Nov 4, 2009

Tomatoes on Parade 2009

Sorry I am so very late in posting the results of this years tomato garden. It was a bad season (and I know you are all tired of me repeating that HaHaHa. Even with all of the nasties I encountered, I still had an okay sized tomato harvest. Not nearly as many good tomatoes as I was able to pick last year(and I absolutely hated having to pick at breaker stage thanks to the vermin), but compared to some growers in my area who lost every plant, I shouldn't complain any more :). here goes, my critique of this years tomato varieties. I will try to take the crappy weather into consideration wherever I can.

Opalka - Could have fooled me...but I don't believe these were Opalkas. Just based on what I have read and the pictures I have seen these could not have been Opalka.

Black Krim - Again...I am not sure if I received the correct seeds. Out of three plants grown, one was a pink beefsteak...clearly not Black was a Potato Leaf plant with small to mid sized, round, black fruit that was nicely flavored with the typical black fruit smoky earthy flavor.Sadly it didn't survive the blights for long and I didn't get too many fruits off it, but I wish I had. The last was an oblate black, similar in flavor to the Potato Leaf one. Although maybe not as flavorful, and truthfully it succumbed even more quickly to blight, and I didn't eat enough to make a real comparison.

Gregory - Gave a few unremarkable fruit and just dried up and died. I am not sure if it was the season , or the plant itself. I will grow it again and see what's up with it in a good season, then determine it's worth.

Alyx Little Yellow Sun - A sad little plant. Again, it could have been the season, or maybe the plant ...I know I did have a whole lot of trouble getting the seeds to germinate back at the very start. The plant did hang on throughout the entire season giving me little oblate lemon-gold mild flavored fruit. I have had better tasting cherry types...but this one struggled so hard to keep up under stress that I will definitely give it a shot again, and see what it can do under ideal conditions.

Mr. Brown's - Big healthy plant despite the season. Large 1 pound + , raspberry colored, absolutely gorgeous beefsteak fruits. Kind of an unusual flavor that I can only describe as fruity, smoky with maybe a hint of wine flavor. Great as an eat alone tomato , even better in a salad. But too overpowering and exotic on a sandwich.

Dona - Nice , big, healthy plant. A really nice producer of perfect oblate-ish medium sized red fruit. Tangy in flavor. Not great, but not bad either. Definitely better than store bought, but I have definitely tasted better. I think this one is probably grown more for it's looks than it's flavor.

Brown's Jubilee - Golf ball sized , round saladette type, red tomato. Fairly mild in flavor and prone to radial cracking(could have been all the rain). Flavor is better with a little salt.

Primrose Gage - Beautiful plant worthy of the flower garden ,with lacy ,gray-green foliage. But an odd little tomato. Translucent and pale yellow in color. They almost feel like they are fake and hollow, or made out of rubber. They aren't though, and they really have a nice, sweet, and traditional tomatoey flavor.

Orange Strawberry - Gorgeous, vibrant, golden orange, heart shaped beauties.Very meaty, and lovely mild sweet flavor. They may have more flavor during a hotter drier summer, so I will grow them out again before I decide if they will take a spot on my permanent list(although they were good, they didn't quite hit that high note needed for the short list)

Evergreen - Very tasty, medium sized beefsteak with that typical tangy sweet green tomato flavor that I love. This one is high on my list, but I still rank Aunt Ruby's German Green as my absolute favorite green.

Cherokee Green - Perfect, oblate, medium sized fruit.Not my favorite green, but still better than most of the others grown this season.My first impression of this tomato was that it tastes like an entire salad in one bite. I really did like it a lot, and I will grow it again to see if it is better in a better season.

Green Grape - Large sized green when ripe cherry. This one is at it's best when it is an amber color. It has full size tomato flavor in a cherry size tomato.It is good, but maybe could be better.

Whippersnapper - I grew these in hanging baskets.They were full of aphids early on and took an extensive amount of damage to the foliage. Even still, they put out tons of small , round, dark pink cherry tomatoes. They had a nice sweet tomato flavor, but still managed to taste like an old timey full size tomato. I really liked these a bunch and plant to grow them again for myself and as gifts.

Olena Ukrainian - This one I actually grew last year, and it came back as a volunteer. I plopped this volunteer into a 5 gallon bucket, and it grew like wild fire. It was a fine producer of 1 to 2 pound beautiful pink beefsteak fruit. They were so much tastier this year(which leads me to believe they do better in cooler areas and seasons)They were tangy and sweet ,juicy and silken...they are becoming one of my favorites.

