"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In the Garden - Tomatoes & Peppers

"This was going to be the year we cut back on how many peppers and tomatoes we grow due to the glut of fruits they provided for us last season," He says chuckling to himself. Well those plans went out the window with this year's seemingly never ending cold and rain. What do you do when the weather does not cooperate? Well we changed all of our gardening plans at the last minute, focusing on quantity of plants over quality. I am growing twice as many peppers and tomatoes this year under the assumption that we will no doubt have a much lighter crop come fall. So each plant only needs to produce half as many fruits in order to provide us with a similar harvest as last season. That's the idea anyway.

We also scrapped all of the many plans that were formulated this past winter for numerous varieties of both bush and pole beans focusing instead on the cold hearty fava and my old reliable runner beans, both to be used as dry beans. We have a few other varieties of beans planted but nothing like I had originally planned on growing.

We need all the sun we can get this summer so most sunflowers and any tall fences of climbing plants besides those on the outskirts of the garden are pretty much out of the picture. I even had to sacrifice my wife's beautiful elderberry bush as it was shading part of our tomato patch, no worries though as a good pruning will make it thrive even more next spring.

While the vast majority of our tomato and pepper plants are planted in the ground every extra spot of space is filled with potted peppers and tomatoes...lots and lots of them. I figured that the peppers in black pots would outperform the ones in the ground this year and I am right so far. Potting a bunch of our plants will also allow me to usher them into the greenhouse if September's weather does not pan out. This is what I enjoy the most about gardening, the challenge of making it happen no matter what. A few of the smaller dwarf tomato varieties are even starting to bear fruit.

Husky Dwarf tomatoes


Red Alert

A tasty Tumbling Tom

A ridiculous amount of caged indeterminate tomatoes

Cali Orange tomatoes in pots

A gifted Coastal Pride Orange all staked up ~ A friend grew and babied a number of these plants from seed out of a tomato we gave her last fall. Thanks Paige!

Potted Bloody Butcher tomatoes starting to form


Patio and Husky Dwarf tomatoes planted in the greenhouse

There are even tomatoes in the Orchard

Black Pearl Pepper ~ (looking good Randi)

Our first cayenne pepper...and that's my clean hand you should see the other one.:)

Jalapeno and cubanero peppers in pots

and pots

and pots
And more pots - Now all that's left to do is sit back and cross my fingers that time will be on our side and hope for a very warm August and September because come October it will all be over for any of these fair weather plants that are not lugged into the greenhouse.


Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Wow! You have a beautiful, well cared for garden and lots of tomatoes! I grew extra tomatoes and peppers this year too.

Our early tomatoes are just now starting to ripen.

Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

Bev said...

I second the wow! above. We're having a hot, dry summer in Ontario, but we just moved house, so I planted my tomatoes and peppers out pretty late. They're rapidly catching up in the heat, though.

I expect your approach of planting lots will net you lots, even with the slow start.

Your blog is very inspirational!

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Wo! Please tell me you can't fit all of those potted peppers and tomatoes back into the greenhouse! I think your plans are good ones. We just have to go with the flow. BUT the elderberry????????? I think Micki should of gagged and tied you in the closet. I wouldn't trade my elderberry for a tomato any day!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

We are doing the "plant shuffle" also - trying to get as much growing as possible in crazy places. And wouldn't you know that I found about a dozen packets of seeds I was SUPPOSED to plant. Oh well... we are too hot and you are not sunny enough. Its enough to drive someone mad... or just keep trying to work with it.

ps my hands are super dirty too! they wont be clean until December.

Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

lots of plans hatched this winter did not get implemented either. Next year, though, next year....

It looks absolutely beautiful mike. What are the little plants in the tomato bed? lettuce seedlings?

Silke said...

Oh, wow, what a huge amount of plants!! That's going to be a lot of harvesting right at once, or not? Your tomatoes look wonderful!! As do your peppers. Keeping my fingers crossed for a warm rest of the season... And I'm glad you only pruned the elderberry bush! : ) Silke

Annie's Granny said...

