Garden update and Onion odditity

elkwc(6b)June 23, 2012

First the onions. I was thinking a few weeks ago this was the first year I could remember where I never had one onion bolt or send up a flower stalk. I started from seed all but one variety which I purchased from Dixondale Farms (Candy). Then a few days later I noticed one of the Candy's sending up a flower stalk. I pulled two more today that had sent up flower stalks bringing the total to 10 out of the 65 that was in the bunch. The smallest bulbs are the size of a hard ball. The two biggest ones almost the size of a softball. The leaf count on those that sent up a flower stalk has been from 9-11. The leaves are long and have a large diameter. I'm not sure if the hail almost a month ago triggered it or what. From reading the Dixondale site I guess it is common but the first time I've ever seen it on large onions this late. Maybe the swinging of temps had an influence. Just a month ago we had high temps in the 90's and lows in the high 40's all over a 2 span if I remember correctly. The bulbs aren't near the size of the largest but in a normal year I would be happy with them. I thought about leaving them but decided I'd better yank and use them.

Most of the rest of the garden is doing fine. The birds are eating on my tomatoes even before they break color. I have water around the garden and yard in several places. I laid two Sweet Beverly's on a bale of hay and when I came back found one 8 foot away that had been pecked on. The plants are showing early signs of heat stress. The current 100 degree temp with 30 mph plus winds will take a toll. And not much relief in sight for at least 6 days and more likely 8. I'm going to spray the fruit with Surround to see if that helps. When I got back from CO a coworker who gardens big wanted to know what to do. The birds had wiped out all of those they had close to breaking color. I told him Surround was about all I knew that might work. The grackles have moved back in here. I suppose it is because things are starting to dry up. I have water and food. Anyway they are getting the blame. I posted elsewhere I've dug all but two garlic plants. Overall a nice harvest. The wind blew the tops over on one red onion variety. I'm guessing it must be getting close to maturing. The other varieties aren't showing any signs yet. I have from 11-13 leaves on the Colorado varieties I planted. And they were the last two varieties I started almost a month after the earliest ones. So hoping for large bulbs on them when they decide to mature. They are known as a fall onion along the valley so not sure when they will mature. The leaves on them have passed the Candy onions and still growing and adding leaves. The beans have slowed down some with the heat. The hot peppers are doing better than the sweet which is to be expected. One of the varieties that Chandra sent me is growing extremely well. I'm heading to a meeting of a Farmer's Market group this evening. Will decide if I'm going to join after I attend the meeting. Jay

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Jay, That does sound late for the onions to bolt so I guess they already think they are in their 2nd year. I'm a little confused as well with our strange weather this year and have considered bolting myself. If you want to plant Candy from seed, you can buy them from Willhite. They are listed under Onions and Leeks, then under Hybrid. Of course, as always hybrids are a little pricey.

I only had seven onions bolt and it was all the same week so I feel sure it was weather related, but I also planted a few onions that were too large to start with, so it could have been that reason as well.

I have harvested all of my onions except the one bunch that was a long day type, and they are just beginning to fall over. Are the onions you are buying from Colorado long day types? I grew a few onions from seed this year, then never got them in the ground. I finally just dumped them out.

Most of my onions are now dry enough to bring inside, but I keep thinking about how hot it is out there and that I really don't want to sit out there and get them ready to bring in. The only times I have been outside today are to harvest and water. Thankfully I picked beans yesterday so they are OK for a day or two, I think.

I picked a few peppers this morning. A couple because they had sunscald, and a few more because they were huge and there were lots of others on the same plant. I didn't plant as many peppers as I normally do, but after my Spring seed starting was a little harder this year, I bought a few and got some at the swap. When I went to Dorothy's to buy asparagus, I bought some peppers from a store near her and six of them were Chinese Giant. They are living up to their name this year. I have grown them before but they have never gotten this big before. I got a couple of Early Jalapenos from Dawn and they are just about ready to start picking also, if I'm going to pick green. Those are the only hot peppers that are producing so far though.

