Saturday, September 26, 2015

What's Happening in the Late September Garden

Holy basil, tomatoes, zinnias and marigolds

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The plants that like this kind of weather are tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, Egyptian walking onions, cucumbers, the Mediterranean herbs like basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, chives, savory, dill, tarragon parsley and thyme and all types of greens.  

Typically, we would be preserving lots of veggies for year round eating at this time of the year.   We had wonderful rain all summer.  Surprisingly, this did not bode well for the garden.  The fruiting veggies like peppers, squash, tomatoes, eggplant just did not do well in our garden this summer.  We had more disease and pest pressure than normal.  We usually have very little problems with pests.  Not so this year!  I have been using DE and Dipel powders (both all natural) regularly for the beetles and caterpillars on the broccoli, tomatillos, amaranth, and chard.

For the plants that survived and thrived, it would be a great idea to save their seeds for replanting in your garden next year.  These are the really hardy ones.  This is how farmers over thousands of years have done seed saving.  Save the seed from the plant that has the characteristics you want and are adapted specifically to your garden.

Italian Red Pear tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness
My hubby shared that one of the causes of low fruit output could be the rain washing away their flower's  pollen.  I think he is right!  The fruiting veggies need to be pollinated for a fruit to form.  Our tomatoes did reasonable, just not as good as last year.  I did have one tomato that did great this year!  It was one that I saved the seed from one I bought from Whole Foods because it looked so cool.  Not only was this plant prolific, it was also meaty and tasty!  In doing a search for a giant heirloom pear shaped tomato there are several it could be-Italian Red Pear, Riveria, Franchi Giant Pear or Cuor di Bue oxheart tomato.   It looks closest to the Italian Red Pear tomato.  Whatever it is, I have saved the seed from this plant for next year's garden!

Red October is doing quite well, too.  It is a great storage tomato.  You can have ripe tomatoes until December from the fruits you pick before frost.

Italian Red Pear on the vine
I had given a tomato plant from a set I had bought to a friend for her deck garden.  The plant itself is huge and providing tons of tomatoes being grown in a large pot.  It came in a pack for Cherokee Purple.  It was not a Cherokee Purple!  It is a medium sized chocolate tomato with metallic green stripes.  It tastes great, too.  When I searched on line for what it could be, it looks like it is a Pink Berkeley Tie Dye tomato.  Don't let the name fool ya!  This tomato is not a bit pink.  It is a deep burgundy color with dark green stripes.  I saved seed from it to grow next year.

Italian Red Pear on the fine
I have been putting about a quart of tomatoes away a week.  Sometimes more.  I just slice them and put them in freezer bags.  When it cools down outside, I will look at the frozen tomatoes I have left from last year and cook those into sauce.  You really want to clean out the freezer each year.  The veggies will still be edible, but some will loose flavor.

The squash and peppers really struggled.  Mainly from disease.  I replanted the zucchini 3 times before I had one that survived.  We just started getting fruits from it in the last couple of weeks.  I lost peppers for the first time to disease.  They would turn yellow, shrivel up and then die.  The peppers that weren't affected would really perk up any time we had a week or two without rain and develop many fruits.  There weren't many weeks, though, that we did not have rain......

I have been able to freeze about a pint of sliced peppers every other week or so.  Early in the season, the Pimento was producing well so I was able to freeze a quart of this pepper.  I chop these peppers up as I use them in this salad we love.  We got the recipe from the Pasta House restaurant.  Here is a link to this dressing and others you can make from what you grow in your garden Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs
I had planted a few seeds from sweet banana peppers I bought at the store.  There are two that I am saving seeds for next year's garden.  One was an orange banana pepper.  It was the only plant that actually made a sweet banana pepper plant.  The other is one that produced lots of miniature baby bell peppers.  It is covered right now with more baby sweets.  Pepper plants go until a freeze.  You can bring them in for the winter as they are perennials.

I tried growing from seed the small hot pepper plant that is ages old, Chiltepin.  It took 3 tries, but I now have several plants that are growing.  I have them in a pot and will bring them in to overwinter.  I like putting small hot peppers in my seasoned salt and wanted to grow my own.  They are covered with the tiny hot tots!

Cardinal basil-aren't the burgundy flowers gorgeous!
If you want to maximize your pepper harvest, pick them as soon as they get to full size versus letting them fully ripen to red, yellow, or orange on the plant.  This stimulates the plant to produce more.  If you let them ripen on the plant, the taste will be sweeter.  I compromise and take them off just when they start to turn.  They complete ripening on the counter in a few days.

My uncle gave me some hot pepper seeds from Guyana pepper plant.  I tried sprouting these 3 separate times, but none came up.  Guess they were just too old to still be viable.

The cucumber vines did well.  They are now about done.  Up until two weeks ago, I was getting about one cucumber per vine.  I had planted 4 vines so that was a perfect amount of cukes for us.

The pole green beans did well, too.  The bush beans did not.  I am still getting beans from the pole bean vines.  I planted purple and green Romano types.  The beans and flowers were very pretty.  The green Romano were stringless and the purple Romano type had a small string that was easy to remove before freezing.  I will definitely keep these (Romano and the purple Blauhilde) in my garden next year.  Will also interplant with Scarlett Runner beans, too, for their beautiful flowers.

Sprouting lettuce seed in Earthbox
I am still fertilizing monthly.  I use Espoma as it is all natural, organic.  This year I have also been doing a foliar spray with minerals once a month.  I add compost monthly as well.  Compost increases organic matter and supercharges the microbes in the soil.  The microbes help your plants roots to take up the nutrients they need.

The garlic and onions did well this year.  The Egyptian walking onions did great!  I hardened the garlic on our covered deck.  I put it in apple cider vinegar with peppers for keeping in the fridge.  We use garlic year round for cooking and on our garlic cheese bread.  Yum!
I had a bumper crop of basil this year.  The other herbs did well, too.  We have garlic and garden chives, rosemary, tarragon, bay, sage, parsley, mint, and stevia.  The mint, stevia, tarragon and sage did exceptionally well.  I keep peppermint in a pot so it doesn't take over the garden.  I have stevia in a container to bring in over the winter.  The parsley has really perked up over the last couple of weeks.  The dill went to seed early.

I had also reseeded the Earthbox last week end and there are little lettuce and spinach growing.  We will cover the Earthboxes with a small portable green house later this fall so we can have salads throughout the winter.

Sprouting spinach seed in self watering container
Make sure you save the seeds from your best and longest producers to plant in your garden next spring.  I also save seeds from organic produce I get from the store that is really good.  Last week end when we were at the grocery store, there were these beautiful burgundy and dark green striped tomatoes.  I bought the biggest, prettiest one they had.  We enjoyed the tomato and saved the seeds.    Next year, we'll be able to have them in our own garden!

This fall, we will have arugula, mustard greens, lettuce, chard, blood veined sorrel, garden sorrel, French and Italian dandelion, spinach, lettuce, purslane, corn salad, chives, parsley, arugula, and sprouting broccoli for salads.  Peppers and tomatoes will produce until the first freeze.  The Egyptian onions will produce all through winter.  The herbs will be available for harvesting until the snow covers them up.

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