Container Garden Update — October 4, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  October 4, 2014 post here.  October 7, 2013 post here.

We harvested the last 9.8 pounds of tomatoes this week.

Monday saw us harvest everything except for the non-ripe cherry varieties:

150928 harvest

Today we brought in the cherries. The girl cat is checking the sheet tray for potential deliciousness:

151004 harvest

We removed the remaining tomato stems and cages today. Later this week we’ll plant Mache in those four boxes.


This year we only weighed product from the EarthBoxes. We also didn’t count any overwintering veg, since the total was pretty paltry, and I was bummed out by the paltriness. Still, we harvested 282.5 pounds from the EarthBoxes — all of it between June 24 and October 4. That’s about 8.5% more veggies than in 2014.

2013 total weight:  228.0 pounds

2014 total weight:  269.4 pounds

2015 total weight:  282.5 pounds

For reference, 282.5 pounds comes out to just under 8 pounds of product (7.84) per square foot of growing medium. I’d guess that we’re getting close to the upper limit for our situation, short of swapping out the basil for something heavier — and that’s not going to happen.


Each year I’ve done four garden Recap posts, looking at what worked, what didn’t, and what we think we might have learned. I’ll likely do the 2015 version of those posts over the next couple of weeks. As it gets colder I’ll also do updates on the progress of the new salad table and the status of the winter veg.

Wintertime also encourages turning on the oven again. I expect we’ll do more recipe and baking posts.

Looking forward to it.

Roasted Tomatillo-Pork Tacos

by A.J. Coltrane

I used this recipe (“Pork Stew in Green Salsa”) as a jumping off point for Roasted Tomatillo-Pork Tacos. The picture is of my variation, situated on a corn tortilla, topped with sour cream and frilly cilantro:

150929 tomatillo pork


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1.5 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups pureed roasted tomatillos
  • 4 seeded minced green tomatoes (I used Romas)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar (pork loves apple)
  • Additional salt to taste


  1. Stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and cumin in a large bowl. Place the cubed pork into the mixture, and stir well to coat the meat with the seasonings.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Working in batches if necessary, place the meat into the hot pan in a single layer. Pan-fry the pork until brown on all sides. Remove the pork to a bowl.
  3. Cook and stir the onion in the hot pan over medium heat, adding more olive oil if necessary, until the onion is translucent. Return the meat to the pan and stir in the garlic, tomatillos, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, and water. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.
  4. Stir in cilantro shortly before serving. Check for salt.


The big changes from the original are:

Roasted tomatillos instead of fresh. I may try it with fresh at some point, but we currently have a freezer stocked with a lot of roasted tomatillos.

The addition of green tomatoes instead of green chiles. We have more than a few green tomatoes on the counter at the moment. (Gotta use everything up.)

More garlic (surprise!). More cumin. No majoram.

The addition of apple cider vinegar, which I think really helps. It brightens the dish and somewhat compensates for using roasted tomatillos rather than fresh.

Less liquid. The target was a taco filling rather than a stew.

Adding the cilantro very late in the cooking process. No point killing it by adding it early.

Half as much meat. It’s still plenty of food for four.


[As an aside, the allrecipes picture uses mint as a garnish, which isn’t anywhere in the recipe. I guess they didn’t want a completely brown picture either. The inclusion of mint in the photo is “cheating” I think. They should have garnished with cilantro, which is actually in the recipe. /rant]

I really enjoyed this take on Roasted Tomatillo-Pork Tacos. It’s an easy one-pot preparation that doesn’t take all night. We’ll be making this one again for sure.

Container Garden Update — September 27, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  September 29, 2014 post here.  September 30, 2013 post here.

3.4 pounds this week (only counting the EarthBoxes). We harvested the first batch of radishes, and the tomato plants offered up this:

150924 harvest

I removed the last of the annual flowers from the whiskey barrels. We’d interplanted scallions/bunch onions with the flowers, and a few of the largest scallions came inside.

150926 harvest


The smaller scallions were replanted for harvest in the spring.

