Friday, September 30, 2011

The Great Tomato Glut!

 Every year, as Summer draws to a close, I worry that my tomatoes won't reach maturity. This year, with our wet & cool June & July my worry was greater than ever.Oh why did I worry! With the threat of rain this weekend, I decided I needed to harvest all of my ripe tomatoes tonight after work. I worked from plant to plant, reaching deep into the jungle of vines, looking for that pop of color amidst all of the green.

I started with my "Black Krim" plant. These are by far the biggest tomatoes that I grow. This variety has been a dependable plant for me. It hasn't needed all of the heat that many other "large size" tomatoes seem to need to ripen.I was a bit astonished as I kept finding ripe tomato after ripe tomato on this one plant. When I was finished I had harvested 21 "Black Krim" and there are still more then half a dozen unripened fruit left growing. The total weight harvested was 11 lbs. 5 oz.

The yellow fruit in the above picture are the "Azoychka". I harvested 21 fruit that weighed 5 lbs. 1.7 oz. In front of the "Azoychka" are the "Santa Clara Canner". These tomatoes have the prettiest skin. It is lightly pleated and is a bright and very shiny red. It almost looks like patent leather. I harvested 10 "Santa Clara Canner" that weighed 2 lbs. 9.3 oz.

The cute black plum shaped tomatoes in the above picture are named " Black Plum". I picked 49 of these last night and the total weight was 1 lbs. 12.8 oz. Behind the "Black Plum" are the "Black Prince". These tomatoes are the perfect "in-between" size sandwiched between the "Black Krim" and the "Black Plum". I harvested 15 "Black Prince" that weighed in at 2 lbs. 5.7 oz. Pictured behind the "Black Prince" are the "Peron Sprayless OG". I picked 11 of these perfectly round tomatoes that weighed 1 lb. 10.7 oz.

So, my total harvest tonight ended up with 127 tomatoes weighing 24 lbs. 13.2 oz.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Loving the Fall Sunshine

Rudbeckia Trilobia "Browned Eyed Susan"

Today we enjoyed a perfect Oregon Fall day. The car thermometer read 82 as I drove home from work. We sat outside in the sunshine for a while before firing up the barbecue for dinner. After dinner, more time outside, watering plants and just relishing the warm evening. As dusk fell, we saw a heron and then later, two flocks of ducks, fly across the sky. Then it was the bats turn to take flight. We watched the sliver of a moon sink in the southwestern sky and called it a night.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Rains Return

I awoke to a funny noise this morning. I thought at first it was the heating/cooling system but quickly realized it was the sound of rain falling on the roof. It has been a while! We did have some quick down pours move though the area last Sunday but our last true rain event was sometime in July. I was a bit torn about the rain. On the one hand it would clear the air, dampen the earth, and help to stamp out forest fire danger. But on the other hand, I knew my flower garden would take a bit of a hit.

Tonight after work I walked down to the big garden. I was pleased with how little actual damage there was. I had about 10 dahlia knocked over but that was my fault for not ever completely finishing up tying all of the plants to their stakes. Most of the damage occured on plants that were loaded with blooms. These all snapped. I cut them off and tossed them over the fence. Within a week or so new blooms will take their place and you won't be able to tell what happened. On my way back from the garden I can across this little guy. He too will be glad for some rain to green up his grass.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Onion Harvest

With the threat of rain on Sunday I decided it was time to pull out my onions Saturday evening. Originally planted from purchased starts - not sets - on April 17th, both onion varieties have been happily growing in their raised bed row for the past 160 days. "Prince" is a yellow storage onion that I grew last year for the first time.

"Red Bull" is a red storage onion. This is a new variety for me this year.

As you can see, I had my hands full!

The "Red Bull" in particular had enormous tops by this time of year.

I took them into the shop and pealed away a few layers of the outer, dirty skin and made sure that they were free of dirt. I was pleased that none of the onions had any "bad" spots were rot had begun. These should all store well. I ended up with 14 "Prince" onions that weighted an average of 14.11 oz. My total harvest for this variety was 12 lbs. 5.9 oz.

Set on their tray, ready for Winter storage.

