Container Garden Update — September 9, 2018


The 2018 growing season has been highlighted by sudden and dramatic changes in the weather. The most recent change has been from sunny and hot to cloudy and rainy.

The oak tree thinks Fall Is Coming:

180909 oak

The garden agrees that Fall Is Near. Most everything is getting scraggly. Compare the picture below to the post two weeks ago. It’s a dramatic difference:

180909 overview

A closeup of the front row of tomatoes — this will be the last year we use Ultomato cages for anything heavy (total fail for the box on the right):

180909 tomatoes

The Cherry Bomb and “Hungarian Heart” box. We purchased the “Hungarian Heart” at Tilth, though it was labeled as Violet Jasper. A later phone conversation with someone at Tilth has placed these as “Hungarian Heart” as a best guess. They’re heirloom, and they’re late. There are still a few on the vines. We’ve harvested a couple of them. At this point I’m just hoping they’re not going end up as a complete bust:

180909 tomato

The peppers are doing well. Pictured are Jimmy Nardello and Carmen:

180909 peppers

The Fortex and Rattlesnake pole beans are slowing down, but they still look mostly healthy:

180909 beans

We’re going to get one more Tromboncino. Note the Fortex beans still cruising along in the back:

180909 zucchini

Tiny arugula (with big parsley) living on the middle level of the salad table. The salad table dries out fast, so I wanted to wait for the 80-degree and sunny weather to abate somewhat before starting seedlings. Hopefully we’ll have something to harvest between now and February:

180909 arugula

Yesterday’s harvest. Top tray has Black Krim tomatoes, Cherry Bomb tomatoes, and a few Carmen peppers. On the left are Roma. On the right are Pasiano tomatoes, Oregon Spring, and Taxis:

180909 harvest


A Caprese with three types of tomatoes (Black Krim, Roma, Hungarian Heart) and a few pepper strips for variety:

180909 carpese


Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — August 26, 2018


The odd summer weather has continued. The air has been extremely smoky since the last post up until a few days ago. Now it’s overcast and cool.

We harvested the last of the tomatillos. It came to about 15 pounds:

180826 tomatillo

We harvested the tomatillos at least in part because the beans were taking over. Next year we’ll grow pole beans on the north side of the trellises, not the south side. This view is from the south. Two boxes of beans basically took over the trellis to the left and the trellis to the rear:

180826 beans

In the next picture the pole beans are on the north side of the trellis, with Tromboncino in the foreground. This approach was by far the better idea. They’re actually playing nicely together:

180826 zucchini and beans

We didn’t weigh the beans this year, but I’m guessing they more than made up for the somewhat lower than expected cucumber and tomatillo harvests. (L-R) Carmen peppers and cucumbers, Tromboncino, Fortex beans:


The Rattlesnake beans. We’ll see how well they size up before the frost:

180826 rattlesnake beans

The tomatoes are winding down. The Taxis and Paisanos on the far left of the photo have uprooted their cage — it was Ultomato stakes stuck into the EarthBox. I think we need to invest in a few more robust cages:

180826 tomatoes

A close up of the harvest. It rained and many of the Oregon Spring tomatoes split. They’re much bigger than usual this year. The one sheet tray has about 10 pounds of tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are Cherry Bomb, which we’ve really enjoyed. The peppers are Carmens (large) and Jimmy Nardello. The “oops I trimmed the wrong vine” tomatoes will be fried. They’re mostly Taxis:

180826 harvest 2


Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — August 12, 2018


The warm, sunny, 80ish degree weather is continuing. Fall is just around the corner and the garden is showing signs of wrapping it up. The tomatillos in particular need to be harvested since the plants are going downhill fast. We also found one “bad” leaf on the basil plant. By now we’ve come to realize that means it’s time to really start harvesting basil like there’s no tomorrow.

Here’s the basil box after we cut out about 1/3 of it and spread the bounty around the neighborhood:

180812 basil

Both of the pepper boxes fell over this week — onto the basil. They’re both really leaning, so we just spun one of the boxes around so that they could lean on each other for support:

180812 peppers

I think maybe something more substantial than Ultimato cages may be required in the future.

