Container Garden Update — July 24, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here. July 26, 2015 post here. July 27, 2014 post here.  July 28, 2013 post here.

A quote from the 2015 post:

2013 total weight to date:  24.6 pounds

2014 total weight to date:  22.3 pounds

2015 total weight to date:  56.4 pounds

I believe we’re at less than ten pounds of produce so far this year. My guess is that 2015 was the “sunny and hot” outlier, and that 2016 is the “cool and cloudy” outlier…  The weather this week is supposed to be sunny and warm, so hopefully the yield will start to look a little more normal soon.

I think the pictures this week are similar to last week’s — only a few peppers are really starting to show color.

The overview:

160724 overview

The “Marketmore” cucumbers:

160724 cucumber

The “bit of color” — Gypsy peppers:

160724 pepper


“Verde” Tomatillos — the fruits are starting to fill the husks:

160724 tomatillo

Basil and Marigolds:

160724 basil and marigold


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 17, 2016

by A.J. Coltane

Previous post here.  July 19, 2015 post here. July 27, 2014 post here.  July 21, 2013 post here.

We’ve been thinning out some of the Tromboncino zucchini with the idea that the plant only has a finite amount of energy to pour into fruits.

A photo of a few small zucchini and the first cucumber:

160717 harvest

I tried to bend the Tromboncino over the top of the 8′ trellis. I’ve done it in previous years. This time I bent a little too hard, and the plant now has a 90 degree angle turn at the top. Hopefully it won’t die above that point:

160717 tromboncino

Some of the basil became part of a pizza Margherita:

63% hydration, 3% oil. Last year's frozen "assorted tomatoes" as sauce.

63% hydration, 3% oil. Last year’s frozen “assorted tomatoes” as sauce.

The Basil plants pose with Marigolds. Peppers back left, cucumbers back right:

160717 basil

The Taxi are getting close:

160717 taxi

The Tomatillos continue to produce huge husks:

160717 tomatillo

The Jersey Knight asparagus and strawberries now have a fence between them and the weeds. The strawberries came with the house. They were in a bad location, so we moved them. They’re loving the new place it seems:

160717 strawberry asparagus


An overview. Tomatoes on the left. Peppers front center. Basil on the right. Zucchini back left. Tomatillos back center. Cucumbers back right:

160717 overview


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — July 10, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  July 12, 2015 post here.  July 11, 2014 post here.  July 14, 2013 post here.

More wet. More clouds. It’s been an overcast spring and summer. In comparison to 2015 we’re waaaay behind, and I doubt we’ll catch up.

Though taken in isolation we’re doing ok.

The overview photo:

Tomatoes on the left, basil on the right, peppers in the center.

Front:  Tomatoes on the left, basil on the right, peppers in the center.

Standing near the leftmost pepper box:

160710 second overview

The basil looks better at this point this year:

160710 basil

The cucumbers are not digging the rain:

Continue reading Container Garden Update — July 10, 2016

Best 4th Of July Ever

by A.J. Coltrane

(Not my photoshop. I grabbed this off of the web.)

Durant Warriors

If I’ve ever been happier on a 4th of July I don’t remember it.

Container Garden Update — June 26, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here. June 28, 2015 post here. June 28, 2014 post here.  June 23, 2013 post here.

Looking at last year.. we’re well behind. For comparison, in 2015 the zucchini was already over the top of the 8′ trellis. It’s not 5′ tall yet this time.

Today has been one of the nicest, sunniest days we’ve had in a while. There are supposed to be at least a few more nice days coming up. I doubt we’ll equal last year’s overall production, but the improved weather should help pick things up.

A few of the plants are doing at least ok. The Oregon Spring are first on the scene, as usual:

160626 oregon spring

The Tromboncino are growing. Hopefully we’ll be able to start harvesting in a week or so:

160626 tromboncino

Standing next to the cucumbers, looking north at tomato plants:

160626 inside

The flowers in the whiskey barrels are doing well. The nasturtiums have completely overrun their container:

160626 flowers

The tomatillos have lots of flowers too:

160626 tomatillo


The boy cat hanging out in the shade:

160626 boy cat


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — June 16, 2016

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here. June 14, 2015 post here. June 21, 2014 post here.  June 16, 2013 post here.

The weather lately has been all over the place. Looking at last year, overall we’re a little “behind”.

