Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The fighting cherokee purple plant

The cherokee purple tomato plant was looking really sad a month ago.
Cherokee purple 7/3/2012
I wasn't sure if it would survive but I gave it a lot of space, some fresh compost and fertilizer, and planted it deep. And now it has put on some "weight" and even has 2 tiny fruits on it. There are a whole bunch of flowers on the plant but they not fruiting.  Maybe because it is too hot - or it doesn't have enough energy to support more than 2 fruits. Not sure but gardening is all about patience. I'll just have to let it do its thing and see how it does. But I'm happy to see that at least one of my grown-from-seed tomato plant is doing OK.
Cherokee purple 7/25/2012 looking bushier
Two little cherokee purple tomatoes
Unfortunately the branch with these two little tomatoes broke, not completely but most of it tore off the main stem. I propped it back up but I might lose them. BOO! Hopefully the other flowers will produce some fruit.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday - July 30, 2012

I am slowly getting ready for my Fall garden, but in the meantime, the tomatoes plants are still producing. I'm getting a little bit of tomatoes from each plant. They don't all look great, but I find that the uglier ones taste better?!
early girl bush, roma, supersweet 100 tomatoes, and longhorn peppers
Roma tomatoes and Cherokee purple
The curly kale continues to produce, but I am thinking of pulling them out to put in some sugar snap peas. The kale has done really well for me, I really enjoy having fresh greens available at all times. The only problem is that they are being infested by white flies so I have to make sure I wash them really really well. 
I'm excited to get ready for my fall garden. I already started beets, and I'm thinking of started some bak choy and chinese broccoli. I also got some Italian Kale (or dino kale). 

I will again be joining gardeners around the world at Daphne's Harvest Monday. Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oven dried red pepper flakes - DO NOT INHALE!

The longhorn super hot peppers are going strong and I've been harvesting about 1-2 a day. I didn't know what to do with them so they've been sitting on my countertop. I decided I will try to make oven-dried red pepper flakes. Here are the beautiful red longhorn peppers.
Cleaned and dried red peppers
I cut off the stem and sliced them in half (do not get them on your lips or eyes!). 
I popped them in the oven at 150C (the lowest temperature on my oven) and cooked them for about 2 hours.  If you do this, it might be good to open the windows because the fumes will make you cry. I probably left the peppers in the oven for too long or I should have flipped them around a little bit more - they were crispy but a little burnt. 
I then threw them into the blender to break them down. When you do this, DO NOT open the blender and breathe in the red pepper powder! You will be in great pain, really. The final red pepper flake is really spicy but absolutely delicious. I have used them on pasta - you just need a little pinch and it will spice up your dish. Delicious!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday - July 23, 2012

I didn't harvest too much last week. The tomatoes in the community garden is starting to brown but there are still a lot of green tomatoes. I'm going to try fertilizing to see if I can keep it alive long enough for the tomatoes to ripen. I did harvest one mortgage lifter - it was cracked a little from all the rain we got last week but it looks nice and plump. The longhorn peppers are turning bright red. They are beautiful and also really spicy. I don't really know what to do with them. My first thought is to dry them and make pepper powder.
Mortgage lifter, supersweet 100, longhorn pepper
The basil is thriving and getting large. I transfered some of the plants so they have more space to grow. I harvested a bowlful to make some pesto. I just love the smell of fresh basil.
I'm linking to the weekly Harvest Monday hosted by Daphne to share my mini-harvest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's on! Me vs cutworm (?)

I gotta say, each day I garden, my respect for farmers grows. It seems I find some pest or disease in the garden every day. One consistent challenge I am facing are the mosquitoes in the community garden - they LOVE me.  I am not quite sure where they come from but every time I go to the garden, I make sure I am fully covered and I leave the garden dripping with sweat. Despite my long sleeve shirt and long pants, the mosquitoes are able to get me through the clothes. They also target the exposed parts like my hands. This afternoon, I got bitten on my forehead, ouch!