Hey! I said that, too! Of course I didn't plant nearly as many as you did, but I did get a bit carried away. It may be a good thing. Last year by this time, I was canning tomatoes and making pickle relish. This year I'm getting three cucumbers and not more than a mixing bowl full of tomatoes a week. And then there's the BER on the peppers. I think this year's total harvest might be smaller than last year.

Your garden is gorgeous. I need to move back out to the country ;-)

Faith Kolean said...

The pictures you posted look great. I see the sidebar thermometer reads 80 degrees. All those tomatoes look good.

Mr. H. said...

Sheryl - Most of my plants are indeterminate and larger determinate varieties that we use for canning and such. I am so glad that we decided to grow a bunch of dwarf tomatoes this year, a first for us, so we can at least have a taste of fresh tomatoes while we wait for the rest to grow. Now if I could just get our zucchinis to look like yours.:)

Bev - Thanks for stopping by. I certainly hope we have a good year end crop because I do like my tomato sauce. I can't complain too much though as we had such a bumper crop last year.

Diane - I doubt they will all fit but if push comes to shove I will certainly try.:) Now you know I would never cut back my wife's favorite elderberry without her permission. Luckily, it's only her favorite because it grows in the garden and the woods in our area are full of elderberries so we will no doubt go on a blossom hunt followed later by a berry hunt in the near future...our she WILL bind and gag me.

OhioFarmGirl - It's always something... to hot to cold, but I suppose that is what makes it all so interesting. It was pretty warm out today, the chickens barely left the cover of their favorite shade tree.

I honestly try to keep my right hand out of all pictures, it really is a mess.

Sylvie - Anything but the planting of a fruit tree can be put off for a while.:) The little plants by the bricks are basil. We are growing a little blue spice, purple, and a bunch of sweet basil...I can't wait for it to grow a bit.

Silke - My hope is that we will have lots of tomatoes in September that are mature enough to pick green and ripen off the vine. That is often how we are forced to deal with our tomatoes during an extra short season...they still ripen right up and taste great that way though.

The best way to keep an elderberry bush from becoming old and diseased is to cut it back every couple years so I guess this will be one of those years.

Annie's Granny - I potted them up Granny, just like you do. I'm not sure I would be doing that with my tomatoes if I had not seen what fabulous success you have had with yours...so far so good and luckily I have about a bazillion pots at my disposal. The peppers on the other hand, I have potted them up before and they love it.

Faith - Yes, it is nice and warm out and supposed to be in the 90°'s all next week and beyond. It's always a bit cooler than the weather reports suggest in our shaded gardens but the plants are loving it...I guess summer was waiting for mid-July to get underway this year.

meemsnyc said...

Wow, you have so many plants! Your garden is amazing!

Erin said...

It is so interesting to see what you (and are not) doing right now. I feel almost silly to have sunflowers when our summer here in our part of
California has been so vacant. Makes me realize I haven't been all too serious about growing most of our food! I fully admire what you are doing and your eye and sense for the seasons before you. I'd say if I didn't have youngins I might be so organized but really I should be moreso because I do have them.

Regardless, thanks for the fabulous post and inspiration to grow more and be more industrious!

Anonymous said...

If I would have a small garden, I would grow only peppers and tomatoes. They are my favourite for eating fresh and for preserving for winter. I think that we preserve about 90% of our peppers and tomatoes.

I thought that I had a lot of peppers growing...

Mr. H. said...

meemsync - Yes, there is a lot of plants and the garden seems to get a bit larger every year. I just pulled sod and fenced off another new section in which we planted our turnip crop. Thanks for visiting our little blog.

Erin - Sunflowers are so fun, especially in the minds of children...giant flowers. I hope to grow some again next year as I really do like them, I did let 3 volunteers next to the greenhouse stay.:) We made a serious commitment a couple years back to grow all of our own food so we do try our best to make it happen no matter what, which really keeps us on our toes at times.

vrtlarica - I can't imagine a garden without tomatoes and peppers either. Our pantry still contains quite a few jars of last year's sauces and salsa but certainly not enough to see us through another winter so I do hope we manage a decent crop this year. Like I told Sheryl, I'm just glad we grew a few dwarf tomato varieties so we could actually have a taste in July...we split and shared our first ripe cherry tomato a few days ago and it was so good.:)

EcoLife said...

