Garden 2012

Summer 2012 garden

Hello, I live in Sacramento, California, USA and every year I have a small garden in my back yard.  The climate here is terrific for gardening.  My favorite things to grow are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, sun flowers and pumpkins.  This year I’m trying winter squash.  The harvest is delicious and nutritious.  Hopefully I’ll have harvest to share.  Mother nature is awesome.

Welcome to my diary.  This year I plan to  grow:

Cherry Tomatoes
Early Girl Tomatoes
Ace Tomatoes
Costoluto Fiorentino / Canestrino Di Lucca Tomatoes
Acorn Squash
Kabocha Squash
Green Dragon Burpless Cucumbers
Mammoth Sunflowers
Early Sunglow Corn
Sweet Banana Peppers
Green Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers
Romaine Lettuce
Cylindrical Beets
Swiss Chard

May 6, 2012

I started this year’s garden by preparing 2 areas and planning where things would go (jump to the map).  The soil was hand spaded and steer manure was mixed in.  Next I started seeds in containers: Acorn Squash, Kabocha Squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and sunflowers.

May 10, 2012

I purchased 3 plants from Walmart and planted them – one Cherry Tomato, one Early Girl Tomato and one Sweet Banana Pepper.  My friend Nilo gave me some Costoluto Tomato plants and I planted them.

Click the pictures to see a larger size, use your browser back button to return here.

garden May 10

garden May 10 – main garden area. Tall plants are Swiss Chard from last year’s garden, the blue container on the ground has seeds planted in containers, garden area lower right is the Costoluto Fioreinto tomato

garden May 10

garden May 10 – second garden area. Tomato plants in the ground, top to bottom: Early Girl, Cherry, Costoluto.

May 14, 2012

Seeds in containers are sprouting.

plants are sprouting in containers

Plants are sprouting in containers, 8 days after planting.

May 17, 2012

I transplanted seedlings to the garden and planted seeds in the garden: corn, beets, lettuce, arugula.

May 17 seed starts planted in the ground

garden May 17 – Corn seeds are planted to the right of the stepping stones. Corn seeds are planted in a 4′ by 4′ matrix so they pollinate themselves. Horus is walking where I will plant more corn later.

garden May 17

garden May 17 – 3 rows of seeds planted – beets, arugula and lettuce.  Isis in the background.

garden May 17 pumpkins transplanted to the garden

garden May 17 – Pumpkin plants transplanted to the garden.

May 19, 2012

I bought and planted vegetables from Ace Hardware:  one Ace Tomato, one green bell pepper and one red bell pepper.

Here is a map of the garden as of May 19, 2012.

garden 2012 map

garden 2012 map as of May 19, 2012

May 23, 2012

The cherry and Early Girl tomatoes are taking off, as well as the sunflowers and pumpkins but only half of the corn seeds sprouted.

garden May 23

garden May 23 – The 3 tomato plants have grown. Horus the cat.

garden May 23

garden May 23 – Sunflower is growing.

garden May 23 - pumpkins

garden May 23 – The pumpkin plants are growing.

garden May 23 - corn

garden May 23 – Corn is growing.

May 25, 2012

Only half the corn sprouted so I replanted the missing plants to maintain the 5 x 4 matrix of plants.  The tight matrix is important for pollination.  I added wire cages to the 5 tomato plants.

June 7, 2012

Joi sent me a bunch of interesting seeds –
Japanese Black Trifele Tomato
Russian Black Krim Tomato
Great White Tomato
OSU Blue Tomato
Sweet Mild Pepper
Dragon Tongue Bush Bean
Mexican Sour Gherkin (Mini Mexican Watermelon)
Tiger Melon

I decided to plant these in my garden instead of my second and third corn plantings.  It may be late to plant and I’m not sure what climate these plants like but what the heck.  Here are the tomatoes and peppers started in containers:


Seeds started in containers.

At night I cover the fresh dug earth with an old window screen to try to prevent the cats from digging there.


An old window screen laid on the freshly dug earth to prevent the cats from digging there. New seeds planted in the blue box.

Green tomatoes!  Both the cherry and Early girl are starting to produce fruit.

first tomatoes

First tomatoes. Early Girl.

Everything is growing well except the beets which the cats like to stand on.

Osiris standing on the beets

Osiris is standing on the beets. In front of him is a row of arugula and a row of lettuce.

The healthiest most vigorous plants are volunteers sprouting out of the compost pile, could be pumpkins or squash.


Healthy vigorous plants growing out of the compost pile. Could be pumpkins or squash.

June 14, 2012

The garden is doing well.  Joi’s seeds are sprouting – some tomatoes, melons and of course the beans.  I see the first Costoluto Tomato fruit.


Russian Black Krim Tomato seedling


Tiger Melon seedling


Dragon Tongue Bush Bean sprout


The corn is as high as a fat cat’s eye.


