Still harvesting...

tree_oracle(z6b MA)November 7, 2011

I picked 39 bell peppers from my garden yesterday and about 15 jalapeno peppers. The bell peppers are Ace and Orion. Both are great producers. If you have trouble growing bell peppers then get one of these varieties. This is the 3rd or 4th bagful that I've harvested this year. That is somewhere between 120-160 peppers and I only have 7 plants.

I just started harvesting my carrots yesterday, too. Here is a very small sampling of them. I'm guessing that I have around 120 or so of them to harvest. It's a variety called Sweet Treat.

Check out what I harvested from my garden this summer. Two Georgia Rattlesnake watermelons. They weighed 30 lbs each. Who said that you can't grow large watermelons in New England.

My daughter wanted to grow some sunflowers at our plot in my town's community garden. We planted a row of Mammoth sunflowers that lived up to their name. Here's a picture of my children in front of them. My son is not quite 4 ft tall so you can see how tall the sunflowers are. The tallest ones were around 10 ft. Unfortunately, the hurricane in August completely destroyed them. It was really a shame because the biggest flowers had heads around 12-15 inches wide not including the flower petals. You can't really appreciate from this picture just how big the stalks were. They were like a row of trees growing in the garden.

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I am so jealous. What a difference in zones. We're having nights in the 20s so I only have things like beets and carrots left. Not sure if my spinach has survived. Hope to do a high tunnel next year so I can have a longer growing season.

Your harvests are beautiful! I bet your children love those carrots.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 6:38AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Wow...that produce looks great!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 7:26AM
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This was a great year for peppers for all the gardeners I have talked to. I wonder what it was about this year's weather that made them so prolific.

I also am envious . . . I just finished harvesting the last of the boccoli and leeks this week, but I haven't had peppers or other warm-season produce for about a month.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 8:38AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

In my case, I see these same yields of peppers from Ace and Orion every year. They are truly the best varieties that I've ever grown.

I forgot to take a picture of my onions this year. I was very impressed with Ailsa Craig. I harvested around 50 softball size onions of that variety. A few were even bigger than softballs. They tasted great. They're advertised as having a shelf life of only 30 days but most of mine easily lasted 3 months in my unfinished basement that stays cool year round.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 12:25PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

treeoracle, I noticed on your home page that you are growing roses too. But I didn't see any roses listed in your shrubs list. What roses are you growing? And with this long warm autumn, are any still blooming?


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 1:17PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Hi Carol,

My rose garden is long gone. That's why the list that I used to have on my homepage is now gone. Roses are a lot of work and I just don't have the time to spend on it. I replaced my rose garden with a series of raised beds that I grow vegetables in. The only roses that I have now are several types of Knockouts, a Zephirine Drouhin climber on my arbor and a small hedge of Purple Pavement roses. The Knockouts are still blooming but the others have lost their leaves for the winter. The Purple Pavement roses have a heavenly scent and bloom fairly well after their initial flush in the Spring.

There are times when I really miss the rose garden that I had. It lives on however in some pictures that I still have of it. Here are a few shots that I also posted a long time ago:

Here are a few of my favorite roses:

Perfume Delight (this shot was taken at dusk when the flowers had this fluorescence to them; heavenly scent)

Passionate Kisses (one of the best Floribundas ever, no scent though)

Electron (worst rose ever for thorns but incredibly intense blooms)

Fragrant Cloud (when this was blooming I could smell it anywhere on my property and I have an acre lot; unusual color)

I have this thing for striped roses, too. Some people hate them but I thought it was cool how every flower has a different combination of colors. Here are (in order) Scentimental, Purple Tiger, Oranges & Lemons, and Modern Magic

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 9:18PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Treeoracle, what a beautiful harvest. Do you start from seed? I'm going to be working on a veggie garden for the first time this spring (I've done veggies in planter boxes away from deer and woodchucks). We just recently converted a couple beds for vegetables in a fenced-in area where at least the deer don't roam. I do have a room inside where I start seeds so I'd be curious to know if you start anything inside, direct sow, or which veggies you buy as plants to plant out.

I've been reading a lot about what grows well direct sown, started earlier indoors, etc.....but I would love to get your opinion (and everyyone else's) about what really works in our region. There must be some tried and true methods for our area. Thanks for any info.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 8:28AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)


I start all of my plants from seed. I start most of them indoors although I direct sow the really warm weather crops. It helps to have a light stand of some sort so that the seedlings don't get leggy. This past year, I started indoors the onions in early February, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce in March, tomatoes and peppers in early April, and the corn and okra in May. I start everything in peat pots so I can just transplant the whole pot directly. They say that you can't do that with corn but I do it every year and I have much better success than directly sowing the seeds. I usually direct sow the italian beans, summer squash, watermelons, cantaloupe and sunflowers. I direct sow anything that requires serious heat for good growth. Things like melons can have their growth stunted if you tranplant them before it's really warm outside. My secret for melons and okra is to cover the planting area with black plastic. It's not to cut down on weeds as much as it is to heat the soil. Melons and okra like it hot.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 1:14PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Thanks so much for all that info! It will help very much. I had never thought of using the black plastic specifically for the heat factor. Interesting point.