I did have 2 more cherries that I grew as an experiment this season and will grow out again next season. So I will wait until then to describe them.

All in all , not a horrible year. And the nice thing about growing tomatoes is that there is always next season to try again and thousands of different varieties to play with.

Oct 19, 2009

Coming Soon

Please bear with me....the End of the season Tomato posting will be coming shortly. There has been so much to do lately, and I know that you all know how that is this time of the year...what with figuring out what to do with the last of the Summer harvest...bringing in the last of the Fall harvest , and ultimately putting the whole garden to bed :)
Today I put up 2 separate batches of Raspberry jelly....some pickled Lemon Drop peppers, and a few quarts of roasted tomato sauce. So I am coming to the end of harvest fever and will get that Tomato post here as soon as I can....scouts honor!!

Sep 26, 2009

Those Freakin' Squirrels!!

You just cannot imagine how freaked out, ticked off and totally spittin' fire I am at the moment. Oh how I hate squirrels!! I know there are probably plenty of folks out there that see that cute little furry face and bushy , bushy tail and think to themselves that I am some sort of monster. Well go ahead and think it, but if I had my way those fluffy four footed demons would be exiled to some oak infested island.

I had 5 or 6 beautiful 'Olena Ukrainians' out on a plant that was the black sheep plant of my tomato family. That one volunteer plant, stuck in a 5 gallon bucket, still managed to grow several 3/4 pound to 1 pound size and up beautiful tomatoes in abundance.I have eaten two...only two.... and they were glorious, and I was waiting on those 5-6 to ripen (there are about 6 more little ones, but I think it may be too late for them ). Yesterday I had the inkling that they would be at the breaker stage, but since there was no rain forecast I put off picking them, as I would really love to get a tomato that has almost completely ripened outside instead of in my kitchen. But I digress.
Well I get home from visiting my mother today, and had a feeling that I should go out and check on my volunteer pumpkins and squash ....just to make sure. Well they were fine. Then I figure ,heck while I am out here let me take a peak into the back yard....first thing I see is my largest , most perfect 'Olena Ukrainian' half eaten and so very sad looking. I look further up the plant and what do I see....every tomato that had gone beyond breaker stage had at least a 1/4 of it eaten. They couldn't just finish one and be full . No they had to sample all of them...oh wait, I lie, not all of them, no the ones that had split open and are probably going to rot on my counter, those they left.
Thank You very much.

Sep 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox

Well here we are again. The first day of Fall. Now, normally I look desperately forward to the first days of Autumn. Usually those days herald a change from the blistering heat and drenching humidity of August and still uncomfortably hot and humid days of early September. They are something I dream about as I watch the garden crisp.
This year is different. This year the Summer was painfully slow in arriving. Damp and dreary June, followed by a cool and blight filled July, made for a slow vegetable season. True, I have been slowly harvesting tomatoes, and the zukes were tasty even though they were bug plagued and not all that prolific, and cukes were plentiful enough for eating and pickling. Not the heat inspired Vegetable bonanza I am accustomed to, but not too shabby either.

Tomatoes are still coming in , but they are trickling in, not tumbling in. That is the first real Autumn sign for me. The next signal will be when I sit down with my gardening notebooks and write down my final thoughts on this years tomatoes. The 'Tomatoes on Parade' posting is usually my Summer Swan Song. And it is coming soon.

But until then I intend to thoroughly enjoy the fruits of my Summer....even if it is quickly fading.

Stay tuned for the 'Tomatoes on Parade' posting

Sep 8, 2009

Volunteer Plants Really Step it Up in the Garden

The volunteers went crazy this year.

I am usually the one sitting in front of my monitor totally green with envy when all you good folks talk about rogue tomatoes and masses of mint and tomatillos taking over. I am jealous because in a normal year I have NO surprises. Nope , not a one.

This year is a different story. While I have been stripping dead leaves and branches off my poor blighted tomatoes. Hoping and praying that he fruit will be usable...and reminding myself that it isn't my fault and there is always next season. The volunteers have been chugging along. Warming me to the cockles of my heart. Please don't ask me what a cockle is though.....

