A Peak at my Garden: Mid-August Onion Harvest & Tomato Problems

DSCN2039 (800x600)It’s been awhile since I posted an update of my garden. I’m slowly beginning to transition my fall/winter garden as my summer crops are finishing. I noticed in particular that most of my onion tops had fallen over, so I decided to go ahead and harvest those.

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This was my first year growing Copra onions by seed and I’m so proud to report that I did it! I direct-sowed these in early April and I harvested just under 40 onions yesterday. They are currently curing on my deck for storage. I will say I got much bigger bulbs from growing Copras as sets, so I might consider that again next year. There is a different in cost – the package of seeds was $3.50 versus about $20 for the sets, so that’s something worth considering as well.

DSCN2048 (800x600)I added two container blueberry bushes this year and we finally got to try a few blueberries! It’s not much to write home about – we got maybe 20 berries so far total, but they were also small bushes and it was our first year. They were extremely flavorful though! Good thing we have free blueberries from Charlotte’s to supplement with!

DSCN2046 (800x600)I have about 8 miniature pumpkins that look about this color and size. (We had a ton more small ones that were unfortunately destroyed by slugs!) The pumpkins look done to me, however it feels odd to harvest them in August. I’ve never grown pumpkins before, miniature or otherwise, so I’m going to let them hang out on the vines just  a bit longer to be certain. If anyone’s got any pumpkin harvesting tips, feel free to share!

DSCN2044 (600x800)Some of you have been curious about the kiwis I’m growing over the arbor at the entrance of my garden. We opted for hardy kiwi (not fuzzy) and purchased them at Raintree Nursery in Morton, WA. The first few weeks the kiwis didn’t do much in their new home. But over the last month or so, they’ve started to shoot up! My goal is to get them to the top of the arbor this growing season. They are so close, and I swear they grow a couple inches (or more) DAILY. We are still probably a few years away from fruit.

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Why have I never grown sunflowers before? Because I’m a silly person that’s why! Not only have these beautiful sunflowers been easy to grow, they’ve attracted tons of bees! This is important because my berries, sweet peas, squash blossoms, and nasturtium are all spent. It’s nice to offer the bees a reason to keep coming.

I do hope to harvest the seeds for roasting if I can keep the birds away!

DSCN1352 (800x678)That’s a view of how the flowers looked about a week ago. I only planted a row of five, but next year I’d love to make room for more sunflowers!

DSCN2051 (600x800)The popcorn is looking great! I spent some time researching how to harvest it. I pretty much need to let it dry out on the stalks. I’ll keep you updated on this fun project!

DSCN2058 (800x600)I mentioned I’ve started a few winter/fall garden plants! This is my first year attempting to grow year-round. So far we’ve been eating from the garden since early spring…. so we’ve had something to enjoy from the garden for about the last 5 months. I started several Brussels sprouts plants in the greenhouse, along with corn salad, spinach, kales, and two kinds of lettuces.

DSCN2056 (800x600)As some of my summer crops finish, I’ll move some of these plants in those spaces.

DSCN2052 (599x800)I’m growing about 20-25 rutabaga plants under cover in a raised bed as well. The cover is to prevent birds from eating the seeds and cats from pooping on them.

DSCN2054 (800x600)The black beans look pretty good. I just need to let the pods get really dried out and papery and then they’ll be ready to harvest. Growing dried beans is actually pretty simple! You pretty much grow them the same way you’d grow any other beans, except you let them dry out at the end.

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So a little good news before the horrible news I’m still trying to come to terms with. My green zebra tomatoes look pretty good. My only question is: when exactly do I harvest them? Since they won’t turn color, can I eat them now?

DSCN1355 (800x600)Now for the sad news. It would appear my tomato container experiment was a total bust this year. All my ripening tomatoes seem to have blossom end rot, which is caused from a combination of uneven watering schedule and lack of calcium. I am beginning to think that the containers just dried out too fast for me to keep up with. I’m beyond disappointed as I currently have 5 heirlooms and 7 Romas.

I was lamenting to my husband the other day and he reminded me this whole journey is a learning process. He’s so right! I have been lucky to have had more successes than fails as a gardener, and if this loss will help me do a better job of tomatoes in the future, then maybe it will have been worth it. However – if anyone has any suggestions for me, please do feel free to share them!

