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Katie's Tomatoes....

  • Monday, May 31, 2010
  • So Katie decided she wanted to grow I decided to get her off to the right start with some of Gail's tomatoes! She got hooked too.....and wanted one, but left with three.  I am going to send her home with some compost, and if she mixes it with potting soil and feeds them a few times this season, she should have a good harvest.  Interesting which ones she chose! Here is a pic and a description of what she got:

    Matina- Heirloom. This tried-and-true heirloom from Germany is one of the few early fruiting kinds that has the kind of flavor normally associated with beefsteak tomatoes. Huge plants, with abundant potato-leaf foliage that is resistant to diseases like Early Blight and protects the fruits from sunscald. The globular red, quarter pound fruits are borne in large clusters and free from the green shoulders often seen on others of this type, such as the Czech heirloom Stupice. Indeterminate.

    Akers WV- 85 days. Lycopersicon esculentum. Plant produces high yields of 1 lb red tomatoes. The tomatoes are very sweet and has a rich tomato flavor. Excellent in salads and on sandwiches. The tomatoes are smooth and have very little cracking or blemishes. A heirloom variety from West Virginia, USA. Indeterminate. pk/10

    Mexico- Brought to the America by a Mexican family living in the Midwest. Our Tomatofest organic tomato seeds produce very large, indeterminate, regular-leaf, prolific tomato plants that yield huge sets of 1-2 pound, slightly flattened, irregular-shaped, dark-pink beefsteak tomatoes with terrific bold, tomato flavors. Plenty of sweetness with complementary acid flavors. Several customers who are growers of tomatoes for farmer's markets swear by the taste quality and visual appeal of the Mexico heirloom tomato. A perfect tomato for slicing fresh and thick for sandwiches and sliced up in salads. Once you select this variety it will be in your garden every year. A great showplace tomato for the County Fair. A Gary Ibsen personal favorite.

    So I will have her take pics as the season goes- but I hope it all works out!

    Oh are a bad influence!

  • Sunday, May 30, 2010
  • So after a wonderful trip to Crooked Run Cellars (sans kids), we picked up the kids, got icecream, then headed to Gail's to get Katie some tomatoes to grow.  It was, as usual, a magical experience...... great people to meet - great conversations to have with Gail ... and then....her greenhouse. I swear, it must be like the Bermuda Triangle....I always get sucked in!  So here are my casualties:
    • Eggplant Rosa Bianca- Plant produces good yields of rosy lavender & cream colored teardrop shaped eggplants. These eggplants are very delicious, creamy, with no bitter taste. Excellent for slicing, stuffing, and baking. Prized by chefs and home gardeners. A heirloom variety from Italy
    • Eggplant Thai Green- ( variety of Asian eggplant that can range in shape from long and thin to round and stocky. The Thai eggplant may be white, green, or purple in color. They have a deliciously sweet and slightly bitter meaty flesh, tender skin, and may be seedless, which makes seedless varieties highly desirable for numerous recipes.

    The long thin eggplants, typically green in color, are known as the Thai Green eggplants, which grow up to 12 inches in length. With a thin skin and a mild flavored flesh, the Thai Green eggplant is a very common Asian egglant. While some varieties of Thai eggplants are long and oblong shaped, others may be small, round and stocky. The small round eggplants are often referred Thai Kermit eggplants or as Garden Eggs and Bitter Balls, names often associated with a similar eggplant from Africa. Since Thai eggplants are highly perishable, store in a refrigerator for a week or less. They become increasingly bitter as they age.

    • Hot Pepper Anaheim
    • Hot Pepper Jalapeno
    • Anaheim

    So I would like to note that I already have 7 peppers growing, but at the vineyard I had hot pepper jelly and got hooked and just had to buy more  peppers to make sure I could make this tasty treat!  Also, when I saw Eggplant Thai Green, I remembered all the thai dishes that called for of course I 'had to have them'...

