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Baby micros! This morning as I was inspecting the plants for possible problems I found four small tomatoes on the Lille Lise. The largest is about ½” wide and they were hidden under the bottom foliage.



I’ve been pollinating three ways; with the electric toothbrush, picking a flower and dabbing other flowers with it and using a pared down Q-tip as shown here, using a separate Q-tip for each variety.



This morning I also checked the germination tests I'm running on some seed I collected this past summer. Those would be Rosella, KBX and Stump of the World tomatoes. After seven days the first two were 90% and the SOTW was 100% germinated. Still no sign of life in the old Keystone Resistant pepper seed someone gave me two years ago.

Two steps forward, one step back. The "fernleaf dill" I started in a little pot isn't dill. It's parsley! I mislabeled the little envelope containing the collected seed. DUH! That's the first time that's happened. The two seeds are similar and Fernleaf dill seed is smaller than that of larger dills but still a bit different from parsley. Let's say close enough for mischief when one isn't paying attention to what one is doing. :rolleyes:
 

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It got down to 28 this morning so last night I brought inside the two Jochalos micro tomatoes that have been out on the front porch. Ont of them had four nice cherries ready. A little winter treat! The largest one is 1 1/8" wide and the smallest (next to it) is 7/8" wide. Pretty nice for a micro tomato. They vary in size and some varieties aren't that big.

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There was also the first Charleston Wakefield cabbage ready and 5th Gear will turn it into kimchi today. This one was 1 lb 6 oz, a nice size for two people. I was just told that there's another cauliflower ready. Yep, that staggered planting is working. No avalanches of any one thing.

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It got down to 26 yesterday morning. and the pastures looked like it had snowed. I forgot about the basil plant on the front porch and it's toast. It was starting to bloom and look like it was about at the end of the line anyway. I don't use a lot of basil but I'll start another one anyway.

Speaking of starting stuff, a "welcome to the world" to the latest micro tomatoes who were born yesterday and the day before!



And two days ago I cut cauliflower head #2 so it wouldn't freeze out there. It's smaller than the first one, 6" across and weighs one and a third pounds but will still be good. We'll be having it steamed today with lunch.

 

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My Orange Hat micros have sprouted! I started four seeds; three germinated and two have sprouted. The other two are in a pot also, being cared for until they too sprout-or it's obvious that they won't. And Bunny Hop finally shipped my seeds yesterday! I ordered on the 8th of December. I'm thinking that it's going to be another one of the year we just had. Good thing we saved seeds :D

That's a lovely cauliflower, btw. Those are not the easiest to grow! Seriously, getting a plant to grow is no trick. Getting a nice, tight head-that's not so easy. Wow!
 

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This year fall color was pretty dull. Some trees shed a lot of their leaves and a lot kind of held on to them a while. I usually incorporate some pretty leaves in Thanksgiving table decorations but there were none to be had. So it was a big surprise when a lot of leaves started turning in early December; some dogwoods, the callery pears (wild version of the domesticated Bradford,) some oaks, etc. So late but so beautiful. One would think it to be November.

Last week was the height of color. Here are two shots of a callery pear along the driveway, taken six days ago.





Shortly after these pics were taken the tree lost leaves rapidly and most of the color in the area dropped too. So why were they so late in turning? The shortening of daylight is a trigger for color change but that’s the same every year. It’s gotta have something to do with the weather.

Some sleuthing on the internet provides clues from Michigan State Extension.
How weather affects fall colors

“The most brilliant leaf displays follow a period of warm days filled with sunshine and cool nights.”

“The best displays are produced when the soil has been adequately moist throughout the year coupled with the aforementioned late summer weather.

“A warm period during the fall can also decrease the intensity of fall colors by triggering early leaf drop before the colors have had a chance to develop.”

We had an exceptionally warm November. Time to consult my weather data. The average daily high for this November was 5.0 degrees above average and nights were an even higher 6.9 degrees above average! We only had a couple of days all month where nights were in the mid 30’s. But the weather cooled quickly starting with the first few days of December with four mornings in the 20’s and heavy frost a few other mornings. And the leaves started turning. My guess is that the cold snap was the trigger. Regardless of the reason, I got to finally see some pretty leaves!
 

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There's not much going on here except planning for spring. I've got my spreadsheet set up for this coming spring and have laid in how much of what to grow, when to start things (weather depending!), etc. Using those dates I then set up a weekly schedule of tasks such as when to prep a certain bed in advance of planting, when to start looking for squash bugs, etc. The schedule really helps keep me on track because I can't remember all this stuff! Without it for sure the sowing day for beans would be upon me and the bed won't be prepped!

