Finally, Summer Weather!

The temperature has shot up into the 90’s for almost the past week with scattered thunderstorms every other day or so, but still plenty of sunshine. The plants are loving it! This hot and wet pattern is expected to continue through the 4th.

I am expecting to have some ripe champion tomatoes by July 4th, plus some Jalapenos and maybe a hot Hungarian pepper. Maybe a cherry tomato or two, also. I made a couple batches of Pesto this week from garden Basil, Parsley and mint. I used Massimo Bottura’s recipe, substituting bread crumbs for the pine nuts. This makes a wonderfully creamy Pesto with just a touch of mint flavor even though I used a substantial amount of mint. I’ve also been making salad from the Romaine that I planted in a pot by the deck,the leaves are large but thin. Not as good as they did in the garden.

I made a final trip to the Nurserys and found a Lemon Boy tomato at Countryside to finish my heirloom plot and also bought a cucamelon plant. I planted the three tomatillo plants in the bed along the back fence.

First Lightning Bugs

Lightning bugs have been unusually present in the garden this year. I see them flying around as I have been working outside this week and a couple more curious ones landed on me. But tonight, June 22, has been the first appearance of them at dusk. (I’ve been out watching every night.)

In folklore, there doesn’t seem to be any significance to their first appearance, but they are the harbingers of summer. I am expecting a bumper crop this year because of their presence during the day, I don’t ever remember seeing so many., just an occasional one. Hot weather is predicted for the last half of the week, and I think that will really bring them out.

I tried to photograph them tonight and they will show up on video as well as in stills. Trying to get them to perform on cue will be difficult, though. If we have a bumper crop this year, it should up the odds of getting a couple of them in a shot.

Progress. Slow, but progress.

New path in the cucumber bed.

Change of forecast. We actually had a dry day on the weekend, at least until 6pm when it rained just enough to make everything wet and muddy.

I decided to add a concrete paver walk down the center of the cucumber bed so I could do another planting in front of the cukes. I was just going to put down a couple of lengths of decking boards, but the concrete blocks were cheaper. The walkway cost me $17. Since I will be digging these beds by hand in the future I might as well pave the areas where I need to walk, then I don’t need to worry about weeds or mowing. I’ll probably do stepping stones in the tomato patch this year and then in the paths between raised beds later on.

After that was in, I planted some seeds from Terroir Seeds in the last section of the bed. They are True Lemon Cucumbers, which I had planted a few years ago. These lemon shaped cukes are delicious right off of the vine and few make it into the house.

I laid out the new raised beds and planted Zucchini in the center one. Two hills of Black Beauty from Bonnie Plants at Home Depot and one hill of Cocozelle Zucchini from Countryside. I’ll build the raised bed around it later – I needed to get the Zucchini in the ground.

I also planted green onions in the bed by the deck after topping it off with mushroom compost. I also planted Curley parsley in the herb garden there..

Cucumbers In

Cucumbers with new trellises.

So, here we are on a Friday, the first day of summer, and again it’s overcast with a rainy weekend in the forecast. I weeded and hand-dug the bed for the cucumbers and installed 4 trellises that I bought at Home Depot. They are not quite 4 feet tall, which I’m not sure is tall enough. But we’ll see if I can keep the plants growing on the trellis.

I planted 3 plants per trellis, all plants from Countryside.

3 Saladmore Bush
Early – Dual-purpose, perfect for growing in containers or small gardens. Crisp with
mild, sweet flavor. AAS

3 Emperator
Early – Vigorous, high yielding plants. 5″

3 Summer Dance
Early – Very sweet, glossy, deep-green 9″ fruits

On the one trellis that’s left, I’ll plant some True Lemon cucumbers from Terroir Seeds. These were wonderful the last time I grew them.

There is room in front of the cukes to grow something else. Maybe I’ll try some Pak Choi or Arugula is the soil ever dries out.

Tomatoes Planted!

Heirloom Totatoes Finally In the Ground!

After a foggy, cold, drizzly weekend we finally got one nice day. I decided to plant the tomatoes without tilling. The soil may be still too wet to till. I spread the remainder of the old compost pile, raked and planted. I already had four plants in, so I planted 11 more. I still need a Lemon Boy plant to finish the planting.. SInce the soil wasn’t turned over, I am thinking about using a heavy straw mulch to keep the weeds under control.

Here’s a diagram of what was planted: Four Rows of four. Top of the chart is South. I fertilized each plant and set the tomato cages in place.

