Monday, September 30, 2013

Sicilian Zucchini

A friend gave me a call and asked me if I wanted to come take some photos of his Sicilian Zucchini.  Having never seen one before I agreed to the invite and was amazed at the sheer size and shape of these Zucchinis.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I Broke My Heaviest Tomato Record

Next year I plan to source a tomato that is specifically bred for size.

So far this is my heaviest ever.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Costco Lillies

This spring I picked up a bag of Lilly bulbs at Costco.  30 bulbs in all and I have to say that they came out very nice.

The Heaviest Tomato

This is my second heaviest tomato. Clocking in at 22.45 ounces (0.6 kg). I have a heavier tomato that is still on the vine.

Just Picked Some Pera D'Abruzzo Tomatoes

Here are my first Pera D'Abruzzo tomatoes.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Frutteto a Spalliera (Espaliered Fruit Tree Orchard)

(Year 2 Update

When you're dealing with limited space but still want to grow fruit trees there is a method often used in Europe called Espaliering.  The basic premise is to train a young fruit trees branches to follow whatever shape or design you are looking to achieve.  When a fruit tree is young its branches are pliable and able to be bent and tied to a trellis.  After you train the branches to the basic shape you simply keep tying down the new branch growth all season.

In my garden I have a row of apples and pears against a fence.  I ran four wires of trellis and tied them to locust posts at each end.  Every few feet I added garden stakes for extra support when the trellis will be weighed down with fruiting branches.  So far I am very pleased with how easy it is to train the branches to follow the trellis.  All you are concerned with is looking for new branches that will bud out near the trellis wire.  Once you have identified which branches are going to go on which wire you simply tie them down to the wire.  Every week as new growth appears you tie them back down to the wire and prune any other branches that are not part of your design.  It's somewhat addicting as you pop in the garden just to check if there is any new branch growth.

You can see in the first photo I was able to establish the three bottom tiers for my Fuji apple tree.  In the second photo the pear tree has only put out branches that I could train on the very first wire.  Not to worry, as the tree will put out more branches either this season or the next.  These are all two year old trees and if everything goes well I might replace all my standard growing fruit trees with this growing method.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Praying Mantis Hatchlings

After spending spring in my Rucola patch, it finally warmed up enough for my little biological warriors to hatch.  Lets see if they can avoid cannibalizing each other so they can focus on eating all the other bugs.

The Earliest Tomato June Update

As of June 1st my Early Girl tomatos are doing pretty well.  I'm pulling for a pre 4th of July ripening! I think the red mulch has boosted the speed at which my tomato plants are flowering.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Earliest Tomato

Back in February when I started my peppers and tomatoes I decided that I was going to experiment this year.  I took 5 early girl tomatoes that I started and immediately placed them in my cold frame once they were about 5 inches tall and had their first set of true leaves.  To my surprise these seedlings survived in the cold frame (Which required careful monitoring of closing and opening the lids so they didn't cook or freeze). Once they were in the cold frame for about a month I decided to plant them in the ground mid April.  Of the 5 I did lose two to frost because I wasn't careful in how I covered the plants one evening.  Despite losing two plants, my reward is the earliest tomato I've ever grown.  I've heard of 4th of July tomatoes but at this rate I think I may get a 4th of June tomato! Just goes to show how versatile cold frames are.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hatching Praying Mantis Eggs

This year I decided rather than waging chemical warfare on garden pests I would enlist the help of some Praying Mantids.  I ordered some eggs from Hirts Beneficial Insects via Amazon.  The two Mantis eggs came in a mesh pouch which I have kept in the fridge for 2 weeks.  Since it seeems like we skipped spring and headed right into summer I set the eggs out today in the garden.  Hopefully they'll keep the aphids and borers down to a minimum.  Honestly I am a bit intimidated in sharing the garden with possibly hundreds of full grown Mantids.  Here's hoping they just ignore me while I'm passing through their buffet area.