Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia hybrid

2014
08.09

Look for this plant

Coming spring 2015

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Proven Winners Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia photo PBH

This dark and rich red petunia is a hummingbird magnet. Look for this new Black Cherry bloomer next spring.

Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia

Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia photo Proven Winners

Black Cherry is self-cleaning, meaning no deadheading. All hanging baskets require regular watering to thrive. Plan on watering daily during the hottest part of the summer. Or, consider setting up a simple irrigation system.

Start with a slow release fertilizer when you build your baskets. Give the new roots plenty of moisture holding soiless potting mix.

Black Cherry makes a beautiful in a hanging basket. It slightly mounds in the basket and then tumbles over the edges, spilling nonstop blooms  over the basket Spring to first frost.

Proven Winners sent Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia and several other plants for trial. I love the rich colored flowers that draw butterflies and hummers all summer. Once these petunias are available locally, I can imagine a row of these hanging baskets bringing birds and butterflies to the patio.

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Indigo Charm photo Proven Winner

Black Cherry Petunia hybrid is one of the newest Proven Winners Supertunias®. Make a note to look for Black Cherry in the spring. I am also looking forward to seeing the new Supertunia Indigo Charm. Here is a preview.

Last year I had a trial sample of a Torenia hybrid that was meant for shade. Once I found a shady place for it, I kind of forgot about it.

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Grape-O-Licious Wishbone Flower PBH

New this year

is a plant Catalina® Grape-O-Licious Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid) I learned just what a valuable landscape plant this is when I visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

This plant is so much more versatile than I imagined. It was planted in shade, but also part shade and part sun. This low growing annual spreads out along the sidewalk, as a beautiful groundcover and splash of color that could compliment an endless variety of gardenscapes.

 

 

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Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. PBH

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Catalina® Grape-O-Licious Wishbone Flower Torenia hybrid

Look for new Wishbone Flowers this spring

Todays Harvest Basket 8/5/14

2014
08.07

Today’s Harvest Basket August 5, 2014

Cucumbers and tomatoes

Juicy cucumbers and tomatoes.

Juicy cucumbers and tomatoes.

Big tomatoes are coming on everyday. BLTs are on the menu every week. Tomato sandwiches are a lunch specialty. Fresh sliced cucumbers in vinegar are always in the fridge.

This long Japanese “Tasty Green” cucumber is thin-skinned (no need to peel) and is “burp-less” Cucumber season is much too short, so when they are growing in our garden, we eat them every day. Slice up one of these cucumbers, put in a covered container.

Cover cucumbers with herb vinegar or apple cider vinegar diluted with water, if the vinegar taste is too strong. Sometimes we add sliced onion, separated into rings.

Once the cucumbers are gone, reuse the vinegar water and add another cucumber. We  have two cucumber vines. A White Wonder and the Tasty Green.

Days are getting shorter...

Days are getting shorter…

I also planted a F1 English cuke which did not come up. I’ve grown them for years, so this was an anomaly. When the seed packet arrived, I took half and sent the rest to my mother in OK. “This is the best cucumber you have ever eaten,” I wrote in a note enclosed with the seeds.

“They didn’t do any good,” she replied last week. Who knows what happened? We both grew other cucumbers as well,  and have more than enough to share with neighbors.

I’m gambling on a late crop of little Kirby type cucumbers. The late planted cucumbers are just seedlings now.

Our unpredictable weather and extra seed make planting late crops a gamble but to a costly one. The cucumber seedlings are cheered on by the long slow rain today.

Cherrie's sweet tomato flavor is concentrated by dehydrating.

Cherrie’s sweet tomato flavor is concentrated by dehydrating.

All the cherry tomatoes are rinsed, cut in half and put in the food dryer. Here’s how: Make sun-dried tomatoes to use up cherries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/4/14

2014
08.06

Today’s Harvest Basket

August 4, 2014

Leeks, peppers, Roma tomatoes, white cucumber.

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Just dived into the garden to grab leeks.

