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How are your gardens doing?
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  • How are your gardens doing?

    Post #1 - June 30th, 2004, 4:51 pm
    Post #1 - June 30th, 2004, 4:51 pm Post #1 - June 30th, 2004, 4:51 pm
    I'm fairly new to garding finally having put in a real garden in the back yard. Just wondering if anyone else is planting vegetables and how are they doing? My tomato plants and carrots are growing like crazy, seems to be a bit cool and rainy for peppers, beans and cucumbers.
  • Post #2 - June 30th, 2004, 5:52 pm
    Post #2 - June 30th, 2004, 5:52 pm Post #2 - June 30th, 2004, 5:52 pm
    Eat! You look so thin. wrote:I'm fairly new to garding finally having put in a real garden in the back yard. Just wondering if anyone else is planting vegetables and how are they doing? My tomato plants and carrots are growing like crazy, seems to be a bit cool and rainy for peppers, beans and cucumbers.


    My tomatoes are going gangbusters, but have just started to flower (I planted late varieties this year). My cucumbers are growing like weeds and I have trimmed them back several times already. Fruit is starting to develop. My eggplants and peppers are progressing nicely with flowers on both (6 types of peppers). It's early yet. Peppers don't really take off for a month or so in my experience. Look for them to start really producing around the begining of August.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - June 30th, 2004, 11:03 pm
    Post #3 - June 30th, 2004, 11:03 pm Post #3 - June 30th, 2004, 11:03 pm
    Cool season vegetables that were planted in time are running very early this year. We had snow peas and sugarsnaps in late May, but they are pretty well over. Sugarsnaps seem to have some new blossoms after the recent cool weather, though. Spinach is history except for a few plants we let bolt (they look like miniature French sorrel in bloom). Second planting of arugula is in peak condition.

    Warm crops had to be planted late May rather than May 15-20 because of cold, but they seem to be making up for lost time. Heavy fruit set on tomatoes. We picked a Gold Nugget today, which is early. Earlier in the week I picked a corno di toro pepper, which had it's tip in the mulch. This was a real aberration although we have a fair number of sweet banana peppers in the 1 1/2 to 2 inch range. First Orient Express eggplant is a little over an inch long. Load of blossoms on eggplants, peppers and tomatillos. No sign of fruit set on tomatillos although insects have been working the blossoms.

    Reference to lush tomato vines in an earlier post concerns me. Too much nitrogen on tomatoes and peppers causes lush growth but little fruiting. The trick on tomatoes is to keep nitogen fairly low until the second group of fruit is about the size of golf balls and then apply a soluble fertilizer relatively high in nitrogen such as fish emulsion or Miracle Gro for tomatoes.

    Gold Nugget is a yellow cherry tomato with interesting properties. They produce early but not for a long time and are usually history by the time the beefsteaks are ripe. The plants are small and suitable for containers. The fruit has a high pectin content and high acid for a yellow tomato. When production is high, we usually zap some in the microwave and then let the tomato water drain from a food mill. The tomato water is kept separate from the puree run through the food mill. Frequently, their tomato water will jell in the refrigerator. Both puree and water freeze well. Freeze in ice cube trays and then bag for small quantities to add to sauces.
  • Post #4 - July 6th, 2004, 8:12 pm
    Post #4 - July 6th, 2004, 8:12 pm Post #4 - July 6th, 2004, 8:12 pm
    I'm curious about why you would fertilize with something "relatively high in N" at the point when the fruit is ripening? Tell me your secrets here.
  • Post #5 - July 6th, 2004, 9:21 pm
    Post #5 - July 6th, 2004, 9:21 pm Post #5 - July 6th, 2004, 9:21 pm
    Tomatoes use a good deal of nitrogen as the fruit develops, but early nitrogen supply encourages excess foliage with little blossom production. A fertilizer such as Miracle Grow for Tomatoes or fish emulsion is ideal once the second cluster of fruits reach the size of golf balls. Look at the 3 numbers for N, P and K on the fertilizer. A higher number for N than P is relatively high in nitrogen. Fish emulsion, often around 5-1-1 is relatively but not absolutely high in nitrogen. You don't want to fertilize tomatoes heavily with nitrogen at any time. Follow the directions on your package. Unless the variety produces quite small fruit, this timing is weeks, probably months for beefsteaks, before any fruit have started to ripen. Don't apply the rule directly to plum tomatoes, but fertilize when your normal-sized round tomatoes meet the rule. For determinate varieties, which ripen their fruit over a short time and then stop bearing, fertilize with N when the first cluster of fruit reaches the proper size.

