Tag Archives: tomatoes

Video of HUGE Invasive Tomato Hornworms

New VodPod video posted to the right, featuring my new rooftop guests: tomato hornworms. What to do, what to do…

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July 18th Harvest: Before and After

We were in the Carolinas last week when we heard about the heatwave headed towards Chicago. About 80% of my containers were connected to irrigation, so I figured I’d suffer a few casualties. Arrived back home to find the garden doing surprisingly well and recovering nicely from the recent storms. Never expected to be eating an entire meal from the garden today. Sometimes gardens like to be ignored (ignored plus irrigation and fertilizer).                                                      (Above) Bush cucumbers, Blue LakeBeans, Red Potatoes, Squash Blossoms, Tomatoes (Opalka and Stupice)

An hour later and voila! Lightly breaded fried squash blossoms and two salads: 1) an Indian-street-food-inspired salad of tomatoes, cucumber and cilantro in a sweet lemon cumin vinaigrette. 2) A red skin potato and green bean salad tossed in a dressing of veganaise, vegan sour cream, mustard, celery seed, salt & pepper:

The foliage (above) has grown in so quickly you can’t even see the storm damage. I’m not getting any pollination on the zucchini or yellow sqash- hence eating their blossoms for lunch. Blossoms taste better than a boring zucchini anyway. With only that single pot of Blue Lake beans pictured on the right, we’ve already had 2 meals and there are plenty more beans on the way. Tons of green tomatoes have recently popped out and check out this baby eggplant that’s about 1/2″ long:

I nearly forgot about a few spindly seedlings that I was sure would die off. I put them in a windowsill greenhouse just to see what would happen. Well, as luck would have it, the little greenhouse got destroyed in the storm but not before it nurtured this Shishito pepper and a few tomatoes seedlings to hardiness. Not sure how prolific these plants will be, but I’ll enjoy every inch of these two peppers that have appeared:

A few random flowers currently in bloom 4 flights up:

And finally a few glimpses of the not-so-edible things thriving on the rooftop. One mantis is green and the other is brown. I don’t know if that indicates gender, but I guess I could just wait to see who eats whom. Ladies first!

With today’s perfect harvest and some critter sightings, I have renewed hope for our rooftop garden. Next year when we encounter hurricane-strength wind, marble-sized hail and 100-degree heat,  I’ll just flip back to today’s post and remember that lunch.

Here’s What’s Growing 6/2/11

I haven’t been posting much about the rooftop situation out of pure shame and embarrassment. I was mislead by a few nice days in mid-May to think I could plan my SIPs. Then the weather got weird; warm season veggies got too cold and otherwise hardy veggies were shredded by high winds.

Three tomatoes survived and now have stems that could survive a hurricane. Most of the pak choi survived (pictured below). Peas did great.  The rest of the vacancies were replaced this week by heirlooms I bought at Gethsemene Gardens or leftover seedlings I kept indoors. Tomorrow I’m heading to Portland, OR for a week so these babies better learn to get along without me.

Here’s a look at what’s up:

 

 

 

pak choi

 

 

 

 

 

SIPs well-staked and bamboo-d

 

 

 

Micro-irrigation kit in place for my upcoming week out-of-town

 

 

 

 

Very hardy and prolific Dwarf Gray peas

 

 

 

 

First meal of indoor-grown baby Asian greens

 

 

I have a couple hundred amaranth seedlings I’m not quite sure what to do with. Lots of pho’ I guess.

 

 

 

Not bad for an $8 rose bush from English Gardens in Royal Oak, MI, eh?

First round

I’ve noticed on Facebook and in the blogs that some people in Illinois and Michigan have been starting their seeds indoors recently. I have to wait a bit longer and plant mine on April 2nd. I’ll be visiting Portland, OR for the week prior and not able to tend to the babies back home in Chicago.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying ordering supplies and planning. I used the site Growing Taste to help me pick my veggie crops this year. Along with the 10 EarthBoxes that are on their way, here are the seeds I’ve picked up so far:

Heirloom/Open-pollenated seeds from Seed Savers Exchange:

  • Pea, Dwarf Gray Sugar
  • Watermelon, Blacktail Mountain
  • Cucumber, Poona Kheera
  • Tomato, Kellogg’s Breakfast
  • Tomato, Opalka
  • Tomato, Stupice
  • Thai Basil

From Renee’s Garden:

  • Mesclun Salad Mix, Asian Baby Leaf

These 3 packets are from an Asian market that I picked up to experiment with. No expiration dates, so I’m not holding my breath:

  • Eggplant, Chinese long, purple
  • Pai-Tsai, Chinese cabbage or “choy”
  • Rau Den, Amaranth

Since I’m container gardening and have limited space I decided to grow crops that are either difficult to find or more expensive to buy in stores. Flavorful/colorful tomatoes, for instance, are impossible to find in stores and potentially pricey at farmers’ markets. On the other hand, organic juicing carrots can easily be purchased in bulk at stores and don’t seem very practical to grow in containers. Although, the nutrition level of any store bought produce is debatable. Next on my list are more herbs and native perennials.