Big tomato

Is there such a thing as a tomato being too big for your hamburger?

Is there a hamburger there somewhere?

Is there a hamburger there somewhere?

Believe it or not, there is a whole hamburger, slice of provolone cheese and bottom bun being hidden underneath that slice of tomato. As you can probably imagine, it was also a giant mess of a burger to eat but it sure did taste good.

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July Update

Umm… ya. It has been a month since the last blog post. Sorry about that but it has been busy. Here is a catch all post with pictures from the past four weeks or so.

First up are some pictures of the garden from June 13th before we left on vacation.

Here is a shot of the corn.

Here is a shot of the corn.

Three cucumber plants starting to climb

Three cucumber plants starting to climb

Sweet potatoes are taking off. Starting to leave the raised bed.

Sweet potatoes are taking off. Starting to leave the raised bed.

Golden egg yellow squash still look like two separate plants.

Golden egg yellow squash still look like two separate plants.

Some nice green tomatoes on the Brandy-Boy.

Some nice green tomatoes on the Brandy-Boy.

This year we headed back to the mountains. We spent 10 days in Colorado visiting Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, Canon City and many other points in between.

Pet turkey at one of the Airbnbs on our trip. Kids loved it.

Pet turkey at one of the Airbnbs on our trip. Kids loved it.

Panoramic shot of Emerald Lake in RMNP

Panoramic shot of Emerald Lake in RMNP

A stop along Trail Ridge Road in RMNP

A stop along Trail Ridge Road in RMNP

Eventually, as with all vacations, we had to come home. Also, as with past vacations in June, the garden grows by leaps and bounds while we are gone. This year we had over 4.5 inches of rain while we were away and the temperatures were in the 80s-90s. Very good growing weather as is evident by the next couple pictures.  I didn’t bother showing the rest of the garden as it is just a overgrown jungle.

Corn after vacation

Corn after vacation

A ripe cherry tomato!

A ripe cherry tomato!

Nemesis bugs, Japanese Beetles

Nemesis bugs, Japanese Beetles

A week or so after getting back, it was time to start harvesting some vegetables! So far I have gotten peas, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and green beans. The peas just finished up but I expect the rest to continue producing for a bit longer yet. At least until the bugs and disease start killing the plants. Squash vine borers and spotted blight seem to shorten the squash and tomatoes before they are ready.

Not too bad a harvest.

Not too bad a harvest.

And finally that takes up to today. The shots below were taken in the garden tonight.  Bush green beans are moving into their second week and pole beans are just about to be ready. Corn is fully tasseled and producing ears. I’m guessing another week or maybe two until we get to try some.

They don't call these cargo shorts for nothing. Pocket full o' Green Beans.

They don’t call these cargo shorts for nothing. Pocket full o’ Green Beans.

Spring planting for 2018

Over the last two weekends I was able to get all but one vegetable planted in the garden.

First off though, is this years diagram of the planting plan.  Nothing too radical this year, pretty much most of the same from past years just rotated so I don’t have things in the same spots.

Garden plan for 2018

Garden plan for 2018

The first weekend (May 5/6) was a bit rushed because I had to first get the second garden bed replaced.  I also had to move the lettuce from the back two beds to the second replacement bed.  All of that took a while. In the end, I had time to get the peas and radish planted and get the tomatoes out of their tiny pots and into the ground where they can have all the root and head room they could wish for.

In the years past, I never provided the peas and beans anything other than water and occasional fertilizer.  This year I am giving an inoculant a try.  When ordering seeds this year I threw Burpee Booster into the cart.  We’ll see if I notice any difference.

Giving the beans and peas a boost

Giving the beans and peas a boost

All six tomato plants with ladders

All six tomato plants with ladders

Two Brandy Boy tomatoes

Two Brandy Boy tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Happy Day tomatoes

Two Cherry Baby tomatoes

Pea tower with a few left over lettuce plants I did not move

Pea tower with a few left over lettuce plants I did not move

Transplanted lettuce and bean tower

Transplanted lettuce and bean tower

For the second weekend (May 12/13), the goal was to get the rest of the garden planted. The weather forecast looked like this.

Not a good forecast for planting

Not a good forecast for planting

As a result, I was up and in the garden before 8 am in an effort to get as much planted as I could before the rain arrived.  I’m happy to report I was able to get the garden planted.  In fact, it didn’t actually rain until Monday afternoon.  I had time to go to Lowes and get some sweet potato plants and get them in as well on Saturday. Between the vegetable garden and other needed yard work, we ended up being out until dark.  I was beginning to wish for the promised rain so I could be chased inside.  🙂

So, what all was planted this weekend…

  • Sweet corn
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Green Beans – Pole
  • Green Bean – Bush
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
Twelve sweet potato plants

Twelve sweet potato plants

All that remain are the onions. I’m still waiting on Burpee to process that portion of my order. I am tempted to just cancel the onions and try and find some locally.

