Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prize Tomato

Celebrity Tomato picked 5/24/2011
I wanted to share pics of what will surely be the prize tomato of the year. 

The variety is Celebrity and it is quite large, no scale -- so large is as precise as I can get.

Same tomato sliced and ready for dinner.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May Update

Grape Tomatoes
Pear Tomatoes
The heat of April has resulted in a real growth spurt in the garden.  Everything is growing but we still need rain. 

Grape tomatoes have set on in great numbers, as well as the yellow pear tomatoes both pictured at the right.  So far there has been very little tomato worm activity and the birds are not bothering the fruit.

The blackberries have started to turn but the crop will be limited and most individual berries are small.

A few precious figs on the small tree and pears on both trees.

Early May, I started pulling onions, and picking cucumbers, snow peas and spinach. 
First ripe tomato, small cherry type, was picked May 10th.

First 2011 Tomato
Mid month, started to harvest green beans and first white eggplant which were mild and delicious.

Also picked 2 acorn squash.  I know it's the wrong season but they were from a volunteer plant.
Mid May Harvest

Cucumbers continue and tomato harvest is starting to gather momentum.  However, I am having a significant problem with blossom end rot this year.  The problems are mostly in the heirloom varieties but a few of the hybrids are also affected.   In spite of the fruit with blemishes, we are still getting lots of tomatoes.  The "Cherokee Purple" variety is now my favorite, such a nice flavor. 

In the last weeks of May, getting just enough blackberries for breakfast the next morning with yogurt.  Sadly, no cobblers this year.
This appears to be the peak for the green beans.  Eating them often and froze 3 quarts last week.

And finally, a sample of the flowers blooming around the yard and garden in May. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

April showers? Please.


The perennials in the garden are blooming. Berries, thyme and sage have blossoms and the bees are happily working.  The berries are blackberries, an aggressive thorn infested vine that appears intent on taking over any prepared bed in the vicinity of it's designated location.  But, I planted them and continue to tolerate them because the berries are sweet additions to my morning yogurt and make wonderful cobblers.

Blackberry blooms and berries                                       Thyme blooms and bees                                          Sage blooms.                   
Around the house, more flowers.  The Mt. Laurel and Yellow Columbine are blooming and attracting  butterflies.  Mt. Laurel is a slow growing but beautiful small tree that produces fragrant, stunning blooms each spring.   The Yellow Columbine has thrived in a location that receives full morning sun and shade in the late afternoon.  They reseed prolifically but can be managed back into place by pulling / removing young plants.  Beautiful lush green plants with abundant yellow flowers in the spring, they wilt or even die back in the extreme heat of Texas summers, then green back up as the temperatures cool and remain green through most winters.

Mid April
Back to the garden, everything is growing.  Tomatoes are blooming and setting fruit nicely.  Put straw down around the plants to aid in moisture retention.  I will admit to some fear that I am only providing safe haven for harmful pests as well.
Tomatoes on right, 
Green Beans in foreground.
Young tomatoes
Young beans
More Tomatoes, Peppers, Red Cabbage

Late April

Still no rain but with watering the garden continues to progress.  Spinach has grown this spring, so we have lots of fresh salad greens including arugula and the last of the winter lettuce.
Peppers and cucumbers are setting fruit.  Eggplant is blooming.  Onions are growing and I have even pulled a few small ones for cooking.
I pulled a few of the remaining leeks from last year for potato and leek soup.
The asparagus is still producing but slowing.
Because of the lack of moisture, the black berries are small.  This will not be a good year for berries in Central Texas.

Spinach bed

Cucumber, Orient Express II

And finally, a pretty little wildflower that graces the rack for the garden hose every year.   It is a wild morning glory.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is this a hobby?

I have been growing vegetables in Dripping Springs, TX since 2004.  Like most southerners, my primary motivation for a garden was tomatoes.  There is simply nothing like a home-grown tomato, juicy with just the right combination of sweet and tart, perfect sliced with nothing but a little salt, fresh bruschetta, sliced on a pizza or caprese;  all the options are good.

The garden started in raised beds but has expanded into heavily modified native soil.  The native dirt is that lovely black stuff that turns into cement when dry and sticky clay when wet.  But after years of adding organic material, primarily compost, it is actually producing nice results. 

The vegetable garden has always been organic, even when attempting to convince fire ants to leave the area, I resorted to nothing more toxic than boiling water, orange oil and dish soap.   However, sometimes I cheat with the flowers since my compost needs always exceed the supply.   Our vegetable/fruit/yard waste gets composted but I also help support "Natural Gardener"  through my annual compost purchase and other things that I am unable to resist.  

The blog; well, I have been taking lots pictures of the things growing in the garden and around the house and wanted to share the photo journal of my gardening.

Since this years garden is now well underway, I'll start with a review.


The garden produced a nice winter lettuce crop.  The threat of extreme freezing temps resulted in a mass harvest and an opportunity to share with the neighbors. Miraculously some of the lettuce survived the freezing days and came back to produce again in March.  

Early, 6th - Tilled the in-ground beads and worked compost into the raised beds.   Luckily, I had help this year to manhandle the tiller.   Onions sets were already in the ground.  Planted arugula, spinach, red cabbage and snow peas

One week later - It is time to set out the tomatoes.  Isn't really, if you believe the last freeze dates but it has already been exceptionally warm and it's time to gamble.  Added lots of basil plants this year since you can never have too much basil when you have fresh tomatoes.  (Editorial comment from late April  My timing needs work as I have already made pesto twice and not a ripe tomato to be found.)

Also planted green beans.
The asparagus has started to produce the first stalks of the season.
Pepper plants were small so I waited another week before transplanting.
Late March  - Final plantings were seeds for cucumbers, summer squash, and transplants for eggplant and artichoke.  This is my first time to plant artichokes, so we will see.  Fun, thistle-like plants, so maybe they will like the Texas heat.

The garden is in, more in the next installment.