Transplanting Part 1

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I just moved the butternut squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the sprouting pots to their intermediate homes in six-pack nursery flat things. (I can't recall what those are actually called!)

I always delay this step because I don't like doing it.  It's messy, and I inevitably injure some plants fatally. *sigh*  It is really, really easy to damage the stems of fragile seedlings.

Looking at my sprouting rates, I think it might be worth it next year to just put seeds straight into the six-packs. Some won't sprout, sure - and that will be wasted space and dirt, but then I won't have to do this transplanting step, and the ones that do sprout are more likely to survive.

Here are the sprouting stats so far:

  • Tomato, Lollipop: 17 out of 28
  • Tomato, Stupice: 13 out of  ~ 10 (I lost count!)
  • Tomato, San Marzano: 10 out of 10
  • Cucumber, Suyo Long: 10 out of 12
  • Butternut Squash: 3 out of 3

As usual, the Lollipop tomato has the worst sprouting rate of the tomatoes I plant, but the ones that do survive are far more hardy and productive than the other tomatoes.

You also may have noticed that I have a stupid amount of plants for my small garden. :P  The trials of the young seedlings aren't over yet - some will die as a result of today's transplanting.  Others will die during the "hardening off" phase where they gradually get exposed to the realities of life outdoors.  After all of that, I'll see how many survivors will actually make it to my garden or go home with friends. :) 

Poor Rosemary Cuttings

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I took the ziploc bags off of the rosemary cuttings tonight because I noticed that the cuttings were starting to grow mold.  That's not good ...

One of the cuttings also seemed awfully loose in the dirt, so I don't think those are going to work out. :(  But we'll see.
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Cutting Update

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Two weeks after I started the cuttings of lavender, tea, and rosemary, they're still upright and green, and one of the lavenders has begun to bloom!

I have not needed to add water to them yet; they're all still covered by the ziplock bags.  As I hoped, the same water evaporates and condenses and is apparently keeping the plants happy. 

I have no idea if they've actually formed roots or not. :-/

Cuttings and Seedlings

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So I'm starting a new experiment - propagating plants from cuttings.  The subjects are rosemary, tea (Camellia sinensis), and lavender.  Here they are in that order:

I only found one cutting that I felt safe taking from the tea shrub, so it's all or nothing on that one.  It's a small-ish plant, and I want to make sure it has plenty of new shoots so that it will continue to grow. 

So I cut the ends of the cuttings at a diagonal, dipped them in water, then rooting hormone, then stuck them in the same little cups of sterile seed starter mix that I use for my seeds. Then they got rolled up into Ziplock bags to keep the plants happy and humid. They look kind of like quarantine patients. :-P 

And here they are in the window next to most of the seedlings I planted this year: 


So we'll see how the cuttings work out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! 

The Fate of the Tomatoes

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Well, I've been too busy gardening and other stuff to blog much, but I wanted to be sure to record what happened to my tomatoes.

I gave some away, and I canned some.

This is the first time I've canned tomatoes - and the first time I've canned anything by myself.  I hope my canned tomatoes don't kill us. :-/

I used all three types of tomato I grew this year - Ilini Gold, Hungarian Italian Paste, and Lollipop.  Yes, the Lollipops are cherry tomatoes, and yeah, I peeled them. o.O After squirting tomato goo across the kitchen several times (much to my accidental amusement :P), I finally figured out a technique for peeling cherry tomatoes that kind of works.  You take a knife and slit the skin near where the stem was, then hold it inside the target container and gently squeeze.  The meat will squirt out and you're left holding the skin.  That description does not do justice to how messy it is. :P  I already warned my husband that he's likely to find tomato seeds in the kitchen - anywhere.  I won't be surprised if some dry up and pop off the ceiling. ;)

Handling the tomatoes themselves was interesting.  I held one warm, slimy, red, fist-sized Hungarian Italian paste in my hand and thought, "Hmm. I'll bet this is is kind of what a heart feels like, except blessedly the tomato isn't pulsing, because that would be crazy."

Now while I'm waiting  35 minutes for my three pints to boil and annihilate any bacteria that might dare to be in those jars, a word about the tomato varieties.

