Category Archives: Gardening

Ivan Tomato Seed Saving

As you may remember, my husband was beat up by a mature bull last summer and ended up in hospital and eventually ICU for several days.  Fortunately, and against all odds, he was back on a four wheeler and checking cattle in 15 days from the incident!!  So the tomato story comes from his nurse in ICU who gave us some heirloom seeds he had saved – a tomato called “Ivan”.  The seeds he share were prolific with high germination rate, so i had far more plants that i could possible use.  i just had to end up throwing them away.  However, a 25 foot row of about 20 plants produced ample enough fresh eating and canning for our family until next year’s crop is ready.

“Ivan” i learnt is a native tomato of Missouri which was apparently in need of rescuing!  My plants were not properly pruned or staked, so i had a lot of vines which no doubt took away from crop production. But, i simply didn’t have time.  If Yah allows, I’ll be ready next year with panels and time to care for the plants properly.  These tomatoes are delicious.

For the first time, I’ve tried my hand at seed saving with both this Ivan and Pink Oxhearts (Hungarian Heart Tomato), which i like for slicing and using on sandwiches.

Happy Gardening!

tauna

 

 

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Asian Long Pole Beans

These beans are so amazing that they just need a bit of bragging upon!  A small handful of seeds given to me by a friend from Philippines at least a decade ago resulted in being planted every year.  Not only are they easy to grow, they produce like crazy, taste great, and plenty left for seed saving. (normally i harvest those allowed to mature early in the season, but this year there were people wanting seeds, so i’m gathering now.  Does it make a difference?  don’t know, have to leave that to the plant scientists and agronomists)  In addition to preparing and eating a lot of these and giving a lot away, I still froze up about 12 gallons so far, even though i planted them late.  Production is really slowing down now due to continued drought, but mostly shorter days as we transition to fall.

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Dried mature beans, fresh beans to eat, and a plateful of harvested seeds from those dried shells.  Those beans clear to the left are too mature for eating, so i’ll pop those inside beans out and use them to cook and add to my salads.

 

 

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My row is 24 feet lot and 8 feet high!
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A long bean i missed harvesting at the right time. Now it’s past prime so i’ll leave it to mature, then harvest the inside bean seeds to plant for next year’s crop.

 

Happy Gardening!

tauna

Hornworms in my Garden!

Hornworms earn their common name by the hornlike structure at the tail end of the caterpillar.   The tomato hornworm is actually the larva of the Five spotted hawk moth (Manduca quinquemaculata), whereas, the tobacco hornworm develops into a tobacco hawk moth or Carolina sphinx moth (Manduca sexta).

Tomato Hornworm (2)

Typically, the tomato hornworm is found in the northern part of the United States, while the tobacco hornworm is found in the southern.  Not sure how north Missouri is defined, but all i’ve ever seen on my tomato plants are tobacco hornworms.  Hornworms are not defined by what they are eating, however, since they tend to defoliate potato plants, eggplants, moonflowers, peppers, as well as tomato and tobacco.

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Destructive little buggers!

Eggs deposited on the plant hatch into larvae in about a week in late spring, grow to maturity at about 10 cm (3-4 inches), then drop to the ground to pupate into moths.  They overwinter near the host plant – ready to infest the next year’s crop.

Control of the hornworms is essential if you want any crop production.  On smaller garden plots like mine (only 25 tomato plants), i pluck them off by hand and feed them to the laying hens.

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Parasitic wasps are a natural control.  I didn’t introduce this wasp, but it found this worm in which to deposit its eggs.   After hatching, the wasp larvae will feed on the internal organs of the hornworm.  On the back and sides of this hornworm are visible the cocoons of the wasp larvae.
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Another species of hornworm without the horn!  This one is found on a wild grape vine, Virginia Creeper, and such.  It is an Achemon Sphinx. 
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I added this photo for fun, though it is not a hornworm, but the larva of a Luna Moth!

On Safari in Missouri!!!

tauna

Powell Gardens

Public gardens provide a quiet oasis in the midst of many large cities in the world and they are typically on our list of  tours whilst on holiday with my children – even now that they are in the 20s, (though they usually travel by themselves now :-(.

The Royal Botanic Garden in the heart of Sydney, Australia,  Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis, MO,  Kumpula Botanical Gardens, Helsinki, Finland and so many others provide a relaxing retreat from the noise of car and public transport.

