Thursday, May 12, 2016

First Spring

One of many roses around my front door.
Having lived in Southern Arizona for the last 9 years, it was quite a change to move to a climate that experiences seasons. Enduring years of only summer and winter, it has been a wonderful change to finally soak up a spring. The flowers here are incredibly beautiful and the cool mornings and nights are just fantastic - perfect for both walking and gardening.


A cucumber melon plant.

 Since planting my two little plots, my tomatoes have grown quite a bit. With the fact that we have not rented in many years, I was surprised to discover that our home will be inspected soon. What will the property inspectors say about the row of tomatoes in the front yard? Hopefully, they will not worry too much about it, since I had to tear up a bed of weeds to put them in!


A few more flower from the front yard


 
A Celebrity tomato plant with some disease on it.


I am starting to get a few tomatoes growing on my Celebrity, San Marzano and a Rutgers plants and my Little Leaf cucumber is doing well. Given the poor condition of the soil I planted them in, the tomatoes are doing quite well. With the winter and spring rains, the roses around the tomato plants are also thriving. Though the roses are beautiful, mine suffer from some kind of bacterial infection, which has spread to the tomato plants. Alas, my unfortunate experiences with bad bacteria persist, howbeit nowhere near as bad as in my hot, humid garden back in Tucson.


Arkansas Little Leaf Cucumber plant.




San Marzano tomatoes.


Some volunteer flowers.
The cucumber-melons in the backyard are doing alright. After suffering several near-disasters and false starts due to slugs mowing down my seedlings, I have finally amassed sufficient number of plants to do well with this summer. Though I still love going out to see how my long dark Armenian cucumbers are growing, it seems as if my plants are growing in slow-motion in comparison to my Tucson garden. Alas, the moderate-intensity sunlight in Northern California cannot compare with the intense burning heat of southern Arizona sun.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Moving to California


Waiting a whole year since having much of a garden has been very difficult for me. Uprooting an established family can be very difficult, but giving up a garden has been very hard on me. Although I felt forced to move from Arizona, because of health problems, the lack of therapy that a garden provides has weighed on me for a while. So, it is time that I provide an update on my family and gardening experience.




After getting our old house fixed up, I moved to Fairfield California, without my family, for six weeks. The housing market here is very tight, and even with very good credit my family had to get on a waiting list to get into a rental home. Once we finally moved into the rental home, it still took quite a while to adjust. As our family is still reconciling our feelings about moving to California, I was grateful to recently dig out two small garden plots in our new home.

After getting our old house fixed up, I moved to Fairfield California, without my family, for six weeks. The housing market here is very tight, and even with very good credit my family had to get on a waiting list to get into a rental home. Once we finally moved into the rental home, it still took quite a while to adjust. As our family is still reconciling our feelings about moving to California, I was grateful to recently dig out two small garden plots in our new home.

The two available plots where I knew I could replace the soil and replant grass seed were in the front next to the roses and in the back, on the south side of the house.



In front of the rose bushes, I transplanted some tomato plants and lowered my sweet potato pot into the ground. I have already transplanted some Purple Dingess slips into another part of the yard, but the Alabama Purple has yet to come up yet.




On the south side of the house, I planted some cucumbers. Though I would like to try out a new Carosello variety sent to me by my Italian friends Guiseppe and Angelo, I first need to get some better quality seeds of the Long Dark Green Armenian. Additionally, I want to get seed of the Arkansas Little Leaf cucumber, so I planted some of this small cucumber variety as well. Hopefully, I can get seeds of this variety as well. Because cucumbers and melons do not interbreed, I should be able to get pure seed from both cucumber varieties.


My only Purple Dingess Sweet Potato Slips
While moving to a beautiful place like California is nice, having a little garden will definitely help me to feel whole on the inside. Although uprooting a family can be difficult, planting a garden is definitely a way to start reestablishing a connection with our new home.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Still Growing

Despite spending time looking for other places to live, we still had a small winter garden this year consisting of lots of Jerico lettuce, snap beans, green onions (Texas Bunching) and carrots. Most of the carrots I grew this year were Purple Dragon. We have been enjoying those a lot. However, there were some of my purple Turkish, including this small one, that ended up on our dinner plates.



Turkish Black Carrot - Yummy!



Cut up and ready to be lightly steamed for dinner.

 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sweet Potato Update

So, back in mid-January I finished harvesting my purple sweet potatoes. Despite this being the first time that my children helped with the harvest, they did a great job. All told, by January we had harvested 278 pounds. Each variety did very well. I harvested plenty Dingess Purple, Alabama Purple (or Purple Delight) and All-Purple. Even a friend's pink variety did well.


The kids helped harvest these Sweet Potatoes
 

Though I had hoped to sell some on Craigslist, we may be eating a lot of them. That’s alright because my kids don’t mind eating lots of sweet potatoes. (=
 

Purple Sweet Potato Fries (=

 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Arkansas Little Leaf Cucumber

Though I have been wanting to grow Arkansas Little Leaf Cucumber, ever since growing it in my first summer garden, it was not until I recently had access to a greenhouse when I finally made the time and room to grow this incredible cucumber variety.

 
The Arkansas Little Leaf Cucumber


At the time when I last grew this variety I had not experienced any amount of success with other cucumbers and was highly impressed with the results. Thanks to the University of Arkansas developing and releasing this variety (initially a patented variety) gardeners are able to grow a very prolific cucumber in any climate. One of the ways in which this variety can grow in various climates has to do with its parthenocarpic fruit. When a plant exhibits Parthenocarpy (literally meaning “virgin fruit”) this means that the vines will produce female fruit without pollination.

 
Male Flowers of the Arkansas Little Leaf


Though plants that are parthenocarpic will produce fruit without pollination, any fruit produced in this manner will be completely sterile. The fruit will simply produce without seeds. Bees or industrious gardeners are required to pollinate fruit if there is to be seed for future generations. As there are generally plenty of male flowers, pollination does not become an issue unless the temperatures outside are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In this case, the gardener must wait until the temperatures cool down so that the male and female flower blossoms do not wilt in the heat. 


The Immature Female Blossom at the perfect time for Pollination

 
 
Because they are parthenocarpic, the fruit can keep its flower for a while
 
 
The vines of the Arkansas Little Leaf cucumber are generally very disease resistant and hardy. The cucumbers themselves are a bit thick-skinned (much unlike the Carosello I am used to growing). This is an incredibly prolific variety that will produce and produce until the plant itself dies. With the fruit exhibiting a very consistent size, Arkansas Little Leaf makes the perfect cucumber for pickling in or out of a greenhouse. 
 
 
Arkansas Little Leaf Cucumbers are prolific despite any outside stresses.
 
 
In summary, when presented with a pretty prolific parthenocarpic pickler, promptly pick the Arkansas Little Leaf to pack into your next pickling pints.
(=


Arkansas Little Leaf is a consistent pickling Cucumber