2022 fall vegetable garden tour

Today is cold and windy-a nice day to be inside!

Every year for the past few years, I film my veggie garden usually in the fall when harvesting slows down. The garden won’t be at it’s prime but it’s when I’m not so headless. Next year I will try to film it in it’s prime. I like to see it in the winter to inspire me as to what might be for next season, to see a little green, dream about next year’s garden and refresh my brain as to how it looked. Of course every year is different which is actually exciting.

In the garden everything did well except the tomatoes. The flowers were especially wonderful and for the first time in many years, I got lots of carrots. I attribute that to the rain we had this summer.

This year after looking at the film again, I noticed how much Early Blight infected my tomato plants. Usually I start spraying the plants with Copper fungicide (use to spray with Serenade which is no longer available)  early before I see it as a preventative but this year I got behind because I had Covid for 20 days and never really caught up. This is a good lesson for me especially if we have a rainy growing season like we did this year. Rain exacerbates Early Blight with it’s humidity and moisture. Early Blight can hit our tomato plants when water splashes up from the ground onto the lower leaves. Early Blight spores live in the ground and when they splash up on the lower leaves, they colonize and spread upwards. If you want to know more on Early blight on my website, go here:  giantveggiegardener.


Happy planning for next year-Hope you enjoy this video!

2020 garden gratitude

gratitude photo_courtesy-of-markromeromusic.jpg

I want to say Happy Holidays to you all and hope this New Year finds you and your family safe and healthy.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for 2021 and excited about the new year. Hopefully we can all come together as one nation, one world, instead of being divided and polarized. It is important to treat people with respect, hear them and work together with each other.

In times like these, I need to focus on what I am grateful for. It is easy to get bogged down in all the negativity we’ve had this year and there has been a lot. But the blessings have been great too-especially in the garden. I have many things to be grateful for but will focus on garden gratitude for this post. Hey, I’m still here right? Now that’s a huge blessing and my family has been ok too-another bonus.

My garden did really well this year and for that I am immensely grateful as it kept me busy and at a more relaxed pace since I wasn’t going anywhere. Time to actually enjoy being there.


I canned about 39 jars of pickles this year-15 Cornichons, 8 pickle relish and 16 bread n butter pickles. Many of which I now have given away.

As  I mentioned in the last post, I canned 251 lbs of tomatoes into 52 jars of different pasta sauces which was exhausting but I’m really happy to have it in the pantry and have enough to give lots away as well.

Besides all that tomato canning, I had lots of tomatoes that I roasted, and of course ate many lbs fresh as well and sold some too. So grateful I had a bountiful tomato harvest this year compared to last year’s dismal harvest.

So grateful the canning is done for the year!

I grew 6 BIG Kalibos Red cabbage- I gave away 5 and only kept one for myself since they averaged 6-7 lbs each.

I had unbelievable amounts of kale and chard. Sold some, ate lots and blanched lots in 2-3 cups increments that I froze in freezer bags which is nice to drag out of the freezer and throw in a dish or soup all winter as needed.

I had many Waltham butternut squash that I grew for Claufatis Cafe here in town for their infamous butternut soup which is so good I could drink it or lick the bowl (or both)! Don’t remember how many lbs, but it was a lot!

Plus I had lots of my new Lava Red peppers that were super prolific. I had wanted to grow Jimmy Nardello peppers but my seeds didn’t germinate and the nurseries didn’t have any plants, so I grew this long red Corno di Toro type that I got seeds from my friend Lava, in Germany. Since she didn’t know which variety of pepper this was, I just call it Lava Red pepper. Seems fitting with her name! My new favorite red pepper!  See, sometimes when I am forced to grow something else because of the seed and plant shortage this past spring, I ended up with something new and exciting! Plus a friend did give me some Jimmies he grew as well.

Plus I got many carrots, beets, lettuces, spinach, summer squash, garlic and shallots.

Some fruits were great and some not as good this year.

