Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Weekly Harvest

Here is an average crop from picking each week this summer. After being gone for a couple of days, I came home to this harvest.

Greyzini Zucchini

Here is a zucchini variety that I purchased only to find out later that it is a hybrid variety. With there being so many good open-pollinated zucchini cultivars, why any gardener requires a hybrid that produces more is a mystery to me. This is your basic "gray/grey" type zucchini. Nothing special, but the plants look nice and remained healthy most of the season. Flavor is that of a regular zucchini. That being said, freshly cut zucchini is delicious when part of a raw vegetable platter.

At about this point, I decided that I wanted to eat more than just zucchini this summer. There is a little joke around gardeners that you should never leave your car window down or your house unlocked during a good growing season, or you'll find someone "gifted you" with some large zucchini. As a result of the prolific production of these plants, I eventually cut back to just one plant - which is plenty for a family of six.

The Greyzini Zucchini

Monday, August 7, 2017

2017 Hahms Gelbe Tomatoes

Here is the prolific yellow dwarf tomato variety, Hahms Gelbe. I have already written a post about this tomato, but here are some pictures from this summer to wet your appetite.

A young transplant

Another transplant

Fruit is growing.

Fruit Turning Yellow

Heavy Fruit Production

Harvest Time

Time to clear out the old plants

After the first harvest, plants will regrow a second time.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Today's Harvest

I came back from a quick trip yesterday and picked a couple veggies today. Some tomatoes from a plant that did not do well, left, an F2 Celebrity tomato (top), off-type Carosello (left) and Taxi tomatoes (bottom left).

Happy June!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cucumber Pretzel

While trying to de-hybridize the light Carosello Polisello cucumber variety, I came across this off-type light cucumber. Enjoy!

A Carosello Pretzel!

Fuzzy Cucumber Pretzel fun!

Now hairless, the cucumber meets its demise.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Super Composters

Adult Black Soldier Fly
Previous to this year, I had barely heard about Black Soldier flies. I had already purchased some from The Reptile Specialist in Tucson several years ago as reptile feed, but had a difficult time keeping them alive. Unfortunately, I did not know, at the time, how to properly care for these beasts. Fast forward to this winter when I’m out checking on the table scraps in my compost and notice the compost moving along with a noise of critters moving around. So, I take a nearby short hoe and turn them over only to find – black soldier fly larvae by the hundreds.

My food scraps bucket before black soldier flies.

With an especially wet winter, it became quite difficult to keep my black soldier fly larvae in the wooden barrel that is my table scraps compost bin. They would crawl out and leave me having to scoop out their bodies and throw them into the garden. From time to time they became a little bit of a nuisance, but then I just forgot about them. That is until a couple weeks ago when I went outside to throw the inside food scrap bucket into the barrel. I was expecting to see the compost pile at least 8 inches higher and wondered what had happened. I noticed that the regular fruit fly colony that hovered above the bin had completely disappeared and, as I put my hand above the compost area I could feel, on an already warm day, a noticeable heat emanating from the pile. I pulled the first layer of the pile up only to discover thousands of black soldier flies writhing around in mass along the surface.

A Black Soldier Fly resting on a zucchini leaf

Though this may sound disgusting, I have found Black Soldier fly larvae to be the piranhas of the larvae world. It is not that they eat other larvae (such as fruit fly larvae) but rather it is that they out-compete every other fly in relation to all the food scraps that humans produce as well as a host of other things that I will not mention in this blog post. But I will say how cool it is to throw old slices of pizza, fat, bones and other scraps (that you wouldn’t do in a conventional compost situation) into a bin in which they are (within hours) recycled into high quality compost. There is a very good illustration of this in a youtube video with black soldier flies and a hamburger. It is amazing how much heat they produce when they are in mass. This heat does seem to be a factor in helping them to break down things such as whole pieces of rotten fruit or bones.

Black Soldier Flies laying eggs in the food scraps compost bin

So now, I am able to supply each of my nearby gardening friends who have both chickens and compost piles with a great supply of both composters and feed. Should you find any of these friends in a compost bin near you, be sure to welcome them in and enjoy the benefits that result.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae with resulting composted material

About 2-3 minutes of Black Soldier Fly activity - Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Springing to Life

Although spring has been late in coming, it is finally warm enough to have my garden truly blossom. My garlic and onions are continuing to grow, though I did have to push my garlic over to keep it from heading. Temperatures here in Fairfield are fluctuating between the low 70s and the 90s during the day and between the 50s to 60s at night. The 90 degree temperatures have caused my lettuce to begin bolting, though my Jericho Lettuce never became bitter even when it began to bolt – a wonderful quality about the Jericho Lettuce cultivar. My Spanish round radishes have begun to bolt. I am really not a fan of these plants, but for the sake of keeping a wall of spicy plants I have kept them around to seed. Perhaps I can grow them again next fall for the same purpose.

Carosello and Jericho lettuce with onions in the background

Even next to my new Greenhouse, my Oregon Sugar Pod II peas have done exceptionally well. Though the creator of Oregon Sugar Pod II has created some vegetable varieties that still need improvement, such as the tomato cultivar Siletz, Jim Baggett did a fantastic job with the Sugar Pod II.

Oregon Sugar Pod II Peas

Sugar Pod II Peas still producing

My tomatoes have grown a lot faster that I have anticipated, when compared with my carosello plants. The majority of my tomato plants are much larger than I would prefer. Although I planted all determinate plants this year, determinate does not necessarily mean short. Next year, I will most likely opt for all dwarf varieties, much like my Redhouse Freestanding and Hahms Gelbe tomatoes. The most amazing producer so far has been my Taxi tomato. This variety is developing its flowers and fruits so much faster than my other tomato varieties, even in the presence of minimal light. I’m hoping the taste is as good as people say it is.

Red House Freestanding Tomato

Redhouse Freestanding surrounded by Hahms Gelbe

Taxi Tomato Variety

At last, the carosello have finally taken off. The cold wet weather made it difficult for the plants to grow. For a while, though the leaves were light green, they have become darker as the temperature has increased. I wonder if melon plants metabolize nutrients more effectively when the soil temperature warms up. Female fruits are finally beginning to emerge. As the Carosello Polisello varieties I have are not completely stable, I am still planning on self-pollinating them with each plant’s own pollen until the fruit matures enough to be able to determine which plant produces a lighter base skin color.

Carosello finally taking off! (=

Finally, a female flower

It is incredibly wonderful how well my garden has grown. Despite pruning and removing the occasional tomato plant, everything has been growing to become beautiful.

carosello flowers are beautiful

Wishing all of you a spectacular spring!