We’re still seeing days in the low-mid 60’s, and the tomatoes are *still* slowly ripening. I’m guessing we’ll harvest the rest of the tomatoes this week. Here’s a view from a 2nd-story window:

150727 overview

Today the whiskey barrels and empty EarthBoxes received the ~100 Guardsman scallion starts that had been growing next to the salad table in the front yard. We also planted seeds of Mache (a.k.a. vit/corn salad), Giants of Colmar carrots, Conservor shallots, Red Baron bunch onion/scallion, Five Color Silverbeet chard, and Dragon Hybrid radishes. In theory we should be able to harvest most of that through the winter.


2013 total weight to date:  185.6 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  246.2 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  272.7 pounds

As a flat guess there are another 10-15 pounds of tomatoes in the EarthBoxes yet to be harvested.


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — September 20, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  September 21, 2014 post here.  September 22, 2013 post here.

The forecast calls for more 50-or-60-degree days, clouds, and rain. I’m guessing that’s as good as it’s going to get until May. This weekend became “clean up and harvest everything that’s at least mostly ripe.”

17.1 pounds for the day. 22.8 pounds for the week. 269.3 pounds for the year (counting only the EarthBoxes). We’ve now surpassed last year’s EarthBox total of ~260 pounds.

Yesterday’s harvest (with boy cat):

150919 harvest

We harvested all of the tomatoes that were showing signs of color.

Closeup 1.  (L-R:  Iko Iko peppers, NuMex peppers) The Iko Iko have been a pleasant surprise — they ripened well, and the yield was good.

150919 closeup1

Closeup 2.  (Top Left – Bullnose Bell. Top Right – Lipstick & Yellow Bell peppers. Bottom Left – Anaheim. Bottom Right – Jalapeno.)

150919 closeup2

I thought the “finish” on this Jalapeno sort of reminded me of a race car or a rocket:

150919 jalapeno

Closeup 3.  (Top Left – Oregon Spring & not-ripe Taxi. Bottom Left – Cosmonaut Volkov. Top Right – Black Krim & Roma. Bottom Right – Tomatillos.)

150919 closeup3

Closeup 4. (L-R:  King of the North, Carmen)

150919 closeup4

The boy cat trying out a sheet tray (prior to the harvest photo):

150919 boy cat

The Tuesday harvest:

150915 harvest

Friday (Cosmonaut Volkov, Taxi, & cherry tomatoes):

150918 harvest

We haven’t had the time to really maintain the tomato plants. (Or anything in the garden for that matter.) Yesterday the tomatoes finally got a giant haircut. The pepper and tomatillos plants were removed:

150919 overview

For reference, here’s last week:

150913 overview

Our “Final Summer Harvest” date in 2013 was on October 7. In 2014 it was September 28. I’d guess we’ll pull the remaining summer veg when the forecast indicates a spate of 40-degree nights on the horizon.

The garlic and radishes:

150919 garlic radish

We trimmed the salad table today. It’s on casters, so we can tuck it in the corner next to the door, then roll it out for access. This picture is after the trim. (top L-R – Little Gem romaine, dill, spinach, Jericho romaine, frilly cilantro, arugula):

150919 salad table

The 2nd tier houses spinach, romaine, and miner’s lettuce. The bottom has mache and miner’s lettuce. I think I over-planted. On the bright side, seeds aren’t expensive, and nothing bolted when it was warm.


2013 total weight to date:  157.5 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  211.4 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  269.3 pounds


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — September 13, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  September 14, 2014 here (includes a 35 pound day).  September 15, 2013 here.

Late in the week we had a couple of days approaching 80 degrees. This morning I harvested vegetables in a light drizzle, which is more normal for this time of year. The forecast for at least the next seven days calls for rain and highs in the mid-60’s. Likely we’ll see cloudy and mid-60’s for the remainder of the month.

19.9 pounds of produce for the week.  18.3 pounds of that was harvested this morning. (Note that I’m only weighing the produce from the EarthBoxes. Everything else is an easy bonus.)

Today’s harvest:

150913 harvest

Closeup 1. The peppers —  ( [L-R] from top left – Anaheim, deformed Lipstick, Yellow Bell. [L-R] from Bottom Left – Carmen, Iko Iko, NuMex, Jalapeno.)