My bowling ball sized pumpkin. It has been orange for about a month now...I am in complete love with this squash. It went thru hell and high water to survive...we cracked the vine , squirrels attacked it...we split the vine a second time...and yet here it is proud and orange just hardening off waiting to be part of my Halloween display. Then ultimately giving itself over to the Thanksgiving table in pie form. What a trooper! To think...I didn't even plant this.
Hard to see here, but those are wonderful 'Olena Ukrainian' Tomatoes. The fruits are growing huge this year. From the two fruit I have eaten from this one plant so far, they are 100% tastier than last season, when I actually planted them. Very juicy and silken and traditionally tomato in flavor with a hint of sweet...oh yum. There are still about a dozen or so tomatoes on the one plant I kept...and they are doing pretty well blight far(knock wood)Plus I had about 40 or 50 seedlings that I was able to give away. Got to love those tomato volunteers.

Even harder to see here is a lonely 'Sun Sugar' Tomato growing in amongst the cucumbers and Sweet Peppers. I guess when I was adding kitchen scraps to this newly made , haphazard lasagna garden, the seeds went in. They are not nearly as prolific as the plant I grew last year, but who cares it grew all on it's own so even one little cherry is putting me up a notch on the harvest scale.

A squash vine growing out of the compost...I believe it is a pumpkin(don't mind the powdery mildew, rain happens). I cant be sure though because the one little fruit in the end that may or may not have been pollinated is kind of Pumpkin shaped but until it gets a chance to grow a bit more I wont know for sure...unless of course it is part of the larger vine behind it ...then it is most definitely a pumpkin as there is a fruit on that about grapefruit size and one about plum size at the moment( I am crossing my fingers that they make it before a hard frost.)

Another squash growing out of the compost pile. I am almost sure this one is going to be a 'Delicata'. I bought a few of those last season so it is very probable that a seed or two made it into the pile. That oblong white fruit in the center of the picture is about 5 inches long.There is another fruit on the vine that is not quite as far along but is at least 6 inches long and a little thicker. I love 'Delicatas' so I am hoping that this is what they are...Mmmmm....roasted squash with brown sugar and cloves ....Mmmmmmm.

All in all, it has been a frustrating year in some aspects, but highly rewarding none the less. Well....that's gardening for you.

Aug 24, 2009

Nature Retaliates

Today I decided to take control of my ever expanding berry bramble.....silly me.

Any one who knows me, knows that I like things that grow without too much interference from me. So of course blueberry bushes work well, as do... oh say... tomatoes, peppers and eggplants...cucumbers and squashes...herbs. You know , things that take my babying during the bleak Winter months, but pretty much aside from a little fertilising with Neptune's Harvest, or another type of fishy fertiliser do their own thing til its time for me to pick the goodies. Okay , maybe there is a bit more to it than that, specially during seasons as crappy as this one started out. First the Aphids, then the Hornworms and Squash Vine maybe Late Blight and monster weeds....but I digress.

So I went out to 'trim' my Raspberries. What a mess....and if you were paying attention, you have figured out that I haven't pruned, them other than to remove a dead cane here or there...well....since I planted them. So I can honestly say they are pretty brambled...and mighty thorny, and a little daunting.
Thus Nature Retaliates. Retaliating by cutting me up, making me bob and weave out of the way of flying canes....and actually being almost knocked out by a frantic Cicada that I guess likes my Berry Bramble the way it is.

Needless to say, after a few hours of sun making me dizzy, thorns making me prickly, scratchy and itchy...and cicadas trying to bean me in the head. I quit. My bramble is still just that, a bramble. It is a tad tidier. Definitely much safer to walk around, but as the Golden's are just starting to ripen their second flush of fruit, I will wait to finish it for the cooler less cicada filled Autumn months. Believe me , it will never be as neat and wonderfully symmetrical as I picture when I close my eyes and daydream. But it will be better....I hope.

And for anyone who has Raspberries and wants to know how to prune the canes the right way...her is a link:
Pruning up your Berries

Aug 20, 2009

Horrors for the Hornworms

Well it seems as if there was a third hungry Hornworm roaming around in my Tomato patch. I had suspected as much when I found some munched on foliage and a gnawed on baby fruit. Since that was the extent of the damage I crossed my fingers that Hornworm number two was the culprit and I put it out of my I really don't like to dwell on those ginormous caterpillars too much.
Lucky for me a Mommy to be Braconid Wasp found Mr. Hornworm number three for me. Those are the baby wasp cocoons you see there on the worms back. After a little examining it appeared to me that the baby wasps have done their jobs and flown the nest(so to speak)....but just to be on the safe side I am going to put the whole mess back into the garden tomorrow so if there are any wasps left they know where to call home.
What a neat surprise.

Here is a link for more information on the Braconid Wasp.

