Category Archives: Heirloom Plants

My Cotton Is Trying To Produce A 2nd Harvest

I bought some green heirloom cotton seeds from Southern Exposure seeds.  I have been growing a half dozen or so plants for a few years, just collecting the cotton for the time being.

I planted the plants – this year from last year’s seeds – in the spring and the cotton was ready to harvest by late summer.  I decided to just leave the plants in the ground after harvest.  I then noticed that the plants put on new leaves and then new buds.  I let them grow.  By late fall and cold weather, the plants had put out flowers and then the baby bolls developed.  Unfortunately the 2nd wave of buds could not mature before the killings frosts arrived.  I am in zone 8.  If I was a zone or 2 warmer, these plants would have probably produced a harvestable 2nd round.

This plant has a 2nd round bloom on a plant with a harvested cotton shell noted by the hand.

2nd blooming of east texas green heirloom cotton

These re-blooms came in two colors – pinkish/light lavenderish and yellow.

east texas green heirloom cotton pink flower

east texas green cotton with yellow bloom

The catalog said that these plants grow to about 5 feet.  Mine, in a raised bed with less than 12″ of soil on top of red clay ground, and planted about 12″ apart, grew to about 28 or so inches.  The catalog says that they should be planted 18-30″ apart in rows 5 ft. apart.  I don’t have that kind of room, in fact, I don’t have any on-ground growing space because of our red clay soil.  I am running the risk damaging the genetic quality of my seeds by growing them in less than ideal conditions.  I am considering maybe planting one plant at the end of some of my beds, hoping that maybe a plant by itself may have more root room in my tightly packed beds.

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This Season’s Tomato & Pepper Seedlings

The Tomato and Pepper seedlings are coming along very well.
I started the tomatoes and peppers in small seed starting plug trays – with between 72 and 128 cells in each flat. This works very well.

I put at least 2 seeds in each hole, sometimes more if I think the pepper seeds won’t germinate well. I had almost full pepper germination! I have a hard time just pinching off the extra seedling, so I end up pulling the plug out, separating the roots and replanting them in recycled plastic plant holders. I put the one of the seedlings back into the plug tray using the original seed starting mix and I use garden soil/potting mix to plant the extra seedlings.

These Rutgers are the extra tomatoes that I replanted instead of just pinching them off. They are all doing well – this picture is a week old. Tomato and pepper seedlings seem to transplant very well with no stunting.

transplanted tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings in the original plug trays.  You can see Arizona Cypress seedlings in small pots.

tomato seedlings

These are 2 pepper plug trays.  Hot peppers are in one tray and sweet peppers in another.  These are not quite big enough for me to want to transplant them yet.   I am very pleased with the pepper germination.

transplanted tomato seedlings

I learned to seed tomatoes and peppers in separate trays because tomatoes germinate quicker and I can put them out in the cool greenhouse earlier.  I have to keep the peppers in the warm house longer as they fully germinate and this would cause any tomato seedlings to not get sufficient sun and get leggy.  Peppers also take longer for all different varieties to fully germinate and so I have to put them out in the sun during the day, then bring them back into the warm house for the night, then back outside the next day.  They only go out to the cooler greenhouse after all varieties have finally germinated.

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Some Cabbage Heads, Some Cabbage Bolts

It must be the crazy winters down south.  The temperature variations must throw the cabbage plants off.  This past winter started out with an early frozen blast, then was mild for most of the winter and then ended in another frozen blast.

I get my thrills starting my cabbages and broccoli from seed.  Due to lack of garden space, I planted these in the tomato bed after the toms died out for the summer.  Both of these are early cabbages.  I would like to grow late cabbage, but it takes an additional 60 plus days to grow those large 8 to 10 pound heads.  I’m planning a couple of beds in the back where I will be able to grow my winter garden and will be able to fence the beds in and pull chicken wire over the top to keep the critters and deer out.

This pic shows heading cabbage next to cabbage that is forming its seed head, called bolting.  The empty spaces once held broccoli that has already been fully harvested.

cabbage going to seed and some heading

Here is a closeup.  From the leaves, these 2 plant look to both be Copenhagen Market cabbages.  They were started at the same time, from the same seed pack and planted the same day, however one forms a head and one bolts.  Why?
close up of cabbage bolting

Closeup of a decent head forming.  This is probably Copenhagen Market, but could be Glory of Enkhuizen.  Both are early cabbage, which means that the heads are smaller (maybe about 3 pound heads) because they are an early cabbage.
cabbage heading

A nice head of broccoli.  After I picked this head, side shoots formed.
broccoli closeup

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Buckeyes!

