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RUSSIAN ROSE TOMATO

russian rose tomato

Russian Rose tomato

Got seeds from: @betweenthelimes
Planting info: I started this from seed and it is now planted in the raised bed reserved for tomatoes. It gets the best possible conditions in my yard: raised bed with the most sun, and the one that is first in the soaker hose line so it gets the most water.
Beauty points: I wish I had taken a pre-slice picture of the first one I picked. It was gorgeous and huge! Size varies from huge to medium, but I don’t think there’s been a blemish on any of them. You can pick them when there’s still some green striping in the shoulder so they don’t go bad on the vine.
Taste: Mild and sweet, not tangy. Better with salt. But the consistency…the first bite I took I thought it was disgusting because it was all meat! Hardly any juice or gel at all. So at first I thought it was gross, but then the second bite I took, I liked it. Because I really like the part right by the skin most on all tomatoes, anyway.
Other considerations: The meatiness of this tomato means it holds up to slicing very well. So to me, this would make a great sandwich tomato, or could be used for tomato salads etc where you want the tomato to be able to kind of stand up to some punishment and still be a little cube or slice of tomato.
Will I grow it again? I think so. I’ll have to either save seeds or purchase some, but I really like the consistency of this one. It’s almost like a roma/paste tomato, but a slicer version. I like it!

I’m trying to keep track of what I grow this year, so that I can decide if I want to grow certain things again next year. These “veggie reviews” will be categorized as such on the blog. I’ve found them useful on other blogs, so hopefully someone finds these useful as well! One thing I’ve consistendly found useful in this regard is Hannah’s tomato tastings, so I’ll model somewhat after that.

lemon spacemaster

Lemon and Spacemaster cucumbers

LEMON CUCUMBER
Got seeds from: I can’t remember! Either @getinthegarden, @snarkyvegan, or @betweenthelimes. I forgot to mark it on my seed spreadsheet. Oops!
Planting info: I mislabeled a spacemaster as a lemon, so I only ended up with one plant (oops). I planted it in the old veggie garden, which is hard, rocky soil (amended with topsoil and compost). It doesn’t get a lot of water because I mostly rely on rain, but I have been hitting it with the sprinkler since we’re in a drought. It’s growing up an upside-down tomato trellis and is still pretty small (maybe 2-foot long vine).
Beauty points: Very pretty! The have little hairy spikes, but these rub off easily when washing it. They’re a very bright streaky yellow. I expected them to be pale.
Taste: Very mild and a bit citrusy. The skin is thin and, in my opinion, doesn’t need to be removed. Also good in vinegar, but of course you lose the intricacies of flavor. To really enjoy this one, it’s best served simply sliced.
Other considerations: Pick them when they’re about the size of a lemon (duh). If you let them get too big, they get more seedy.
Will I grow it again? It was a bit seedy, but that means I’ll have plenty of seeds to harvest…as long as I get another cucumber. I’ve only had one so far, and I was juuuust about to pick a second when either a bunny or squirrel ate it overnight. I think I will grow this one again, though. It’s good enough and unusual enough that I can enjoy it. The only way I wouldn’t grow it is if I can find the seeds of the delicious white cucumber by CSA grew last year. I’ll have to crawl through old emails and see if I can find the name.

lemon spacemaster

Lemon and Spacemaster cucumbers sliced

SPACEMASTER CUCUMBER
Got seeds from: Botanical Interests
Planting info: These are supposed to be good for small spaces. I planted two in the raised beds beside the luffa. They get watered from the soaker hose and are growing up two upside-down tomato trellises.
Beauty points: Not gorgeous. They have small spikes that can be rubbed off while washing them.
Taste: Tastes like a cucumber! Very thin and not at all bitter skin. Not too seedy, would make decent pickles, I think.
Other considerations: None, really. They’re been growing very well and don’t seem to have any issues.
Will I grow it again? Definitely! I may try another cucumber next year for picking as well, but this one is definitely staying on the list.

This is a more general “veggie reviews”. Not going over specific kids of veggies, but just what veggies I will and will not plan on growing next year in the garden. Might help you if you’ve got a similar garden situation. For reference, my garden is 4 raised beds and one rocky, in-ground bed about the size of a raised bed. The in-ground bed hasn’t gotten a lot of water this year as we’ve had a drought (I give it some sprinkler time as needed), but the raised beds are watered by a soaker hose daily. I of course of have pictures of all of these plants, but don’t feel like searching for them! Use the search box at left to find out more about what I’ve done with each of these throughout the year.

