Wild Men on the North Fork

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Between Seasons, Winter 2009-2010

November 8, 2009

Now that the beds are cleared from this past growing season, we begin the next season. For me that means looking at new varieties. This is a process that will continue through the end of January. I am beginning this new season with a search for watermelon.

There is a triumverate of main factors that determine your success in your garden:

By Spring 2009 I was convinced that the way to grow watermelon in Wyoming is to give it an extra boost of heat, particularly during June, which is usually on the cool side. I did this by building a small tent over each bed. The tent allowed light to enter, but kept heat trapped inside. The watermelon seemed to like this. At the end of the season I got a note from a fellow gardener who raised her watermelons in a hill of pure horse manure. I think one reason she was successful was that the manure, like my tent, gave the watermelon a boost in heat. Also, from what I have been able to read, watermelons are probably the most demanding of all plants in the garden for good rich fertilizer. The horse manure probably filled that need.

The seed catalogs throw a lot of information at you. It can be difficult to sort through all the data from all those sources to determine which variety to plant. I recently did a survey of watermelon from all the catalogs I get. I was looking for red-fleshed watermelon, that have short days-to-maturity, and which get good sized. Of course, the One Third Rule dictates that a 30 pound watermelon will only get to be 20 pounds in Wyoming. But, I would be happy with that. What I am not completely satisfied with is the 12 pound watermelon only growing to be 8 pounds here.

I put the data from the various catalogs into a spread sheet and ran the numbers through a formula, giving advantage to short season and large size. Here are the top ten rated watermelons I found in descending order.

Dixie Queen Baker Seeds 80 days 40 lbs. 30 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Crimson Sensation Gurney Seeds 80 days 32.5 lbs. 21 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Stone Mountain Baker Seeds 80 days 30 lbs. 20 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Million Bucks Burpee Seeds 78 days 25 lbs. 17 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Crimson Sweet Burpee Seeds 80 days 25 lbs. 17 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Verona Baker Seeds 78 days 20 lbs. 13 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Kleckley's Sweet Baker Seeds 85 days 30 lbs. 20 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Sugar Bowl Burpee Seeds 85 days 25 lbs. 17 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Fairfax Baker Seeds 86 days 30 lbs. 20 lbs.(1/3 Rule)
Kleckley's Sweet Shumway Seeds 87 days 30 lbs. 20 lbs.(1/3 Rule)

December 26, 2009

What the catalog does not say is very important.

As I said earlier, there are three factors which determine success in the garden: Seed (variety) Selection, Soil, Weather. You have the most control over the first two factors. Your success in choosing the right variety may well begin soon as the catalogs come to your houses. We are in the catalog season. I have received most already, and will get more in the next 4 weeks. I have found that catalogs have to be read very carefully. Let me give you an example. Here is the description of Big Bertha Pepper from the Totally Tomatoes Catalog:

We grew this pepper for a lot of years. So I can say with authority that everything in the above quote is accurate. But beware. The problem we always had with Big Bertha is that is has very thin walls. There is not much pepper in that pepper. A quick re-read of the description will reveal that Totally Tomatoes never said it did have thick walls. If you want thick walls on your pepper, you had better read the descriptions very carefully to make sure your seed supplier says the pepper has thick walls.

I love it when a description for a vegetable says that it is a 'vigorous grower'. If it does not mention how many fruit it produces, all you may get is a wonderful plant with not much fruit on it. You have to read carefully. The seed catalog will not lie, but it may omit.


I continue to update all these pages as new information pours in from the catalogs. I have recently updated the Bill Simpson page. I have also added a new page: Recipes

Recently I gave six pints of my green tomato salsa to a friend who has to be on a low potassium diet. Red tomatoes have twice the potassium of green tomatoes. If he wants tomatoes in his life at all, he'd better get to growing tomatoes and processing the green ones into salsa.

I discovered the green salsa quite by accident. We always had these hard green tomatoes left over from regular salsa making. They never were going to turn red. So, one year, I processed them into a green salsa. My partners went crazy over the stuff. My daughter thinks I should make it commercially. It is tarter and fruitier than the red, but in its own way it is just as good. It is something to think about making. We find that it is particularly good with pork.

February 2, 2010

The Natrona County Master Gardeners were very kind to send me a certificate of appreciation for the work I have done to educated other gardeners. Thank you Master Gardeners.

