Sunday Garden Chat: First Fruits

marvel First-Onion

From faithful correspondent Marvel:

We’re eating stuff from the garden and loving it. Here in the Willamette Valley, it’s not quite warmed up to Summer temperatures yet, but with our mild Spring, we’re enjoying lots of cool-weather veggies from the garden, especially lettuces, spinach, kale, chard and shelling peas.

That said: we’re making progress with a few of our warm-weather friends, e.g., last night I ran out of a critical ingredient as I was putting together some yummy bean burgers, then remembered we planted several dozen out the the back yard. Our first (sweet) onion of the season tested SWELL!

***********

Here in New England, my tomato plants are flourishing and starting to set fruit, but even the impulse-purchase hybrid Black Pearl we planted out in mid-May hasn’t ripened any of the bakers’ dozen of plump green ping-pong balls tantalizing us yet. My two sweet basil plants have doubled in size, but the lemon basil hasn’t gotten much bigger and it’s already trying to flower, dammit. I never have much luck with lemon basil — any advice?

The daylilies (hemerocallis), on the other hand, are exploding with blossoms. I should get some pictures while I can, but for the last week it’s been rainy and/or overcast, not to mention so hot and humid it’s like trying to work in the bathroom while somebody takes a hot shower.

How are things in your gardens this week?

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59 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    For the 2nd night on a row, I have been up since 2 am. Oh well. I am almost used to it.

    Predicted high for today: 102…. in SoCal. Washington Co MO? 76. Suck on that LA. This time last year we were just beginning a 3 week stretch of 100+ degree days. This global warming sh!t is gonna be tough to plan for.

  2. 2
    R-Jud says:

    We’re eating chard, kale, strawberries, and all manner of herbs from the garden. Raspberries, peas, and carrots are next. It looks like we may actually top 80 F later this week.

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    As for the garden… It’s green. Especially the weeds. All is progressing more or less on schedule. Harvested my first eggplants and jalapenos this week as well as 1 lonely sweet bell pepper. Might be the only 1 I get this year as the plants all look like hell. I have plenty of tomatoes set. I put in 40 plants of various types, which is good cause a buddy of mine just moved back out here from St Louis…

    That coon is back at my bird feeder right now (I can hear him) I should get up and shoot him (I been trying to trap him for 2 weeks now, the last of a family I think) but too lazy. Besides, I still have hope I can trap him.

    Anyway, my buddy was unable to put in a garden this year, so he and his family can share in the tomato-y goodness. He has chickens so we can do some trading.

    My hot pepper plants are 50/50. The jalapeno, cayenne, and serrano all look good with plenty of peppers, but the poblanos, anaheims, and hungarian wax all look sickly. Don’t know why but it seems like I just can’t grow them. All my bean plants look good and they are beginning to flower. My corn is mid-thigh to waist high, and I have way more lettuce than we can eat. The wife has been sharing it with her office mates.

    Mostly just gonna do some weeding today. I put in sweet potatoes for the 1st time this year and the instructions that came with the starters said to not bother weeding as the plants would out compete the weeds. HA! Not Ozark weeds.

    Started over on the sweet basil this week. guess we’ll see if these crash and burn as well. Gonna harvest a bunch of oregano for the drying rack today too, as it has just about taken over it’s bed.

  4. 4
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    :-) Just had to smile at your description of your weeds.

    I spent a large chunk of my childhood in the hills of SE Oklahoma and can truly understand your story.

  5. 5
    Botsplainer says:

    My new puppy – Leo (short for Leopold).

    http://i.imgur.com/nHhImFf.jpg

  6. 6
    satby says:

    I bought three kinds of grafted tomato plants this year and so fat they live up to the hype, compared to the few non-grafted ones they look like monster plants. If all the flowers set into fruit I’m gonna be making sauce and have neighbors hide from me till October.

  7. 7
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Our garden is doing well. We had a salad a couple of days ago with garden fresh lettuce [2 kinds], kale, green onion, and zucchini. Yum!

    The garden doesn’t look like a suburban garden. It looks like an inner city garden, where folks find a patch of sunny soil and then farm the hell out of that little patch. It looks like a hot mess.

