Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012 Vegetable Garden Notes

This year we planted Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Super Sweet 100 tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, chives, and basil.

Cherokee Purple: These didn't produce any ripe tomatoes until August. So if I planted them again, I'd make sure I plant some other kind like early girl too. They are pretty meaty and have a mild flavor. They seem to always have some green at the top, even when ripe. They also seem to produce a whole bunch at once instead of one or two at a time. So once again, good when you have other kinds of tomatoes too. I've had bugs eating these more than any other kind of tomato I've grown. Don't know if it is because of CT or the type of tomato.

Super Sweet 100: These are TALL. As in 8+ feet. They would be good to grow against a fence that you can tie them to. The tomatoes are good. Acidic and sweet. And they produce a lot. We have two plants and we are getting 6-10 tomatoes a day. Haven't really had any bug problems.

Sweet Banana: For some reason, these don't taste as good this year as they have in the past. They also haven't produced much. Before today we only got 2 peppers. Today we got about 7 more. So these may be better if planted in a dark colored pot where the soil can get hotter. But next time I'd rather plant a small yellow, red, or orange sweet pepper. These just aren't good to munch on. I've also had a lot of bugs eating the plants. Once the weather got hot, the plants grew better though. One of the peppers I picked today had bug holes in it, so the bugs are still around.

Basil: This has been great. We grew it in a pot and picked it from the top pretty frequently so it grew bushy. It was too much basil just to use in cooking, but not enough to make large amounts of pesto.

Chives: Grew them in the same pot as basil. They are doing great. Don't have much more to say about them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 Final garden notes

We ripped out our vegetable garden the first week of November. As the weather cooled, production started to slow down. Most notably, our cucumber plant succumbed to powdery mildew and stopped producing. The zucchini also had it, but didn't stop producing.

Our tomatoes also got some kind of disease and before it froze, I think two of them were already mostly dead.

Our orange peppers barely had time to produce any orange peppers before it got cold, despite the face that they were smaller than normal bell peppers. As always, the banana peppers impressed us with their yield.

Despite the fact that we planted some carrots after the spinach was done and they pretty much grew in the shade of the zucchini and peppers, we still harvested two

The green beans produced much later this year than last year because we bought pole beans. Bush beans produce earlier for the most part, but they don't look as cool as tall pole beans. Next year I think I'l plant a different variety though because ours weren't very tender unless we picked them when they were tiny. Also, I may plant a variety that is purple or yellow because green beans are pretty hard to pick because they blend in with the plant.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Vegetable Garden notes

Our garden this year is much smaller than last year's and I have been forced to be creative with our planting. There are a few things I planned this year that worked really well and I think I will do again.

1. Plant the spinach around the beans and cucumbers. By the time these start getting big and shading the spinach, it is time for the spinach to bolt. This would also work for peppers and tomatoes. It makes for less weeding overall and you don't need as much planting space. It worked perfectly this year.

2. Plant "Space Hybrid" spinach. It has nice smooth leaves that are easy to wash and it is great for baby spinach.

3. "Little Gem" lettuce is awesome! It tastes really good and it is so pretty. It is a good alternate to regular romaine.

Things to do better in the future:

1. Plant the cool season crops early! Our lettuce isn't fully mature but it is going to bolt any day now. I want to grow a mature head of lettuce some day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 Vegetable Garden Notes

Here are some notes for next time I plant a garden:


Half way through the summer I thought that I shouldn't even have planted garden peas because you have to shell them. You don't have to shell sugar snap peas, but you can if you want to so it makes sense to only plant sugar snap peas. But I was wrong. Sugar snap peas have a shorter growing season- they start producing later and end earlier. So it is nice to have garden peas to fill in the gaps when the sugar snap peas aren't around.

Oh yeah. Peas need something about 4 feet tall to grow up. I used the sticks from the raspberries I pruned, but they were only about two feet tall and the peas fell over the top of them by August.

Swiss Chard:

I discovered this year that Swiss chard does not taste good. However, it is really pretty- especially the bright lights variety. I may not grow it in my vegetable garden again, but I would grow it as a foliage plant in a flower garden or a pot. In fact, the most recent Better Homes and Gardens magazine uses it as one of the suggested plants for a planter pot.

I had a lot of leaf miners in my chard at the beginning of the season but by August, they were petty much gone. Of about ten plants, two have gone to seed so far.

Summer Squash:

Zucchini has a reputation for overproducing, but that hasn't been the case for us. I grew one mound with four or five plants and we have used almost all of it, except for a few that I froze. We have been eating zucchini every day though. The funny thing is, we have one mound of yellow squash with four or five plants and I have been picking about ten of those every other day. We have way more yellow squash than zucchini. Next time I want to try growing pattypan squash too. Maybe I should buy some first though to see if I like it.


They don't taste very good. Don't grow them again.


My carrots did great this year. I grew a small variety and they were ready a few weeks ago. It seems like it isn't worth it to grow carrots because they are so cheap, but it is nice to have them conveniently out in the garden. Fresh carrots are not as sweet as old carrots though. We used them in stir fry.