Freeze Warnings and Frost Advisories

This year we are being reminded why the safe planting date isn’t until a week or two into May. Last night we had a Freeze Warning where the temperatures reached a low of 30 degrees. Tonight we have a frost advisory with temperatures expect in the mid 30s.

All the tomato plants outside in the small plastic greenhouse have survived so far.  Looking at the forecast seems to indicate that this might have been the last of the cold weather.

Tomatoes surviving the cold nights

Tomatoes surviving the cold nights

Two other items of note. I stopped back at Walmart and pick up some more cheap 6″ pots for the remaining plants.  It makes it easier to distribute them around the shelves and seems to help reduce the moisture loss from the disposable pots.

Also, if you look at the bottom of the shelves you’ll see an old brake rotor from the minivan.  I was worried the whole thing might blow over in the wind and thought that some weight in the bottom might help hold it in place.

Tomatoes are as bad as the kids

Tomatoes are as bad as the kids… constantly out growing their clothes and needing more room.  It isn’t quite the same with tomatoes I guess, but these have certainly grown bigger than the space I have for them in the basement.

Tomatoes growing up through the lights

Tomatoes growing up through the lights

I decided to finally bust out the growing shelf/mini greenhouse I bought from a friend a number of years ago. It has been sitting in pieces on a garage shelf ever since buying it. Today it gets put to use.

Tomatoes new home

Tomatoes new home

Vegetable shelf on the deck by the back door

Vegetable shelf on the deck by the back door

We’ve still had quite cold temperatures and it has unfortunately still been common to see snow. This morning there was frost. The weather forecast for 10 days is showing two days in the upper 30s and highs in the 50s and 60s. I’m hoping this little greenhouse will provide enough heat to get them through these cold nights.

Door closed and hopefully going to hold the heat in and cold out

Door closed and hopefully going to hold the heat in and cold out

Time to move into a bigger place

The seedlings were feeling a little cramped in their current digs and needed a place where they could spread their roots and grow.  I picked up some 5″ pots at Lowes for the tomatoes and some smaller 3″ pots for some of the lettuce.  With the weather staying decidedly on the ‘sucky’ side (we still had enough snow to cover the ground this weekend), I am afraid that these tomatoes will need to hang out in the house for at least another 3 weeks but much more likely 4 or 5.  Note to future self, start the tomatoes a bit later next year.

Crowded tenants looking longingly towards their spacious new homes

Crowded tenants looking longingly towards their spacious new homes

Still smarting from the year I neglected to label the pots. It was very hard to tell the tomatoes apart that year until there were tomatoes for the picking

Still smarting from the year I neglected to label the pots. It was very hard to tell the tomatoes apart that year until there were tomatoes for the picking

Quite a diverse bunch

Quite a diverse bunch

The plants around the outside of the seed tray all grew much larger and faster than the poor plants in the center. Now that they are separated with a bit more room, I am hoping the slow pokes and play a little catch-up.

Next I need to fix the head room issue

Next I need to fix the head room issue

Unfortunately, giving the tomatoes more root space results in less room under the lights for all the plants. The majority of the lettuce, and lone spinach, will be getting a taste of the outsides for a bit. I’m hoping to get these guys planted into the garden next weekend. Until then, they get a night inside as the low will again dip down to 29 degrees and then back to the deck for hopefully the rest of the week.

More root space means less plant space

More root space means less plant space

Seeds become plants… Mostly

I keep taking pictures with the intent to use them in a blog post. As you can see so far, I have been failing on that second step. So, here is my catch-up post covering the progress of the indoor seedlings.

First sign of lettuce seedlings

First sign of lettuce seedlings, 3 days after planting.

First sign of tomato seedlings, 7 days after planting.

First sign of tomato seedlings, 7 days after planting.

Tomatoes going strong two weeks after planting.

Tomatoes going strong two weeks after planting.

Lettuce two weeks after planting.

Lettuce two weeks after planting.

Becoming a little indoor jungle

Becoming a little indoor jungle

I failed to capture a clear picture of it, but about 2 weeks after planting, I did finally get a single spinach plant to emerge. I’ll assume it was due to the old seeds, but who knows. Maybe it was unfavorable conditions to start them.  You can see a tiny part of the spinach plant in the last picture above being smothered by the mongo lettuce plant in the adjacent cell.  I did move a few of the lettuce plants to some of the open cells in the hopes that they will do better with a bit more space.

With the lettuce growing so well, it has me wondering if I could grow lettuce in the basement all winter.  Surely not as good as growing it outside, but it might be nice to have some fresh greens occasionally during the cold winter months.