    HOWEVER, we have 7 kinds of tomato, 3 kinds of pepper, 2 kinds of cucumber, 2 kinds of garlic, and single varieties of corn, beans, and kale. So maybe I should quit complaining.

  8. 8
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Leo is a cutie!

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Botsplainer says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Leo is a cutie!

    He’s napping at my feet right now.

  11. 11
    SuperHrefna says:

    I picked several quarts of peas then took down the pea greens which were starting to wilt. I’ve sown a crop of scarlet emporer runner beans in their space and have my fingers crossed that they do well. I’ve got lots of baby lemon cucumbers and my zucchini are starting to flower – I have my fingers crossed there too, last time I tried growing zucchini I got lots of blossom but no zucchini, I’m told because all my flowers were male? And my New Yorker tomatoes have lots of green fruit, and my Brandywines are starting to fruit as well.

    In my shady front garden I’ve been having a great success with abutilons, dragon and angel wing begonias and black eyed Susan vines. It’s looking really pretty out there if I do say so myself :-)

  12. 12
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Linda Featheringill :

    :-) Just had to smile at your description of your weeds.

    I’m glad somebody can smile about them. :-( Yesterday they wrapped around my knees and when I fell into them they tried to choke me to death! If I had not been armed with a bottle of Green Death ™ they would have had me!

  13. 13
    Botsplainer says:

    This was our last dog, Napoleon. Same basic breed, different color (Leo is a Tervuren, Napoleon was a Groenendael).

    http://i.imgur.com/89AyRYL.jpg

    He loved the snow, and was really relaxed that day (which was why he’d relaxed his ears). We lost him last fall – his arthritis got the best of him.

  14. 14
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Botsplainer: so cute!

  15. 15
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Botsplainer: wonderful photo, you can see the soul in his eyes.

  16. 16
    mainmati says:

    Our garden (MD near DC) changed significantly a year ago with the ” derecho” which knocked down five large trees and changed the sunlight conditions. We’re still trying to factor all that in. Last winter was so mild we had chard the whole year. We tend to grow stuff that otherwise you’d pay a bit more for at the store. That means a variety of chili peppers, Mediterranean herbs, tomatoes, lettuces, the aforementioned chard, bronze fennel, she’ll peas, which did sensationally this year and sunflowers. Our neighborhood foxes keep the coons and bunnies away so the real and ubiquitous garden predators are the damn deer who assume they own the whole neighborhood. Grrr. Basil going to seed too quickly is a chronic problem. There is no solution.

  17. 17
    Nicole says:

    Took the advice of commenters here about looking for heat and drought resistant flowers for our apartment building’s rooftop deck and sprouted portulaca and african daisy seeds, which I moved up to the planters on the roof. Then a well-meaning neighbor yanked out the dying ornamental grasses in the planter (I left them alone, other than trimming them down, unsure if the landlord would get mad about removing them). The poor portulacas were a casualty, or so I thought. Yesterday I saw some of them poking themselves back out of the soil, like drunks getting back up after a fight: “I’m okay! I’m okay! Totally fine!” Tough little plants.

    The african daisies are sharing a planter with five sweet corn plants, which another resident planted. It makes me laugh to think of corn growing on the roof, but I like the plants.

  18. 18
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Back in the day, we grew cane as winter feed for our little clump of cows and we actually had to go out with hoes for 2 or 3 months to fight off the weeds. Of course, now people fight that war with chemicals.

  19. 19
    gene108 says:

    All the thunderstorms we had every evening last week did a better job watering the flowers, I’m allowed to plant at my condo, than I could’ve done. They are doing very well, compared to a week ago.

  20. 20
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @mainmati:

    Our neighborhood foxes keep the coons and bunnies away so the real and ubiquitous garden predators are the damn deer who assume they own the whole neighborhood.

    I saw a deer by our garden early in the morning one day. She looked at [sniffed at?] the garden but then went back to nibbling on the grass. I’ve heard that deer don’t care for tomatoes. Maybe they don’t like onions/garlic either.

  21. 21
    JPL says:

    @Botsplainer: Aw, what a sweet face!

