Archive for the 'Onions' Category

Vegetable Garden Successes and Misses

In March, we added two more raised beds in our backyard. We now have four raised beds that we are growing vegetables in. This year, we are growing tomatoes, potatoes, pole beans, peppers, eggplants, onions, basil, strawberries, cilantro, corn, zucchini, carrots, and cucumbers in our four raised beds. Although we haven’t harvested any vegetables yet, some of our vegetable plants are growing better than others.

Last October, I harvested seeds from dried up bean pods on our pole bean plants. I stored those seeds in a plastic bag over the winter and then planted the seeds in mid-March. Below is a picture of our pole beans today. In nearly 3 months, they have completely covered the fence I built for them last year.

In my experience, pole beans have been really easy to grow by seed and very prolific producers. Nearly all of the seeds sprout without any stratification. And once the beans sprout, they grow quickly with minimal care and little or no fertilizer (at least in our soil which is amended with compost). Although snails and slugs will eat them if they are not protected somehow. Every year that we have grown pole beans (for about the past 4 years), they have produced more beans than we could eat.

Another plant we have had a lot of luck growing is tomatoes. We planted three tomato transplants (early girl, big beef, and champion) in March that we bought from a local nursery. They were about 4 inches tall at the time. They have grown very quickly over the past 3 months, even though the weather here has been much wetter and cooler than average. As shown in the next picture, they have already grown to completely fill their cages.

We also planted San Marzano tomatoes by seed indoors a few months ago. Growing tomatoes by seed is a first for us. Nearly, all of the tomato seeds sprouted, but as soon as I transplanted the first batch of seedlings outside in early May, they died. The remaining batches of tomato seedlings I “hardened off” by gradually exposing them to direct sunlight and the outside temperature a few hours a day. After hardening off for about 2 weeks, I planted the remainder of the seedlings outside in our new raised beds. The tomato seedlings I hardened off survived and are looking better, although they are only about 6 inches high now.

Of course, one of the advantages of growing plants by seed is access to a larger number of varieties, many of which are not easy to find as transplants. San Marzano tomatoes are supposed to be great sauce tomatoes. The next pictures shows the two new raised beds we just added in our yard. The San Marzano tomatoes are growing on the left side of the bed in the foreground.

Some of the plants that we haven’t had much luck with this year are onions and leeks. I planted white onion sets, shallot sets, and leek transplants in one of our raised beds in March. The onions and leeks are growing on the right side of the bed in the foreground in the above picture. Although the onions and shallots sprouted, they haven’t grown much, and many of their leaves are turning yellow. The leeks haven’t grown at all since I planted them. I don’t have any idea why they haven’t grown well. But I tend to think that part of the fun of growing is taking a chance on growing new plants and that often means some of those plants don’t end up growing well.

Potatoes are another new plant we added to our garden this year. I planted yukon gold potatoes, which I ordered online as potato sets. I also planted white potato sets, which I purchased from a local nursery. The yukon gold potatoes look wonderful. They have already grown to about two feet tall and have really filled in the space around them (see picture below). The white potatoes sprouted, but they didn’t grow nearly as much as the yukon gold potatoes, so I ended up removing most of the white potatoes to make room for other plants.

June 13 2010 | Beans and Onions and Potatoes and Tomatoes | 3 Comments »

Summer Harvest

img_2369_m

As shown in this picture, we harvested yellow and white carrots, walla walla onions, a bunch of big beef and early girl tomatoes from our vegetable garden today. We are making homemade pizza sauce, minestrone soup, and vegetable lasagna with our harvest. We saved money by growing many of the ingredients for these recipes ourselves, and all of these vegetables were easy to grow. Beyond planting in the spring and then harvesting months later, maintaining our vegetable garden did not require a lot of effort.

The automatic watering system in our vegetable garden saves us the trouble of having to water regularly. I fertilized multiple times after planting. But once the plants started growing rapidly, I figured there wasn’t a need for much additional fertilizer. And I only needed to do a little bit of weeding. I think that the weeds just didn’t get a chance to grow, because I planted the vegetables relatively close together. Once the vegetable plants started to grow together, there wasn’t much sunlight to stimulate weed growth in between them.

I just planted another set of carrot seeds. July and August is the time to plant carrot seeds for an autumn and winter harvest. One nice thing about carrots is that they hold well in the ground after they reach maturity without rotting or losing quality. That means you can leave them in the ground for months until you are ready to harvest them.

July 26 2009 | Carrots and Onions and Tomatoes | No Comments »

Vegetable Garden Update

img_2342_m

img_2337_m

img_2336_m

We have been growing vegetables in two 6′ x 7′ raised beds since last summer. In these two small beds, we are growing several different types of fruits and vegetables including peppers, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, cantaloupe, and honey dew.

Our most successful plants so far are the green beans and zucchinis. They are producing more green beans and zucchinis than we can eat. Only a few of the tomatoes on our two tomato plants are have ripened so far (see second picture), but there are dozens of green tomatoes hanging on the vines.

Several of our carrots and onions are just about ready to harvest. The third picture shows some of the walla walla onions we are growing this season. Our corn stalks have reached their maximum height and are now starting to grow small corn ears.

Our eggplants and peppers are growing several small fruits. Although the peppers have not grown very much since I planted them in April. They seem to be getting crowded by the beans, carrots, and tomatoes growing next to them. One of the problems with growing so many different types of plants in a small area is that the slow growing plants like peppers and eggplant tends to get crowded by the faster growing plants. Next year, I may try to plant the slower growing plants together in one bed and the faster growing plants in the other bed.

I haven’t fertilized most of the plants in our vegetable garden since mid-May. I was fertilizing them with water soluble fertilizer for about the first 6 six weeks after planting. After that, most of the vegetables started growing so fast that I decided to stop the fertilizing. I have only been continuing to fertilize the eggplants and peppers in an attempt to get them to grow more.

I have also been fertilizing our strawberries about once a week. I know that sounds like a lot of fertilizer, but they have been producing strawberries continuously since early May. They show no signs of slowing down their fruit production yet. I have been harvesting a small bowl full of berries every few days for over two months. I attribute the huge production of berries to all the fertilizer. Last year, they stopped producing berries in early June. But as soon as I started fertilizing them, they begin to produce berries again.

Our strawberries are growing in pots around the raised beds, which makes it easy to pick them. Strawberries tend to rot quickly when the fruits are lying directly on damp soil. The berries mostly hang over the edges of the pots, so the berries stay dry.

July 12 2009 | Onions and Strawberries and Tomatoes and Vegetables | No Comments »