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Recent Entries to this Blog May 3rd and all is well
Posted: 04 May 2009
Asparagus initiative year 2
Posted: 31 Mar 2009
the spoils of the garden.
Posted: 08 Aug 2008
Asparagus..... the journey begins
Posted: 15 May 2008
may garden work
Posted: 06 May 2008

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Todd's Garden

May 3rd and all is well

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 12:46 am

I often am amazed at how our seasons work and our expectations of the garden. By this I mean, here it is finally May - Full on Gardening season, and yet I find myself expecting my garden to be supplying me already with a bounty. Actually, truth be told, I was expecting it a couple weeks ago.. Standing out there with my seedlings, almost in drill sergeant mode.. Yelling "grow Grow come on move it move it!" then scratching my head, reminding myself, We just past our last frost date yesterday.. will I ever find the elusive virtue of patience?

This week was tomato and pepper planting week. I started all my peppers in a friends greenhouse. Wow is that nice to have at your disposal. The Starts were really ready for the ground. Last year, if you look back at my tomato sauce posting, I had grown 16 San marzano Tomatoes for Sauce making. I had a great year,however, I ran out of sauce. Remember i made 32 quarts of sauce. No.. I didn't eat ALL of it. much was shared with my family as Christmas presents along with Strawberry Jam I made last May... ( hmm may... Jam season ) Yes I tackled Strawberry jam this weekend as well. 19 pints of Todd's Finest Strawberry Jam! Guess my Family knows what This Christmas will hold yet again..
Oops that was a tangent. This year I planted 20 San marzano plants - must have more sauce!!!!
they got put in the ground today!!!
Here are some photos of my garden this year.
As my last posting was the first of the asparagus, here is what it looks like now fully grown. what a lovely patch.

Spring lettuces - this year I went with alot of romaines, Speckled, red and standard green. along with a redleaf variety, Galactic- a deep red leaf
and "Nancy" a green butterhead.

I love beets i planted my largest planting this year, 3- 10 ft rows. Chiogga, an heirloom red and white striped variety that really germinates well and doesn't turn everything red when you cook it. "Cylndria " a red beet that does turn everything red, but grows more elongated. and the ever elusive gold beet, which germinate poorly. BUT this year i finally had great germination on the gold beets.

in the foreground of this photo, you will see a patch of beets growing randomly.. I spilled the seed packet.

Ok, now let's talk tomatoes and peppers. First i want to share a quick photo of one of my peppers, There were aphids eating them in the greenhouse where i germinated them, Well much to my delight, when I put them outside, Mother Nature took over and is working her magic.

Yes that is an extreme close up of a lady bug EATING aphids off the peppers SWEET!!

Ok back to the 'maters. If you look back over my garden blog 2-3 years ago I was using Bamboo- mostly because it looked cool and was, well, free if I went and cut it down. I am a cheapskate at times. Well looking good and performing good do not always mesh well. We have a tendancy here in the south to get wicked Thunderstorms in the summer with high winds. once Bamboo trellises blow over, forget about ever getting them back upright.
Last year I went with Large gauge fencing and steel posts. Simply plant the stakes, hook the fencing on, and when the plants grow, attach to the fence with twine. Viole!! worked like a charm.
getting started-

and finished -

now all I need is for them to grow into the fence.

over view of the whole garden.

Happy Gardening!!

This blog entry has been viewed 405 times

Asparagus initiative year 2

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:57 pm

the last day of March and I was weeding the garden, thinking thoughts of fresh salad this spring and tomato sauce in mid summer, when LOW and BEHOLD I saw a spear of asparagus sprouting up. then as I inspected the rest of the patch I saw ALOT of spears peeking up through the soil!!

there is a blog entry from last year here where I initiated my plan and put in a bed of asparagus crowns. they grew well and I resisted all temptations to eat any last year. after letting it grow up, die off and over wintering, I have been anxious and was quite surprised to see some of it peeking out already. I thought it was too early, we have had a very wet cool spring ( so far). I thought it would be a good idea to inter-plant clover between rows for weed suppression. not bad in theory, but i should have planted crimson clover instead of white clover. reason: white clover has spread and almost over taken some of the rows. crimson clover would have died in the freezes over winter leaving only green manure and fixing nitrogen to the soil. I spent quite a bit of time hoeing (sp?) out the white clover. lesson learned. I will mulch the beds in a few days to further assist in keeping weeds back.

on another note, I have planted onions, cauliflower, beets, radishes and carrots so far. Only the onions , lettuce beets and my cauliflower transplants are up . In a friends greenhouse I have tomatoes and peppers started.
Happy gardening- Spring hath sprung!!

This blog entry has been viewed 609 times

the spoils of the garden.