    Gail- thanks for keeping my addiction going :)


  • So my friend Melissa introduced me to the wonder of beets. Before I would just eat the greens and throw the beet out, horrors! This yera I decided to grow all types! Early wonder, golden, albino, detroit red, and chiogga.  Here are some pics of my first initial harvest!

    Here is an Early Wonder specimen :)

    Progression of garden pictures.....

  • Saturday, May 29, 2010
  • Now that things are are some updates:

    Peas- These are growing by the front door and I am excited about this type called Estancia.  I did not provide support and the description says the tendrils interlock and hold itself up.  It is true!
    Strawberries-  New strawberry bed that I built this year....... These are June bearing strawberries, but I am planting everbearing in the Topsy Turvy planters.
    New beds- These are the new beds my dad built. I have all types of things in here: Romanesco, four types of beets (on the sides), rose orach, kale, and new zealand spinach.  Second picture shows how it is filling in - amazing!
    Tomato bed (the one by the house, I have three beds of tomas by the house)  Who knows what I have....all heirloom, all great names.....Church, Green Zebra, San Marzano, Old German......We will see soon!
    Potato bin I turned a compost bin into a potato bin!  Waste not!  I just keep adding straw, and we shall see what happens.  This is my first year of potatoes.
    Collards/Cabbage/Onions- I am in the process of pulling the kale, but this bed has 3 types of onions and collards and cabbage :)
    Cold Frame-  Ally types of things here.  Bok Choi, spinach, kale, and some collards. This cold frame rocks.
    Cherries- Here is our first tree to come into fruit for the season, an old tree but still good fruit.  A nice spring afternoon snack.
    Iris- I took this from our suburban home :)
    Sunberry Patch- As you can see, this is really filling in!

    Poppy- I am assuming this is a wild single poppy.  It loves my garden.
    Cleared Pumpkin Patch- So here is the new pumpkin patch cleared...still need to cover with weed barrier and cover with straw.  It is gonna be awesome!

    Until the next post with the most recent pics!

    My 2010 experiment - Topsy Turvy everything!

  • OK- so this year I got sucked into doing Topsy Turvy strawberries and peppers.  I don't really like the tomato concept, but the strawberry design seems like it should work. Strawberries are like weeds.....and give them some good soil and this should work.  As for the pepper design, again, why not?

    OK- so after testing this concept, I began to think, why would it not work for other plants? If I can grow melons and squash up, why can I grow them down?  So I decided to just 'go for it' and try it.  At this point, I have. I have posted the initial pics I have:

    (2) strawberries [hold about 20 plants]  I purchased two more kits to put the runners in
    (1) pepper planter with peppers
    (1) pepper planter planted with some type of melon- pics TBD
    (1) pepper planter with delicata squash- pics TBD
    (1) pepper planter with cucumbers- pics TBD

    Random pics from the garden...

  • If I don't post these now, I won't ever!  Random photos from Garden 2010.  These are of my spring veggies and the preparation of my beds!:

    • Bok Choi- I harvested 4 heads and have my new second 'wave' planted. I made Bok Choi soup.
    • Peas- You should see these now!  But this is how they started.  They are right near the front door.
    • Beet/Romanesco Bed- Wow...this looks like nothing compared to now!  They really filled in. These beds are brand new, thanks dad for building them. They are filled with 'black gold' compost.
    • Sunberry bed- You should check out the description of these heirlooms...pretty cool. Guess these aren't very popular, but are historical!
    • Garlic- Keeping the cycle going.....this is from my harvest from last year.....ate alot, and planted a few!
    • Egyptian Onions- My perennial walking onions!  The heads fall and plant themselves.
    • Chamomile- I love tea and this perennial herb is a love of mine.
    • Cold Frame-  My cold frame rocked.  This is at the start of the season, and it really filled out as the heat picked up.
    • Front tomato bed (getting prepared)- I wanted to have more veggies close to the house... so I prepared these, covered them with landscape fabric and covered with mulch.  My little mantis did all of the work!
    • Cabbage- Got these varieties from Gail.....tomas in the center, endamame and favas on the other side.
    • Lovage- What an awesome herb, kinda like celery!  It is really getting tall!
    • 'Soon to be' Pumpkin Patch- This bed was a huge mess. Full of poison ivy, lemon balm, butterfly name it. We hired my neighbor to clear and till it.  In July it will be the home to my squash and pumpkins!
    • Rhubard
    • Beds covered with landscape fabric- still messy but getting there! After liming and fertilizing, and adding alot of aged manure, I covered my beds to warm up!

