Tag Archives: growing peppers

2020 Organic Garden Update

June 2020 Garden

2020 Garden Growing!

It’s heading for the end of June and my garden has taken off!

Like most gardeners, May and early June are spent in a holding pattern, wondering if the plants you nurtured from seed would survive. They did. And they thrived and are setting fruit all over the place!

Let’s start with tomatoes.

Tomatoes on the vine

Glorious tomatoes!

The only hard part about growing tomatoes is deciding what kind to plant! That’s probably why I have 23 tomato vines in my garden right now.

These are Rutgers slicers on the vine! I have 3 of these plants and I am excited about them. I don’t usually grow slicers but I am looking forward to tomato and cucumber sandwiches!

Kangaroo brown tomatoes

Atomic Grape tomatoes

These babies are Atomic Grape. I saved seeds from last year and they sprouted and grew these gorgeous tomato plants.  Clusters of 5 tomatoes will turn green, red and purple…Atomic seems like an appropriate name for these beautiful fruits.

Below, plump plums are enjoying the cool mist of the morning.

Plum tomatoes

Plump plums on the vine

 

Who doesn’t need plum tomatoes? I make sauce, paste and scallopine from my tomatoes and we savor the summer flavors all winter long!

Yum!

 

Cucumbers reaching for the sun

Cucumbers are absolutely loaded with flowers and the beginnings of baby cucumbers just poking out from the plants. The bigger plants were started indoors and transplanted gently – cucumbers resent transplanting. The second set were planted from seed and will hopefully extend my cucumber harvest and season, my shot at succession planting.

Sweet red peppers

Sweet peppers for eating and canning.

Sweet red peppers

Sweet peppers for eating and saucing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight pepper plants in their inverted tomato cages are also enjoying the warm days and nights. There are 3 different varieties, all sweet, in this bed. Diced and added to tomatoes and blueberries, these make a meal for me on hot summer afternoons.

I somehow ended up with 10 eggplants this summer but I love them and eat them all summer long. I also braise and freeze them for mid-winter eggplant parmigiania.

Eggplant in the truck bed

Eggplant enjoying the heat!

There are 2 varieties, Bianca Rosa and Green. I put the Green eggplant in one of the truck beds and they are really enjoying their time in the sun. In fact, the Green eggplant are already setting flowers.

Green eggplant with flowers

Green eggplant soaking up sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of flowers, every single flower in the garden this year is a volunteer. And I love them.

Flowers for the bees

Flowers for the bees!

Dill growing tall

Dill growing tall for the bees

Bachelor buttons, Fennell, Borage, Dill and Sunflowers are all welcome to grow right along with all my other beautiful plants.

These flowers are loved by bees – honey bees, bumble bees and all manner of tiny “back yard” bees.

 

Lettuce and spinach bolting

Lettuce & spinach setting seed.

Finally, all the plants in my lettuce and spinach bed are bolting! It’s too hot for these cool weather crops but that’s good news. Each of these spiky plants will grow all the seeds I need for this fall and next spring!

And letting these plants bolt means that the aforementioned bees get yet another plant full of tiny flowers and brimming with pollen and nectar.

Bolting also means that I get seed which I share with the goldfinches and other beautiful birds who live in my garden.

 

I will close with pictures of my blueberries, got the first picking yesterday and my blackberries, setting fruit and preparing to be a delicious add to my jam collection.

Blueberries

Blueberries with dew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberries on the cane

Blackberries on the cane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: when you look at the pictures, you will see that almost everything looks like it has a light coating of powdered sugar. What you are seeing is Kaolin clay. Bought as a powder and mixed with water, clay effectively keeps Japanese beetles from dining at your buffet and it helps manage cucumber, bean, and squash beetles…and all it is is clay in keeping with my all organic all of the time.

Happy gardening everyone!

 

Free Organic Gardening Book – How To Harden Off Before Transplanting

Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers and zucchini wait for transplanting

Veggie plants waiting for transplant.

Is it planting time yet?

Every single year, that is the question I ask myself.

Why? Partly because I want to put my hands in dirt and partly because I am surrounded…by plants. They are everywhere…

This is my office…cum plant nursery.

Yesterday the temperature was 82 degrees; this morning, it’s 42 degrees. The weather seems to be even more capricious than ever and that means planning a planting date is pretty much impossible. The upshot is that this gardener remains indoors with trays of plants crowding the top of her desk and claiming space on the floor.

Zucchini, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant being baked in the sun.

Plants being burned by the sun.