These are Lancelot Leeks. I just go out and pick the leeks as I need them. Leek starts were planted the same time as onion starts. Onions were harvested in July, but leeks can just stay in the ground. I like not having to store the leeks in the refrigerator taking up space for months.

The leeks I harvested today will be used in a herb vinegar.  Using a well seasoned herb vinegar will bring back a taste of the garden flavors at the peek of garden season.

Leeks bring a suttle onion flavor to any dish.

Leeks bring a subtle onion flavor to any dish.

 

Leeks

Lancelot Leeks. They get 12 – 16 inches tall with blue-green foliage. My leeks have not had any disease or pest problems. They are always tender. While they are small, they can be used as scallions.

Leeks are the earliest crops in my garden and they are the last to be harvested. Plant leek and onion starts in February or March. Starts are small transplants. Poke a pencil or chop stick in the ground, then drop the little leek plants in the hole. Leave the top just barely showing above  the ground. Gently firm the soil and water.

Leeks are related to onions, chives garlic and shallots. If onions are just too strong for you, leeks may be a good replacement in recipes. I’ll dig up the leeks this winter as we get into cold weather and soup season.

You can keep them in the garden, just heavily mulch after it gets cold. They are long keepers and can stay in your crisper for a month or two. If you don’t thin you will use them up by then, Just freeze them for later use.

Freezing leeks is easy.  Cut off the tough green leaves. Trim and save only an inch or two of the green part. Trim off the roots, wash, slice  lengthwise or chop and blanch for 1 minute in boiling water to set the color. Drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and dry leeks on cotton flour sack or paper towels.

When the leeks are dry, put them in plastic zip bags. Dried leeks will freeze in loose pieces.  They will be much easier to use when frozen.

Use leeks, still frozen. Add the leeks to soups, stews, roasting vegetables. The best known recipe is potato leek soup, which is wonderful using frozen leeks.

Beautiful Italian Tomatoes

"Italian Pompeii"

“Italian Pompeii”

These paste tomatoes are from Renee’s Garden.  I grow them almost every year. Pompeii grow well in my big containers. I’ve been growing these for years. This season was the first time I’ve ever had a problem. Early on, this plant got blossom end rot.

It rained so much this spring, I was thinking of building and ark. Once things got back to normal, no more BER. As you can see. they are beautiful. All of the tomatoes are over 4 ounces, some are over 5 ounces. They are meaty paste tomatoes that I freeze. This winter I’ll have time to slow cook them into a rich tomato sauce. There are more ideas like this on Renee’s Garden site.

Plum Tomato “Italian Pompeii”

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/3/14

2014
08.04

Today’s Harvest Basket August 3, 2014

squash, cherry tomatoes, peppers

spaghetti squash, peppers, cherry tomato

spaghetti squash, peppers, cherry tomato

The new torpedo shaped peppers look a lot like big ol’ jalapeno. The fun thing is the peppers look like they would be hot but they are not. The walls are thinner than a bell pepper but every bit as sweet.

They start out as shiny, clover green peppers. They gradually turn dark and finally turn red when fully ripe. There is not a hint of heat in the Felicity pepper.

Raspberries

Sweet red raspberries are coming on. They are so fragile, so easily crushed, that the raspberries never made it to the harvest basket. I hand carried the berries inside, gave them a quick rinse and put them in a ramekin in the refrigerator.

Chilled raspberries were served to the chief hole digger and raspberry bed builder tonight. And, OK. I admit it, I may have had one or two.

We planted 5 raspberry plants last year. This year, I am reaping the rewards. These delicate and sweet berries are the first, and it looks like more are coming.

first harvest raspberries

First few Heritage raspberries.

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/3/14 v2

2014
08.04

August 3, 2014
Zucchini

The big zucchini best used as an ingredient in compost.

The big zucchini best used as an ingredient in compost.

Just Kidding.

This is the zucchini that got away. It’s so big it stretches from end to end of the harvest basket. These monster squash  are seedy, not good and almost impossible to cut. Pick these giant squash as soon as you discover them. Otherwise, the plant will have accomplished its job and stop producing little zucchini.