    Having so much fun!!!

  • So just a quick note to update the progress in the garden.  This year I used black landscape fabric to cover most of my beds and so far I LOVE IT.  It is neat, keeps my plants warm, reduces evaporation, and most of all keeps the weeds to a minimum.  It wasn't cheap, but so far I feel it was worth its weight in gold!

    So this year I am trying some things I haven't before, and I am really excited about them all!
    • ROSE ORACH- Cultivated since the 1800s, this will do well in warmer climates whereas true spinach will not. In coastal regions, it will perform despite salt and wind effect. The magenta leaves will turn green when cooked, but are colorful additions to salad or micro-green mixes.
    • SUN BERRY- (Solanum Burbankii) Bred in the early 1900s by Luther Burbank, who called it Sunberry and lamented it being renamed Wonderberry by the dealer who purchased and introduced it. Critics immediately claimed Burbank had simply reintroduced S. nigrum, Garden Huckleberry, as a new plant. Burbank said it was the result of many years of crossing of Solanum guinense (a species native to Africa) and S. villosum (indigenous to Europe). Sunberry’s fruits are blue, slightly sweet and slightly larger than a pea. Said by its admirers to rival and even surpass blueberries. Truly historic variety
    • BEETBERRY-A truly unique plant also known as "Strawberry Spinach." Sprawling plants are grown primarily as a nutritious green for salads and braising while the pleasantly sweet but fairly bland berries provide a fun accent to salads. Loves cool weather but also tolerates heat.
    • ROMANESCO- Italian herloom.  Gorgeous head is sprightly, light green spiral of cone-shaped florets, with a delectably mild flavor and a texture more akin to cauliflower than broccoli. 
    • BROAD WINDSOR BEAN- Plants grow 24 to 36" tall and produce 1" wide, 6 to 8" long pods containing 5 to 6 large beans. We love to substitute this bean for chickpeas in hummus. Pkt. Favas have approximately the same cultural requirements as peas. Sow seeds 4-6" apart in rows 18-36" apart. Use as a frost-tolerant, spring-planted lima bean substitute from Virginia northward. Fava beans thrive in cool rainy areas and are planted as early as March/April so that plants are flowering when daytime temperatures average less than 70oF. From Virginia northward, favas are planted in the spring, whereas in Gulf Coast states and warm coastal areas they may be planted from October to December for harvest in March. Approximately the size of a large lima, favas have a flavor that is similar to a blend of limas and peas, but are more nutritious than limas. For use as a snap bean, harvest the pods at 2 to 3". For use as a green shelled bean, harvest when pods are 4 to 7" long. Prepare in the same manner as peas or beans. Caution: A small percentage of people of Mediterranean descent may experience a hereditary allergic reaction to fava beans. PACKET: 57 g (2 oz). Approximately 40 seeds. Sows 12-18’.

    • TENDERGREEN BUSH BEAN-tendergreen seeds will produce plants that are medium to large, and are very productive. The plants will mature in 55-60 days.Beans are ready to pick when the pods are 5-6 inches long.The more you pick them the more they produce!The pods are round, tender and stringless. They are great for canning or freezing.