Well, the plants and I are indoors except when we are both, literally going outdoors, for a few hours, every single day.  I put them out in the morning but by 2:30 PM, all of them are back, inside, feeling the burn.

This is the dance I like to call the “hardening off” cha cha! 

Peppers, cukes, zukes and eggplant baking on the patio.

Veggie transplants baking in the sun.

Hardening off is necessary to move the plants from a controlled environment into the world of wind, sun, rain and changing temperatures. Don’t harden off and your plants will die. 

So, for the next 2 weeks or maybe even 3, I will be lovingly, carefully and constantly toting trays of plants in and out of my office door.

At some point, I will have to make a decision to put them in the ground then stand by my raised beds, saying small prayers over their little green bodies.

After all, planting time here in Eastern Pennsylvania is usually early May, the merry, malleable and every changing month of May! So here’s hoping I get my garden in the ground by May 6th and the wind and snow head North for their last blast of winter!

Hardening Off Plants Before Transplanting

Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers and zucchini wait for transplanting

Veggie plants waiting for transplant.

It’s May 19th and my tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and zucchini are still not in the ground.

Cold, windy weather kept the bees inside the hive and this gardener indoors with trays of plants crowding the top of her desk and claiming space on the floor.

 Then, the temperatures shot up to high 80’s and low 90’s and trying to harden off became a game between me, the sun and the time of day.
Zucchini, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant being baked in the sun.

Plants being burned by the sun.

All 74 plants go outside in the morning but by 2:30 PM, all of them are back, inside, feeling the burn.

It’s almost the end of May and I am still trying to harden off my plants and get them in the ground! I would like to stop doing this particular dance with my plants but I know better.
Peppers, cukes, zukes and eggplant baking on the patio.

Veggie transplants baking in the sun.

Hardening off is necessary to move the plants from a controlled environment into the world of wind, sun, rain and changing temperatures. Don’t harden off and your plants will die.

This weekend, no matter what the temperature, I will be planting my babies and saying small prayers over their little, green bodies. Here’s hoping the sun and the wind relent for just a few days!
After all, it is May, the merry, malleable and ever-changing month of May. Hope I get the garden in the ground in the next week.

April; The Cruelest Month for Gardeners

April blooms

Blooming April in my yard.

It is April, beautiful April in my backyard.

When I walk into my garden, I know that no matter what goes on in Washington, D.C., I have this patch of peace, of paradise, to turn to.

And there is so much promise out there, now, beckoning.

Cherries, apples and blueberries are in full bloom!

Apples trees covered in blossoms.

Apple trees in full bloom.

Onions are rising straight up out of the dark soil and straw that make their beds and baby beets, lettuce and spinach are sprouting, everywhere.

April means onions, lettuce and spinach sprouting.

Onions, lettuce and spinach growing in April.

Everything is growing!

So why is April the cruelest month for gardeners? I have 20+ tomato plants in my basement, hard by 20+ sweet peppers, varying varieties begging to be planted.

Tomatoes and peppers in pots.

Eggplant are rising up in their cells, growing taller and stronger every single day.

Raised from seed, started in early February, lovingly cared for, they are so tall, so hardy looking, so ready.

My fingers itch to set them out in the deep rich soil I have prepped for them. But I can’t.

Raised beds for my tomatoes

Bed waiting for tomatoes!

If I put them out now, they will flounder; they will stop growing. They will be delayed in both flowering and fruiting. Why?

The days are warm; we’ve already hit the low 80’s a couple of times. But the soil is still too cold as are the nights. Setting Mediterranean plants in cool Pennsylvania soil now would mean later, smaller harvests of tomatoes and quite likely no harvest of either peppers or eggplant.

So, like all the gardeners everywhere who are poised to plant in April, I wait for the warm soil and soft breezes of mid-May when I fill all these beds with the plants I have been spending time with, worrying over and feeding for 3 months.

Grow Peppers as Perennials

Growing peppers organically is second nature to me but I really never thought about trying to keep my sweet Italian peppers alive through the winter.

Who knew that peppers are perennials?

Jeff W – who created diy2thrive – knew.

His most recent podcast is all about how to grow peppers as perennials. I had no idea that in their native environment, peppers can live 5 to 7 years!

And his podcast doesn’t stop there. He discusses how peppers like to grow, what they like to eat and why peppers are a miracle food.

I love Jeff’s podcasts in general and really love the ones where he adds history, health benefits and tips for use.

So enjoy this podcast and sign up for more. I did!