    This year I built a raised garden and have enjoyed squash and cherry tomatoes. Everything looks healthy but the beans, peppers and eggplant are slow growing.

  22. 22
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Been looking at garlic for the fall planting. I want to get a variety with early, mid and late season types as well as mild to spicy. Anybody have any suggestions? This will be a 1st for me so I have no idea.

  23. 23
    jeffreyw says:

    First tomatillo of what promises to be a bountiful crop. There will be salsa.

  24. 24
    Ramalama says:

    We’ve had maybe two summer days here in redneck Quebecoisville so far. The rest just a pile of rain, and cool temps, which is so unlike this area. I know Americans always faint from exertion thinking about Canada being hot (I know I did before I moved here).

    We have a fledgling basillic plant. 8 tomato plants given away by a hippie in the neighboring town in the valley. Rumors of flowers on them. I keep wanting to do a raised bed to plant some edible greens but I am a fair weathered farmer. I should also look into growing mushrooms since this is the place to do that in. But for now, I’ll just read everyone’s comments here and pine for more fruitful days. Right now, everything’s just fruity.

  25. 25
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    Here in south central Indiana I have for the moment moved beyond fearing drought to wondering when the H*ll it is going to STOP raining! The garden is like a sponge.

    I planted two 20 ft rows of corn this year. The past two days, I had to go into the garden and gently set half of more upright, pressing the dirt around the roots with my foot to firm it. Like squashing thick oatmeal. Last night yet another round of storms and rain with wind, and I see that some of the corn is lying on its side again. Oh, joy.

    I have been picking grape variety and the new yellow orange cherry size tomatoes for a week now. Many of the 24 plants are dripping green tomatoes, so if the water scarecrows and the hanging bars of Irish Spring work, we will be eating LOTS of about 20 varieties of tomatoes soon.

    I love sunflowers, and this year planted a half dozen varieites in five rows scatted in different parts of the garden. Some of the most beautiful pictures I have taken in the past few years have been of the huge sunflower heads.

    Probably today or tomorrow we will start picking green beans. I have three rows of three varieties of bush green beans, so I did not have to stake or trellis them. I tried to pick varieties so that there will be at least a few days succession, and not all three rows at once, like last year. Last year I filled a kitchen garbage with green beans. They are easy to parboil then freeze, which is what we do with excess. We do not can. A lost art, our mothers did. But is was a different life style for them.

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    All the crazy mid-summer type weather we’ve had (warm, lots of sun interspersed with stormy downpours) has our garden and orchard growing like crazy. The container herb garden on the deck is going gangbusters. The raised root veg garden is overflowing with greenery and the big veg garden has loads of zucchini blossoms, green tomatoes, little cukes, and several varieties of peppers. And our rosé garden is spectacular! All the other flowers are also looking glorious. Especially happy to see the sunflowers popping up as we haven’t had luck with them the last few years.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @Linda Featheringill: The deer would destroy our tomatoes, eat them all, if we did not have the water scarecrows, the hanging Irish Spring soap, and occasional sparying with DeerOff. Until we put these measures in place five years ago, we went through a year when the local deer discovered the garden and stripped us bare.

    I also have to spray my lilies in the front yard, because the deer think the buds, when just about to burst into bloom, are a dessert treat I prepared for them. They used to strip them clean before the DeerOff spray.

  29. 29
    geg6 says:

    @HeartlandLiberal:

    Oh, we can here! If we didn’t I don’t know what we’d do with all the stuff we’d never be able to eat. We can our tomatoes and hot peppers and beans and we make pickles. We also have so many raspberries and blackberries that we make jam ever year. Our peach trees have so many littles peaches set that I’m hoping we’ll have enough to preserve those, too. It all comes in handy at holiday time when we give friends, my co-workers, and relatives gift baskets filled with jars of canned goodness. They love it!

  30. 30
    Poopyman says:

    Our garden here in Southern MD is coming along in fits and starts. I didn’t plant everything until May 15 so kind of a late start, but it was too cool. The pole beans started fast and shot up the 8′ trellis, and tendrils have now ganged together to search for a higher tree. They’re damned close to finding it, too. Still no signs of flowers though.