    • VERMONT CRANBERRY- 60 days. Phaseolus vulgaris. Plant produces good yields of flavorful bean. Excellent for soups and baking.
    • SOUTHERN WHIPPORWHIL BEAN-Source: John Coykendall, Knoxville , TN (originally from Lowery Langston in Jefferson County , TN ) The Langston family broadcast the seeds in the cornfield for a fall crop and for animal forage. Seeds are good eaten green or dried for winter storage
    • CALICO CROWDER BEAN- A pre-Civil War variety with running vines, the pods are about 14 inches with medium-sized peas that are white with maroon splotches and good fresh or dried. An excellent producer with great flavor. In the South, farmers use to plant peas in with their corn so peas would grow up the corn for easier picking, and to provide nitrogen for the corn. About 70 days to fresh harvest, 85 days to dry. Rare.
    • COLLARDS- just your average collards
    • YAMATO- 60 days. An Asian white-spined cucumber similar to 'Suyo Long' but superior in performance and flavor. Fruits range from 1" to 1-1/2" in diameter and 12 to 16" in length and are green with narrow yellow stripes. 'Yamato' is a very hardy, reliable variety in the hot, humid Southeast. Flesh is sweet, somewhat buttery, crisp and succulent. Pkt.
      "If this variety is properly trellised, it will yield gorgeous long straight beautiful cucumbers. Do not grow this variety if you do not intend to trellis it as you will likely not get many usable fruits." -Cricket Rakit

    • ESTANCIA (PEA)- Bright flavor of sweet edible-pod peas all summer, then all winter too.  Top choice for canning and freezing.  Pods grow prolifically on plants with few leaves.
    • GOLDEN AND WHITE BEETS- Deep globe shaped golden roots with light green, yellow veined tops. Both are sweet and tender, especially when young. Roots do not bleed like red beets when pickled. Golden beets make a nice change of pace and color contrast in salads and relish trays. Approximately 55 days to maturity
    • SUGAR NUT- Hands down taste test winner almost every summer.  Spherical, 2 lb variety with yellow skin adn green flesh.  Very small seed cavity, unbelievabley sweet flavor and a clean juicy texture.
    • BOSTON MARROW- This variety is originally from Buffalo, New York, where the local Native Americans introduced it to European settlers. The Boston Marrow squash grows well in regions where the growing season is cool and short. The fruit averages from 8-9 pounds, and has a skin as thin as an eggshell with a fine-textured flesh. The taste of the flesh is much richer and more nutritious than that of a pumpkin. The Boston Marrow is used for puddings, and, despite it's oily texture, often eaten raw.
    • NEW ZEALAND SPINACH- is used in the same manner as spinach, but the plant is very different. It reaches a height of 1-2 feet and is much branched, spreading to 2-3 feet across. When the plant has reached a spread of 1 foot or so, the 2 or 3 inches at the end of the branches (tender shoots, tips, and leaves) may be harvested with a knife. New growth will arise along these cut branches and their ends may also be harvested.
    • RARE HEIRLOOM POTATO MIX- (see previous post for types) ]
    • Masai Green beans- ( "These heirloom, French-style green beans are all we'll eat now, first and foremost for their exquisite flavor. The tiny beans are sweet and stringless, so I usually just break them in half and steam them for three minutes, or toss them in a skillet with garlic for a few minutes. Either way, they are phenomenal. Masai beans also freeze extremely well --- we froze four and a half gallons last year and wished we'd had twice that many. Of course, Masai beans are also a pleasure to grow. First, they're heirlooms, so you never have to pay for seeds again. They're bush beans, too, which means the plants produce big crops all at once without a trellis. But unlike most bush beans, they just keep producing big crops all summer, so there's no need to succession plant. (I do succession plant, but only because I like to have lots of beds and it's easier to start them scattered throughout the summer.) The clincher is that they seem to be relatively immune to bean beetles. Try them out and I suspect you'll write your own ode to Masai Beans next summer.
          Gees, you wonder if I actually am planting anything 'old' from last year!  I think I am :)