Archive for August, 2010

Ripen Those Tomatoes

Here we are almost into September, and THOSE DANG TOMATOES ARE STILL GREEN !!!!!!

Of my 60+ plants, only about 9 have had ripe fruit. Those planted in February in the greenhouse and a few others have been the only ones to ripen as of yet. As usual, the first varieties to ripen were  Stupice and Glacier  (about a month ago). The variety Early Girl was next, with Sungold and Sun Sugar following.

Here are three things you can do to encourage your plants to start ripening their fruit:

About this time each year I start giving the plants a haircut, cutting off all the blooms (not on the cherry varieties), and cutting off all the growing tips. For the larger tomatoes, I also cut off all the small green tomatoes that will not be big enough to use by frost (usually October 15th to October 31st). This forces the plant to put all its remaining energy into the other larger tomatoes.

The other trick to help ripen the green tomatoes is to limit or cut off watering. This stresses the plant and it works harder to ripen fruit (ripe fruit contain seeds that will germinate next year, and the plant wants to make sure it produces seed before winter). The only downside, is that if you do this too early, it might encourage blossom-end-rot (that brown/black leathery spot on the bottom of the tomato).

A third thing you can do is to try and protect the plants from cool/cold temps, by covering them with plastic, or at night with blankets or other wraps such as remay. Remember the cool ground is a problem too.

Looking for a fun way to celebrate Tomatoes? On September 11th Farmington Gardens is hosting it’s 8th annual Tomato Fest.

And here is some good information on tomato growing: Tomatoes – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Growing, Choosing and Using Tomatoes.

Thank you Bob Woods for contributing this post! Bob has been a dedicated Growing Gardens volunteer, Board Member,  supporter & adviser for over 10 years. Bob is a Master Gardener in Clackamas County, and he and wife tend a prolific garden in Oregon City.  Thanks you Bob for all you do!

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2010 Tour de Coops in review

Growing Gardens’ annual Tour de Coops happened again this year on the weekend of July 24. As in past years, it went off with out a hitch and was enjoyed by both tour goers and the coop hosts themselves. Below is what a couple of the coop hosts had to say about the event.

Coop Host Vanessa Renwick

It was a hot day, a “panting chicken” day, but the Tour De Coop was a blast. Hundreds of people came by my yard and everyone was in the best mood, filled with chicken love, and love for unusual chicken coops. There was a mix of people who knew nothing about chickens, and people who were way into chickens. I heard the phrase” I love my chickens” more than a few times. I mistakenly thought most of the people on the tour would be people looking for designs to copy for building a coop, but a lot of people just plain love chickens I think! One of my chickens was broody and made a lot of funny noises as people opened the “Henitentiary coop” to see the inside. She probably was a bit confused by all of the attention.

Coop Host Ingrid Parmeter

So there I was, bright and early, pleased with how things looked and imagining a really relaxing day chatting with a few people about chickens and visiting with my friends.   Within fifteen minutes of the start time for the tour, my yard looked like this:

We were a super popular stop on the tour.  We projected that about 100-150 people came through our yard!  It was fun answering questions and chatting with people.  The tour-goers were some of the nicest folks ever conglomerated in one place.  They also had a lot of questions.  Top ones I remember were:

  1. How many chickens do you have?
  2. What breed is that one there?
  3. What about that one there?
  4. Have you had any problems with predators?

Question 2 and 3 made me realize that you should not do this tour if you don’t know exactly what your chickens are.  I only have one mystery chicken, but without fail, everyone wanted to know what she was.  After a while, I just made it up.  (“She’s a marans-australorpe cross.”) I was a little worried about what my husband was doing when faced with this question.  As much as he loves the chickens, he doesn’t really know what breeds they are.  If he doesn’t know what a chicken is, he calls it a barred rock.  That means we have 7 barred rocks.

Tour de Coops 2010 è finita!

A special thanks to all the coop hosts who helped make the 2010 Tour de Coops a success!

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GG’s Latest Dig: A little bit of everything

  • Speaking of kids, here is a cool chart highlighting what kids can learn (across all subjects) through school garden programs.
  • Check out this great presentation on the victory garden movement and the history of urban agriculture!

Finally, we are very grateful for two great posts (here and here) about one of our recent Chef in My Garden dinners.  Thanks, Jeff and Wyatt!

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