Update 8/9

Still no pics.  Sunflowers are blooming so maybe I’ll go up there in good light and get some current pics.  Picked two BER throwaways on Celebrity in caged position 2.  Those were the only red ones so far.  All tomatoes look very green and some are growing in rather large bunches without BER so far.  This could possibly be one of the latest tomato harvests I’ve had.  So far no mites.  Some browned leaves on lower branches but that could be from lack of light and the plant rejecting them.  All 8 tomato plants look healthy.  Picked 4 good eggplants, 2 fat ones, 2 skinny ones.  The fat one in caged position 1 is almost as large as a tomato plant.  I have 2 habs shared in that container and they’re doing well too.  These fat eggplants might need their own large caged position.  They’re also producing some beautiful eggplants.  Should have taken a pic but already gave them away.  I’ll shoot a pic of the next harvest — probably in a couple days.

Update 8/7

No pics for awhile.  I’ve been lazy plus nothing looks much different on main roof.  Veranda vines look healthy.  Have been using bucket method to water — filling buckets with water and then dumping water from the buckets.  This makes it easier to know exactly how much I’m watering.  The vines look much better than last year on veranda level but that could be due to weather and not my more accurate watering regime.  The alley vines look like they’re struggling to grow.  They look healthy — not like the constant on death’s doorstep they looked like at this time last year.  They haven’t grown as fast as previous years.  Usually the first level trellis is full by now but they look more like mid July growth.  Still two good months to this season so we’ll see.  Maybe they’ll grow later instead of simply giving up the ghost usually around the end of September.

Sunflowers are starting to bloom.  This seems late as well.  Habeneros still small.  I predict a small crop this year.  Ichiban eggplants (the skinny ones) look thinner this year.  The big fat eggplants look like they’ll produce some good ones however.  Tomatoes haven’t died yet and lots of greens.  Looks like that harvest will come in late too even though they produced a throwaway pretty early last July.  Need to do some roof work.  There might be a couple of leaks that need addressing.  Nothing to worry about though and possibly can be put off until next Spring.  That is all for now…

Update 7/22

No photos.  It has been hot and we had a couple of rains.  Went up at noon on 7/21 and everything was drooping.  Not good.  The sunflowers seem to suck a lot of water.  I noticed that the habeneros with sunflowers as a companion plant are not doing well at all.  Of the 8 on NE corner main roof maybe 5 are still alive but they are small.  There are 8 in the caged positions and only half seem healthy.  Caged position 1 has the two biggest and they share with a big eggplant — no sunflower.  May need to rethink using companion plants for habeneros.  They seem to do just fine on their own.  This is the first year I’ve had problems with habeneros.  The vines look good.  The alley vines seem like a week behind schedule.  Not sure if my soaker hose watering system is working.   I watered for 45 minutes yet far right planter vines showed serious signs of distress at the end of the day.  The veranda vines are doing much better than last year.

Update 6/6

No photos for awhile. Everything got planted by 6/1, both seed and seedlings. Caged positions 1-14 are the same as last year. Tomatoes are 4 Celebrity, 2 Big Boys, and 2 Brandywines. Now that I’m on the lookout for spider mites hopefully that won’t be a problem this year. The buffer plants are different this year. No Cleome. I couldn’t find it in seedlings. May have to start my own seedlings next year — I don’t know. No cucumbers this year — only eggplant and habeneros. Analysis of my companion plant matching will be unraveled throughout the season.

Main roof NE corner will not be planted this year as a major reduction. That planter had around 25 cu. ft. of potting mix. I will slowly dismantle it and clean up that corner for maybe more (and better built) caged positions next year. SE corner loses one 3 cu. ft. container. Habs go into that corner this year with sunflower companions. We’ll see how well that works.

Added new levels and containers to veranda level and retired some old containers from the original year #1 in 2002. They finally fell apart. Alley vine containers receive a soaker hose for a poor man’s version of drip irrigation. The goal this season will be to get automatic drip irrigation working to some level of reliability. Once in place it will be possible to stop the yearly garden reduction and perhaps expand next year.

Weather has been cold and dreary. Photos forthcoming once things start growing.

Boiling Water Bath Canning

Boiling Water Bath Canning – Including Jams, Jellies, and Pickled Products – Home – Virginia Cooperative Extension.

The people at Virginia Tech keep improving their sites.  Over the years when searching for gardening information somehow one of their sites always had the answer.  The above link is a useful reference for anyone interested in canning.

Update 8/25:  Forgot to water last night.  Everything was very dry at 1pm.  Canned 1 quart tomatoes using above method which cleared out all tomatoes.  From the looks of the plants I’m going to bringing in a huge haul of tomatoes tonight when I go up there.  Second growth tomatoes on the Big Boys are on branches well over my head (>6 feet).