That is just "wowing" I only have 7 varieties of tomatoes and 6 peppers and still I am not sure how they will perform due to the wet spring. I to planted WAY more than I had originally intended to plant.

Most of my toms are starting to show fruit now...but nothing red in sight. I should have planted a cherry or a grape tomato hmmmm, next year maybe?

I never thought of placing some peppers/toms in big pots and doing the plant shuffle. See this is why I read blogs, I learn.

The Cottage Garden Farmer said...

What a lovely load of toms, but how on earth do you find time for all the watering? I've had good results this year with tumbling tom as well, Black Prince is my favourite.

It's me ...Mavis said...

It's the "Year of the Berry" at our house... I think our first tomato will be ready to pick in another TWO DAYS....it's nothing like last year... that's for sure. It really makes one stop and wonder what it would truly be like if we couldn't hop in the car and buy veggies at Fred Meyer's... Although if need be I have plenty of free dried pasta for food and plenty of pantiliners to burn for heat :)

It's me ...Mavis said...

I hope my comment makes sense to you... I just got back from run/walking 8 miles in 85 degree heat... I think I might be a little delirious...

Naomi said...

What lovely tomato and capsicum plants! We are about to start our solanaceae seed sowing - I'm hoping to get a good crop of tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum for preserving this season. We don't eat much chilli, but I do have a few of those to go in too.

Instead of pruning to get more sun, we're probably going to have to put up 30% shadecloth in the middle of summer over some of the plants! I'd lend you the extra sunlight if I could lol :)

Leigh said...

I have been thinking about this. About the unpredictability of weather and how it effects one's harvest. Since I am working on saving all my own seed, I'm realizing that I must approach this with the idea of potential crop failure. I think your solution to your weather is an excellent one. I will be interested in what you do end up with by summer's end.

Stefaneener said...

Your idea of doubling possibilities in a year with potential for fewer fruit is quite wise. I just don't envy you moving things around.

Mr. H. said...

EcoLife - One of my favorite tomatoes and a very early one at that is called Bloody Butcher. They put out nice 4 oz fruits and are always one of our first ripe tomatoes right along side the cherry varieties.

Aren't blogs great, I could not even begin to count the wonderful ideas I have come across through the blogs of others.

The Cottage Garden Farmer - I just looked up Black Prince and it sounds like a terrific tomato and one that I just added to my list for next year.:)

We water all our pots by hand, they are well mulched with grass clippings and only need water every 3rd day. The majority of our gardens are set up to be watered at night via a couple of Orbit timers...best $60 I ever spent.

Mavis - I'm often in a state of delirium myself so of course your comments made sense.:) I think we are going to have a pretty good berry season in the garden as well, we picked a good gallon of black raspberries today and the first red ones are starting to come on.

By the way, if times get rough don't burn those pantiliners, they make the best band-aids ever. Good job on the run, I've been doing a bit of that myself...the wonder dog and I had a great run Friday morning.

Naomi - We are growing a few chili peppers this year too. I have never grown them before and am looking forward to using them.

The one nice thing about our shady garden is that we always have an abundance of salad greens but I will happily share some of my shade with you.:) I hope you have an excellent growing season this year...your peppers will probably catch up and pass mine by before our short season is over.:)

Leigh - Honestly, gardening is like a game of chess, the weather makes one move and you have to counter it with your own.

I love that you are saving your own seeds, that has been one of my big projects over the past couple years as well and something I am very passionate about.

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneener - I truly hope that I will not have to move them around. I would love it if they would just produce and not have to be moved into the greenhouse. I noticed today that many of our peppers flowers are becoming little fruits so I feel really good about that, the tomatoes on the other hand...we shall see.

Sharon said...

