Posts Tagged ‘tomato’

Today’s Harvest


Oh look! Another zucchini.

The tomatoes are coming in steady now. They’re a little watery tasting from all the rain, but they’ll cook up fine. I made my first Tomato Sandwich of the season with a nice Cherokee Purple. It was awesome. I think tomato sandwiches are a Jersey thing.

I’m not impressed with the Jolly Elf grape tomatoes. Thick skinned, a bit bland and the plants aren’t very disease resistant.
The Cherokees are doing well this year. Very little splitting, great taste and good resistance. This is my favorite fresh eating tomato.
Jersey Devil and San Marzano Gigante are new varieties for me. Both have very good taste but with all this rain, they have some blossom end rot. Both tend toward green shoulders. Once picked, it’s hard to tell these two apart. Devil seems to be a bit more resistant to disease and the end rot. I will probably stick with Devil in the future.
Early Girl was always the main tomato in my small garden. It’s hard to beat the number of pounds of tomato per square foot with any other tomato. If you’re looking for an alternative to Monsanto’s Early Girl, New Girl from Johnny’s Seeds is it. The same prolific early producer, good taste and much better disease resistance. New Girl is performing like a champ!

Today’s haul includes
Grape Tomatoes: 3 lbs.
Jersey Devil & San Marzano Gigante Tomatoes: 5 lbs.
Cherokee Purple: 1.75 lbs.
New Girl: 6 lbs.
TOTAL: 15.75 lbs. of tomatoes!
Zucchini 1 lb.
Green Beans 1/4 lb.

The jars of tomatoes in the photo were made last week and I canned 7 more quarts of tomatoes tonight. Now if only the peppers would start producing, I could make salsa.

I processed and froze the green beans with some I picked the other day.

We planted a bed of carrots yesterday. Today it rained and rained and rained some more. We had downpours for about 2 hours and got 4 inches of rain. I hope the seeds aren’t floating to the top.

There’s something up with my eggplants. The fruit is bright yellow and a bit firm. When sliced, they are bright green under the skin. They were supposed to be Black Beauty. I’ll get some photos and post more.

That’s it for today!


Mid-July Garden Updates

Sorry about the lack of posts, we’ve been busy planning our upcoming bath remodel. But we always have photos for Photo Friday.

All photos by buzz.

The hostas are blooming

The hostas are blooming. This one is called Patriot. It’s one of the plants that came back after the trees were removed.

Some wildflowers from the yard

Some wildflowers from the yard. The sun garden really liked all the early summer rains.

Who wants zucchini? It's piling up in the 'fridge.

Who wants zucchini? It’s piling up in the ‘fridge.

The tomato plants are loaded and starting to ripen.

The tomato plants are loaded and starting to ripen.

O hai! The feeder needs filling. Just thought you should know.

“O hai! The bird feeder needs filling. I just thought you should know.”

Overall, the garden is doing well. The harvest so far is 20 lbs. of tomatoes, 3 lbs. of green beans, 6.5 lbs. of zucchini and 1 little eggplant.

The lettuce and kale were cut back. I’ll let it stay in the ground and see if we can coax a little new growth before I have to pull it up and plant something else.

Something is eating the peppers this year. They look like hell and I haven’t had time to get to the county extension to diagnose it. I suspect the June bugs have passed some virus to it. It’s not looking good for salsa production this year. Sorry, guys.

The eggplants look great! Nice and green and fruiting. They were supposed to be Black Beauty but I think it’s a white variety.

The tomatoes are mostly doing well. The San Marzano has some yellowing leaves that’s moving up the side of one of the plants. But they are producing. The New Girls right next to it seem to be resistant to whatever it is. I need to take a sample of that to the extension agency too. All the others are doing ok. The Cherokee Purples look great! I picked a bunch of ripe ones yesterday. Time to get some soft potato bread and make some Tomato Sandwiches! You know you’re South Jersey… mmm. tomato sandwiches.

The green bean plants are beautiful! I tried a new variety this year on the suggestion from a friend. (Thanks Beanie!) The variety is Jade II and it’s now my favorite green bean. It has nice long beans that don’t get too fat, good disease resistance, open pollination bush type bean. I’ve been picking 1/2 to 1 lb. of beans every 2 or 3 days.

I just pulled up the rest of the onions. All 270 of them are now in the basement curing. I really over planted. These things are huge baseball to softball size. If I plant this variety again, I’ll plant them closer together to get smaller bulbs. It is supposed to be a long storage onion. I hope so. If they look like they’re not keeping well, I’ll cut them up and freeze them.

