Friday, December 12, 2008

Life of a Tomato: Week 5

Our Black Krim tomato is still growing, albeit slowly. You can't tell from the picture, but over the last week it has gotten a bit thicker from front to back. We're lucky that neither the tomato nor its plant are showing any sign of damage from the cold nights we've been having recently. I've been worried about this, as the low temperature plummeted to a chilly 33 degrees (0.6 c) a few nights ago. Anyhow, I wish the thing would hurry up and ripen!

Monday, December 8, 2008


We're finally seeing a few tomatoes beginning to ripen. Two of the Early Girl variety are pictured below. They are about twice the size of a golf ball.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Life of a Tomato: Week 4

Our Black Krim tomato is now one month old. It's filled out a little more over the last week, but it's growth rate has definitely slowed. I suppose our recent cool nights are responsible for its slow down. Nightly lows have been in the mid to low forties (4.4 to 7.2 c) and have even dipped into the high thirties (3.3 to 3.8 c) once or twice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bell Pepper Harvest

We harvested our first bell pepper a few days ago, after it finally settled on red as its preferred color. Marianne enjoyed it in a dish of her delicious pasta salad.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Life of a Tomato: Week 3

It's now week three of our watch, and the Black Krim tomato is still progressing. Over the last few days, we've had quite a bit of rain which is very unusual here. But I can't see that it has influenced the tomato's growth in any way. Much like the first two weeks, it seems to have approximately doubled in size. If anything its growth has slowed some, but not to any great degree.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Life of a Tomato: Week 2

Our Black Krim tomato is now two weeks old and is as funky shaped as ever. Although the picture isn't the best--for some reason I can't get our camera to focus--you can get a pretty good idea of its size and shape. The tomato is about twice as big as it was last Friday. You can see that it is much larger than the one to the right in the picture. That tomato is similar in shape and size to all the others on the plant.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First San Marzano Tomato

Our San Marzano plant has produced its first little tomato. This plant has had a rough time of it, having had its stem broken on two occasions and almost wilting away from some sort of blight at another time. The new tomato may not have time to grow large and ripen, but I now feel like the plant's a success nonetheless.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunmaster Tomatoes

Some of our Sunmaster tomatoes are decent sized now. I wish they would hurry up and ripen! This is the only plant of the three holdovers from the Spring that I've been impressed with. The other two, a Black Prince and Lemon Boy, have done very poorly in the Fall. We've harvested one small tomato from the Black Prince, while the Lemon Boy hasn't even hinted at producing anything.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Life of a Tomato: Week 1

It's time for the first weekly update on our Black Krim tomato. As you can see, it's grown quite a bit since last Friday. I would guess that it has tripled or maybe even quadrupled in size. It is about twice as large as the plant's other tomatoes. Yet even beyond its larger size, this tomato looks different than the others. Where they are very round at this point, this one is shaped like a boat or the letter "u." It's turning out to be a pretty interesting tomato so far.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Okra Update

Our okra just isn't doing so well. It doesn't seem to enjoy the cool and windy weather we've had recently. The plants have almost stopped producing over the last week and, as you can see by the picture below, some of them are looking pretty bad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Red

I think we can conclude that the ripened color of our ever-changing bell pepper is red! The thing is definitely getting ripe, as it's softer to the touch everywhere that it has reddened. That wasn't the case as it turned from green to purple to dark brown to almost black and back to green before this latest change. Finally!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Life of a Tomato

Over the coming weeks I will do a series of posts detailing the life of a single tomato. I think it will be interesting to observe its development from its earliest stage. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and allow us to follow it all the way through ripening and onto the plate. If not, it will still be fun to see how far along it gets. I've chosen a Black Krim as our star. It is the first of these to appear on the plant and is the product of a huge bloom (at least twice, maybe three times the size of the others). I don't know if that has any bearing on the size of the tomato produced, but we will see.