Get rid of this squash. Bury it in your garden, chuck it in the compost, or, if your neighbor leaves his car unlocked, put it in his backseat, on the floorboard. It could be weeks before he discovers it and by then, you will have forgotten about it. That perplexing look on your face will help convince him you did not do it.

There are more and better zucchini (and eggplant) ideas on my Pinterest Courgette and Aubergine (zucchini & eggplant)

FYI

Zucchini Heaven tells about the best zucchini cake on the planet.

This salsa recipe uses a lot of grated zucchini: Enchilada salsa with zucchini

Homegrown and homemade Ratatouille

eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers

Ratatouille home-grown and homemade  – my version of Julia Child’s classic vegetable stew. You can grow every ingredient in this French classic. Double the recipe and freeze half for a cold and snowy day.

Todays Harvest Basket 8/1/2014

2014
08.02

August 1, 2014

Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers.

Todays Harvest Basket 8:1:2014II

Loads of cherry tomatoes will be used to make tabouleh.

 Cherry Tomato

Cherry tomatoes are the first to ripen, sometimes a month ahead of the big tomatoes. By the time plenty of beef steaks are producing, Cherry tomatoes can go right into the food dehydrater, becoming sun-dried tomatoes.

I planted a sun gold cherry tomato. A friend sent seed for the white cherry and, the red tomato is a volunteer.

The Sun Gold is sweet and prolific. It would have been all the little cherry tomatoes we could eat with plenty to dehydrate as sun-dried tomatoes. But, they are so good that a lot of them never make it to the kitchen. We eat some of them as we pick them.

Where the Sun Gold grew last year, a volunteer came up this spring. Curiosity is the only reason this little guy was allowed to grow. It may be just like one of sun gold’s parents, but who knows? The volunteer did not grow up to be a Sun Gold.

No surprise there. Sun Gold F1 means this is a tomato hybrid. Don’t save the seed, because there’s no guarantee the plant will produce true Sun Gold tomatoes.

That volunteer tomato is producing loads of 1″ red cherry tomatoes. They are not very sweet but there sure are lots of them.

The white one is a sweet, ivory colored cherry tomato. Not a heavy producer, but it is pretty in a pint of mixed color cherry tomatoes. My best guess is that this white cherry tomato is Snow White.

Traditionally tabouleh uses full-sized tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. I make it my own by using cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini bread is in the oven.

Zucchini bread is in the oven. Can you smell it?

That dark zucchini hiding under all the other produce, is Raven. Usually I pick them when they are 6 or 7 inches long. This one got away from me while I was away for the weekend.

These dark green, smooth-skinned summer squash are a Renee’s Exclusive. I will use this hefty zucchini grated into zucchini cake and chocolate zucchini bread.

There a dozens of suggestions for using zucchini on my Pinterest page
zucchini & eggplant

Todays Harvest Basket 7/25/14

2014
07.26

Today’s Harvest Basket, July 25, 2024

2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 2 zucchini

Hard to believe these two tomatoes are the same kind, growing side by side on the same vine.

Hard to believe these two tomatoes are the same kind, growing side by side on the same vine.

Today’s basket only contains 6 things. 2 cucumbers, 2 squash, 2 tomatoes. Those two tomatoes are big, and beautiful, weighing in at a combined total of about 2 1/2 pounds.

Gold Medal tomato

Growing just inches from the ground and wedged together against the tomato stake.

Growing wedged together.

There are four Gold Medal tomato plants this year. They are the sweetest tomato I have ever tasted. These two tomatoes were growing together  just six inched from the ground and so close to the tomato stake that the fruit grew into and around the medal support.

It was impossible to pick one without the other. Growing just inches from the ground, wedged together, against the tomato stake.

Solanum lycopersicum) Most of the tomatoes weigh in over a half a pound. By thinning the tomatoes, you will get fewer but bigger tomatoes.