Braconid Wasp

Aug 16, 2009

Green Thumb Sunday

Second one so far this season....hope it is the last one this season. I am getting a bit tired of all of the obstacles between me and a beautiful veggie garden this year!

Aug 2, 2009

Green Thumb Sunday

I planted this beauty of a Daylily earlier this Spring and figured I wouldn't see any blooms from it until next season. The place I bought it from had it labeled as 'Bailey Hay' so I am totally glad it bloomed this year and in time for me to find out that it was definitely NOT 'Bailey Hay' and with plenty of time for me to find out that it is really a 'Siloam June Bug'. Okay, so maybe I didn't plan on a June Bug in the garden....but I am happy it's here.

Jul 23, 2009

The Great Taro Experiment

Well....It has been months since I last posted about my sickly Taro. And I guess I should apologise. I am sorry, I left you guys out of the Taro loop. I really didn't think the plant would last beyond being put out into my less than tropical New England yard. Of course the year I play with tropical goodies beyond my durable citrus, it decides to be the dampest coolest Season opener in a dogs age.

So for all of you who are still curious as to whether Taro can grow in New England. And those of you who want to try their hand at fresh Taro Chip.....gahhhh...Taro Chips ....(picture Homer Simpson)....I believe that yes...yes you can grow Taro in New England....and yes even when New England is cool and overcast and damp, you can have Taro chips! Well you can have these things providing that the sun eventually does come out and warms the world a bit.

Here is my proof.....

I took this shot on Sunday...and as of today there is another humongoid leave standing proudly in the middle of the plant. I am thinking I should have put something in the picture for size reference....oh time :)

....Mmmmmm Taro Chips...........

Jul 18, 2009

The Veggie Season Begins for Real

It's not alot, but I am proud of my first real harvest of Summer Veggies. We have already enjoyed radishes in the Spring and Snow Peas as well, but I always feel that the Harvest really starts with the picking of the Cukes and Tomatoes. Granted these are just the earliest of cherry tomatoes, but since I haven't had a tomato since last Fall, I am drooling over these luscious looking little 'Whippersnappers'. They will become part of a small salad tomorrow along with those three pickling cucumbers, 3 runner beans...that I really grew for their beautiful flowers but I cant resist those tasty pods, 2 Yellow Wax row of beans was almost devoured by some unknown critter, but about 5 vines lived so it is going to be a bean here a bean there this year. Maybe a small onion or two, if I break down and dig them tomorrow, early for sure, but just for the salad....and finally a little bit of lettuce that is growing among the corn. It will no doubt be the best salad I and my family have had in a long time.

As for the 'Whippersnappers', you will have to wait until my Fall blog for the final taste results when I do my 'Tomatoes on Parade 2009' posting. But until then I can tell you that these little plants are real troopers. They survived the cold and damp of May and June. They laughed at my accidentally planting them in hanging baskets of straight Pro-Mix(Love that Pro-mix,and I did finally amend that with a little slow release fertilizer sprinkled on the surface , and regular watering with Fish Emulsion). They threw off the damage of an invasion of aphids. They withstood being let to wilt every day after the rain dried up. And they shrugged off me picking off the yellow nasty leaves those aphids left behind. I hope they taste as good as they grow.

*I had the salad....and man, after almost 9 months with no fresh Summer Veggies, I must say that the salad was divine!*

Jul 8, 2009

Bursting with Berries

This was a shot of last weeks typical every other day Black Raspberry harvest, minus my munching in the berry patch. The pace has slowed down considerably since, and I maybe have only one or two more full bowls left worth of Blacks out there. And maybe one bowl of Golden Raspberries as well. Although, the Golden Raspberries have been few , the larger harvest for them will be coming later in the season on the new canes...I had some trouble with those everything else this Summer..... and will not see as large a harvest as I should, but the Goldens are more of a novelty, and the Black Raspberries are more the mainstay of my berry patch so I am still pleased as punch with the season so far.

My daughter has finally had her fill of the berries for the Summer....not me LOL.... She ate them by the bowlful fresh out of the garden, and then dipped into my freezer supply to make herself Triple Berry Smoothies out of the Raspberries and some Strawberries and Blueberries I have stored away in the freezer for later use(even tho they are a little seedy for me, those smoothies she makes are to die for, and I might ask her to guest blog the recipe here). Luckily I still have enough in the freezer to make a batch of jam come the Fall and the onset of colder days. Let me tell you, there is nothing like warming the house up by making a batch of Raspberry Jam...the aroma is out of this world!!