My potatoes had very little water so that crop was very small this year, and for the same reason the onions were not as large. Al wants to put some permanent irrigation in a few places when we take the garden out this fall, so watering won't be such a hassle for us. Most years I hardly have to water, but the last two have been very dry.

Overall though, I guess I can't complain either. Today I picked 5 peppers, more than a gallon container of tomatoes, some cucumbers and four zuchinni, and yesterdays beans are waiting for my attention. I will pick the pickling cukes while I am watering the other side of the garden. Al and I both walk around eating the slicing cucumbers like we were eating an apple several times a day, plus I've shared a few with the neighbors.

My tomato plants are ugly and some of the cherries have lost a lot of leaves. The plants look more like stems with cherry tomatoes all over them. They usually produce well into the fall, but I don't think they will make it this year. It's not only the ones in the garden, it is also the few I have in containers and those get water everyday, so could have been the little bug that hit everything just effected them more.

I have been amazed at how dry the ground is. Even after watering, it is dry very quickly. I don't know how your garden at your house. You have to be an amazing gardener to survive your conditions.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Both of the Colorado onions came from Burrell seeds at Rocky Ford. The one was an AAS winner in the late 30's and the other is an supposedly improvement in it made at the CSU experiment station located there. I think more disease resistance is the main improvement. Both are basically intermediates. Valencia/Sweet Spanish types. They are very vigorous. I just came in from pulling some grass that seems to keep coming up in them. Most have 11-13 leaves now and no signs of maturing. I noticed some just now bulbing. So guessing another month. The Candy onions and the one red variety will probably be ready in another 2 weeks I'm guessing. Several of the greenhouses around here started and sold plants this year. Mainly the same reasons I'm trying it. Dixondale has gradually cut down on those that grow reliably in this area. And the one Farmer's Market doesn't allow and post emergent spraying which Dixondale's does. I could of bought Candy plants from them. But will try to start my own next year. The main thing for this area is too start around Jan 1st. I'm not sure I would need to on the varieties from CO. They direct sow seeds for them in the fields not far from this area from late Feb to mid March and they always do well. I've already got most of the seed I will be growing next year. Will be trying a red sweet from Australia that is supposed to be a intermediate type. I continue to get enough tomatoes to have BLT's and for the salads I eat. Not really enough to share. And with all the birds have feasted on I may have a little stall in production. Still too early to make many if any judgements. The grafted Pre'cocibec plant is outgrowing and out performing the non grafted plant. But both has more fruit set than anything else in the garden. Have never grown it. So will wait to see the size and taste. Might be a good candidate for canning, salsa making ect. I'm guessing the fruit size will be around 3 ounces and the grafted plant has very heavy fruit set. The Sweet Beverly plant that had the fruit knocked off by the hail has really rebounded. It is a vigorous grower and looks more like a wild tomato type than a domestic one. Nothing really note worthy about the others yet.

No Carol I'm not an amazing gardener. I'm extremely hard headed. Just ask anyone who has worked around me. LOL. And I'm stubborn enough I don't give up easy. And usually find a way to grow what I want. I've finally figured out how to transplant sweet potatoes here even in the heat. Transplanted 3 yesterday during the heat of the day. Last year I had some slips form om a potato I never used. I removed the slips, put them in a cup of water, set it in an open window in my utility room and let them root well. They received full sun and some wind effects. When I transplanted them I put a coffe container with the bottom cut out around each, put straw around and over them to shade them for a few days and watered well. Never lost a one. I started slips from a smaller potato I had left this year. I didn't start early enough. And then left the first ones rooting in a cup longer than I needed too. Anyway transplanted the first ones last Sunday. Then 4 more yesterday. Yesterday I ran out of containers so just covered them with straw well. And those yesterday had some roots so never went to a cup with them. They looked fine 30 minutes ago with it over 100 around them. The seeds I started Sunday I just covered with straw and wet well being I would be gone for part of the week. Overall very good germination. One okra variety, one cuke variety and one cantaloupe variety haven't germinated but everything else has. I learn something new every year. Mulch is almost mandatory if you garden in the open here like I do. Sprinkling isn't efficient here and neither is row watering. Hope some others post updates. I enjoy seeing what results others are experiencing. Jay

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 5:29PM
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The news here is PEACHES. Because DH sprayed Neem starting at budbreak and again twice more, we got a lot (a LOT) of peaches this year. They all got ripe within a week and a day. We got so tired of blanching and freezing or drying peaches that we called neighbors yesterday and said, "Come strip this tree," and they did today. Probably got a bushel or more.