The plants are huge and need strong support. Stake early and try to keep them well supported. This big plant will quickly get out of control.

These big one and two-pound tomatoes can easily snap off a tomato vine. The big yellow tomatoes need the sun protection of the foliage. Don’t over prune these big plants.

In fact,  one of these four big plants was a broken branch from one of the other three. If that happens to you, try this cloning method: How to make more tomato plants for free

Big, meaty, tomatoes good for fresh eating and canning

Big, meaty, tomatoes good for fresh eating and tomato sauce.

Originally named Ruby Gold by John Lewis Childs in his 1921 catalog. Ben Quisenberry

renamed it Gold Medal and listed it in his 1976 catalog describing it as “The sweetest tomato you ever tasted. The yellow with streaks of red makes them very attractive and a gourmet’s joy when sliced.”

It’s a beautiful, sweet tomato that is like slicing open a sunrise. Gold medal makes a beautiful salsa, the sweet taste balanced with the heat and spice.

Squash and BLTZ

Keep zucchini under control by picking it every day or every other day. These small, tender zucchini are great sliced length wise and grilled. Salt, pepper, olive oil – a little slice of heaven hot off the grill.

Keep picking them early and cooking them like this and you will never have too many zucchini. Or add the grilled slices to a BLT(Z).

 

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/23/14

2014
07.26

July 23, 2014

zucchini, tomatoes, mixed carrots, red onion

Tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions

Tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions.

Tomatoes and zucchini are picked every day. This is the secret to keeping the zucchini crop under control.

Pick zucchini every day or every other day.

Pick zucchini every day or every other day. The small ones are tender, no need to peel.

Onions are the first thing planted in the garden every year. Planting time is 4-6 weeks before the last average frost date. The garlic was planted last fall. So, onions are the first and last thing planted in my garden.

Most of the onions were lifted a couple of weeks ago. I found a few more of the sweet red onions today. These few onions were planted near cabbage and carrot companion plants.

The only alium remaining in the garden are leeks. I’ll just pull them up, as needed. Leeks can be harvested anytime.

 

Onions

Red Torpedo Tropea: Sweet, red, and mild flavored.

Torpedo shaped onions from Italy.

Torpedo shaped onions originally from Italy.

These open pollinated torpedo shaped sweet onions have a keeping potential of about three months.

This sweet onion comes from Tropea, Italy. Tropea is known for exquisite cooking and locally grown red onions. In Italy, 5 or 6 onions are braided together and tied on a nail for display.

Tropea don’t last long because they are so sweet. We use a lot more onions when we have plenty on hand. These are good cooked in recipes or raw in salad dishes.  To stretch out the Red Torpedo Onion season, make a jar of pickled onions to keep in the fridge.

Pickle these red onions in good white wine vinegar and end up with a jar of pink pickled onions. A perfect side served with sandwiches.

The pink onion flavored wine vinegar is the best thing to happen to homemade salad dressings. Add it to potato salads and coleslaw as well as topping cooked greens like spinach and collards.

Find pickled onion and pickled garlic recipes on my Pinterest page: canning, preserving, smoking.

Carrots

2014
07.24
Grow a variety of carrots to discover which grow best in your garden.

Grow a variety of carrots to discover which grow best in your garden.

Carrots

Grow carrots in the spring garden and again as a fall crop.

If you ever wanted to grow carrots, fall carrots are planted in August or early September in my neck of the woods. (Zone 6A, Southern Missouri, USA.)  I get carrot seed at Nichols Garden Nursery. 

Nichols Garden Nursery has a big selection of carrot seed. The seed is very affordable. That bargain price tempts me to try an assortment of carrots. Check out their online catalog, if you are tempted to grow fall carrots. July and August are the time to order seed and get carrots growing for a fall harvest. If stored properly, carrot seed can be used for up to three years.

Nichols even has few carrot selections that are under $2. Carrot seed under two bucks and it’s enough seed for at least two and probably three years. (Unless you are raising rabbits in the same garden.)