The garlic is curing in the basement as well. I have a post on harvesting and curing in the works.

The cukes are a bust again this year. The plants died after 2 little cukes. I’ll try planting some more. The zucchini and butternut squash plants are huge and green. I guess they liked all the rain too. I need to find some zucchini recipes.

The carrots will go in within a few weeks. I started cabbage in flats. I’m new at cabbage. I have no idea what I’m doing. I tried direct sowing but it’s too hard to manage with all this heat. I got them to sprout in the flats but they are slow growing and leggy. I’m afraid if I transplant, they are going to wilt and die.

I’d be making the first batch of salsa this weekend if it weren’t for the peppers. I will can the tomatoes instead.

That’s it so far. Happy gardening!

The Garden is Planted!

It’s a week late but we finally got everything planted in the vegetable garden. I used to plan it. I really like this software. It’s easy to use and covers everything I want in a planner and then some!

We have tomatoes! New Girl, San Marzano Giante, Jersey Devil, Cherokee Purple (my fav) and Jolly Elf. Peppers–Early Jalapeno, Joe E. Parker Anaheim and California Wonder Bell. Also, Rocambole Garlic, Patterson Yellow Onion, Black Beauty Eggplant, Zucchini, Butternut Squash, Double Yield Pickling Cucumbers, Jade Bush Green Beans Tyee Spinach, various mixes of Lettuces and Kale. Oregano, thyme, lemon thyme and rosemary are planted in containers and various locations throughout the landscape.

I’ll be adding carrots and cabbage when the garlic and onions come out. I’m still undecided what else to plant for the fall and winter garden. Maybe more cabbages and kales. I’m new at cabbage and a little confused. The seed catalogs don’t seem to say which season goes with a particular variety of cabbage. Some are very quick growers, others can take 5 or 6 months, but are they winter, spring or fall cabbages? If anyone has clues, please post a comment.

Growing Up Jersey Garden – May planting.

Here’s a link to the layout, plant list and planting schedule. I’ll post the garden layout changes as the season progresses.


I did my annual tomato plant give-away on Freecycle. I always plant extras because I have the greenhouse space and lots of these varieties aren’t available in the nurseries. I went a bit overboard and had 150 extra plants, but there were plenty of freecyclers willing to give them some garden space.

Hang On Little Tomatoes!

It’s been a cold spring and the tomatoes had a slow start. There was little growth and the undersides of the leaves were turning purple. Off to Google! I found there are a few things that can cause this: lack of fertilizer–cold temps prevent the plant from taking up the nutrients it needs, specifically phosphorus. Too much water combined with the cold temps, can also block the absorption of nutrients.  Another cause could be insect damage.


Before: Yellowing and purple undersides of tomato leaves.

Since it’s so early in the season, I didn’t think it was insects. I was keeping the plants a bit wet so they didn’t dry out in the greenhouse, so I backed off on the water. Since I only fed the plants with half strength liquid fertilizer when I potted them up, I gave them all another boost. Luckily, the temperature warmed up that week. Within a few days, the seedlings started to look a lot better. They should be fine once I get them planted in the garden

After: On the way to recovery

After: 7 days later, on the way to recovery.

My peppers are now experiencing yellowing leaves and purple veining. I suspect it’s the same problem as the tomatoes. Back to google to confirm that. I added a bit of fertilizer and hoping I don’t lose the leaves before the plants send out new healthier growth.

Hang on little peppers

Hang on little peppers! Planting time is almost here!

Next up, time to harden off the plants.

Red plastic cups, not just for beer parties

It’s time to pot up the tomato seedlings into larger containers. I usually do this 3 to 4 weeks before my planting date. Because I over-plant my flats, I need to separate and pot up the seedlings to give them more room to grow. Right now, the tomatoes are about 4 inches tall after 4 weeks in the 6 packs. I could clip out all but one plant per cell and leave them in the 6 packs, but they will quickly get root-bound and slow their growth. I can grow a much larger, healthier plant by giving it more room. The average 6-pack grown tomato would be 6 to 8 inches tall. In the cup, it would double that size.