The "Red Bull" onions have such a beautiful red/purple color. And boy do they smell like onions! I ended up with 13 "Red Bull" weighing an average of 10.24 oz. Their average weight should be higher. As you can see I have 3 "Red Bull" that are quite small. These three were planted at the end of the onion row and the birds picked and ate away at them when they were small. It really stunted their growth. Thankfully, the birds left the rest of the onion row alone. My total harvest for "Red Bull" was 8 lbs. 5.6 oz.

Cleaned up and ready for the photo shoot.

My total onion harvest for the year came in at 20 lbs. 11.5 oz.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The DCDS Show

Today was the annual dahlia show held by the Douglas County Dahlia Society in Roseburg. My exciting news - my 1-bloom "Valley Porcupine" was voted best 1-bloom Novelty Fully Double in the Show! I made the Head Table for the first time showing in the Open Division. Roseburg is a smaller show but I was still very pleased. But first I should back up a little.......

My day started very early. The alarm went off at 5:15 and I was out the door and on the road by 6:15. As I was on my way to pick up my car-pool partner I glanced at the Eastern sky- WOW. The sun was just beginning to rise over the Cascades. This almost made up for having to get up at such an awful hour on a weekend day! I arrived at the Douglas County Fairgrounds right around 8:00 AM, so I had a leisurely hour to get my entries on the tables before the judging started at 9:00.

By 2:00 PM all of the judging was complete and the Head Table entries were getting all organized. I had a chance to act as an alternative Head Table judge, jumping in when other judges had to step-out because we were judging one of their blooms. I had to step-out when judging my "Valley Porcupine" entry and when we were judging Best 1-bloom Pom since my "Mi Wong" had won Best 1-bloom Pom Open. The Amateur Pom correctly beat it for Best Pom in Show. It wasn't too painful since a good friend won!

DCDS had a beautiful table with all of the floater entries. This is a nice was to enter a bloom that maybe snapped on the way to the show.

A close-up of a Fourth of July themed arrangement.

Above, my entry of "Colwood Hope" and below my triple entry of "Weston Spanish Dancer".

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First Day of Autumn

Today marks the the First day of Fall with the arrival of the Autumn Equinox. It is a little hard to believe since today's high temperature pushed close to 90 degrees. We have enjoyed an entire week of 85 degree+ temperatures and if it wasn't for the shorter days, and long shadows brought by the sun's lower path, you could easily think it was still July.

I spent tonight getting ready for the last dahlia show of the season. I picked blooms right after work and then got busy with the staging. I managed to pull together 12 entries for this week. I might have had more, but the bright sun and hot weather this week really wrecked havoc on the red dahlias in particular. The front of the blooms looked fine but the backs were really faded and drooping.

I was pleased to have another triple entry to take this week. It is ironic though that the entry is of "Weston Spanish Dancer". It was the Flower of the Year at last week's show and I didn't have even a single bloom to take. But this week, 3 nice blooms!

I am really happy to have a beautiful entry of "Colwood Hope" a B sized White Lacinited form. I was given 2 cuttings from a dahlia friend this Spring who didn't have any more room left in her garden! Both plants have opened their first blooms this week and I picked the best of the two to show this weekend. I also have another nice "Dagmar" to bring. But if I was a betting gal, I think my best chance for a Head Table bloom this weekend is with my single bloom of "Valley Porcupine" a pink Double Novelty form. Ironically - again - I didn't even purchase this tuber but was given it as a free "thank-you" for an order I placed. Go figure. We shall see what happens tomorrow!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Last Day of Summer

Marigold "Lemon Gem"

Today is officially the last day of Summer. It certainly doesn't feel like it here. We are in the middle of a 6 day stretch of mid-eighty degree weather. Each day has been just perfect. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine. I am sad to see Summer go but also ready for the beauty and slower days of Autumn.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Time-Lapse Kitchen Garden

One of the great things about blogging is that you have a permanent visual record of your garden. Day to day, year to year, I always think that I will remember everything. And of coarse, within weeks I forget a lot. It is always fun to look back at the pictures of my garden over one growing season just to appreciate how much growth and change there was. The top picture was taken on 04-03-2011. On a dry April day I had the chance to finally get the kitchen garden all cleaned up from the precious year. I added a fresh layer of Nature's Best Compost, raked it all in and it was ready to go for the new growing year.