Once the berry season is over for good , I will have to hold myself to pruning them hard to keep the from taking over the world. It pains me to do so, but they are making their escape out into the road next to my yard....

Jul 2, 2009

Around the Garden

Well the weather has finally started co-operating a bit. There have been a few days were there has been more sun than clouds, and the temperature has gotten up above °70 on those days too, and that is a big plus.
In the big garden the tomatoes are finally flowering and a few even have little baby tomatoes growing.I have also noticed a bit of blossom drop. This is a first for me, and seeing that the weather has not been very hot, I have no clue what is doing it. Although in all reality I have never watched as closely as I am watching this year so this may be a normal occurrence in the garden. All in all, I have said to myself many times this year that if I even harvest 1 tomato per plant I will be thankful. I attribute this general less than hopeful feeling to how the weather and the killer aphids have wrecked havoc on the plants. I really hope that everything plays catch up over the next handful of days and I can look forward to canning up dozens of jars of sauce....but I am not holding my breath.
Also coming along in the big garden are the zucchini. I planted a variety called Parthenon for the third time this year, and for the third time it looks like I will be harvesting zucchini. Now this may sound strange to some, but before I found this particular variety I could not for the life of me get zukes to do their thing. Most people have to dress in black and creep under the cover of darkness leaving their zukes all around the neighborhood, like a reverse cat burglar. But not me. Nope. I am the scourge of anything summer squash. Not with Parthenon though!

Around the rest of the gardening yard, I have been starting to pick my Black Raspberries in earnest. We eat about half of a cereal bowlful in the morning and then I freeze around the same amount for jamming in the Fall. The berries will be coming in full force by the beginning of next week, then I may have to make some Raspberry shortcake...yum! I am thinking that this is going to be the year I have to aggressively prune back my berry is getting too tall and mighty rowdy. Can't have a rowdy bunch of berries now can we.

The wild blueberries are bluing up, but I am having a hard time beating the birds to them. The regular blueberries look as if they want to start bluing up but just cant make up their minds.

The Pole Beans are still trying to overcome the damage made to them by the mystery bug. The Yardlong beans are just waiting patiently for hot Summer weather to finally grace us with its presence. Also, I have this runner bean that is absolutely covered in gorgeous bright red flowers, and growing like nobodies business. It is a variety called 'Insuks Wang Kong' Runner Bean. I received this bean from a very generous gentleman whose wife the bean is named for. I wasn't going to plant it this season, but I took a shot as I have heard such good things about it, and man am I glad I did. Now I cant wait to eat them .I will get a picture of them up soon.

The corn is starting to actually hasn't reached knee height yet, but it's growing. The Tomatillos are covered in blossoms, as are the extremely stunted cucumbers. I even spied a few baby cukes, that makes me extraordinarily happy. I don't think I will have enough to pickle, but seeing as there are still about a dozen jars of dills left from last year I think a year off from pickling might not be a problem. The Edamame have had a tough go of it because of squirrels. I had to replant the seeds three times already, and now they are finally taking off ...but Arghh (picture me ripping out my hair) I have had enough of them darned squirrels this year. The watermelon flopped...too cold for them this Spring(must make note to start them inside next season), and the three sad tiny cantaloupe seedlings are down to one sad 4 inch tall seedling...squirrels again ARGHH (Again note for inside start)

The peppers and Eggplants are in various states of growth. The Poblanos are big and flowering. The sweet cherries are next in line with a batch of nice buds. The Cubanelles and Bananas are still trying to catch up, and the Habeneros and Lemon Drops are waiting on the hot weather along with the yardlong beans. Eggplant has only done well for me once, but I keep trying anyways. This is not looking to be a good eggplant year for me.

In the pumpkin patch , the winter squash vines are small but thriving, and the area where there would have been Cinderella pumpkins now has stunted Brussels Sprouts. To my surprise I do have one pumpkin growing big and strong, and as of this morning I believe it is sporting a newly pollinated pumpkin. Of course I have no clue how the plant got where it is. Oddly enough it is growing in my horseradish patch. I didn't amend that soil this year , or last year either, so maybe a dreaded squirrel planted that seed....maybe....and maybe that is why I pull my hair out but still tolerate those furry menaces. But they had better stop eating my baby apples.

