2011 Garden observations and ramblings

elkwc(6b)August 25, 2011

I've been keeping a diary of my garden this year. I will start posting some sections of it as I get time. I just updated my tomato section tonight and will post it. Overall I can't be too disappointed when I factor in the extreme drought and heat after the severe hail. I will attach the link to my pictures even though I posted them in another thread. My Pepper update will be following in the next few days. Jay

It is too early for me to make any judgements about varieties. With the hail everything is late. I lost all of my 4th of July tomatoes to the hail and couldn't find anymore. They were fairly loaded when they got hammered. I would of had a lot from them by now if they had survived. I'm seeing some fruit set. I'm happy with what I'm seeing considering everything. I've ate 5-6 so far. What I have ate have been hybrids. But from what I've saw so far a few of the op varieties seem to be setting as well if not better now than any of the hybrids on the mid to large size varieties. I noticed greenies on Grandma Suzy and also Brown Derby when I was side dressing. My top setting cherry so far has been Sweet Treats. There are some more I know of and sure several I haven't seen yet. Fortunately the low humidity along with the lows in the upper 60's to low 70's has allowed for at least some fruit set. 8-25 update - Temps overall have remained high. Have had a few cooler days which have allowed some fruit set. Missed several rains. Overall the plants are still in better shape than the last 3 years and I'm happy overall. A few disappointments. A lot of big plants if I can just get some fruit set in time to ripen. I put shade cloth squares over all of my caged plants but had to take a few off after the plants reached the top. I'm looking at some options for next year of taller cages so I won't have to remove them as early. I also put a shade cloth over most of my sprawlers 2 weeks ago which really helped. Had a few mornings 7-14 days ago with a dew and high humidity in the morning. I have pulled only one plant so far. But have 2 more that need it. Two of them have battled Septoria leaf spot. Need to do some searching on what the 3rd one has. Seeing some minor signs of disease. Still overall disease issues have been light knock on wood.

Been picking a few Sungold everyday. It has started setting better along with Sweet Treats. Both Sweet Treat plants are setting well but have had a lull. They didn't set during the extreme heat of July. Petit Chocolate Cherry is setting well now but sure took awhile. I have Ambrosia Red in a container. Transplanted it late and it will be moved into the lean to later on. Picked my first JD's Special C-Tex last week. Was the best tasting JD's I've raised. Flavor was very intense. All of the JD's have some fruit set so should be more to sample soon. Talledega and Beefy Boy have been the heaviest setting hybrids. Jet Star has been very consistent. Moderate fruit set on the plants but none heavy. Sanibel and Jetsonic are 2 more hybrids that have decent fruit set. Randy's Brandy has good fruit set. Looking forward to sampling them. Have heard great things about them. For a Brandy type and this year being what it has been I'm impressed with the fruit set. Purple Haze F1 has good fruit set but haven't sampled any yet. Heinz 2653 has had decent fruit set but look for it too pick up. Mountain Magic has average fruit set but no ripe ones yet. Ramapo still has no fruit set. This is the 3rd year of little or no fruit set. It won't be back. Moreton is the same. Carbon has some fruit set. Cherokee Purple has some also. But not sure it is going to survive all the abuse it has took from the wind. This is one year that the caged plants next to the sweet corn with the shade cloth on top has done better than the sprawlers. The relentless wind has took it's toll. Dana's Dusky Rose has some fruit set. JD's Special Pink Heart has fruit set and looks like it will be a heart again. Wasn't sure it would be stable. It was supposed to of been a pink beefsteak and I got Pink hearts last year. The best setting heart I've ever grown. There are others that have a few fruit on them. Will do another update after the first 10-14 days of September.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Pictures

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Thanks for the update and photos.

Has your wind been worse than usual this year, or is it always that bad in the summer months? Down here at my end of OK, the summer wind doesn't seem like it has been as bad as usual, but maybe that's because I've been hibernating indoors in the AC.

Sweet Treats had that same mid-summer lull for me last year during the worst of the heat, but otherwise produced very well. It did produce better than most other cherry types did in the fall. Some years the cherry types don't slow down much at all in the summer, but these last 2 years they certainly have.