    The winter squash and melons started slow, but have shot up/out in the past week. I clocked one squash vine at 10″/day. The yellow summer squash are doing pretty well too, flowered, fruiting, and getting ready to harvest this week.

    Eggplant has been really set back by the flea beetles, but still soldiering on. We shall see. Okra has gathered steam too as the heat set in, Brussels sprouts the same. The tomatoes… well, if I can stop them from splitting they’ll be fine, but we’ve had periodic bouts of T-storms with heavy rain, so I’m not sure how to mitigate that. Everything is well mulched, also too.

  31. 31
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @HeartlandLiberal:

    Here in south central Indiana I have for the moment moved beyond fearing drought to wondering when the H*ll it is going to STOP raining!

    Not on to say…. Oh to hell with that! Told you so. Not that it will make you feel any better, but we are drowning here too. You are definitely ahead of us in the season.

  32. 32
    Poopyman says:

    @geg6:

    And our rosé garden is spectacular!

    I’m more a fan of cabernets, but what ever works for you. :)

  33. 33
    WereBear says:

    @Botsplainer: Now that’s a wonderful puppy. Congratulations!

  34. 34
    geg6 says:

    @Poopyman:

    Goddam autofill. Wonder why it automatically went down that road? And for myself, I’m a Pinot noir and Reisling kinda girl.

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    @Poopyman:

    Goddam autofill. Wonder why it automatically went down that road? And for myself, I’m a Pinot noir and Reisling kinda girl.

  36. 36
    Scout211 says:

    My tomatoes are finally ready to harvest. I just picked two yesterday with many others ready to pick next week. My bush beans have been really happy with the mild temps we have had for the past month. I have harvested many buckets full.

    We are in NorCal, so it is hot, hot, hot now. Today will be 109 and tomorrow is predicted to be 111. I have had to turn the drip lines on extra time. The beans aren’t happy now and I am glad the blueberries are done producing for the season.

    Corn is almost ready and the many melon plants are producing well. Some will be ready to pick in a week or so. Eggplant is flowering but so far hasn’t set. It may be too hot for that now?

    The rhubarb was yummy this year and now is past season. The bell peppers are producing and I have harvested about 6 so far.

    We plan to drive up to the Sierras today to find some cooler weather.

    Did I mention that it is hot out here in the West?

  37. 37
    Svensker says:

    @Botsplainer:

    That’s an adorable pup. He looks ready for action!

    @Ramalama: Toronto, the same. The lettuce and hostas are doing great. Everything else, including the humans, is about to covered in mildew. And the forecast here is for unseasonably low temps and rain every day this week. It’s figging depressing.

  38. 38
    JPL says:

    @raven: Yes it does and the garden is beautiful. Someday your garden will too!

  39. 39
    geg6 says:

    @Botsplainer:

    OMG, PUPPEH!

    Damn, he’s an adorable little fuzzball, isn’t he?

  40. 40
    WaterGIrl says:

    @geg6: Reisling girls unite!

  41. 41
    Poopyman says:

    @raven: Took me a minute to find it on Google street view, which was shot in March on a cloudy day. Talk about a reminder of how bleak winter gardens are!

  42. 42
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scout211:

    Eggplant is flowering but so far hasn’t set. It may be too hot for that now?

    Last year when our temps were hanging around 104-107 I was picking eggplants. So maybe not.

  43. 43
    Poopyman says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Eggplants do fine in the heat. Mine have been lagging too, but my excuse is bugs. Also the fact that it was below average temps until the beginning of June.

  44. 44
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scout211:

    Did I mention that it is hot out here in the West?

    Did I mention that it is gorgeous here? A high of 76 today?? Why, yes, I did. Nyah nyah….

  45. 45
    Scout211 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Thanks, that is good to know. Maybe I just need to be patient.

  46. 46
    SectionH says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s 60 here in north inland San Diego right now. The NOAA has revised our afternoon high Down to 99. It will be hide inside at that point, but as a native Missourian (born in Cape, raised in St. Louis) I’ll take 99 here over 85 in Mo, maybe even 80. The humidity just kills me. And our high temps should be back down to mid-80’s by Thursday.