The tomatoes finally started ripening in mid-July.  I thought they would never ripen!  I thought the Ilini Gold plants were going to die.  They look pretty scraggly right now, but I did pick a couple of pounds of tomatoes off of them, so yay.  The fruit are nearly baseball-sized, ripen evenly, and don't have all the issues that the Hungarian Italian Pastes are suffering.

The Hungarian Italian Paste tomatoes aren't making me very happy.  They seem to start rotting before they finish ripening, which is a big bummer.  I've picked off way too many bright red yet half rotten tomatoes. Yuck. I actually haven't harvested very many of these successfully. 

The Lollipop tomatoes, on the other hand, are incredibly productive.  I can't tell a difference between the true Lollipops and the ones I planted from seeds I saved last year. Well, good. ^_^  The Lollipops remain undefeated as My Favorite Tomato. 

Here's a picture of the three tomato varieties accompanied by cucumbers and my weird throwback zucchini.

I was considering growing nothing but varieties of cherry tomatoes next year since they have heartier plants and are more productive, but after this adventure peeling the little dudes for canning ... hmm.  I might reconsider.

And back to the canning process.  I peeled tomatoes for over an hour and ended up with three pints of product. *sigh*  I thought I would have 4 pints, but I had some timing issues with the various pots of boiling stuff and ended up boiling the tomatoes way longer than they should've been, so I think I effectively reduced them. *sigh*  Well, that means the flavor should be more concentrated, and these are some gourmet freaking jars of canned tomatoes!

... and I just wiped another seed off of my cheek.  Maybe I'd better go look in the mirror ... Eh, they'll all wash off in the shower. :P

And here we are - my tri-tomato canned tomatoes. :)

CannedTomatoes20110802.jpgI'm still waiting to hear two more pops ... :-/

(maybe i should turn the radio down :P

Weird Zucchini

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So, my zucchini plants are finally fruiting, and they're weird. See?

yellow_zuke.JPGNow, the zucchini that those seeds came from was definitely green. In fact, it was one of these zucchini, actually.  But both zucchini plants are producing yellow fruit. I don't know if that's because of cross-pollination with either last year's neighboring yellow squash or the surprise squash that's growing this year, or just recessive genes from a hybrid zucchini. (I bought the seedlings from a farmer's market last year and I have no idea what variety they are.)  I suppose I'd better look up zucchini biology to figure this out. Here's the other one:

yellow_zuke2.JPGWell, I'm OK with them looking weird (I think it's interesting, actually!) because what really matters is how they taste! ^_^ 

Some of the edamame is making a comeback amongst the very tired potatoes.  Next weekend, I'm going to have to dig taters.  I'm not so into digging taters.  I should've thought of that before I planted them.  :-/

edamame.JPGThe tomatoes are coming along.  These are either the Ilini Gold or the Hungarian Italian Paste. Next year I should make little name tags for the tomatoes.

baby_maters.JPGAnd these are ... some kind of pepper. *sheepish* Guess I'd better make name tags for the peppers next year, too! :P

peppers.JPGI picked 2 cucumbers this morning.  If you look carefully, you'll see that some of the cucumber vines are now taller than the trellis. :-/

cukes_tomatoes.JPGThe lollipop tomatoes still haven't ripened yet!  I'm definitely keeping an eye on them.  I hope the birds don't get to them before I can get the bird netting up.

The Cucumbers Have Arrived!

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The cucumbers have arrived and the tomatoes are on their way. ^_^

Here's the first cucumber still on the vine:

cuke_vine.jpg... and off the vine:

IMG_1437.JPGThis morning I looked out the window and noticed that one of the cucumber vines is being unruly - it had detached itself from the trellis.  I gotta get it back in line when I get home.

Here's a long view of the cucumbers and their neighboring tomatoes and peppers.

tomatoes_cukes.jpg There are already little lollipop tomatoes on the way.

