Oh, Hey!

baked tomato sauceRight, this baked tomato sauce got made a couple of weeks ago. Totally forgot. It was super-simple and used up a ton of cherry tomatoes and a touch of fresh basil. And made the deckmaster feel all June Cleaver. Thanks, Smitten! (And thanks, Greensgrow CSA, for the fresh pasta — ’cause the Littlest Deckhand wasn’t too keen on helping out with that.)

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August Progress

As you can see (to the left), the soil-afflicted Tomande and the Sweetheart of the Patio have bit the dust. One of the two Gold Nuggets became a feast for the white flies,  leaving one heat- and storm-battered Tomande and the Patio Princess and remaining Gold Nugget valiantly fighting off white fly attacks of their own. Next year, come July, white fly traps really have to make an appearance to help out the beleaguered and overwhelmed marigolds.

Still, you’ll hear no complaints here. This has been a great summer for POD and with any luck, those vacated pots will be seeded with peas, chard and lettuce before the weekend is out.

The cucumbers are still pouring in — at last count: Spacemaster: 14, Adam F1: 13 (RIP), White Wonder: 32. That’s not a typo, people. Nearly nine pounds of tomatoes and counting!  Not to mention 20 adorable (and strangely hot) little poblanos, gobs of basil, herbs, chard, and two delightful C. Borealis melons.

Squirrels? They suck, but they’ve sucked much less this year than usual. See that tomato on the railing (squint, you’ll see it, top right)? You’d think the least the greedy SOB could do is finish the thing.

It Disappeared!

The super handy seed-starting guide disappeared from the Penn State Cooperative Extension’s much prettier (but much less useful, for POD, at least) website. Oh no!

Fortunately or not, things never really die online, they just require a little more dedicated Googling. A little gift from POD to the gardeners of Philadelphia:

SEED CHART (All plants are from seeds unless noted)

Mid-March to Mid-April: Peas, Onions, Leeks, Garlic, White Potatoes, Turnips, Cabbage, Greens, (Collard, Kale, Mustard)

Late March to Mid-May: Lettuce**, Radishes**, Beets**, Carrots**

Late March to late April: Shallots, Spinach**, Bok choy, Parsley (Plants: Leeks, Onions, Cabbage, Broccoli, Greens)

Early April to mid-June: Swiss chard, beets

Mid April to mid-May: Celery

Early May to mid-June: Watermelons, Melons, Winter squash, Summer squash, Cucumbers, Pumpkins (Plants: Sweet Potato)

Mid May to late June: Okra, Chinese cabbage, Corn, Peanuts, Lima beans

Mid May to mid-July: Beans (bush, pole, shell, dried)**

Mid May to late June: Black eyed peas (Plants: Eggplant, Peppers, Basil, Tomato)

Mid June to early July: Collards, Cabbage family, Celery

Early July to mid-August: Carrots, Beets, Swiss chard, (Plants: Cabbage, Broccoli, Greens)

Mid July to September: Radish**, Spinach**

Early August to September: Salad greens**, Greens (Mustard, etc.), Peas

Early September to early October: Garlic (For spring harvest)

** To extend harvest, plant every two weeks.

Mistake

Staking tomatoes is a pain (it seems like every time a new tether gets added, a branch gets knocked off, fruit tumbles to its death, wind gets tomande tomato, stakedmisjudged, stakes lean like Pisa, and curses fly)  and cages take up a lot of space. So one of the attractions to planting hybrids designed for small spaces was the notion that not all plants would need to be staked or caged.

Like, for instance, the “petite” Patio Princess Hybrid and the supposedly 18″ Tomande. In POD’s case, evidently, we’re talking a well-endowed plus-size petite and a 36-inch 18″er… Both of which toppled over one recent gusty day.

patio princess unstaked, plants on deckAs caging tomatoes after they’ve hit maturity is pretty much like telling a rabidly teething one-year-old that she doesn’t really want to chew on that piece of grubby-feet-spiced rubberized mulch from the playground’s “ground,” your best bet is to cage or stage every damn tomato the minute they hit the ground in May or June.

So noted.

2011 Rocks

August HarvestStrangely, and happily, it’s been a good year for plants on deck. (Strangely because POD is rarely a happy garden, it seems.)

The cucumbers are still pouring in — at last count: Spacemaster: 8, Adam F1: 13 (RIP), White Wonder: 18

And today? Today? We’re up to four pounds of tomatoes and counting!  Not to mention 15 adorable little poblanos, gobs of basil, and great handfuls of green beans.

Ah, August.

Well Shat, Part III

via email from the company:

“I did get the results back from the [edited] lab and the salts and pH were high as I reported last time. The salts were mostly coming from the high levels of Potassium and high Sulfur. These high levels are what caused nutrient issues with your plants. Since the results have been received and reviewed, I have sent additional samples along with new formulation samples of potting soil to the [edited] lab. There will be changes made to this formula in the future to improve this soil and correct the high salt issues…

…Thanks again for letting us know of your situation with our potting soil. I hope this testing brings about a more consistent product.”

…POD’s still hoping for a refund (and mourning the lost Tomandes).

Wonderful Pickles

white wonder picklesWhat’s a gardener to do with nearly four pounds of White Wonder cucumbers? Cucumbers that were, oh, less than spectacular for eating? Why, ask the Endurer if he’ll do some canning on a 90-odd degree Sunday afternoon, of course.

Your intrepid gardener will let know how they taste in a month or so, but for now, here’s the recipe:

White Wonder Garlic Dill Pickles
6 c. water
4 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. kosher salt

pickling spice ratio
2 parts mustard seeds to 1 part black mustard seeds to 2 parts fennel seeds to 2 parts peppercorns to 1 part whole coriander to one part allspice seeds and a few juniper berries.

1) Boil water, vinegar, and salt with some of your pickling spices
2) Put a clump of dill, 2 cloves crushed garlic and the remaining pickling spices in your canning jars. Cram in as many cucumber spears as tightly as possible.
3) Pour in boiling brine, leave a half inch head space, cover, and process in boiling water for 15 minutes.