I am getting ready to order seeds and plants now. I have changed my mind about trialling Burpee's Brandy Boy for another season. 2009 was a cold season. We get those. It did not produce well in those conditions. I may get back to it and give it another try some year...just not in 2010. I have too many other varieties I would love to try. Instead of Brandy Boy, I am going to try two 'old' varieties: Big Beef and Amish Paste.

The three big factors for success in the garden are: Selection, Soil, Weather. Let me expand on the first.

I list Selection as the first because I feel it is the most important choice a gardener makes. What you plant makes a huge difference in what you get by the end of the season. A good Selection will help to overcome negatives in Soils and Weather. That is why I am constantly reading and re-reading my seed catalogs. I am always searching to improve the productivity of our garden plots, and to improve the quality of what we grow. What is the point of setting a tomato plant out that will not perform well in our climate? Who wants to waste a growing season on a plant that gives you ten tomatoes that don't taste that great? Our main production tomato, Applause, outperforms, per square foot, any other tomato I've seen grow here in Casper. In addition, it got a One-Star rating in our tomato taste trial at the end of the 2009 season. It is a Determinate that really loads up! We grow the Indeterminates to produce better tasting tomatoes than even Applause. And we are constantly looking to improve both production and taste from our Indeterminates. In this process, Selection is everything.

February 6, 2010

The three big factors for success in the garden are: Selection, Soil, Weather. Let me expand (more) on the first.

The reason Bill Simpson grows Bloody Butcher Tomato in his garden is because this variety has performed well, year after year. It produces loads of smaller tomatoes that are a bit tart, a flavor that Bill really likes. It produces tomatoes earlier than other plants and the production is consistently strong throughout the rest of the season. Bloody Butcher rated a Two Star in our 2009 Taste Trials. When I say it performs year after year, that means it does well in warm and cool seasons. Nothing seems to slow this one down.

Here are links to my Vegetable Variety Pages:

Beans - Carrot

Cauliflower - Corn

Cucumber - Peas

Peppers - Squash

Tomato - Watermelon

On each page I recommend specific varieties and list varieties we are considering. On the left side of each variety listing are four-letter codes and a number. The four-letter code is a link to the site of a seed vendor that offers the variety in its catalog. The number is the 'days' that company lists for that variety to reach maturity. For plants like tomatoes and pepper, which are not usually direct seeded, the number represents the days to maturity from the time the start (already started) plant is set out into the bed. I list all of this information as an aid to you, fellow gardener, to help you find varieties that will work in your Wyoming garden.

March 20, 2010

I have been to visit Barry Franck at Westside Nursery. He gave me a bag of fresh lettuce he was growing in his basement under grow lights. He also had carrots and broccoli growing. Barry and my partners and I will be trialling some peppers this coming season and I will let you all know of the results. I have also visited recently with Bill Simpson. He and we will be trialling some new (to us) tomatoes. Again, I will let you all know of the results on these pages.

About soils:

The three big factors for success in the garden are: Selection, Soil, Weather. Let me expand (more) on the second.

On this Soils page I have provided a discussion about soils, and how to mix the different elements for particular crops in your garden. Selection may be the most important factor for success. But soils are also very important.

Next month I will be moving large amounts of manure into our plots down by the Fairgrounds to boost those soils. Adding manure not only improves the nutrients available to the plants, but also increases soil temperatures. I realized last season that our soils were getting 'tired' and needed a manure boost. Do not neglect this in your garden. Barry Franck had tremendous success with cucumbers in a cold season last year simply by adding lots of manure.

March 29, 2010

Barry Franck at Westside Nursery wanted me to give an explanation of Days to Maturity. This information is given as a number. The tricky thing is that there are two different kinds.

1. Days to Maturity for Direct Seeded:

2. Days to Maturity for Set Out Plants:

There is, of course, a caveat. We, in Wyoming live in a harsh climate. Please go to my One Third Rule to see how that climate affects the DTM. Basically, what that rule says is that to get a realistic idea for the DTM for a variety here in Casper, you should:


About Climate:

The three big factors for success in the garden are: Selection, Soil, Weather. Let me expand (more) on the third.

The One Third Rule and the Climate/Conditions page deal with the climate factor. We are stuck with the cool climate that nature provides.

