Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garden Tour on July 7, 2010

The fog machine has been going full tilt along the coast lately and this is what we've been waking up to nearly every morning. Actually, this photo was taken after the fog started to lift a bit . . .

But the fog does eventually retreat to the coast (most days) and the sun comes out here in the valley. The long days of summer are pushing the garden into high gear. Here's a view of the tomato and pepper bed.

This bed is always a bit of a challenge for the vegetables planted there since they have to compete with roots from a nearby oak tree that invade. I dig the bed and cut up the tree roots every time I replant the bed but the tree roots reinvade rather quickly. I have to give this bed supplemental water and food through the season. In spite of the extra attention the paste tomatoes on the left are already showing signs of blossom end rot because that end of the bed is the most difficult to keep from drying out between waterings.

I've got a lot of pepper plants growing in pots around the garden. This one below is an Espelette pepper, the seeds for which I got in a trade from chaiselongue (thanks!).

This next pepper is one that I requested from the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm through the annual SSE yearbook. All I know is that it's supposed to be a hot pepper since they don't provide much of a description for their yearbook offerings. I chose it because the name "Puerto Rico" implies that it comes from that island and I feel a connection to that place because that's where one of my grandmothers came from. I also have Puerto Rico No Burn and Puerto Rican Turban pepper plants this year.

Next is one of my favorite peppers that I've been growing every year for the last 8 or 9 years. Pimento de Padron is a delicious Spanish frying pepper. You pick it young before it develops any spiciness (they surprise you sometimes though) and pan fry them in some olive oil and serve hot with a generous sprinkle of coarse salt. Delicious and addictive.

One of the pepper plants from last year that I dug up and moved to a pot this spring is making a comeback.

And yet one more potted plant, Kaleidoscope is a Capsicum baccatum that is supposed to produce a sweet pepper (perhaps a trace of heat) that's good for eating fresh. Baccatum species peppers tend to be large plants and are more tolerant of cold weather than Capsicum annuum species peppers. However, many of the baccatums are late producers and even though the plant may survive the mild winters here (the survivor shown above is a baccatum pepper) the peppers may not ripen before we get a hard frost that ruins them. I keep experimenting with various baccatums to find ones that ripen before the nights get frosty.

This looks like it will be the next tomato to ripen, Katja is an early ripening variety that I'm trying for the first time this year.

The first cherry tomato is also ready to pick, Galinas is a favorite that I've been growing for years.

Aunt Ruby's German Cherry isn't ready to pick yet.

I wonder just how large this "cherry" tomato is going to get . . .

Chocolate Stripes is getting a second chance this year. I grew it for the first time last year but the plants succumbed to something, most likely my mistreatment, before the tomatoes were fully developed. What managed to ripen was not very good, but it wasn't really a fair trial last year and they were so pretty so I had to try again.

The eggplants are across the path in a different bed. Even though I gave them an early start they are growing rather slowly in our mild summer weather, our daytime temperatures haven't climbed past the high 70's F in the last few weeks. In spite of the cool weather the plants are blooming and there are baby eggplants hidden in the foliage. I wish the sow bugs would stop munching the leaves and I think some of them are hosting spider mites. Gotta get on that.

I planted out the rest of the summer vegetables rather late but they are finally taking off. The first planting of pole beans are climbing their trellises. These beans are Garafal Oro, a romano type.

The zucchini are getting close to producing the first blossoms. This variety is supposed to produce more male blossoms. Stuffed zucchini blossoms are a summertime favorite around here.

The Suyo Long cucumbers are still poking along and not even large enough to be tied to the supports yet.

At the other end of the bed the last beans to go in are just starting to take off. I've got 5 trellises of beans started, besides the Garafal Oro there's 3 trellises devoted to Petaluma Gold Rush and one to Turkey Craw beans. The recently planted out Marina di Choggia winter squash plants are getting established in their corner where they will be allowed to run to the end of the bed and up the fence. The Crane melon plants are basking under their water bottle cloches. I don't usually devote garden space to melons since it tends to be too cool to ripen them properly, but thought I would give these California heirlooms a try this year.

