Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Blossom End Rot

I’ve had blossom end rot attack my tomatoes in past years though most often it is not a problem. This year it is. One of my varieties, Big Boy, is supposed to be particularly vulnerable to it. I’ve lost about a third of my tomato crop to it so far.

Blossom end rot is when the blossom end of the tomato fruit turns brown and watery. You can cut it off but the entire tomato is often mealy.

My research indicates that inadequate calcium is the culprit. This often occurs because of erratic watering. I’ve been trying to water either every other day or every day during the recent hot period. I did not mulch my garden this year and I suspect that is also a problem – the soil is giving up moisture to quickly to evaporation.

From one on-line source I learned to make a slurry of pelleted lime and water. After mixing the slurry for a long time I then added it to the plants at the ground. I will report back on how that goes.

Today’s photo are my wife’s Morning Glory which is in full growth and bloom. It greets me every morning as I go out the door.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

How Should the Garden Grow?

Today’s title is a play on words. I have been thinking a lot about whether to expand our vegetable garden or not, and how best to deal with what is left of our little lawn.

I could expand the vegetable growing area to replace what is left of the lawn. I hesitate to do so however because it would mean much more work for far more vegetables than we could eat. Unless I want to spend all my time canning and garden-tending I am not sure expanding the vegetable garden makes sense.

Sometimes I get this bug in my head about it, thinking how great it would be to have more veggies growing. Then I think about the work involved and how it would prevent me from doing other things I’d like to do and the idea dies.

If I gardened the space I have more intensely I could increase yields as much as we could reasonably use. That then will be my goal for 2018 – to garden more intensely. I will use the space better and add a fall garden in the same space, or at least part of it.

It will be ultimately necessary to create an automated watering system to cover days when I cannot be here. That will allow us to travel a bit more without worry that all the veggies are drying up and dying.

Then what to do with the lawn, or what is left of it? We could create a few more flower beds but leave much of the lawn in its current form. That is feeling like the best plan at present.

I want to enjoy gardening and not have it turn into a chore. Achieving that balance is the challenge. It is a challenge I welcome. My problem is that I want to do too many things perhaps. I want to do more woodworking. I want to start making Shaker inspired furniture. I want to travel a bit more. Choices must be made.

I reflect that my parents had no difficulty tending a large garden because they rarely went anywhere. There were home all the time because they could not afford to travel much. I have spoken to avid gardeners who have large vegetable and flower gardens and they admit it demands a lot of time and attention daily from spring through fall. So the question I must answer is how much time do I want to devote to gardening?

Fortunately, I need not make that decision today. It will be something to think on over the next year.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

Tomato Problems

Solanum lycopersicum, commonly called the tomato is an edible delight in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). They originated in Central and South America. Although botanically a fruit, tomatoes have a lower sugar content than most fruits and are considered a culinary vegetable.

Although not terribly difficult to grow in most of the United States they do have some problems due to their sensitivity to how often they are watered, how they are watered and how much water they get.

This year my tomatoes are doing well. All but one of the plants has good foliage growth. All have good blossoms and are setting fruit. I have some cherry tomatoes that are picked and eaten.

I attribute the success mostly to the weather. Until this coming week when we are to have triple digit heat the weather has been mostly in the 80sF and some days in the high 70s. The plants seem to thrive in those temperatures.

In the video below from www.growveg.com, Ben Vanheems teaches us about how to care for tomatoes and avoid their common problems.

 

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Castles and Spuds

IMG_0310Here is another photo of the blueberry castle all finished. The last post had a photo taken before it was done.

Also I’ve attached a photo of my wee potato box. My brother gave me two potatoes from his kitchen that had sprouted. One is a sweet potato and one is a russet. I planted the sprouted eyes in one of the garden boxes. Today I created a small box so I could build up the soil around the sprouts. As they grow up I have another bottomless box that will go on top to deepen the growing area. Maybe I will get a couple spuds!

IMG_0308I cut the grass and watered today. It is hot today (89F) and muggy. It was so muggy I retreated indoors. I hate the heat and hate muggy heat all the more. I could never live in a humid climate.

We are usually spared excessive humidity here but when it comes it saps all my energy.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

The Garden in June

The weather has turned hot very quickly since summer has officially begun. We are seeing highs in the 90sF.

The past week has been a busy time for planting in the garden. I’ve added herbs to the herb garden area and to some containers. The green house is now empty for the first time since early spring. It is too hot in there now for things to do well.

The large garden box (D) is empty except for some marigolds planted around the edge. That box will remain fallow this year. It has never been fallow so needs a season of rest.

The law looks better than it ever has. I have learned that despite advice from the water conservation interests in this heat one must water the lawn at least every other day to keep it green and lush. It is a small lawn so I do not feel so badly about the water usage.

I hand water the vegetables, containers and herbs. I usually water containers daily in this heat and vegetables can usually do fine with water every other day or every third day.

Everything is doing well. The latest basil plants from the green house are a bit pale but are already deepening in color with more direct sun in the box.

We have been eating the Boston lettuce, it is still tender and very flavorful. You just cannot get that flavor from store bought produce.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Spring Makeover

I’ve been short on writing and long on work in the garden of later. In the past week I replaced the old weather-beaten cedar fence on the east side of the vegetable garden. You will notice that fence in the background of the photos here is all new cedar fencing.

Next I replaced all the garden boxes as the old ones were over ten years’ old and rotting away. The new ones are made of treated lumber and should last more than a decade. I also added new soil and compost to top them off. For compost I used an old rotted bail of Canadian moss. Finally, I dressed it all with organic fertilizer.

I then got some starts and you can see them planted: in Box A four tomato plants; in Box B some marigolds, lettuce and pepper plants along with one sunflower; in Box C just two marigolds as yet and Box D is yet empty.

I should mention that I tore the asparagus out of Box C. We just were not getting enough out of that little plot to justify the usage of that space and we were not eating much asparagus anyway. Now it is available for other things. (hover over photo for box letter.)

The starts in the greenhouse are still there and will need to be transplanted soon into these boxes.

Another garden season off and running. Because of weather it is starting a bit late this year but if the weather holds reasonably well the plants should catch up soon.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Small Gardens

Here is a video with some great tips on gardening in small spaces.

Yes, I’ve neglected the blog for some time. I have been busy of course but I guess I lost inspiration to write for a while. Of late I’ve been pulling lot of weeds. One blessing with all this rain is that the weeds come free easily, even most of the wild onions pull out easily. So I am taking advantage of this window of opportunity to battle the weeds and make some headway.

Hope you enjoy the video

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy