Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fungus on tomato?

Today I noticed some little brown spots on my supersweet 100 tomato leaf. I think it might be some sort of fungus since it looked a little fuzzy...I need to research organic or homemade ways to fight fungal infection. I've strayed away from the "organic" strategy from the standpoint of fertilizer (I'll explain in another post), but I want to stick with using organic methods for fighting insects/fungus/bacteria.

If you have any suggestions, it would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This is just SO cool!

I was a little low on vegetables and I really wanted a salad tonight. The only thing I had was romaine lettuce and I needed a little more color but I was too lazy to go to the store. And then I remembered, I HAVE TOMATOES GROWING ON MY BALCONY!!! My second tomato was ripe (maybe could have used an extra day) so I went out and picked the tomato. This tomato was definitely better than the first. The skin was little thick, but it was very sweet. This is just so awesome.
Sweet early girl 50 tomato salad
My stevia is looking very punk rock with big heads of leaves. I'm thinking of cutting off the top to root it and hopefully promote more leaf growth near the bottom of the plant. I'll start with one to make sure that the cuttings will root.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011 Harvest Monday

I got my first tomato...although I think I may have picked it a little too early. Here is an early girl 50 and an ichiban eggplant.
The taste was a little mediocre. I could taste the a hint of sweetness but it really lacked flavor and the skin was really really thick. The next time I will let it ripen a little longer.
        The eggplants are doing quite well! There are flowers on all three eggplants with fruits starting on the fairy tale. The plant isn't growing very much vertically, but there are quite a bit of flowers so I think I will be harvesting some more eggplants soon.
Fairytale eggplant
I am linking up to Daphne's blog for Harvest Monday! Gardeners around the world have really cool vegetable s and fruits! Go check it out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

turning color...good and bad

The purple basil are turning green. Why? I did a little googling, and it appears that this is not unusual. It seems that the heat can turn purple basil green. I shouldn't be surprised by this by now, but there are so many varieties of purple-leaf basil. I think I have a variety like the African purple basil where the leaves are supposed to turn green as they get bigger. Another site (can't remember which) suggested to pluck off all the green leaves to prevent the rest from turning green....but I don't want to do this and most likely I will just let the plant do what it wants to do. It still looks kind of cool!
On a happier note, one of the early girl 50 tomato is turning red! It happened almost over night. However, I read over on granny's blog that the first tomato is usually not so good...I'm glad I read this because if this first tomato is not so exciting, I would be really worried that the rest of the tomatoes will be bad.  So, we'll see what how it tastes - so exciting!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Harvest - June 20, 2011

There wasn't too much of a harvest this past week. I had a whole bunch of basil that I forgot to take a picture of.  But here is the "harvest" from last week - I'm hoping there will be more eggplant...and I can't wait for the tomatoes!
I'm linking to Daphne's blog for Harvest Monday!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

GTTC - Jalapeno, zucchini salad & rosemary

I have no names for most of my recipes...Here is a stir fried jalapeno with salt/pepper and little soy sauce. This works only because the jalapeno is sweet and not spicy. When I was little, we used to have this dish made out of shishitou pepper (I'm not sure if there is an English name for this). Every once in a while we'd get a spicy one but that was part of the fun. It worked well with jalapeno too!
I made a little salad with the zucchini mixed in with dill and a simple vinaigrette. I only used a small sprig of dill but it gave a wonderful flavor.
Finally here is one of the few recipes I know using rosemary. It is so simple yet delicious. You pan fry the chicken with olive oil and just as the chicken is cooked you add some rosemary (let it cook for bit) then add balsamic vinegar. Let the vinegar evaporate a bit and that's it.
Chicken with rosemary sauce with beet greens and zucchini
I'm linking to Wendy's blog Greenish Thumb for garden to table challenge. Thank you for hosting the GTTC challenge!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fairytale Eggplant flowers

The fairytale eggplant are flowering! They are similar in color with the ichiban eggplant flowers but the fairytale flowers come in clusters. It is so very cute! I hope they don't start dropping like the ichiban flowers !
These plants are supposed to get to 16-18inches, so they stay small. Right now, the plant is only 8 inches tall. The eggplant fruit is supposed to be small, but the flowers are blooming very close to the soil. So hopefully when the eggplants start fruiting I can keep them off the soil.
The zucchini continue to strive. In the larger container, the zucchini is draping to the back of the container towards the railing. I can't turn the container around because then it would be difficult to add water to the reservoir. So, I decided to stake it so that plant will grow up.
While working with plant, I noticed that right under the mulch I saw a cluster of white wormy looking thing. I yelped a little bit thinking it was maggots or something, but it turns out it was a cluster of roots growing towards a little chunk of fertilizer that I did not mix into the soil very well. I do not enjoy working with the smells like fish food. yuck!
Overall, the plant seems to be outgrowing the pot (so weird because the plant in the smaller pot seems to be OK). I added ~1 gallon of fresh potting mix (with fertilizer and a little bit of coffee grounds). Hopefully this give the roots a little room to grow.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