The Rattlesnake pole beans have basically taken over the trellis intended for tomatillos:

180812 beans

Some of the tomato vines are breaking under their own weight:

180812 tomato

We did get three “harvests” this week, plus about 10 pounds of pole (Fortex) beans. Here are Oregon Spring tomatoes, tomatillos, and a relatively photogenic cucumber:

180812 harvest1

5 pounds of tomatillos:

180812 harvest2

We should be able to fill another 3-4 sheet trays with tomatillos in the next few days.

Finally, some of the weeks’ tomatoes.

180812 harvest3

(L-R) Taxi, Black Krim, Oregon Spring, Roma, more Fortex beans.

We should see a deluge of ripening fruit the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely going to keep us busy.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 29, 2018


The last week has all been days over 80 – sometimes well over 80. This is one of those nights. If you squint you can actually see the heat hanging in the air. In some respects it’s gone from too cool to too hot without any “nice” weather in between.

This week’s lesson:   Next year we’re growing the pole beans on the north side of the trellises. Here a picture of the pole beans “competing” with the cucumbers (left) and tomatillos (right):

180729 beans and cukes

This week’s other lesson:  Growing pole beans on the 8′ trellis is a good idea… if you’re 8′ tall (The pole beans are on the far left of the picture sharing the trellis with the Tromboncino. The Black Krims in the center container are dwarfed by everything going on, and they’re over 7′ tall):

180729 beans and zucchini

I pruned the tomato plants on Saturday and found a couple of ripe Oregon Spring tomatoes. It feels really late, but checking the spreadsheets shows that somewhere between the last week of July and the first week of August is usually when we get the first tomato harvests. You can see the build-up to big harvests coming:

180729 tomato

The peppers are ripening too. (Jimmy Nardellos in the foreground, Carmens on the right.):

180729 peppers

The basil. No matter how much we harvest it bounces back:

180729 basil

This picture probably represents the last overview of the garden before it starts looking ragged. (Tomatoes left and in the front 3 left boxes, two pepper boxes in the center front, then the basil on the right. In the rear (L-R) are the beans, Tromboncino, tomatillos, beans, and cucumbers:

180729 overview

A harvest picture — bush “Maxibel” beans on the left, tromboncino in the center, pole “Fortex” beans on the right:

180729 harvest


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 14, 2018


The highs have been near 80 for the past few days. I did a little bit of pruning just so that we could move around in the garden. That, and I pruned a fair amount of dead and yellow stuff out of the Violet Jasper tomato plant. The Violet Jasper is going to need to turn it around fast to not be considered a washout, and I have my doubts.

Overall though — it’s been sunny and warm. The garden hasn’t required any real maintenance other than watering. The plants (with one exception) still look great. We’ve harvested a few zucchini and the cucumbers and beans will be soon to follow. In a lot of ways it’s the nicest time of the year in the garden.

The transplanted strawberries. All of the lighter green growth on the plant in the foreground is new growth. Pictured with the 2nd-year garlic chives and thyme:

180714 strawberries

The 1st-year asparagus is (are?) exceeding my top-end expectations. Even the few transplants are sending up new growth:

180714 asparagus

The front-yard salad table has three levels and is protected by shade cloth. The top level has basically fried off for the summer anyway. There are still lettuce and parsley on the bottom two levels, the pictured lettuce are on the north side of the middle level. The brown “growth” is the end of the peas:

180714 salad table


180714 tomato

Carmen peppers:

180714 carmen pepper

The Fortex and Rattlesnake pole beans. Cucumbers on the left, tomatillos on the right, Tromboncino in the right background. Note the Tromboncino vine growing up and out of the 8′ trellis. On the far side of the Tromboncino are more Fortex beans which are popping up over the top of the trellis as well:

180714 beans

The cucumbers are ready tomorrow or the next day:

180714 cucumber

The Tromboncino trellis:

180714 tomboncino overview

We harvested a few of these today — we’ll be more likely to get more big fruits if there’s a little less competition:

180714 tromboncino

An overview from the “front”, facing the house:

180714 overview


We’ve been making a point to harvest the basil a little more aggressively and frequently and the plants have responded well. And we get more dinners like this — two flatbreads, the one on the right is topped with a small amount of melted manchego and is about to be finished with basil pesto:

180714 pesto


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 1, 2018


The weather continues to sort-of-but-not-exactly cooperate. The forecast has called for a little rain the last few days, and it’s misting at the moment.

