First Tomato!

First tomato from the container garden! Red Husky form Goebbert’s.

I picked the first tomato today from the container garden, this is at least a week earlier than last year. There are a couple of Early Girl II tomatoes in the Heirloom patch that might ripen by the 4th of July. This was from a large Red Husky plant that I got from Goebbert’s. We’ve had Jalapenos from another Goebbert’s plant for a couple of weeks and have been picking spring greens since May 17, so it’s been a successful spring.

I used the above tomato and some fresh basil from the garden to make a Bruschetta appetizer for dinner this evening.

Bruschetta with tomato and basil from the garden. Celebrating the beginning of summer.

Container Garden

One of my main goals is to extend the gardening season to provide food over a longer period of time. The spring greens yielded well this year and there is still usable lettuce, although most of it is starting to bolt. I made up my mind last year after a very wet spring and early summer and the Groundhog problem to have a container garden that I could get in early and easily protect from animals if necessary.

So I expanded my cherry tomato plantings this spring with 6 plants in three containers, two large patio tomato plants, a large Jalapeno plant which I’ve been harvesting for a couple of weeks, and a pot with two bush cucumbers. I am hoping this adds another month (July) to the harvesting season.

Father’s Day Gallery

The first day of Summer and Father’s Day coincided this year, and it also marks the completion of my plantings. We were somewhat back to a normal spring schedule this year. Most of the nurseries sold out early, but I was still able to find almost all of the varieties I wanted. So here is a gallery of where the garden is at this point.

Herb Garden off the deck and Cherry Tomatoes and Grape tomatoes in containers.
New Herb Garden complete and growing. The herbs are Basil, Thai Basil, Multi color Sage, Purple Veined Sorrel, French Tarragon, Mexican Tarragon, Spicy Mexican Oregano, Greek Oregano, Lemon Thyme, and Chocolate Mint.
These are the three new raised beds with Sweet Peppers, Fava Beans, Chinese Cabbage. Spring Greens, Okra, Swiss Chard, Kale, and Fennel.
The cucumbers are fenced in and growing well. Summer Dance Cucumbers from Countryside, generic slicing cumbers from Goebbert’s and Lemon cucumbers from Terroir Seeds. The cucamelons never came up.

Sixteen tomato plants, four rows of four, mostly heirloom. New stepping stones between the rows.

Fifteen Roma plants fenced in to thwart the Groundhog who ate almost all of then last year. There are for drying and freezing. The othe half of this bed contains hot peppers and eggplants.
The last bed is Zucchini and Peter Pan squash.

Finishing Up the Garden

I put the finishing touches on the garden the past couple of days. I finished fencing in the Roma tomatoes and added a removable piece of fence for a gate and did the same thing for the cucumbers.

I harvested some more lettuce as it is bolting and probably will be done this week with the hot weather. This gave me room for the Swiss Chard and Fennel. I fitted in six Chinese Cabbage plants between the Fava Beans since their germination was so erratic. The beans are starting to produce, so they will be out of there by the time the cabbage gets going. I also planted the three tomatillo plants behind the barn they are leggy and flowering, but I hope they will be OK.

I planted some flowers in front of the first bed and put a couple of stepping stones along the bed. Hidden among those flowers, I found three French Tarragon plants which I planted next to the Mexican Tarragon in the herb garden. I replaced the Pansies on the porch with new flowers and transplanted the pansies into a couple of large pots that I used to spice up the corners of the container garden.

At the end of the day I was exhausted because in addition to all the work mentioned above, I filled the yard waste container with invasive trees, grapevines and other stuff that shouldn’t be there that I removed from the blackberry patch. Major work still need to be done in there and it will take a couple of days to clean it out.

Tomorrow is Father’s day and the first day of summer, so I’ll do a status report and a bit of a gallery. All in all, I’m happy with the progress, and for the first time, there are no unplanted plants sitting on the deck.

Summer Has Arrived!

In my mind, the official start of summer is the emergence of lightning bugs. I’ve been watching for several days but nothing, likely because the temperatures at dusk had fallen into the 60s. But we were in the 80s today and shortly after dusk the air was filled with a myriad of the little flashing creatures welcoming the beginning of summer. That’s five days earlier than last year when they arrived on June 22.

Always a joy when the Lightning Bugs (Fireflies) arrive.

Unfortunately, the mosquitoes also marked the arrival of summer, but it has been relatively dry for the past week, so it’s likely that they will taper off soon. Also, with our new drainage system, there should be a lot less standing water available for them to breed in.

Garden Landscaping

I took my Ryobi hedge trimmer to the Blackberry Patch and removed as much overgrowth as I could and restored the paths through the patch. It will need a lot of hand work with the pruning shears and saw to finish, but it is a start.

A little bit of landscaping along the garden path

Then I worked on the pile of dirt on the north side of the garden path and broke it up with the rototiller and raked it even with the wood walkway. Then I planter the Black-eyed Susans in that area and plant a Coral Bells plant at the head of the walk. Some of the Black-eyed Susans had little soil on the roots and were dried out, but I’m guessing most of them will survive as they get rooted in the new soil. I’ll fill in the area with some Hosta and Sedum transplants when I have time.

Planting the Herb Garden

New Herb Garden Planting

I added some compost and peat moss and topsoil to the herb garden and got all of the herbs planted today. Here’s what is in the garden: Mexican Tarragon, Basil, Thai Basil, Tri-Color Sage, Purple-Veined Sorrel, Lemon Thyme. Greek Oregano, Spicy Oregano and Chocolate Mint.

I planted two Sunsweet yellow cherry tomatoes in a pot and that finished up the container garden. Also, in the herb garden by the deck, I replaced the dead sage plant with Garden Sage and the tasteless oregano plant with Greek Oregano.

Herb Garden

I’ve been working on the herb garden since Friday and made a big push to get it done today before the rains came. We were getting hit with the tail-end of tropical storm Cristobal this afternoon, but we missed the worst of it and got about 1/2 inch of rain which we really needed. But I got the stonework done and the dirt leveled for the herb garden ahead of the rain. I’ll add some compost and sand to the soil over the weekend because the soil is mostly clay, and then I’ll get the plants in and add some decorative rocks.

Roma Tomatoes

We went to Countryside on Sunday afternoon and bought 3 varieties of Roma Tomatoes. Four Roma, six Roma II, and five Roma III. I planted those today and fenced them in, just in case the groundhog is still waiting in the wings.

I also planted two Peter Pan squash plants in the first bed with the rest of the zucchini, and then I removed the spinach, Pak Choi and arugula that bolted and planted 10 Okra plants in their place.

Replacement Peppers and More

Goebbert’s is almost sold out of Vegetable plants. There were few tomatoes left and no Romas. The tomato and pepper shed was almost empty. I got some replacement peppers for the ones the bunnies ate, a lot of basil, and a few Kale plants.

I replaced the Jalapeno and Hot Banana pepper plants that got eaten and put pots around all of the hot peppers and staked them. I planted five or six generic cucumber plants in the empty space in the cucumber bed. I thinned out the lemon cucumbers which are doing well and weeded the whole bed. The cucamelons have not popped up yet.

We are having salads every day and the plants are doing well. The Arugula and Pak Choi bolted immediately from seed and the spinach bolted after a couple of early pickings. I planted a row of Kale to replace the first row of lettuce which we ate.