You might have noticed I now have a “Gardening” category in my navigation bar! That’s because over the last several years, gardening has become a huge passion of mine and it’s something I want to share with you. I currently have “foraging” and “preserving” from the drop-down menu there, and may add other gardening related sub-categories as I have the time to do so. You can also still visit my Frugal Gardening page which has many money-saving gardening tips available for you to explore.

I’d love to hear about YOUR gardens now! What are you growing? What have you harvested? I’d love to share your photos, too! Feel free to simply leave them at The Coupon Project Facebook wall or email them to me at angela@ thecouponproject .com. (Please resize them so they aren’t 10MB each though!)


  1. Bethany says

    Our container tomatoes are not doing well either, they were in large pots on the patio and the bottom half of the plants were very yellow. We have three plants in a raised bed that were doing just fine. I thought that maybe the reflection of the heat off the patio could be too much for the plants and decided to move them close to the raised bed. We took off the yellow branches and the plants seem to be responding well to their new location. I thought the heat on the patio would be good for tomatoes as they seem to do best in the warm weather, but they just got fried. Lesson learned.

    • Angela Russell says

      Yes… this year I wanted to practice what I preached about container gardening but I have to say – not again with the tomatoes! The peppers have done well in the containers though. But the tomatoes will all be in raised beds next year.

  2. says

    We dealt with blossom end rot last year! I was SO sad! We found an organic spray though specifically for the problem and were able to save the ones that weren’t yet affected.
    Do you keep a gardening journal? My husband suggested I do that this year since I’m still learning the ins and outs. It’ll be nice next year to read my notes and switch things up based on what I did right or wrong the year before.

    • Angela Russell says

      I will need to look for that spray!! And no, I’ve not kept a journal. I have blogged about my garden though, so thankfully I can go back here and check out my “notes” if I need to! :) I probably should put them in a more written form though.

  3. christine carpenter says

    My tomatoes are on pots on the deck as we live on Vashon island and worry about arsenic in the soil, but the tomatoes are still small and green. Hope they will have time to ripen this summer. I do not grow pumpkins but saw pumpkins in a garden where they had placed tiles on the ground under the pumpkin so they would not rot -it seemed to work very well and also looked lovely. I am so impressed with your garden -it looks wonderful.
    Followed your advice and went to Charlottes Park to pick blueberries ,it was a great experience .

  4. Debbie says

    Aw, sorry about your tomatoes. That is the only thing I’ve never had trouble growing; everything else, however…lol! Your garden is amazing. I have a tiny little 16 sq ft raised bed (we currently rent) and started the garden too late this year due to being out of town. I grew some radishes which my husband loved, and have cherry & roma tomato plants that are doing well. I have had a handful of tomatoes off of each so far. I also grow “baby” carrots for my dogs to munch on, but they have done horribly this year. I started my lettuce too late so that was a fail. I had cilantro but it quickly bolted before I got the chance to use it up and I’m letting it to go seed for coriander – do you know when we harvest the seeds? My biggest success this year has been cucumbers. My first time growing them and they are so delicious and crunchy! I also have some green beans growing, and now there’s a few empty spots in my garden waiting for fall planting which I have never done so I will be following you closely to know when/what to do! Thanks for sharing as always.

  5. Melissa says

    Your garden looks amazing. I am jealous about the kiwi vine, great idea. And our sunflowers never take off, yours are beautiful. We have a couple of tomatoes going, the cherries are just starting to get ripe but nowhere near the amount we had last year which is bizarre given this last gorgeous month. Guess the early season last year was really helpful. We have a lot of chard and lettuce, the onions did not get as big as yours at all. And, as for winter and cool weather gardening, we just this week removed all of the snap pea vines and replanted along a few beds. The new seeds are already poking through!

  6. Melissa says

    Oh, the pumpkins. We didn’t get any to grow this year but I can say that picking when they are the size you want is rarely a bad idea. Wait too long and the slugs will get them. I love to pick them as late September hits and the fall decor shows up. Or pick them the week of Halloween and put them on the mantle. But…more than not the slugs will have got them. You can help it by setting them up off the ground, sometimes we just put a box or pot under them to keep them from falling off the vine or from getting rotted from wetter soil in the weeks ahead. But, you can hardly go wrong from an early harvest and keeping them in a dark cool place until you are ready for your house to look like Fall.

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