The next thing to put up will be drying some cherry tomatoes as soon as the last batch of peaches come out of the dehydrator. Then need to pick, roast, peel and freeze some peppers. Have several Poblanos ready plus some other large stuffing types. Also have some Pepperoncini to pickle. After that is done, will plan on canning some salsa with the large tomatoes. Recipes, please, as it has been years since I've made any.

Then tomorrow I will pick daughter's pole beans and take them to her and let her get them ready to freeze. She can do that from her recliner with her poor shot foot propped above her heart. Then I will blanch and freeze them for her. (But only this year because of extenuating circumstances. Then it's back to the original deal of we'll grow it, you'll pick and put it up.)

And there is still the late corn to put up. That will be another week at least. And then the okra. The first picking is ready now.

After that things should slow down and we are going to take a day to get off this place and go visit a new museum. I've been wanting to see the Crystal Bridges over in Bentonville. With everything that was going on this year, I missed out on seeing the daylilies bloom up at Lendonwood, and now it's too hot to enjoy the garden, so it's a museum.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 7:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Jay, I think the bolting has to be related to that weather in the 40s, but that's just my best guess. I am not sure if hail would trigger bolting.

I don't know how hot it was there, but it hit 100 here and that's too hot for me. From now on, I'll hibernate indoors in the air conditioning as much as I can. I try to get out to the garden as soon after sunrise as I can, and back inside before it gets too hot. At this time of year, I often only harvest....and when I carry everything inside, I always intend to go back out and weed, mulch, water, deadhead ornamental flowers, etc., but once I hit the air conditioning, all that garden ambition flies out the window and I just stay inside so I can stay cool.

I don't know of any sure-fire way to get the birds to leave the tomatoes alone, other than Surround or maybe by putting red Christmas balls in the plants a month before your fruit breaks color. The birds peck at the Christmas ornament, determine that your plants' fruit is not edible, and train themselves, via association to leave it alone. This works for some people, but not for others. Sometimes I've used bird netting, but a really persistent bird finds a way underneath the netting anyway. We did have some pecked fruit in May, but not much since then. That may change with the arrival of summer heat.

We don't have grackles here at our place, though I see them in town a lot. Sometimes, though not often, we have starlings. As long as the Purple Martins still are in residence in the purple martin houses, they'll chase off the starlings. Once the martins head south, the starlings become more of a problem.

Carol, I'm sorry your tomato plants are not looking well. It sure is a disease-y year for tomatoes in our good too. Some of my plants look pretty bad, and some don't look too bad yet, but have started going downhill. I don't care. I am tomatoed out and have no intention of doing anything to/with/for the tomato plants except harvesting the fruit for as long as it lasts. If a storm took out all my plants tomorrow, I'd shrug and say "oh well, it was a great year" and then I'd move on. I've already preserved enough tomatoes to keep us happy until next year's crop is coming in. Of course, I'd miss having fresh ones daily, but I'd get over it.

Dorothy, My favorite salsa is Annie's Salsa, from Annie on the Harvest Forum. She developed the recipe, but worked with her state's extension service to get it tested for safety. One thing I really like about it is the texture--you added canned tomato paste and sauce to give it incredible texture. Also, you can substitute a like amount of ReaLemon or ReaLime or both for the vinegar in the recipe. I make it different ways...sometimes all ReaLemon or all ReaLime hut never all vinegar because we don't like salsa with a real vinegary flavor. Sometimes I use 1/3 each of vinegar, ReaLemon or ReaLime, sometimes I use 1/2 each of ReaLemon and ReaLime. I keep mentioning them by brand name because they are the only bottled lemon or lime juices that consistently test at the pH needed for safety reasons. Store brands of bottle lemon juice and lime juice test at the right pH range much less consistently so could be a safety problem. I'll link the recipe below. We used to make 6 or 7 different salsas and didn't especially love any of them. Since I started making Annie's Salsa, it is the only one we make.