JD's Special C-Tex and Gary 'O Sena are my newest favorites, producing as well as or better than Black Brandywine, Indian Stripe and Cherokee Purple in our garden the last few years. I also have been really pleased with Dana's Dusky Rose for the last 3 years. They will be a constant on my grow list from now on.

Mountain Magic set well overall and the flavor was decent, though not dazzling, but the heat shut it down pretty quickly. I'll give it a chance again next year to see if it does better in an average summer, assuming next summer has more normal weather than we've had this year.

I look forward to hearing your mid-Sept. report.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:40AM
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Dawn it has been worse this year. We usually have wind in the spring and then in August and through the fall when everybody had windmills many times it wouldn't blow enough for them to keep up. We had a few weeks where it wasn't as bad. But the last 2 days over 100 and with strong wind has really took it's toll on the garden. Especially the cukes and beans. Hopefully with the cooler days that are supposed to be on the way they will recover. I waited till late to plant them but was still almost too early. I'm starting to pick several cukes. The Cherokee wax beans are just blooming so should be fine if the cooldown arrives. I bought a few bales of hay last night from an elderly farmer and he said the wind and heat was the worst he has ever experienced. He has seen one or the other as bad but the combination was the worst.

There isn't any tomatoes that have set real heavy. Seeing a few greenies showing up from the couple of days we had around 90 around 10 days ago. The cherries have set the best but not like normal and the one cherry cross I grew last year that was so prolific got wiped out by the hail so can't say how it would of done. Overall Sweet Treats and Sungold are probably even. Both Sweet Treats have produced decently. The Sungold's are smaller but there has been a few more of them. Petit Chocolate Cherry has set well but haven't tasted any yet. Talledega has set well also. I've picked 2 and the flavor wasn't anything to write home about but were good on a BPT.

After it cools down a little I will take some more pictures. Most things have continued to grow well. A few of the tomato plants are showing some signs of stress from the recent hot spell.

The surprising thing so far is how well the peppers have set. Even the bell peppers have set very well. Some plants are small but loaded. I'm waiting for the fruit to get a little more size then will start picking them so the later fruit can get more size. The Chile peppers are loaded. Need to check them well in the morning as the wind may of broke some branches off with the load they are carrying. I'm still impressed with the Fox Farm products I've used this year. A part owner of a greenhouse/nursery used their products this year and also feels they may be the best she has used and they sell other brands. I attribute part of my plant health to them. I'm going to spray everything with the organic liquid bloom spray tomorrow evening. It has bat guano in it.

Grandma Suzy's has set about as well as any larger type this year. It set and aborted several earlier but has a few I'm guessing about half grown now. Hard to guess as most of the fruit I've picked have been smaller than usual. Randy's Brandy has 10 plus on it. If the flavor is as good as I'm told it will be back. If it can set 10 in this year that is better than any Brandy or Brandy cross has ever done. Branyboy has one on it that I've seen. The first 2 are both from seeds Gary sent me. And both will be back I'm sure. Still haven't picked a Purple Haze F1.
Most of the Jet Star's are starting to set some more. Overall they will likely be my heaviest producers this year. The plants I planted late in containers that I plan on moving into the lean too are growing well and looking good. Looking forward to some of them. They are blooming well now so hoping for good fruit set on them over the next 2 weeks. Jay

