Friday, July 29, 2011


Apologies for the poor quality, I only had my phone handy, picture.  This is what 9 pounds of cucumbers looks like.  I guess I'll be spending the day making pickles (which I already did last week too).  Note to self, plant fewer cukes next year.  Off to Agway to buy more canning jars....

Monday, July 25, 2011

tomato crises on the rise?

Seems that way for me at least... hardly a day goes by that I'm not getting an email, phone call, or facebook message about tomatoes.  They're not ripening, the blooms are fading, my leaves have spots, etc.

So in an effort to address everyone's questions at once.. (not that I don't love hearing from you all)

No, I do not have any ripe tomatoes yet, but that's here in zone 6a Connecticut.  On average here in the northeast things are running behind by a couple of weeks.  So while I've got lots of green fruit, nothing is looking even close to ripe.

The flowers look like they're dying?  Well, to some extent they are, the blooms need to fade in order to set fruit, but not every single bloom will actually form in to a tomato.  The trifecta of good weather/timing, good pollinators, and available nutrients all need to be in place.  There is a case to be made for removing some of the flowers, particularly ones that are close together to create a situation where there is stronger fruit set.  I rarely do it, even though it makes good scientific sense.  In the picture above, there is a faded blossom between the already too close fruits,  could a third tomato survive here, probably not.  I might get around to removing this blossom, but it's about #367 on the list of gardening chores I need to get done right now.

My leaves have spots do I have late blight?  Is probably the most common question this year.  Since the awful spread of Phytopthora infestans (more commonly known as late blight) two summers ago wiping out almost every tomato in sight, everyone is on high alert for this pathogen.  Here's the good news, phytopthora cannot survive under extreme weather conditions.  While it likes the cool rainy spring that we had, the 90+ degree days in early June probably knocked it down.  And if for some reason it didn't the 102 degrees that we hit this past Friday definitely did.

Lucky for you, late blight is pretty easy to identify, and it does not look like most other fungal pathogens.

If you've got this,

or this

you've got verticillium, fusarium, septoria, anthracnose or ten other different things take your pick...

Here's the best way to prevent these problems; One - water in the morning, and water the ground around the plants, not the leaves.  Soaker hoses are ideal for this. Two- don't plant too close together, air circulation is crucial (I'm not to embarrassed to admit I failed this year, I want lots of tomatoes!) Three - practice at least a 3 year crop rotation, even if you've got a small garden, this is a must.  This is less necessary if you grow your tomato plants in pots.

The good news is even with one of these pathogens, there is a good chance it won't interrupt your fruit set.  So don't go running to home depot to buy don't want to eat that crap!  If the leaves really bother you, as then just pick them off and dispose of them in the garbage - not your compost bin.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

well, this is not very exciting

Back in the spring I was lamenting over my obsession with new cultivars of Echinacea purpurea, or coneflowers.

So I shelled out $22 bucks a piece for these 'Secret Desires'.  I just had to have them.
photo credit Terra Nova nursery

They're flowering now, and I'm rather unimpressed.  While I can appreciate their smallish appearance overall compared to other echinaceas (yay, no staking needed) the color is very blah. Even though they are in a bed with a lot of green, they don't really standout.

Maybe this will finally cure me of my obsession?  Yeah, I doubt it too.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I know, it's been quite a while between posts, which I really dislike and promised myself (ha) that I wouldn't do.  I've had an awful distraction this week though.  So awful, that it's even kept me out of the garden most of the week.  It's this.

I'm pretty sure that it's evil, and has taken control of my brain as I've been able to focus on nothing else since I've downloaded it.

It makes this happen....

pretty, but a little too neon pink for my taste

vintage feel = much better

too sunny this day, the colors end up looking kind of blah

this helps

this one is my favorite I've worked on so far

This all, and I haven't even really learned how to use all the tools in the program.  I pretty much want to re-edit every picture I have ever taken.  Any Aperture experts out there want to share any secrets with me?

P.S.  - The garlic has all cured, and I used the first head tonight.  I'm pretty sure I can never go back to supermarket garlic ever again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

glamour shots

I heading north tomorrow to take pictures at several gardens through the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program.  In getting myself organized I found myself looking through a lot of old photos taken by me at scattered locations throughout the northeast.  Just thought I'd share...

today's project

Garlic harvest!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

things are heating up in the garden

I got an email from a friend the other day with questions about squash blossoms, is it okay to pick them off and eat them? How do I know if my plant only has "male" blossoms (a common problem)?

So here is the story with squashes, the plants have both male and female flowers.  Both are needed to well - reproduce.

This is what the male flower looks like;
large and showing off (leave it to the males)

 And this is what the female looks like
small and hiding out towards the base of the plant

These are patty pan squash, so the resulting fruit from the liaison between these two flowers will be relatively small.  What's difficult to see is at the base of the female is a teeny tiny squash - just waiting to be fertilized.  Both sets of flowers only open once, so as long as you've got pollinators, nature should well...take it's course. It often happens that the male flowers start blooming before the females, but with some patience, it generally works itself out.  It is possible to hand pollinate with a Q tip, but that takes a ridiculous amount of patience, you think waiting for a pot of water to boil takes forever?  You should see how long you will wait to see one of these flowers bloom.

In terms of picking the blossoms, it's smartest to wait until the day after they bloom, you'll be able to tell the difference I promise.  If you pick them before they do their job, then you definitely will not get any fruit.

Cucumbers behave in the same way

male flowers, with pollinator (note pollinators are not just bees!)

Super magnified female flower, small cucumber already slightly visible

These cucumbers are destined to become pickles, one of my favorite things in life.  Speaking of pickles (and completely off topic, but on my mind) have you ever tried these?

If you like pickles, do yourself a favor and don't buy them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hi there

If you are new to my blog, than hi.

I'm notoriously bad at the whole "blogging" protocol thing (no, I don't have a facebook page for my blog, I have enough trouble keeping up with just this) but I'm trying.

So, thank you Jenna for organizing this. I've looked at so many beautiful blogs because of your list, and I'm feeling really inspired.

So welcome new friends,  I hope you come back to visit often.

P.S. I have so much dirt under my fingernails that I've got no business being on the computer right now.  Yikes!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Never heard of it?  One of the most overlooked, and to me most annoying second to weeding, garden tasks.

Vegetables all need room to grow, right?  Certain vegetables, particularly beets and swiss chard (two of my favorites) often sprout more than one plant out of a seed. Even if you seed to the correct measurements on the pack, i.e. 4 inches apart, etc.  you often have this situation.

Bull's blood beets - 5 seedlings within 3 inches = not going to work

Merlin F1 Hybrid Beets - the weaker/smaller one has to go

The beets then will grow their greens (also delicious) but will form a stunted skinny bulb because it doesn't have enough room under ground.  Same problem with carrots.  The trick with thinning though, is getting just the seedlings you want out.  Sounds easy right?  The problem is the seedlings are so close that it is very difficult to pull one, without dislodging or damaging the one next to it.  Their are two options; 1, be very very careful, and pull slowly requiring a lot of patience 2, use manicure scissors to cut out the seedlings you don't want.  Either way it's a ridiculously tedious job