Friday, July 6, 2012

Gardening 2012: July Update

It's time once more for a gardening update!

Coming Along
San Marzano Tomatoes: They're exceding every possible expectation. The plants in the upper bed have reached the tops of the double height ladders and although the three in the lower bed are not as tall, they easily match the others for quantity of fruit. We got our first ripe tomato from the lower bed on July 3rd. and now there are quite a few beginning to color. I'm a little concerned about the wilting leaves, but the plants seem otherwise healthy.

I didn't think I'd start needing to buy quart jars until August...

Eggplant: The Italian Violetta Lunga eggplants are incredibly productive. Every plant has about a dozen fruit. So far it seems like they tend to reach harvestable size (about 8-10 inches) more or less one-by-one so we haven't been overwhelmed. We're getting about 6-8 per week. We also have one plant from a batch of mixed seeds that germinated poorly. It's producing cute spherical white w/light purple shading fruit about the size of a softball. Not surprisingly, they both taste just like eggplant.

They're Alive!

Zucchini: These are another Italian variety, Zucchini Romanesco. Like the eggplant and tomatoes these are going crazy. We have 4 plants on the little mound where the bamboo used to be, planted on black plastic. As you can see, the plants are enormous. They're also very spiny so it can be a bit of an adventure getting in to harvest the little devils. We seem to be getting about 5 nice size squash every 3 or 4 days - that's getting pretty close to too much.

Calabrese Peppers: Yet another Italian variety they've fully recovered from a too early setting out and are doing well. They got a little dinged in the thunderstorm two weeks ago and I ended up staking most of them. These peppers are going to be stuffed with tuna and mozzarella and canned as anti pasti like the...

Red Marble Cippolini: The onions have taken off as the days have gotten longer and in some cases the tops are starting to fall over. Judging from the original writeup, they should start yellowing in a few weeks and in fact you can see some dry leaves in the photo. I think we'll be canning them as pickles (agro dolce style) in early August.

Root Vegetables: The last few years have been very successful for beets, but a complete flop this year. I finally managed to get carrots going in the lower bed so it's not a complete skunking. I've read that some folks actually start beets indoors. That goes against more or less everything I thought I knew about growing root vegetables, but I think I'll give it a try next year.

Greens: We have swiss chard (planted late) in the upper bed that's coming along. When the weather starts to cool off (late September maybe?) we'll plant some more Cima di Rapa.

Saffron: I ordered some saffron crocus for delivery in mid-August. Apparently it's a fall bloomer and it "should" be able to over-winter here (I'll probably give it some cover anyway.) At worst it will be an interesting experiment.

Today's Haul. I broke off that pepper accidentally.

The plastic "mulch" has been a huge success. Whether or not the red plastic has had any effect is impossible to tell, but it sure hasn't hurt. The black plastic is keeping the still determined bamboo under control and the zucchini pristine, the same being true for the peppers and eggplant.

The containers are all dissapointing. I suspect it just got too hot too fast here and it was just impossible to keep them watered and "root cool". We'll give it another shot next year but locate the containers in somewhat protected locations.

In another month the canning season will be in full swing. In addition to the obvious whole tomatoes, it looks like we'll have plenty of eggplant to make ratatouille. That we'll can in pints which should be about the right amount for the two of us. The cippolini will go into half pints but the peppers are a little bigger than I imagined and they'll end up in quarts.

Update July 8

OK, I lied about the eggplant.  Today's harvest:

There are a few more in the 'fridge. Looks like we'll be canning ratatouille about a month earlier than I imagined.

See what's we've harvested from our nano-farm on the Garden Produce 2012 page.


  1. where do you buy your seeds for san marzano tomatoes and cippolini? I have a vegetable garden in my backyard and I made boxes as well but mine are not as productive as yours. I have harvested a lot of tomatoes but the eggplant and peppers are not doing too well.

    1. I buy the Italian varieties from
      This year my peppers were a complete failure too. Tomatoes are doing OK and as usual I way over planted eggplant. There's about 4 pounds in the 'fridge and more waiting to be picked. I'll probably can more ratatouille this weekend.

      Don't overlook I've got a few of their heirloom beets in for a fall crop in place of the cippolini.



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