About Climate Modification:

There are things we can do to modify for, and make up for a harsh climate. Click Here To See Our Tomato Support System. Here you will see two ideas at work: Trellising and Tubes. Trellising vegetables allows the plant to have more exposure to heat and light than it would otherwise get. The Tubes we use are thick walled. They keep the chilling wind off the newly set-out plants, they absorb heat in the day and radiate it back to the plants at night, they direct water directly to the roots and allow for some deep soaking to occur in very hot weather, and they keep cut worms from attacking the plants.

We also will build 'tents' over the watermelon and musk melon. These tents are curved wire grids to which we have applied saran wrap. This traps a lot of heat...and the heat-loving melons love it. By mid-summer then plants are out growing the tents, and we remove the tents to let the vines run.

2010 Notes:

Main Season

April 3, 2010

I have often said on these pages that Spring has not truely come to those of us in Wyoming until the the daffodils have been snowed upon at least three times. My neighbor across the street has daffodils, as do I. His have a nice southern exposure. Mine have a northern exposure. So, his tend to bloom before mine. My gardening partner, Mark McAtee just sent me an email asking if our snow two days ago counts as 'one'. No it does not. My neighbor's daffodils did not have open blossoms during the recent storm, so that storm does not count. Also bear in mind that it can, and often does, snow on the daffodils more than three times. This is lousy daffodil country. Our climate is easier on tulips because they tend to bloom later.

April 4, 2010

Snowcount: This morning there was snow on my neighbor's daffodil blossoms. That's One.

April 7, 2010

Yesterday morning there was a thin coating of snow on my neighbor's daffodils. That's Two.
After a melt yesterday, there was snow on my neighbor's daffodils this morning. That's Three.


Neighbor's Daffodils: 3
My Daffodils: No blossoms yet.

April 17, 2010

People are already asking me if it is time to plant. The last average day for frost in Casper is May 25. May 1st is probably a good time to plant broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and onions. Peas will do better if planted about May 18.

Today my daffodils, with the northern exposure started to open their blossoms.


Neighbor's Daffodils: 3
My Daffodils: blossoms, but no snow yet.

April 19, 2010

Today I noticed the following:

Here is a recent note from Barry Franck at Westside Nursery.

April 26, 2010

Today I noticed my first flowering bush/tree. Yesterday we had cold temps and quite a lot of sleet, though it did not stick to my daffodils.


Neighbor's Daffodils: 3 snows, 1 sleet, blossoms half faded
My Daffodils: 1 sleet, blossoms, no snow yet.

April 30, 2010

We had sleet on Tuesday (27th). Today we had snow, and some of it stuck on my daffodils.


Neighbor's Daffodils: 4 snows, 2 sleets, blossoms half faded
My Daffodils: 1 snow, 2 sleets, blossoms

May 8, 2010

Last night set a record for cold on this date: 18 degrees. Spring is very slow to arrive. We've not had many warm days. We had sleet the night of May 4-5, and some stuck to the roof of my car. I now have onions, leeks, and lettuce planted.


Neighbor's Daffodils: 4 snows, 3 sleets, blossoms half faded
My Daffodils: 1 snow, 3 sleets, blossoms half faded.

May 12, 2010

I AM WYOMING, THE CRUSHER OF DAFFODILS. We have an inch of snow this morning and more is falling. It is not sticking to the pavement, but it is sticking to the daffodils and tulips.


Neighbor's Daffodils: 5 snows, 3 sleets, blossoms half faded
My Daffodils: 2 snows, 3 sleets, blossoms half faded.

May 25, 2010

For the Casper area, today is the Average Last Day of Frost. I personally am in no big hurry to plant things. The ground is just too cold. Yesterday, in the big rain, there were a few snow flakes mixed in.

Here is a note from a reader:

Here is another note:

No, you haven't scared me off. When I google the Extension Service, my first selection is their main, or index page.


Now, when I go there, the first thing I notice is that there is no button for home gardening. If I type in 'gardening' into the search field provided, I am led back to my original google search. If I hit the 'horiculture' button on the top of the main page, nothing happens except that a brief window tells me about the page I can not get to.

After a lot of hunting and pecking (something I am good at, because I built web pages for the Casper Star-Tribune and Trib.Com for ten years) I found this page.