Anyway, this post is not about mosquitoes. Last week, I found one of my basil plant chewed up at the base of the stem, shriveled up...and well, dead. I just picked it out and forgot about it. But then yesterday I found another plant down.
Basil down! the poor shriveled up basil in the middle of the pot
Basil stem all chewed up
I'm looking to make a whole bunch of pesto so I can't have any more of them die on me. I did some googling and cutworm is good candidate for this kind of damage. I dug around the soil and I found this little guy.
Now, this doesn't look like the cutworm I found online. So maybe there are more worms deep inside the soil. In attempt to protect the rest of the basil, I put 2 toothpicks to prevent the cutworms from wrapping around the stem to chop it off (I think I got this from Mary's blog). I hope it works!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday - July 16, 2012

This was a great week! I got my first cherokee purple tomato. It had some small bottom end rot damage but other than that the tomato was really beautiful. I also harvested a handful of supersweet 100 tomatoes.
Cherokee purple and supersweet 100s
I am also getting a couple of early girl bush tomatoes - getting sweeter with time.
I had a second harvest of early girl bush tomatoes and a handful supersweet 100s. And I also picked the first roma tomato and mortgage lifter tomato from the community garden. The roma was not completely ripe, but I wanted to pick it because it was supposed to rain and I was worried that it would crack.
(clockwise from the largest tomato) Mortgage lifter, roma, early girl bush, supersweet 100s
I harvested the first black beauty eggplant, a little scratched up but otherwise is a beautiful fruit.
Black Beauty Eggplant
The kale has been attacked by white flies which has made it a challenge to wash. But they still taste delicious. I am also harvesting some swiss chard here and there. I prefer to eat them stir fried with other greens.
I bought some lemon grass some time back and after I used what I need I stuck them in water for a couple of weeks. After there was enough root, I stuck them in the garden. they are doing OK. I trimmed them a little bit and harvested some. I chopped it up and froze it down.
The basil has grown well this past week and required a little pruning. I think I have enough to make a little pesto or use in a salad with the tomatoes.
Very fragrant basil
I'm joining Daphne and gardeners worldwide to share my harvest from last week.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Coffee and flea beetles

The flea beetles problem on the eggplant has subsided a little but it is still persisting. I can only conclude that the coffee treatment is not really working. I cannot even tell if it helped to reduce the flea beetle at all. But I continue treating it with coffee since it makes me feel better. I am starting to see sign of spider mites (definitely in the container ichiban eggplant). I am going to go look for some neem oil this weekend. The black beauty has 2 fruits that are so much bigger than the ichiban.
Black Beauty Eggplant
The classic eggplant that had the biggest black flea damage is starting to flower but it has not yet fruit. I am not sure if it too sick to produce any fruits. I'll continue to let it do its thing.
Classic eggplant still having problems with flea beetle
The little buggers on the leaves
The ichiban eggplant is starting to get yellow at the periphery. I am not sure what is causing it exactly - maybe some sort of deficiency or spider mites maybe some other disease. When I get the neem oil, I will try treating it and maybe give it a dose of bone meal. After harvesting the last of the eggplants, it produced some flowers so I should be harvesting some more eggplants.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vine borer strikes again

Well, the stocking treatment worked for a while...but there was is a flaw in this method. That is, the vine of the squash plant goes beyond the stocking so the little critters can get in from the uncovered sections. The summer squash plant was looking pretty good last week but I noticed that the leaves were starting to yellow later in the week.
Healthy green summer squash plant just a week or so ago
I checked the base of the plant, and sure enough, there was a clear sign that the nasty little buggers have gotten into the stem.
Sign of vine borer above the portion covered by stocking
After pulling out the plant, I wanted to see if the borers were still in there. The stem was completely hollowed out and two plump little vine borer was happily eating away at the stem. In addition to the the vine borers, nasty centipedes found shelter in the hollowed stem. I plan to start some new zucchini plants, one for the balcony and another for the community plot. Nasty close up pictures of vine borers (and a portion of the centipede) to follow.
You can see the butt of the centipede in the middle of the picture
close up of two vine borer