Beans
Grew this year: royal burgundy, pencil pod, dragon tongue, maxibel bush, a couple others
No. As much as I absolutely LOVE fresh beans from the garden, I don’t think I’m going to grow them again next year, other than maybe a plant or two to snack on fresh beans from while outside. I haven’t had great results from the beans I’ve planted. They look scraggly and I don’t catch the beans until they’ve gone hard, or the beans are skinny and don’t taste great (heat, maybe?). And in order to really have enough beans to occasionally use as a side dish, I’d really have to have a whole bed of beans. Beans are readily available from local farmers, both Amish and non, so I think I’ll just get my beans from them next year. The ones I most frequently snack on, dragon tongue and royal burgundy, I may grow a plant or two of.

peas3Peas
Grew this year: Wando and another variety I forget. They tasted and performed the same.
Yes! I so enjoyed growing my own peas this spring, and because they’re just a spring crop, you pull them and they don’t take up space the whole summer. Next year I will plant more peas and plan better where they go (to account for them being replaced with something else), but I will for sure grow them again.

Carrots
Grew this year: tonda di parigi, danvers half long
Yes! I lost about half of my carrots this year because hornworms ate the foliage off of all the ones in my raised bed, so they stopped growing. Consequently, I didn’t get any of the little round tonda di parigi carrots I was so excited about! The carrots I planted in a large pot and kept in a more shaded area did very well, though, so I plan on doing that next year and using raised bed space for something else.

radishRadishes and beets
Grew this year: early scarlet globe radish, detroit dark red beet
Yes! I am also going to try to grow these again in the fall, and will be more conscious of sowing more next year in succession, so I get more than one crop. Both were very easy to grow, weren’t bothered by pests, and tasted great. Plus they are another spring crop like the peas that you get to plant something else in after they’re done (again, I will plan better for that next year). May try some more varieties of each next year.

Peppers
Grew this year: sweet banana, cayenne, jalapeno, marconi, chili, habanero, fish, sweet red cherry
Yes! Though I’m not a fan of peppers on their own, I LOVE making my own salsa over the summer and these guys are a key ingredient. Unfortunately, I lost ALL the peppers I’d started from seed this year in the Great Plant Fry of 2010, so all the peppers I have were from a plant exchange or purchased as seedlings. Botanical Interests is having a free shipping deal this weekend (friend them on facebook for details), so I am planning on making a small purchase, and peppers are in the mix.

Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

Grew this year: Di cicco and Long Island Improved
Ask me after the fall. Cabbage worms ate the hell out of them in the spring, then it got too hot too fast, so I pulled them and gave up.

Ground Cherries
Grew this year: Whatever kind @snarkyvegan gave me?
Yes! I’ve really enjoyed these weird little plants. I’ve already made a sauce that I used on turkey and last night on my portobello burger (hubby had jalapeno jack burgers) and very delicious bread that I need to share the recipe for. I’m going to try to save some seeds, but if not I’ll purchase more. These are tasty and there’s no way I’d find them if I didn’t grow them myself.

Zucchini
Grew this year: Black Beauty
Maybe. I’m not a big zuc fan and hubby doesn’t like them. I just bought these because Lowe’s was having a sale. They’re not producing like crazy (yet?), prob because they’re in the old garden and haven’t gotten a lot of water.

Okra
Grew this year: whatever Lowe’s had
Nope. Just like the beans, you have to plant too many to get anything worthwhile. I’ve gotten 3 so far and ended up composting them bc what do you do with 3 okra? Also the only thing I ever do with them is fry them, so frozen or random local is fine.

Pumpkin
Grew this year: the seed that came with the compost
Maybe. I grew this one on accident and it’s kind of fun. Only one pumpkin on there and I don’t see more blooms, but again it’s in the garden that hasn’t gotten any water. I like my little pumpkin, but I don’t think it’ll make it to Halloween 😦

Luffa
Grew this year: luffa from Botanical Interests
Maybe. I was SO SUPER EXCITED about this, but the dang thing still hasn’t fruited! I don’t get it. I had just grand plans for Christmas presents! So we’ll see. I’m giving you a chance, luffa.

lemon spacemaster
Cucumbers
Grew this year: spacemaster and lemon
Yes! I adore cucumbers and the ones in the raised bed are producing like crazy. The lemon isn’t doing as well, so next year I’ll make sure to plant all cucumbers in a raised bed with plenty of room for climbing.

