Monday, August 8, 2011

Harvest Mondays

Green Oregon Spring and Oxheart Tomatoes with Tam JalapeƱos

Ripe Oregon Spring Tomatoes

Pink Oxheart Tomatoes, Cherokee Purple Tomatoes and Tam JalapeƱos

All Lined Up!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rural Garden Fence

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that some of my plants looked like they were getting nibbled by more than bugs. A few days later my mother chased a bunny away from my carrots. So I decided it was time to build a fence! Nothing fancy or expensive of course. My mother finally finished getting her pool fenced in so she gave me the green plastic fencing she had been using to keep the dogs on the patio.

It's not fancy, but it'll work!

This is Chloe the master escape artist. She "helped" by showing me where the fence needed work.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harvest Pics (Finally!)

I've been harvesting from my garden for a couple weeks now, but none of it ever seems to make it into pictures! Part of the issue is that I'm mostly harvesting from the rural garden and then I make dinner for everyone over there, so a lot of the time nothing makes it back to the apartment.

First Harvest of String Beans: Blue Lake (Green), Pencil Pod (Yellow) and Dragon Langerie (Purple)

First Ripe Tomatoes! 5 oz of Oxheart Pink tomatoes picked July 16th.

1 1/2 pounds of beans. About half of these were sent home with friends.

On a side note, I'm looking to buy a pressure canner and would love some input from others about their favorite brands/sizes before I invest. My price limit is $200, but I'm hoping to spend more like $100-$150.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rural Garden: General Growth

Monster tomato plants aside, the rest of the rural garden is also showing some excellent growth.

The Left Garden

Finally a pea harvest!

Lots of buds on my Tam Jalapenos.

Unfortunately my largest broccoli plant now looks like swiss cheese.

I'm pretty happy with all of the good growth, minus the destruction of my broccoli. My squash (butternut, summer and spaghetti), zucchini, pumpkin and cucumber seeds have all sprouted as well. However, next time I will be planting the peas a lot thicker than I did this time.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rural Garden: Tomato Explosion!

I'm just back from a trip to the rural garden and all I have to say is WOW. The growth over there is astounding, especially when I compare it to the community garden with its horrible soil.

Tomato Plants, 2 weeks ago

Tomato Plants, Yesterday

Lots of buds, flowers and about 20 green tomatoes!

I'm now even more excited about how many delicious tomatoes I'll be harvesting this year. These plants are just massive! Those stakes have about 5 1/2' above ground. I think they'll soon be towering above their supports if they keep this up.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mystery Disease

I went to the community garden for the first time in about a week and was pleased to see that it's mostly thriving. However, a quick examination of my tomato plants showed that a quarter of them are infected with something. At first I thought it was just dirt splashed on the leaves, but unfortunately it's definitely not dirt. I'm thinking it's either septoria leaf spot or early blight, but I've not seen this before and would love some help figuring out what it is. The affected leaves are mostly on the bottom half of the plants.

Other than the diseased plants everything is looking pretty good, although I had a ridiculous amount of weeding to do in the right bed. I'm particularly happy with the bean patch and the kale, which have both shown awesome growth and are looking very healthy.

Before Weeding....

And After!

Donated Kale

The Bean Patch

*Update!* After some help from the people over at gardenwebs and a return visit to the garden I have decided that my mystery disease is indeed early blight. I yanked the 2 plants that were most heavily affected and removed all the infected leaves/branches from the other plants. Now I'm just waiting it out to see how it goes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Urban Bean Patch

The Bean Patch

The soil in the community garden is somewhat depleted and crop rotation of any kind just does not seem to happen, so this year I decided to dedicate half of my plot to beans in an effort to break up the tomato/pepper/eggplant monotony.

Black Valentine Beans

Envy Soybeans

I ended up planting Slenderette, Blue Lake, Dragon Langerie, Pencil Pod, Black Valentine, Envy Soybeans, Vermont Cranberry and Jacob's Cattle. I also have plans to plant my Black-Eyed Peas the next time I get over to the community plot. I'm very happy with the germination rates of these beans, even with the storms and tornadoes that ravaged my area shortly after planting. But they've survived and seem to be doing just fine!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pizza Night: Wheat Crust with Veggies and Ham

Normally I'm the one making pizza from scratch, but this time girlfriend decided to help out and made the crust. She followed a recipe from Italian Cooking: The Definitive Encyclopedia of Fabulous Food by Capalbo, Whiteman, Wright and Boggiano, which is a great cookbook filled with the basics and information about techniques.

