Tomatoes! Cherry, Porter, Golden Jubilee, Beefsteak, Green Sausage, Black Cherry. Everyone knows how good home grown tomatoes taste. I learned this year the correct way to plant tomatoes for Tucson summers. You pick all the leaves off except the very top ones. Then you plant the entire now-bare stalk underground too. That stalk will grow roots instead of leaves, and your root ball is way down deep in the nice, cool soil. When the soil here heated up to 90+ degrees in June my tomatoes were just fine and still producing. The frustrating thing with these is they were slow to produce. I transplanted these in April and should’ve had some production by end of May or early June, especially with the cool spring we had. But they didn’t. They didn’t start producing til the end of June, which is usually when they stop their first production and wait until the monsoons come. Then they will produce their second round into the fall. I have 12 tomato plants, and all I have had is two handfuls of tomatoes (which were sooo delicious and make me sad I don’t have more). I will probably get a nice fall crop. But to plant in February and wait until fall to get tomatoes? That’s ridiculous. And I know I did everything right. So this is very disheartening to me. As far as a summer crop goes, this is bountifail.
This is a Round Black Spanish Radish. It is a giant radish, literally. I had no idea when I planted these that they got so huge. Their skin is black, so that is not dirt you are seeing. The inside is crisp white. The stalks coming out of it are at least a foot long. And they are SPICY!!! Obviously, this is not your ordinary radish. Unfortunately, I do not like these. I did just find a bunch of recipes. I think I’ll try the Korean Radish Salad. Otherwise, I just give them away. Cool, but I have to go with bountifail because they took up valuable space, and I don’t like them. On the other hand, I never would’ve known if I hadn’t tried!
I started off in spring on the right foot. After many errors in the past year, I ready to put into action what I had learned. I bought the correct soil (I had been using too hot of stuff and burning my seeds and plants). I strategically plotted out where to plant things instead of just randomly adding things in as I went along because I was excited. I knew which plants wanted more sun (squash, cucs, eggplants, peppers, watermelon, okra), and which ones would prefer some afternoon shade (tomatoes, beans). I limited my planting of sunflowers and zinnias so as not to shade out plants like last year. I started my eggplants, peppers and tomatoes indoors in February to be ready for a transplant in April. I double dug all my beds a foot down instead of just putting soil on top of the ground. I thought vertical, and used as much uppity space as I could. I put trellises and poles for all the climbing plants. I even added another garden plot in the corner yard so that my crazy vines could take over the wall there instead of all over my garden. Things were looking very optimistic.
I wanted to do a little mini series to share my gardening journey.
The first contender of “Are you full (of produce) or are you a fail(ure)?” is….
Peppers. Peppers, peppers, peppers, peppers! This one is a baby poblano, but I have peppers coming out my ears! And they taste soooo good too. All of mine are sweet or mild, since I do not like spicy. I have Bell, Banana, Anaheim, Joe E. Parker, and Pasillo Baijo, and (the afore mentioned) poblano peppers. And boy, are they TASTY!! So much flavor. It seems that all of them are synced and produce all their peppers at the same time. So I get these waves of peppers all at once. One thing I also learned last year – the freezer is my friend. I chopped those puppies up and put them in the freezer, and then I pull some out when I want. And the flavor still is there! And there is actually nothing negative to say about these. These are, hands down, my most successful, bountiful plants.
I thought it’d be fun to introduce Gary. He is a Cucuzzi Italian Edible Gourd, however, he would not be very edible at this size. Too tough. He is currently my largest vegetable in the garden. As you can see from the picture, he is 24″ long, but that does not include the curvature. Eventually, Gary will reach full size (about 3-4′) and turn white.
There are so many new things happening right now. Some big, some tiny, but all exciting! I apologize for the recent lack of posts. I’ve been super busy with jennycain.com. Speaking of which….