I have lights set up already and did tons of perennials and annuals from seed last year. I can fit 15 flats at a time with the system I have (and am willing to add more if necesary). What size peat pot do you sow in? Do you always use the single pots or have you also used the peat cells like the plastic cell trays?

Thanks again for all the info.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 3:29PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I start my seeds in Jiffy 7 peat pellets with the aid of a heating mat. Once the seeds have germinated, I tranplant the peat pellets into 3-inch square peat pots using potting soil. I then keep the peat pots growing in the basement using my 3-tier grow light system from Gardener's Supply that uses T-5 lights. It was an expensive setup but it's easy to adjust the distance that the lights are from the plants as the grow. The cost isn't too bad when you consider that I should have it for many years. I move the trays that came with the grow light system outside for a few hours each day to harden them off when it starts getting close to planting them outside. It's a great way to stay busy with gardening during the winter/early spring months when it's too wet or yucky to do stuff outside. The only time of the year that I'm really not doing anything with gardening is really December and January.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 5:54PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Thank you. That answers a question for me in that once I get the plants into a 3 or 4" pot they won't need to be transplanted again except into the garden.

I also like to play around all winter with seeds indoors. It's warm and I love to watch everything grow, and I can learn from the failures. I'm very excited to see how the vegetables do.

Thanks again for all the great info.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 7:46PM
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Good thing I picked the last of the lettuce (no protection) last weekend before it snowed. I also pulled the last of the carrots and more beets. There are still a lot of beets that need to be pulled and put in buckets of sand. We haven't tried to "root cellar" before so here's hoping. There may be a couple of small heads of broccoli left along with some kale and turnip. Turns out my husband really hates kale and turnip and I grew the loveliest Gilfeather white turnips (really a rutabaga, I think). A potted rosemary is still surviving on the porch. Still plenty of sage and thyme in the garden.

This year is my best so far in succession planting. Managed to have a late crop of bush beans (with low tunnel protection) into October. Lettuce would have done better with protection. Got a fall crop of sugar snap peas (not as prolific as spring) and spinach. Found two winter squash varieties so far with excellent eating and keeping quality. I was careful to get some hardier varieties of lettuce that could take some cold nights.

I'm really happy that I started roasting tomatoes this year. I put some in a jar of olive oil in the frig. The rest are in the freezer. They provide a different kind of tomato taste in recipes.

I've told "Santa" I want a light system for Christmas. There were some good plans on the internet for a DIY project. Where do you put your light systems? We have a warm but creepy old damp cellar so I was thinking putting it in a roomy 2nd floor bathroom I use all the time. Water is right there. Floor is linoleum. Only problem is it can only be 4' wide due to slopey ceiling.

I've had good luck with the deer repellant spray from the farm store but didn't use it this year. Not sure if the deer have learned to stay away from the beds or they prefer the farmer's field corn next door. Worst year however for little gnawing varmits who got into my winter squash patch. In fact, I think they had a burrow. We later found a deep hole which may have been dug by a coyote. Hope it got the squash eater.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 5:24AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I keep my grow light system in the basement. I start the seeds upstairs in jiffy pots in one of those plastic greenhouses set on top of a heating mat. Once the seedlings reach the top of the greenhouse, I transplant them into 3-inch peat pots and put them in my grow light system. They grow well in my basement even though the temperature there is in the 50s. The T-5 lights that I use put out a small amount of heat so it does raise the temperature in the immediate area of the plants. I have a very dry basement especially in the colder months when the humidity in general is low so I don't have to worry about fungal diseases attacking my plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grow Light System from Gardener's Supply Company

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 7:52PM
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tree-oracle, thanks for the info. How often do you have to water the small plants once they are in the basement? Good point about dampness. Our basement is sometimes damp. (Old fieldstone foundation that has been spray insulated.)

Good point about starting plants upstairs where it's warmer.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 7:22AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I don't mean for this answer to sound as bad as it's going to but I water them when they need water. When the plants are still small, they only have to be watered every two or three days. I don't let the potting mixture dry out completely because it can be a bear to re-wet the soil. You can usually tell if the soil needs more water by the weight of the pot. A peat pot of dry soil weighs significantly lighter than one with wet soil. The heat from the grow lights provides the only way to dry the soil out when the plants are small. However, when the plants are bigger and real water hogs like tomato plants then you need to check on them every day to see if they need water. Don't overwater though. That is sure death for your plants. I also water with a dilute fertilizer mixture. I take some of the liquid fertilizer that you can buy for houseplants and add 10-20 drops per watering can. I also use warm water out of the taps. I figure the plants like something a little warm while being raised in a cool basement.

The amount of light that your plants get is also important. As bright as the lights are in these grow light systems, they don't replace the sun. The lights on my system are on a timer and I keep them on roughly 16 hr/day. These kind of lights are not energy hogs so it doesn't cost that much money to keep them on that often.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 7:43AM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

So, you fertilize at every watering? I don't have any houseplants so I'm not familiar with the fertilizers available for them. For the perennials I was starting from seed I used a root fertilizer and was probably applying every other week. Is the houseplant fertilizer something different? Is there a "standard" one? This is the first year I'm going to do veggies from seed, so I want to make sure I am using a good fertilizer on them.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 4:11PM
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Tree oracle, thanks for the watering advice. I'll need to get some liquid fertilizer.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:44AM
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