In the bed across the main path the pods on the poppy plants are starting to mature and open up.

I've collected about 12 ounces of seeds so far and there's still a lot of pods left, that's not all of them shown below.

The Hollow Pipe of Malines leaf celery growing at the foot of the poppies are quite happy and large enough to start harvesting from.

A couple of Devoy beets are still growing, I really need to harvest these, they are getting huge. I love the magenta color of the stems on this variety.

In the tunnel behind the beets the lettuces are suddenly large enough to start harvesting. We had a bit of a heat wave when I first planted the lettuce out (back in May?) so I gave them some protection from the sun. We've not had days hotter than the high 70's since then so I'm not sure whether the protection is necessary. Hmm, maybe I can bring on a bit of a heat wave if I uncover the lettuce . . .  Nah, I want to keep them tender and sweet.

The second Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage is ready to harvest and will feature in the next Harvest Monday post.

Diamante Celery Root is coming along nicely and the Golden Chard is pumping out the leaves so quickly that I can't keep up so the chickens have been eating more of it than I have.

The Gigante Kohlrabi is suddenly living up to its name and also needs to be harvested. I only let one plant get this large, but it seems that that's all I'm going to need.

Off in a corner of the garden that gets protection from the sun during the hottest part of the day (yeah, right, should it get hot), the Yellow Wonder wild strawberries are thriving in their pot.

I've just started to pick berries. This one should be ready in a day or so. The only way that I can determine when this variety is ripe is when they pull easily from the cap.

Over in the strawberry bed the Mara des Bois plants are starting to produce some ripe berries.

The Mara des Bois plants that I moved are still hanging in there under their nursery flats (protection from digging cats).

The Seascape plants have matured into good sized plants. Berry production has slowed lately but there are lots of new blooms coming along.

But wait, there's one more potted pepper plant* over there in the corner! This is another species of pepper, Capsicum pubescens, aka Manzano or Rocoto. This is another cold tolerant chile plant. I was given this plant last year and it spent the winter outside in a 2.5 gallon pot. I put it into this much larger pot late this spring and it has taken off. I'm hoping that it will survive next winter in this spot.

*My husband recently asked me how many pepper plants I have this year and I couldn't tell him so we started walking around the garden counting. I surprised even myself. Can you guess how many there are in the garden this year? Come on, give it a try . . .  To get you started you can see the list of the 32 varieties I'm growing by clicking on the Now Growing tab above.

This species of pepper has beautiful purple flowers and produces spicy fruits that are shaped like small apples.

Here's some starts for the fall and winter garden. Cavolo Nero kale, Couve Tronchuda (Portuguese cabbage), Romanesco broccoli, Testa di Ferro savoy cabbage (thanks Winnie), Sweetie Baby romaine, and Thai Tender amaranth.

Here's another plant that comes from the homeland of a grandparent. Myrtle (Myrtus communis) grows all over the Mediterranean, including the island of Sardinia where one of my grandfathers came from. Years ago my husband and I took my mother there where we visited the town where her father grew up. One of the culinary memories I have of that trip is of Mirto, liqueurs made from myrtle. Mirto Rosso is made from the berries and Mirto Bianco is made from the leaves. The plant is covered with blossoms which I hope means there will be plenty of berries to experiment with to make the Rosso liqueur, the Bianco variety was a bit  challenging for my palate.

That wraps it up for the latest tour, sorry it was such a long one this time.


  1. Oooh, chocolate stripes. Gorgeous! Hope it tastes as good as it looks this year.

  2. I am so jealous of all your peppers! I'm guessing you have over 100 plants going?

    I can't grow peppers to save my life - even built them a clear plastic tunnel this year, but they just limp along. My seedlings in the greenhouse never grew into much either. Is it just too cool in Seaside? Cucumbers are very slow right now, too.

    Your garden is looking great!

