main stem and the first two suckers above the first flower cluster). It's easier to simply stake up a plant and let it go wild, and you'll get tons of tomatoes this way, but the pruning method I'm using should result in larger, earlier ripening, more nutritious and more flavorful tomatoes (though less in quantity).

I have tons of green tomatoes coming on. The biggest are just starting to color up, but in the next few weeks we'll be swimming in tomatoes.

Roma-type "Super Marzano".

Constoluto Genovese.

Chocolate Cherry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

3 months.

It's hard to believe we've only had the house for 3 months. All the hard work it took to get the garden this far made it feel like a lot longer!

4/15/09: Barren patch.

4/26/09: Rototilled.

5/10/09: First transplants.

6/03/09: More planted.

6/20/09: Growing fast.

7/15/09: Today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More goodies

Cherries are ripening fast now - so far we have picked 6 lbs off the backyard tree. More brassicas too.

Emily with fresh cherries (made a nice pie), broccoli, and kohlrabi.

This is 3 broccoli heads, cut up and ready to be frozen. First blanched for 3 minutes, then chilled in ice water, patted dry....

...and bagged and vacuum-sealed in a freezer bag. We're going to try canning this year for other vegetables, but I will be freezing whenever possible as it just seems a lot easier.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Excellent spring weather helped the (late planted) brassicas mature quickly - they're rolling in now. Ideally, I would have had the first small plantings of quick maturing varieties in by mid-march, followed a month later by the main crop plantings. The idea is to avoid being overwhelmed by an abundance of, say, kohlrabi (which one can only eat so much of) all at once, and instead to spread out the harvest over a month or more. Succession planting and smart varietal selection: something to focus on next year.

Derby day cabbage, a short season 58 day variety, ready for picking after 63 days. I also planted a long season fall cabbage.

The earliest of the Fall broccoli blend, a mix of 4 varieties, is ready. Looks like about half of the dozen or so plants I have are early, with the other half about a week away.

Supersmeltz kohlrabi. The biggest are softball size, with others as small as golfballs. It's an upgrade from broccoli stems.