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:38 am

Since I began gardening seriously, 5 years ago, I have aspired to grow enough tomatoes to make a years supply of tomato sauce. The first couple of years I planted tomatoes en masse, figuring quantity would do the trick. Being able to handle 40+ Tomato plants be damned, I was going to have my sauce.
I finally learned to narrow down variety, grow the plant for the intended use, space them properly and take care of them!! What a novel idea. This year I planted three varieties, had amended my soil well over the last couple years with organic fertilizers, lime, compost, and cover crops.
I grew "San Marzano", a Roma, "Cherokee Purple" my favorite eating variety, and a "Brown Berry" a brown heirloom cherry tomato,
I have 16 San Marzano plants, three Brown berry, and three Cherokee .
I have had a stellar tomato season. After an early summer hail storm which damaged a few things and slowed a few other things down; the 'maters recovered nicely and flourished.
the following photos are of my sauce adventure.
my peak harvest yielded
about 25 pounds of Romas and about 18 pints of cherry tomatoes. I thought I would photo document the sauce
process for fun. Will someone please slap Chef boy'Ardee !!!

let's begin with a big harvest.

and then put on a pot of sauce and let it go....slowly....
Or, if you have ALOT of tomatoes, you might use two pots

I processed the tomatoes in a blender, skins seeds and all, its all good!!

did i mention low and slow....

Ready for the Jars..

and then to the water bath for a 35 minute process

and voila!!!!

the finished product:

ohh yeah..I almost forgot... here's another good idea when you have fresh tomatoes to slice and basil in the garden.

25 pounds of tomatoes equaled about 22 qts of pureed tomatoes, which i cooked down by half to make a thick sauce. The Yield was 11 3/4 qts. which with one more harvest should yield me about 22-24 qts. for the season.

Last edited: Fri Aug 08, 2008 8:05 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 749 times

Asparagus..... the journey begins

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 1:17 am

to grow asparagus, is to make a long term commitment. I, for some strange reason, have decided to embark on this idealistic journey. It is a seemingly simple decision; I really really like really fresh asparagus, I really like to garden. Looks good on paper, let's launch the new plan in two weeks. The confident, adventurous gardener that I am, I could use a good challenge. and oh the benefits of harvesting a few weeks worth of the most tender, succulent spears a man could ever hope for.
I will surely enjoy reading this in a year or two, when I may find myself cursing the very thing I was once wishing for.
here are some of the very first sprouts of the very first year. and then a few shots of the rest of the spring garden.
I think i will do a couple different things to control weeds. First. since this part of my garden is the least fortified with any mulch, compost or the like, I will plant a living mulch - clover. I will build up the rows and bed them up a little bit as the plants get bigger. finally use straw to help as well.

This blog entry has been viewed 615 times

may garden work

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Tue May 06, 2008 4:11 pm

This could possibly be one of the prettiest over all spring seasons I can remember. The south is notorious for moving from winter right into summer!! this yeas it has been cool, it has rained regularly at least once a week for the last month or so, with each rainfall bringing at least an inch or two at a time.
that being said it makes for a very beautiful and healthy spring garden!!! i love digital photography!! take as many pictures as you want, delete then ones that don;t come out good and the rest make for great blog shots!! here are some of my lettuces

this is going to be a favorite here!! freckles Romaine is the variety!!

I hope to update you soon with more good news! i was given some asparagus crowns, i planted 4- 25 ft rows!!! the weed control may be tough since it will be organically grown.
i also planted 24 tomatoes this past weekend. 18 San marzano- a paste variety for sauce!! 4 "Cherokee" purple 2 "brown berry" black cherry tomatoes.

Last year I made a blog entry for my giant pumpkin initiative. I managed to kill them all. I am pretty sure i over watered the plants. the funny thing is, I grew amazing long Island variety pumpkins out of my compost pile. where i had composted some rotten ones the previous year. the ones that grew out of my pile I never watered, never did anything to, as a matter of fact I walked over stepped on and broke off many of the vines because they were in the way. So this year I replanted "Dill's Atlantic giant". and I am planning on not doing too much with it.
let it go and see what happens!!
onto other more light hearted things more pictures!!!
including my herb garden which is in its third year.


herb garden pictures


This blog entry has been viewed 578 times

On strawberry Jam

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:10 am

today was a fun day! I processed 25 pounds of strawberries today. turning them into 17 pints , 2 half pints, and 1 quart jars. there were 18 pints, but one of them cracked in the water bath during processing. ( I have had that happen from time to time)
I got all my organic berries as "culls" the ugly ones the farmer picked out before packing them. he gave them to me after I ever so humbly asked him what he would do with the ugly ones.... and asked if there were any available.
and here we are.

I took a few photos of the process. I used pectin. I like the fact it cuts down the cooking time in half. I do see a value in not cooking the berries to death. they seem to taste better, and certainly the jam is not as dark.

here is my process, which is ever evolving. the last two times I made jam it came out syrupy. it was not thick enough for a Sandwich; which by the way is my real motivation for the Putting up of jam, my peanut butter sandwiches are so much better than when I use store bought jam. It is also quite good on oatmeal... but we cannot go on about its never ending usefulness..

recipe called for crushing the berries, to release some of the scant pectin in strawberries, I ran them through the blender lightly. chopped them a bit. It worked well and left me chunks of fruit.