    We’re picking beans and our second crop of peas right now. Mr. S has lots of chili peppers*, our first eggplants are coming – they’re tiny little things, I think because we had to put the plant in a pot to save it from the squirrels. The Thai basil is a huge success, and the volunteer Italian that escaped being eaten is finally establishing itself. The rest of the typical herbs are all ok. The Borage That Ate San Diego seems finally to,have peaked, and the rest of the stuff in its bed is coming back, And! our lime and lemon trees are finally looking happy. I do feel bad for the folks in the more northern CA areas which are usually cool(ish) in the summer, because so many don’t have air conditioners.

    The tomatoes were doing great until the squirrels found them. We managed to get a couple dozen, mostly San Marzanos, before. Now the tomato teepee is surround by rabbit fencing, which has earth heaped around it with capsicum-based repellent on it. It has slowed them down some… Next is a humane trap I guess. At this point Mr. S may not care too much about the humane part. He was out doing a Mr. MacGregor the other day, and nearly got one of the little bastards with a rake.

    Most of our ongoing garden work is ornamentals again though. We’re xeriscaping part of our front yard with CA natives. Probably need a separate post for that.

    *Habaneros, Fresno pimientas, Black Cobra hot peppers,’Tasty Orange Bell’, Red Beauty sweet, yellow and purple bells, New Mexico 6-4L (looks like a Hatch), and New Mexico Big Jim (looks like a poblano).

  47. 47
    SectionH says:

    FUWP. I could not get the edit function to work on my iPad – last sentence of paragraph 2 s.b. last sentence of par. 1. And I can’t even delete the comment?

    Well, as long as I’ve made a second post, the ornamental stuff is coming along well. We’ve started a hedgerow of water-wise shrubs and largish perennials to divide off a (nearly) no water succulent area from the area we’re leaving grass (pool possibility for future owners). The idea’s inspired by the English hedgerows which at their best have a great variety of plants intergrowing and provide food and shelter for many species. Completely different plants here of course. We hope they’ll work together.

    The front xeriscape area will contain CA natives primarily, and maybe exclusively. That will on whether or not we leave a Cape Honeysuckle in place or try to move it. I planted it before I was sufficiently knowledgeable (we’re still beginners in thismeco system, but we know a lot more than we did then). If we leave it, the criteria will be Native or native to very similar climate.

  48. 48
    Ramalama says:

    @Svensker: Oh yes we have hostas and we have trees thriving like nothing else. Soon, we’ll see mushrooms the size of a 1980s Honda Civic sprouting up, too, but I can’t handle the prospect of mistaking one image of an edible mushroom versus another image of a poisonous one, so I usually lop them off and call it a day.

    The last maybe 5 years we’ve had exaggerated lightning storms and Charleton Heston style thunder, thunder even during a bit of snowfall in December last year. We’ve had 14 trees felled by lightning which finally gave us a bit of sunlight in the yard. And then my partner planted three new trees that were given to her by the city, which is always exhorting people to plant trees, just to drive me crazy.

  49. 49
    Opie_jeanne says:

    We’ve been enjoying Hood strawberries and spinach salads from our garden for the past two weeks because we were late getting the garden planted this year. This is just outside Seattle.

    Right now we are enjoying the hospitality of an online friend in NC, and he’s a retired chef so were enjoying the food as well. The tomatoes and corn from his local farmers market were amazing.

    We are heading to Baltimore on Wednesday for the DiscWorld convention.

  50. 50
    Keith says:

    My garden only has a single chili plant from last year that survived winter. I’ve got more Trinidad scorpions than I know what to do with. I may plant some new Carolina Reaper seeds that I got, since it’s hard to be too late to plant in Texas. But for everything else, I just came back from the store with about $60 worth of fresh fruit…peaches, plumbs, red watermelon, yellow watermelon, apples, peaches, strawberries. I need to live on a farm.