Lettuce
Grew this year: Baby greens mesclun mix from Botanical Interests, black seeded simpson lettuce
Yes! But next year I’ll plan it better. This is something else that gets pulled when it gets too hot, and this year it got so hot so quick I really only got one harvest before it started to bolt and get bitter. Next year I will plant earlier and more in succession to get more harvests, and I will also plan for them being pulled up by planting them in the bed with the other spring crops.

Tomaotes
Grew this year: Black from Tula, Eva purple ball, speckled roman, better boy, early girl, sungold, russian rose
Let’s not be silly. Of course! I lost a bunch in the plant fry, but I lucked out and still ended up with a nice selection between stores, family, and plant exchanges. I’ll be doing separate reviews of some of these, but tomatoes will definitely get at least one bed in the garden next year as well.

#wordlesswednesday

luffa

#wordlesswednesday

NOTE: Crabs not pictured.

…that problem being that the plant is HUGE and there are no luffas on it. (Yes, it’s the luffa/loofah like the sponge. It’s not a sea creature, it’s a GOURD! I know, amazing, right?)

I had 2 planted on this trellis, and I was kind of glad one ended up kicking the bucket, because this one is huge! It was planted at the same time as the 2 cucumbers next to it and there is no comparison. Well…except for the fact that the cucumber plants are actually making a lot of cucumbers.

cucumber

There are a lot of flowers on the luffa (which I only see in the AM (the flowers not the whole plant)) and there are always ants and other pollinators over there, but I have looked and looked and see no sign of actual fruit.

proof of pollintor

There are just little clusters of things that I assume are to-be-flowers (you can see them in the pic around the flower) at the ends of all the vines where the tendril out. Any ideas why there are no luffas? I was all excited about this plant! I planned to make some luffa sponges for gifts for xmas.

At least it makes pretty pictures...

Well, it’s June 27 as I’m writing this, and much has changed in the raised beds.

Bed 1 is basically unchanged. I’ve gotten 3 Early Girl tomatoes so far, with more on the way. Also a good handful of sungold tomatoes. Russian Rose and Better Boy are big and green, and I had to pull the only 3 Speckled Roman tomatoes so far because the had end blossom rot. I poured some spoiled milk on them, so hopefully that’ll add some calcium. The marconi peppers that are tucked in among the marigolds and zinnias are working on blooming and I’ve had many yummy mugs of hot tea using the pineapple and julep mint from the pots, and stevia from a pot on the next garden’s edge.
bed 1
sungold

Bed 2 got weird. It was supposed to be the pepper bed, but it’s not really any more. Once what I thought was peachy mama pepper seeds I had saved turned out to be pear tomato plants that I STILL SWEAR I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I GOT THE SEEDS FROM, I had to move some pepper plants because they were too crowded. So now that bed contains the mysterious pear tomatoes, some ground cherries (some of which are oddly slipping out of their dresses!) – I’ve eaten 3 or 4 so far and I like them!, carrots that got eaten by hornworms (most of which I just pulled), a few random tomatoes I got from a plant exchange, and a couple chili peppers. Tip: the ground cherries are ready when the husks turn brown and they either fall to the ground or pull off the plant without any pressure.
bed 2

ground cherry

immodest ground cherry


pear tomato

a wtf pear tomato

Bed 3 did have the peas, but I pulled those a few weeks ago. In their place, I planted some heirloom tomatoes my uncle gave me. This is now the real pepper bed, as this is where I moved the sweet red cherry, hot banana, habanero, jalapeno, and cayenne peppers I had to move from the other bed. At the far right are lots of different kinds of beans, most of which were shared from several other garden bloggers/tweeters. Next year I will plant more beans. This is enough to pick to add to a stir fry with other veggies, but not enough to really have beans as a full side dish (especially when you have a habit of eating them off the vine when you’re gardening!). Once the tomatoes really take off, I can’t wait to use those and these peppers to make my first fresh salsa of the season. One of my favorite things about summer!
bed 3

