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Gardening update and a little bit of Jack and the Beanstalk

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posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 04:32 PM
Gardening update and a little bit of Jack and the Beanstalk

As well as dates and pics along with how it’s going.

05 07-2008
Not long after the initial planting in early March.
A few plants had a tough time getting started, part of that perhaps my fault because after having a good start with seedlings planted in commercial peat plant pots that came with potting soil in the pots and sitting in the big bathtub right below a big frosted/pebbled glass window things were looking good.

I did transplant most of the seedlings into larger plastic pots with Miracle-Gro potting soil about mid-April and put them outside on a bench where they received shade too soon.
Along with that, I should have brought them in every night because it did get cold and there were two nights where the temp hit 32 degrees F.
For the most part they did ok, but the funny part is, the Early Girl tomato plant - which is one of the earliest maturing tomatoes - is just now putting fruit on the vine and is about two weeks behind the other large tomatoes.
Like always, the cherry tomatoes are putting fruit on the vine and one is starting to crank the fruit out fast enough that it can be used in salads every 2-3 days.


A couple of photos that I posted on the last update about a month or so back.
Doing ok so far.
This may have been about when I planted the nine Beefsteak tomato plants that Kattrax recommend a while back.
All I could find were trays of nine plants so most of these will go to friends as starter plants.


Starting to take off pretty good.
I may have overdone it with the high density bit, but for the most part the plants are fairly easy to reach and picking won’t be difficult.

Funny part about the garden so far, one of the slower tomatoes - labeled “Mix”, supposed to have a mix of several reds and yellows and planted more for the curiosity factor than anything is not doing well
The Jubilee tomato is beyond the seedling stage, but not very big and I’m not sure what’s going on there.
Just have to wait and see if it does anything.
Like always, gardens can be a bit of a platform for experimenting and learning.
The biggest thing for me is learning what will grow and what won’t in the desert heat and soil we have.

You’ll note that the car trailer is parked so the garden will get some shade earlier in the day and the nearby house starts shading it about 3 PM so that helps.
I’m hoping I can get away without a nursery cloth type shade so we’ll see what happens there.

Several strange things are the “Mix” tomato plant is not doing well and looks wilted most days.
I am watering every three days unless the temps are very high - 106 degrees F a few days back - and if the wind is blowing watering is every other day.
I have black soaker hoses and they’re doing the deep watering bit pretty well.
As noted the beefsteak tomatoes are doing pretty good, but one of them looks to have died off.
Kinda strange since it’s very close to a soaker hose.
The other eight, so far so good.

The real funny part in all this is, the Burpee zucchini is doing ok as a plant, but we’ve only gotten one zuke from it.
And the big time $3.00 a package of organic zuke seeds is just chugging along and we’ve seen no fruit from it.
A bit of an eye opener to a guy who figured anyone could grow zukes.

The container plants are doing well and during this heat wave they’re getting watered moderately twice a day.

I haven’t seen anything of the store-bought lime I cut in half and planted.
It was down about 6" which I thought would give it time to rot and the seeds to germinate.
So I added about 2" of Miracle-Gro and planted shallots in the same big container which is full of Miracle-Gro.
The shallots are doing ok so far.
The Miracle-Gro is working pretty good, better in fact than I expected.
No problems with starting seed or digging an oversized hole, filling it with Miracle-Gro and then planting seed directly in the garden.

The original planting of corn was from seedlings and successive planting was done with corn seeds directly in the garden soil - which was originally amended with gypsum and steer manure.

I have done the once every 6 weeks or so fertilization bit one time.

I’m please to report the watermelon plants have really taken off.
Not sure where the big melons are going to fit, but I’m sure they’ll find a place.
Melons seem to like a hot soil and we had a big crop of cantaloupes and sugar baby watermelons when we were in Southern California.
These were planted in small holes cut in black plastic we’d spread over a hillock and we had lots of both types of melons.

posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 04:32 PM
The Great Bean Experiment.

In a couple of previous posts I talked about planting store bought beans meant for cooking.
Some folks mentioned that they may not grow and one gardener doubted they would grow since they may have been irradiated.
Reasonable arguments, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway.

Keeping the irradiation comment in mind, I made a point to buy beans packaged in Mexico.
Dunno why, just figured they may not go the extra expense to irradiate a product that moves off the shelves pretty fast.

The beans I bought are branded El Orgulla, de mi tierra.
Great Northern beans in a 2# package for under $2.00 if I remember right

In fact, if some of you folks like to do Mexican cooking - as we do - go to the Mexican section of your market and look for spices and peppers packaged in strong plastic or cellophane bags.
Spices are expensive and this can be a real money saver.
Nice part is, you get about four times the usual amount for well under half price.
Quality is as good as anything bottled in the US.