From this page one can download some informative pdf materials. But, I dare say that the average internet user will never be able to find his way to this page. And that is why I don't link to the University of Wyoming Extension pages. Like most of the University Extension, these pages reflect a heavy beaurocracy, that is meant to serve the farmer and rancher, not the vast majority of people who live in Wyoming and who might happen to like gardening.

I have long thought that the University was missing a bet with the Extension Service. There are a lot of home gardeners in Wyoming who would benefit from a good service, and UW would reap a lot of good PR from the effort. What I envision is at least four test-plot sites around the state which would test grow different varieties of vegetables, and even flowers, and report their findings each year. This is what our WyoGrow.Com does, but on a much smaller scale. Gardeners could visit the test-plots in their local areas and even visit others around the state to see for themselves how the variety tests were going.

June 2, 2010

We are late getting our garden in. I am not worried about that because our soil temperatures are not very high yet because of the cool and wet Spring we have had. I notice that the fruiting trees in the Casper area are magnificent this year. Along Garden Creek the Chokecherry are heavy with blossoms, and the Current bushes are blooming like I have not seen in decades.


In my last comments I posted a note from a gardener in Greybull. She came across the recommended list of vegetables on the University of Wyoming Extension Site. I give the link below.


I have a problem with this list. I can state that thirty years ago this list did not exist. I asked my Extension agent repeatedly for it. So, this list has been 'put together' sometime in the last 30 years. I could be very wrong, and please dear readers DO correct me if I am, but I strongly suspect that no amount of time was given to the formation of the list...no trials were ever held by the Extension Service, the University of Wyoming, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What I suspect is that at some point someone was appointed the task of making up the list. That person or persons simply asked around. That does, of course, not make the list wrong. But I would have a lot more confidence in it, and I would be a lot more confident referring readers to the list, if I knew what kind of testing was done before the list came to be. When you click on any of my Vegetable Varieties links you will see specific varieties we recommend. That recommendation comes only after we have grown that variety and it has performed very well for us. Some of the varieties we recommend have been grown by us for well over a decade. In addition, we are always trialing new (to us) varieties.


It is typical that early plans for the garden fall apart. This season the plan for the Peppers is in trouble. I am scrambling to find replacement pepper plants right now. So expect some changes in that area. I will change the Planting Guide, at the bottom of this page, once I have all the peppers in.

June 9, 2010

I now, finally have most everything planted. The corn will be about the last to go in. If you have not planted yet, do so. It is not too late. I notice that the Spirea in town (Casper) has been blooming for over a week now, and is just now in full bloom. It is as sure an indicator as there is for when to plant tomatoes.

Companion Planting

We routinely plant our radish in rows between our broccoli or cabbage. Not only are they good companions, (they are fellow brassicas) but the bigger plants help shade the radish and thus extend our radish season. I will be planting carrot and onion between my peppers and tomatoes this year. But please do keep the onions away from the brassicas and the nightshades (tomatom, pepper, eggplant, tomatilla, garden huckleberry, etc.). Last season I noted that marigolds inhibited the growth of my peppers, but did not bother the tomatoes. Companion Planting is one way to get our beds to be more productive, it allows more intensive planting to take place in our raised beds.

June 22, 2010

I knew that plants did their growing at night. But Barry Franck of Westside Nursery tells me that his reading reveals that they do their growing mostly in the first four hours of the night. That would indicate that the best time to water would be just before nightfall.

June 28, 2010

I have been busy replanting where germination did not occur. The worst was the Espada Bean. This is a great bean, perhaps the best I've ever experienced. But, it is a bugger to germinate. We will not be planting it next season. Some of the squash and all the pumpkin are slow. I have replanted and will give them a week to pop up.

For five years we tried numerous pole beans without a lot of success. Then, three years after we gave up...and destroyed the Taj Mah Bean structure, some runner/pole beans came up volunteer in parter Linda's plot. I saved the seeds, and planted them this year. They are up like gang busters.

We have had a failure of germination in the Verona Watermelon. The Dixie Queen melons are up just fine. When I went to replace the Veronas I discovered that they were putting out roots, just very slowly. I plugged in some nice Crimson Sweet plants in their place.

