Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cupid Tomatoes

I have grown Marcellino cherry tomatoes for the past three years for their crisp, tangy flavor, but each year they seemed to become more prone to splitting. This year I decided to give another variety a shot and switched to Cupid, which is actually a grape tomato, but still a nice little bite-sized treat.

The packet of Cupid seeds cost $3.95, the same as Marcellino. When I went to sow them, I was shocked that there were only 10 seeds in the packet since Marcellino ships with 30 seeds! Each of the little Cupid seeds cost .39! That's kind of pricey for a seed in my experience, but Park's proclamation of them being, "Simply the best grape!" gave me hope that they would be worth the extra cost.

I sowed the seeds indoors in February, set out transplants in mid-May, and we started harvesting tomatoes in late June, a little earlier than we ever harvested Marcellino.

We have had a very rainy Summer, which generally leads to cracked tomatoes that rot on the vine. Despite all the rain, I have not found one cracked, split or otherwise damaged tomato on any of the six plants.

The one complaint I have about the Cupid is that they seem to be particularly susceptible to blight. Most of the plants have been stripped 3/4 the way up their stem of all leaves due to infection. I spray them with fungicide every Saturday, but still, the blight keeps coming.

If you are fed up with splitting cherry tomatoes, give Cupid a try next season!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bee Balm

The Bee Balm put on a great show so far this Summer and is ready for a good shearing. I hope it sends up a second flush of blooms, but this is the first year it has bloomed, so I don't know what to expect.

The bees are still squeezing the last bit of pollen from the floppy heads, so I think I'll leave my dead-heading chore until next weekend.

Bee Balm is a fast grower that loves full sun, doesn't require staking and won't wilt in dry weather. This variety was supposed to reach only 18", but mine appears to have taken steroids when I wasn't looking and is over 4' in height. When Bee Balm gets a little out of control and tries to crowd out other plants, just pull up the unwanted plants. They pull right out of the ground very easily.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Growing Okra

We're growing okra this year for the first time. I sowed a row of "Clemson Spineless" seeds directly in the garden in mid-May. The seeds are from Park's Seeds, but are no longer available on their website. The germination rate was very good. I think I only had to resow 2 seeds that either didn't come up or were plucked from the ground by a bird. The seed pack advises to sow 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart, but I sowed mine about 4 inches apart. I'm a rebel like that. When you don't have much space, you have to push the limits!

Okra leaves resemble maple leaves.

The dark-eyed creamy white flowers resemble those of Rose of Sharon or even Hibiscus.

The flowers fade quickly and develop into an edible Okra pod.

Okra are generally ready for harvest at around 2-4 inches in length. When harvested often, the plants will continue to produce throughout the entire summer.

I'm excited to cook up the first batch this weekend! I love it fried (naughty, I know) and lightly sauteed in olive oil (or butter), and Ian likes to use it in gumbo.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Breaking the Heat

It has been so hot here for the past week - the news claims it reached 100 degrees yesterday, and I'm tempted to believe them. I don't generally believe things reported on the news, but it was really, really hot, so they may be onto some real facts with this one.

I have been watering the garden from the rain barrel, lugging the watering can up the hill to give the plants some relief from the scalding sun. Sure, it's not that far of a walk and the hill isn't that steep, but did I mention how hot it is? Very hot. Yesterday the rain barrel went dry, and I had to set the hose loose on the garden. I have to admit it was nice to not lug can after can of water, but I'm trying to be a good steward of our natural resources so I use the hose sparingly.

Last night we caught a break - it finally rained! It was such a wonderful, full blown downpour. The rain barrel is full again, and the plants are invigorated. I'm quite thankful seeing as we're down to our last 3 dozen squash, and if we hadn't got that rain, the plants might stop producing. LOL! It's supposed to rain again tonight and possibly tomorrow. Bring it on. I won't complain of a "ruined" weekend at all!