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday - July 9, 2012

This has been a rough second year of gardening, but I am getting some harvest. The kale is still growing strong - I wonder if it will keep going through winter. I'm looking forward to winter kale soup, but for now I'm adding kale to anything I can. The rest is being blanched then frozen. 
I harvested a bowl of jalapeno that I hope to make jelly and pickle. I also harvested one longhorn pepper - which I thought was going to be sweet but turns out to be really spicy! I don't really know what to do with it. I'm wondering if I can pickle it or freeze it. I know I've seen it in some korean dishes using this type of hot pepper - I'll have to ask some of my Korean friends for some recipe ideas. I'm also getting some more ichiban eggplants! I just love these eggplants!

The early girl bush tomatoes are ripening slowly. The plant is not making producing any flowers - maybe it is too hot or maybe it is done fruiting.
I keep forgetting to take pictures of the baby summer squash I've been harvesting, but I did remember to take a picture of the biggest one I harvested last week. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it.
I'm joining Daphne for Harvest Monday to share my harvest with gardeners around the world!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recycled potting soil versus new potting soil

I started a little experiment to test whether recycled potting soil with cow manure and fertilizer performs differently than fresh potting soil. I bought two jalapeno pepper plants and put them in the same 3 gallon container. Here are pictures of the jalapenos at different stages.
Center is fresh potting soil, right is recycled potting soil

How they are today. Left is fresh and right is recycled soil
The heat has been destroying many of my vegetable plants on the balcony but jalapenos have thrived. The plants are doing so well with many fruits. I am very happy to see that both plants are doing well. There is no difference in the size of the plants and in the number of fruits (although in the final picture the plant in the fresh potting soil looks a little bushier, but from different angles there is no discernible difference). I think I have enough jalapenos to make one jar of pickled jalapeno and maybe one jalapeno jelly.
Jalapenos up-close
Two of the fruits had a little bit of sun damage but the others were protected by the foliage. 
Jalapenos with sun damage
On a completely different note, I want to leave a message for Wendy over at greenish thumb. I hope your site is OK and you can figure out the malware issue. I am a total computer dud so I don't know how I can help...but I love your blog so I'm hoping that it'll be cleared soon! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Promoting growth of pepper plant

The Chinese pepper plant is small but is looking strong. During the day when it is scorching hot the plant looks stressed but it bounces back at night when the temperature goes down. I'm hoping that it will continue tolerating the heat. I'm not sure if the heat will stunt its growth, but I do feel that it needs to expend all its energy on growing and not fruiting at this stage. There was one little baby pepper and a couple of flowers on the plant but I decided to cut it off so that all the nutrients go to plant growth.  I also should think about trying to get it shaded....
Little baby pepper
Little baby pepper trimmed

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Death in the garden...

The heat and humidity is absolutely terrible! I hope those of you experiencing the heat wave are doing OK. Unfortunately, one of the weak tomato seedling could not withstand the heat. Although it probably would not have survived even if we didn't have the heat wave. Before I went to Japan, my plants were transported to my boyfriend's balcony.
Traveling charm city balcony garden
Plants @ temporary home
The young tomatoes looks leggy
He did a great job taking care of all the plants, but his balcony is shaded throughout the day and only gets a little bit of sun in the morning. My balcony, on the other hand, gets full sun all day. The past couple of days the temperature reached over 120F. The plants are probably in shock with this huge change in environment. I did try to acclimate them, but the weakest seedling (supersweet tomato) did not survive:(
Sad looking supersweet 100
The cherokee purple and pink champion is holding on. I planted a good portion of the tomatoes stem hoping it will produce roots to help it along. Both plants are not very bushy so it I may not get any tomatoes but I'm just going to let it grow and keep my fingers crossed.
Cherokee purple hanging on
Pink Champion tomato
To replace my poor supersweet tomato plant, I started some cucumbers (2 varieties, one is Japanese and the other is a Bush Champion). This will be a little experiment since I think it is a little late to start cucumbers.
Dino kale (left), Japanese cucumber and Champion Bush cucumber