Tomatoes Starting To Turn Red!

Finally, there are some tomatoes that are starting to turn red out in the garden!  They are really more at an orange stage, but still, I will take what I can get.  Surprisingly, it is the ‘Costoluto Genovese’ and ‘San Marzano’ tomatoes that are ripening earlier than the cherry tomatoes ‘Gardeners’ Delight,’ which is unusual–usually the cherry tomatoes ripen first.  This is the first season that I’ve tried ‘Gardeners’ Delight,’ and their claim to fame is that, unlike the ‘Super Sweet 100s’ that I have grown in the past, they are just as prolific but do not split, a decided advantage.  ‘Costoluto’ and ‘San Marzano’ are my go-to tomato plants for reliable yields.  ‘Costoluto Genovese’ has usually rumpled shoulders and ripens at about the same time as ‘Early Girl,’ while ‘San Marzano’ is an oval tomato sort of like a ‘Roma’ but at least in my garden much more prolific than ‘Roma.’  It is a great paste tomato, and I usually dry them and store in plastic bags for the winter, or make them into a simple tomato sauce that I freeze in pint-sized plastic containers.

To whet your appetite, here are some pictures from seasons past:

This is ‘Costoluto Genovese’ from two years ago.

This was the Sept. 1st, first harvest from two years ago.  This is a collection ‘Costoluto Genovese,’ ‘ San Marzano’ tomatoes, some ‘Super Sweet 100’ cherry tomatoes, a green ‘Marconi’ sweet Italian pepper, a light green or yellow ‘Gypsy’ sweet pepper and my favorite eggplant, ‘Nadia,’ in the front, and a few fall-bearing raspberries mixed in.  Princess Jasmine the cat makes an appearance as well.

How is your garden growing?  Let me know in the comments!

Please also visit Tuesday’s Garden Party at Jami’s Oregon Cottage Blog.




Tuesday Garden Update

I’m super busy right now, and will be until the middle of September.  I will try to continue to add some brief posts as I can.

Here are a couple of flower pictures from the garden:

This is what I called my “Lone Wolf” sweet pea (remember Lenny “One Wolf” and Squiggy?).  It is blooming during 95+ degree weather–go figure.  There are some light lavender ones that bloomed after this photo was taken as well.  I love sweet peas–so very pretty and delicate flowers.

Just a pretty hydrangea growing on the side of the house.  I love to use them as cut flowers for a quick and easy arrangement during the summer months.  This was planted by previous owners prior to our moving in here, so I have no idea what the specific variety is, but I like it and it is hardy in PNW garden zone 8.

I have a lovely hibiscus ‘Sweet Caroline’ that I am anxiously waiting to bloom.  It has gigantic hot pink flowers, and is wonderful to see in the declining August beds, so I will try to remember to post a picture of it when it starts blooming.

As for the vegatable garden:  I have lots of green tomatoes, but no red ones yet.  I’ve picked about three little batches of ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans so far, and they are lovely and tender and prolific here.  Runner beans are starting to produce little bitty runner beans.  I had lettuce starts outside hardening off, and then this hot weather hit, so I took a few losses there–I need to plant them out when it cools off a bit later this week.  Corn is tasseling up nicely.  Potatoes are producing some of the first new potatoes of the season.  I could eat them all now at this stage, but am trying to be patient and wait for a bigger crop.  I have four nice green peppers–just waiting for them to ripen and turn red before I pick them.  Pumpkins are producing massive vines and several little baby pumpkins.  I have a squash that popped up out of nowhere on its own, and it will likely produce something that is not edible but will be great for autumn decorating, which is cool.  The late-season raspberries are putting out lots of green and pink berries–will be ready in a couple of weeks, maybe.   Lots of basil to use now, and dill is about ready to start using as well. 

The hummingbirds have been buzzing around the garden.  They like the liatris, verbena bonariensis, nasturtiums and petunias in my hanging baskets, an orange crocosmia now in bloom, the last few Lamb’s Ears flowers and other butterfly bushes that are blooming, plus the feeder that I put out for them.

How is your garden growing?  Leave me a comment–I’m always interested to hear how your gardens are doing!

Please visit Oregon Cottage Blog’s Tuesday Garden Party.


Before and After

These pictures were taken beginning in 2001 up to the present day.  Enjoy the progression!


An individual flower before and after:

And finally . . .

Please visit the Tuesday Garden Party over at Jami’s place.

