Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Garden Update

A bad summer cold has kept me out of the garden this week. But things are really growing! I felt slightly better today and took some photos. If only my sore throat would go away so I could start eating real food. Each day there is more and more to pick. The above cabbage looks ready for harvesting.

Tomato ForestThe tomato plants are finally making tomatoes.

These are either Ananas Noire or Black Elephant.

Rotten Tomato
Two have blossom end rot!  I’ve read that it may be due to a calcium deficiency. Also infrequent watering, which I am definitely guilty of this week. I must find a cure.

The beets were a real disappointment. Maybe it was too hot? I pulled them out of the ground since their leaves were starting to shrivel and brown. I think I’ll plant another batch for fall.

The Cayenne peppers are doing great – except the leaves on some of the plants are a little yellow. According to this forum on Garden Web, it might mean that they’re getting too much water.

String Beans
I have string beans! Purple and green. Some are nearly 6 inches long.

Atomic Purple CarrotHere is a baby Atomic Purple carrot. I couldn’t resist pulling it out to take a peak. My throat can only handle ice pops and chicken soup right now, so I gave it to my boyfriend and he reported back that it’s delicious.

Sugar Baby WatermelonThis is a tiny Sugar Baby Watermelon. The vines are growing 4-5 inches a day and have already reached the top of our trellises.

And here is my giant cucumber. I have a few others that have started to grow, but this one is by far the largest. Like the melon vines, the cucumbers have already climbed over the trellises and are starting to work their way across to the other side.

BeesThe bees are definitely to thank for all of this melon-cucumber activity. (Thank you, bees!) I’m no apiologist, but I think I’ve spotted at least four different species buzzing around.


Killer Kale & Rogue Tomatoes

Ridgewood Queens GardenIt was a lovely weekend to be in the garden. We made some progress on our trellises. (Actually, my boyfriend made some progress on our trellises while I danced around and pestered him.) They should be ready to install tomorrow, which is good because my cucumbers are really sprawling.

Tuscan Black KaleWith no other major projects, I was able to focus on weeding, fertilizing and harvesting. Tonight we are going to eat this gigantic head of kale.

AffenpinschersMy two little garden helpers were also out and about. Harry and Lucy – our Affenpinchers (aka “The Beasts”) – love to trample through the flowers and dig in the dirt.

Rogue TomatoesAnd while doing my rounds today, I noticed at least five new rogue tomato plants that have grown from seeds left over in the worm castings taken from our vermicompost bin.

Rogue Tomatoes
I used the castings to fertilize the soil where I planted some flowers, and I thought the tomatoes were just another variety of marigold until today. But there is no denying it – they are definitely tomatoes. And now that they’re over a foot tall, I don’t have the heart to yank them out.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll outperform my giant tomato trees in the back planters. They’ll be getting a lot of help from the marigolds (a companion plant to tomatoes) a few inches away. I’m also really curious to see what kind of fruit we get.

Finally, some tomatoes

Green TomatoesI think I have a break in the case of the non-producing tomato plants. Actually, more like a promising lead. The mystery is not solved, but I may be a little closer to understanding why I am not getting the crop I hoped for.

Green TomatoesWhile the twelve tomato plants in the planter at the back of the yard are still totally fruitless, the eight plants in POTS near the front of the yard have started to produce.

Tomatoes in Pots
(Back story: The 20+ tomato seeds I sowed indoors in February grew into 20 hearty plants. I offered a few to family and friends, but people were slow to claim them (or maybe didn’t want them!), and all of a sudden I had my very own tomato orchard. The majority went into a 3 x 4′ planter, and the rest are in 5 gallon pots.)

Green TomatoThe tomatoes in pots are the same mix of varieties as those growing in the planters. They are also in the same soil and are watered on the same schedule. I wonder, though, if having less space to develop long roots has encouraged the plants in the pots to put more energy into fruit-making. This, of course, is pure speculation…but it’s the only reason I can think of that could account for the difference.

As for the plants in the planters, I intend to fertilize them this weekend, and I might also prune them a bit, and maybe soon they’ll be as fruitful as their potted cousins.

Photo: Mark Bittman/The New York Times

Side note (while I’m on the topic of tomatoes): Mark Bittman has a really interesting and eye-opening column in this week’s NYT about industrial tomato farming. It’s actually a follow-up to a piece he wrote last month on the book Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, which chronicles the rise of the tomato in the modern world and the deleterious effects that the mass production of this fruit has had on the environment, our food supply, and – most notably – tomato workers.

While I knew that most of the tomatoes sold in stores today are picked green and then gassed with ethylene to promote the ripening process, the image above really drove home the wastefulness of this system. After the green fruit is harvested, the plants are killed to make room for the next crop, and any tomatoes that ripened naturally on the vine are “left to rot,” writes Bittman.

It just seems like big price to pay for a product that we don’t really need all year round. I’d rather have no tomatoes at all than the tasteless, mealy lumps available at most grocery stores.

Garden Update

It was really hot. Then it was really rainy. Now it is really busy at work. And, truth be told, I have been neglecting the garden. There are so many things that have to get done. And they need to happen this week!