The raspberries haven’t gotten very tall, but there’s still a good amount of fruit:

180701 raspberries

There are two boxes (4 plants) of tomatillos. All of the plants started leaning strongly to the south about two weeks ago. Still, that’s why they’re trellised. I’m guessing the yield is going to be good:

180701 tomatillo

The Tromboncino plants are now well over 6′ tall. We should start seeing big fruits soon:

180701 tromboncino

The Taxis:

180701 taxi

The pole bean plants are going crazy though we haven’t seen any actual beans yet. There are two boxes of 20 plants each in the foreground. The box on the left (Fortex) got a one week head start on the right box (Rattlesnake):

180701 pole beans

An overview picture directly facing the photo above:

180701 overview2

An overview from the “front”:

180701 overview1

Last picture, the asparagus boxes. It’s year 1 and I feel like they’re doing well. They’re still sending up lots of new shoots:

180701 asparagus


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — June 17, 2018


Nights continue to be cool and the basil is hating it. It’s supposed to be warming into the 70’s and 80’s this week, and the lows should be in the mid-50’s. Hopefully it’s full speed ahead the rest of the summer.

The transplanted strawberries are looking happier. The damaged leaf on the left is old. The growth in the center is new:

180617 strawberries

The cucumbers have tiny proto-cucumbers (bottom flower):

180617 cucumber

The Tromboncino have finally reached the trellis. There are some small fruits at the bottom of the plants:

180617 tromboncino

The tomatillos have many blooms and a few fruit. The bees love the blooms:

180617 tomatillo

Four of the five tomato boxes. The two boxes on the right contain indeterminates. The white pvc supports are intended to discourage blowovers:

180617 tomatoes


A “reverse-angle” overview:

180617 overview


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

GNOIF: My Dad Says GNOIF is Lazy


GNOIF #32 recap — GNOIF: My Dad Says GNOIF’s Lazy  (Worker placement games, though we didn’t really offer many games in that genre. The title is a riff on the Airplane line:  “I think you’re the greatest, but my dad says you don’t work hard enough on defense.” (spoken by the kid in the cockpit to Kareem.))

Games That Got Played:  Deadwood Studios, King Domino, Sagrada, Ultimate Werewolf – One Night, Viticulture

Games That Didn’t Get Played:  Castles of Burgundy, Darkrock Ventures, Kill Dr Lucky, Rocketville

Much of the crowd broke into two big groups. One group played a marathon game of Viticulture. The other played Deadwood Studios. The rest of us started with Sagrada, then moved on to a few games of King Domino. Once everyone was good and tired of thinking it was time for the social Ultimate Werewolf.

It was the biggest turnout in over two years. Thanks to everyone who played!

Container Garden Update — June 10, 2018


The weather continues to be cool, cloudy, and wet. Everything is growing slowly. Today it’s partly cloudy/partly sunny and fairly windy, which makes the photography a little hit and miss.

The raspberries between gusts:

180610 raspberries

This whiskey barrel hosts bush-filet-type Maxibel beans, some Marigolds, and other flowers. Interestingly, the bugs have mostly left the beans alone this year. Could it at least partly be due to the Marigolds helping out and repelling whatever it was that ate the beans last year?

180610 whiskey barrel beans

When we moved into the house the raised beds were a neglected mess. They were mostly overgrown with mint. There was a rosemary plant that has since frozen off and some strawberries that were constantly under attack from weeds, mint, and bugs. We tried moving the strawberries to another location, but we recently re-planted them right back where they started, only this time they have mulch to help combat the weeds and mint.  (Eliminating the mint in the raised beds has been a years-long project and it appears that we’re finally mostly rid of it. We used thick layers of newspaper for starters.)

The south bed now holds strawberries, thyme, chives, garlic chives, and a big sage plant that needs constant pruning so as not to take over. Everything is a little bedraggled right now with all of the mulching and transplanting but they should perk up soon:

180610 raised bed 1

The middle raised bed contains thyme, rosemary which needs pruning, oregano, and lavender. The lavender has been here since the beginning. The rosemary was a spindly $3 mother plant that we purchased at the Seattle Master Gardeners plant sale three years ago. This box still needs some work, but it’s miles ahead of where it was when we moved in.