    A side note on fertilizing tomatoes. Adding a teaspoon to tablespoon of epsom salts, magnesium sulphate, to the soil around the plants at planting or through early July will produce healthier plants with darker foliage. Tomatoes frequently have problems with insufficient magnesium.
  • Post #6 - July 7th, 2004, 8:41 am
    Post #6 - July 7th, 2004, 8:41 am Post #6 - July 7th, 2004, 8:41 am
    I was lazy this year, and mail-ordered plants from The Chile Woman http://www.thechilewoman.com, and didn't plant any other seeds other than a free pack of Mustard Greens I got somewhere.

    The greens are a delight: spice up a salad, go great on a burger with bleu cheese dressing.

    Tomatoes are just starting to set fruit, growing quite well especially after last week's rains.

    Tomatillos are going gangbusters. After a couple of years without them, I'm going to be making my killer salsa again this season.

    Chiles are looking kinda scrawny, but it could be the varieties. I'm used to lush Jalapenos, and I didn't plant any this year, going for more exotics from the Chile Woman.
  • Post #7 - July 7th, 2004, 2:54 pm
    Post #7 - July 7th, 2004, 2:54 pm Post #7 - July 7th, 2004, 2:54 pm
    My habaneros aren't doing so well, probably due to the cool rainy weather. The leaves are kind of light green and flowering is minimal. Is there any fertilizer that might help them along or is it just the weather?

    Thanks for the Chilewoman link!
  • Post #8 - July 8th, 2004, 6:26 pm
    Post #8 - July 8th, 2004, 6:26 pm Post #8 - July 8th, 2004, 6:26 pm
    The cool weather has been a problem for peppers aggravated by low soil temperature. Peppers like warmth in air and soil. Black plastic mulch or growing in containers in full sun will provide the warmth peppers love. Hotter varieties seem to need more heat than bell peppers and will not reach full heat potential around here. I grow most of my peppers and eggplant in containers to have warm soil. Both are producing well now.

    The second potential weather problem is that peppers don't get along well in soggy soil. The heavy clay-based soils around much of the Chicago area often have drainage problems when there has been a lot of rain. Most plants need air reaching their roots, or the roots can drown or rot. You want a lot of organic matter in the soil for most vegetables. Organic matter will keep the soil in better shape including buffering moisture levels. Mulching also helps stabilize moisture level. Stable moderate moisture is important for peppers because they are prone to blossom-end rot when soil moisture fluctuates wildly. Tomatoes have a similar problem with blossom-end rot.

    Normal Chicago July weather will probably bring the habaneros around. If you feel the need to fertilize at this stage, use a 15-30-15 (Miracle Gro or store brand) with trace elements at about half the manufacturer's recommended dose. Too much nitrogen causes a lot of problems with peppers, so you want to be cautious even though light green leaves can indicate a nitrogen deficiency. Phosphorus, the second digit, is important for blossom production.
  • Post #9 - July 9th, 2004, 8:52 am
    Post #9 - July 9th, 2004, 8:52 am Post #9 - July 9th, 2004, 8:52 am
    In the past, I have encountered cracks in my tomatoes at times. Does anyone know if that indicates a deficiency in some nutrient or how to avaoid this problem?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - July 9th, 2004, 10:27 am
    Post #10 - July 9th, 2004, 10:27 am Post #10 - July 9th, 2004, 10:27 am
    Cracks are often caused by uneven watering. It rains, the plants are somewhat water-deficient, and they suddenly soak up a lot of H2O, causing uneven ripening of the fruit.

    Try mulching and watering regularly, not that this summer has posed that particular problem yet.
  • Post #11 - July 9th, 2004, 11:52 am
    Post #11 - July 9th, 2004, 11:52 am Post #11 - July 9th, 2004, 11:52 am
    Thanks for the info!