Powell Gardens, though calling itself the botanical gardens of Kansas City, is actually located some 43 minute drive from Kansas City in the town of Kingsville, MO.  (actually closer to Lone Jack, Missouri)

Powell Gardens has a tiny connection to our family by way of my father-in-law’s uncle, George Powell, Sr who grew up on a farm near Linneus, Missouri.

Currently, Powell Gardens is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organisation operating on gifts and donations.  It is a beautiful place with seven themed gardens, the Marjorie Powell Allen chapel (available for weddings, funerals), educational center, picnicking areas, and year round organized educational and art events, activities, programs, featured events, and annual festivals.  If you have time and can schedule a tour, it will be worth the time.  If your legs cry for a rest, hop on the free tram which runs daily to the various gardens and is wheelchair accessible.

Please bear in mind, the gardens are closed for daily admission in January and February.  As far as i can tell, the only way to get to the gardens is via car (no public transport), so your visit will need to be well planned.

Powell Gardens maintains a Facebook page as well as other social media outreach.

Ultimate Recycling

The most recent issue of Rural Missouri carried a short article on composting.  I never seem to get around to building a compost pile, but i compost all the time on the fly.  I compost straight into the garden or pasture.  The less materials have to be handle the better in my book.  BUT, on a small scale with limited space for growing plus needing a place to ditch those apple cores and coffee grounds, backyard or porch composting is awesome!

Composting:  The Ultimate Way to Recycle

Author,  Pamela A. Keene bases her article on the expertise of Joe Lamp’l, founder of www.joegardener.com and “Growing A Greener World” television show.

Backyard Composting: A Simple Recipe for Making Great Compost

 

Happy Gardening!

tauna

DIY Cold Frame

Just planted some lettuce and spinach and hope to extend its production as late as possible.  Hate to spend money, so found this old kitchen cupboard and a storm glass that is close in size and put them together.  We have lots of cupboards and windows, but i did have to buy the t-hinges.  Tons of hinges around our place, but no t-hinges.  It’s likely that future cold frames, i’ll use the hardware from the door of the cupboard, but the door on this one was missing already.

 

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Cupboard found – missing door.
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Old aluminum framed storm glass – nasty things, but perfect for this project.
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Cleaned up and painted with paint we already have.  I used an outdoor rated spray paint simply because it needed using before it became useless and won’t spray out.  Dark colour is great for absorbing heat.  Before painting, i removed all extraneous hardware.

 

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Cheap hinges from Orscheln’s
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As you can see the top hole of this hinge doesn’t reach the side board, so using a Sharpie marker, i located a spot that would reach.
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Then using our drill press made an extra hole in each.  However, when i installed the hinges, I found that two screws would be sufficient for the hinged glass ‘door’ would have been fine.
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Box completed – no use doing anything to the inside though i may add some sort of insulation on the bottom.
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Voila!  Ready to go to work.  Too early yet – we are expected to have temps in high 80s for another week!

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Pickin’ Blackberries!

It’s that time when the blackberries are ripening in haste.  Years and years ago, my mother-in-law, Mary, planted a few vines on the side hill beside her home.  She is gone now 3 years, but the vines have commandeered a great area.  Son, Dallas, has taken an interest in bringing them under control.  It is a daunting task since blackberry vines are notoriously prickly.  However, it will be nice.  Here you can see two bunches – one he has thinned and one still in a state of chaos and disarray.  I’m thinking that after the season, he should just mow a cross right through the middle and be done with it.

Ideally, someone would dig out the vines and transplant them, but blackberries are cheap to buy, so no use working so hard to produce your own.

Last year, i plucked about 10 gallons worth of berries before they were done producing.  Still enjoying them!

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This is the unruly bushy mess of vines.  It is starting to choke itself out and clearly i cannot harvest the ripe berries near the middle, so this needs care.

 

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This is the side that has been lovingly cared for.  It is interesting to note, that this is more productive – not only because the plants have more ‘breathing space’ if you will, but also because i can actually harvest all the fruits.

 

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Only the fourth day of pickin’ and over a gallon.  Oodles left on those vines in the center of where i cannot reach.  The birds will get those.  In fact, the birds will get all the ripe ones if i don’t harvest every morning!

Cheers!

tauna