The main thing I love about pizza (besides how good it tastes!) is the opportunity to use any leftover veggies from the week's shopping (or the garden) before they go bad. So while girlfriend made the crust, I chopped and sauteed peppers and onions to top the pizza. I also chopped up some deli ham that needed to get finished off or it would likely have ended up in the garbage in the next couple days. Then some fresh mozzarella was shredded and some thin slices of fresh parmesean were shaved off the block.

Here's the recipe for the crust:
Wheat Pizza Crust
1 1/2 Tbsp Active Dried Yeast
1 Cup Lukewarm Water
Pinch of Sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 1/4 Cups White Flour (We use organic bread flour)
2 Cups Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour

1. Warm a medium mixing bowl by swirling hot water in it, then drain. Place yeast in the bowl and pour in the warm water and sugar. Mix with a fork and allow to stand until yeast has dispersed and starts to foam (about 5-10 minutes).

2. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the olive oil, salt and white flour. Then mix in about half of the wheat flour, stirring with the spoon until the dough begins to form a mass and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Sprinkle some of the remaining dough onto a smooth work surface and knead the dough while working in the remaining flour a little at a time. Knead for 8-10 minutes and then form into a ball.

4. Lightly oil a mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and place a moist kitchen towel on top of the bowl. Leave it in a warm place to rise for 40-50 minutes. When it has doubled in size punch it back down (to release the air) and then knead for 1-2 minutes.

5. You can divide the dough in two for medium pizzas or leave it for an extra large pizza. Flour a smooth surface and use a rolling pin to roll it to the desired thickness (I usually roll mine out to about 1/4 inch thick). Then place the dough on a lightly oiled pan (We usually skip this and just sprinkle cornmeal on the pan).

That is the end of the book recipe, but here's how I finish mine up!

6. Place pan in oven pre-heated to 500 degrees and pre-bake the crust for about 5 minutes.

7. Remove and top the pizza. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

I was pretty happy with this recipe as it makes a solid chewy, but strong crust. At the end of the cooking time be sure to keep an eye on your oven. Some pizzas only need 5 minutes, whereas others really need the full 10.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rural Garden Update

The rural garden plot is doing great! Unfortunately there have been no updates because whenever I make the trek to my mother's house I seem to always be forgetting my camera. But no more! I was there the other day and finally managed to snap a couple of pics.

My tomato babies are looking good!

The tomatoes were planted about a week and a half ago and seem to be really settling in. However they are looking a little close together. I spaced them at 1.5 feet apart in all directions in a stab at square foot gardening, so we'll see how it goes. I can always pull a few plants if it seems like they're strangling each other. As you can also see, the tree my father refused to move is shading the plants from the morning to early afternoon. Hopefully I'll soon be allowed to move it (depending on my mother's powers of persuasion, because mine failed) and my plants will have fewer shade issues.

From left to right, eggplant, tam peppers and a block with cauliflower and lettuce.

I had just transplanted the peppers and eggplant the day of this picture and hear they're still looking good. The tam plant that you can barely see is one that got a bit stunted so I'm not sure it will make it, but I figured I'd try anyways! I put my 17 year old brother on watering duty for the new transplants and the pumpkin, squash and zucchini seeds I just planted. I got a little overwhelmed with the seed starting and apparently forgot these guys so we'll see how they do direct seeded. *Hopefully* he remembers to water and that I told him not to water so much that there are puddles everywhere...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Urban Garden Prep

The community garden has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this year. Things got messed up because a few of the gardeners kept changing their minds as to if they wanted space or not. However things finally got ironed out at the end of last week and I proceeded to spend most of the weekend prepping my plot. After lots of weeding it's actually looking pretty good. I'm planning on getting all my bush beans and overflow tomato, eggplant and peppers into that garden by tomorrow.