  51. 51
    Karla says:

    So far my only harvest has been an occasional alpine strawberry (Yellow Wonder, an albino variety that the birds don’t recognize), but if I wanted to I could harvest some of the spinach and chard I planted as a living mulch around my Carmine Jewel cherry.

    That shrub has not yet fruited (maybe next year, I keep telling myself – this is its fourth summer) but is making lots of new leaves and branches. I planted a ring of Northeaster strawberries at the edge of the cherry bed on the first of May, and there are some flowers and developing fruit on them now. Some say to not let strawberries fruit the first year, but with the rabbits and the winter, I say carpe diem.

    Of the four rhubarb plants I put in last weekend after accidentally allowing their rootstock to mold a bit and then sit in the fridge for a month, two have leaves growing. Tough plants.

  52. 52
    WaterGIrl says:

    @SectionH: I don’t know if it’s still true after all the site changes, but it used to be that if I opened the edit window on my iPad in a separate tab, THEN I could edit on my iPad. And in case you don’t know (I discovered it by accident) you get the “open in new tab” window if you press and hold on the link instead of just a quick tap.

  53. 53
    Jay in Oregon says:

    My property is a mess. I totally ignored it for the better part of a year until i started getting complaints from the neighbor about blackberry brambles growing over the fence into his yard, and warnings from the city about a patch of unmowed grass that was almost as tall as I am. So this year is the reclamation.

    I got most all of the blackberry brambles hacked down and trying to stay on top of the new vines, and am also dealing with some serious ivy overgrowth (as in, spilling off of the hillside where it was planted and growing along the ground toward the house).

    My plan is to have all of the stuff I don’t want cut down and carted out so I can start planting stuff this fall. I do have some rose bushes that produce lovely blooms, though.

    EDIT: As for heat, my mother lives in Anchorage and she called shortly before she left on vacation to inform me of the 95-degree weather they were having. I don’t ever remember it getting into the 80’s, let alone the 90’s, when I was a kid.

  54. 54
    Violet says:

    It’s so freaking hot, it’s all I can do to keep things going. I’m watering every morning for about an hour–combination of by hand and sprinklers. Some things, like cleaning and re-filling the birdbath, have to be done by hand. The poor birds empty the bird bath dry in a day. It’s brutal here. Official temp was 107, but I think it only got to 106 at my house.

    I’m harvesting melons–cantaloupe type–like crazy. Can’t keep up and will start having to give them to neighbors if they keep producing. They seem to have stopped actual setting of fruit due to the very high temps, so not sure if we’ll be getting any more after this.

    Otherwise, just trying to keep things alive. I have noticed that due to my watering every day that the one of the pepper plants is actually setting peppers at the moment. I think it’s because it’s behind some collard greens that I should take out but haven’t, and those plants keep the roots and bottom half of the pepper plant shaded. Perhaps that helps in water retention, or the roots just stay cooler so the plant doesn’t know it’s as hot or something? Not sure, but it’s the only pepper plant to set right now, and they usually just hunker down until fall when it cools down.

  55. 55
    Yatsuno says:

    @Botsplainer: ZOMG PUPPEH!!! I would have guessed Belgian Malinios. And been wrong.

    @geg6:

    And for myself, I’m a Pinot noir and Reisling kinda girl.

    @WaterGIrl:

    Reisling girls unite!

    I knew I luvverd you two for a reason. :)

  56. 56
    SectionH says:

    @WaterGIrl: Thank you so much for that tip!

  57. 57
    WaterGIrl says:

    @Yatsuno: Dare I speak for geg6 and say that we love you back? :-)

    @SectionH: Yay, it must still work!

  58. 58
    burnspbesq says:

    We’re giving away tomatoes and nectarines, because we have more than we can eat.

    One of the tomato plants has overrun the blueberry bushes, but they’re done for this year.

    Watermelon plants are looking good, but no fruit yet. Cantaloupes looking pretty dodgy.

    The bee guys came a couple weeks ago, and the thing they took away was so full of honey it took two of them to carry it. They love us. We’ll get a few jars back from them.

  59. 59
    SectionH says:

    @WaterGIrl: Well, open in new tab works. Now I’ll see if the new editing window works…

    Yes!!

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