Thwarting the Groundhog

The groundhog has been after the Roma tomatoes which are starting to ripen, so I fenced them in before he trashed the crop. They are the biggest I’ve ever seen. I need to talk to Lee Goebbert to see if they are a different variety..

I also closed up the cucumber patch since some of the leaves were chewed on and a couple of cucumbers were chomped upon. Don’t know whether to blame the groundhog or the rabbits.

I picked four champion tomatoes today along with the first mortgage lifter. I will probably need to fence in the tomato patch also.

Cherry and grape tomatoes are coming in heavy, starting to pick a variety of peppers. Shishitos are doing well, but no flowers on the Jalapeno plants, so no new peppers.

Finally, a zucchini is almost ready and there should be eggplant to cook next week.

First Shishitos

First Shishitos being fried in sesame oil.

Picked the first batch of Shishito peppers today and couldn’t wait to get them into the wok. I fry them at medium-high heat in a couple tablespoons of toasted sesame oil until they blister on all sides and then sprinkle them with kosher salt. You eat everything but the stem and they are luscious.

I planted 10 plants. I hope that will be enough.

Raising Pollinators

Mason Bee entering her nesting hole.

Pollinators are important for gardeners because without pollination there would be no fruit. Several years ago, I built a “bee block” from a 4X4 with holes in it to serve as a home for these little pollinators after watching them enter holes in the brick wall left by anchor screws used in the old greenhouse.

They are very busy this year building their nests and fun to watch. They are very docile, the males can’t sting and the females won’t unless you try and grab them. I’m not sure what variety of mason bee they are, they are about the size of a housefly and disappear into their holes quickly so it’s hard to get a good look at them to see the coloring. This group seems not to have a lot of coloring and be mostly black.

My “friend” has returned!

What’s left of my Lemon Boy tomato plant after Mr. (Ms.) Groundhog got to it.

Our A/C has been out all week and I was up early yesterday because the temp didn’t drop below 80° all night and I had to be ready when George Lax & Co. showed up at 7:30 with a new A/C unit. I looked out the window and there in the path through the garden sat a large groundhog munching away on whatever. I yelled a few expletives and he quietly retreated into the horseradish. Later inspection showed no damage, at least for the time being.

That didn’t last long. I went into the garden this morning to pick some vegetables for out Saturday morning frittata and discovered that he (she) had totally trashed my Lemon Boy tomato plant, taking a three and a half foot plant down to about 1 foot and leaving four half-eaten tomatoes on the ground.

Stay tuned…

Heat and Finally, Rain.

Roma tomatoes are getting big!

I picked the first of the cucumbers last Friday before we headed off to St. Louis, as well as Jalapenos and some Hungarian peppers. It has been dry and hot, but finally, we got about 1/2 inch of rain late afternoon yesterday. It’s been raining all morning, so the garden should be well watered. I watered and fertilized all the pots yesterday. The next few days will have temperatures in the high 90s, so with the rain, the veggies should be very happy.

After the first few tomatoes on July 4, there are no more that even show signs of ripening. I have picked a couple of cherry tomatoes, but no quantity. There are more big Jalapenos in addition to the ones I picked, but no small ones or flowers. I’m not sure why.

The cucumbers are doing well, and it looks like we’ll be well supplied through the season. I picked one small Cucamelon, and it looks like more are coming. The Shishitos are doing well and I’ll pick a bunch in the next couple of days.

The Roma plants are loaded with loads of large tomatoes, but I think we are a couple of weeks away from picking.

More Planting

Herbs in their temporary location.

I planted two Peter Pan squash plants where the easternmost raised bed will be. I also planted the rest of the herbs by the side of the deck. I planted dill, thyme, tarragon, more basil, sage, and more chives.

We don’t have a drainage plan yet and the herbs by the fence may have to get moved when they put the pipe to the front yard in, so I am avoiding that area. I will probably create a new herb garden between the two dry creeks when the project is done. I will probably need to move the current herb garden that is at the end of the deck also.

I decided not to plant the beets because of the heat. Everything I bought is now planted.

It hasn’t rained in a week or so and the temperature has been in the 80s and 90s so I watered the whole garden today

First Tomatoes and Peppers

First Tomatoes and Peppers

The Champion early tomatoes came through again this year with the first tomatoes by the 4th of July. I picked four tomatoes this morning They could have been a little riper, but hey, it’s the 4th of July! I’ll leave the next ones on the vine a little longer to see if they develop a better flavor.

The Jalapenos are producing heavily and I picked four of the largest ones. I also picked one Hot Hungarian pepper. Basil is still doing well, but the romaine is bolting. I’ll pick the rest tomorrow and plant more Basil in that pot.

I bought a trellis for the cucamelons and planted that plant today at the end of the cucumber bed. Three of the lemon cucumbers that I planted from seed have emerged, hoping I wasn’t too late in getting them in.

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..