Bed 4 looks a little rough. I REALLY need to pull the black seeded simpson lettuce, but I’m procrastinating. I only got like 3 lettuce harvests this year, because we really didn’t have a spring. It went straight to 80°F it seems like, and the lettuce bolted and got bitter quickly. I pulled the mesclun long ago, but heard the simpson stayed good longer. Haven’t picked any since, though, since it’s been consistently in the 90s for a long time. In the place of the mesclun I planted some royal burgundy bush beans that needed a home and 2 green tomatillo plants that are still very small (but fruiting). There are 2 spacemaster cucumbers and one GIANT luffa. If I grow the luffa again next year (planning on drying them and using them as part of xmas gifts maybe), it’ll definitely be getting a bigger trellis. On the left behind the bush is a pot that has some non-hornworm-eaten carrots that I need to harvest.
bed 4

The old veggie garden is doing well, despite the fact that it gets watered rarely and we have had VERY little rain here (we haven’t had to cut the grass in like…3 weeks?) and it’s been hot as balls. The volunteer tomatoes are doing well but could use some better staking. I have one lone okra that is ready to pick, but what on earth do I do with one okra? I picked one zucchini already and have gotten lots of herbs. The dill and cilantro are flowering (oops) along with a volunteer cosmo, but they’re attracting lots of good little bugs. The mystery curcubit that I thought was a yellow squash is looking distinctly watermelon like. Which is both exciting and scary. Is it a green striped squash or watermelon??? I need answers!! Note that I had to grab a random trellis I wasn’t using to make a weird little ladder for the mystery plant so it didn’t squash out (HA!) my sage and other plants. Seems to be working OK so far.
old garden

watermelon or squash

watermelon or squash?


several gardens' harvest one day

Not too shabby for my first year of raised beds, I think!

Crappy pics because there is a TON of noise in my pics lately for some reason and I wanted to eat the dang tomato so I rushed.

First tomato – Early Girl bought from the Amish (so I didn’t start this particular one from seed) with a few flowers on it at the end of April. Served with peas and beans from my garden. Eaten on 6/15/10 (scheduling this post for later in the week).

Verdict – DELICIOUS. More, please!

On the vine.

On the plate.

on the plate

and about to me in my tummy.

And about to be in my belly.

Fun fact: Did you know serrated knives work best for slicing tomatoes? The serrated edges grip the skin and slice through instead of slipping around all crazy like. I learned that in an episode of Good Eats and it’s totally true. I use steak knives. (Incidentally, I use my big chef’s knife and my steak knives for like everything. My paring knives never see any action!)

#wordlesswednesday
peas1

peas2

peas3

Last year the only veggie seeds I saved were for Peachy Mama peppers. We got these lots of times from the CSA I was a member of, and while I normally don’t like peppers except in salsa, I actually liked the sweet, fruity taste of these. Knowing I probably wouldn’t join the CSA this season, I saved a ton of Peachy Mama Pepper seeds. They’re an heirloom variety and really the only mention of them on the web I can find hooks them up to my former CSA. I’d save the tops with their seeds when I used them and leave them on the window sill to dry out.

This year, come seed-starting time, I dug out the little package I had made of seeds marked “peachy mama” and lovingly started them (also a few that were still in the dried pepper tops). They did very well! I even donated some to the Sotterley Plant Exchange. I planted mine in my garden. The bigger, it got, the more tomato-like the plant started looking. “Huh, weird,” I thought. “This must be an odd pepper plant!”

peachy mama

Buddha puts his hands up in confusion.

Except now my odd pepper plant is…making tomatoes?!?!

I have several problems with this:

  1. I DID NOT SAVE ANY TOMATO SEEDS AT ALL! Didn’t even try!
  2. These appear to be pear tomatoes. I did not grow or eat pear tomatoes at any time last year.
  3. I swear, those were Peachy Mama Pepper seeds I planted!!!

So I give up. I moved the pepper plants that surrounded it (and would have been appropriately spaced, had these 3 also been pepper plants and not mutant pepper tomato plants) to the bed where the broccoli and brussels sprouts were pulled up from. We’ll see what kind of tomatoes I get. But I am still UTTERLY CONFUSED, considering points 1 and 2 from above. wtf?!?

And now some other veggie garden pics, just because.

tomato bed

tomato bed - with 2 pepper plants, marigolds, and baby zinnias

veggie beds - back

A back view of the veggie beds, with proof you CAN see them (very well) from the road.

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