June14 garden.

Jun 18, 2012

Added manure to established plants, gave the seedlings some Schultz plant food.


All the tomato seeds sprouted, still waiting for the first true leaves. Peppers did not sprout.


First cucumbers appearing.


First Costoluto Tomatoes.


Small Arugula plants and footprint.

June 26, 2012

I noticed my tomatoes are not setting fruit, the flowers are dropping off.  An Internet search suggests low temperatures (under 55 degrees) and lack of pollination could be a problem.  Sure enough, the last 3 nights have been in the low 50’s.


Tomato blossom drop. The first 2 blossoms dropped off. The weather lows have been below 55 degrees F the last 3 days.

Sacramento weather has been unseasonably cool the last 4 days and the garden growth has slowed.  Forecast is for warmer weather ahead.


June 26 garden 1


June 26 garden 2. Arugula and Horus.


Tomato seedlings 19 days old, finally have their first true leaves but they growing slowly.

June 29, 2012

The weather has warmed both day and night, the garden is growing and tomato and pepper plant flowers are setting fruit.  Lots of bees are visiting the flowers.


Ace tomato and flowers.


Carpenter bee in a pumpkin flower.


First cucumbers. They are spiny but tasty.

July 3, 2012

Garden continues to grow.


First baby green bell peppers.


July 3. The blue tub is my nursery for the seedlings in small containers.


July 3. garden space 2.


Pumpkin baby.


The prolific vines growing out of the compost pile were a mystery but now I believe they are Delicata Squash. They seem to have mosaic virus.

July 7, 2012

Sacramento is entering a hot spell, upper 90s and triple digits for days, the garden grows faster.  I transplanted the tomato seedlings to the garden.  One sunflower is as tall as me.

July 7

July 7. Beans in the center of the garden. Horus.

July 7

July 7. Arugula in the foreground. Isis.


July 7. OSU Blue tomatoes plants.

July 7 tri

July 7. Japanese Black Trifele Tomato plants. The leaves look different from typical tomato plants.

July 7 garden

July 7. the tall plants are, left to right, chard gone to seed, sunflower and corn. The vines are pumpkin, squash and cucumbers. The camera is sitting on the sundial for a timer pic that includes me.

Jul 7 spider

July 7. Spider and web in the sunlight.

July 10, 2012 – 2 month update

It’s been 2 months (since May 10) since the first store bought tomato plants were planted and the first seeds were planted.  Everything is doing well except the beets were struggling and I pulled them to make room for more tomatoes.  The gerkin and pepper seeds Joi sent me failed.

I am eating cucumbers and arugula daily from the garden.

This year I spent $17.73 on the garden – $6.47 on steer manure and $11.25 on tomato and pepper plants.  All the seeds I planted were either from previous years, given to me by Joi or saved from squash and pumpkins previously purchased.  Nilo gave me tomato plants.  Squash volunteered from the compost pile.  The tools and cages I had from previous gardens.

The garden is over crowed again this year and plants are overlapping but I think they’ll be  OK.  Here is an update map for the newer plants.

update map July 2012

July 2012 map showing locations of new plants.

July 10, 2012

The first tomato is ripening.  It is a cherry tomato.  The corn is starting it’s pollination dance and the first ears are forming.

first tomato

First tomato ripening. Cherry tomato.

July 11, 2012

from above the garden

July 11. Garden from above, on a ladder.

July 14, 2012

First big tomatoes, Early Girl, are starting to ripen but the next few days will be cooler, 80s day and high 50s at night.  Planted some more lettuce.

first Early Girl tomatoes ripen

July 14. First Early Girl tomatoes ripen.

new lettuce patch

July 14. Planted some romaine lettuce. The arugula is bolting to seed.

Japanese Black Trifeie Tomato

Japanese Black Trifele Tomato.  The leaves are different looking than other tomatoes.

July 17, 2012

Tomato Hornworm attack!  I found some tomato leaves stripped and caterpillar poop but I could not find the worms.  Hopefully a bird or something ate it.

Tomato hornworm damage

July 17. Evidence of Tomato Hornworm. Leaves eaten and caterpillar turds.

July 25, 2012

I am getting cucumbers, arugula, Sweet Banana Peppers, lettuce, corn and tomatoes from the garden.  Bell peppers, winter squash and pumpkins are forming.

Except for the cucumbers and sweet peppers, the yields so far are not so high.  I get one cucumber a day, the corn cobs are skinny and the tomatoes are slowly ripening.

large cucumber

13″ cucumber. Because the garden is now so overgrown, I sometimes don’t discover cucumbers until they are overly large. Still tasted good.

skinny corn and sweet peppers

Corn cobs are skinny. Banana peppers.

July 29, 2012

The garden is well but overcrowded and becoming a jumble of vines and plants.

July 29 garden and Isis

July 29. The garden and Isis.

first sunflower

First sunflower.