I desperately need to build proper trellises for the cucumbers and melons. Then I need to focus, focus, focus on my tomatoes so they start producing fruit. And, last but not least, I need to figure out what I am going to plant to replace all of the greens and turnips I have been harvesting. I hate having “bald spots” in the planters.

My melons are taking off, which is really exciting. The kale and lettuce have been strong performers, too. My favorite so far has been the arugula. Last summer I planted it late and harvested it in July, and it was really bitter and almost impossible to eat without drenching it in dressing. This year, it is definitely sharp and peppery, but the flavor is not overpowering. We’ve been mixing it with a little lemon juice, some olive oil and slices of Ricotta salata.

I have a lot of ideas about what will replace these tasty crops, but no definite plans yet. For the fall harvest, I’d like to try broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, but I think it’s a little too early to start sowing them now. I might plant another quick batch of greens and maybe some radishes in the interim.

Where the @#$% are my tomatoes?!

We’ve been together for months now. I nurtured them from tiny seeds in the dead of winter. Then I lovingly planted them in the best soil I could find, in the sunniest spot in my garden. I tickle them every day. They are over 5′ tall…

Why aren’t they making tomatoes?!?

I have a few little Chadwick Cherries on one plant, but on the rest it’s just a bunch of dried up old blossoms. I am so disappointed. I’ve been reading online about “blossom drop,” but I really don’t understand the causes. It seems like anything could be a cause: too much/not enough water, heat, fertilizer, etc.

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out

Thanks to my new vermicompost, I have recently become familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of rotting food. I now regularly sift through last month’s meals like a forensic investigator, pulling out worms, dodging flies, separating vegetables in various stages of decomposition with my bare hands (try picking up worms while wearing garden gloves – it’s impossible), all the while retching slightly as I remind myself that it’s just a bunch of old greens and coffee grinds. Nothing to be afraid of.

Vermicompost Bin My vermicompost bin was a gift from my sister, a gardening expert who created this Vermicomposting Fact Sheet that lists some great tips and tricks. After bugging me for months to take an old bin that she had parked in our mom’s garage, I finally did so on the condition that she set it up and give me a private tutorial.

VermicompostThe whole process has been much easier than I thought. We keep ours in the basement and except for putting stuff in and occasionally reorganizing the layers, my interaction with the what’s going on “inside the box” has been pretty minimal. When everything is closed up, the system is very clean – no smells or worm or bug leakage.  And setting aside our leftover scraps each day has been a huge wake-up call to the amount of reusable trash I was previously sending to landfills.

I’ve already used some worm castings in my flower beds. And –  surprise surprise –  a lone tomato plant has appeared among my cosmos and purslane… a remnant from a long ago meal.

Veggie Update

Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Tomatoes Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011
Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Ridgewood Queens Backyard Garden 2011 Japanese turnips, beets, cucumbers and string beans Kale and cabbage

Garden Update, a set on Flickr.

I am thrilled with how things are going so far…and extremely grateful to Mel’s Mix and the small fortune I spent on vermiculite.

First: The Tomatoes
The seedlings I started in March are now four feet tall. Since I had little faith in my ability to grow and nurture new plants from scratch, I sowed about three times as many seeds as I thought I needed. I guess my thumb is greener than I thought – I now have close to 20 plants! My full fledged tomato nursery includes four varieties: Ananas Noire, Pantano Romanesco, Black Elephant and Chadwick Cherry. I see a lot of little blossoms and am expecting tiny fruit any day now. Bees – get to work!

Next: The Peppers
I am also growing peppers – Traditional Cayenne and Pepperoncini. Like the tomatoes, I over planted.  Except I don’t think I transplanted these plants fast enough – they’ve started to produce big peppers already but the plants themselves are still pretty small. I have them in 2-3 gallon terra cotta pots.

Third: The Greens
My lettuce and kale are too beautiful to eat. I’ve been picking off a leaf or two to nibble here and there, but mostly I just want to stand back and admire.

The first variety (the largest in the picture) is Lettuce de Morges Braun, which I planted because of its bad-ass name. It’s supposed to develop a reddish, pinky hue, but mine is still green. I had some in a BLT for lunch today and it was delicious.

I also planted Oak Leaf Lettuce,  regular old Romaine and Lollo Rossa. (I see a lot of Caesar Salads in my future.) Next to that is a ton of arugula, which is my favorite green, and some spinach.

I am also growing Tuscan Black Kale, which I think is far tastier than Siberian, as well as a few cabbages. Not sure what to do with those cabbages…but they are definitely cute.

Last: In Development
The other two planters house chives, Danvers carrots and Cosmic Purple carrots, watermelon, Emerald Gem melon, cucumbers, string beans, beets and  Japanese turnips (which are spicy like radishes and delicious).

Things are really coming along! Last year I didn’t begin until the end of June, and I am really happy I got a head start this time around by sowing some seeds indoors. I can finally take a bit of a breather and sit back and watch things grow, though I do have to build my trellises for the cucumbers and melons as well as think about what other crops I want to plant for a fall harvest.