Very small tomato

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Late Tomato Blooms

We're getting lots of blooms on our tomato plants now. Unfortunately I think it may be too late. The weather forecast is calling for low temperatures in 45 degree range (7 c) all week. That may be too cold for the plants to set tomatoes and, even if they do, I'm not sure that they can ripen before even colder weather arrives. That's one of the most challenging aspects of trying to grow vegetables in this climate. The optimal weather conditions in the Spring and Fall just don't last long enough. It seems always to be too hot or too cold. Anyhow, the good news is that we already have several tomatoes ripening on the vine.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bell Peppers of Many Hues

Our bell peppers just can't seem to settle on a color. First, the things turned from green to purple. Then, they took on a sort of a dark brown color before returning to green. Now, as you can see by the picture below, a bit of red is beginning to show. If they turn completely (or even mostly) red, I'm going to to pick them!
about two weeks ago

same pepper this morning

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November Tomatoes

I thought I'd start off November with a few pictures of what our tomato plants are producing. The Sunmaster that survived the Summer is doing the best by far. It has about 15 or so tomatoes growing and more starting. We're also getting tomatoes on the two Early Girl plants and the Hawaiian Tropic. The Black Prince, Black Krim, Ace 55, German Queen, and San Marzano all have blooms, but no tomatoes yet.


more Sunmaster

Hawaiian Tropic

Early Girl

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Compost Bin and Seed Starter

Our mini-compost bin continues to work great. We should, by all indications, have a decent amount of compost to use in the Spring. I've also discovered that it serves as a very effective, albeit unintentional, seed starter. Every couple of days when I go out to stir the bin's contents, I find numerous little seedlings. These are obviously growing from discarded tomatoes, peppers, etc. Maybe I should transplant one or two into pots just to see what happens.

tomato seedling growing in compost bin

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Okra Bugs

Some sort of small black bugs have infested our okra plants. They congregate on buds, blooms and the underside of leaves. These are destructive little things, as you can see by the leaf (or what's left of it) pictured below. I gave them a good blast with the water hose this morning and, after quite a bit of effort, washed most of them away. If they come back I'll have to take more drastic measures.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In Bloom

Quite a few plants are blooming around the house now that the blast furnace of Summer has cooled. Here's a few pictures to add some color to the blog. All of these were rescue/clearance plants purchased for a couple of dollars at most.

Friday, October 24, 2008

San Marzano and Bell Pepper Update

The stem repair to our San Marzano plant seems to be holding up. Rather than wilting above the break, the plant is green and putting on more leaves. I'll give it a few more days and take off the tape.

Also, while I'm doing updates, here is a look at our incredibly slow growing bell pepper plant. It's a whopping four inches tall now. I planted this thing back in July with the expectation of it having peppers by late October or early November. It looks like I missed that by several months.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Resilient Tomato Plant

A few weeks ago, several of our tomato plants experienced some form of blight. The plants wilted and dried out very quickly, beginning with their lower leaves and spreading upward. Some of the plants, such as a Black Krim and Ace 55, lost all of their foliage.

Although I disposed of the seemingly dead Black Krim plant, I decided to transplant the remaining Ace 55 "stem" from its container into our empty (and very small) vegetable bed. I figured I had nothing to lose by doing this, as every other plant that I had placed in the bed had either been devoured by unknown bugs or wilted away in a manner identical to the previously mentioned tomato plants.

Much to my surprise, the Ace plant has made a comeback after about two weeks. It's starting to put on leaves and is showing quite a bit of growth. It probably won't have time to put on any tomatoes before cold weather sets in, but I'll keep watering it just the same. I'm curious to see what it will do.

rebounding Ace 55 plant

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Costumes

Here's a picture of our garden helpers all dressed up in their Halloween costumes. Buster is a cowboy/sheriff and Tessa is his mule.

Little Tomatoes

Since the temperature has cooled off a bit, our Early Girl, Sunmaster, and Hawaiian Tropic plants have started putting on tomatoes. All of them are still very small, but they are rapidly growing larger.

