Archive for October, 2008

Because I’m such a nerd, I kept track of all my data. Here are the year’s statistics:

Tomato: Lemon Boy Hybrid (6 plants)
Yield: 14 w/ B.E.R.; 78 w/o.
Total % B.E.R: 15.2%
Ave Yield per Plant: 15 tomatoes
Days: 66 (B.E.R.); 75 (non)

Tomato: Salsa (6 plants)
Yield: 177 w/ B.E.R.; 89 w/o.
Total % B.E.R: 66.5% (yowza!)
Ave Yield per Plant: 44 tomatoes
Days: 66 (B.E.R.)

Pepper: Gypsy Hybrid (8 plants)
Yield: 94
Ave Yield per Plant: 12 peppers
Days: 64 (green); 78 (red)

Pepper: Banana Hybrid (6 plants)
Yield: 68
Ave Yield per Plant: 11 peppers
Days: 78

Pepper: Habanero (1 plant)
Yield: 9
Ave Yield per Plant: 9 peppers
Days: 119

B.E.R. = blossom end rot
Days = # of days to first fruit after transplanting 7 week seedlings

Gypsy peppers growing


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Seed Balls!

I finished gardening for the year. I was actually sad when I was done stirring my new plot. All that’s left is my habanero and it is almost half dead from frost. Scott said to leave the peppers though, just in case they turn. I just need to see a peek of orange then I can take them inside and know they will turn the rest of the way.

I read on the Gardening Forum about Seed Balls and thought they were a great idea! Seed balls are made when you mix seeds, compost, and clay together to make a dough and then roll pinches off into balls that are then dried and distributed in areas to make a meadow, or wherever you want. I went to Big Lots, hoping they would have marked their seed packets down again and they had! The seeds were 10 cents each, so I got 50 packets for $5.

Here’s how it all went down:

assorted seeds for the seed balls

I put all the seeds in a bowl and added some seeds I’d gathered like arugula and watermelon as well as the sweet pea. I also threw in the tomato and pepper seeds as we’re getting different varieties next year. They all together made a little less than 3/4ths of a cup.

I had dug out some pure Ohio clay from my daylily bed when I was dividing the lilies. This clay I had thrown in the weed piles and was now happy to see it had dried out. I gathered it now for use in the balls.

Dried Ohio clay--I'm glad not all my soil is like this!

I also gathered some rough compost from my pile. I needed to make the balls with the ratio 1:3:5, seeds, compost and clay. So I needed 5 cups of dry clay and 3 cups of compost. I pounded the clay down into dust and small particles and put them in a large bowl. I then took the compost and sifted it to make 3 cups. I added some water and the seeds to make a heavy dough.

I sprinkled the seeds in after I moistened with water

I then pinched off small amounts and rolled them into small balls (less than 1”). I laid them on wax paper to dry. They should dry in about 2 days or so.

Yes, that's me rolling the seed balls

finished seed balls!

I think they will be great to toss around my parent’s neighboring vacant lots. Even if only to improve their view! I hope the seeds sprout, since they are a year old already. I dreamed I prayed a blessing over each seed packet so I did say a prayer over my finished seed balls. I made about 200 of them. They are about 50/50 flowers and veggies. I did include some perennial flowers but I am not worried about the plants becoming invasive, because these lots will eventually get built on and have grass planted.

The idea of spreading the seeds around in ball form is just to help encourage birds and bugs, and help break up the compacted soil with the plant roots. I just hope their development allows the plants to grow and mature before they come around with the tractor and mow the vacant lots. I’d hate to see these struggling plants about to flower only to get cut off at soil level. That would be a huge downer. For that reason, I’m going to try and restrict where I drop the balls to be closer to the pond’s edge and in the corners of the lots only. We’ll see…

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I realized that I needed to add tons more organic material as this is going to be a perennial bed and I’ll never till it again. So I read that I need to add 2 cubic yards of material per 50 sq ft and I have about 130 sq ft. So with the existing sod, I needed another 2 cubic yards of something. Good thing it’s fall! I snuck out and got 16 recycle bins of fall leaves in 8 trips. I’m glad I went when I did: it only took about an hour, as soon as I was finished it started sprinkling, and the next day the vacuum truck drove by and sucked up the leaves on our street. It was meant to be!

So I finished tilling yesterday. Next I have to rake level again and till in all the leaves that I dumped on top. That should be super easy though, just stirring the soil instead of hacking at endless heavy clumps of clay. I calculated I spent 20 hours or so on it already over 2.5 weeks.