180610 raised bed 2

And the new asparagus raised bed. Two more plants popped up under the oak tree and were moved to these beds. We added fencing yesterday to try to keep the dog from trooping through the beds:

180610 raised bed 3

The zucchini seem to have responded well to being thinned to one plant per hole. On the left are Fortex (pole) beans. We added more trellis netting to try to discourage them from wrapping around the zucchini. (Which might be fine anyway, I have no idea. No sense making it “interesting”.)

180610 zucchini and beans

The cucumbers were thinned to about two plants per hole. We may try one plant per hole next year, but that seems potentially dicey. Fortex beans are on the right:

180610 cucumber

The cucumber-adjacent planting of Fortex beans (foreground), and Rattlesnake beans (background). The Fortex beans had a head start. They’re very cooperatively wrapping themselves in the trellis netting and around the 2×2 trellis poles:

180610 pole beans

The Fortex are also getting a new leaf shape, which I assume is what they produce the rest of the way (compare the center of the next picture with the bottom of the previous picture). You can also see how the beans are wrapping through the netting:

180610 bean leaf closeup

The more robust of the two tomatillo boxes:

180610 tomatillo


An overview picture — here’s an example of why I usually try to get all the photography done in the morning, before the sun peeks over the house. The picture is facing mostly NorthEast. [L-R] along the grass:  box of two Romas, box of two Oregon Spring tomatoes, box of Taxi and Paisano, pepper box, pepper box, basil. In the background to the right side are the cucumbers, with the tomatillos behind that and the big zucchini trellis all the way in the back. There are also two tomato boxes along the north-center side of the patio — one box of two Black Krim and one box with Violet Jasper and Cherry Bomb tomatoes.:

180610 overview


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — May 27, 2018


It was cloudy and cool for much of this week, and it got down into the high 40’s at night. The weather slowed growth for sure.

Before a couple of the cold nights we attached a plastic hoop house over the basil to be on the safe side:

180527 basil

There are supposed to be a few more nights in the 40’s between now and June 1, so I left the metal hoops on that box for now. We’ve used mini hoop houses like this one in the past for winter gardening. (The original “hoop house” post called for dowels and pvc for the support. Now we’re using wire bent to shape, with clothespins to hold the plastic in place. Much simpler and cheaper. The idea works great with shade cloth or row covers too.)

The Fortex beans might have benefitted from a hoop house as well, but they seem to be ok with the fringy-cold weather so far:

180527 fortex beans

The Fortex beans went from “nothing” to “that” in two weeks. If you look closely behind the Fortex there are Rattlesnake beans that were planted a week ago. They’re just starting to poke out of the soil after the cool week. We hung two pieces of scrap trellis netting up to the tops of the cucumber box (left) and tomatillo box (rear). We’ll see how that works out.

The cucumbers are off to a good start. It’s hard to believe we’ll get ~50 pounds of produce from these:

180527 cucumber

The tomatillos were getting floppy, and the forecast called for gusty 30 mph winds, so I stuck a dowel into the soil next to each of the tomatillos and used velcro plant ties to hold them up:

180527 tomatillo

The Tromboncino zucchini. I over-planted last year, so this year I figured I’d over-correct and leave just one plant per hole. The new leaves look great, so hopefully the strategy will pay off. (Note the holes for the Fortex beans to the far side (north) of the zucchini. They were planted last week at the same time as the Rattlesnake beans in the earlier picture):

180527 tromboncino zucchini

The new asparagus received mulch around Mother’s Day and continue to do well. (Compare to two weeks ago.) There are 3 more asparagus from the batch from 3 years ago that are under the shade of our oak tree. I’ll likely try to rescue/transplant them to the box soon. As it turns out, under an oak tree is not an ideal location for asparagus. (Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the shade of the oak tree is especially dark this year. It’s a wonder grass does passably well under the oak.)  Looking at the picture — it seems like a lot of the larger plants are female, which I guess is less than ideal, but should be fine anyway:

180527 asparagus

A view from the back garage door looking out to the yard:

180527 back view


We now have some pea flowers happening, and the salad table is finally ready to start harvesting!:

180527 salad table


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.