Vegetable Garden Update

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

I always say that weeding is 90% of gardening. Right now, things are finally coming on in the garden. Part of the lateness of stuff is because we got things in the ground late–the other part is that so much rain means there isn’t much sun to encourage ripening.

So right now Rundy’s corn, summer squash and cucumbers are starting to come on. This year, he planted so many cucumbers that I have to make pickles every other day to keep up with it–to no one’s complaint, except maybe mine. We love pickles, and would probably eat a whole batch (7 pints) in one day, except that I ask people to make it take longer than that. Making pickles isn’t a complaint either– except that it takes 4 hours, which isn’t exactly a small chunk of time. The only part I really don’t like (and maybe takes the longest) is finding and washing all the jars, rings, and lids. If I could just get somebody else to do that part, it would be practically painless.

We also have (my) tomatoes starting to come on, as well as broccoli. Then there are my 78 basil plants I grew—I’ve been making pesto like crazy! I was going to say “Until it comes out of my ears” but the frustrating thing about pesto is that you get only about 25% as much pesto as you have basil. So the basil is coming out of my ears but not the pesto.

I also have potatoes, and leeks, and flowers. And weeds. Lots of weeds. And swiss chard, but in my opinion that practically counts as a weed anyhow.

Then there are the berries–blue and black, mostly. So far we’ve picked enough blackberries to make more than 20 pies. It is definitely time for me to start making jam! The freezer’s getting full! As an added bonus, the apple trees are doing spectacularly, so we’ll probably be making quarts upon quarts of applesauce, and probably a lot of apple pie too.

About the Author

Talitha spent the last few years doing an absurd combination of work and school, and found it wasn’t very pleasant. Now she’s doing work, school and a garden, and life is a little better! She also enjoys photography and hand feeding her ducks. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: herbs, vegetables, cutting garden, cottage gardening

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Talitha February 7, 2004, 1:13 pm

The effect of wall-o-waters is basically long-underwear for seedlings. Except, if all of the reports about wall-o-water’s are true (this will be my first year using them, so I don’t know from personal experience yet), they work even better than long-underwear! This is the official wall-o-water website which is pretty thorough (it’s not a live link, though, you’ll have to cut and paste into your browser). But to paraphrase, wall-o-water’s are plastic cylinders with pockets on the outside. You place the cylinders around the seedlings and fill the pockets with water. The water provides enough insulation that cold-tender things like tomatoes can withstand snow and freezing temperatures.

It was a bit unclear from your comment if you were hoping wall-o-waters would help with your drought, or with living near the snow fields. So, if you think wall-o-waters could be useful to you because you live near the snow fields, yes. If you were thinking they would help with the drought (my sympathies), wall-o-water’s wouldn’t help, but something like this would . Or, you can do it the do-it-yourself way. One of the easiest ways I’ve seen is to set a plastic pot (one with holes in the bottom) into the soil so the pot rim is level with the soil surface. Then fill the pot with hay. When pour water on over the hay; it will seep through the hay and slowly soak the earth through the holes in the pot. (I haven’t used this yet, either, so I can’t really say from personal experience how well it works.)

Anyway, I hope this helps. Just out of curiosity, where do you buy your seeds from? A local store, or a mail order seed company?


Rebecca February 6, 2004, 7:00 pm

I live in country Victoria Australia. We are not too far from the snow fields. At the moment we are in drought and have been for a few years. Can you please explain what thse “wall-o-waters” are? Sounds like something that could be very useful for me. Thanks…

Talitha September 8, 2003, 1:55 pm

We are in a cold pocket. . .you don’t have to drive too far to find people in a zone warmer. People try to tell us we can plant things out earlier than we do, but we’ve gotten quite used to the late frost, and know better than to try. When is your last frost? And when do you plant your tomatoes out?

jason September 8, 2003, 12:23 pm

Good night! Last frost in June. I will never again complain about the weather in Utah. I do use wall-o-waters for my tomatoes and peppers. Here they cost $7 for a pkg of three. A little steep if you have lots of plants, but they last forever as long as you wash them off before putting them away. Three years ago I had put the tomatoes out with wall-o-waters, the next week it snowed some obscene amount (3″+) and wall-o-waters kept the plants alive. Pretty slick.

Talitha September 4, 2003, 10:09 am

Well, you can’t have it! I’m not sharing!

Seriously, in the last couple of years our lawn has either went “crunch” or “squish,” and I have found that I definitely like the “squish” years better. In the dry years, I have discovered three wonderful secrets: Mulch, Mulch, and Mulch. One of those crispy crunchy years, we mulched our cucumbers quite heavily as soon as they were in the ground. Some of our neighbors didn’t mulch at all. Results? They got 2 cucumbers. We got 2 bushels full of cucumbers! I also try to tailor my seed buying to plants that are more happy in dry, hot weather. The only problem with that idea is that you have to be somewhat of a prophet in order to know at seed-buying time wether it’s going to be a dry year or a wet year! (If you ever perfect knowing what the weather will be like, let me know. In fact there’s a lot of people who would like to know!) This year, I bought all drought-tolerant plants, which seems sooooo silly when we’re all ankle deep in rain water!

Mary Lou Chandler September 3, 2003, 2:54 am

Sheesh. I wish we had some of your rain. I live in Washington, north of Seattle, usually very wet, but we have not had rain in 2 months. My garden is dead. I water zucchini plants every day, usually dont have to. Ah well, there is always next year.

Talitha September 2, 2003, 2:12 pm

First of all, thanks very much for the offer of seeds. Unfortunately, I don’t think even that will be enough to save me! This year I grew New Girl and Oregon Spring tomatoes (62 and 60 days, respectively). The problem is the gardenER, not the garden! Our last frost never fails to be in the first week of June. It doesn’t at all matter what the weather has been been like; it always frosts in the first week of June. (Last year, it was in the 90’s in April–we still got the frost in in the first week of June and it killed a lot of stuff off.) Now, when I get the tomatoes in the ground is a totally different story. The reason for this has a long history–namely, I began life as a very picky eater (now I’m only sort of picky), and I could not bear tomatoes (perish the thought!!). At the time, one of my older brothers was doing the garden jointly with me. I would worry about getting the things I wanted into the ground, and I would leave the things I despised (such as tomatoes) to Teman. Then he went and got a full time job (perish that thought, too!) and I became in charge of the whole garden. Despite the fact that I now believe tomatoes ought be eaten, I’m having a hard time breaking the habit of neglecting them. Sigh.

Next year (the gardener’s mantra), my most definite goal is actually getting ripe tomatoes during summer, not fall. One of the things I’m thinking of doing is buying some wall-0-waters. In one of Teman’s Backwoods Home magazines (don’t ask me what issue, I can’t seem to find it now) Jackie Clay was talking about gardening in a cold climate–she says she put her tomatoes out in wall-o-waters, and there’s been times when it was below freezing and snow, without doing any damage to said tomatoes. Yow! Talk about not giving you an excuse for late tomatoes! (Which just means that next year I’ll probably still have late tomatoes, just not even a scrap of an excuse.)

jason August 29, 2003, 12:16 pm

Oh, oops-a-daisy. That’s to Talitha, not Kathy. Sorry about that.

jason August 29, 2003, 12:14 pm

Wow Kathy, you really must be in a cold climate if your tomatoes are just now coming on. When is your last frost? If you’re interested I have some tomatoes that are extremely frost tolerant and early producers (60 days). They’re an heirloom Stupice variety and I should have plenty of seeds saved from this season for the next. Let me know if you’re intereseted.