12 July 2015, by gjones
This is the wonderful All-America Selections award winning Mascotte Bean that we are enjoying testing in our garden, and technically, also on our front steps.
It does do well both in ground and in containers. The plants only get to be about 18 inches tall and about 8 inches wide, so take up very little space.
When bean flowers open, the pollen needed is moved. In other words, if you see a flower you’ll see a bean almost every time.
Mascotte is a bush type stringless bean, that produces on the top of the plant, making it very easy to harvest. The beans are best at about 5-6 inches long.
Not only are they very tasty, all their attributes make them a great crop for anyone who wants to grow food indoors year round. Since they like full sun, additional light may need to be added.
Because they mature in only 55 days, it isn’t too late to start a crop outdoors now, and just bring it in when the temperatures cool down.
We intend to plant in intervals to have fresh beans over a longer period. We’ll post pictures this winter of these and other crops growing in our little indoor veggie garden.
It will make the dark cold days a little brighter, and tastier!
Botanical name: Phaseolus vulgaris
Days to maturity: 55
Growth habit: Bush 18″ high x 8″ wide
Harvest: At about 5-6 inches long
More on growing beans.
Categories: Beans, Vegetable Varieties & Cultivars
7 June 2015, by gjones
This hybrid, developed for Burpee’s in England, grows smaller veggies in much less space. As you can see from the picture, it can even be container grown. The plants are still vining to some extent, growing to about 2-3 ft., but most certainly more bush like than conventional butternut. This is great if you have little space, or if you are just trying to maximize what space you have. The fruit are smaller, only about 1-2 pounds, but the perfect size for 2 people. Of course, they can be held well into the following winter and even spring, as you normally would hold squash.
We started these in the house in early March, and them moved to the greenhouse. That is where the first squash bloomed, and was pollinated by hand. It’s the one on the top.
It was placed outside at the end of May, the time we usually plant seeds in the ground.It was in shock for about a week, and has now acclimated and is producing more flowers again. Each bush yields about the same as other butternuts, 4 or 5 fruit; so once we harvest those there should be time for some fall crops.
We started it earlier so that we could push our Zone 5/6 season, and also so we could share with you sooner. If you are in a similar zone, or cooler, it isn’t too late to try this variety.
The flavor is said to be just as good as an open pollinated butternut, maybe even a bit sweeter. We’ll get back to you on that on our recipe site.
Seed source: Burpee’s of course, also Reimer’s Seeds, Fedco, Parks and others. I think Fedco still has them in stock, others may be sold out.
Common name: Butterbush Butternut
Botanical name: Cucurbita moschata
Habitat: 10″h x 24-36″ annual, full sun
Seed: Direct seed in hills or containers
Spacing: 1-2 per container, or 6 ft apart in hills.
Days to maturity: 75 – This is about when the female flowers begin to arrive, not when the fruit is ready. Some sites list the DTM as 90 days, a little more accurate but our experience is it will be longer.
21 April 2015, by gjones
Call it Mother Nature, or call it Murphy’s Law, but the gardener is only a player on the growing stage.
One thing we have learned is that no matter how long you wait for a seedling to sprout, as soon as you replant, the first one will come up.
Followed very quickly by the more recently planted.
The second planting of seeds were marked in this picture above. A week later the first seed sprouted. One more week and here you have it.
Apparently this also holds true when you reuse seed starting mix.
We finally gave up on a few seeds that never sprouted, and dumped the mix in with our potting soil.
This little patio tomato, center above, was potted up about 2 weeks ago. Now it has a tall friend, some kind of brassica, with it. It kind of looks like kale, but we shall know soon enough.
In case that isn’t enough, another little seedling is joining in.
So far, this one ain’t talkin’.
19 April 2015, by gjones
We’ve seen a number of how to’s on making a mason bee house, this is one of the best ones.
Basically you need a wooden frame and anything that either already is hollow, or can be made so.
We used different size bamboo canes, with diameters up to about 1/2 inch. We also used old corn stalks from last summer. They are either hollow already or the bees can easily chew their way in.
We overestimated how many canes we would need when we built the frame, so we drilled a few wooden blocks and added a wee bit of whimsy to help fill in the area.
This figurine is of a bird catching a butterfly with a net, a gift from my late mother. So in her honor we set up an old birdbath in her area of the garden and placed the bee house on the basin. We added dirt to the basin, which will become mud when it rains tonight. Once we see the nesting is pretty much complete, we’ll cover the basin to be sure there is a safe place for the young ones to land when they emerge.
The area also has lots of fallen leaves. We learned from the video that different mason bees use either mud or leaves to seal their larva in the hollow opening.
This area is the southeast section of the garden, which is where it is recommended to place the house. We used twine to secure the house to the fence, just to play it safe.
Now we will wait and see. How fun!
More mason bee tips.
Categories: The Birds and The Bees
10 April 2015, by gjones
You don’t need to know how plants are pollinated to grow food, but having some information will help your grow better.
The most confusion we see about pollination centers around the terms self-pollination and self-pollinated.
Here’s the deal:
1. The term does not refer to a gardener moving pollen from a male flower to a female flower themselves. This is hand pollination.
2. The term is often, somewhat incorrectly, used to describe a plant whose flower has both the male and female parts on it. Technically, this is a self-fertile flower and may or may not be self-pollinating. A good example of this is pepper plants. Their flowers have both male and female flower parts on each flower. Even if the pollen got on the female part itself, the resulting fruit would likely be malformed. It is much better if the wind moves the pollen, aka wind pollination, or if the vibrations of a bee’s wings does the job. The pollen can also be moved using a tuning fork or electric toothbrush near the flower to simulate a bee’s wings, or by gently brushing the tops of the plants as you walk by.
3. Only a few plants actually self-pollinate. The most common are peas, many types of beans, and other legumes like peanuts. Peas and beans self-pollinate as the flowers open. Soybeans self-pollinate when the flower closes. Peanuts are also fertilized within the flower, then they drop to the ground for the nut to grow below soil level.
4. Pretty much all other flowering veggies need either the wind, as we mentioned, or human and/or insect help. Keep in mind also that it takes a lot of pollen to produce a healthy fruit. Usually when we are asked about a malformed fruit, or a fruit developing then suddenly shriveling up and falling off, it is due to under-pollination.
So now you know that the only veggie plants that are reliable at producing fruit with every flower are probably in the family of legumes. Garden on!
Categories: FAQ's and A's, The Birds and The Bees
8 March 2015, by gjones
A gardening friend told us this is the only variety of eggplant he grows anymore. Botanical Interests describes this heirloom as “So pretty, you can grow it in the flower garden. Its thin skin, mild flavor and tender texture ensure you will enjoy every bite!”
They go on to say that the skin is so thin that peeling isn’t required. We didn’t need anymore convincing.
You can see how healthy the plant is. The seed were sown on Feb. 1st, just 5 weeks ago, and germinated in 6 days. We intend to grow this one in the greenhouse, so will have a one month jump-start on the season. We should start getting fruit somewhere around mid-July.
Eggplant is well received in this house. Here are a few recipes you might like.
Can’t wait to try our hands at some more with these!
How to Grow Eggplant