Planted and Thriving

Everything is planted and growing. All of the tomato and pepper plants were planted on Memorial Day. I ended up planting 4 of my tomato plants and 6 of my pepper plants. After planting I was out of town for the rest of the week, and got back late Friday. I took a look at my plants and all of them were looking good except for the ones that I started. I decided to go back to the farmer’s market Saturday morning and see what I could find to replace most of them.

The four tomato plants were pretty easy to find replacements for. I grabbed another Cherokee Purple, a Caspian Pink, a Thesolonika, and a Roma. I ended up picking up four pepper plants too, 2 Caribbean Red Habs and two more jalapeno plants. I hope the jalapenos produce, as they are the staple pepper in my salsa.

As Erika stated I had also avoided posting on here, as my starts this year were horrendous. By Memorial Day I still had 2 inch tall plants. It is like they decided to grow to 2 inches, and then sit at that size for 6 weeks. Some days it made me want to cry.

A user on one of the forums I frequent posted pictures the day before Memorial Day of some tomato plants that he had [i]sown[/i] on May 2nd. They were 10-12 inches tall and looked fabulous. I couldn’t believe it, I thought he must have typed in the date wrong, so I sent him a private message asking him. He said no, he did not have the date wrong, they were in fact sown only 4 weeks ago. Needless to say I now know his secret recipe, and I will be testing some tomato starts tomorrow using this special mix and see how it goes. If they start well I will probably throw two of them in some 5 gallon buckets in that same mix and see how much fruit I can get off of them even though they were started so late. We’ll see – I will be documenting the entire process and post progression pictures.

The list below is almost identical to Erika’s, we bought most of the same plants at the farmers market. Reading up on the varieties I am really looking forward to August! People really need to name their tomatoes better though. It seems like they don’t know how to tell one color from another. For instance, Pruden’s Purple is actually a pink tomato, and Dr. Wyche’s Yellow is golden orange, not even close to being yellow. It seems that orange and yellow are the biggest colors that you can’t count on the name to determine what color they are. We need some standards!

I have 4 super hots this year – I really enjoyed making and tasting my hot sauce last year and plan on making some more. I also want to make something in the hot range in addition to the absolute scorcher that I made last year. We will see if the habaneros have enough time to spit out ripe fruit for me. If not there is always an abundance at the farmers market in the fall for cheap. I think I will also add a few to some small batches of salsa to actually make a hot salsa. I made one last year that bordered on hot and another that was a strong medium. I might even try a mild this year, who knows.

Ok, on to the lists 🙂

Tomatoes 2011:

German Johnson
Purple Calabash
Cherokee Purple (2)
Striped German
Black Cherry
Yellow Brandywine
Green Zebra
Pruden’s Purple (Pink!)
Aunt Ruby’s German Green
Purple Russian
Sweet 100
Black Krim
Caspian Pink

Hot Peppers 2011:

Caribbean Red Habanero (2)
Bulgarian Carrot
Maule’s Red Hot
Joe’s Round
Orange Habanero (2)
Jalapeno (7)

No pictures with this post, but I promise some next week!

Another week and lots of growth

I am going to keep this short, as I need to finish getting ready for vacation tonight.

Lots of growth this week, the peppers and tomatoes have really been taking off. I am up to 91 tomatoes and 113 peppers on my plants. I had to spend a bit of time this evening pruning a few tomato plants as they were showing sings of blight on some of the lower leaves.

The first picture here is on my carbon plant, and it was from my largest megabloom. You can actually see 4 distinct tomatoes fused into one. It is kind of ugly, but should prove to be quite a mater.

The next two are of my Golden King of Siberia tomatoes. They are the biggest and most prolific right now with 17 tomatoes on the plant.

This is just a current snapshot of my tomatoes.

The squash have really taken off, they are in danger of shading my lone Vorlon behind them.

A current picture of my Purple Jalapeno. I love the way this plant looks!

Next is my Big Jim plant. This was my favorite pepper last year, I couldn’t believe the flavor on this once they turned ripe. I already have more on this plant than I got all last year, I can’t wait!

That is it for this week. I will post at more length next week, and have some updated pictures.

Tomatoes and Peppers!