End of mesclun and arugula

This past weekend I was not at home and when I came back I found this in my arugula and mesclun.
EWWWWW.  I looked very closely and I quickly found the green little caterpillars (I didn't take a picture). Nasty! I picked them and threw the on the driveway (usually birds get them very quickly). Here is the damage on the arugula.

You know, I could probably cut off the damage to see if they recover...but I think I am going to just pull it out. They aren't growing so well and I can't quite get over the caterpillar poop. I will try with the green leafy veggies in the fall.  I hope the cooler weather will make the arugula less spicy than the current "crop" (I'm not sure if spicy is the right word, it just had a really strong...bite).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Herbs in the garden

The hot weather is doing great things for the rosemary and german thyme. The plants are getting lush and look generally healthier than when they were growing inside. I would really love to learn more recipes using these herbs.
German thyme looking strong
Rosemary smelling wonderful!
The basil and oregano don't like the heat as much. The oregano is turning purple and bolting. I've pinched the flowers but I think I need to move it to a shadier area.
Both the purple and sweet basil leaves are narrowing. The plant itself is very strong (ie: the stems are hard) but these are also starting to bolt.
Purple basil turning green?
Sweet basil are curled up and the leaves are very hard
I will be moving them to a cooler area in front of the house. If you compare the basil plant on the balcony with the basil in the container with the tomato plant out front, you can definitely tell the difference. The leaves on the plant in the cooler spot is larger compared to the ones on the balcony. The balcony basil are considerably stiffer.
The balcony basil used to look like this before the heat wave

My only concern about moving the basil here are slugs. So far the slugs have not found their way up to the balcony but last year when I had the basil on the ground floor outside, they slugs feasted on them. EWWW. I will have to keep a close eye on them! The dill is also doing so much better now that it is out direct sunlight. I love dill and hope to use it more in my cooking.
So now I have a little bit of space on the balcony. I'll have to see if there are herbs that are particularly resistant to heat (any suggestions?). I'm wondering if the jade plants would do well in the heat. They are generally unhappy in the house and I saw some of neighbors with HUGE jade plants in front of their homes. I love these plants but succulent tend to die in my hands...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Harvest Monday - June 13, 2011!!

Please join Daphne and see what people are growing around the world! Here is my contribution from last week. Harvest from Saturday that went into the pasta - ichiban eggplants, jalapeno, zucchini (that didn't pollinate), some peas and basil:
Here is today's harvest...currently transforming into my dinner! The jalapeno plant is full of peppers. They are not spicy so I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. The harvest includes jalapenos, mesclun greens, purple and sweet basil (which are really wanting to flower/bolt), some peas (I think these will be the last since they are just drying bad), zucchini (the biggest one so far) and ichiban eggplant!
I have to post the zucchini on the plant, the biggest from the smaller container! The zucchini plants are now full of female flowers with no male flower in I suspect I will have many unpollinated zucchini. I'm not sure if there is a way to promote the growth of male flowers. I'll have to google it.
The eggplant flowers continue to drop. Currently there are 2 little eggplants growing, and a few small flower buds but it seems they just want to fall off:(  I think it is the heat since I am flicking them to pollinate.
The early girl is fruiting like mad, but all the fruits are still green. But overall the plant is doing well.
And the Giant Jalapeno is doing well. The Bonnie plant page says this variety is suppose to get to 4 perhaps I should let them grow a little bit more before I pick them next time.
I am happy with how much the garden is producing! Happy Harvest everyone!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

GTTC - Eggplant/summer squash penne pasta

I was able to harvest some eggplants, zucchini, jalapeno and a bit of basil. I made a very quick penne pasta with all the ingredient and tomatoes I had in the fridge. There is not set recipe, I just sauteed some garlic, onion, tomatoes and the garden harvest (with a pinch of salt and pepper) and tossed it with penne pasta. It was really good.
Thank you Wendy for hosting the weekly GTTC challenge. It is so much fun to cook with the vegetables you grow! She has a great looking pie this week, I warn you that your mouth will water but you should go check out the beautiful pictures on her blog!

Eggplants flowers are falling!!

