I initially built this site for myself, to record plant varieties and planting and harvest dates and anything else that might be useful for future gardens. Planting and working the garden is in itself therapeutic, and thus has a lot of value. But harvesting the crops provides healthy foods and a connection to friends and neighbors who also benefit from the abundance of my garden. So, having a way to create a longer growing season is important. Hopefully, good record keeping will help me to that end. But of course, once the data is recorded, there other thoughts and reflections that come into my mind and I have recorded those here also, because as it has been since the beginning, gardening is not only good for the body but also good for the soul. Again, my original purpose was for my own use, but if you find any of this useful or inspirational, welcome.
So, the weird weather continues. The trees haven’t lost most of their leaves yet. The official snowfall for Chicago on Oct 31 was 3.4″ observed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. This breaks Chicago’s previous daily record for Oct 31 of 0.1″ set in 2014.
Last night the temperature dipped into the lower 20s and into the teens in the Rockford area. This should help get the leaves down from the trees, and definitely did in all of the potted flowers.
It appears to be a repeat performance of last year where no cleanup could be done because the leaves froze in place. Fortunately, I got the plants out of the garden as well as the tomato cages and stakes. Whether I can get some organic matter into the new raised beds remains to be seen. It is critical that I have some beds ready to go this fall in case we have a wet spring again.
Sunday looks like the warmest day with a high of 45 and sunny. Hope to get at least a few things done.
Late planting really messes up yield and first-pick date. I really need to get tomatoes and peppers in by mid-May. The peppers were planted on June 7. The tomatoes, other than the Romas were planted on June 18. I think that when one purchases plants that have already set fruit, you’ll get a couple of early fruits and then the rest are stunted.
I picked the first batch of four Champion tomatoes on July 4, but is was well over a month until any more ripened.
The first batch of Jalapenos were good, but there were no flowers on the plants after I picked the first bunch, but they finally had another nice crop late in the summer.
Green peppers were small, and the banana peppers didn’t do well. On the other hand, the poblano peppers were prolific and large.
The Countryside Sungold and Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes had amazing flavor
Countryside chocolate sprinkles and Chocolate cherry tomatoes were late and slow to ripen
Goebbert’s Roma Tomatoes performed very well until the groundhog ate them all
Home Depot (Bonnie Plants) Shishito peppers were early and prolific. I planted 10 plants. The way we like them probably should plant 12.
Eggplants did well. Blackbell II and White Star. 4 plants were more than enough.
Countryside Summer Dance cucumbers did very well with long fruits and small seeds. The other varieties did well but need to be picked earlier. They matured too fast.
It’s hard to evaluate the heirloom tomatoes since the groundhog ate most of them. It did appear that they were very slow to ripen. Other gardeners mentioned that tomatoes were slow to ripen this year The Brandywine yellow plant outlasted all of the others at the end of the season.
We finally had a weekend without rain, so my landscaper, RT, and his son were able to come on Saturday and construct my three new raised beds. The corner blocks and the wood have been sitting around since June, but we are finally done. I had the drainage contractor dump some of the leftover dirt on that bed, so they were able to fill the new beds without having to haul any soil in. They worked hard as the soil was still wet and heavy from the September rains.
The third bed is taller than the other two since I’ll build a top for it with transparent plastic film so that I can use it for a cold frame in the spring for early plants and in the fall for late greens and other fall vegetables. We put stepping stones between the beds so I can walk between the beds without getting muddy and not have to deal with growing and maintaining grass between the beds.
While the landscapers were working on the raised beds, I was able to pull out all of the spent garden plants, the stakes, tomato cages and misc. supports. I even got one bed completely cleaned up. I still need to till or turn over the other bed and area where the tomatoes are planted.
I also need to add sand, lime and peat moss and other organic material to the new raised beds and work that into the soil.
Much further along than last year when rain and an early freeze and snow precluded any cleanup and made for a very late gardening start this year.
I bought some Cucamelon seeds from Terroir this spring but never got them in due to the wet weather. Fortunately, I found a pot of them at Countryside and got them planted in early July, which was quite late.
They grew, slowly at first, and now taking over the whole fence around the cucumber bed. Everything else in the garden has been pulled up, but they are still going strong.
They are typically about 1 1/2 inches long and they taste like a cucumber. The only downside is that the skin is slightly tough.
I’ve been eating them as I walk through the garden. They get a little soft after a day in the refrigerator, so they don’t keep well. I will try and pickle the ones left on the vine and see if they turn out good that way.
I’ll plant them again next year, but from Terroir’s seeds and see if those turn out a little better.
I planted 15 Roma tomato plants. They had the largest, most beautiful Roma tomatoes I’d ever seen. I got 4 or 5 tomatoes, he ate the rest. I had 16 heirloom tomato plants, loaded with tomatoes. We barely got enough for our needs. He climbs fences easily, or lifts them up and crawls under. One day I saw him walking along the top of the chain-link fence on his way to Greg’s garden. Fortunately, for him, he’s a cute little critter…
In September we were finally able to complete a massive drainage project to keep our yard and basement dry from the increased rains that we may be experiencing due to climate change. Ather a summer of topographic maps and engineering. the project is finally complete thanks to Natalie, Engineer, Jason Doland and contractor Gabriel, Inc.
The project is functional as well as beautiful.
The septic tank was reinforced with concrete and rebar as part of the project. The top of the tank is now exposed due to re-grading. I will cover the top with a sectional wooden lath deck that will be easily removable when the tank needs service. the deck will have potted vegetable plants on it. The herb garden near the fence was removed during construction. and a new one will be built within the loop of the dry creek.
Picked a couple of Romas before the groundhog got to them as well as some peppers and zucchini. Cucumbers are doing very well.