Jun 17, 2009

June is Busting Out All Over

Looks like the Whippersnapper will be the first over the finish line this season! With all of the rain we have been having, and the general lack of sun or warmth, I have my doubts about this season altogether. At least I know that these three little guys are going to tough it out. I am however worried about the state of the 3 Whippersnapper plants themselves ....they are already tightly rooted in their hanging baskets even though they were recommended as a good hanging basket variety. I am finding it hard to keep up on their water requirements as I am not used to watering every day....but I will definitely try harder to remember and to grow used to this amount of watering. I really like the decorative look with all of the functionality.

I am so happy to see the few bunches of Blueberries gracing my sad little bush. I am truly ashamed to admit that last season, the second season for this bush being in my yard, I totally forgot to water it during the driest hottest part of the summer. Needless to say I lost half of the bush, and had little hope of any meaningful recovery or growth, not to mention any type of harvest. But here we are looking at at least enough berries to make a batch of muffins and have a few left over for on top of yogurt or cereal or to even snack on while planning on making muffins...oh I can hardly wait.

My other Blueberry bush, a lovely wild one that my father brought home years ago, and who was lovingly transplanted into my garden when he and my mother sold their home, is pretty sad on the cropping front this year. I don't know why as it was absolutely covered in blossoms earlier this Spring, but the berries are few. Oh well , not every season can be stellar.

This Raspberry season looks stellar though .It is hard to tell by this picture, but the Black Raspberry is dripping with fruit just waiting to ripen. I am already full of visions of jam and pie. Just a few more weeks and my fingers(and face) will be purple for a week for sure.

Jun 12, 2009

Who Made the Garden 2009 *Update*

Just a quick update for the "Who Made the Garden" post. I will be adding another variety to the list of tomatoes in the garden for the 2009 season- Cherokee Green

This lovely tomato plant was a gift from a new gardening pal who stopped by my garden this past Friday. I met her thru a gardening site that I frequent by the name of Gardenweb. The 'Tomato' Forum of that site is just filled to the brim with informative postings of just about everything tomato, and the rest of the veggie and plant forums that are there are just as inspiring. Also, there are a huge bunch of wonderfully knowledgeable people to connect with who love gardening and farming,that is a huge plus right there. If you haven't stopped by that site, you should(and no I am not being endorsed by them to say this, I just love the site).....but I digress.... We had a really nice visit, and it was refreshing having someone around that actually appreciates the art of veggie gardening.

So I am now the proud Momma of a beautiful Cherokee Green, and I can hardly wait to get it into the garden and onto this seasons Tomato List.

Jun 8, 2009

Summery Scapes

I always feel closer to Summer after the Garlic Scapes are harvested and enjoyed. And this afternoon was no disappointment. There were more scapes this season than last, but I am not complaining at all. Not even one little hint of complaint. I was initially going to reserve a few for later and cut up the remainder into 1" or 2" lengths and add them sauteed to other veggies, but after looking at them all afternoon I couldn't help myself, and I ended up sauteing them all up for dinner.

First They were lightly blanched in boiling salted water for maybe 2 minutes.

Then they were quickly shocked in cold water to keep them crisp and refreshed. Then it was on to the saute pan in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a little Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. They only spent a few minutes in the pan getting hot and a tiny bit of caramel color in a few spots. Then I plated them up and finished them up with a splash of really fine Manicardi Balsamic Vinegar Acetaia 21(yum).

There should be a third picture, right here, of the finished Scapes....but we ended up eating them all as soon as they were done. Of course I realised after the fact that I hadn't taken a picture. Oh well...there is always next season.

Those Scapes were divine.

*edited to reflect that these are Garlic Scapes

May 30, 2009

Who Made the Garden 2009

So the time for garden role call has finally arrived for 2009. It was touch and go for a while, but I believe the list is set. Two new accomplishments this season would be, number one, my lack of total panic that is classically followed by the ritual tossing of any sick looking seedlings. Nope....not this season....this season I held onto my sanity and isolated any sick looking babies, and lo and behold most of them grew out of whatever me and the environment had to throw at them. And number two, finally being able to plant my entire tomato garden from my own seedling stock. No store bought starts for me this season. I even had enough plants to give away , and to tuck into stray areas of my flower bed. Even after all of that I still have a few in need of good homes, and I am thinking they will find them at our Community Garden to help fill the local food pantry.

As far as my listing goes, I will leave off the major descriptions and critiques until the Tomatoes on Parade posting in September. For now I will post a basic description if I have one.

So without any further ado...the tomatoes of 2009:

First the cherries.

Whippersnapper - This is a small plant suitable for baskets and pots. The fruit is supposed to be pinkish-red small and oval-ish.