Like you, I'm moving from crop to crop, putting up as much of the excess harvest of each one as we can after we've eaten all we want to eat fresh.

Here's my garden report:

Clearly 2012 is the year of the tomato. I've been canning and dehydrating for at least 3 weeks now, or maybe 4. I'm starting to run out of ways to use up tomatoes, and my paste tomato harvest just started, in terms of a good quantity of fruit, in the last 4 or 5 days. Most of what I had canned prior to that was from slicers.

All the warm-season crops are producing great, so in between processing tomatoes, I am just trying to stay caught up on everything else. The hot peppers are producing like gangbusters and each plant is very heavily loaded with fruit. My first big pepper harvest was just about 7-10 days ago, and now I am having to pick them about every 3rd day. So far, I've been using them in salsa and eating them fresh. I am about to start roasting and freezing them beginning tomorrow, and am just starting to get enough cukes to make pickles, which was on the schedule for today and tomorrow and likely will be done only tomorrow because I'm about to run out of time to do it today, and I am too tired to start a batch now. The sweet peppers are not producing well yet, but that's normal when May is hot like it was. I feel like the May heat wave/drought really hurt them and they'll be later than usual this year.

We have far too much yellow squash and zucchini, but that's hardly news to anyone who raises either or both of them. So far my plants remain pest-free and disease-free.

I just started harvesting okra this week, so right now there is not enough of it to freeze--just enough to eat fresh.

We're getting a good pole bean harvest after having had a very heavy bush bean crop.

We have muskmelons but none are ripe yet. The onions and potatoes, and all other cool-season crops, are done, done, done. The early corn is harvested and processed or in the fridge for fresh eating. We're waiting for the mid- and late-season corn to be ready to pick.

The pickling cucumbers are producing well, but are heavily infested with spider mites so I am not sure how long they'll last. The watermelons and winter squash are taking over every available square inch of unoccupied space. The herbs are fine, but basil keeps trying to flower in this heat and I keep pinching it back. The Armenian cukes are all over the place. They're such big monster plants!

I pick produce in the morning, and then spend however long it takes to process the portion of the harvest we won't be eating fresh. Some days I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

The garden looks really good, although the tomatoes don't look nearly as nice and healthy now as they did a month ago. They still are producing heavily.

As near as I can remember, here's what I've canned/frozen/dehydrated so far this month:

Plum Jelly: 92 half-pint jars
Strawberry Jam: 8 half-pint jars
Blueberry-Lime Jam: 6 half-pint jars
Bumbleberry Jam: 6 half-pint jars
Catsup: 21 pint jars
Chili Base: 5 pint jars
Annie's Salsa: 90 pint jars
Tomato Sauce: 32 quart freezer boxes (stored in the deep freeze)
Dehydrated Bite-sized Tomatoes: 3 gallons (stored in the deep freeze)

I have other veggies in the deep freeze from May, but I didn't keep a list of what I put up. It seems like there was 23 quarts of beans, and each quart usually makes two meals for us.In the freezer There's also sweet corn and sliced yellow squash, and shredded zucchini.

The yard-long beans, lima beans and southern peas are just beginning to produce because all of them went into the ground pretty late. I was trying to spread out the harvest so that all of the above and the pole snap and bush snap beans would not be producing at the same time. So far, the bean harvest has been spread out pretty well so I'm not snowed under a big pile of beans yet on any given day, though there were a couple of days in May when the bush bean harvest was huge. However, at that time, I wasn't harvesting enough of anything else that required a lot of processing so I had time to deal with the beans.

All the flowers are gorgeous and the gourds (birdhouse and mixed decorative gourds) are climbing all over the place, as are all the various winter squash varieties.