The apple trees did produce a lot but dropped most of them-I suspect due to the drought. But Koko the horse and the goatie things in the barn were grateful and loved all of them!

The apricot tree really shined as a shade tree but did not produce this year which is nothing new. But hey, I’m grateful for any tree that can grow here-we have more droughts here in the past few years than I can remember. My new pear, peach and plum tree are too new to produce but I can dream about how it will be in the future.

The strawberries had a decent harvest but I will need to thin them next year to produce more.

But the real stars were the grapes and blackberries-grateful for a wonderful harvest this year.

One of the best thing is I was able to keep up on the harvest for everything this year.

And then there were the raspberries… Unbelievable harvest this year. So much so, that again I invited some friends to come pick as my freezer was full. 19 gallon bags of raspberries in the freezer.

It’s good to be grateful and reflective at the beginning of the new year before I get headless in the garden again!

2019 Garden Gratitude

In this topsy-turvey time in the world where everything is chaotic and polarized, I feel the need to reflect on the garden and what I was grateful for in the garden in 2019.

First and foremost is that I’m blessed with a big 3000 square ft garden that is almost finished-is anything really finished in one’s garden or is a garden something always in transition?

This last year I had a wonderful helper, named Janine (I always said I wanted a clone!) who I was blessed by meeting her at a class I taught.  Janine came out and weeded ALL the gardens while she was here for 2.5 weeks. Then I put landscape fabric down on the paths and wood mulch over the them to keep the weeds out. Works great. Now I’m not spending all my time battling weeds.

I finished up the last of my raised beds by framing them with wood. Now the soil and amendments don’t run off like my raked raised beds use to do, but instead stay contained inside the bed. Much better.

I bought hail netting which I’m sure will be great but we didn’t get hail here last season!  Go figure! Made me more relaxed though when a storm came rolling in and it kept the deer off of my crops which decided to come into the garden in the fall to nibble.

I am grateful for the abundant fruit crops my friends and I had this past season in 2019. And although we got no apples this year here at the mini farm from the apple trees, (they must be taking off a year after producing hundreds of lbs the previous year,) there was still so much fruit to harvest and share this year. Biggest year ever for me!

We got:

Cherries-10 lbs (from a friend)

Apricots-(last harvest was 7 years ago from our trees) canned lots of apricot jam

Peaches-30 lbs (from a friend’s peach trees)

Pears-20 lbs (from a friends pear trees)

Grapes, strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries and raspberries-all from my own garden. Abundant harvests.

I said when I planted raspberries 2 seasons ago that I wanted so many raspberries that I would get sick of them. Well, I didn’t get sick of them but was so overwhelmed by the number of raspberries that I opened up that patch to some friends to harvest some as our freezer filled up fast. Actually you can never get too many raspberries (or blackberries for that matter).

So what the veggie garden lacked in 2019, the fruit harvest was incredible.

Looking forward to a new gardening season!

2016 Garden Review



Here is what happened in my garden in 2016. Wow-what a weird but interesting year mother nature threw at us.  It looks like over and over again I could have planted earlier in hind site.

PLANTING SEEDS INSIDE INFO-for those of you who want to plant your own seeds

BATCH 64_MOONSHINEI use a seed starting soil called Metro mix 300 from Agua Fria Nursery. I plant seeds in very small seed flats (see here). I transplanted up 2 times using a soil mix called Moonshine, also available at  Agua Fria Nursery. Growth was unbelievable with this stuff. I grew my best tomato transplants ever this past year. All warm crop seeds were planted and brought inside and placed on heat mats and under lights as it is too cold to keep them in an unheated greenhouse. All cool season crops were brought inside and under lights but no heat mat, they germinate at a lower temperature.

Normal spring weather pattern. Cold one day and warm the next. Windy.

Tomato seeds were planted on April 15 which is late BUT it worked because I used the soil mix Moonshine when transplanting up to a 4 pak from the seed flats (see post above). Moonshine makes everything grow faster.  I think I should have planted the seeds on March 25.