Japanese Black Trifeie Tomato in the garden

Japanese Black Trifeie Tomato has buds (grow faster please) crowded by beans and squash vines.

July 30, 2012

young butternut squash

Young Butternut Squash forming.



Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl Tomatoes slowly ripening.

Cherry Tomatoes ripening.

Cherry Tomatoes ripening.

Bell Peppers

Green Bell Peppers.

August 2, 2012

Costoluto Tomato

First Costoluto Tomato.

Sphinx moth

Sphinx moth. Horus caught this moth and brought it into the house.

The garden is a jumble of plants

The garden is a jumble of plants.

August 13, 2012

Sacramento is in the middle of a several day heat wave with 100 degree plus days.

Cucumbers, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes are producing.  Lots of winter squash are growing.  Ace and Costoluto tomatoes are very slow to ripen.

bugs ate the lettuce sprouts

Bugs ate the last planting of lettuce.

September 5, 2012

The sunflowers are drooping and the corn is long gone.  Tomatoes are not prolific but I eat a couple a day.  The cucumbers are still producing but they seem to turn yellow and bitter fast.

September 5, 2012 garden

September 5, 2012 garden

September 6, 2012

Squirrels and birds finished off all the sunflower seeds. Here is a short video of a squirrel pigging out. It’s OK, I let the birds and squirrels eat them. The Sunflowers really drooped over this year.


September 12, 2012

My previous composting project was a failure.  Over the last year I thought I could compost by just tossing the kitchen waste in a pile on the ground and it would decompose.  Fail.  It simply dried up.  Not compost.  So today I set up a real compost bin.   Today I filled it half way with fresh lawn clippings and some dried kitchen waste, mixed it and since it was dry I added water till water seeped out the bottom.  Hopefully it will compost.  On the good side my fake compost pile never attracted flies or vermin.  (Update:  Wow it worked.  I think the lawn clippings were the key along with using a real bin and keeping it moist.  It looks like composting is happening, the pile is shrinking and giving off heat.  It’s looking like compost.  Tons of maggots appeared.  Freaked me out until I did some research, they are soldier fly larvae and all good.)

compost bin 1

Compost bin and the failed compost try on the right.

compost bin 2

Looking into the compost bin that I set up today.

Harvested today:  Costoluto tomatoes, lumpy cucumber and dragon beans.  Made salsa.


Costoluto tomatoes, dragon tongue beans and cucumber.

September 23, 2012

A little visitor in the garden, a Praying Mantis.

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

September 26, 2012

The weather has been consistently in the 80’s and 90’s during the day and 50’s at night all September.

The peppers are about over and the cucumbers are finished producing.  All the tomatoes are still producing, but only a few a day.  Winter harvest of pumpkins and winter squash look good.

Ace tomatoes

Ace tomatoes still producing.

Winter harvest.

Winter harvest soon, Butternut Squash and pumpkin.

Unfortunately the tomato seeds from Joi had a late start.  Only the OSU and Trifele fruited and I doubt they have the time or temperature to ripen.  I look forward to trying them again next season.

One Japanese Black Trifele Tomato

One Japanese Black Trifele Tomato.

OSU Blue Tomato

OSU Blue Tomatoes.

Panorama of the backyard.

Backyard panorama September 25, 2012

Backyard panorama September 25, 2012. Can you spot Isis the cat?

Winter time

The garden was a success this year with a steady stream of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  The corn and sunflowers did well.  Winter squash and pumpkins were plentiful.  The arugula grew well, the beets failed.  I was happy to share the bounty with friends.

I love gardening.  It is relaxing to dig, plant, water and get dirty.  Watching the plants grow from seed to fruit is awesome.  The fresh vegetables are delicious and nutritious.  Observing nature is amazing – squirrels, birds and insects were all plentiful this year.   Bug life was particularly entertaining this year – Carpenter bees pollinating, huge garden spiders with their huge beautiful webs, the Sphinx moth, soldier fly maggots in the compost and the always cool Praying Mantis.

Thank you mother nature.

Some final fall and winter pics:

Pumpkins and squash.

Pumpkins and squash.

Halloween pumpkin.

Halloween pumpkin.

Box of winter squash.

Box of winter squash.

Saving tomato seeds.

Saving tomato seeds. This year I tried the fermenting and drying method to save tomato and cucumber seeds.

Dead of winter, the plants are dead.

Dead of winter, the plants are dead. I leave the plants until they shrivel up, makes it easier to dispose of them. Isis is looking for birds.

See you next year.  Happy New Year 2013!

2 Responses to Garden 2012

  1. Chrissy says:

    Your garden looks really nice. I hope you get some good eats this year.

  2. Joe Y says:

    Don’t know what kind of friend would send you those kinds of plants. Better check to make sure they aren’t poisonous. White tomatoes + white bell peppers = white salsa!

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