Expanded Garden 1/12/2018

My beautiful new space

I am SOOOOO Extremely excited to show you the NEW and EXPANDED space that I get to play with this year!! I know it doesn’t look like much but this little patch of dirt has made me the happiest woman alive!!! That is only a slight exaggeration. It is in my local community garden. It’s a glorious 20×20 foot space that receives full sun and is currently occupied by heaps and heaps of bermuda grass.

So without further ado….

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Yes… it is heavily weeded. It looks like absolute garbage if I am being honest. But to me, there is so much promise and opportunity. Full sun space is a premium in my back yard and the majority of my land in the back of the house is no longer appropriate for a large variety of vegetables due to the trees growing up and shading out ground or just lack of space.

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This is my plot again from the opposite view. There is a lot of work ahead of me. And I can’t wait to start!

Planting Plans 2018 overview:

I’ve brainstormed a list of things that I can grow here that don’t require constant monitoring due to disease and pests that do best in full sun. Here is my list for 2018:

I’ve divided the outside beds (8 in total) into four groups which i will practice crop rotation. The middle 4 beds are still not totally figured out but they will include sunchokes, garlic, and cutting flowers selected to attract beneficial insects.

Nightshade Family:

  • Hot peppers
  • Sweet peppers
  • Eggplant
  • + Basil in beds to attract beneficial insects

Tomatoes have too many pests including birds, tomato horn worm, cut worm and leaf footed beetles so I’ll plant those at home instead to keep a closer eye on them. Hot peppers and eggplants don’t seem to be bothered by anything here. Sweet peppers I have not grown in Texas so that’s an experiment.

Brassicaceae Family/Melon & squash :

Spring:

  • Turnip
  • Rutabaga
  • Beets
  • marigolds – repel pest insects

Summer:

  • Melon?
  • Squash?

Fall:

  • Kholrabi
  • Beets
  • (turnips/rutabaga if I like them)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Marigolds – repel pest insects

Brassica family only does well in early spring and in Fall here. That leaves a large summer gap. My idea is to in the warm summer months find some fast maturing heat loving melons or squash. We’ll see if the ends up being practical or not. Also the turnips and rutabaga are an experiment. They might be amazing or we may completely abhor them. But that’s part of the fun! trying something new!

Fabaceae Family:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Tall Verbena – beneficial insect attractor
  • Marigolds – pest repellent

This is another HUGE experimental category. I’m going to be trying all sorts of varieties some are meant to be fresh eating some are supposed to be dried. Everything from Thailand to mexico, french to british. I’m hoping to find a few varieties in my little test patches that both 1) taste good and 2) like to grow here.

Allium/Umbellifer Family:

  • Bulbing onions
  • Carrots
  • Dill – attract beneficials plus I’ll need it for dill beans if my bean experiments go well

I don’t have nearly enough sunlight/space in my garden at home to grow bulbing onions so this is a perfect thing to do in the community garden. Carrots I’m trying again because they don’t seem to grow larger than a thumb nailĀ  and I’m wondering if it is lack of sun??? Onions are also supposed to protect carrots from pests so they make good companions.

Well that is my super ambitious plan! Wish me luck!

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Ripening Green Tomatoes Experiment 11/24/2017

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It’s a sunny November the 24th. Our average first frost date for our area is December 2nd. It’s impossible to believe that in approximately 8 days from now the sweet potato vines will be withered and the annual flowers will stop blooming. Our cherry tomatoes are huge but are not ripening. After doing some research, it appears the temperature is too cold so tomatoes will not turn red on the vine. Daytime temps are 70 nights are mid 40’s. The garden patch my tomatoes are in gets very little direct sun in winter and that is apparently a recipe for evergreen tomatoes.

We already have sliced green tomatoes in our freezer, so I would love to find a way of actually ripening the green ones. We have an experiment going of three different ways to ripen green tomatoes. Hopefully at least one of them works.

  1. counter ripening method
  2. box and newspaper method
  3. paper bag method

After some research it appears it can take anywhere from one week to three months for tomatoes to ripen when picked green depending on how developed they are before being picked. I gave up after three weeks for the sliced green tomatoes in the freezer. I’m actually going to be excited if it takes 3 months for some of the tomatoes to ripen. It will be great to have them in February!

I divided the green tomatoes into three groups, one is just going to sit out on the counter at room temperature uncovered, the other two in a paper bag and in a box with newspaper are in the dark closet. I’m really not a fan of the paper bag method already because I can’t see the tomatoes directly. I’m afraid of finding some moldy science experiment that will look back at me in the future. I’m the out of sight out of mind type person. We’ll see which method works best.

Until the frost comes I’m going to soak up as much of the greenery as I can get.

Update:

** It’s December 23rd And the paper bag method is the clear winner. The two larger red tomatoes on the left and in the middle have come from the paper bag. The blushing tomatoes on the right were cherry tomatoes that were super huge and should have ripened on the vine except for it being too cold. I’ve taken the red ones out of the bag to keep a closer eye on them as they continue to mature.

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Happy thanksgiving!

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