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.

Roasted Tomato Pizza

by A.J. Coltrane

We had a hodge-podge of tomatoes left over from our tomato tasting on Wednesday, so Thursday night was pizza night featuring the stragglers. (Mostly Roma, Oregon Spring, and Sweet Million.)

I cut the tomatoes into pieces, then roasted them with a little salt and olive oil as part of warming up the oven:  425F for about 15 minutes. Roasting removed the worst of the liquid. The tomatoes were then lightly pureed, and:

150813 pizza

Very simple – Roasted tomatoes, sopressata, and parmesan. The pizza really didn’t need anything else.


In the “it’s a small world” category, NW Edibles did a roasted tomato post today too, though she roasts hers at 250F for 3 to 7 hours(!)

TBT: September 20th, 2009

By Blaidd Drwg

I was looking through some old scorecards that I have saved and I came across one from 2009, September 20th to be exact, for a game between the Mariners and Yankees. That season, the Yankees would win 103 games and the World Series and the Mariners would win 85 through shear dumb luck (they had a -52 run differential but happened to go 35-20 in one run games.) It was a stellar pitching matchup between Ian Snell, who seemed to managed to stay in the M’s rotation despite being horrible and Joba Chamberlain, who was a mega-prospect at the time and the Yankees were in the process of trying to turn him into a starter.

The Yankees lineup was an impressive one:
Jeter, Damon, Teixieria, Arod, Matsui, Posada, Cano, Melky Cabrera, Gardner

The Mariners, not so much:
Ichiro, Gutierrez, Lopez, Griffey, Beltre, Hall, Carp, Moore, Jack Wilson

So predictably, the Mariners jumped all over Chamberlain, scoring 7 runs in 2 innings and chasing him out of the game. Somehow Snell managed to limit the Yankees to 1 run in 5 1/3 innings despite 4 hits and 4 walks allowed. The M’s bullpen shut down the Yankees the rest of the way and the final score was 7-1.

Why is this game of note, well, because the pitching line for the Yankees bullpen, specifically Sergio Mitre (who was the only Yankees pitcher to appear after Chamberlain was chased) caught my eye:

IP H R ER BB SO Pitches-Strikes
Mitre 5 1 0 0 1 5 65-43

There was an error on the scorecard which I had Mitre throwing 5 no-hit innings, which is why I was even interested. If you don’t remember Mitre, he was a Cubs and Marlins prospect who never quite put it together in the bigs. Coming into the game on the 20th, Mitre had been the Yankees 5th starter and had a 7.63 ERA and had given up 18 runs in his last 2 starts.

Pitching down 6 runs in this game, Mitre got Ichiro to bounce out, gave up a single to Guti, struck out Lopez, walked Griffey and then ended the inning on a Beltre fielder’s choice in his first inning of work. Nothing spectacular and then he proceeded to do what you expect that Mariners lineup to do the rest of the game – nothing. He put down the next 12 hitters in order. It is how he ended the game that I thought was interesting – the last 4 hitters he faced were strikeouts. So Mitre recorded 13 consecutive outs – the first 9 were on balls in play and the last 4 were strikeouts. Nothing earthshaking or anything that is ever going to appear in a record book, but just one of those little weird things about baseball that I love. I reminded me of this game that I wrote about a few years back.

Container Garden Update — August 9, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  August 10, 2014 post here.  August 11, 2013 post here.

Total harvest for the week was 13.5 pounds. It was a little bit of everything, including the first Oregon Spring tomatoes and a sheet tray of tomatillos. We roasted the tomatillos, buzzed them up, and froze them for easy future green salsa (The link is to Rick Bayless’ Roasted Tomatillo Salsa on this website. It’s especially good when combined with avacado.)

Wednesday — (L-R) Two Tromboncino, Sun Gold tomatoes, Sweet Million tomatoes, tomatillos, a Lemon cucumber, Tigerella tomatoes:

150805 harvest

Friday — (L-R) Oregon Spring tomatoes, Sweet Million tomatoes, Lemon cucumber, tomatillos, Tigerella tomatoes, Tromboncino, Sun Gold tomatoes.

150807 harvest

I expect it’s going to be an even bigger week this week — everything pictured below is still on the plants.

We’re almost even with last year’s total harvest of Tromboncino, and there are still more to come. (20.7 pounds in 2014. 19.0 pounds to date this year.)


An overview from a 2nd-story window. In retrospect, we had the same bright idea for this perspective in the 2013 post linked above..