150913 peppers

Closeup 2. Tomatillos. The tomatillo plants are really winding down, so I pulled the “most ready” fruits — about half of the remaining total.

150913 tomatillo

Closeup 3.  Tomatoes — (L-R) Sun Gold, Sweet Million, Oregon Spring, Taxi, Black Krim, Tigerella

150913 tomato

Closeup 4.  More Tomatoes — Romas, Cosmonaut Volkov. It’s about time the Volkov did something.

150913 tomato2

An overview:

150913 overview

We planted garlic about two weeks ago:

150913 garlic

Some of the radishes are ready for harvest (French Breakfast, Cherry Bell, Dragon):

150913 radish


The “2015 Tomato Race” totals. (One plant of each. 122 pounds total.)

Type Weight (lbs) Weight (g)
Taxi 21.7 9856
Black Krim 20.2 9175
Roma 17.1 7764
Oregon Spring 16.7 7571
Cos. Volkov 13.6 6185
Sun Gold 12.6 5717
Tigerella 12.2 5558
Sweet Million 7.9 3601


2013 total weight to date:  138.1 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  164.1 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  246.5 pounds


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.


The Salad Table – One Month In

by A.J. Coltrane

We planted the new salad table in early August. Last night we harvested this:

150909 harvest

The harvest barely put a dent in the plant mass (Top shelf, L-R: “Little Gem” romaine, dill, spinach, “Jericho” romaine, cilantro, arugula) Behind the greens are the stairs to the front door — the salad table couldn’t be more conveniently located:

150909 salad table

It’s supposed to get into the low 80’s the next couple of days. The salad table only gets sun until about 1pm, but I’m still concerned that something may decide to bolt and destroy part of the “work” we’ve put in. I’m hoping that the shade cloth will help discourage that:

150909 salad table covered

I used a couple of shade cloth pieces we had lying around. There are 2 x 2’s  “attached” with cable ties to the front of the table. The shade cloth isn’t sitting directly on the greens, much. I’ll remove the shade cloth by the weekend — I’ve found I’m much less inclined to harvest greens if I have to fiddle with a cover. Easy and spontaneous is good.

One more picture — a quick weeknight pizza with roasted red pepper sauce (peppers from the garden), mozzarella, and arugula (from the salad table):

150904 pizza

Good stuff.


Container Garden Update — September 6, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  September 7, 2014 post here.  September 8, 2013 post here.

This week the weather reverted to what most people think of as “Seattle weather” — Cloudy and wet, and not very warm. Still, we harvested 27.9 pounds of produce this week. Below is 27.2 pounds of it:

150906 harvest

Closeup 1.  Oregon Spring, Taxi, Tigerella, Sun Gold, Sweet Million:

150906 harvest1

Closeup 2.  Romas (6.2 lbs):

150906 harvest2

Closeup 3.  Peppers – Carmen, Iko Iko, Lipstick, Yellow Bell:

150906 harvest3

Closeup 4.  Tomatillos (4.2 lbs):

150906 harvest4

Closeup 5.  Cosmonaut Volkov, Black Krim (far right), King of the North peppers:

150906 harvest5

Outside, the tomatoes are winding down:

150906 tomato

Sun Golds:

150906 sun gold

The radishes seem to enjoy the rain:

150906 radish


2013 total weight to date:  123.3 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  154.9 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  229.6 pounds

I’m not sure how much is left on the plants. We may come out really close to last year’s total of 269.4 pounds.


The “2015 Tomato Race” standings (one plant of each):

Type Weight (lbs) Weight (g)
Taxi 20.4 9265
Black Krim 17.4 7893
Roma 15.7 7138
Oregon Spring 15.3 6930
Sun Gold 12.1 5498
Tigerella 11.4 5169
Cos. Volkov 8.1 3697
Sweet Million 7.7 3475


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — August 30, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  September 1, 2014 here.  September 1, 2013 here.

On September 2, 2014 we had a huge windstorm that blew over the cages containing the tomatoes and Tromboncino. As it turns out, we had a huge windstorm yesterday, and the cages were rocked, though not to the same extent. (Gusts to 45 mph!) This time it mostly bent and twisted the cages, probably because they were braced a little better. We were able to haul everything more or less back to “square” without too much trouble. We got really lucky in that we did the “big harvest” for the week shortly before the wind hit. Still… ugh.