Several years ago, I got a deal on those 4 inch green grow pots. I paid 10 cents each for about 100 of them. When I ran out, I realized what a deal that was. To replace them would cost about 25 cents each, so I looked for an alternative. While shopping at Costco, I found a package of 240 red Dixie 16 oz. cups for $15.00, that’s about 6 cents each.  They worked great. The cups are inexpensive, sturdy, easy to clean and reusable. I am still using the cups I bought about 7 years ago.

The easiest way I found to get drainage holes in the cup was to melt it with a candle flame. Hold the bottom edge of the cup briefly above the flame. It only takes a second to melt a half inch hole. Turn the cup and melt two more. Be careful not to put the cup in the flame, it can catch fire and that hole would be be waaaay too big.

That’s it. Perfect drainage holes along the bottom edge of the cup.

Melt 3 holes in the bottom edge of the cup for drainage

Melt 3 holes in the bottom edge of the cup for drainage

The cups hold the same volume of soil as the 4 inch pots, but because it is deeper, the roots can really get going before hitting bottom, start growing in circles and become root-bound.

When potting up, I use the same Pro-Mix BX potting mix, but I don’t screen it like I did with the seeds. Each flat cell has 2 or 3 seedlings in it. Gently put apart the root ball to separate the seedlings. Don’t worry about ripping some roots, tomatoes are resilient.  Fill the cup about 1/3 full and press a seedling down into the soil mix. Fill in around the plant while holding it in the center. Gently tamp down the soil around the plant while filling the cup. When you’re done, only the leaves are visible. New roots will grow along the buried stem and make a nice sturdy plant.

Newly potted tomatoes

All ready to party with the festive red cups.

Don’t forget to write the variety on the side of the cup with a Sharpie. After planting, the cups can be washed, the markings can be easily removed with rubbing alcohol ans stored away until next year’s potting party.

A standard tray will hold 15 cups. After I give the plants a good drink with half strength liquid fertilizer, the trays are kept in a shaded area of the greenhouse for a couple of days. The plants will need to be checked twice a day, especially on sunny days when it can dry out quickly. The trays without holes allow for bottom watering, so on those hot days, keep an inch of water in the trays. I’ll move the trays to full sun gradually over a a few days’ time.


Shaded by the shelf above, the plants get used to their new party cups in the greenhouse.

I ran out of trays, so some of the seedlings are still in the 6 packs. I ordered more trays and should have them in a few days.

When the weather allows, the plants can be moved outside for the day to feel the wind in their leaves. This helps the plants develop good, sturdy wind resistant stems. Avoid full sun while they are out of the greenhouse until they are fully hardened off. More on that later.

Early Spring in The Garden

There’s a lot going on in the spring before the warm season crops are planted in the garden.

The autumn planted garlic is doing great! All but 4 or 5 of the 150 planted are growing. I planted 100 from last year’s stock and for insurance, 50 from the previous year’s stock. I’ll tell the story of The Great Garlic Debacle in a later post. Suffice it to say that my worries were unfounded. The upside is I learned some things about garlic and have tons of bulbs to share.

We had a short stretch of nice weather in mid-March, I rushed the season and direct sowed some cool crop seeds in the garden, hoping spring has finally sprung. Nothing happened, the soil was still too cold. This week, I noticed some sprouts in straight rows among the sprouted weeds. Nature does what she wants when she’s good and ready. We now have mixed kale, mixed lettuces and spinach, along with the lettuce, spinach and kale leftover from last autumn that started growing again.

This year's garlic and last year's kale.

This year’s garlic and last year’s kale.

I moved the pepper and tomato seedlings to the greenhouse to acclimate to the brighter sunlight and cooler temps. Right now, they only get very late afternoon light and early morning light. I will increase the time in the sun over a few days time before transplanting to larger containers. I’ll start 2 more flats under the lights with flowers and quicker growing vegetables like cukes, zukes and green beans.

Tomatoes hanging in the greenhouse, waiting for bigger pots.

Tomatoes hanging out in the greenhouse, waiting for bigger pots.

We planted 270 onion transplants in 2 beds. Everyday, I have to replant a few as the robins pick through looking for worms. I had about 70 plants left from the 5 units I bought, so I found new homes for them through my local freecycle.

Freecycle has become a really great way for me to share seeds, plants and gardening information. If you’re unfamiliar with Freecycle, it’s a internet community network designed to keep unwanted but usable household stuff out of landfills. It’s free to join and the only stipulation is that the stuff is given freely. Visit their site for more information or to join your local group.

There are still beds to clear of weeds, but that can wait a bit longer. The daffodils are blooming and they last such a short time.

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