The last 6 days showed a lot of growth. I am mainly going to show pictures, I am just amazed at how far things have gone in the last week. I have 4 tomatoes on 3 different plants, with a ton of blossoms. Out of my 28 tomato plants 16 or 17 have blossoms right now.

These two here are from my Golden King of Siberia plant. The biggest one is maybe an inch and a half right now.

This one here is a Cosmonaut Volkov. Another completely new one to me (though all but a few plants are new to me, so I guess that isn’t saying much).

This last one is Monomahk’s Hat (sp). This isn’t the tallest plant yet, so I was a little surprised to find a mater on it.

I also noticed 3 “megablooms” on 3 different plants. If you aren’t familiar with a megabloom, it is essentially 2 or more fused blossoms that result in a much larger tomato than the plant would normally have. These are what win contests at fairs and competitions. One was on a Pantano Romanesco (looked like 3 blossoms fused together), one was on a Carbon (looked like 2 blossoms) and I think the third one was on the Malakite, but I am not 100% sure. It was very fun to see those on the plants.

The peppers are doing quite well too. I have peppers on 7 of them now, with blossoms on most of the others.

Here is the purple jalapeno again, it probably has another inch until it reaches full size.

Here we have some Early Jalapenos. True to their name they are putting out a decent amount of peppers pretty early.

These are Tam Jalapenos (supposed to be a mild version of jalapeno, perfect for just snacking on).

This last one here is my Big Jim plant. I really wanted multiples of this plant, it tasted so good last year. Starting peppers this year was an experiment, next year I should know what I am doing and should have some actually live.

One last photo showing most of my garden and some of my cages. I hope to finish up rest of them this week. If you look at my previous post there is a lot of from last week Wednesday to today.

Off to a great week

Had a bit of a scare this past weekend with the nasty storms that blew through. It knocked 3 of my mater plants down, and I rushed out during the rain and put cages around those 3 plants.

I had a hard time fitting them into their cages, so today I went and picked up a 150 foot roll of concrete reinforcing wire which I will make cages out of this week (it really was the plan from the beginning, I just had to improvise when the storm turned nasty). I think I will only be able to get 24 or so cages of the size I want, so I will figure out something else for the one or two extra.

All my plants were covered in mud and dirt, so I went out and brushed off all of the leaves on the tomatoes and peppers. It is kind of like a back rub for a person. They like to be rubbed and the dirt gotten off of them; they were much happier after that. 🙂

My first pepper pods of the year! The first one is a Purple Jalapeno (very pretty purple flowers that turn into purple pods) and the second is a Tam Jalapeno (a mild version of jalapeno, though most jalapenos are mild for me to begin with).

So the Golden King, Malakite, Cosmonaut, Monomak, and Brave General all have buds now, and so do 11 of my pepper plants. Yay for the garden!

I am also going to try foliar feeding this year, spraying the foliage with a watered down fertilizer. Plants apparently absorb about 90% of the nutrients this way, rather than the 10% or so that they get through the roots when you straight up water them with fertilizer.

The onions are doing well. I need to find time to mound up dirt around them before I leave for the 4th of July weekend. You can see the carrots behind the onions, and they seem to be doing very well too.

Our lettuce did well, and produced/is producing more than we need. The green oakleaf wasn’t our favorite, so I kind of just let it go to seed. I love the red and green grand rapids, great flavor, and they are supposed to produce all summer long without bolting. You can see some red oakleaf at the end, and they seem to be a little more heat tolerant than the green.

I think that is about it for now. We are supposed to have sun for the next week, so I wanted to make sure I got pictures out before everything grows like crazy 🙂

Potted up and Planted!

This last week was quite the week, I am still sore!

I started out Monday night potting up all my tomato seedlings.  I started at 9pm, and ended up finishing up cleaning up at 2:15am.  It took a bit longer than I anticipated.   When I was done I had to take a count, it looked like a lot more than I thought I had.  I potted up 98 tomato plants, and 96 of those are growing well a little over a week later.  There are 2 that are questionable (both Dr Wyche’s yellow, which is actually an orange tomato, go figure), but they weren’t looking very good when I re-potted them either.   I have room for 24 tomatoes in my garden, and 8 of those will be from Erika.  I will have quite a few to give away this year.