That’s two years in a row of having tomatoes fall over. It’s time to figure out something sturdier.

Having said that — Saturday’s harvest was 28.7 pounds (counting the basil leaves, but not the basil stems and branches):

150829 harvest1

Saturday closeup 1 — tomatillos (3.3 lbs). The tomatillos got roasted and frozen, to eventually become green salsa. Note the rogue strawberry:

150829 harvest2

Saturday closeup 2 — tomatoes. Mostly Tigerella, Taxi, Sun Gold, and Sweet Million. Some of the tomatoes are less than perfectly ripe — the plants are actively throwing fruit on the ground, and we decided to beat them to it. (16.3 pounds of tomatoes today, spread between a few sheet trays):

150829 harvest3

Saturday closeup 3 — The Last Of The Tromboncino (2.4 lbs yesterday. 26.0 lbs for the year. That’s a 27% improvement over last year’s yield.) Also pictured are Bullnose Bell peppers, Yellow Bell peppers, Tigerella tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, and one stray leaf of basil. The former Tromboncino box was replanted with garlic — The Tromboncino were probably 95%+ done anyway:

150829 harvest4

Saturday closeup 4 — Romas (6.6 lbs):

150829 harvest5

Saturday closeup 5 — Mostly Peppers. Carmen peppers on the right. King of the North on the left. Lipstick peppers on the top left. The tomatoes are Cosmonaut Volkov:

150829 harvest6

Monday’s harvest (3.5 lbs). The non-cherry tomatoes are Tigerella and Cosmonaut Volkov:

150824 harvest

Thursday (8.8 lbs). Oregon Spring, Taxi, Tigerella, Sun Gold, Sweet Million:

150827 harvest

The total harvest for the week was 40 pounds. Of that, 29 pounds was tomatoes.

An overview picture, before the Saturday harvest. You can see “Fall” if you look closely enough:

150829 overview

The radishes are exploding. For reference, here’s last week:

150822 radish

And this week (a reverse angle picture of the box):

150829 radish

The Carmen peppers, prior to Saturday harvest:

150829 peppers

The Romas:

150829 roma

The salad table is overdue for thinning. Here’s the middle shelf:

150829 salad table 2

The top shelf:

150829 salad table1

The scallion/bunch onion starts. Note the small amount of copper tape around the foot of the salad table. I doubt it’ll really deter the slugs, but it’s worth a try:

150829 scallions


2013 total weight to date:  93.1 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  108.7 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  199.7 pounds

More Progress!


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — August 23, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  August 24, 2014 post here.  August 25, 2013 post here.

47.1 pounds of produce this week, including 38.5 pounds of tomatoes.

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The cucumbers are completely finished, and the Tromboncino may not be far behind. The tomatoes have begun to randomly drop fruit. If it’s not Fall already then it’s coming real soon.

To the pictures —

The “non-cherry tomato” part of our Tuesday tomato tasting (8.4 pounds).

(L-R) Roma, Tigerella, Taxi, Oregon Spring, Black Krim

(L-R) Roma, Tigerella, Taxi, Oregon Spring, Black Krim

The Comsmonaut Volkov is still doing it’s own thing. We’ve harvested one fruit. Three more are ripening on the vines. The rest are just sitting there. For reference, here are the yearly totals to date for the tomatoes (one plant of each):

Type Weight (lbs) Weight (g)
Black Krim 15.8 7168
Taxi 14.0 6348
Oregon Spring 11.7 5314
Sun Gold 7.8 3530
Sweet Million 5.8 2642
Roma 3.0 1357
Tigerella 2.4 1095
Cos. Volkov 1.3 581

The difference is that everything else except the Volkov have a whole bunch of ripe fruit on the way. We’ll see what the endgame looks like.

Monday’s harvest (8.1 lbs):

The peppers are King of the North.

The peppers are King of the North.

Wednesday (15.4 lbs):

A big day for Taxis and Black Krim. They were both dropping fruit.

A big day for Taxis and Black Krim. They were both dropping fruit.