  3. Michelle, your garden is doing great! Chocolate Stripes looks like Green Zebra,doesn't it?

  4. where do you put all those pepper plants? My peppers always have to fight for space in front of the tomatoes. I hope I get a lot though. I want to can salsa this year and I know I'll get a lot of tomatoes.

  5. Julie, I sure hope it turns out to be tasty too.


    Jackie, LOL, I didn't go quite that crazy with the pepper plants. It probably is a bit too cool for most peppers in Seaside :( Maybe a baccatum chile would do ok there, although if you want a bell type there aren't any baccatums that I know of like that.


    Tatyana, It does look like green zebra until it ripens. Chocolate stripes turns brick red with dark green stripes when it's ripe - really pretty.

  6. Daphne, At least half the pepper plants (hmm need to count just how many) are in pots scattered around the garden, and there's even a few in the strawberry bed. I'm hoping to get a lot of peppers to roast and freeze this year, what little I froze last year were so good.

  7. Lovely to see the pepper plants doing so well, especially the Espelette! We have a few of those plants that are doing quite well. I don't know how long before they'll turn red though. I thought we had a lot of pepper plants but our 10 varieties and about 40 plants are nothing compared to yours!

  8. Your fog looks like the smog we have been getting lately! The garden looks great. Especially all the peppers, you grow such cool peppers! I've seen those yellow strawberries on three blogs now. I think I need to try some, I'm behind the times :-)

  9. Oh don't apologize for a long tour. I loved every moment of it. Your garden is so beautiful.

  10. Ah~~~~~cooling lovely coastal fog! (I can say it now, I didn't appreciated the "beauty" when we lived there.)

    I thought I'm a pepper freak, but you grow more varieties than I. I don't grow New Mex chillies anymore, it's less work and more cost effective for me to buy from local farmers market @ less than $20/35 lb sack roast to order. Our chilli harvest and roasting season begins Aug-Sept.

    I always enjoy your garden tour, thanks for sharing, but your strawberries are killing me.

  11. Such an amazing abundance of vegetables! My favorites are the chocolate striped, poppy seed pods, and the oh-so-healthy looking lettuce. It's been so long since my lettuce bolted, I almost can't even remember what they looked like. Also, thanks for putting up the fog picture. It's been a while since I've seen fog. Your picture makes me miss the cool coastal CA summer weather!

  12. chaiselongue, I am a bit of a pepper nut, I just have to keep trying new ones. I think it will be a while still before the Esplettes start to ripen, actually before any of my peppers start to ripen.


    Dan, That much smog sounds nasty, I don't think I could hold my breath long enough . . .

    I have noticed that the Yellow Wonders seem to be getting around this year. They are worth trying, not terribly prolific, but quite delicious.


    Christina, Thank you! And thanks again for the poppies, I can't believe how productive the plants are. I'm looking forward to trying all sorts of poppy seed recipes.


    Mac, It isn't always easy to appreciate the fog, I tend to enjoy it most from a distance and it hasn't been distant enough this summer.

    Lucky you to have such an easy and inexpensive source of New Mex chiles - roasted to order no less!

    I guess I can thank the persistent fog for my bounty of strawberries.


    thyme2garden, Well, at least the lettuce is liking the weather. Funny how fog can be so appealing from a distance, especially when it's hot! :) But I'm getting a bit tired of gray mornings and evenings. On the other hand, the current weather pattern is making conditions that are bringing an unusual number whales to Monterey Bay and in spite of being very susceptible to sea sickness I'm really tempted to go out on a whale watching cruise. Maybe. Hmmm, I'll have to think about that.

  13. You have a beautiful garden, I love all the peppers!
    Some of mine cherry tomatoes are getting very big too, so I’m wondering if I labeled them wrong.
    How big does get that gigante kohlrabi. Is it only large in leaves, or does it grow a big bulb as well?

  14. I love seeing all of the different and unique varieties that you grow. Your garden is looking particularly neat and tidy these days (unlike mine). I guess it's time to clear up some growing space for fall crops.

  15. I enjoy the garden tour. Interesting display of vegetables and plants. They are looked after well and the whole place look neat and tidy. ~bangchik


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