I hope to add a lot more tomato products and other veggies, but we are starting to have fires, so how much I will be able to harvest and process will depend on whether we have a slow start to the summer fire season or a fast start.

The garden looks as good as it ever has and everything not only looks pretty good, but is producing really, really well.

We're about to harvest our first butternut squash. It seems impossibly early to harvest butternut, but I planted early and it stayed so hot that it grew like mad and flowered and fruited early.

This is the most productive garden year so far that we've had in quite a while, and I am loving it, even though all the canning is wearing me out. At least it gives me a good excuse for spending lots of time indoors. Of course, as Tim points out to me every day "this kitchen sure is hot and steamy", but I still think I'm better off in the hot, steamy kitchen than outdoors. At least in the kitchen, I can stand under the AC vent and it cools me off.

Today will go down in history as the first day I ever found a snail eating a plant in my garden. For so long, we just didn't have any snails at all, most likely because they don't thrive in dense, red clay soil. I guess we finally have improved the soil enough that the snails are coming to the garden. Tomorrow I'll scatter Slug-Go under the okra plants since it was feeding on an okra plant.


Here is a link that might be useful: Recipe For Annie's Salsa

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 9:28PM
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I'm so glad to hear ya'll are sick and tired of tomatoes. That's a very good thing, indeed.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 9:39PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bon, I planted so many tomato plants that nothing short of total crop failure would give us far more tomatoes than we could handle. I wanted to get enough to do all my canning in June with perhaps some of it lasting into July, and I'm just about "there". My goal was to get so many that I would not feel like it was necessary to water the garden in July to keep it going. So, I am happily inudated with tomatoes, but it won't last forever, and when they are done, I'll have no regrets because we will have eaten all we can handle and will have the surplus canned, frozen and dehydrated so we'll have plenty of tomatoes to tide us over until next year's harvest begins.

I usually keep some tomatoes going all summer, and even did that last year, but it uses a lot of water, and I am not going to pour endless amounts of water on the ground this year like I did last year. It just costs too much and in the heat, the tomatoes don't produce well enough to justify it anyway.

Every day I think to myself "I am so sick of tomatoes" but that really means I am sick of spending several hours a day about three days a week harvesting them, and then working part of every day (and all of some days) to preserve all I can before it is time to harvest the next batch. It doesn't mean I am sick of eating them. I never tire of eating tomatoes, not when good home-grown tomatoes are available.

We're hitting the 100s now, and it is hard to drag myself out to the garden even long enough to pick tomatoes. I wish we could have April or October daytime highs all summer long.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:29AM
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An update and some observations about DTM's. Everyday something changes in a garden. This morning while checking things early I found that a horn worm had ate a large portion of the top of my Brandyboy plant. When I found him he was huge. Guess I wasn't paying enough attention. Will have to be more attentive for awhile. I fed some of the garden today, planted some herbs and flowers. And weeded some. So spent more time studying the garden today. My early sweet corn is pollinating now. My field corn growing buds say it is too hot to get good ear fill. Nothing I can do but wait. Last year they said the same and I had good fill. So will hope for the best.
There are usually a few questions about DTM's. I keep fair records. And thought I would post what my sweet corn is doing and then update when both the early and late are finished. On 4-12-12 I planted 3 early varieties that the DTM's ranged from 71-79 days. All 3 were germinated and above ground in 9 days. On 5-5-12 I planted 4 varieties of late corn that the DTM's ranged from 72-75 days. The early corn is basically at it's DTM and it will be another 7-10 days before the first ears are ready to pick at least. And the 79 day variety appears it maybe the first ready. The late varieties are just starting to show tassels. I expect them to be at the most 2 weeks behind most of the early varieties. They will be very close to their expected DTM dates and possibly a few days early. This just shows again that DTM dates early in the season especially here are many times not close. And why I waited so long even after the early seed germinated and was growing well to plant the late season corn. They are different types so can't be pollinating at the same time. Jay

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:07AM
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