Contorted Quince is No More

I planted the contorted quince in March 2011, and it has bugged me for years. It never produced any quince, and it’s a shrub of the poke-y variety, always grabbing onto my sweater when putting scraps in the worm bin. I have finally dug it up.

It was a project done in stages, a lot of which were my 10-minute breaks during my work day. (Yet another advantage of working from home.)

The plus of the contorted quince was that it was fine with no water. It probably was able to survive the hot summers so well because it had a very strong taproot and auxiliary roots. In the end, I had to get out the saw.

It did have very pretty blossoms early in the spring. But the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.

The other plus of digging out the contorted quince is that I can now put this bag of compost into the hole. It’s been sitting in that spot for more than a year.

Dry Gardening Tomatoes: A Report

I purchased four tomato starts with the intention of trying out dry gardening. That means planting the tomatoes early and then giving them minimal water through the growing season. Reports I’ve read say that such tomatoes tend to have the best flavor.

I will say that this is a partial report on a not-fully-carried-out experiment. I didn’t get the tomatoes in the ground as early as I should have. They spent their first seven weeks in pots that I think doomed two of the plants to failure. It was a cold and wet spring and I just couldn’t motivate to get those plants in the ground. If they had spent five of their first seven weeks in the ground, I think they would have gotten off to a better start (two plants) or survived (two plants).

I only watered them once. I had blue 5-gallon buckets with holes in the bottom and intended to give them some water weekly, but that did not come to pass. Once it stopped being cold, it was a fairly warm summer—though we did not have days with 110+ degree heat like we did in 2021.

One thing I liked about the dry gardening the tomato plants didn’t put out any of the extraneous foliage they do when they are well watered. The plant sent out enough growth to support the making of tomatoes. It did not send out any more.

I got the most cherry tomatoes, but it was a fairly paltry number, cherry tomato-wise. Perhaps 20. And they were very staggered. I had two or three at a time, max. They did taste good though.

The Brandywines were the full-size tomatoes that survived. I tend to stay away from Brandywines as I think their growing season is too long for our summers. But we had a very long summer, so soon after I took this photo, I harvested the two tomatoes that grew. They were indeed delicious.

This little guy never got going. I think he was root bound. The other one died a few weeks after I planted it.

Overall, I think this might be a good method if you are growing your starts from seed and have a lot of land. Tomatoes that are dry gardened need to be spaced six feet apart. With a packet of cherry tomatoes and a packet of regular size tomatoes, you could easily end up with 10 starts of each for not very much of a cash investment. If you planted 20 tomato plants over a very large space, the yield would be much higher, and you wouldn’t have to pay for watering.

Also, when you don’t water, the weeding is much less complicated. That was a big plus.

If I’m up to gardening in the spring, I might repeat this experiment in 2023.

Actual Evidence That We’ve Grown at Least One Potato

It’s been a rough growing season. I usually let the rain do the watering in the spring. By the time the rain tapers off, that’s when we should stop watering the potatoes. But the rain in the spring didn’t come as it should and I had to do supplemental watering. So I wasn’t sure how the potatoes were faring. Happily, there was at least one.

Chitting the Potatoes

Burt and I will grow potatoes this summer in Leo’s yard. I’ve ordered them and have set them out for chitting. This is a process where they sit uncovered in a place warm enough for them to sprout. Once they do, we will put them in the ground.

I’ve done my usual trick of using a sharpie to mark all the seed potatoes so they don’t get mixed up while they are chitting.

Microgreens for the Win!

I signed up for an email course, put on by Oregon State Extension Service, about growing microgreens. Just as I figured, the course was basically “get the supplies, plant them, wait, harvest, eat.” But it did motivate me to do all those things.

And microgreens are delicious, especially in February. They add a pop to whatever they are added to. I also think they would make great gifts, given that grocery stores charge five to seven dollars for them and they are easy to grow.

I Grew This Squash

Thanks to never getting around to getting the soaker hose set up, my one Oregon Sweet Meat squash was very small comparatively. I’d say it is half the size of my 2016 harvest. It was very flavorful, though. That’s the advantage of not watering. If things grow, their flavor tends to be more concentrated than very well watered vegetables.

Garden Update September 2020

The thing about living in Portland is that by the time my garden really gets going, it’s September and thoughts of autumn have taken over. September is when the tomatoes really produce, which was always inconvenient when I worked for a school.

My garden in September is often neglected, poor thing. Regardless!

Here you can see the tomatoes going gangbusters. I think next year I will trim them back so I get fewer and bigger tomatoes. You can see a healthy collard plant to the right of the tomatoes and some other greenery that I have forgotten since I am writing this post in the far future. I also picked up a cat litter box with a cover from the street. My plan is to clean it and put it on the catio to give another litter box option to the cats. [Update from the future. I did this, and Antares showed some interest, but when the rains came, they flooded the box and I ended up throwing out a large chunk of soggy cat litter, scrubbing the litter box once again, and putting it back out on the street for someone to grab.]

From a different angle, you can see the orange 5-gallon bucket that I haven’t put away for week. Plus that the tree collards (back center) need better support. One of them has been flopped on the ground for weeks, poor thing. The raspberries are still spitting out a few gems, and between them and the tree collards are some spinach, kale and lettuce I started late in the summer.

Over in Leo’s yard you can see the squash doing its late-summer thing where it tries to grow a lot and gets powdery mildew. I didn’t get much zucchini from my three plans this summer (maybe I need to attract more pollinators?) but the delacata squash managed to put off a small squash for each plant, which wasn’t bad considering how old those seeds were. I staggered planting the green beans because I love green beans, but then I didn’t go out and pick much of the later plantings.

On the other side of the green beans you can see the Oregon Sweet Meat squash that I direct seeded. Steve Soloman seems to think this is a better way to go, but by the time the soil warms up enough for direct seeding, it’s too late in the season. Plus, I never bought another soaker hose so the poor thing had to grow on its own, without additional water. I got one very small squash out of this deal.