I also noticed that the onion plants I ordered in had been nipped. Butch said the problem was probably due to over fertilization. I had added some nice horse manure to that bed. He was right. The manure is killing the Yellow Spanish Onions. But the white onion sets I put in their place are growing just fine. Go figure!

July 5, 2010

A regular reader from Idaho sends this note.

July 22, 2010

I had to buy some cauliflower plants this spring. Some of those headed out right away and became so useless I have already ripped them out of the ground. We have had some good radish and lettuce from the garden already. It looks like we are going to get cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and some beans. The watermelon, pumpkin, and squash look iffy. Onions are in their own universe. Almost all of the origninal Spanish Yellow Onion I put in this spring as plants are dead. They did not like the rich manure I gave them. But the late white onion sets seem to be doing just fine, as are the leeks, which have gotten no fertilizer at all.

The Pantano Romanesco Tomato plants are doing fine. They are strong. The Anna Russian and Amish Paste are weak, as are the Sausage Tomatoes. The Tomande and Rose are strong plants so far. The Bloody Butcher were first to set tomatoes, but it is going to be a foot race between them and the Applause to see which one produces a ripe fruit. The other specialty tomatoes and Garden Huckleberry are doing just fine.

Peppers are a disaster this year. I can barely keep them growing. None of the plants are going to get very big this year, and production is going to be low despite the fact that I expanded the area in which they grow and put out more plants than usual. That's gardening folks.

August 17, 2010

Bill Simpson sent in this note in July.

Notes to myself:

Move tomatoes to different ground, the blight is awful...trade places with beans.

Get the corn in earlier next year, and rototill it this fall.

Never grow Snowball Cauliflower again, stick with Fremont. Fremont can take the heat.

To avoid disease disasters mix varieties: grow Diamant and Cool Breeze cucumbers, grow Corona and Applause tomatoes, grow Sweet Success and Marketmore cucumbers.

Take a bed away from the slicer cucumbers, and give it to the picklers. They come on earlier. In a cool season that is important, since Cool Breeze and Diamant are excellent both as picklers and slicers.

August 20, 2010

On the 18th I visited the gardens of both Barry Franck and Bill Simpson. Barry showed me a phenomena. He has peppers planted in stacks of tires. The plant in the middle is taller than the plants that are in a circle around the edge. Barry thinks this is because the middle plant has access to deeper soil. That is something to think about.

Bill Simpson thinks he may have found an early and big slicing cucumber. It is from the Shumway catalog. Here is his note.

Here is a note from Rhonda:

August 23, 2010

I am adding a new page to this site: Pickles. This is just a beginning, and I will add more to this page in the near future.

2010 Notes:

End of Season

September 7, 2010

Here is a note from a new reader. She expresses some of the same ideas I have had about the 'center of the tire' phenomena at Barry Franck's garden.


Here is a note from Rhonda.

September 9, 2010

Why did my garden perform so poorly this season?

Heat. We got our heat this season at the wrong time. Let me show you. Here is a summary chart of degree days. I have highlighted good gardening years in yellow. Compare this season's numbers with those.

Degree Days Through June 30
Through July 15

In those good seasons we got more heat in the early part of the season. Now look at what happened to us in August. Again, I have highlighted three good seasons in yellow.

Through August 15
Through August 31

So, a very hot August does not a great garden make. We need the heat early on to have a great season.

September 13, 2010

Note on Honey Locust Trees

If you have bugs eating the ends of the branches, possibly killing whole branches on your Honey Locust, Tom Heald, our Natrona County Extension Agent, recommends Bayer Tree & Shrub Insect Control. It is a Fall application. You will mix it with water and pour the solution around the the base of the tree. The chemicals will enter the system through the roots, rise up the trunk, and move out to the smallest branches. Then, in Spring, the chemical will be all through the tree to poison the bugs.


End of Season Report (partial)


Terrible! I think 2010 was the worst year for gardening I have ever experienced. It was tough, challenging, disappointing. Soil temperatures were so low this Spring that I had to go back and replant many things, even though I had revitalized my soils with horse manure. One thing about a disasterous year like this one is that you get to find out what performs in the toughest conditions.

Blight ate a lot of the tomatoes, particularly the Applause...the one we grow for our main production. The treatment is to remove all affected plant completely, which we are doing, then burn everything this fall, then move tomatoes to new ground in the Spring...which we will do.