An overview:

160616 overview

[Tomatoes on the left, peppers in the front, basil on the right. The tall plants in the back center are tomatillos.]

It’s not super easy to see, but the Serranos (front right, rear right, center left) have gotten much much taller than everything else in this box:

160616 pepper

Something ate a hole in one of the Gypsy peppers this week. I suspect earwigs again. In addition, a few other peppers had their leaves chewed on. As a remedy attempt I dosed a very few grains of Sluggo Plus at the bottom of each pepper plant. Normally I wouldn’t use that around veggies but I’m sort of out of answers. In any event, it was only 2-3 grains per plant.

Onward — We paired Taxi and Oregon Spring tomatoes again. They’re doing great:

160616 taxi oregon spring

They’re of comparable size and they’re both very early. No reason to mess with what works.

The cucumber plants are almost to the size where they can be threaded through the netting:

160616 cucumber

In the meantime, the cucumbers are sort of flopping everywhere.

Finally, we didn’t wind up with two Tromboncino this year. The smaller plants in the picture below are lemon cucumbers. Assuming that the cucumbers are allowed enough space to climb the trellis I think it’ll be fine. The sun came out from behind the clouds just as I took this photo:

160616 tromboncino lemon cucumber

More sun would be appreciated.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

A Blast From The Past: Revolt On Antares

by A.J. Coltrane

Back in the early 80’s TSR (the D&D people) published minigames. A minigame would come in a small plastic case with dice, a short rulebook, and a small map:

For scale: An over-exposed nickel on the left

For scale: An over-exposed nickel on the left

If you look closely at the top of the picture you’ll see the hole used to hang the game for display and sale. It’s a clever all-in-one package.

We played a lot of Revolt on Antares way back when. (It was published in 1981.) It’s a fun (if oversimplified) war game in the style of Axis and Allies. Little chits represent troops. You make little stacks of chits, move them around the hex map, and use them to attack other little stacks of chits/troops. Here’s a mid-game picture:

Note that same nickel, now up at the top of the photo.

Note that same nickel, now up at the top of the photo.

The symbols on the map represent terrain features and resources. If you squint really hard at the light blue chit on the brown island at the bottom center you’ll see that it says:  “Hovercraft”, and, “2-8”.  That troop unit has 2 attack and 8 movement. “Laser Tanks” are 6-4. “Jump Troops” are 3-5 (and can ignore rough terrain). And so on.

I gave up my original copy for lost years ago. I got the bug to play it again, so I bought a copy online. Naturally it was at that point my own copy resurfaced in an old D&D box.

Then I mostly forgot about the whole thing for a while. Periodically I’d see the game the closet and want to give it a go, but I didn’t get around to playing until very recently. I invited a buddy over and we tried out the most popular of the old scenarios.

The scenario calls for the “Terrans” to fight the “Rebels”. The Terran player starts out at a numerical disadvantage but gets more reinforcements over the course of the game. The game lasts ten turns, and the object is to control the most resource nodes and capitol cities at the end.

I believe that when I was younger my opponent and I would set up on opposite sides of the map and be tactical about it. Unaware of the finer points of these strategies, my buddy and I both set up in the center of the map and got into a giant slugfest.

The fight went back and forth. He was massing for another assault when I loaded a nuclear bomb onto a hovercraft… and directed the hovercraft into his two biggest stacks of troops.

And that was that.

It may be that if we played a few more times then some real strategy would kick in. Our strategies basically consisted of making the biggest piles of force we could and using those to smash smaller enemy forces.

I think we had fun with it.


In a related note:  Shopping for games used to be a lot easier, but a bit of a crapshoot at the same time. If the game was by TSR or Avalon Hill then you were likely spending your money wisely, though without online reviews there was always an element of- “You pay your money and you takes your chances.” Still, the minigames were a cheap gamble, in contrast to some of today’s $60+ games..

BoardGameGeek page here.

Making Room For The Upcoming Harvest Pizza

by A.J. Coltrane

The summer garden harvest will be starting soon, so we’re readying for the needed freezer space by preparing dinners like this one:

160530 pizza

Roma tomato sauce (with oregano, salt, and garlic), peppers, pancetta, and bunch onions all from the freezer. The crust was augmented with porcini powder and minced roasted tomotoes. The “white” is a light dusting of mozzarella.