Ike’s West Virginia- Late(Countryside) Large plants with
sweet, rich fruit.
Oxheart – Late
Meaty, Few seeds
Cherokee Carbon – Mid (Countryside) Big pink fruit with
Outstanding flavor.
First Prize – Mid
Delicious 10 to 12
oz. fruit, even when conditions are not
ideal. HY DR.
Mr. Stripey – Late(Countryside)
Yellow with
red-streaked flesh.
Caspian Pink –
Late (Countryside) Mild yet sweet.
Beefsteak type.
Cherokee Carbon – Mid (Countryside) Big pink fruit with
Outstanding flavor.  
Early Girl II – Very
Early (Countryside) Tasty fruit, first to
Mortgage Lifter –
Mid (Countryside)
Pink variety with
meaty fruit and
great taste.
Yellow – Mid
Intense tomato
flavor. HY
Cherokee Purple – Late (Countryside) Sweet and rich
flavor HY
Champion VFNT –
Early (Countryside) Great for sandwich. Best early type. DR  
Lemon Boy Gold Medal – Mid
(Countryside) Flesh is streaked with red and flavorful.
Black From Tula –
Late (Countryside) Rich, salty, smoky
Champion VFNT –
Early (Countryside) Great for sandwich. Best early type. DR  

Eggplant and Some Tomatoes In

Eggplant with anti-rabbit protection.

I went to Countryside in Crystal Lake today and bought the rest of the tomatoes, 4 eggplants, and cucumbers. I planted the four eggplants between the Roma Tomatoes and the Hot Peppers, and installed chicken wire to protect against ravenous rabbits and also cages to support the plants. The varieties are (2) Blackbell II and (2) White Star.

I also decided to plant the three large tomatoes in the area cleared by the landscapers since they have been sitting on the deck for a couple of weeks. These were in 10-inch pots. So I planted (2) Champion Tomatoes and (1) Early Girl II in large pots at the west end of the tomato section of the garden. These plants already have tomatoes on them. I pruned them quite a bit as there were several shoots coming up from the bottom of the plant. I also planted (1) First Prize Hybrid tomato that I bought today to complete the row. I’ll be planting 4 rows of 4 plants, which is spaced out further than last year where I had 4 rows of 5. I think the plants will do better with more space.

There is heave rain in the forecast for tomorrow and 50% chance of rain for Saturday which means tilling will be put off again. So I will spread the rest of the old compost pile over the cleared area and plant the rest of the tomatoes without tilling. These are in 4 inch pots and about 18 inches tall so they shouldn’t have a problem. The only purpose of tilling would be to kill the weeds, so I guess I’ll put down a heavy straw mulch to keep the weeds down

Still Too Wet

The result of tilling wet soil.

The landscapers came this morning to rototill the garden. They cleared the weeds, but the soil was still too wet and just clumped up and clogged the tiller. They will try again on Saturday, it looks like several dry days in between.

Hot Peppers & Roma Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes and Hot Peppers

I hand weeded this bed then scraped the surface with a shovel and raked out mostly dandelions. It took several hours, but I got the be ready and then planted Romas and Hot Peppers. I also emptied the compost bin on this bed. There is 4 or 5 feet of bed left between the peppers and Romas, I will probably plant eggplant in the space.

So this is the bed nearest to the barn and here is what was planted, South to North.

3 Large Hot Hungarian Bell Peppers (Goebberts)
6 Large Jalapeno Peppers (Goebberts)
3 Small Poblano Peppers (Goebberts)

Then there is a space, pbobably for Eggplant.

15 large Roma Tomatoes (Goebberts)

Sweet Peppers Planted

Sweet peppers finally planted!

After Tuesday’s 2.5 inches of rain, the weather finally dried out enough that I can begin planting. The soil is still extremely wet, too wet to rototill or turn over. I dug the big weeds out and got the rest the best I could with the cultivator. So at least all of the sweet peppers are in, but I should have been at this point a month ago. I hope this wet spring weather isn’t the new normal.

The peppers are in the bed next to the blackberries and here’s the lineup from South to North:

10 Large Shishito peppers (Bonnie Plants – Home Depot)
2 Large Lady Bell Peppers (Goebbert’s)
3 Small Lady Bell Peppers (Goebbert’s)
3 Large Sweet Banana Peppers (Goebbert’s)
3 Small Sweet Banana Peppers (Goebbert’s)
6 Small Valencia Peppers (Goebbert’s)
3 Small Melrose Peppers (Goebbert’s)
3 Small Gypsy Peppers (Goebbert’s)

I need to put bottomless pots around the plants, lest they become rabbit food.