I happened to take a picture of one of my baskets this weekend. I am really pleased with how durable this little guy is.

Green Grape
-This cherry tomato gives a high yield of green fruits with an amber blush when ripe, inside is neon green, thick foliage, very tiny seeds. This variety was bred by Tom Wagner.

Bertucci's Red Grape - Okay, first things first...there is NO VARIETY BY THE NAME BERTUCCI'S RED GRAPE
I only call this plant by that name because I obtained the seeds from a tomato I ate in a salad at the Restaurant that bears the name. Ok so the name says it all, the fruit was a grape shaped red tomato. I only saved the seeds because it was one of a very few tomatoes that I have ever eaten out of season that was even remotely palatable. So I figure ...what the heck, let me see what I get when it actually is tomato season. For all I know it will end up being a big tasteless slicer....but hey , I have the room so I am giving it a shot.

Alyx Little Yellow Sun - I haven't seen much information about this variety out there, and I ordered it based on name alone( It is a long story). But from what I understand this is a yellow cherry. I know, not much to go on there....sorry.

Paste types

Opalka - I have heard a lot of good things about this tomato. The fruits are 3 to 5 inches long, fat and usually with a knob at the blossom end. This tomato originated in Poland.

And Finally

Black Krim - Medium to large,beefsteak shaped reddish-black fruits. From the Island of Krim on the Black Sea.

Brown's Jubilee - As soon as I know what type this is...I will let you know.

Dona - This is a French market variety. It bears smallish, 4-6 ounce slightly oblate shiny red fruit. They are supposed to be very balanced in flavor.

Evergreen - Medium sized, oblate green fruits with an amber blush. I usually love the taste of green when ripes....I hope this one is as juicy and sweet as the others I have tried.

Gregory - I have been informed that this may actually be Gregori's Altais renamed....but there is no way to know for sure. So since I received it as Gregory, I am keeping it as Gregory. However I have no clue what so ever how this tomato will turn out.

Mr. Brown's - Of course I lost all my information on this one. And of course I cant find any info online. I do think I remember being told this is a pink beefsteak. At least I think that is what I remember.....

Orange Strawberry - I am really looking forward to these 8 to 16 oz heart shaped tomatoes. They turn deep orange when mature. A heirloom variety from the USA. Indeterminate.

Primrose Gage
- The primrose-yellow fruit are about the size of a golf ball, with soft, almost velvety skin. Supposedly this variety was collected in 1931 from Dobbie & Company, Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland.

*Updated to add*

Cherokee Green - Collector Craig LeHoullier writes, "In 1997, I grew out Cherokee Chocolate from another seed saver. One plant gave me fruit that stayed green when ripe with delicious flavor. Suspecting it was a cross, it has nonetheless proven to come true from saved seed, indicating that it may be a mutation. It is essentially like Cherokee Purple or Cherokee Chocolate in plant habit, fruit shape and size and flavor, but the interior ripens bright green and the skin takes on a yellowish hue when ripe."

Funny how quickly time starts to fly once the Summer months roll around....but I still can hardly wait for that first fresh tomato.

May 29, 2009

Green Thumb Sunday

I absolutely adore this Iris.

I haven't the foggiest notion what the variety is, and every year all but one stem faces my neighbors driveway....but I do love her delicate pink and luscious peach petals. What a show-off!

*I can't find the cord to charge my camera , so pictures for the time being will be a bit grainy as I am taking them with my phone...Thanks for understanding my scatter-brained-ness.

**I posted this a day early so I wouldn't forget about posting. I am worrying myself to death over a Jury Duty date on Monday and figured my aforementioned scatter-brained-ness might again rear it's ugly head...Thank you again for understanding

May 21, 2009

Radiant , Radical...Radishes

radishes on the left: German Giant ........ radishes on the right:Sparkler

This is the first year....and I mean the first year ever, that radishes have been viable in my garden. And all I can say is....Oh the joy...oh the rapture.... oh the glory of spicy radish-y goodness. That being said, I can also confidently say that there is nothing more satisfying and soul soothing, than the first fruit or veggie out of the garden gracing the dinner table.

So from now on, radishes will have a place in my vegetable patch.
I will admit, this first radish triumph was from an everyday and ordinary sort of peppery good radish. But I am hooked. Sooooo....I vow to try more exotic and luscious varieties in the near future. I am on to bigger and better bulbs. Roots of black, white, pink and the winter wonderful types. My motto will forever root left behind.

