Post #660 Farmer John

July 21, 2019 at 12:06 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #660 Farmer John

Everywhere I’ve lived that had access to an outdoor space of some kind, I’ve grown plants.  Sometimes it’s flowers, but most of the time it’s herbs and vegetables.  The herbs are usually basil and thyme and mint cuz they’re hardy and grow fast and grow almost anywhere.  For veggies, it’s always tomatoes, plus whatever else we might like.  Mostly, we’ve lived in the southern areas where the growing season starts early and lasts a fairly long time.  Here, the growing season starts later than I’m used to, and ends pretty quickly.  Plants need to be fast growing and big producers.  And this year, because of the way winter hung on three weeks past what it usually does, planting was later than normal.

I’m a go-with-your-gut type of grower.  I plant in containers so I don’t have to worry about the ground freezing.  Containers lose water quickly so I have to water more frequently, but I watch the plants.  They’ll tell me by their sorry drooping leaves when they’re thirsty.  When the leaves start looking a little yellow, I give them a little fertilizer.  It’s all about paying attention, particularly with watering.  We can leave the house for work and the plants look okay.  By the time we get back ten hours later, they can look like they’re on death’s doorstep.

So living in a new place so far north, I didn’t know what to expect.  So I went with my gut and discussions with Partner/Spouse and locals “who know” what’s going on.  You may recall the plants we got.

The top one is a San Marzano plum tomato in a topsy turvy; the next is my cherry tomatoes; the third is one of the roses we got with some pansies; and the last is one of the hanging baskets of some type.

We also got some peppermint, some basil, some lavender, some jalapenos, and some Italian basil all from seedlings.  We planted seeds for sweat peas, tomatillos, bachelor buttons, and some roses.  We planted and sowed in our pots, then took a deep breath, stepped back, and waited.

And waited.

Waited some more.  The plants were growing, but we didn’t see much in the way of blossoms or produce.  I should have had more faith, and remembered the late start.

Cuz now, it’s difficult to get up our front steps for all the plants.

This little beauty is our Thai Basil.  We got it for the scent and for the flowers.  It started as a small sprig and now wants to take over the steps.

This prize is our Italian basil.  I tried to keep ahead of the blossoms so it would continue to grow, but that’s impossible.  I’ve used the fresh leaves many times recently, but my plan is to pull them all off, clean them, chiffonade them, and pack them in ice cube trays with water and freeze them.  Then whenever I need to add basil to a sauce or soup or pesto, I’ll just toss a cube in.  That’s a good hint everyone.

This is my lovely peppermint.  I seldom use the plant.  I just love the scent.  It’s so refreshing to grab a leaf and rub it in my palms then take a good long sniff.  I’m probably going to dry these leaves in the dehydrator for tea this winter.  An aside, the plant just below it is called Strawberry Fields which we’re growing from seeds.  It looks like a thistle with a bright red top and is very pretty.

This monster started as a two stem sprig and was our fastest grower.  It hit the pot and exploded!  This it thyme and it’s good with beef and chicken.  It’s also good on its own to flavor an onion sauce or something.  This is one that’s going to get dried, but I may go the traditional route with this one.  You cut the whole mess at the ground and tie them together.  Then you put the whole bunch in a breathable cloth bag made from something like cheesecloth.  A cotton pillow case will also work.  You hang the bunch pointing down in a dry place on the ceiling and leave it alone.  As the leaves dry out and fall off, they’re collected at the bottom of the bag and easily harvested.

This is my first foray into growing jalapenos.  I’ve watched it done many times, but never done it myself.  It’s been a rousing success.  I’m surprised that a plant knows for southwestern cuisine does so well so far north.  You may recall the first pepper featured in last weekend’s taco salad.  It was so good.

This is a pot of tomatillo plants.  We started them from seeds which I’ve tried before and never got anything.  Tomatillos are like little hard green tomatoes with a paper covering.  The fruit is citrus-like and pairs extraordinarily well with cilantro.  I can’t wait to make green salsa with the home grown tomatillo, cilantro, and jalapenos.  I’m planning to make enough to freeze.  I wonder if it’s in the “Freezes Beautifully” section of my cookbook?  These puppies with the big pot and went to town!  Tons of blossoms to bear fruit and the plants are nearly four feet tall.


So the San Marzano plum tomatoes.  I started them in a topsy turvy which I’ve used before with great success.  This time, the crazy plant decided to do it’s own thing and grew up!  Gravity was supposed to pull it down, but the contrary thing just said no.  So I took it out of the topsy turvy when it showed it wasn’t going to thrive and put it in a pot next to one of our roses.  I didn’t have high hopes or expectations for it, but it surprised me.  It not only thrived, but it’s acting like a true vine and spreading like crazy.  I got a bunch of four that are doing very well and I assumed that would be it.  I was okay with that given it’s rough start in the world.  But I was impressed to see more starting to show up and now I’ve got about a dozen.  Yay!

And here’s my star.  This is the cherry tomato that I kept looking at waiting for the tomatoes to show up.  I was getting loads of blossoms, but never a tomato.  But in recent weeks, they’ve shown up by the clumps.

That’s only a small sample.  The plant is gigantic, is being held up by two thick metal supports, and has tomatoes hidden in all kinds of nooks and crannies.  I have a feeling when they decide to ripen, I won’t be able to keep ahead of them.  What a problem to have, right?  But again, it’s a waiting game, so we wait.  Not much else I can do.

So, remember the pic at the top of the rose and pansy?  Go take another look at it if you want, to remind yourself of what it looked like when it was first planted.  Cuz this is what it’s turned into.

There’s a center stalk on the rose that stands around four feet high and has blossoms on it all the time.  There are side branches from the main stalk that flower constantly.  There’s white sweet allysium trying to crowd out the pansies which are thick as thieves and growing down onto the porch floor.  The cherry tomato plant is next to it and they seem to be in competition as to who’s going to flourish more.

Next year, I think I’m going to plant in the back yard.  We’ve already discussed how we want to do this and raised beds seem like the way to go.  We’re going to do cucumber, squash, lettuce, maybe cabbages.  Of course, tomatoes, and lots of them and we’re going to explore canning rather than freezing.  We’re going full on rural.

Please feel free to share as you like.  Throw any questions my way you want.  Look for the FB page for the blog.  And, as always,

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: