2019 Garden: Amazing Carrots & Catfaced Tomatoes30. July 2019
Summer is in full swing, and I'm finally starting to harvest more from my garden. I harvested carrots and started my fall carrot seeds already. And the tomatoes are just now getting started too.
WOOT! I just harvested my first batch of Rainbow Mix carrots. This was the first time I planted pelleted carrot seed and I think they did fantastic. Pelleted seed has a coating that makes them easier to handle and plant. So this is great for tiny carrot seeds. The only downside I’ve read about pelleted seed is that it can shorten seed shelf life. So it’s recommended to use the seeds in the first growing year. Planting carrots was a breeze this year. I'm not sure I'll want to go back to regular seeds now.
The one giant orange carrot in my photo above is actually Kuroda carrot. I planted old seed and only a few came up, so then I put in the pelleted Rainbow seed and got 100% germination. Not only is it easier to handle, the pelleted seed is easier to see when planting. Normally carrots get covered with a very fine layer of soil or none at all. Pelleted seed goes about 1/4" deep. So I placed each seed about an inch or so apart, then just pushed them down into the soil with the tip of my finger. Easy peasy.
I planted these Rainbow carrots in a 12 gallon fabric bag that was 23" long & 10” deep filled with a DIY soil mix recipe. This is a lot of carrots for a small bag! Some of the carrots wanted to grow a little longer than this fabric tote allowed, so the tips are just a little bent and bulbous on a few. Other than that, they are beautiful and mostly straight with the exception of one fun leggy carrot.
Rainbow Mix is a pelleted seed and is actually a single carrot variety that has color variations of orange and yellow. So it matures uniformly unlike colored carrot mixes created using several different varieties. Most of the mixes I’ve tried in the past have resulted in 95% orange carrots. Bummer. So when I found this mix, I got excited to try it. The rainbow colors are slightly muted and not super vibrant. I plan to pickle these rainbow carrots, so I have yet to taste test them.
Tuna Fish Joe smiled for the camera with his carrot harvest. Hey wait, HIS carrot harvest? Get away from my carrots Tuna.
Did you know that carrot tops are edible? It’s true! So don’t throw those tops away. I chop and add mine to soups or make carrot top pesto. I follow my basic pesto recipe and use half carrot tops and half basil. It has a slightly more earthy flavor than if you just use basil. This is a great way to use something that often gets tossed. The carrot tops store a long time in the crisper too. I put mine up in dampened paper towels, roll them up tightly, then place them in a plastic newspaper bag.
And the First Place Catface Award goes to... this bad boy. Holy Moly, right? Each side is completely unique. This was a massive Black Krim tomato that I completely forgot to weigh before eating it… I think I was just too distracted by how sexy it was. Can you blame me? Black Krim is my all-time favorite tomato variety that I’ve planted many years. It always outperforms other varieties in my garden. Normally my Krims just get minor scarring which is common for many heirlooms. This year’s weather has presented me with some fun catfacing though.
In case you ever get a funky-looking mater, this deformity is in fact called catfacing. It’s completely harmless, and you can still eat the tomatoes. Just cut away any of the deep scar tissue.
While this disorder hasn’t been researched thoroughly, there are few things thought to cause it. Cold temperatures during flowering and extreme fluctuations in day and night temperatures increases catfacing. We did have weird weather in Ohio with temperatures going below 50 degrees after flowering. If blossoms are damaged, perhaps by insects, the disorder is also possible. Pruning and high nitrogen levels may exacerbate catfacing too. This is more common with tomatoes early in the season.
Another new plant in this year’s garden is Mushroom Basket tomato. WOW, one plant has produced a huge cluster of tomatoes. They are taking their sweet time ripening though. It’s quite the beauty queen, right? Or is it? I put in multiple plants, but two came out, well, not so normal.
In the photo above, you can see the mutated and dwarfish mushroom basket next to a normal looking one. Both plants were started from seed and transplanted at the same time. They were also the same size when transplanted. I decided to let this plant go to see what became of it. It’s never grown any taller, and the leaves are curled and all spotty now. This hasn’t spread to the other plants. I wasn’t sure if it would produce or not, but there are now tiny tomatoes on this plant and another one in my garden. So two out of my four mushroom baskets are not very healthy looking plants.
This was the first year I planted storage onions. In the past, I only grew green spring onions. So I was a little surprised to discover that both come from the same bulb! Derp. If you want green onions, you plant the bulbs deep, about 2 inches or so. That way you'll get to eat more of the white stem. If you want storage onions, you plant the bulbs shallow so the papery tops just pop out of the soil. I had no idea! Initially I attempted to plant onions from seed. Well, that takes forever, and I didn’t start them early enough. So I bought a bag of yellow and red onions locally instead.
I put in about 200 onions which seemed like a ton. I loaded the soil with compost and composted manure. It’s quite a haul of onions for my first attempt! Although some are on the small side, quite a few are a little larger than golf balls. It would’ve been nice to get larger onions, but this was good for my first attempt. Next year I will try to plant from seeds instead of bulbs again. For now, these onions are drying on my covered back porch. In a few weeks, I'll snip the dried tops off and trim the roots before storing in my basement.
The Red Swan Bush Bean has a very pretty color, but it has been a total dud in my garden. Usually I have big bean harvests, yet this variety has been a meager producer. Often my beans have many harvests, then they look they’re done but get a second wind and have another big harvest before fall. That’s not the case with this variety. Now I’ve heard from another gardener on Instagram that this variety has produced really well for her. There are so many variables out there. So it just goes to show you that what works for one gardener may not work for another. We all just have to experiment and see what works best with our garden and circumstances.
I didn’t plant this, but the squirrels did. And it’s growing all over my yard and in flower pots too. I wasn’t expecting much from randomly planted corn, but two stalks now have ears. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to harvest these BEFORE the squirrels get to them. I suppose the squirrels did technically plant them, so should they get first dibs? NO. Squirrels are JERKS.
Oh, just some randomly planted corn growing in my flower pot. It looks great!
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