Slower and smaller this year, but still a great performer this season. We will plant the same varieties (in new ground) in 2011: Danver, Sweetness III, Tendersweet.

A relatively good year for radish.

Barry Franck proved that Park's Whopper Pepper is every bit as good as Better Bell. Next year we grow it against Fat 'N Sassy. The big, and pleasant surprise was the Carmen Pepper I got from Barry. It was great! We will definitely plant a lot more next year.

Very disappointing. I worked hard to juice up the soil with a lot of horse manure. That did not help. I will try to get Bodacious in earlier next year, or I might try Yukon Yellow Chief, as recommended by Rhonda.

more review later.....

September 14, 2010

Note on Green Tomatoes

If you have a lot of green tomatoes at the end of a season, here are two things you can do with them.

1. Place in a cardboard box. Put newspaper between layers of tomatoes. Keep in a relatively warm place, like a garage...a place that will not freeze. Tomatoes will ripen slowly and keep you in stock for a while, even after you have ripped the plants out of the ground.

2. Make a green salsa. Put tomatoes through your blender. Place in a pot. Add onion, hot pepper, garlic, vinegar (small amount) to 'brighten' the flavor, and perhaps a small amount of sugar to neutralize the acid a bit. Bring to a boil and then place in clean jars, cap with canning lids. Now you have a delicious salsa that needs no corn starch to thicken it.


End of Season Report (partial)

Performed well, overall. The head lettuce tended to bolt first, but not until mid August.


Excellent. Plants were stripped of leaves by grasshoppers. They grew new ones!

I made the soil in my main Onion bed too rich. The yellow onions from Dixon Dale Farms died. The sets I replaced them with did better, but struggled. I bought white onion sets at Nolan Feed and placed them in amongst the Peppers. Both Onions and Peppers thrived. I will definitely do that again. Meanwhile, in the main Onion bed, I will crummy up the soil and will order SuperStar plants from Dixon Dale for 2011.

Good, not excellent, but good production from Super Sugar Snap.

Terrible year. We will get maybe 4 Heart of Gold from the same number of tires we got 16 from in 2009. Standouts: Golden Hubbard, Lakota, Canesi (butternut). No pumpkins from Lady Godiva or Bush Spirit. I will not grow them again. Zuchini and Patty Pan squash performed well.

Plants were only a third the size of normal.

Plants are just now producing heads on Fremont, and they are brownish, not white. A move to new soil is desperately needed, and some research over the winter to find out what they are missing besides Boron.

Did very well.

Very slow to make heads. Only about half will do so.

We have a winner with Dixie Queen. Germination was good and we got several melons longer than their diameter. Verona was a failure. It was incredibly slow to germinate, though I think Bill Simpson got some melons off Verona.

Got flowers for the garden plots from Barry Frank and West Side Nursery. They outperformed any flowers I got from any other green house this season.

Note to Barry Franck...send some photos of your garden and some explanations. I would like to give you some space to brag here.

September 24, 2010

Here is a note from Barry Franck at Westside Nursery. Note that when he talks about growing things for the first time, he is refering to growing it for sale for the first time. Besides selling plants in the Spring, Barry also sells produce at the Farmer's Markets in Casper.

Year End Review

The garden didn't do as well this year. There was no heat until the end. Frost took most everthing on Aug. 5, two weeks early this year.

Tomatoes in the tires did well, tomatoes in pots did not. Cucumbers came on late and we only had 2 weeks of production before frost got them. Kolhrabi and cabbage did well, better than last year. This is only the second year of our trying grow it. I do note that we have to keep rabbits away from them. Broccoli was producing well until grasshoppers took to them. 2010 was our first year trying it. Peppers did well, and we got a few nice size ones, but most where medium to small in size. We didn't plant any squash or pumpkins this year.


Peppers (all of them I bought)


Cabbage: small to nothing

Kolhrabi: did well, nice size fruit, but I have to keep rabbits away from them, they loved them this year.

Broccoli: did well until grasshoppers ate it down so don't know if it would have produced better or not, it came on late when heat started coming on.

Wait for next year! Tomatoes will be in new raised beds, peppers will be in tires and everything else will be in new raised beds and covered. My production should be a lot better.

Here are some photos that Barry sent along.