Today, when walking to the mail box, I saw them – six of them – clustered together under what I thought was a Firecracker plant next to the driveway.
buckeyes

Doing a bit of research I found that the Firecracker plant and the buckeye are the SAME plant.

These are large seeds – a bit larger than a whole walnut.  The buckeye at the top looks like it has already started t germinate.  In the top right is a part of the outer shell that holds 2 or 3 of these buckeyes together in their pod.  They reportedly aren’t viable for long so I planted them in small deep pots with potting soil.   If they sprout – they are said to have a 50% germination rate – I will plant them in a deeper pot.  I hope to plant them in the ground in the woods by late spring next year.

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Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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A Few Peppers From A Lousy Harvest Complements of Dow Agriscience

Thanks to Dow’s wonderful poison called aminopyralid, all of my pepper plants were deformed and stunted and most of them died.  A very few recovered enough to produce a few little peppers.  Here are some of that very few:

a lousy aminopyralid pepper harvest

(That lime isn’t part of the harvest – it’s part of the home made salsa!!)  By this time in the season, I should have 5 gallon pails full of peppers.  Ha, not this year.  Thanks Dow!  By the way, their rep never got back with me.  Gave me a song and dance like dow really cared about how their poisons are destroying innocent folks’ compost piles – they don’t care about anything but their bottom line.  Dow is now in the same file as evil Monsanto.

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Three Types Of Cucumbers This Season

I have grown 3 types of cucumbers this spring.  The 3 shorties on the left are Little Muncher/Ferry Morse from a store rack.  The next 2 are Tasty Green hybrid from Twilley Seeds.  The 2 on the right are Heirloom Japanese Long Soyu.

3 types of cucumbers

I don’t like Marketmore type cukes – I prefer English type cukes.  Thus these 3 varieties do not have that bitter jelly like filling around the seeds like the standard Marketmore cukes do.

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Second Year Gogi Berry Lookin’ Good

Last year, this Gogi berry was so small it would have gotten lost in the big out of doors.

gogi berry 2nd year

These little purple flowers are on the original branches – this is their 2nd year.  Maybe they will mature to berries.  On the left side of the pic are a number of new shoots that popped up from the soil this year.  I potted it up to a bigger pot this spring.  I will be trying to find a special place for it around the garden area and might be ready to put it in the ground next spring.

The plant is less than 3 feet high – with the branches drooping over.  It is a droopy/trailing plant and I have s few bamboo poles to tie some of the droopy branches to.

Some of the leaves got pin holes earlier this year so I sprayed them with Neem oil and the problem disappeared.  What ever was eating holes is gone.  This plant over wintered in the pantry – it was a low light area, but the plant never dropped all of its leaves and went dormant.

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Squash, Zucchini and Cucumbers Are Starting To Come In

Finally, the squash and cucumbers are starting to come in.

The round zucchini is a hybrid 8 Ball. I think that the 2 zucchini on the left side are Elite Hybrid – I picked the small one a few days too early.  The pepper is a sweet banana and the 3 cucumbers are either Twilley Tasty Green hybrid or Japanese Long Heriloom –
squash, zucchini and cucumbers are starting to mature

I am picking the onions that I find.  I waited too long and some of the tops have already dried up.  If I miss some onions, they will re-sprout in the fall.  Some of these onions are from sets that I  bought at a big box store and some are from seeds that I started at the first of the year – see an earlier post – I didn’t bother making note of which are which.
onion harvest

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Heriloom Slo Bolt Leaf Lettuce Going To Seed

I really liked this Slo Bolt lettuce.  I am letting a couple of heads go to seed.  It would definitely be better if I could have let a dozen plants go to seed, but I just don’t have the space.  If I let this plant make it all the way to mature seed, I’ll have to be sure and try to remember not to save seed from this plant’s children.  The genetics will probably be poorer.

You can see little yellow flowers.  I am only letting one variety of lettuce go to seed, so I shouldn’t have a problem with cross pollination.  Collecting lettuce seed can be sticky – I have always had a milky stickyness from handling the seed heads.
slo bolt lettuce going to seed

I like Slo Bolt Lettuce.  It is leafy.  I also grow Cos lettuce.  Cos takes a freeze much better than cos.  You can see the basil plants all around the lettuce.  Since the peppers aren’t doing well, this will becomemy basil bed. The swiss chard in the background will be gone in a few weeks.

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