Early Girl


Hawaiin Tropic

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tomato Plant Repair

Yesterday either the wind or its four-legged counterpart Tessa (it wasn't that windy) flattened our only surviving San Marzano tomato plant. In the process, the plant suffered some pretty severe damage to its main stem. As you can see in the picture below, it was creased at the point where it was bent over. There was also a split on the opposite side of the stem.
In an effort to save the plant, we retied it securely to its stake, and taped up the damaged portion of the stem. We're hoping the stem will regrow where it was damaged, allowing the plant to survive. So far it looks promising. As of this morning, the leaves above the repair showed no signs of drooping or wilting.

repairing the damaged plant

looking good so far

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blooms in the Blue Pot

One of our succulents (sorry, I don't know its specific name/type) is putting on lots of little white blooms. This plant's growth, along with that of the others in the "blue pot," has been tremendous.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Color Red

One of our okra plants has started producing pods that are partially red. I know that there are strains that make red pods, but this is just regular old Clemson Spineless. Also, the plant put out standard green okra for months, from May until the last few days. Maybe it has something to do with the weather change. Whatever the reason behind the color change, I think the red okra looks pretty cool. We'll find out this evening if it tastes the same.

Concerning the color red, I've also included the latest picture of our not-so-red "red" bell pepper.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Okra Mystery Worm

Yesterday I found a worm feasting on one of our okra pods. As the pictures below show, this thing managed to inflict some pretty heavy damage to the pod. After some research I think it might be some sort of cabbage worm or perhaps a Diamond Back Moth larvae. All I know for sure is that it's not one of the hornworms that have been plaguing our tomatoes all year.

worm on stem side (right), crawling out of hole

okra worm

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Habanero Pepper

After several months and many, many blooms, we finally have a pepper growing on our Habanero plant. I hope it doesn't prove to be the only one!

Monday, October 13, 2008

BRRRR! It's Cold!

For the third day now, the early morning temperature has been in the 40s (7.2 c). The highs haven't been much better, climbing only into the 50s and 60s (10 to 15.6 c). That's about 20 degrees below normal for this time of year in Las Vegas. The wind has also been blowing nonstop. It seems to have gone from Summer to Winter overnight. Our plants aren't caring for the cold and blustery weather either. The Habanero and Tabasco plants looked so bad that I decided to bring them inside on Saturday. Our okra also looked very droopy by yesterday. But there is hope. The forecast calls for highs near 90 (32.2 c) by the end of the week!

Habanero plant looking much better out of the wind and cold

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tessa the Champion

Here's a video of my garden helper Tessa winning big. Make sure you have the sound turned on!

Update 10/13/08: Tessa finished her weekend of three competitions with First Place, Third Place, and Fourth Place finishes. By doing so she earned a title in the Rally Obedience Novice category and now moves up to compete in Rally Obedience Advanced. Finally, if you liked this video then you might want to check out this one of Tessa going swimming in Lake Mead:

End of the Cucumbers

It looks like my hanging basket cucumber experiment has ended. Over the past few days, a multitude of small dark bugs attacked the remaining plant. As you can see, it didn't survive. Our entire harvest from the hanging basket plants amounted to one cucumber. I don't think I'll try this again next year.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not So Red

A while back I bought a bell pepper seedling at local nursery. I did this because the purple bell pepper plant that I had started from seed was obviously growing too slowly to bear anything before winter. Anyhow, I had gone looking that day for another purple pepper, as that is what Marianne wanted. Unfortunately the stores only had red ones in stock. So I picked out a healthy looking plant, brought it home, and re-potted it. Now, for over a month, I have occasionally mentioned our red bell pepper in several blog posts. This would be fine if, in fact, the pepper was red. Over the past few days, the peppers on the supposedly red-producing plant have started to ripen. To our surprise and Marianne's delight, they look suspiciously purple!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Black Prince Tomato

Yesterday, I picked our first ripe Black Prince tomato in months. Although it was small and the only one on the plant at the time, I'm hoping that it's a forerunner of many to come in the Fall. I'm also pleased that it came off of the plant that had been completely defoliated by hornworms back in early July.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fall Weather

We're beginning to get some really beautiful Fall weather. This morning the temperature is in the 50s (13.8 c)! That's almost coat wearing weather here in Vegas. Over the next week, the highs are only going to be in the mid 80s to lower 90s (29.4 - 33.3 c). And just two days ago we had an honest to God thunderstorm! Hopefully, with these improved conditions, the tomato plants will start setting fruit.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Our six okra plants are really starting to put on the pods after slowing down just a bit in the hottest months. These plants have been a very pleasant surprise. They seem to grow and produce better here than anything else we've planted. Here's a picture of today's harvest.