Tomato plants transplanted into pots

This past Friday, April 19, all the baby tomato seedlings were transplanted from the germination trays into 2.25 pots where they will stay until we plant them outside. There are 155 total tomato plants.

My main helper, Linda Archibald has been doing this with me for about 4 years and this year Tom Pollard joined us to learn how to do it all. It took us 4 hours to transplant them. Thank you folks! There were 4 tomato no shows which isn’t bad for how many we planted. It is amazing how fast the seedlings grow since it has only been 16 days since we planted seeds.

We use Moonshine potting soil from Agua Fria Nursery to grow them in-amazing stuff as everything grown in takes off really fast. So now they are off the heat mats and still inside under lights that will be 3 inches away from the tops of the tomatoes. I put the lights close so they grow sturdy stems. If you put the lights higher they can get too tall and lanky. As the plants grow, I raise up the lights with them. I will actually have around 28 tomato plants and Linda will have 59! The rest are orders. Looks like it’s going to be a big year for tomatoes for Linda! I hope she buys another freezer to store all that sauce she’s gonna be making! I’m hoping to get them out in early May again this year but Mother Nature will decide when they will go out, not me!

Tomato seeds starting to come up April 9th

The tomato seeds are starting to germinate in their trays. It has taken only 5 days!  Still more to germinate but many are already up. A few haven’t germinated so I will replant if they don’t come up in a few days. They are under fluorescent ‘daylight’  T-8 lamps that are in a standard 48″ fluorescent light fixture that I got from Home Depot. They are also on heat mats and I have a heat mat thermostat set to 80 degrees. The heat mats and thermostat I got at Amazon. I never use to use a thermostat but one year without it, the temperature went to 100 degrees and the seeds fried. With a thermostat, it controls the temperature perfectly to whatever is the optimum temperature for each crop. In this case, the optimum range for tomato seeds for germination is between 70-85 degrees.

Winter spinach!

Nothing is better than spinach in the winter-sweet and tender. These pics were taken on November 23. I harvested all the outer leaves as they were slowing down their growth when the days got shorter and won’t start growing again till Jan 15. I harvested (two) 2-gallon bags of spinach!

 

Even the big leaves are tender. And it lasts a long time in the refrigerator!
Still good in late December. The variety is Carmel.

 

I still have the plants in my coldframe and hope they make it through winter. If they do, I’ll get 2-3 more harvests in spring. As of this storm last week, they were still alive. With this El Nino weather pattern, we had some much-needed moisture in the form of snow. Having been in an extended drought last year, this moisture is welcomed indeed. And now another storm is hitting us tonight on New Year’s Eve. We shall see how much snow it will dump by tomorrow. Today’s high was 25°F and tonight’s low is 15°F although it has gotten down to 5°F at night this last week.

 

Winter is here early

Fall harvest-tomatoes, Tahiti Butternut squash, Bradford watermelons and Craupadine beets

I just heard last night’s snow was the earliest on record for Oct 14th in Santa Fe. The weather apps have said it was going to be 27°F last night. Woke up this morning to a light snow, ice and the temperature was 24°F here. Harvesting has been intense the last few weeks. Why is there always so much to pick in the end? The only annual crops left are a few kale, beets and cabbages outside in the main garden and greens in the greenhouse and cold frame. I’m not sure how they fared as I wasn’t able to go out and check today, and in truth, with 34°F for a high, I was in no hurry to see if they made it. They were covered with winter weight row cover with the hopes they make it and I will check tomorrow. I was more concerned the barn animals were ok with this first cold snap and made sure all the heaters in the water tanks were working and the chickens had their heat lamps on. I guess winter is here.

Butternut winter squash-doesn’t attract squash bugs

Here is a winter squash that doesn’t attract squash bugs. I’ve grown the very sweet Waltham Butternut, an Italian variety called Rogosa Violina and this year a variety called Tahitian Butternut-all don’t seem to attract squash bugs, at least in my garden. And I grew these because I had read they don’t attract them.

In the last post, I talked about Rugosa Friulana, a summer squash that doesn’t attract squash bugs, so now we have both a winter and summer squash that don’t attract these pesky bugs. Try these two types next year for more carefree squash!

Rugosa Friulana Zucchini-doesn’t attract squash bugs

Rugosa Friulani

I’m trying a new variety of zucchini this year called Rugosa Friulana. It is a yellow, warty zucchini. It is growing 5′ away from my favorite green zucchini, Costata Romanesco. Both are Italian varieties. I thought I’d grow both and compare them.

COMPARSION

BUGS
I covered both plants with row cover after planting by seeds in late May. Male blossoms always appear first with squash, and then the female blossoms (with their little fruit attached at the base of the flower) appear. After the female flowers appear, I uncovered them both so the bees could get in to pollinate them. By keeping them covered early on, I avoided the Squash Viner Borer which appears earlier in the season and is gone by the time the female blossoms appears.

-The Costata Romanesco attracts squash bugs and I pick the adults and eggs off of the plant.

The Rugosa Friulana DOESN’T ATTRACT SQUASH BUGS! That fact alone will make me grow it again.  It’s only 5′ away Costata Romanesco, so you’d think it would attract the squash bug but it doesn’t. How thrilling is that!

PRODUCTION
-The Costata Romanesco started producing zucchini 2 weeks ago-mid-July

-The Rugosa Friulana just produced the first fruits now-Aug 7. Not that much difference.

Costata Romanesco

TASTE
Now comes the taste test. I sliced both and sauteed them in olive oil with only garlic salt.

The Costata Romanesco tends to have less dense flesh and has a sweet nutty flavor. When you slice it into discs, it has beautiful fluted sides. It has always been my favorite.

The Rugosa Friulana has denser flesh when you cut into it (I like that) and has a slightly different flavor (hard to describe but kinda nutty too). When you cut it into discs, it also has ruffly sides from the warts. I like it just as well.

 

So if you only want to grow one zucchini plant, you might consider Rugosa Friulana– very flavorful and squash bug resistant.

Both are really good but just knowing Rugosa Friulana won’t attract squash bugs  makes me want to grow it again. What a pleasant surprise!

 

Harlequin Bug Control

Harlequin bug. Photo courtesy Hobby Farms

I’ve got a lot of questions from people about an orange and black bug attacking their food crops. It’s called a Harlequin bug and it is a bad one for our vegetable gardens. You need to hand-pick them off right away as they can decimate your  vegetable garden. They particularly like crops like cabbage, broccoli and mustard but will attack squash, beans, corn, asparagus, or tomatoes. I pick them off and put in a bucket of soapy water just like for squash bugs. Funny But I don’t remember them in years past but they are here now. Some people are reporting picking off hundreds of them! So don’t wait, get on it NOW.

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Are Harlequin Bugs: How To Get Rid Of Harlequin Bugs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-of-harlequin-bugs.htm