    My Habaneros are in foot square clay pots with potting soil on top of a couple of inches of sand. They seem to do pretty well this way and I can move them as needed. I overwintered them in a heated garage this time and added one new plant this spring, which is doing about as well as the others. I'll try a little Miracle-Gro, especially since it's last years soil, but I think we need the HOT weather to make them take off. About 3 years ago we had a hot summer and I had more than I knew what to do with. Looks like I'll be racing the cool September weather to get a crop in. The milder varieties of peppers are doing fine, as you said, they seem to tolerate the cooler weather better. Picked a couple of fist-sized bell peppers last nite. The great thing about the smaller varieties of peppers is that they do very well in clay pots so all you need is a balcony and some sun. Habaneros are sometimes hard to find, but Leiders and Pesches usually have them.

    Tomatoes are going nuts and I am starting to get plenty of golf-ball size fruit. I'm pinching off the suckers that grow in the branch crotches and pinching off growth after the 5th group of flowers.
  • Post #12 - July 9th, 2004, 5:10 pm
    Post #12 - July 9th, 2004, 5:10 pm Post #12 - July 9th, 2004, 5:10 pm
    This seems backwards to me, Eat. My hot peppers always mature before my bells. Do you overwinter the bells in pots as well? Or are they in the ground?

    In have all my peppers in the ground, and I have zillions of of hot peppers (though no color yet) - guajillo, aci sivri, jalepeno, ancho, cherry, serrano and some other longish hot one. But my bells are only about golf ball sized.
  • Post #13 - July 10th, 2004, 6:12 pm
    Post #13 - July 10th, 2004, 6:12 pm Post #13 - July 10th, 2004, 6:12 pm
    Maturity for eating green or maturity for red or whatever the variety calls for? Most sweet peppers are at useable size weeks before they truly ripen. Small hot peppers reach final maturity much faster after blossoms set. It all depends upon what you mean by mature. Some years I grow the tiny Thai hots, which will ripen and dry on the plant faster than bell peppers reach full size.

    One caution about growing things in planters: make sure that drainage holes in the bottoms aren't directly on concrete. Otherwise, water can build up. Most plastic planters have little feet for clearance under the drain holes, but many clay planters and pots will fit amazingly tightly on concrete. I made some platforms with two boards a inch or so apart plus 3/4 inch cleats underneath. These work well and keep the pots a little cooler on concrete.

    Planters tend to leach nutrients, so you need weekly light feeding or some slow-release fertilizer in the planting mix. Compost in the planting medium is good, but you need a little more. Put the slow-release fertilizer in the lower half of the planter to encourage deep root growth. Peppers can put out an amazing amount of roots. When I dump 15-inch deep planters for remixing, there are mats of roots at the bottom. The old roots will compost in place and so provide both organic matter and nutrients. I try to rotate the soil in planters so that I don't grow any members of the nightshade family in the same mix two years in a row. I happen to have four different analyses of slow-release fertilizer, but all you really need for vegetables is 14-14-14 and something with a higher P (second number) than the other two numbers. A little granular 5-10-10 or 5-18-18 mixed throughout the planter mix is good for most nightshades. Eggplant can use a lot more nitrogen than peppers and tomatoes, so I use 14-14-14 on them.
  • Post #14 - July 10th, 2004, 10:37 pm
    Post #14 - July 10th, 2004, 10:37 pm Post #14 - July 10th, 2004, 10:37 pm
    Yesterday, in a 36 lb UPS package, I received a wide variety of vegetables including 8 lbs of squash (variety), 5 lbs of green beans, and 15# of fresh garlic from the family garden which is located on two acres of the flood plain along the Little Miami River in Cincinnati.

    For years, my father has raised a variety of vegetables and other things ranging from tobacco to peanuts in his garden. His current passion is potatoes and he has already begun to dig the early crop.

    Unlike most gardeners, he has always pretty much ignored the growing season tables in favor of the early planting that he has done for years. This allows him to harvest really early before the real hot days in July and August. It also allows him to freeze a ton of peas and other vegetables before he heads up on his anntal fishing trek in Eastern Ontario in August.

    Anyone need any garlic?? PM me.
  • Post #15 - July 19th, 2004, 5:14 pm
    Post #15 - July 19th, 2004, 5:14 pm Post #15 - July 19th, 2004, 5:14 pm
    Habaneros and "Italian roasters" are in pots, green and red bells are in the ground. Habaneros have pea-sized fruit at this point, but more flowers are starting to appear. Last time I had a good crop, the habaneros didn't reach peak production until mid-August.
    I think I'm going to have LOTS of tomatoes.

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