Some days it looks like my back yard is a nature sanctuary for rabbits. They eat and sleep in my garden when I am not vigilant. When I do remember to turn on the Scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler, the rabbits stay away.

ScareCrow

ScareCrow

The Contech Electronics scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler is a humane animal deterrent. The scarecrow detects and sprays any animal movement within a 1000-square-foot area day and night.

When I do not remember to turn off  that little water blast, I suddenly get hit with a refreshing spray. It’s more fun than some of the carnival rides at the state fair. Especially when it is a surprise.

Find the scarecrow locally or online just type “scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler.”

Read more about carrotsHow to troubleshoot problems growing carrots and cabbages and University of Missouri Extension, Frequently Asked Vegetable Questions is very helpful. Extension recommends planting a 5 to 10 feet per person for fresh eating. Plan to grow 10 to 15 feet per person, if you are going to process carrots for year round eating.

Bright orange Baltimore Carrots picked 6", but would continue to grow to 12"

Bright orange Baltimore Carrots picked 6″.

Baltimore carrots are beautiful, bright orange carrots. They are sweet  and crunchy. These carrots are about 6″ long.

Harvest Carrots: any time their color is bright. This is when their flavor and texture are optimum. Carrots can tolerate a light frost. Irrigate well the day before harvest to ensure the roots have absorbed their maximum capacity of water. Store at 34°F and 95% relative humidity.

All of these carrots were pulled up at one time. They ranged in size from 2-inches to 8-inches. I’ll toss the baby carrots into a mixed vegetable refrigerator pickle jar.

I like raw carrots. Homegrown and picked after only a couple of frosts, carrots are sweeter than any grocery store carrot you have eaten.

Cooked carrots have their advantages. Some of the nutrients in lightly cooked carrots are more available to the body than the raw carrots. Cooking carrots will break down the tough cellular walls of carrots, making some nutrients more useable to the body.

The first batch of full-sized homegrown carrots, are a celebration of carrot growing success. That means carrot cake or morning-glory muffins. If there are more fall carrots, they will go into  beef stew, vegetable soup, pot roast.

So, come grow carrots with me this fall. If you grew up with a clay soil garden, You’ve probably never had much success with carrots. But building a raised bed for your raised bed, well that is a carrot’s dream come true.

Carrot Boxes – The Raised Bed for Raised Beds

In this Missouri Gardener Magazine story, I write about carrot boxes. That is the secret to long straight carrots.

Build a raised bed fast!

Yaya carrots had the widest size range. All the seed was sown at the same time.

Yaya carrots had the widest size range. All the seed was sown at the same time.

If I could have left these Yaya carrots in the garden, it would have been great to stretch out the carrot harvest over a few more weeks.

Learn more: Grow 2 crops of carrots this season

 

 

 

 

 

Todays Harvest Basket 7/21/14

2014
07.22

Todays Harvest Basket July 21, 2014

Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers

The green and gold pepper (Low Left) was completely gold the next day.

The green and gold pepper (Low Left) was completely gold the next day.

I have a small garden. It has just a little of a lot of vegetables and flowers. But when zucchini starts producing, it does not seem like a little garden.

I hate those waxy, slick cucumbers in the grocery store. ‘don’t even like to touch them. So now we have lots of cukes in the garden and we eat them fresh at least once a day.

Crisp Cucumbers

The crunch that we all love is easy to get in home canned pickles. Use this tip along with your favorite pickle recipe.

 

white cucumber

Cut cucumbers from the vine instead of twisting and pulling.

For crisp cucumber pickles, rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off 1/16-inch of the blossom end. The blossom end of the cucumber harbors microbes that can cause softening. Cut at least a 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end of the cucumber. That enzyme in the blossom end can make the pickles unsafe to eat.

The stem ends of the cucumbers above are on the right. The blossom end is on the left for both of these cukes.  The blossom end is the opposite from the stem end.

Cucumber season is too short. This time of the year, there is always a bowl of sliced cucumbers in herb vinegar in the fridge.

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