[The dough:  300 grams AP Flour, 180 grams water (60%), 12 grams olive oil (4%), 9 grams sugar (3%), 1 teaspoon instant yeast.]

A nice weeknight pizza for basically free.

Peas, Garlic, And The Summer Garden Layout

by A.J. Coltrane

The summer garden layout from the 2nd-story deck:

160522 overview

Top left row (L-R):  Basil, peppers, peppers, peppers, determinate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes.

Center row (L-R):  Marigold whiskey barrel, trellised cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes x2

Bottom row (Trellises (L-R)), Tomatatillos. The far right box has Lemon Cucumbers and Tromboncino.

From the “front”:

160522 front

To make room for everything the garlic had to be harvested:

160522 garlic

I think overall the cloves were slightly smaller this year. It may be that they need more space, but it wasn’t a bad harvest.

Finally, the Super Sugar Snap peas that didn’t get eaten as they were harvested:

160522 peas

I count ten. I’m guessing we ate about half of them before the photo. It’s a good start.


Plant list here.

Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.

Sometimes Things Don’t Go The Way You Thought They Would — The 2016 Plant List

by A.J. Coltrane

On May 7 we showed up early for the May Tilth Edible Plant Sale. Unfortunately they actually held the sale on April 30(!)

Every year the sale had been on the first Saturday in May. Not this year.

Improvisation time. We had twelve EarthBoxes to fill, and time to go to two nurseries–

The Tomatoes:

The Big Idea What Happened
Black Krim Black Krim
Sun Gold Sun Gold
Oregon Spring Oregon Spring
Taxi Taxi
Roma Roma
Yellow Pear Yellow Pear
Paul Robeson Paul Robeson
Cherokee Purple Cherokee Purple

Not bad. We had hoped for a small, short-season melon called “Minnesota Midget”. Neither of the nurseries we hit had a melon like that, so we chose to cut bait and grow an “extra” box of tomatoes instead. It all breaks out to two Cherry Tomatoes (Sun Gold and Yellow Pear), three “Purple” Tomatoes (Paul Robeson, Black Krim, and Cherokee Purple), two “early” tomatoes (Oregon Spring and yellow Taxis), one Sauce tomato (Roma), the striped Tigerella, and a pink/red Valencia.

Ten tomatoes = five boxes. That left seven boxes to go.

The Peppers:

# The Big Idea What Happened
1 Anaheim College 64 Anaheim
2 Early Jalapeno Jalapeno
3 Hungarian Hot Wax Anaheim
4 Numex Highlander Anaheim
5 King of the North Orange Bell
6 King of the North Red Bell
7 King of the North Melrose
8 King of the North Red Beauty
9 King of the North Baron
10 King of the North Ace
11 Iko Iko Orange Sun
12 Iko Iko Serrano
13 Carmen Carmen
14 Carmen Carmen
15 Carmen Serrano
16 Carmen Serrano
17 Gypsy Gypsy
18 Jimmy Nardello Gypsy

Well, sorta. I was happy that we got Serrano, and the King of the North was replaced with other assorted bell peppers… I’m fine with the way the peppers shook out. Three boxes of peppers makes for a total of eight boxes filled.

The Cucumbers:

# The Big Idea What Happened
1 Marketmore 64 Marketmore
2 Marketmore 64 Marketmore
3 Marketmore 64 Marketmore
4 Marketmore 64 Marketmore

Which Marketmore did we get specifically? Who knows. Hopefully “in the ballpark” is close enough. I feel ok with it, and we’re down to three boxes to go.

The Tomatillos:

This year Tilth didn’t offer either of the types that we’ve grown in the past — “Mexican Strain” or “De Mipa”. We selected “Verde” as the replacement. It turned out that the first nursery that we hit had “Verde”, so…

# The Big Idea What Happened
1 “Verde” “Verde”
2 “Verde” “Verde”

Ding! We’re down to two boxes to go.

One box with basil plants will be a gimme. We’ll buy starts in the next 10-14 days. We’re going to try basil from seed this year too. We’re covered regardless. One box to go, and it’s intended to have Tromboncino Zucchini…..

And today a nice woman at the nursery helped me find one of the two Tromboncino plants for the last box. It was labeled with the alternate “Rampincante” name. With any luck they’ll have the last plant back in stock on Tuesday.