Thursday, August 23, 2012

Something to look forward to!

    Things are definitely winding down in the community plot. I've pulled all but one of the tomato plants after harvesting all the remaining tomatoes. Now the raised garden looks so empty. I have some chinese broccoli and bok choy seedlings that I started some time ago. I'm not sure if I want to transplant them in the raised garden though...I'm finding that controlling bug/bird damage is more challenging in ground compared to my little container garden. But is an issue. I'll just have to think about it some more.
      There some exciting new developments at my balcony container garden. First, I started one zucchini (Dark green zucchini/Raven) in a 5 gallon container. It is having some problems with aphids, but I have been treating it with some soapy water and it seems to be somewhat in control. Overall it is a healthy looking plant.
Green Raven Zucchini in a 5 gallon container
And look-see. A little baby zucchini!
Little baby zucchini!
In another 5 gallon container, the surviving champion bush cucumber is doing well. I have to thank Carol for sending me the seeds!
Champion bush cucumber in 5 gallon container
As you can see, it is suffering from powdery mildew. I've been spraying it with baking soda solution...and I plan to go buy some Neem oil. If there are other solutions please let me know.
Little baby cucumber #1
Little baby cucumber #2
Despite the powdery mildew, there are some tiny cucumbers starting to fruit. So cute. There a whole bunch of little flowers so I hope I will be harvesting many more in the future. Thanks Carol!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harvest Monday - August 20, 2012

Last week was probably my last big tomato harvest. I've eaten some in salads and the rest was used to make some tomato sauce. I think next year I will try to plant tomatoes that have more yield. This year, I've had good harvests but not as much as I hoped. 
Cherokee purple, mortgage lifter and Brandywine
Roma tomatoes
I got my first red pepper! It was pretty delicious, probably could have left it on the plant for longer. I see more are coming so I'm looking forward to that!
Roma tomatoes and Brandywine (harvested too early), one red pepper
The Ichiban eggplant is still producing some eggplants. They are a bit thin, but still delicious. out of all the eggplants, the Ichiban has been the best producers with little to no problem. Both the plant in the container and in-ground has done well. 
Ichiban eggplant, longhorn pepper, pablano pepper
I'm linking to Daphne's harvest monday!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harvest Monday - August 13, 2012

I'm joining Daphne's weekly harvest Monday to share my harvest from last week. It was a week of tomatoes! There was a cluster of huge mortgage lifter that ripened all at once. In addition to that, I got several cherokee purple tomatoes and a couple of roma tomatoes. I couldn't keep up with all these tomatoes so I made some tomato sauce. I also harvested some longhorn peppers so I plan to make some dried peppers this week.
Cherokee purple and mortgage lifter tomatoes
Some more tomatoes
more tomatoes and longhorn and pablano pepper
I harvested a bowlful of basil and made pesto. I can never have enough pesto!
Basil for pesto
I love having fresh vegetables! I have to work a little bit on variety next season...but really, I can't complain. Happy gardening!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lemongrass and recycled potting soil experiment update

I was asked to comment on growing lemongrass. I bought some lemongrass from a local Asian grocery store and rooted it in water. I had read that the roots start growing very quickly, but for me it took a good 2-3 weeks. I can't remember how long I had it in "growing" in water before I planted it in my community garden. The roots weren't very long so I was worried that it would not take. I planted about 5-6 stalks at the fringe of the garden.  One of them didn't do really well, but the rest seem to be quite happy...maybe not as thick as the ones I see in the store. I'm planning to try making some lemongrass tea.
Out of all the lemongrass, the one that has done the best is in a spot that gets the most sun. The other were shaded by a tomato or pepper plant. 
I am finally seeing some differences in the fresh potting soil versus the recycled soil. The jalapeno plant in the recycles soil is running out of nutrients and is turning yellow whereas the jalapeno in the new potting soil is still a luscious green.
New potting soil on the left, and recycled potting soil on the right
I fertilized the plant in the recycled soil and it is slowly getting back some color. I guess the lesson is that when using recycled potting soil, make sure to start fertilizing regularly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Death in the garden - cucumber wilt

I'm starting to think that I am not very good at this gardening thing. My two Japanese cucumber plants were looking really good just 5 days ago. They were happily growing up the trellis with a couple of cute little yellow flowers brightening up the balcony garden.
Happy days of Japanese cucumber
Happy cucumber grabbing onto the trellis
I was getting excited about harvesting my very own Japanese cucumbers. Then bam! Almost overnight both plants started to wilt. First I thought it was water, so I tried watering and it looked as though they were recovering that evening. But after that, the leaves looked sad and droopy the next few days.
My sad wilting cucumber
I cut the stem and stuck it in water to see if I can see some cloudy substance (which would have been cool to see) but I saw nothing. I looked at the base of the stem and it looked wet and squishy.
not so happy looking stem
The second stem looked healthy, but the plant was looking just as sick. I'm not sure if a rotting disease is different from cucumber wilt, but if it was wilt, I didn't want the bacteria to spread to my healthy champion bush cucumber. So I begrudgingly decided to pull the plants out. I also found this guy:
Not a friend - spotted cucumber beetle
When I snapped the picture I thought this was a yellow ladybug or a bad bug I should squish. I did a google search and learned that it is a spotted yellow cucumber beetle that spreads bacterial wilt. I rushed back out the balcony but by then the little bugger had flown away. Next time I will not be so kind! I'm debating whether to start new plants (in a different pot) or not. For now, I plan to grow some sugar snap peas in place of the Japanese cucumbers.  And I will also keep a close eye on my still-happy champion cucumber.
Champion bush cucumber still happy and healthy

Monday, August 6, 2012

Harvest Monday - August 6, 2012

It's Monday! Time to share my harvest from last week with Daphne for Harvest Monday.

Last week, I was able to harvest a little bit of various things: longhorn pepper, pablano peppers, roma tomatoes and ichiban eggplant. The meat of the pablano peppers are really thin. I have yet to try them...I'm thinking they may be good for stuffed peppers - or maybe a salad.
I also tried something new. I've been wanting to try making my own sprouts. Bean sprouts is one of those vegetables that if you buy and leave it in the fridge, it quickly goes bad. I usually don't want to use a whole package, so like the cilantro, it always rots in my fridge. I've been reading that it is really easy to sprout mung beans so I thought I'd give it try. After an overnight soak, the mung beans were already beginning to sprout.
After overnight soak
By day 4, they were already ready to eat. I let it go for couple more days and had it with a salad. It was really delicious! I think I will continue to make small portions of bean sprouts.
Day 4