150809 overview

The peppers are ripening. The Carmen:

150809 carmen

Iko Iko:

150809 iko iko

The Lemon cucumbers are still cruising along. The others varieties have all gone pfffft. I may remove the Marketmore vines this week and plant garlic or scallions in that box. The Lemons:

150809 lemon

We’re going to have a lot of tomatillos this year:

150809  tomatillo

The Cosmonaut Volkov tomato plant is finally “doing something”. The color of the leaves hasn’t ever been very good, and it hadn’t been growing much fruit, but the vegetative growth was crazy. I trimmed back the tops of the plant, and it seemed to set more fruit after that… or the fruit set was going to happen anyway…

150809 cosmonaut volkov

The Black Krims:

150809 black krim


150809 taxi

The Taxis are sharing a box with the Oregon Springs:

150809 oregon spring

The Romas:

150809 roma

This week will see some side-by-side tomato tasting!

On Wednesday we sowed spinach, cilantro, and dill in the salad table. The spinach is already popping up. The spinach should overwinter. We’ll enjoy fresh cilantro and dill for as long as it lasts:

150809 salad table


2013 total weight to date:  37.0 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  44.1 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  81.5 pounds

More Progress!


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.


The Mariners and Their Playoff Chances

By Blaidd Drwg

There are Mariners fans out there who are still entertaining hopes of getting into the playoffs despite a 50 – 59 (as of August 5th) record and being 7 games back from the 2nd wildcard spot. Why not. The AL is very mediocre this year and the 2 teams that currently possess the wild card spots are sporting .533 and .523 winning percentages, so one good win streak puts they M’s into contention.

The problem here is that the Mariners need to pass 7 teams just to reach the 2nd playoff spot and that is no easy feat with 53 games remaining, although it has been done before. Here is how the M’s remaining schedule breaks down:

15 games vs. teams with a record worse than the M’s – 9 vs. Oakland, 3 vs. Boston and 3 vs. Colorado. They really need to come out of those 15 games with a 10-5 record.

13 games vs. Texas – the Rangers are currently 5 games ahead of the M’s in the standings (and 6 ahead in the loss column) and significantly upgraded their starting pitching, so making the assumption that both teams play at the same level for the rest of the season (let’s just say .500 for the sake of argument), the M’s need to go 9-4 just to pass them in the standings.

7 games vs. Chicago – it is surprising that the White Sox are still in this, just 4.5 games back of the 2nd wild card despite being horrible. This is the team that the M’s first need to pass, but once again, despite being just 2.5 games back of the Pale Hose, the M’s are 4 back in the loss column (how have the M’s managed to play that many more games than the other teams in the league?) It would take a 5-2 record in those 7 games to catch the Sox assuming they both play .500 ball the rest of the way.

3 games vs Baltimore – the O’s are 6 games up on the M’s and just 1 game back of the 2nd wild card. They do have a brutal schedule the rest of the way though – 28 of their remaining 55 games are against teams with better records and that doesn’t count the 14 games against teams that are within 2 games of them in the wildcard race. The M’s probably need a sweep here or at least winning the series and then hope that the O’s split most of the games against the teams that are ahead of the M’s in the wild card race. If the O’s go into freefall or go on a tear, it will pretty much end the Mariners season.

6 games vs Houston – the Astros lead the M’s by 10 games in the division and are 2 up on the first wild card spot. The ‘Stros have been tough to figure out so these games don’t help the M’s other than potentially swapping the Angels and Astros as division leader/1st wild card team. A couple of important series, but the M’s would do far more damage to themselves if they come out of those 6 with a losing record than the Astros would.

6 games vs. LA – They are up 8 on the M’s for the first wild card spot. Same as the Astros – the 2 series against the Angels could do more harm than good to the M’s chances, depending on how they play out.

3 games vs. KC – Same as the LA and Houston series, but just 3 games so it wouldn’t be the end of the world for the M’s as long as they don’t get swept. KC is really good, so there is no guarantee there.

The M’s have no games remaining against the following teams ahead of them in the wild card standing: Toronto (currently in the 2nd wild card spot, but a brutal schedule to end the season), Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Detroit. All of those teams are at least 3 games up on the M’s in the standings and at least 4 up in the loss column.

It is a long road for the M’s to even think about making the playoffs and they are going to need a ton of help.

My prediction: the M’s make a brief run in the last 2 weeks of August and then fall apart, finishing somewhere around 78-84 for the season. McClendon will be looking for a new job but Zdrenzick will be safe for another year.

Container Garden Update — August 2, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  August 3, 2014 post here.  August 4, 2013 post here.

The 2013 post includes one of our more popular pictures — girl cat with bags and bags of green stuff:

The girl cat is not impressed.

The girl cat is not impressed.

It’s about 1.5 pounds of basil, though the internet must have other ideas.