I did make two attempts to grow the El Orgulla beans directly in the garden.
First time around, they floated up and out and nothing happened.
Second time, I planted a little deeper and had the same results.

The El Orgulla beans look just like the Burpees pole beans I bought, but the Burpees did not float up and out even though buried at the recommended depth of ½" if I remember right.
They’re doing well and I should have planted a lot more of them.

A few weeks later I tried another experiment.
This time around, a pot full of Miracle-Gro (I have no connection with these people, but am finding it to be a great product that does as advertised).

Anyway, the plan was to plant the beans at varying depths in the small-medium sized pot.
Quite a few were tossed in at depths ranging from 1" to 6".
I think I planted these about a week ago and part of the thinking was that the constant watering of the container plants twice every day would keep the deeper planted beans wet or at least damp and they would have a chance to germinate.
Water evaporates from containers pretty fast so you need to keep on eye on soil moisture.
Just stick your finger into the soil and if it’s dry the first 3"-4" down, water the container.
I usually flood the top to about ½" deep each time.
That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind our dry desert atmosphere.

Late yesterday afternoon, nothing had changed in the bean pot except that a few more had floated to the surface.
This morning, eighteen hours later, the top soil of the pot had erupted and the bean plants were about 1 ½" - 2" tall.

Note the pics taken about two hours later.

This first pic shows the view from overhead.

This one shows a side view and how far the beans grew overnight.
A surprise for sure.

Plans now are to run one more experiment.
Sweetie suggested we soak a batch overnight, much as you would for cooking and plant them about 2" - 4" down.
Seems like an ok idea to me.

Plans after that are to till the ground off the narrow end of the garden, it’s already been amended, extend the concrete blocks - got just enough to make it - and extend the fence.

I had planned to put corn in there, but depending on what the tomatoes need for shade, I may move the car trailer to where it was in the first photos although a little further forward so as to help block the strong S/W winds from beating up on the garden.
The wind stripped all the leaves except for a few top ones off a bell pepper plant, but it came back ok.

The Sweetie Cherry tomatoes I started in a big container and re-planted to an almost as big container and took up to a friends house was left in their back yard while they were gone for a week.
They’d been doing well and the hope was they’d make it through with minimal watering and no one in attendance.

Thinking was their little lawn with automatic sprinklers would give the tomatoes some water and they’d make it through.
Sad to say, they came back to find all the leaves stripped off all three plants and figured a squirrel had done it.
They have a cottontail rabbit problem as well so that was a thought.

After I’d seen the plants and remembering what had happened to my bell pepper as well as another experienced gardener concurring, we determined that their even stronger winds up on the mountain about 1000' higher than us had done the damage.

I’m pleased to report the Cherry tomatoes are coming back just fine.
That due to the container is on rollers and gets rolled out of the severe winds and into the shade late in the afternoon.

Word around this area is, tomatoes need shade of some kind to make it.
Right now I’m trying to determine how much.

And . . . with the bean experiment a small success, I’m going to plant the whole bag in an about 10' x 15' area and let them cover the ground.
Weeds shouldn’t be to hard to keep down and as noted by some of the other gardening enthusiasts here on ATS the beans add nitrogen to the soil so what more could an amateur gardener ask?
Food and green fertilizer all in one package.

I’d planned to extend the garden out to the east (left) where the car trailer is sitting in these latest photos and the plan - right now anyway - is to plant a large block of corn that’s different from what’s planted now.
Trouble with the corn that’s planted now is, it’s a yellow and white hybrid and the ears are fairly slim.
Along with the corn planting, another package of cooking beans among the corn.
I may try a package of pinto beans from the same Mexican company as well.
Depends on how far the Great Northerns go.

I do realize that corn is wind pollinated and planting two different types is liable to give you some interesting results as to what kind of corn you actually get.

That’ll be ok too.

If I get some offbeat corn that has fat ears and tastes good, I’ll have my own family heirloom seeds.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained....

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:36 PM
This one fell off the radar screen pretty fast.

Just thought I'd add that I extended the garden out another 12'-14' staying at the same width.
Got just enough bricks and fencing to make a narrow extension.

Plans there are to plant a different type of corn.
Larger ears, yellow kernels and a fairly quick maturation of 63 days.

The corn in the main part of the garden has yellow and white kernels which I thought would be interesting, but about half the ears are empty of kernels.
The bugs are not getting them, they're mature, but short on kernels.