It's been a good time to do some germination tests on older seed. In the latest test, some Keystone Resistant pepper seed that someone had collected in 2017 and given me didn't germinate at all after 21 days. But the collected Homestead tomato seed they gave me back then came in at 60% germination. I've made a note to sow more than normal and do my own collection this summer to keep the line going.
 

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The year has almost slipped by. I will grab it by the tail tomorrow and hold it long enough to get one more planting in. The six kohlrabi are ready to go, the moon is right and rain will be moving in.

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We're having a little appetizer get together here tomorrow with a few friends, just five of us total and all stay-at-home types so we're all comfortable without masks. I've been puttering with appies today and one of my favorites is roasted tomato bruschetta. Got the baguettes baked yesterday and made the tomatoes this afternoon. This stuff is out of this world and the house smells like an Italian restaurant right now. :D

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And finally, just a little while ago the last full moon of the year rose over the horizon and was huge! So I grabbed the camera and used just the auto setting and zoom. Then I played with it in the iPhoto and added a blue tint...

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Time to grab a cold brewski and watch some football! Y'all have a decent evening and Brett, you be careful out there!
 

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The newest micro tomatoes are coming along just fine. Boy, they've grown in the 11 days since I last took their pic when they had just poked up!



I was a bit alarmed that one of them, 'Groovy Tunes', looked so yellow. Wassup wit' dis? Then I remembered. It's supposed to be! The catalog description:

"Groovy Tunes is a purple tomato (clear epidermis) with green stripes on a plant with glowing chartreuse foliage. It has the dwarf growth habit of bushy rugose leaves and thick central stem with limited height. This variety can be grown as a micro-dwarf or as a balcony dwarf. If you grow Groovy Tunes in full sun in a 1-gallon pot, you will get a bushy little plant about 12” tall with large cherry-sized fruits. If you grow it in a very large pot, the plant will be bigger in width and height (14-16” tall) and it will yield cocktail/saladette sized fruits."

I think I'll shift them up one more size to a 1 gallon pot and let it go at that.
Meanwhile, the three maturing ones continue to put on tomatoes so I must be doing something right in the pollination department. It's been fun having something to play with over the winter. This is 'Jochalos':



And this is 'Red Robin':



Temptation lurks as I just found out that Bunny Hop Seeds at Heritage Seed Market is having a short sale: "Hoppy New Year! To receive 20% off on your Bunny Hop Seeds purchase, please apply the coupon code hoppy2021 during the checkout process from December 30 until midnight January 3. The discount applies only to Bunny Hop Seeds items."


Jeez, I have enough micros for now but I might have to look again at their other stuff. As if I need more. Sigh.....it's a sickness, I tell ya!

Yesterday I did get the new kohlrabi planted out. The last planting doesn't look so good. They hadn't got much age on them before facing 23 degrees unprotected. BUT... it was an experiment. I will protect these new ones if need be.

Spring planning is done for now but I'm sure there will be changes due to weather, additions, deletions etc. There's nothing quite as sure in this world as change!

Y'all have a good New Year's Eve. I'll pop in late tonight to offer a toast.
 

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It was a pretty day so I checked out the garden to see how it fared during the recent cold snap. Sometimes it takes a few days to really see long term effects. For sure the carrot tops are still green and thriving but they're more flat than upright and the kohlrabi looks slightly limp but surviving.

The one cauliflower that's been coming along is still small, about 4" across but is already past prime. I read that when they get ready to flower the heads start opening up and looking like rice. I think that's what is happening here. But I did see that some of the later plantings have cauliflowers developing so all is not lost!

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The garden looks rather frowsy in winter. In the closest bed are the two different turnip plantings. The early planting has been mostly picked. The bed behind that has the carrots and the one beyond that has the collards, kale, cauliflower and kohlrabi. In the far upper right corner is the broccoli/cabbage bed.

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Growing OP stuff is interesting in that many times no two plants are exactly alike. I've never grown savoy cabbage before so thought I'd see what that's like. I've got three Savoy Perfection going and they're just now starting to wrap a little as they're as they're a long 92 day cabbage and my others are in the 55-65 day range. The one in the middle looks like the catalog photo and the other two have darker leaves, one darker than the other. One of the darker ones is more loose than the other. Can't wait to see what the cabbages look like!

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A slightly dark cloud on spring has appeared in that my replacement knee developed a little hitch in the giddyup yesterday so I made an appointment with my ortho doc for Friday. Keeping fingers crossed that there won't be surgery needed as that and the rehab will really put a huge kink in garden time. The replacement is about 22 years old and about due for a tune up.
 