An Update On Garden-Related Topics For The Beginning Of August

It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks around here, but I wanted to fill you in on how the garden is doing, and a fun upcoming gardening event or two.

First of all, I harvested our first ‘Yukon Gold’ potato  this  week!  After you heard about my travails with with potato plants this year–flea beetles=1, Minerva’s Garden=0–I thought I’d better share this little victory with you as well. Nice and smooth and not damaged, so hopefully there will be more like this from the hills later in the season.

My yellow begonnia started to bloom after two years of waiting–I was pretty excited to finally get to see the result:

Everything vegetable-wise is growing, but not much is producing at the moment, which is not surprising due to the cold spring and most of summer we’ve had thus far.  We should have a fantastic autumn harvest, however!

Yesterday we u-picked 5 pounds of raspberries (not a good time for picking raspberries–the June-bearing ones are about done, and the fall-bearing ones haven’t started, so there wasn’t much to pick) and 11 pounds of blueberries (this was an excellent time for picking blueberries here–the bushes were loaded with fruit, and the picking went pretty quickly.)  I made two pints of Cranberry-Raspberry Jam, and 2 pints of sugar-free Raspberry Preserves.  I so far have individually quick frozen a one-gallon freezer bag of blueberries, and today I’ll freeze more and make some Spiced Blueberry Marmalade–all of these are freezer jams.

There are a couple of fun gardening events coming up that I want to let you know about.  About four years ago, I took a class at the Home Orchard Society to learn how to graft fruit trees.  It was inexpensive, a lot of fun, and I learned a great new gardening skill.  I also took a fruit tree pruning class that they offered as well.  August is when they offer a Summer Budding Workshop, which is a method of grafting new fruit trees in the summer months (fruit tree grafting usually happens in March, not summertime, with this one exception.)  By learning how to graft, you can build new mini-dwarf fruit trees that only reach 4-6 feet tall at maturity, a much better size than standard fruit trees that reach 22 feet tall for modern gardens, and you can learn how to prune and train fruit trees into different shapes.  I have an espaliered Belgian Fence in my backyard that is growing, and allows me to grow 8 mini-dwarf fruit trees in only 15 feet of space.  Try that with standard fruit trees, and you see the advantages of using the mini-dwarfs.  Also, you don’t need to get out ladders to pick the fruit or prune, either, with the smaller trees, but they produce a substantial amount of fruit.   You will pay around $22 or more for a grafted mini-dwarf fruit tree at a nursery, but you can build your own for only $5, so there is a substantial savings.

If you want to get t started with this, here is what I would suggest.  Start by going to the All About Fruit Show in October.  Here you will find samples of all the different kinds of fruits that will grow here–you can taste, and make a list of the specific varieties that you’d like to grow. You can also ask the fruit tree experts there your questions.   Then in February the following year, take the grafting class.  They take you through the process step-by-step, with people helping you, and you actually graft a fruit tree to take home with you.  Then in March attend the Rootstock Sale and Scion Exchange, where you can purchase mini-dwarf rootstocks and get free scionwood of hundreds of different varieties of apples, pears, plums,and more, like grapes and figs.  (The grapevine growing up my pergola is an ‘Einset,’ and I started it from a free cutting I got at the Scion Exchange!)  Than you go home and graft your trees and plant them in March.  (If you prefer, you can order trees to be grafted for you, and pick them up at the Sale–they cost around $10 or so for each tree.  You tell them what rootstock you want used and what tree varieties you want grafted onto the rootstock and they do the work for you.)  The trees will take about 4 years to reach a mature height and before you should let them produce fruit, so you have to be a little patient, but you’ll end up with beautiful trees for a fraction of the cost of buying them retail, and with heirloom varieties that you can’t find at the nurseries.  I highly recommend this–it’s been fun for me.

To whet you appetite, here is a little video we made over a year ago about grafting and my Belgian fence:

If you want to attend the Budding Workshop information is here, and the All About Fruit Show information is here.  If you don’t live in the Portland, Oregon area, here are two books that talk about grafting and espalier that I recommend:

Toogood, Alan, ed. Plant Propagation. New York: DK Publishing, 1999

Brickell, Christopher and David Joyce. Pruning & Training: A Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual. New York: DK Publishing, 1996.

How is your garden growing?  Do you graft fruit trees or other plants?  Do tell in the comments!

Please stop on by the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage for more beautiful gardens!

And try Oh, How My Garden Grow!