Finally, three pictures from Saturday (13.2 lbs):

150822 harvest1


Peppers: King of the North (bottom left), Carmen (left), Lipstick (center), Iko Iko (bottom center), Yellow Bell (right)

Peppers: King of the North (bottom left), Carmen (left), Lipstick (center), Iko Iko (bottom center), Yellow Bell (right)

The tomatillos and the last of the cucumbers:

150822 harvest3

The Yellow Bells before the Saturday harvest:

150822 yellow pepper

Two pictures that sum up the state of the Tromboncino –

Green leaves, dead leaves, powdery mildew, blooms, and fruit. I've given up trying to "control" it.

Green leaves, dead leaves, powdery mildew, blooms, and fruit. I’ve given up trying to “control” it.

The Tromboncino are invading the Sun Golds, and vice versa. Note the Tromboncino fruit all the way to the left of the photo. The trellis is about four feet to the right:

150822 tromboncino2

Many of the peppers are almost ripe:

Carmen peppers.

Carmen peppers.


King of the North. I think.

King of the North. I think.

Fall in Vermont has nothing on the tomato plants right now:

Not a healthy color. But kind of neat looking.

Not a healthy color. But kind of neat looking.

The salad table has been a pleasant surprise. The spinach will need to be thinned this week:

(L-R) Little Gem, Dill, Little Gem, Spinach, Cilantro, Arugula.

(L-R) Little Gem, Dill, Little Gem, Spinach, Cilantro, Arugula.

The radishes are doing well, I think. Or are they leggy?:

150822 radish

The scallion starts will go into the vacated cucumber box when they’re big enough to handle. They’re currently living at the foot of the salad table:

150822 scallions


2013 total weight to date:  65.4 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  82.2 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  157.7 pounds

More Progress!


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — August 16, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  August 19, 2014 post here. August 10, 2014 post here.  August 18, 2013 post here.

19.1 pounds of produce this week.

This harvest picture was taken on Wednesday, just before our first tomato tasting of the year:

150812 harvest

(L-R, and top to bottom)  Roma, Oregon Spring, Tigerella (top), Taxi (yellow), Cosmonaut Volkov (bottom), Black Krim


150810 harvest

(top to bottom) Boy cat, Tromboncino, Lemon cucumbers.


150811 harvest

(L-R)  Sun Gold, Tomatillo, Sweet Million

We had a heavy rain storm on Friday, after basically no moisture for weeks. Some of the tomatoes split, and a pepper branch fell over. Overall though, we got off pretty light on damage. The next picture is Saturday morning’s harvest. 13 pounds total, including 6.7 pounds of Oregon Spring tomatoes:

150815 harvest

The tomatoes are Taxi and Oregon Spring, with Sun Gold and Sweet Million. In the nearer sheet tray are King of the North peppers (the big ones), Carmen (top), Yellow Bell (the orange ones on the far top right), Lipstick (middle right), and Bullnose Bell (bottom right).

There are lots more yellow bells to go:

yellow bell

One Iko Iko is almost ripe:

150815 iko iko

The Black Krims are all getting really close to ready. It looks like we missed a few Sweet Millions (left rear of the photo):

150815 black krim

The Romas. The cascading perspective of the picture reminds me a little bit of a Van Gough painting:

150815 roma

The Lemon cucumbers, Tomatillos, and Tromboncino. We almost pulled the Lemon cucumbers today to make room for garlic. That will happen next weekend at the latest:

150815 lemon, tomatillo, tromboncino

The Marketmore cucumbers were pulled on Wednesday and replaced with radish seeds — French Breakfast, Cherry Belle, and “Dragon Hybrid”. The Dragon variety should overwinter, the other two types we’ll consume this fall and then replant with more Dragons. We used Ultomato stakes as a reference to make sure that we got even rows:

150815 radish

The salad table is taking off. The spinach (center) has a five day head start on the other plants:

150815 salad table

(L-R) Dill, Spinach, Cilantro, Arugula. There are a couple of tiny Little Gem seedlings in between the Dill and Spinach too.

The girl cat in her favorite spot — basking in late afternoon sun on the bed:

150811 girl cat



2013 total weight to date:  52.0 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  62.7 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  110.6 pounds

More Progress!


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.