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Your garden looks great, considering the time of year. :) Much better than the dull shades of brown in my garden bed.

Good luck with the knee appointment... Sometimes it seems like you never do really recover from that sort of thing. I had ankle surgery in early 2018 and sometimes I wish I had just let it be.
 

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Years of sports in the "good old days" took their toll on the knees. Having them fixed was a must if I wanted to walk. Pre-replacement days I was having to use the riding cart at WalMart as with the bone-on-bone in the knees, I couldn't bear to stand up for more than ten minutes at a time. The replacements have lasted 21 and 22 years respectively, longer than average, for which I am grateful!
 

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I got all my seeds ordered on Sunday so now their safe arrival here is at the mercy of the Post Office and the black hole that is their Atlanta Distribution system. The Baker Creek catalog finally arrived and I just had to get some "toys" for the garden. More on that later!

Just a few more pics from the garden. This is the onion/scallion bed. Onions on one side and two separate plantings of scallions on the other. I decided to plant half of the scallion row one month later than the other so they won't all get ready at once.



Then there's the garlic. It's a hodge podge of varieties. There's the new-to-me Lorz Italian, some Siberian and Russian Inferno from last year's stock, a mix of Shilla and Maiskij (that's what I get for not labeling properly), and some from one bulb I bought in WalMart's grocery section. That bulb has nice big cloves and very few little ones inside, just what I like. We'll see how it does.

 

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Your garden looks better than mine! We've had some lovely hoar frost on the trees, making for some beautiful crystal displays. Lovely for photography; for gardening, not so much. Everything's under a few inches of snow, which is unusual for us. More commonly we'd have a few feet on the ground and the ski hills would be open. Oh well. It's been an unusual year, and anyone who thinks that the ball dropped and it's magically all better might reconsider that position.
 

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I finished what I call my "production plan" through summer. The year is divided into weeks and I lay in all seeding, transplanting, bed prep, etc. It takes a while to do but in the end everything is organized where I have sight of it. If I follow it, there's no last minute rush to do stuff at the last minute or missing planting dates. There are also heads-up notes like “Start watching for Japanese beetles”. Here's what the next two weeks look like:

Week 1 (Jan 3-9)
7,8 – Start Shimonita scallions
6-10 OK for pruning crapes, grape vines

Week 2 (Jan 10-16)
11,12 – OK for pruning crapes, grape vines
15 – Start first Stonehead cabbages
15,16 - Start 1st round of broccoli plants, Rober cauliflower, Yod Fah

‘Yod Fah’ is a Chinese broccoli and one of this year’s toys from Baker Creek. The Rober cauliflower is supposed to produce regardless of spring temperature fluctuations. I hope so. It would be nice to have spring cauliflower (Rober) in addition to the ‘Amazing’ that needs the fall/winter weather here. We’ll see.
 

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What the heck kind of Pisces are you, to be so incredibly organized? LOL Must be aspects in your other houses, because I have nowhere near your level. But then, my production area is much smaller with a fair amount turned to perennials, so I almost don't have to be. Still, I am amazed. Wow!
 

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ROFL! It's because I'm a Pisces (swimming up stream, downstream, sideways or treading water) that my attention tends to wander off when shiny objects are spied. And sometimes I get hooked on those lures (like micros). This is the only way I can stay on track! One of my next posts will be a list of what I'm growing this spring/summer and you'll see why!
 

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Well, I was going to post this tomorrow but the copy/paste from the Excel spreadsheet didn't go so well and required a lot of touch up. So I might as well post it now that I've done it. This is what's going into the garden this spring as long with the quantities to plant.

There are some strange tomatoes, some of them from Russia, Ukraine and Germany that I was given. PL indicates Potato Leaf varieties, RL = Regular Leaf.

Hmmmm, I just posted this and after all that fiddling and spacing it didn't hold the columns. It does in the Preview but in the actual post it runs together. Sorry about that but I can't fix it.