My peppers are still not doing very well.  I have what I would call 5 healthy plants, and 3 or so that I might be able to plant but they will be pretty small yet when I plant them.  I learned my lesson for next year on starting peppers, so now I can’t wait for next year’s pepper planting (I know, there is a whole year yet).

The basil is doing pretty well, I should end up potting them up this week too.  Looks like I will have between 6 and 8 each of Sweet Basil and Basil Genovese.

On Saturday I tilled the garden.  That was quite the workout.  My garden this year is 25×12, and I found that all the area that we claimed from the lawn is pretty heavy clay.  I amended the soil a little, but it will need a lot more work next year to grow things better.  I am hoping that dropping a shovelful of loose dirt and compost in the hole with the tomatoes and peppers will help.


After tilling we planted onions (100 each of yellow and white long day), carrots (mix of rainbow and purple haze), and 4 types of lettuce.  I followed that up on Sunday with 70 radishes or so, then measured and placed stakes where all my tomato and pepper plants will end up.   I am hoping to see some sprouts by the end of the week.


Pepper and Tomato Update Too!

Editor’s Note:  I hope all my readers will welcome my brother to the blogosphere!  He is going to blog the Minnesota half of the Garden Notes, and this will be a great way for both of us to work together to learn the art of vegetable raising.  So without further ado, here is my little brother. ~Erika

Greetings!  This is Ben, aka the Tomato Bug, aka Erika’s little brother.   I was hoping to get a post in before I went out of town this last week, but I just plum ran out of time.  Now that I am back in town I will see if I can get some updates on here and keep track of how things are growing.  Things are a little crazy in the basement as we are trying to get a lot of painting done before family comes to visit next week, so pictures will have to wait for a future update.

Peppers – I am a little disappointed this year in my pepper growing skills.  This is my first year growing anything from seed, so this is really a learning experience for me.   I originally planted all of my pepper seeds on March 15th (aside from a Chinense variety that I started on the 8th).  They started out doing great, and I had 12 sprouts a week later.  This is where things started to go south.  I did two things that I should not have done.

1 – I used both a heating pad and a humidity dome with  a light  to get things going, so I was really doing a good job of cooking those peppers.

2 – I did not give them enough water to grow or stay alive.

I started round two of my peppers two weeks ago today (much later than I would have preferred).   As of today this is what is coming up:

2 Sweet Chocolate

2 Purple Jalapeno

3 Grande Jalapeno

2 Serrano

1 Big Jim

1 Heritage Big Jim

1 Jalmundo

2 Fresno

I am still hopeful that more will come up, but we might be supplementing our home grown peppers with some nursery bought pepper plants.

Tomatoes – I couldn’t be happier with how the tomatoes are coming up right now.  I learned a lot already from the original pepper failure, so the tomatoes already had a leg up.  All of my varieties except one have at least sprouted some, and the one that hasn’t sprouted was a freebie from someone over at Tomato Garden.  Here is what has come up so far:

8 Vorlons

7 Carbons

6 Black Krim

3 Dr Wyche

11 Golden Sunray

6 Pink Ponderosa

6 Black Cherry

9 Sungold

4 Purple Russian

2 Cowlick Brandywine

3 Pantano Romanesco

3 Cour Di Bue (these ones got a late start, as when I opened the seed packet nothing was in there, had to wait on a replacement from Baker Creek)

The tomatoes are doing great, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that first ripe tomato of the year.   If you look at the numbers, that is a lot of tomatoes, and I am hoping a few more come up yet.  Erika and I are doing a tomato swap this year (and hopefully all years to come).  I am responsible for Purple, Red, and Orange varieties of tomatoes, and she is starting the Green, Pink, and Yellow tomatoes.  I also have a few other people I was hoping to gift with tomato and pepper plants, but it doesn’t look like I will have a whole lot of mature pepper plants to hand around.

Well, I suppose that is it for now.  I will try and keep some updates coming, and in the future will also get some pics of my setup and plants.    Oh, I also started some Basil last Saturday, and currently have 4 sweet basil sprouts and 7 genovese basil sprouts poking up.  I am concluding with a “hats off” to my wife, who watered everything quite well while I was out of town.  I came back to more sprouts then when I left, so she is doing something right.

The Tomato Bug