Garden Report: November 28

I guess posting once a month is going to be our new thing? OK, maybe not, but we spent many weekends this month either traveling or otherwise occupied, rather than working on the house.

This week, we had a freeze, which for those of you who live in other parts of the country seems normal, but for us was nearly a record low temperature for this time of year. That well and truly killed the tomato plants, which had already been suffering the trampling of the dogs.

Tomato garden

We got hardly any tomatoes this year. First we had a miserably cold summer where the green tomatoes rotted on the vine. Then we went to Turkey for a month, which was when everything ripened and the dogs gorged themselves (we left it open, figuring somebody better enjoy the tomatoes). Then cold and rain and freezing weather. Almost makes you wonder if it is worth it.

Green tomatoes

My next task is to take down the old vines and throw them in the compost bins with the chickens.

Side bed

Today I sowed fava beans in the side bed. I went for the lazy method: I spread the seeds on the top of the soil.

Compost covering the seeds

Then I spread a few inches of compost over the top of them, emptying out one of the bins in the chicken yard for future use.

Straw on the side bed

Then, because I had it, I spread the wet rotting straw from my last straw bale over the top of that. At the close end there are some Japanese irises, divisions from my larger plant. They like boggy soil and that corner is where the water from the yard runs off, so they have been thriving.

Noel puts trellises on the pergola

While I did that, Noel added the two trellises to the sides of the pergola. The trellises I bought from the local nursery were not perfectly symmetrical, so he had to trim some bits to fit.

Screwing brackets into place

We mounted the trellises with brass brackets. The passiflora vine is pretty strong and we want these trellises to stay in place.

Trellis mounted in place

And they look pretty good. Behind the trellis here you can see the passiflora vine, lumped over a tomato support. The thing has been miraculously unaffected by the freeze, probably because it's actually quite close to the house.

Passiflora threaded through trellis

And threaded through the trellis, the vine looks pretty nice. In a few days the coils will coil around the trellis and hold it in place. By midsummer next year, you will hardly be able to see the trellis for the vine.


And we have a fruit ripening, too. This vine is crazy.

Western redbud sprouts

The other crazy thing that happened this season is that our Western redbud finally settled in and started growing. It's had years of just sort of existing, all quiet and tiny, on that corner of the house. And suddenly a couple of weeks ago it had a growth spurt.

This is going to be a big pruning year -- the front hedge is going to bear the brunt of it but everybody is due for a trim -- and I half wonder if the little redbud didn't feel left out.

This rose geranium is the size of a car

One of the major candidates for pruning is the rose geranium, which is once again the size of Noel's car and threatening to eat the house. Fortunately, pruning it is easy and smells terrific.

posted by ayse on 11/28/10


The trellis looks great.

You compost tomato plants? I have always wondered if I could do that, due to the toxins, so so far I haven't.

I think the toxins are really only an issue in very large quantities, and I mix the tomato vines in with a lot of other stuff (I'm currently getting 3-4 yards of finished compost every six months). I've certainly never had any problems from it, and I've always composted my tomato vines.

You can totally compost tomato plants! I always have (except in years of blight when you have to burn them to prevent the spores from reinfecting the soil).

Did you make anything from the green tomatoes? I canned mine for use in white enchiladas and chicken tortilla soup. They also make good salsa verde.

Your pergola looks utterly fantastic. I love the stain you chose and I can't wait to see it covered with passiflora. Some day I'm going to make one too, and cover it with Cecile Brunner. I want my pergola just smothered in flowers! :)

I always think I want to try things with green tomatoes, but nothing really appeals to me. We get tons of tomatillos from our CSA box so salsa is kind of excessive, I don't much care for their flavour in other things, and I don't like fried green tomatoes. So pretty much the dogs eat them (they don't prefer them but will definitely eat them when there's nothing ripe) or the chickens get them.

The passiflora is already making its way up the pergola. We're a couple weeks away from having the cross-pieces ready to attach to the top, assuming we get the right combination of workshop time and good weather.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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