Eggplant and pepper seeds were planted on April 15th with the rest of the tomato seeds and they should have been planted 10 weeks before putting them outside in the ground.  So that means I should have planted them on March 15 to plant them outside by June 1. I’ll remember that this year!

Basil, kale and chard seeds were planted in early April. Did well but I should have started the seeds in March. Transplanted 2x before being planted outside in early May.

May was warmer than usual. No late frosts. Windy as usual.

-Potatoes were planted May 3. Could have planted them sooner.

Tomatoes were transplanted to 2″ pots on May 6.

Tomato plants were transplanted outside in wall of waters by May 24. This was late but they caught up as the soil was warmer.

– The soil was too cold for any other warm season crops to be direct seeded.

low-tunnel-2016-Kale, chard and onions were transplanted outside in early May. Probably should have put them outside in late April as they can handle cold nights with row cover over them. Need to remember that! Transplanted all different types of basil outside in late May under shade cloth.

Beets and carrots were direct seeded in early May. Germination of Detroit Red beet was good but poor for Craupadine beets. Will plant Craupadine seeds inside next year to hopefully get better germination. My two best beets grown so far have been Detroit Red and Cylindra. I only planted Atomic red carrots this year-good germination. Soil temp can be from 50°-80°F for good germination of these crops.

June was a hot month averaging 94 degrees with little rain and lots of winds.

Pepper and eggplant were transplanted  in garden with row cover protecting them from June 1-4 when the soil was warmer, not May 15. I have experienced them going into shock if planted earlier when the soil is still cold.

-Leeks and basil plants were transplanted with shade cloth over them in early June. They both loved the semi-shade and the basils didn’t flower so fast in the heat-huge harvest of them this year. My three favorite basils were Genovese (or Italian) Thai and Lime Basil (had to grow this one from seed). I grew Lemon basil as well but I have enough lemon scented herbs with lemon verbena and lemon thyme, so I will pass on that one next year.

wow-pic-for-blog-The wall of waters came off the tomatoes in early June and the plants had their drip lines put around the plants, straw was placed around their wells to help retain water, tomato cage put on and immediately put row cover over all the rows of tomatoes to keep the leafhopper from biting them and giving them a disease called Curly top Virus.

Eggplant/pepper plants were transplanted outside by June 9th with row cover over them. They loved the warm days throughout the season this year.

sluggo-plus-Warm season crops like beans and cucumbers were direct seeded outside in June. I had a big problem with rolly pollys eating the seedlings as soon as they sprouted. Planted seeds for both crops 3x and only when I used Sluggo Plus did the problem go away and it’s organic too. But the cucumbers didn’t have enough time to grow to fruit and I never got good pollination due to the hot days in June, July and August. No pickles this year. Wah!

-Instead of a green pole bean, this year, I tried a new pole bean called Marvel of Venice and I didn’t like it at all. They were suppose to be yellow but by the time they turned yellow, they were tough and not much flavor. Will not plant them again.

July was stinking hot averaging 94 degrees with no monsoons. The heat affected the plants adversely. We never get this hot day in and day out in July.

-I was expecting the monsoons to come by the second week in July and they did not. July was very hot averaging 94 degrees and blossom drop was extensive on tomato, cucumber, squash and bean plants—so very little fruit set. I didn’t take off the row covers on the tomato plants because the leaf hopper bug which likes dry, hot windy conditions and (transmits Curly Top Virus -CTV) was still present. I thought OMG, am I going to have to keep the row cover on all season? Luckily August weather changed.

Summer squash got a wilt this year and it wasn’t from the squash vine borer as they were covered with row cover. They died before getting any fruit. Can you imagine, I had to ask people for summer squash this year!


Butternut Rugosa Violina

Waltham Butternut and Butternut Rugosa were my winter squash this year. Both did well. I heard they don’t get squash bugs and for me it was true, I didn’t have any squash bugs on them which was great. Good varieties to grow if squash bugs are your nemesis. I will grow them again.

