Friday, July 31, 2009

Unusual Weather, Unusual Harvest

In most years, we are blessed with a bountiful harvest. Usually by now we have an overabundance of cucumbers and tomatoes, along with beans and potatoes. In past years we haven't done well with Bell Peppers and have had trouble getting our onions to grow very large.

This year is very unusual. The main season tomatoes are very late and we have only had a few good cucumbers. On the other hand, our Bell peppers and onions have been amazing!

We have well over 100 large onion bulbs drying right now.

To grow large onion bulbs you need many growing days of warm but not "hot" temperatures. Usually here in Northern Kentucky,our weather is not condusive to growing large onions because we typically go quickly from a cold Spring to a hot summer. This year has not been typical. Our Summer has been unusually cool. July 2009 is now officially the coldest July ever recorded! Our "normal" average high temperature for July is 85 degrees. This year's average was 69 degrees. That kind of weather is not great for growing tomatoes, but oh how the onions love it!

And of course we love the onions! I guess in a way the vegetable garden is like the stock market - it pays to diversify.

The other vegetable that has been unusually great this year are the Capsicums. The weather explanation doesn't fit here at all. I do have a theory about why we have harvested about 75 large peppers from one 4'x12' bed. I will share that theory and some pepper pictures in my next post.

Happy Gardening,

- Marc

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Topsy Turvy Does Work!

Before this year's growing season even began, I posed the question "Do Upside Down Tomato Planters Work?" There has been a great deal of discussion about this lately, especially about the Topsy-Turvy Upside Down Planter.

I decided to conduct an experiment this year and bought a Topsy Turvy and another upside down tomato planter that was really just a hanging basket with a whole in the bottom. They are hanging side-by-side on my deck.

The tomatoes in both planters are growing well, but the Topsy Turvy plant is thriving! It is performing as well or better than the main tomatoes in the garden.

The Topsy Turvy's plant is much larger than the one in the other planter, and there are more tomatoes forming. I think this has to do with the volume of soil that the roots have.


Country Store Catalog


The other planter is working and I would think it was doing well if I didn't have the Topsy Turvy to compare it to.

So my answer to my previous post's question of whether you can really grow tomatoes upside down is YES. However, it is still easier to grow tomatoes in the ground. Upside Down tomatoes have to be cared for in the same way that any container grown vegetables do. You must use a light soil mix like potting soil mixed with coir or peat moss. You also have to keep up with the watering without over-watering. Tomatoes like deep watering every few days. It is okay if they almost dry out in between waterings. I think most peoples biggest mistake with container-grown tomatoes is watering too much. Tomato plants don't like constant "wet feet". Too much water leads to rotting fruits and fungal disease.

With proper watering though, growing tomatoes in hanging containers is a great way to go. I plan on getting a few more Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planters for next year!

Here is one last picture of my hanging tomatoes with my daughter next to them to show how big the plant is.

I can't wait to see how big it gets and how it looks with ripe tomatoes on it. I will post again when that time comes! What about you? Is there anyone else who has had success with the Topsy Turvy or any other upside-down planter? I think the majority of talk about these planters is about how they haven't worked out. I would love to hear from you if you have found success. Thanks!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eliot Coleman's new book!

Wow, a lot has been going on with my family and in the garden lately. I have many many posts to share with you to catch up, but first let me show you my birthday present from my wife and daughters.


Its Eliot Coleman's new book - The Winter Harvest Handbook. Officially the title is:

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

The subtitle is important to me because that is exactly what I am hoping to do this year. Our new greenhouse is ready to grow veggies all winter long!

This was a great birthday surprise because I didn't even know Eliot Coleman had a new book out. It was just released. As you may know, Eliot Coleman is my very favorite gardener and garden author. His other two books, The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest are on my list of 25 favorite gardening books.

I can't wait to read more of The Winter Harvest Handbook. So far, I can tell that it is packed with even more of Coleman's wisdom. He outlines the way he accomplishes growing so much organic produce, all year long.


This book was only part of a fantastic birthday week. I have been able to spend some extra time with my family, we are eating tomatoes, peppers and onions from the garden, and we finished building the chicken coop! My hours at work are changing which should allow for more time in the garden and for blogging. Hopefully, I will get pictures on soon of the chickens and the garden and get back to regular blogging.

Happy gardening everyone!

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