It has been said.. do not rush the jam making process or double your recipe, it will adversely affect the setting of the jam. Easy solution, use two pots!!! if you can handle stirring two of them rapidly.

Looks like I got a good set this time! Follow the directions!! All components need to be in their prescribed proportions for a good "set".

look at all these jars!!! finished the day with 3 splatter burns on my hands and 2 gallons, 3 quarts all together. during the processing phase in the water bath, i lost one jar when the bottom cracked off as mentioned before.

this ought to get me through the year........ I hope!!!

CHEERS!!!! and happy berry season!!!!

This blog entry has been viewed 469 times

spring 2008

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:22 am

It was exciting to get planted this spring.
My soil is far better now than when I found it. after a summer cover crop, and the application of 1/2 inch of home made compost. The dirt was dark and spongy when I Tilled it. Rain has been plentiful and the "drought" we had is in effect over, It wasn't as bad as most might have you believe. A good start, yes but to my dismay, the bugs have found me. I grow organically, no chemicals!! I don;t really even spray organic pest control. I may have to though.
This photo is of my Tatsoi. I love it, it's so buttery/smooth and sweet to eat. raw in salads, or lightly wilted on grilled ..... well, anything! Flea Beetles found me this year, I have never had to deal with them before.

this is one i deemed good enough to take a picture of. A total failure this year. But that's good, right. i grew it because i love the challenge of learning a new plant, how it will react to what i feel is good care. I have more seed, I'll try again this fall.

the next few shots are of the overall spring garden.
3 types of Beets
5 lettuce varieties
2 types of carrots
sugar snap peas which germinated poorly this year. perhaps 75%, which for 2 10 foot rows, is a bit much for my liking.
i am also trying salsify this year. its an annual that is harvested for its root. its called an "oyster plant" i have cooked with it before. its crunchy, mild, nutty. not unlike the texture of a water chestnut or a sun choke. the flavor isnt too much like either, however. it has germinated well and seems to be off to a good start.
i tried red onions from seed, may not be the best decision i have ever made. ive got a couple from the first planting, and maybe 10 from the second planting. perhaps a dozen total, in a 15 ft row.

the peppers and tomato seedlings are patiently waiting their turn.
more to come!!

This blog entry has been viewed 406 times

on spring gardens and orchids

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:33 pm

early march and 70 degrees.. makes a fellow want to work the soil. i got my garden tilled this past weekend. it is looking good, this is my third year working this plot. after cover crops, composting and organic fertilizer, its is now looking more like good garden soil, rather than the red "martian" clay i turned over 3 seasons ago. I have a friends' greenhouse i use to start the early items. I have a few lettuces, tat soi, red onions, and heirloom variety of purple cauliflower ( Violetta italia) and an experiment of spring brussels sprouts , of which i do not expect much, as it gets too hot too fast around here. but hey i got 300 seeds so why not try 10 or so.

and now for something completely different........
my orhpan orchid has fully bloomed. 8 flowers this time!!! I would have never believed i could have gotten so many!!

happy gardening!!

This blog entry has been viewed 606 times


Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:21 pm

Well here we are in the supposed depths of winter in 2008. however here in the sunny south it is 75 today. which always makes me want to get started thinking about spring gardens.... so i just had to get a few seeds atarted yesterday. for a spring crop this year i have moved over to almost all "heirloom seeds" i am trying to grow varieties i have never grown before.
These will include "Violetta Italia " Cauliflower, a purple heading cauliflower, (of course when cooked it will turn green) i started some lettuces , romaine, and red deer tongue( butterhead variety) and some onions and Brussels sprouts.
the brussels are more of an experiment as it usually warms to quickly here in the southern US to grow them as a spring crop. but hey where is the harm in trying 8 plants to see what happens.

the ground is too wet to work over in my garden and I will be taking my soil samples to test the ground soon.
This past summer i cover cropped 75% of my garden with Rye and with field pea (forgot the name just now) and that has really added alot of spongy organic material to the soil.
onto a different topic. My orchid has bloomed for the second time in a year!!!! bot did i finally find the right place for this to live!!! here are some photos. all the blooms have not opened yet. when they do I will certainly post more photos. lastly i left the old growth stem from the last flowering period on the plant. I had heard or read that occasionally they re-bloom. Well they set 3 more flower buds on that stem. so far they are considerably smaller blooms, but since they aren't opened yet, hard to tell.
Happy Gardening!!!

This blog entry has been viewed 649 times

peppers: a great variety

Category: Garden @ ECO | Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:01 pm

i have begun harvesting my new favorite all around variety of peppers. the Corno DI Toro or "horn of the bull. i grew the red variety last year for fun. The plant was almost 5 feet tall and yielded what were the huge super sweet peppers, almost candy like sweetness. The largest pepper was over 9 inches long and 5 inches around. so this year i planted more...and added the yellow variety.. i set a ruler near the pictures for scale... yes that one is 8 inches long..

until next time!!!!

This blog entry has been viewed 543 times

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