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:37PM
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After the last 3 years I checked my notes. I realize some of the problems I've experienced can be attributed to the drought which I have no control over. And some of the insect borne diseases will be hard to eliminate totally. Just like with humans I know the healthier a plant the better chance it has of fighting off disease and of withstanding the stress of the wind and heat. The things I can control are fertilizing, mulching and watering. Last fall I looked at the changes I had made over the last 3 years and the results I was experiencing. And decided some of them weren't working like I had planned for one reason or another and that I have gave them long enough. I decided it was time to make some changes again. I added 5-6 inches of leaves along with a few inches of mulch in November. I sprinkled a commercial fertilizer I had used in the past made for this area(alkaline soil with an iron deficiency) on top also and worked it in. It is a complete fertilizer and has extra sulfur and iron which we need in this area. I added some more to the onion rows and side dressed the garlic this spring. The first 16 tomato plants went straight into the ground without any thing else. The readings on my soil has been high to very high. On the plants I added anything to when planting I used a little Tomato Tone on a few to compare the results against some new products from Fox Farms that I tried this year. Most are organic. I'm very impressed to this point. Feel they may be the best products I've used. Especially their organic products. I'm anxious to see how they perform in a more normal year. I mixed some Humalfa compost along with the Fox Farm products in my containers and so far they have done very well also. This year to keep the container from getting so hot I put a row of straw bales around them. Overall my plant health has been the best I've seen in the last 3-4 years. Jay

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:59PM
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Been spending more time in the garden. With the cooler temps many of the tomatoes are setting now. Some won't make it before frost I'm sure. Have lost a few to diseases in the last month. Only sprayed the caged plants once. Probably should again. The varieties that Gary sent me that the Tomato Man grew that survived the hail have overall outperformed my other op's.

Grandma Suzy's has set better than anything. I would say 40 plus fruits on it now. It isn't a tall plant but has spread out wide. Heavy bloomer all summer and really setting fruit now. None are turning yet but the biggest fruits are in the 7-8 ounce range. Nice beefsteak shape. Hopefully 10 or more will make it before frost. Randy's Brandy is another that has set very heavy. Both of these were from seeds Gary sent me. Hopefully will get to taste Grandma Suzy's soon. Tasted my first Randy's Brandy last week. As good as any Brandywine type I've grown. and has by far the heaviest fruit set of any Brandywine type I have grew. And I've tried several. And to do this in such a terrible year has been impressive to me. Smaller than many(3-4 ounce range). Will be saving seeds from both.

Heinz 2653 had lots of blooms all summer but just average set. A roma type with good flavor. Will give it another try.

JD's Special C-Tex has set fair. And taste has been good to very good depending on source of seeds. None of the plants have set heavy but at least some on all.

Carbon, Golden Cherokee, JD's Special Pink Heart,Dana's Dusky Rose, Marglobe have all set some but none very heavy. Hopefully will get to taste and save seeds from all of them.

Many of my favorites failed for one reason or another. Several of the op's I grew for the first time won't get a return try. Among them will be Amy's Sugar Gem, Strawberry Margarita and Brown Derby.

Jet Star has been the most consistent of the hybrids. Beefy Boy has a very heavy set now and better flavor. Talladega and Sanibel are determinate types that have set well and starting to produce well. Flavor on them is just average. Jetsonic has set above average and has good size. A good slicer but not one I would eat in the garden. Mountain Magic has been a disappointment. Purple Haze F1 has set fair and a vigorous plant but not the great flavor I was expecting. 7.5-8.0 on a 0-10 scale. Sungold has done well again. Sweet Treats has been the best producer but not as good of taste. Both will be back on production alone. Ramapo hasn't produced one ripe fruit here in 3 tries. It won't be back. Has a few small fruit now that will probably never make it.

Among the hybrids that won't get another chance are Beefmaster, Better Boy, Mountain Magic and Ramapo.

Of the container varieties I plan on moving to the lean to greenhouse there are a few starting to perform well. Guildo Pietroboni is the best setting heart type I've ever grown. Has the limp, fern like appearance but not as bad as many of the heart types. Hopefully it will adjust well to life in the greenhouse. Ambrosia Red is a cherry type that is setting well and another I'll move and for sure try again next year. Have fruit set on a few others. Plan on moving 3-4 tomato plants and one container with peppers to the lean to.

I will have another update in 2-3 weeks. Also will try to add some more pictures including pictures of the lean to. I have it finished and trying to figure out how to control temps somewhat before I move plants in it. Feel free to ask for seeds of anything I have. Not a fair year to judge a variety by. So have been impressed with a few that at least survived the summer and that set average or better. Jay

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 11:56PM
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