11.6 pounds of produce this week, including the first tomatillos!  Tuesday:

150728 harvest

Today. The tomatoes are a mix of Sweet Million, Sun Gold, Taxi, and one Tigerella:

150802 harvest


A pre-harvest picture of the Lemon cucumbers. They’re still doing well. Note the powdery mildew on the right. I believe that’s the pickling cucumbers calling it a year.

150802 lemon cucumber

The Marketmores are about done too. In the top left of the picture there are still a few growing, but many leaves are looking terrible:

150802 marketmore

The Tromboncino. There were actually seven fruits at this size in a small area of the vines. Two lost their blooms early, so I removed those, with the idea that those will wind up being the “losers”. There are still five left, which may still be too many. Pictured are two of the winners:

150802 zucchini

The big King of the North pepper:

150802 king of the north

The Black Krims are much larger than last year. They’re starting to show color:

150802 black krim


150802 roma

Sweet Millions, prior to harvest:

150802 sweet million

2013 total weight to date:  26.7 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  24.0 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  68.0 pounds

More Progress!


Visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday.


The Winter Seed List

by A.J. Coltrane

This will be our second year of winter gardening. In year one I made spreadsheets like this Seed Germination Times And Temperatures. Days To Maturity. And Plant Minimum Temperatures. NW Edition.

Last year our main microclimate (in the back yard, under the 2nd story deck) was too cold and dark, so the output was only marginally worth the trouble. At best. A good summary post with multiple links is here.

This winter we’re going to put the new salad table right by the front door (and kitchen). As of right now I’m leaning against using a row cover, with the idea that if clipping a few greens is super simple and quick then we’re much more likely actually harvest salad for dinner — standing around in the cold rain while messing with a row cover didn’t go over so well last year.

Having said that, here are the seeds we purchased:

Description Minimum Temp
Bloomsdale Savoy Spinach Conventional & Organic 5-10
Coriander-Santo (Cilantro) 10
Dill-Fernleaf 30
Guardsman Onion 5-10
Miners Lettuce 5-10
Red Baron Onion Conventional & Organic 5-10
Roquette Salad Arugula Conventional & Organic 5-10
Super Sugar Snap Peas 15
Vit Corn Salad (Mâchè) 5
Winter Density Lettuce 5-10


That “5-10″ for the Arugula and Winter Density lettuce might be a little optimistic. 20F (or freezing) might be closer to the truth. The dill we’ll harvest and freeze as dill butter when the weather starts turning chilly.

The onions (and last year’s saved garlic) will be transplanted into EarthBoxes once the cucumbers and basil are done for the year. Our regular whisky-barrel style containers don’t seem to drain well enough for alliums to avoid rot. In this case, I’m thinking using row covers to keep the snow off might be the right idea.

Now it just needs to quit being a million degrees outside so that the new plants won’t bolt immediately.

Grilled Flatbread With Pesto And Goat Cheese

by A.J. Coltrane

Or Pesto and Goat Cheese Grilled Flatbread? It definitely featured pesto:

150720 pesto flatbread

The dough formula:  400g Bread Flour, 240g vaguely warm water, 9g kosher salt, 8g extra virgin olive oil, 1.5 tsp instant yeast. (60% water, 2.25% salt, 2% oil)

Those are very “normal” ratios. It was basically a grilled pizza dough. Or focaccia. Take out the oil and it’s a baguette dough. Normally I’d use 1 tsp of yeast, but this was the same “company-coming-over-soon” night where things needed to be ready quickly. The “extra” yeast ensured that the dough would be ready for dinner, and it allowed for additional reshaping, leading to a lighter end result.

For the grilling process:  I stretched out the dough and tossed it onto the grill over medium heat. After a few minutes I brushed the top with olive oil and flipped it over. I  brushed the new top lightly with oil, then spread on the pesto. When the flatbread looked like it was about done we scattered goat cheese over the whole thing.

What follows is the first picture on this blog of an actual human that we know personally. This one happens to be a very short female:

15720 kid1

Not my child. She belongs to the dinner guests. Though she’s small, she almost single-handedly ate a 1.5 pound flatbread. Anytime short people will eat food without complaint I’ll call it a victory.

I also think I learned a little something about pesto in the process. Something like this FN recipe is a “standard” pesto. It calls for 2 cups packed basil, 1/2 cup grated Pecorino, and 1/4 cup pine nuts. I used ~2 cups packed basil, ~3/4 cup grated parmesan, and ~3/4 cup buzzed toasted pine nuts.

I like it way more with the additional cheese and (especially) pine nuts. I feel like it’s more earthy and complex with the balance tilted away from the basil. Hopefully the “lesson” sticks.