WOW! What a beautiful garden! I too have a rediculous amount of caged indeterminate tomatoes but am very green when I see you already have some red tomatoes!How do you water your garden? Also, doesn't it get too hot in your greenhouse by now? Do you use some sort of a shade cover?

Mr. H. said...

Sharon - Trust me there are only a few red tomatoes and they are all on the dwarf varieties. I noticed today that a few of the larger plants are finally filling out with tomatoes but they still have a long way to go.

While we do spend a lot of time hand watering the majority of our gardens are set up with timers allowing most of the watering to happen at night...it's very effective.

The heavily mulched potted peppers and tomatoes that I left in the greenhouse are all on the floor and even though it was 115°in there today they don't seem to mind. Because there is no wind or movement in the greenhouse I do have to go around every so often and lightly shake or tap the plants though, it helps the pollen on the self pollinating flowers of tomatoes and peppers to drop and do its thing.

I hope your tomatoes do good this year.:)

Roasted Garlicious said...

it must be called the year of the tomato and pepper.. i also have an unusual amount of them both... the peppers are doing very well as are the tomatoes... the tail-enders i planted up and both the peppers and tomato plants are starting to flower... salsa here we come!

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious - Great minds think alike.:) I suppose it is always better to have a huge surplus of produce rather than a lack thereof.

I can't wait for some fresh out of the garden salsa with cucs, zucs, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and peppers in it.

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Once again your garden is a wonder. It looks like you should have no shortage of tomatoes or peppers. I like the idea of growing peppers in pots so you can bring them inside in the fall. I have friends that swear that the only way to grow peppers is as perennials instead of annuals. I plan to try and overwinter a few in the house this winter if I remember.

Chiot's Run said...

I believe you can never have too many tomatoes. No matter how many I plant I never have enough. Of course I have a small garden and it's shady so they don't produce as much as they would in a normal garden. Each year I plant more and more and find little nooks and crannies to plant them in, but still never enough.

LOve all those tomatoes!

Mr. H. said...

Rick - I think your friends might be right about the peppers. They take so very long to start from seed and treating them as perennial would give them such a huge head start. I have tried overwintering them before without much success, perhaps I should try again this year.

Susy - I think we both face the same dilemma, a bit too shady of a garden..so we plant a lot and hope for the best. The weather has really warmed up now and I am hoping for some good results this year.

Annie's Granny said...

Mr. H., I recently read an article by someone who always overwintered peppers with great success. I do think he pruned them to about 6" and let them put out new growth for the next season's crop. The following article is interesting. They say to increase the nitrogen for winter growth, to encourage a lush, leafy plant.


I grew mine (from seed) inside for months, after starting them in AZ. They sat in a north window, and blossomed, but dropped the blooms even though I was diligent with my little paint brush. I had awesome big plants to set out here in the spring, though.

Mr. H. said...

Annie's Granny - Thank you so much for this information. I am definitely going to try this with a few of our plants. The link you provided was packed full of useful information.:)



FL Outdoor Hydroponics said...

wow.... you have quite a awesome garden! I'm glad I found your blog and I look forward to following your gardening adventures :)

Mr. H. said...

FL Outdoor Hydroponics - Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to checking out your blog as well and learning more about hydroponically grown plants.

Frugilegus said...

I'll bore you by adding to the 'Wows'!

I'm growing Bloody Butcher too, though as I grew it from a 'borrowed' side-shoot it's a bit behind and I don't know what it's like yet. Glad it's got a good recommendation.

Like Annie's Granny I've also overwintered a couple of chilli plants - one of the type that's suppose to work well and one of the type that I read shouldn't work. Neither did much in the winter but are now huge and cropping really heavily.

Mr. H. said...

Frugilegus - Thanks for the wow.:) Bloody Butcher is one of my all time favorite tomatoes. It puts out early fruits for us and tastes wonderful...a perfect plant that I love and if I had to choose only one tomato to grow this would be a serious candidate. I hope your's puts out a few fruits...let me know what you think of them if it does.

Thanks for the info. on peppers...I will try that again this winter for sure.

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