The ears that have a full complement of kernals are very tasty and have been picked just before dinner.
Even the ears that are short maybe half the kernels are very tasty.

Since corn is wind pollinated and after it gets to a particular age I understand you shouldn't have any cross pollination problems.
Along with that the wind usually blows from the new corn area to the old corn area.
S/W to N/E.

Along with planting several rows of corn I'm planting a whole bunch of the grocery store-bought cooking beans so as to add nitrogen to the soil.

As noted above, when the cooking beans - Great Northerns from a Mexican packing house - were planted deep enough they grew like crazy.
As noted above, very fast.

Main thing I thought I'd pass along is that I am having problems with tomatoes splitting.
From talking to local gardeners that's probably due to not enough shade, but I'll do more about that over the winter by building a shade-cloth frame.

For now, it's working well to pick the tomatoes a little early and let them ripen inside.
We ate our first ones this evening.
Sliced, a dash of salt and some cold beer.
Very tasty to say the least.

Looks like BBQ'd hamburgers tomorrow.

As a curiosity thing, I may leave the new section unfenced for a few days to see if the three doxies and the wanna-bee Chihuahua dig in the freshly amended and tilled soil.

Gypsum and steer manure is all I've done there so we'll see how it does.
Pretty much all I did in main garden.

We do have a compost pile going in a big vertical plastic box and I may till in some of the compost that's on the bottom before the actual planting which is probably a couple of days away.

The watermelons have really taken off.
Apparently they like the desert soil and high temperatures.
Several branches have slipped out of the fencing on the west side and several other branches have been redirected . . . that due to the watermelon branches are crossing the central walk path in the garden.

The container peppers and cherry tomatoes are doing well.
Easy to tell what they want.
I water them morning and evening if it looks like they need it and most days they do.

We did get a half inch of rain yesterday.
Figures, I took the roadster to a car show - it does have a cloth top - and we did just fine driving over, staying the day and driving home.
The community I live in doesn't really handle runoff well.
Makes sense, it's a desert community and all you really have to do is learn where to cross-over some of the almost a desert wash with paving areas that get pretty deep pretty fast.

Folks here are funny about rain.
More than a few guys and gals stood around in the rain talking.
They did take shelter when it rained hard, but during the light rain, guys and gals of all ages had no problems walking around in the rain.

Like most of you know, the desert has a smell of it's own when rain starts.
A small re-affirmation of life that we recognize without any prompting.
In our genes I suspect.

So far, so good.

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:44 PM
Nothing tastes better than a little hard work.

So when's the ATS BBQ planned?

Nothing really to add but it's great just to see good intentions put into motion.
Thanks for your effort

Actually I'll contradict myself and add this.
This is looking like the popular new wonderfruit.
It seems to thrive it dry areas..
Maybe you could lay your hands on some seeds.


[edit on 21-7-2008 by AGENT_T]

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:47 PM
Yeah, this is the fun part.

Younger daughter likes to pick stuf, but she was glaringly absent when the double digging and fence building was going on.

Not a prob, she's a good kid although she has taken to calling the watermelons hers....

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:53 PM
reply to post by Desert Dawg

Glad to hear someone's beans are growing. I think mine are a wash this year. It's a shame because they are such great beans. I like how you made that frame for the beans to grow up. In my family, we plant our beans with our corn---cornfield beans. Unfortunately, I didn't plant corn this year. Doesn't look like I'm going to have to rig up something for them to climb.

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 09:57 PM
I wanted to show a photo of my beans last year. I planted 3 times as many this year. They'll grow as high as they have something to climb.

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 10:20 PM
Great bean plants Virrszto.

The triangular frames are for the tomatoes.
The beans are climbing on a panel of lath wood decorative stuff.

I'm hoping the corn and beans mix well.

Along these same lines, a Southern California friend used to grow beans in a small area perhaps 10' x 10'.
He had some single strand wire strung horizontally about 8' high, several rows of the stuff.

The beans were in rows directly under the wire.

He tied white cotton twisted string to the horizontal wires and let it hang down above the bean plants.
The beans would climb the string and branch out over the horizontal wires.

Made for quite a 'bean forest' and the picking was easy....

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 10:45 PM
I had bought about 15 8 ft stakes I was going to drill a few holes in and thread thin rope through the stakes and put several stakes in each row for the beans to climb.

Because of the flooding, the garden I planted was ruined, however, the little garden box I used last year, with the voluntary tomatoes and zuchinni's are doing wonderful! Too bad I didn't get any voluntary beans.

We always put two corn seed and two or three bean seed in the same hole. If you have a climbing bean, they should do just fine.

[edit on 21-7-2008 by virraszto]

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