-My giant pumpkins once again couldn’t set blossoms in late June-early July when they should and didn’t set any fruit until August because of the heat and by then it was too late to get big-my biggest was the size of a basketball! Once again foiled. Will try next year again!

The monsoons finally came in August but not a lot. Still, it cooled down things.

Tomato blossoms finally set but we lost 2 months of growing time. Took off the row covers once it cooled down. Unfortunately, when the monsoons came, the nights got cold- in the low 50’s which slows down the growth of tomatoes but at least I had tomatoes! By mid August I had 2 boxes of tomatoes which wasn’t enough to warrant going to the Farmers Market. Normally I have 6+ boxes mid August increasing to 10-12 boxes by the end of August. Not so this year.

-The peppers and eggplants however, loved the heat and were very prolific this season.

-Kale and onions did very well, they don’t mind the heat or the cold!


chard leafminer damage

Chard got leaf miners and I battled them all summer but still harvested a lot.

Turned off drip lines to Giant pumpkins, summer squash in August as they didn’t do well.

-Weeds, oh yea, weeds-they were prolific once the rain did come and I didn’t get on them right away so the battle was on but since I decided I wasn’t going to market and wasn’t on any tours this year, I decided to not be so diligent about weeds and picked them at a more leisurely pace to just enjoy the garden. Plus I went on more flyfishing trips this past summer!

Weather much cooler with some rain. Cold nighttime temperatures slowed growth of tomatoes

-This month the tomatoes continue to grow but more slowly and harvest continues. Only lost 2 plants out of 40 plants to CTV disease this year. Because of little rain, fungal disease was at an all time low which usually hits the tomatoes in Aug-Sept.

-Planted my gorgeous garlic. Varieties were Chenok Red, Music and German White + some Stanley garlic from the SF Farmers Market. Hope they do well next summer at harvest time. Usually I plant garlic in October but I taught a garlic class in Sept and put them in then.

-Beets and Carrots-did well and started harvesting in Sept.

-I didn’t use any organic fungicides or insecticides this year as pressure was lite.

Wonderful warm fall-best ever which gave the veggies a chance to produce more fruit to harvest

-Harvesting of chard, beets, carrots, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes were good.

-Potato size during harvest this month were smaller. I think I should have watered them more. Will try a bigger variety next year. i tried them in Potato bags and directly in the soil. No difference.

Kale got aphids worse-sprayed them with water and still harvested a lot. The really bad ones with aphids I gave to the chickens-they loved it!

Unbelievabley no hard freeze until Nov 9th! I haven’t seen it this warm in November-normally we get a hard freeze in October but not this year!

-Harvested everything left in the garden by end of November-chard, kale, carrots, beets, tomatoes, leeks, winter squash.

Pretty normal December weather but not much precipitation.

-Cleaned out garden but didn’t have time to add compost to beds. Will add it next spring.


This year was pretty good for fruit. By far the most prolific fruit this year were apples.

Strawberries- did ok but I’d like to amend the beds this year for better production.

Rhubarb did well until I lost one to a fungal disease called red leaf disease. I still have one left which is actually enough.

Apricots-Since we didn’t get a late frost this year, we had a little apricot crop (very little) but hey, it’s been 7 years since I’ve had ANY apricots. Got about 8 jars of apricot jam from them. I just enjoy the tree as a shade tree mostly.

Grapes-My Himrod grapes did great this year. Loved them.

Raspberries-This was the first season for them (they were planted last fall) so production was low.

Blackberries-Just planted in the spring. They got established and hopefully I will get some next year. Looking forward to it.

Apple trees-They were very prolific in the fall as we didn’t get a late frost this year. Dried many apples and this year made hard apple cider.

Plum trees and peach trees did not do well and I will replace them next year (they are old) with better varieties of peach and pear trees that will do well here. Will get them from Tooleys Trees in the spring.