Watch out, world – jennycain.com is taking off! I’ve had a lot of success so far with my purses. Thanks to all my friends that have supported me! Saturday I sold my first purse on etsy to someone I did not know! Next in the works is that cartel coffee lab wants to sell my purses in their shops. There is one here in Tucson (formerly Avenue) and one in Phoenix. I’m excited for this next step!
I am currently typing on our new iMac. It’s soooo pretty! Such a nice change from our old windows pc (ugh ugh ugh!!) This new addition is sitting on a desk in our…
(Not the best pic but oh well) We converted our guest room into an office. This has been a huge overhaul process of 3 rooms in the house. We’ve had to shift things from the old office/music room, the former guest room and my dressing room. Now the three rooms are a music studio, an office and my dressing room/craft room. The new office is mostly set, the other rooms… not so much.
We have some fun new trips planned or in the works. We are visiting my dad in Hawaii in December. We found amazingly cheap flights out of Phoenix. Also in the works is a ski trip with our BFF’s, Neal and Connie. Obviously this is in the winter sometime, most likely the week after Christmas. Lastly, and this is still a huge maybe, but we hope to go to Asia this summer. Japan and China are a must. There are really no other details yet on that one.
I’ve found a great yoga class that I’ve fallen in love with! My friend, Bri, goes and I tried it Monday. Love. It was seriously the best yoga class I’ve been to. So I’m going again tonight, and am going to try to make it a regular routine!
I put some funk into my hair and had the ends died teal. Lovin’ it.
I planted my fall crop, and will soon have lots of new plants! Butternut squash, tetume squash, radishes, carrots, oakleaf lettucs, buttercrunch lettuce, spinach, red cimmaron romaine, red creole onions, white bunching onions, ruby queen beets, parsnips, turnips, broccoli, kohirabi, sweet peas, wild flowers, cilantro, dill, kentucky blue wonder beans, snap peas, Italian bush beans, bok choy, zinnias, and… I think that’s all. I’m currently getting a nice crop of okra, a second wind of Japanese eggplants, Mexican red torch sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, jalepenos, sweet peppers, and gourds will soon be coming out my ears.
My good friend, Crystal Stark, asked me to sing backup vocals for her performance with the Pops Symphony Orchestra. It’ll be Sunday, October 3rd 7:00-9:00 pm. It is at Reid Park, and is completely free!
Tons of wonderful stuff happening! Thanks for tuning in.
This conversation has been repeated many times in our kitchen while cooking dinner together:
“Phil, will you get me some mint from the garden?”
“Uhhhh, which one is mint?”
“The green, leafy plant by the stepping stones.”
“Honey, they are all green and leafy!”
“But it’s the only one that smells minty!”
“I’ll finish chopping the veggies and you go get the mint.”
There have been many variations to this banter involving basil, parsely, cilantro, chives, etc. Finally, Phil requested that I make labels for all the plants. Sigh, ok. But keeping a garden of my size adds up, and I was reluctant to spend more money for essentially a non-essential item. Especially when I have 30+ variety of plants in there.
I had a few of these, a find from Target’s dollar spot a few years ago. I adore these. Such a simple design… Hmmmm, how can I just make some myself? Well after digging around in closets inside an out, looking for reusable materials, even though I didn’t know what materials I wanted, I came across these:
Why I ever saved these is a mystery to me. But I’m glad I did. They are already made to stake in the ground and label plants! Next, I needed to make the label different, obviously, and much bigger (not digging the teeny tiny print). I pulled out our trusty duck tape and got to work.
Isn’t it magnificent? There are so many different things growing! Tomatoes, zucchini, Japanese eggplant, green beans, radishes, jalapeños, yummy peppers, rainbow chard, gourds, herbs, sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums, watermelon, cucumber, okra, strawberries and…I think that’s all. About half of these are still in the sprout stage, but are growing quickly. I can’t wait until everything is grown up! Until then, there’s plenty of watering, pruning, weed-pulling, tidying, decorating, and loving to do. You can view more detailed and labeled pics here, if you wish.