I loved having spinach because it was ready before anything else. I planted about a 15 foot row and wish I had planted more. The only problem was it went to seed by the end of June.


The cucumbers took forever to be ready, but they are really good. I planted Armenian cucumbers and they are huge, taste great, and are really crispy. I will definitely plant them again. Only next time, I would like to use a trellis so they are easier to pick and they don't get dirty from sitting on the soil.


Love having lettuce in the garden. Hate kale, endive and arugula. Red lettuce grows way slower than green but makes the salad look pretty, so plant extra red lettuce.

Green beans:

I tried planting them early to see if I could get a head start but it really wasn't warm enough so all I did was waste a bunch of seeds. I only ended up with a 6 foot row, which did not produce enough. Next time I want to plant pole beans instead anyway because you don't have to bend down as much to pick them.


So useful! Plant them again!


Use mulch! It was a nightmare keeping the garden weeded. I used grass clippings in some spots to keep the weeds down and it worked great. Just make sure they are applied thick enough.

Additional things I would like to plant in the future:

An unusual variety of potato or fingerlings.
Tons of tomatoes. Oh, how I love tomatoes.
Melons (if I ever have the space)
Winter squash

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Here in Utah we are in the dead of winter. However, there is still yard work to be done. Besides cleaning up the dead leaves and plants that you never got around to last fall, now is a great time to prune your non spring-flowering shrubs and all your trees.

Why prune in winter?

During the winter most plants loose their leaves and go into dormancy. As they lose their leaves, they suck all the carbohydrates and other good stuff out of the leaves and into the trunk and roots. That means that when you cut a branch off in winter, the tree won't go into shock because it's energy isn't really stored in the branches or leaves like it is in the summer.

In addition, there are less bugs around during the winter to infect the open wound you make when you cut a branch off.

Why not prune spring flowering shrubs now?

Spring flowering shrubs form their flower buds in the fall and early winter. That means if you prune off a branch right now, you won't have as many flowers in the spring. Spring flowering shrubs can be pruned after they flower. Summer flowering shrubs form their buds in the spring so it is okay to prune them now. Non flowering shrubs can also be pruned now.

Examples of spring flowering shrubs: Lilac, Forsythia, Viburnum, Magnolia, Bridal Wreath Spirea, Azalea, Dogwood, Weigela and Quince.

Examples of summer flowering shrubs: Rose of Sharon, Japanese Spirea, Rose, PeeGee Hydrangea, Butterfly bush, Smoke Bush, Potentilla, Blue Mist Spirea

Why prune?

There are a number of reasons you may need to prune.
  • Create a strong structure so that branches won't break off later. This is especially important with large trees.
  • Open the plant up so it can get more light or air circulation. Roses and fruit trees need this.
  • Reduce the size of the plant.
  • Remove dead or diseased branches.
  • Make the plant more dense. This is done by shearing or heading cuts. When the top of a plant is cut off, the apical meristem (the growing point on a plant) is removed and this causes a change in hormones in the plant, which usually promotes growth from lateral buds. Usually the plant will sprout from two buds, which makes the plant bushier. Please do not do this to a tree! Topping a tree is bad for it!
Proper Pruning Cuts

There is a lot to know about pruning and I am not going to write it all right now, but the most important thing to know is you should never cut a branch flush with the truck of a tree or shrub. This destroys important tissues and prevents the pruning wound from sealing over. The diagram below shows a proper pruning cut. Note how the cut is not made parallel to the trunk.

Different pruning for different plants

Some plants require special pruning techniques. almost any kind of tree or shrub that produces fruit will need to be pruned a specific way. I would recommend checking out a book from the library that tells how to prune your specific type of fruit-bearing plant.

Mophead hydrangeas also need special pruning because most varieties only bloom on old wood.

Roses also need to be pruned a specific way.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Field Bindweed Control

For all of you out there that are plagued with field bindweed (also known as morning glory), you should know that now (Fall) is one of the best times to spray. Field bindweed is a perennial and though it goes dormant in the winter, its roots are still alive and well. Right now it is drawing all it's energy out of its leaves and back into the roots in preparation for winter. If you spray it now, it will draw those herbicides back into the roots, killing the roots too.

Using herbicides is your best bet for controlling field bindweed. When you pull it up, you can almost never get the whole root because their roots can go deeper than three feet. If you spray it when it has lots of foliage, it will kill the root too.

The best chemicals to use for controlling bindweed are a mix of 2,4-D, Dicamba (Banvel), and glyphosate (Round-Up). I don't know much about Dicamba, but glyphosate and 2,4-D are both low risk herbicides. I wouldn't drink them, but you shouldn't have any health risks from spraying them on your weeds if you follow the label directions.

If your grass is infested with bindweed, don't use glyphosate. It will kill your grass too. However, 2,4-D and Dicamba can both be used in your lawn because they are broad-leafed herbicides.

Whatever you do, always remember to take control of your bindweed as soon as possible. The longer you let it grow, the more seeds it makes and the more it reproduces vegetatively.