Got 3 more habanero peppers! If all goes well, we’ll get 3 more yet. Who knows? We got brief frost a few days ago and longer frost just last night.

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All my plants are out of the ground now except my one habanero plant. I tilled in compost in most of the beds and the one bed left I tilled in grass clippings from my neighbor (that were dumped behind their shed—very popular dumping ground). I don’t have enough straw to cover that bed so I have to wait until people who bought decorative straw bales throw them out. Maybe in a month to 6 weeks. Doesn’t matter as long as they are covered before the snow falls. I want to avoid using leaves because they clump, blow around and I’m allergic to leaf mold.

I broke ground on my side yard garden bed! I started almost 2 weeks ago already and still have probably a week left to go. So far I marked out the bed with an extension cord (as I’m making it curvy) then dug out that border. Then I shoveled out the sod and broke up the clumps. Now I’m working my way towards tilling out the whole 100 sq ft or so by hand. Oh gosh, it sucks! The “soil” is so heavy and solid clay—I’ve really got to work to even get a few feet broken up. Oh well, good for my heart! And I’ve been using my heating pad for hours so I hardly even feel sore.

Troubles so far: the area that had been the bed previously, the 2 feet or so closest to the house, had been “amended” with sand! That “soil” is truly like a brick! No wonder nothing grew there! The soil beyond that toward the yard is very clay—even more than the previous beds, and very wet. There is a strange triangular cement thing about the center point of the house with 3 short poles sticking out. Our neighbors house has it too, so it’s supposed to be there but ours was buried under 4 inches of dirt with weeds on top so it was a surprise. Then there’s the cable! The active cable is great: it goes straight out from the house to the opposite side of the bed. That can be easily buried deeper as it has lots of slack on the line. There is unfortunately 2 more cables that are not in use (they’ve been cut off blunt) that go out from the house to almost the edge of the bed and then go parallel to the house for probably the whole distance. So I’m going to end up digging up 15′ of cables then cut them off again at the other side. Annoying!

My habanero plant is still hanging in there! It’s already given us 3 ripe peppers (which are now in the freezer) and I’m waiting patiently for 5 more. Crossing my fingers! I hope they’ll turn ripe within 2 weeks as we will probably have true frost by then.

Weather’s been cooperating so far. We had a small cold snap where I was out digging the beds with a hat and scarf, but then the next week I was out in a tank top. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, I’ve got no excuse to keep me from tilling out this bed.

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New gardening shoes!

I got new gardening shoes! My old ones were given to me as a gift by my DH (for Christmas, no less!) and I’d worn them as regular shoes for a couple of years. Then they became my lawn-mowing shoes and then my gardening shoes. But they are quite worn out. I’ve been looking for a replacment pair for a while. My requirements were:

  • dark colored, to hide the grass stains and mud
  • preferably leather, to allow the feet to breathe
  • have a sole that would be easy to clean with a hose

Old Shoes: I think these were from Payless once

These are European. From Europe. That white strip will not be white for long!

I got these at Good Will for $3–what a deal. They are practically new and meet all the requirements.

I should take another picture of them next year and see how different they look!

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Habs are here!

It’s been a long time coming, but some habanero peppers are finally ripe!

And it only took 120 days!

No, I won’t be reviewing these for taste–I’m not that brave!! They will go into the freezer and I’ll use them for salsa next summer.

Update: Home grown habaneros are way hotter than store-bought! Whew!

2008 End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield____Yield per Plant
2009 End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield____Yield per Plant

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LabLab Beans

Still working on putting the beds to bed. I don’t have enough compost and wonder if I should cover the left over beds at all. Still thinking about it.

I garbage picked an old baby gate that had a lattice-like plastic center. I then cut it up and nailed it to the mailbox post to use as a subtle trellis. It’s only a couple inches wider than the post and is white. I put it on the whole height and the little cross beam too. Bring on the sweet peas!

I was looking through the Burpees catalog, of course, and stumbled upon Lablab beans (they called them Egyptian Pea Vines). I said, Oh I think those are edible! And went and looked it up. Turns out the whole plant is edible, even the roots. Leaves are supposed to taste like spinach. Bean pods can be eaten when immature like pea pods and when left to mature, dried beans can be cooked and eaten like any old bean—very cool. The vine itself is very decorative as it is purple all over. I’m going to get it—yes!

A note on cooking lablab beans: dried beans should be soaked in water for 12 hours before cooking. Drain and boil (don’t know how long for—probably until tender). Then you can add them to whatever you’re making like chili, or baked beans.

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