QTY
Asparagus, Conover's Colossal (20) 2 x 6 pk add to existing bed
Bean, Bush, Blue Lake (20) 55 days 1/2 bed
Bean, Bush, Contender (19) 40-50 days 1/2 bed
Bean, Pole, Blue Lake (18) 65 days 1/2 trellis
Bean, Pole, King of the Garden (21) 88 days bed end trellis
Bean, Yardlong, Stickless Wonder (21) 54 days 1/2 bed
Broccoli, Chinese Yod Fah (21) 55 days 6+6+6 succession
Broccoli, Green Goliath (18) 55 days 1+1+1+1 succession
Broccoli, Packman (19) 50 days 2+2+2+2 succession
Cabbage, Early Golden Acre 70-80 days 2+2 succession
Cabbage, Early Jersey Wakefield (21) 64 days 2+2 succession
Cabbage, Stonehead (20) 50-65 days 2+2 succession
Carrot, Bolero (20&21) 75 days 1/2 bed
Carrot, Envy (20) 66 days 1/4 bed
Carrot, Napoli (18) 60 days 1/4 bed
Cauliflower Rober (21) 75 days 2+2+2+2 succession
Collards, Vates (17) 68 days 2
Corn, Early Pink Popcorn (20) 90 days 1 bed
Corn, Seneca Sunrise (20) 67 days 1 bed
Corn, Silver Queen su (18) 88 days 4 dbl rows
Cucumber, National Pickling (17) 52 days 1 bed
Eggplant, Chinese String (21) 60 days 1 pot
Eggplant, Millionaire (19) 63 days 1 pot
Jerusalem Artichokes (21) 1 lb
Kale, Premier (17) 60 days 2
Kohlrabi,Kolibri (21) 43 days 12
Okra, Choppee (19) 69 days 2
Okra, Heavy Hitter (19) ?? days 2
Onion, Scallion, Warrior (19) 60 days ½ bed + ½ bed, succession
Pea, Field, Big Red Ripper (coll `19) 70 days 4 rows
Pea, Wando (19,20) (NemaResist) 70 days 2 dbl beds
Pepper, Gypsy (20) 60 days 2
Pepper, Jalapeno M (18) 75 days 4
Pepper, Margaret's (21) ??? days 1
Pepper, Prairie Spice (20) ??? Days 1 pot
Pepper, Red Marconi (16) 80 days 1
Pepper, Rooster Spur (20) 95 days 1
Potatoes, Yukon Gold 60-80 days 10'
Potatoes, Kennebec 80-100 days 10'
Radish, Daikon, Minowase (16) 55 days some
Radish, D'Avignon (20) 21 days some
Radish, French Breakfast (17) 25 days some
Radish, Opolanka (17) 28 days some
Radish, Phil. White Box (20) freebie 30 days some
Squash, Sum., Straightneck Yellow (20) 55 days 1+1+1 succession planting
Squash, Sum/Win, Zuch.Ramp.(20) 60-70 days on big trellis
Squash, Spag., Small Wonder (17) 75-80 days 1 hill
Squash, Tahitian Melon (21) 120 days 2 hills
Squash, Zucchini (21) 55 days 1+1+1 succession
Swt Potato, Jewel (NR) 120-135 days 10 hills
Tomato, Bella Rosa (19) RL det. 75 days 1
Tomato, Creole Original (18) RL indet. 78 days 1
Tomato, Early Annie (20) Paste RL Det 60 days 1
Tomato, Early Girl Bush (18)(NR) det 54 days 1
Tomato, Fake Annie (20) Paste PL Det 60 days 1
Tomato, German Johnson, (16) RL indet 75 days 1
Tomato, Homestead (17) det. 80 days 1
Tomato, Honigsüsser Erlöser, heart (19) ??? 1 'Honeysweet Savior', Germany
Tomato, Inzhir Rosovyi (18) indet mid ??? 1 'Pink Fig' from Russia
Tomato, KBX (19) PL indet 85 days 1 a potato leaf version of 'Kellogg's Breakfast'
Tomato, King Kong (19) RL indet 85 days 1
Tomato, Koroleva Rynka (19) RL indet ??? 1 'Market Queen' from Siberia
Tomato, Marianna's Peace (19) indet 80-85 days 1
Tomato, Mom's Paste (20) Indet 84 days 1
Tomato, Purple Russian (20) RL indet 76 days 1
Tomato, Rebel Yell (17) PL indet. 85 days 1
Tomato, Red Siberian (18) RL det. 55 days 1
Tomato, Rio Grande (19) paste, RL det. , 80 days 1
Tomato, Rosella Cherry (19) RL indet. 70 days 1 very sweet!
Tomato, SOTW (20) lg pink, PL indet., 105 days 1 'Stump Of The World', up to 1 lb fruits
Tomato, Super Sioux (20) RL Semidet 71 days 1
Tomato, Süsse Friesin (19) RL,. Indet ???? 1 egg shaped cherry
Tomato, Vladyka (18) indet heart ???? 1
Turnips, Purple Top (17) 55 days 1 row
Watermelon, Charleston Gray (20) 85 days 1 hill
Watermelon, Kaho (21) 75 days bed end trellis
Watermelon, Stone Mountain (19) 95 days 1 hill
 
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