Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Monday, October 19, 2015


Tomato plants do not like it when the temperatures start to drop below 55 degrees. (They like it even less if there is a frost).  The ideal growing temperatures for tomatoes are between 60 and 90 degrees.  When temperature drops below 60 or rise above 90, the vines start to suffer from stress.  This causes the blossoms to drop off (blossom drop) with out developing into fruit.  
Tomatoes are a subtropical plant.  Even a light frost can damage or kill the vines.  When temperatures drop near freezing, condensation forms on the plants, resulting in frost bite. In addition, the fruit on the plants may be damaged as well.  

My cherry tomatoes were prolific this year!

I decided to pickle them.

Sanitizing the lids......

....and the jars.

Fresh Dill from the garden.

Also, jalapeno's and garlic (from the garden), along with pickling vinegar and salt, mustard seed, and peppercorns for the brine.

Fill clean sterile jars and add the brine, leaving 1/2 inch  of head space.   Check for air bubbles and wipe off  the rims.  Center lids on jars and tighten , using the "3 finger" tightening method.  

Place the jars in the water bath, making sure the jars are not touching and there is 1-2 inches of water covering the tops.  Bring to a boil and process according to instructions (I did 15 minutes).

After the appropriate amount of time, remove the jars from the bath and place on a towel (listen for the pop).  Allow the jars to "rest" for 12-24 hours, after which, you can check the seals.  Wait a week before eating, giving the flavor a chance to settle.   Label and store remaining jars in a cool, dark place (like the basement) for up to a year.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


 I thought I was being clever when I decided to grow cucumbers and herbs in the same pots.  BAD IDEA!!!!   For starters, my pots were to small to accommodate both a herb and cucumber plant.  (To add insult to injury, I threw in a few zinnia seeds!)  In addition the watering needs varied between the herbs and the cucumbers.  I struggled to keep the basil/cucumber combo well watered. However, the oregano/cucumber combo was to wet for this herb.   But more important, I never checked to see if herbs and cucumbers make for good companion planting (plants grown near each other to attract beneficial insects, deter pest, and provide support, shade, nutrients etc.).  They do not!  Cucumbers do not do well with herbs that have a strong aroma!

A pot that is about 12"-16" inches deep or about 24" in diameter can can grow 2-3 cucumber plants.  . (5 gallon buckets also work well and hold 3 plants.)  Cucumbers have deep roots and need a steady or constant amount of water. 

Herbs on the other hand have either shallow (oregano) , medium (parsley) or deep or long roots (basil).  A 14" diameter pot works well for most herbs. Basil and parsley needs lots of water, where as oregano doesn't.

Cucumbers rely on insects/bees for pollination.  A cucumber flower remains open for one day and pollination must take place in that day.  It takes about 9 visits per a single flower to adequately pollinate/transfer pollen.  Low yields and misshapen cucumbers are often the result of poor pollination.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Did you know that PESTICIDES & SPRAYS that harm or kill ANTS also harm BEES?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


What does scallions, green onions, spring onions and onions have in common?  They are all part of the Allium (Latin for garlic) family along with garlic, leeks, shallots, chives  etc.  Allium are edible perennial plants. Although it is unclear how many species exist, the average is about 750 (250 on the low end to 900 on the high end).  About a dozen are of importance to the gardener or farmer.  Others are important for their ornamental value.

To me, scallions are just underdeveloped onions, sort off.  Very young onions are scallions in which the white root part has not developed into a bulb.  Green or spring onions are slightly more rounded then scallions and are on their way to maturing into fully grown onions.

All can be eaten raw or cooked (leaves to root), however, there are differences in taste ranging from strong to week.  Scallions are milder then onions, but stronger in flavor then chives.  Green onions take on the flavor of their fully grown counterpart.

 Never feed dogs or cats Alliums due to its potential for toxicity!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Turnip Cabbage, German Turnip...

Also known as kohlrabi, it is a  member of the cabbage family.  With a look of a turnip (growing above ground), the spherical shape bulbs are actually swollen stems. Both the bulb and leaves are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked.   Although there is debate about its origins, the name comes from the German "Kohl" (cabbage) and Latin "Rapa" (turnip), and is a staple in German speaking countries.  Kohlrabi is low in calories, a good source of fiber, calcium and potassium, and a anti-oxidant, with Vitamins A & C.  

When the bulbs reach about 3" in diameter, it is time to start harvesting your Kohlrabi.  They can be cut about an inch below the bulb or pulled.  Remove the leaves (to be used later) and any remaining root.  Peel back the outer, fibrous layer before eating or cooking.  (Unpeeled bulbs can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks).  

I find the vegetable easy to grow and does well in early spring and in the fall.  Although is can be started indoors and transplanted into the garden, I have good success with direct sowing in a sunny location.  Floating row covers can be used for pest management, if needed.  

The biggest problem I find with growing Kohlrabi is that the groundhogs love it!!!  Luckily, some of the leaves can actually be removed prior to harvesting the bulbs for sauteing etc.  So, although the damaged looked bad, the actual veggie was fine. 

Caught in the act!


The "damage"

Ready for harvesting.

Root and leaved removed.

Peel to reveal a crisp fleshy 

I decided to eat them raw!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


and the BUTTERFLY'S, BIRDS, BAT'S and other INSECTS!!!!

In 2006, the U.S. Senate declared a week in JUNE as "National Pollinator week".  Now celebrated internationally, it addresses the declining population of these pollinators.

About 85% of the worlds flowing plants, along with 2/3rd of the worlds crops rely on pollinators.  In the U.S. alone, there are roughly 100 different plants that need to be pollinated by these pollinators.  Without them, a majority of our fruits and vegetables,  seed crops, and alfalfa would be greatly diminished or lost. A decline in alfalfa would impact the dairy and beef industry, increasing prices and deceasing supply of milk, cheese, ice cream, meats etc.   Almond orchards will produce less then 1/6 of their normal harvest. Imagine a world with out chocolate (apples, strawberries, peaches, figs, blueberries, melons, pumpkins, and tomatoes)!!!  How different the supermarkets would look?  Not to mention the economic impact!!!

The use and misuse of pesticides, insecticides and weed killers, loss of habitats and natural vegetation, and the desire for a perfect manicured lawn are all contributing factors to pollinator loss.

Please join me in stopping the use of these chemicals, providing gardens and green spaces for native, nectar producing flowers, trees for birds, bats, and bees, and realizing that there is more to a yard then green grass!  These pollinators are vital to our delicate ecosystem and to our lives.