Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In Tuscany...

I took this shot in late September - the sun was shining, the sunflowers were in bloom, and Summer stretched into Fall... it could have been Tuscany. But, it was our lovely veggie patch where finally, the sunflowers bloomed among the marigolds...

As our vegetable farming season draws to a close, I reflect back on our little adventures...
- large leaf basil should not be planted too early, and neither should those sunflowers!
- don't bother with corn, just buy them from the roadside stalls; the same can be said for the beans and cucumbers
- the heritage tomatoes definitely need to be staked; radishes are easy to grow but do give them room (being suitable companion plants but we must have missed the part about staking the tomatoes so the radishes planted inbetween can breathe???)
- love them carrots but Oma needs to seed hers early enough so they get big enough for more than a teeny bite;
- lovely and definitely sweet mini pear-shaped yellow tomatoes should likely go into pots; and let's not get carried away with the cherry/grape tomatoes
- Making tomato sauce or bottling tomato pieces is a lot of work - for nice thick sauce, it takes about a bushel to net out about 7-8 bottles, 1L size; of course, don't boil the sauce down too much and you get 1 dozen of runny sauce (good for stewing meat in)
(must confess these jars of tomato sauce came courtesy of Farmer R's tomato fields! For a while it was days of a procession of tomato bushels marching in for processing, eeek! And it takes about 1/2 hour a person to collect 1 bushel)

- the beets did great, would love to have more and of different colors!
- eggplants, celery root, kohlrabi - NOT! I think; the eggplants are still flowering (we got one early white eggplant the whole season) but no fruit; still waiting for celery root to be of an edible size; and the kohlrabi roots keep splitting :(
- the cabbages were a success (2nd harvest should be soon) - verdict still out on the brussel sprouts (which should be ready soon too?)
- the zucchini / squash of the petite-pan type definitely were not "petite" - the white ones (yummy sweet) were like dish (6-8 inch) size, the yellow ones 4+ inches; they took off and took over the beds
(some dried dill, couple of white petite-pans (the smaller ones) and sweet and ornamental peppers)

- the one Tigger Melon that happened was too seedy and very late; difficult to grow
- oh those snap peas were sweet and crunchy - more please!
- peppers - the hot, sweet, and ornamental varieties - didn't think they would take off, but by Sept-end, we were picking them practically every day! Were not that hot, according to P - hey, we didn't plant any jalapenos or scotch bonnets!
(Anyone for "not quite that hot" Pepper sauce?)

- Onion greens - yes, they did fine; can't say much for the fennel (of which we got 2 fennel bulbs only) while its close cousin the dill flourished; which brings us to...
- the salad greens - for a while there early on, it was just spinach and we got a bit worried; then the rest of the greens kept cropping up and we could hardly keep up - it was salad almost every day for about 2 months! The salad days have finished except for Chicory which like cooler weather; and finally -
- ah yes, those potatoes - French Fingerlings - yummy, yummy, but fingerlings? Have you seen the size of some of them? more like French Fistlings! Oh, and digging them out? wait for a couple of days of rain to soften up the soil - a bit mucky but so much easier to harvest them then.
(The fingerling impersonators among the real ones)

It's almost time to clear out the patch - we just have to collect the last few veggies (sprouts, peppers), remove the stakes and tags, and the water barrel - so the land can be plowed over, ready for another growing season.

Until then, we salute what has been a fruitful year in experience and bounty. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The weather has been cooler than normal and lots of rain (can't complain) so the lettuce greens are doing very well, and everything else that likes water :)

The peas are pretty much done, and now it's onto the other veggies...

Yes, the purple haze imperator carrots are almost ready for harvest - these are about 3/4-1 inch diameter and about 6-7 inches long. The majority should be ready in about a week. and they really are purple with orange inside - don't boil them or the purple will just fade.

I think these are grape tomatoes, ripening way earlier than the big heritage.

This cuke (beit alpha burpless) is like 6 inches, gianormous compared to the others (which were about 1 inch in size)... hey, the bees have been busy visiting the yellow flowers!

The corn is flowering...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tom Thumbs

Roiboos will be glad to hear that the Tom Thumbs are growing right next to Elzy's frisse bed!

The rest of the lettuce are coming along nicely - we're now waiting for the next crop of radishes (which should be about another week or so). The beets should be ready to harvest this weekend...

And it's going to rain tonight, tomorrow, and the weekend, yeah!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fruits of our labour

We have all been enjoying fresh salads made with lettuce from our patch - yummy, yummy... the radishes were excellent - and there's a fresh crop coming along nicely - they were planted among the tomatoes. Of course, the snap peas are sweet, supplemented by batches of peas courtesy of Mr. R. farmer...

Here's the fingerling potatoes in bloom.

Friday, July 3, 2009

wet wet

We are feeling soggy - after all the days of rain this week - and so are the beds - soggy, soggy. Ok, it's great that temperatures are cooler than normal (low 20's vs. mid-high 20's) and that the veggies are benefiting from all the rain/water, but so are the weeds - they are rampant.

Went this morning and weeded for about 1.5 hours - cleared some of the beds and made a slight dent in the weedy growth. The lettuces are just succulent - harvested some red radicchio, endive, chicorria... the spinach are all going to seed - let's hope the new seed bed comes through.

Lots of yummy crunchy radishes - red ones that is; the watermelon ones (white with red flesh) are not ready, nor are the beets.

Tomatoes need to be staked; they are gia-normous. most of the sunflowers have sprouted; and everything else is just growing, growing...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

first harvest

Had watered the beds yesterday evening as temperatures were 30+ last few days - forecasts call for scattered showers today and overnight, and again Sunday, alleluia!

Checked the beds this morning and here's a progress report - Snap peas in flower;

the squash doing well;

so are it's close cousins, the Zuchini;

and cabbages and brussel sprouts are growing leaps and bounds!

At last, success! The sunflowers (2nd sowing) have sprouted...

Oh yes, the Spinach - plucked (couldn't use a knife to slice through as wasn't enough leaves to grab hold of) some of the bigger leaves for a little salad . This is from the seeded bed. Unfortunately the transplanted ones of Elzy's have gone to seed - what to do, what to do... (recommend we scrub and seed new bed).
We should be able to harvest a couple of radish and lettuce beds by the end of this week - thought to let them grow a bit more after the rain today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


After a couple of nice, hot days, the veggies are doing great! Here's the fingerling potato bed - these plants are about a foot high...

And these radishes are almost ready to harvest - yes, by this weekend - see those red tubers (ok, root balls?) under the leaves?

These are Elzy's transplanted spinach - they are stalky? not like the ones grown from seed...

Yes, these ones which have bigger crinkly leaves which are ready for picking - according to the packages, both are bloomsdale variety? Nah, can't be!

Here is a tomato bed - they are flowering so guess in about a month to 6 weeks there will be some scrumptious heritage varieties to pick!