Aug. 11, 2010 Looking East, Tomatoes in Containers

Aug. 11, 2010 Looking West, Tomatoes in Containers

Aug. 11, 2010 Looking East, Barry's Cucumber Beds

Aug. 11, 2010 Looking East, Barry's Brassica Bed

Aug. 11, 2010, Barry's Tomatoes in Tires

Aug. 11, 2010 Barry's Peppers in Tires

Aug. 11, 2010, Barry's New Beds
Barry is expanding his growing capacity for the 2011 season. Here are some of his new beds under construction.

September 29, 2010

A Nebraska gardener sent this note along.

October 7, 2010

Indian Summer is lasting a long time this year. We still have not had a really hard, killing frost at the plots. I am still watering, though I have pulled the peas, beans, summer squash, corn, and acorn squash. A tough year, like this one, is valuable because it reveals some positive surprises. Here are some.

Anna Russian Tomato - Came on late this season, but is still very much alive and producing great tasting tomatoes. Like our old friend Goliath, this plant does not slow down at the end of the season. It just keeps chugging along. In a disease-ridden tomato year, this one seems remarkably resistant.

Tomande - A great tomato all around. In a disease-ridden tomato year, this one seems remarkably resistant.

Dixie Queen Watermelon - We got some nice melons off this in a really tough season.


A tough year also yeild diappointing results. Here are some of them.

Rose Tomato - Whacked by disease. These four plants fail to produce a single fruit. As much as we enjoy the taste, we will not be planting this one again.

Amish Paste Tomato - We may get a few very small fruit from these two plants. Yuck.

Sweet Favorite Watermelon - We got some softball sized fruit from 8 plants. Yuck.

Winter Squash and Pumpkin - generally very reduced production.


Recently LJ, a gardener in Crawford, Nebraska, sent me a note about his success in his garden. He said that he found information from these pages useful. That is most gratifying. Also, I have long thought that if gardeners at lower elevations applied information developed at higher elevations to their gardens they would benefit. To see all the photos from LJ's garden go here:


I have posted some of those photos below.

Note that I will be gone on vacation starting October 10. So email will go unanswered.

LJ's beds early in the season

LJ's beds early in the season

LJ's beds a little later in the season

LJ's beds a little later in the season

LJ's beds, fully mature and rampant

LJ's beds, fully mature and rampant

LJ's watermelon

LJ's musk melon

LJ's cucumbers or squash, trellised

LJ's tomatoes

November 1, 2010

I just got this note from a fellow Casper gardener.


I found your website while searching for more information on Yukon Chief corn. I have pretty much already decided to plant it next year, liking the height and the short maturity, but I was seeking testimonials from northern gardeners.

This is great! I've read or browsed much of what you have written, remembering as I did so what a horrible year 2010 was for tomatoes and peppers. I set my tomatoes out on May 10, under Walls of Water, and they didn't set fruit until sometime in July, suffering blossom drop until then. You can add the Delicious variety to your list of do-not-grows for Casper. They are divas, and I won't grow them again.

Peppers are my favorite plant to grow, but my habaneros barely produced and just slid under the wire so far as maturing went. They barely put on any new growth throughout the month of June and didn't really even start producing until mid or late July. The Super Chilies and Fish did well, despite what a friend called "Juneuary."

I'm attaching a photo of an odd ball pepper I grew from some very old seeds I had sitting around for, well, at least six years. It is a Hybrid Big Chile II Gurney's came out with in 1999 and later discontinued. I called it Frankenchile because it was strange from germination through harvest. At 11.5" long, I suspect these may be a record for the Casper area, maybe even Wyoming. Next to them in the photo is a quart of pickles canned by a friend and used as a point of reference. I will definitely be growing these again next year.

Keep up the good work and thanks!


December 19, 2010

Partner Linda sends this link to ''Climate-Ready' Crop Patents Threaten Biodiversity', by Anna Archibald on MotherEarthNews.Com. I have never thought it was a good idea for genes to be patentable. What next? If it becomes possible, I want the patents for air and water. Then I will rule you all.

I am working on new pages for this site which will be revealed in January. In the meantime, I would like to remind you that recipes are available [Click Here] for Million Dollar Fudge and for our family favorite: Dutch Apple Cake.


Bill Simpson send this year end review of his garden. I would note that his tomatoes turned out better than mine did, and that he had a surprisingly good year with his watermelons.