Monday, July 30, 2012

Eggplants ahead!

Eggplants are one of my very favorite vegetables to grow (second only to tomatoes).  Last year we had great success with the "Little Fingers" variety, which grow into long eggplants that are smaller in diameter (similar to Japanese eggplant) than the big ones you usually think of.  I like them because the peel is not as thick as in the bigger ones.  And just last week we received signs that yes, these plants are gonna make it...

The purple flower you see in the upper left is the predecessor to the eggplant.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot stuff.

While I have for some reason never had success growing bell peppers in my backyard garden, we always have a large crop of hot peppers.  Last year we did banana peppers, and the year before we grew green jalapenos.  This year we are growing red cayenne peppers.

These are great to add to dishes for a little heat, and also to dry and grind up - in that form, we add them to chili frequently.  In the past, when we've had a big surplus, we've chopped them up and either scattered them over our plants or made them into a liquid that we can spray to protect from pests (this has had mixed results, but isn't too labor intensive and doesn't cost anything, so we continue to try).  We only have one red one so far, but there are more on the way...

I personally find it fascinating how they go from green to such a vibrant red.  Very easy to tell when these are ready for picking!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


While the lack of rain has adversely affected many crops throughout the US, in my backyard it does not yet seem to have phased the weeds. 

I do not know much about weeds, other than being able to identify them and knowing you need to get them out by the roots (otherwise, they will just keep growing).  One great reason for planting your vegetables in neat rows is that it makes the weeds more readily identifiable.  I try to go at the weeds at least once a week, more if they seem to be really plentiful.  Here are a few of the most common (I hate all of them equally).

Monday, July 23, 2012

There will be tomatoes!

Well, the few hours of rain that finally came last Thursday made basically no difference at all.  By Friday it was as though it never happened.  Thirsty ground absorbs rain quickly!

However, I was heartened when out on the garden this past weekend to find plenty of tomatoes!

The first ripe beefsteak tomato.  A day on the windowsill and this will be ready for slicing!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

I am hoping, praying, and about to stand up and do a dance to insure that we actually get some rain today!  The weather forecast has been such a tease.  Two days have passed since that first little rain cloud appeared in the 5-day with not so much as a drop.  This morning the humidity was 90% but still it did not rain

In this terrible summer drought where all the lawns in my neighborhood are brown, I have been dragging a 100-foot hose into the backyard to give the garden a little sprinkle each day before work (sadly, the outdoor faucet is nowhere near the garden; thankfully, hoses come in this length).  I then fill a watering can and water the potted plants on our deck and the flowers hanging in front of our house.  Lately, none of this has seemed sufficient.  To say the container plants are struggling is putting things quite mildly.  To say that the garden looks like something out of an old Twilight Zone episode that takes place on the moon would be quite accurate.

I have read arguments in defense of both night watering and early-morning watering, but have had far more success with the latter, though it is sometimes a real pain.  Watering at night creates moisture that can attract slugs and other critters that like to chew on leafy plants.  Since I am attempting to grow a number of leafy plants, and did notice some holes in them early this season, I switched to morning watering, and it has been a success.  Well, as successful as it can be, given these arid circumstances.

Either way... I dread opening the next water bill!  And I will continue to hope, pray, and probably dance for rain.  But just when I thought I had it bad, I heard this story on the radio... and realized that while my desire for large quantities of healthy backyard produce is rabid (and I also love a good thunderstorm), I am not depending on it for my livelihood.  C'mon, Mother Nature!  Do it for the farmers!

The redder the area, the worst the drought.

I live in the burgundy!  Where we are suffering the worst drought since the Great Depression.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I promise a new post soon!

Lots to update, but I have fallen behind the past few days due to a new little distraction in my home.

Friday, July 13, 2012

two ripe strawberries / does this count as a Friday failure?

The tomatoes, they've only just begun, and keep on coming... but the strawberries?  This may be it, my friends.  To give you an idea of scale, the small one is the size of a chickpea.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More about garlic

I realize I had kind of done things in the wrong order when I dug up about half of our garlic 2 weeks ago.  So, I decided to take a different approach when harvesting the remainder of the crop this past weekend.

Instead of braiding them right away (which I think is the wrong thing to do), I laid them out to dry.  The next step will be to brush off the dirt, THEN braid and hang them to cure in the garage.  This seems a much easier way to get them clean.

All in all - a good season for the garlic.  I will definitely be planting again this fall!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A word to the wise... when it comes to gardening, curiosity often results in small carrots. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ohio citrus?

Years ago, when driving in my car early on a weekend morning, I caught part of a local radio show featuring the man behind one of Northeast Ohio's big garden centers (I am not sure if this show is still around, but for any of you locals, it was on 102.1).  He was answering questions about growing citrus trees in Ohio, and ever since then I have imagined having a Meyer Lemon tree.  I asked around at garden stores the past few years and they were either hard to come by or not available due to a citrus quarantine.  They are sold online, but I wasn't really committed enough to spend upwards of $100 (shipping a small tree is apparently kind of expensive).

So imagine my surprise when we just happened upon one at the garden store this April, when we weren't even looking for it.  And for $24.99, no less. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday failures, Part 3

Plants that aren't edible are sadly not my strong point, though this is about the worst it has ever been.

(BUT... after taking this picture, I got some great advice from a friend who told me to just pluck off the dead flowers... and seriously, 2 days later, they look fantastic)

Sometimes, admitting a failure is all it takes to learn how to fix it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

You know your zucchini has a fertility problem if... looks like this:

Here are some telltale signs... very little flower action (check), tiny little zucchinis that do not grow, but shrivel up and die (check), leaves much larger than a human head torso (CHECK).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


"How to Grow Vegetables" is one set of lessons that I have learned somewhat and am still picking up in bits and pieces.  But what to do with the vegetables after you've grown them?  That's another topic entirely. While I love growing these vegetables every summer and enjoying them in as many dishes as I can dream up, there is also something really great about being able to pull them out of the freezer in December and still enjoy a little taste of fresh summer food.  Not to mention that when two people plant enough food to feed an army, it becomes kind of necessary to figure out something to do with it all.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Last week Ohio (and much of the US) suffered a major heatwave on the heels of very little rain.  Yards are yellow and brown.  Plants are yellow and brown.  And I was having some growing concerns about some of the garlic in our garden, which had gone from green and upright to yellow and nearly horizontal in a very short time.  The scapes have not come, and I was worried that the garlic was basically dead.  Everything I've read said that you should harvest the garlic when it has "a few" green leaves remaining.  Some of these had none.  So at two o'clock on an already ninety-degree day, I did what any sensible person would do - started digging.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

sunday centerfold

Standards are low at this time of year... if you are a plant in my garden that is anything other than green (or, sadly, brown), you will get a lot of attention.  Here is a zucchini flower that is pretty much the only burst of color back there right now!