Day 1 of Work:

Day 2 of work:

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Seedling Experiment - 2011

This year my seedling experiment revolved around light usage. When I first started my seeds there was plenty of room under the lights for all of them. Until I potted up. After that, only half of my seeds would fit under the lights. I thought about adding lights, but I really had nowhere to put them. Instead of trying to overhaul the makeshift system I had set up, I decided to split the babies and put half in a south-facing window with plans to compare the growth of the two sets when time came to harden them off. Well it's officially hardening off time! They're all on the porch with the windows open and will stay there a few days before I start bringing them to the real outdoors. The plan is to start transplanting them into the rural garden over the next 1-2 weeks since it's a zone warmer than the urban garden.

Here's the whole gang!

The leggy ladies from the windowsill

These were under the lights, more leaves and shorter stronger stems than the windowsill seedlings

The remainder of the windowsill seedlings have been moved under the lights to join the peppers and eggplant

Now that I've done the whole starting seeds thing once I feel like I can make the investment in a new lighting rig. I didn't want to invest money in something I wouldn't end up using again, but I'm officially hooked on starting seeds. I love seeing something big growing from something so small. Plus there are so many more varieties when you start from seed and it's way less expensive than buying plants!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back Again!

It's been a crazy few weeks here. Between Easter, work and finals at school I've had just about zero free time to blog about my garden exploits. Plus, whenever I go to the rural garden I never seem to have a camera with me. However things are doing well there with sprouted peas and growing cauliflower and broccoli. Things on the home front are doing even better. The tomato seedlings are looking awesome. I lost a few after transplanting, but it looks like I'll still end up with at least as many plants as I wanted. The peppers are also doing well with the seedlings growing nicely and lots of new growth on the overwintered bells. The big surprise for me is the eggplant since I've never grown it from seed, but it's doing even better than the peppers.

Finals are mostly over at the end of this week and I'm planning a rural garden trip Saturday, so there should be some pictures up later this weekend.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Porch Seedlings

What's left of my cool season vegetables (plus the Oregon Spring seedlings) are currently living on my enclosed porch. It's south-facing and gets sun all day. I've been cracking the windows during the day to start exposing them to a little wind and started leaving them open during the night a couple of days ago. So far, all seems to be going well!

I sowed this window box very thickly with spring greens as the seeds were 10 years old, but they seem to still be quite viable!

This is the box post-thinning with lots more space for the largest seedlings to grow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Potting Up

Most of the seedlings have their first true leaves so I decided that new homes were in order. I wanted to hopefully separate them out early enough that their root systems weren't completely entangled and wrapping around the bottom of the plant cells.

Prior to transplanting:

I think I timed it pretty well. Most of the seedlings had good root systems that were just starting to show at the bottom of the soil mix when I took them out of the cells. Most got put into deep plastic cups with holes drilled in the bottom, but some simply got moved into single cells in the interest of space. Between everything, I've got two flats filled with seedlings that are being rotated between the lights and a south-facing window.

A few days after potting up everything seems to be doing quite well:

These are the early Oregon Spring tomatoes. I hardened them off a bit and then put them on the windowsill in my enclosed porch to test their hardiness. So far they're doing completely fine.

In other news, I went out to check on the rural garden on Friday and did some transplanting, although I unfortunately forgot my camera. I thinned out the cells of broccoli, lettuce, chard and cauliflower, taking the most established plant from the cell and moving it to the garden. I moved 3 cauliflower, 12 lettuce, 4 chard, 4 broccoli deccicio and 4 broccoli waltham into the garden and covered all of the cauliflower and half of the broccoli with plastic bottles. I decided to only cover half the broccoli as an experiment to see which do better. If I lose some of the plants it's no big deal because I still have 6 of each variety growing on my porch.

I planted some spinach seeds last Tuesday and a few were beginning to sprout. Yay! I also planted 4 sq ft of carrots this morning (1 ft each of the Lunar White, Cosmic Purple, Amarillo and Nantes). I sowed them very shallowly, watered and then covered with a layer of hay to hopefully keep the moisture in and encourage germination. I covered the left side of the garden with a tarp and the back half of the right side with a thick layer of hay to help keep the weeds at bay until I plant next month.