Here the first two raised beds have been made and the radish and lettuce have been planted.


By early June the radish are being picked and enjoyed. The lettuce is ready also but under the protective cover of a remay tent. Both onion varieties are planted and growing and the tomatoes are in the ground now too.


By late June everything has been planted in the garden except the "Butternut" squash transplants. The remaining lettuce will get pulled after the Fourth of July weekend to make way for the last 2 hills of squash. With the cool weather, I kept a remay cover over the "Marina di Chioggia" squash for a while to provide some extra warmth.


Now the kitchen garden is all planted for the Summer.


By late July the tomatoes are at the top of the first tier of their cages. The morning glory have also reached the top of their support towers. The onion bulbs are really expanding and the "Marina di Chioggia" squash is starting to crawl.


By the first day of August the garden is really starting to fill-in. By this time it is obvious that the late-transplanted "Butternut" squash are not going to make it. This is actually good news because the "Marina di Chioggia" is about to engulf their whole growing area.


By mid-August the tomatoes have reached the top of the second tier of their towers. The "Delicata"squash is finally coming on in size just as the "Marina di Chioggia" reaches it. The onions are slowly disappearing from sight, lost in a sea of squash leaves.


By the end of August the garden has completely filled up with green plant material. The squash are pushing out of the deer fencing, only to get eaten every night. Both morning glories are blooming profusely.


Everything has grown over the tops of their respective towers. One vine of the "Marina di Chioggia" is now growing up the inside of the deer fencing, heading toward the sky! You can't see it in the picture but the plants are loaded with green tomatoes and maturing winter squash. Harvest time won't be far away!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Tomato Explotion

As the calendar switched to September, my seven tomato plants were covered with green tomatoes. I was really concerned that there might not be enough warm weather left to ripen all of the fruit. Enter almost two weeks straight of 90 degree days to the rescue! In September! This has been such a strange weather year. But by this weekend there was lots of color peaking out beneath the green foliage.

My biggest harvest of the day came from my "Black Krim" tomatoes. I picked 12 fruit and the total weight was 7 lbs 12.7 oz.

This plate shows from left to right; "Peron Sprayless OG", "Azoychka" and "Black Prince". I harvested eleven fruit that weighted 1 lbs 9.1 oz of "Peron Sprayless OG", seven fruit of "Azoychka" that weighted 2 lbs. .2 oz, and sixteen fruit of "Black Prince" that weighted 2 lbs. 4.5 oz.

And this plate is holding a container of "Super Sweet 100", a pile of "Black Plum" and two "Santa Clara Canner. I picked 65 "Super Sweet 100" that weighted 1 lbs. 7.7 oz., two "Santa Clara Canner" that weighed 7.0 oz., and 27 "Black Plum" that weighed 1 lbs. 3 oz.

So my total harvests for this week:
  • Tomatoes 16 lbs. 12.2 oz
  • Blackberries 4 lbs. 3.9 oz.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Dahlia Show

Today was the big local dahlia show. I was up and out the door by 7:30AM. I packed all of my entries into milk crates and loaded them into the car. Then I drove slowly down the steep, long gravel driveway. The hardest part about entering blooms into a dahlia show is safely transporting them to the show. Many an exhibitor has had their heart broken by a pot-hole induced snapped stem!

We had 42 exhibitors enter over 1,500 blooms. The show room was a sea of color. Let the judging begin! As I wrote yesterday, this was my first year entering in the open category. The competition is the toughest here and I had little hope of going very far with my few blooms. I was correct in predicting that my "Dagmar" would be my best entry. It won a blue ribbon and then advanced to win Best of Type. So I was pleased to make it to the second round with a bloom in my first year. Next year I will shoot for the next level, Section Champion and a shot at the Head Table.

After judging concluded, the Head Table was filled with all of the "best of the best". The top row holds all of the single bloom entries and the bottom row all of the 3-bloom entries. Amazing, beautiful blooms.

There is also a section for arrangements. This year we had 11 exhibitors enter the category  "She was an elegant lady" in honor of our late member Alfretta. The only criteria for the arrangement was the blooms had to be in pink and purple, her favorite colors.

And we also had full tables of basket arrangements. Pictured below, the winner of best basket in the show.