I'm really enjoying the ichiban eggplant. I love the purple flowers and the leaves are very soft and velvety - unlike the zucchinis that are prickly. The foliage recovered from the under-watering incident however it seems the plant is in stress. I've been noticing that the flowers are dropping off, the stem and all. It seems that there are 3 possible reasons the flowers fall off - lack of pollination, under-watering and heat. I'm not sure if the heat issue is linked with pollination. There is nothing I can do about the heat, but I could definitely water consistently and try hand pollination.
Poor flowers are dropping....
Its so strange that it is not just the flower part that is falling, but it is dropping from the stem. I originally was looking on the plant for ugly looking insects, but I haven't found anything. My course of action will be to ensure proper watering and when the flowers blossom try hand pollinating (and keep checking for eggplant flower predators). The other "story book" eggplants (gretel and fairytale) are doing good...I think. The leaves are getting much bigger (soft and velvety too) but they are not getting tall. And in fact they are starting to flower - this makes me happy but I'm worried that it won't grow vertically. I'll just wait and see what happens here.
Fairy tale Eggplant
Gretel Eggplant
My zucchini plants leaves are turning yellow. I'm not exactly sure why - the fruits are coming along fine. I'm wondering if I need to up the fertilization (since they are producing a lot, maybe the plant needs more food). I was thinking of fertilizing once a month, but I've been reading that containers need more feeding because it consumes a lot of nutrients to grow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heat wave.

I had cut back a little on watering since I realized that I should feel the soil before watering to check whether the plant needs soil. I was down to watering every other day. I think I need to water them daily since this afternoon I cam back from work to this view on the balcony...
I watered them immediately and I think they will recover but it did give me a little scare. The heat is also doing a number on the peas. I'm sure both containers are well watered but the leaves are drying from the bottom and slowly traveling up. I might try to plant again in the fall. As for these two pots, I'll just let it go until it totally dies.
Slow death of the pea plants
Still producing peas!
I bought a very fun plant, the stevia, over the weekend. I don't know if this considered a herb, but the leaves are super sweet. The leaves can be dried and used as a sugar substitute. I believe it is used to make the sweetner truvia. I first saw learned about this plant in one of the "growing your greens" youtube video. The leaves are really sweet, it has a bit of a artificial sweetner aftertaste and it does taste green. Its so weird that the leaves are so insanely sweet.

Wow, while I was writing this blog post the plants quickly rehydrated. So resilient!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Harvest Monday!!!

I needed to separate this post from pest post to give me encouragement to keep going! I've been looking forward to joining Harvest Monday hosted by Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions. It is really nice to see what others around the world are producing! Here is my contribution...for the first time:) Thank you Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday!!
First ever harvest - zucchini/summer squash, peas, mescluns
Some more summer squash...
Ichiban eggplant
and summer squash...
Mescluns and Peas!

GRRR!!! ithy itchy!

So far, I've been very lucky and the garden has been doing great! So much better than what I expected, actually getting some harvest. I think my beginner's luck is running out since in the last few days I have realized that gardening is a battle...with the darn pests!! The zucchini plants down on the ground floor (in the smaller container) are not doing well. The leaves were discolored but I thought this was because the container was too small. The leaves though were sort of speckled (which apparently is a clear sign of infestation).  I looked really closely at the leaves and realized...spider mites!! ALL OVER! I almost don't want to post these pictures because it makes me itchy. I tried to wipe some off but I was starting to get this sensation of bugs crawling all over me so I had to stop. I decided to make diluted dish soap spray that I've read about and basically sprayed the whole thing.
A couple of days ago, I noticed that there are little brown specs on the stems of my tomato plant (early girl). At first I didn't even think they were insects because they were microscopic and I couldn't even see that they were moving. But they are EVERYWHERE. I don't know what these are. I posted some pictures on gardenweb forum to see if I can get some help. After some googling, I think they might be thrips...or maybe non-red mites. I don't know. I can't inspect them for too long because when I look at them (I have to put my face right next to the stem) I feel itchy all over (see the pattern?). I think these guys are also attacking my young tomatoes fruits :( booooo! I'm concerned because if they are thrips, I read that they can spread some nasty viruses. I hope I don't have to pull them out. I carried the whole plant off the balcony onto the ground floor (not next to my zucchinis) to isolate them from the other tomato plants on the balcony. Some of the young tomatoes had these little dotted bugs but it wasn't so widespread that I could just wipe them off (itchy itchy itchy!!!).

I shall NOT GET DISCOURAGED!! If you have any suggestions, please do let me know!!