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Archive for the ‘tomatoes’ Category

Well, The weather has finally warmed up a bit from the May snowstorms and rains so I finally got all of my potatoes planted. I put together 6 more tubes/cages so I would be able to plant all of them. I planted the first variety a month ago, then it got cold for a weekend, I went to visit my mom and sister over Memorial weekend so finally last weekend, I was able to get my gardening on. I wanted to clean out an area that was on the east side of the greenhouse to put the new tubes. Digging up all that grass was tough!! But I got it all out, chicken wire laid on the ground (to keep the ground squirrels from digging into the tubes from underneath) and tubes staked in and wrapped. Then I put mulch on top of the exposed chicken wire. Wrapping the tubes in plastic helps keep the soil from drying out and, as I have discovered, makes a slick surface so small critters can’t climb the wire of the hardware cloth tubes.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

End of day 1 digging grass

End of day 1 digging grass

Finished!!

Finished!!

I must admit that I am an over-achiever when it comes to potatoes. I planted 19 varieties total this year. That’s really too many. Next year, I’m scaling back on the potatoes (she says now). But if you are a gardener like me, you just want to try them all. Most of the potatoes I planted are considered short season, meaning they can be harvested in 60-80 days. That’s just about right for this elevation since I figure we have an average of 90 frost free days a year. Once they are ready, I can leave them in the tubes even after frost (but not freeze) which will help set the skins for storage.

In other veggie news…….this year, I did plant carrot seeds in three of the tubes (not with the potatoes) and they are starting to germinate. My parsnips overwintered, but I am not sure how they will taste. They might be rather bitter. I harvested the first round of greens from the greenhouse today and those will go in the salad for dinner. My peas that are planted in the walls o’ water are growing well. They have not been discovered by critters. And all my garlic is finally up. I’m looking forward to scapes on the garlic soon……..they are wonderful in stir-fry dishes.

Next weekend I’ll plant the tomatoes and herbs that I’ve started. Those will go in the greenhouse. I changed up my tomato varieties a bit this year, using determinate and cold-hardy/short season varieties. I have several different varieties of basil, which will help make marvelous marinara in September. I also want to try some broccoli rabe, rapini and a purple broccoli, but I have to figure out where to plant it. I’m glad the weather is (mostly) nice enough to be able to get out into the garden now.

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The last time I posted, I was lamenting the amount of snow we had had and that I had to wait to plant potatoes. This past weekend was time for inspection because our weather has been, to say the least, weird. On May 23rd, after the big potato planting weekend, we had massive thunderstorms rolling through the area that produced large marble-sized hail. There was also a funnel cloud spotted in the area so we were under a tornado warning (very unusual for Red Feather Lakes). Who would have thought that this could happen in the mountains at 8600 feet elevation? Well, the funnel cloud was a reality. As we discovered later, there was a massive blowdown of trees by Bellaire Lake and the Bellaire Lake Campground, caused either by tornado or a micro-burst. According to KUNC radio, there were about a thousand trees that were uprooted. The Forest Service said the more trees may come down as the soil is saturated and unstable.

Which leads me to the inspection of my garden. The greenhouse withstood all this weather but some of my plants did not fare so well. The garlic had some leaf damage. The onion sets I had planted the previous weekend, also had some leaf damage as well as leaf shredding of some of the bearded iris. The potatoes were in good shape because they had not produced any leaves above the soil so they were protected. The daffodil flowers took a big hit as the hail knocked off most of the petals.

But the rain did have benefits. It was good for carrot, parsnip and beet seed germination. Almost all the seed has germinated, which means I’ll be thinning the seedlings out in a few weeks so there will be room for the rest to grow to a nice size. My orange mint did not sustain any damage, of course. Mint is one of the toughest plants I have ever grown. I think it will survive anything! My pea seedlings were so small that the hail did not damage them and the added moisture actually help encourage them. Now I just hope the ground squirrels, pocket gophers and chipmunks don’t find them.

I also planted most of my tomato, pepper, eggplant and basil seedlings in the greenhouse. I’m hoping for a nice crop this year from the greenhouse. I’m really trying not to cram too many plants in there so I get a decent harvest. That’s one thing that I really have to watch……I want a lot of produce, so I think more plants is better, when in actuality, less plants will produce more because I can take better of them and they have room to grow.

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Let’s see what’s been happening in the garden……..the potatoes sprouted in the tubes and I have hilled them up with some more potting soil. I debated whether to use hay, straw or potting soil and ultimately decided to use potting soil so the tubers that would be forming would not dry out with the winds that seem to continually blow up at our house. I may have let some of the potatoes get a little high before hilling them up, but I think they will survive. I ended up planting quite a variety of potatoes. The red varieties are Colorado Rose, Desiree, Red Pontiac, Sangre. Purple Viking is a purple skin with white flesh that is supposed to be quite tasty. Bintje, Carola, Nicola, Yellow Finn, Kennebec, Crackled Butterball are all yellow flesh potatoes. Masquerade is one of the newest releases from David Holm, the potato breeder at the San Luis Valley Research Station in Colorodo. This potato was described to me as ‘looking like an anasazi bean’. I’m anxious to see it when I harvest.

All the tomato cages with walls o’ water are installed. I planted 4 varieties of tomatoes a couple of weekends ago, covered them with the frost cloth which I thought I had secured, and the wind promptly blew the frost cloth and turned a couple of the cages on their sides so I had to do some repair work to make sure things were stabilized. Once I had the frost cloth stabilized, I planted the remaining varieties of tomatoes. This year I planted Lizzano, Roma, Pomodoro, Yellow Brandywine, Brandywine, Indigo Rose, Green Doctors, Black Krim, Zapotec, Amana Orange, Lemon Boy, Cherokee Purple and Purple Calabash. I am also trialing a variety of “Mighty ‘Mato”, a grafted form of tomato that is supposed to be more drought and cold tolerant than a normal tomato. The variety of grafted tomato is Chocolate Stripe. I hope that the frost cloth will provide a bit more protection of the tomatoes so I can actually harvest some outside grown tomatoes this year.

Starting to stabilize the frost cloth over the tomato cages.  I used a 2 x 4 and cardboard strips to nail the cloth to the wood.

Starting to stabilize the frost cloth over the tomato cages. I used a 2 x 4 and cardboard strips to nail the cloth to the wood.

Both ends of the frost cloth are stabilized.

Both ends of the frost cloth are stabilized.

Frost cloth placed over the tomato cages.  The stabilized ends are at the east and west ends.

Frost cloth placed over the tomato cages. The stabilized ends are at the east and west ends.

A couple of long 2 X 4's are laid across the top of the frost cloth and tomato cages to keep it from blowing off.

A couple of long 2 X 4’s are laid across the top of the frost cloth and tomato cages to keep it from blowing off.

The eggplant is also planted. It seems to be doing much better under the frost cloth as well. It has new growth coming out and hopefully will have a few eggplants this year. The varieties of eggplant this year are Long Purple, Millionaire, Udmalbet, Listada de Gandia and Fengyuan Purple. Normally, all I plant is the Long Purple, but wanted to branch out and see if I could grow other varieties this year.

It’s been a productive couple of weekends. I’ll let you know what’s growing in the greenhouse in the next post!

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