The other tomatoes and peppers are growing away, too.

tomatoes_peppers.jpgThe zucchini has been blooming, but unfortunately they're only producing male flowers so far - no fruit yet. Poo. :-/

But I have a volunteer squash plant!  It's growing on the outside of the garden bed pictured above.

squash.jpgThis is an argument for not mowing the grass so often - you never know what is going to sprout! :P

And the potatoes are still hanging in there.  I guess it might be time to dig them after I get home from the 4th of July weekend. Hmm ...

taters.jpg(yeah, they're in there amongst all the weeds! :P)

There's something else interesting in my yard that I didn't plant other than the squash plant.  I think I have varigated wild grapevines growing in my yard.

grapevine.jpgMy plant identification skills aren't so great beyond flowers, herbs, and veggies, so I'm really not sure if this is a grapevine or some other vine.  Here's a picture of another one.

Since I was near them taking pictures of the strange "grapevines," here are my hydrangeas. I love hydrangeas. ^_^


Sayonara Edamame

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The deer ate my edamame despite the chili powder I sprinkled on the plants! $%@ deer! *grr*  They chewed all the leaves off and there's nothing left but little 4" stalks. *sigh*  If I manage to get a fence put up around the raised bed, I wonder if the edamame will grow back?

At any rate, potato plants appear to not be a preferred deer food.

potatoes_and_no_edamame.jpgAnd because they're cool-looking, here's a close-up of a potato blossom:

The tomatoes and peppers are carrying on - apparently they're not a preferred deer snack, either.

tomatoes_zukes_peppers.jpgThe Lolipop and Lolipop "Bourne Estate" are happily growing in their sassy yellow tomato cages, flanked by peppers and cucumbers.

tomatoes_cukes_peppers.jpgBased on the number of blooms I see already, I'm expecting a bumper crop of cucumbers ...

cucumber_blossom.jpgThe cukes are already glomming onto the neigboring tomato cages - I really have to put the cucumber trellis up this weekend no matter how hot it is. Ugh.

The Plants are Planted

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I am woefully behind on my blogging, but at least most of the plants are planted now.

Every other one of these Lolipop tomatoes is one I grew from seeds that I saved last year.  Since the tomato that I saved the seeds from was open pollinated near other tomato varieties, I have no idea what those tomatoes will be like.  But they're right next to 100% Lolipop tomatoes, which will serve as the controls!

The peppers in this bed are jalapenos I saved from seed last year (also open pollinated near other peppers, so they're mystery peppers!), orange bell peppers, Doe Hill Golden bell peppers, and Hungarian Wax peppers.

The trellis for the cucumbers will be coming along shortly ...

20110519 001.jpgNext up are the potatoes and edamame.  I'm hoping the potatoes will be harvested and out of the way before the edamame gets gigantic, but I don't know ...

20110519 002.jpg
And the other tomatoes and peppers.  These are alternating Illini Gold and Hungarian Italian Paste tomatoes.  Planted between the potatoes are jalapeno and cayenne peppers.

And there's one zucchini on each end that I saved from last year's seeds.  Mystery zucchini, I guess. :P

20110519 003.jpg
And these are the spares!

20110519 004.jpgSo far I've lost a few peppers that I'll need to replace with the spares, but the rest of them are looking for new homes!

I have a bunch of herbs from the herb fair this year that are out in the front flower bed, but it needs a serious weeding before I'm going to take any pictures of it!

First Sprouts of the Year

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This morning as I was waking up, this thought popped into my head: "Hey - don't squash and cucumber seeds sprout really quickly?"  I did some quick day-counting and realized that it's been four days since I planted the seeds. 

So I stumbled off to the laundry room to check on the seedlings.  Behold! Some of them have sprouted!

seedlings.jpgI'm most pleased about the zucchini sprout (back row, left) and the Lollipop tomatoes (front row, left) because those are the seeds I saved myself.  Hooray! ^_^

They all look pretty anemic, and so I immediately put them in the sun so that they can start making some chlorophyll.

The reason they're so pale and ghostly-looking is that they sprouted in the dark.  I can't remember exactly why I started sprouting the seeds in the dark. o.O  I'm starting to rethink it, since the seeds come up all stringy and starved for sunlight. 

The Lollipop seeds that I bought are coming up as well, and they'll probably go in the sun tomorrow.

I love watching the little seeds grow - it's like magic!

And I really need to remember to check on the outdoor sprouts (the lettuce & radishes) when I get home. :-/

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