Now hows that for radish devotion.

May 18, 2009

Wow...I wasn't expecting the over night temperature to be so low in mid-May. But there you go...37 degrees Fahrenheit tonight, and 33 for tomorrow. I'm glad that I held off planting my tomatoes. Its been a rough enough year with them as it is, what with the cool and damp for weeks at a time.
The peppers are in, but there are only a dozen or so of them, and they are all snuggled comfortably under pots for the night. I am keeping my fingers crossed, as this is the first time in the 20 years I have had a veggie garden that a freeze has become an issue for me. And please do not try to figure out my age by that past statement....I am in no way even close to being older than dirt.
I am listening to my weather guy, and very hopeful that after tonight things will go smoothly I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed, and unless the 8 day forecast changes drastically over the next two days, my tomatoes will make their garden debut on Tuesday or Wednesday, then I will post the varieties that made the final 2009 cut right afterwards...I am soooo looking forward to a nice ripe 'mater.

*EDITED Monday: the above was supposed to be posted Sunday night, but due to teenagers in the house I was unable to secure computer time....however, tonight there is a freeze warning for inland areas around me, so this posting is just as valid today as it was yesterday*

May 7, 2009

Rain, Rain ....Go Away

You would never catch that phrase coming out of my mouth in the heat of August when the lawn is browner than my favorite chocolate cake. But today is somewhere around the 8th day that has had some sort of rain or drizzle-y gloominess. My tomatoes are definitely worse for the saturated air....and truthfully , so am I. Saturday there was a short period of sun, but of course that was followed by a rainy Sunday. Monday was spotty drizzle, but dry long enough for me to get out and fuss with my seedlings, and by the way my tomatoes looked pretty good then. Tuesday was another grey day followed up with less drizzle and more serious rain, which of course splashed driveway dirt and sand up onto my seedlings. Yesterday started out with showers, but by afternoon the sun managed to peak out from behind the clouds off and I was hopeful the maters would get a good chance to dry off. That was when I noticed all of the water logged spots on a few of the varieties. Then of course once the sun went down the rain came back, and although my local meteorologist claimed that we would have afternoon clearing, here it is 2:40 in the P.M. and it still is as grey as an elephants rear out my front window(out the back window too for anyone who wants to get specific)....I don't think I can take much more of this.

This is my third year growing my own plants from my own seeds, and the second year in a row with issues....sheesh. But I am going to be much more optimistic this year than I was last year when I threw away many seedlings that very well may have outgrown their wilty-ness and become viable plants. So I have isolated the plants that are most spotted, and am crossing my fingers for the rest. Now I am no expert, and I probably have a host of damp/cold related fungus and bacteria on my precious plants, but I am hoping that this is just weather related nastiness and the plants will grow out of it once the sun comes back for a more prolonged period of time and I can actually get them into the garden. Come on rain ....take a week off , will ya?!?!

Cross your fingers for me too!!

May 3, 2009

Green Thumb Sunday

I haven't posted on Green Thumb Sunday in a long , long long time. But now that Spring has Sprung I feel the urge.

Here is a pretty interesting moth that fluttered to the ground in front of me last weekend. I thought at firs it was an old brown leaf from one of the busshes or off the tree above me...until I realised there was no breeze or leaves fluttering around, and the flutter had purpose.

Happy Green Thumb Sunday!!

Apr 21, 2009

Earth Day Inspiration

Earth Day is tomorrow. In celebration of this day of awareness and inspiration for the health of our planet, let's all get out and plant a tree. If you can't plant a tree how about a flower....or even a few seeds. It all helps, and it's all a step in the right direction. With the state of our economy circling the bowl, a few veggie seeds sown tomorrow to celebrate will reward you in a couple of months with a healthier planet Earth and a lower grocery bill, let's all go and grow!!

Now if you want some real inspiration, read the following post that I have copied form a wonderful site called 'GardenWeb'...this young man is really on the right track. So let's all help him out and plant a pack of seeds.

April 2009
Earth Day is April 22, 2009. I want to see if 10,000 people can plant a package of some type of seeds on that one day.
Growing a plant helps a lot of ways. Some plants give us food. It feels good to grow something that you can later eat. Some plants make us feel good to look at them. They are just pretty. Plants give us oxygen. Plants help clean the air by taking CO2 from our cars and other pollutants out of the air. Plants also help stop erosion by holding soil in place.
You can help this project in two ways. First, plant a pack of seeds on April 22, 2009. It doesn’t matter what the seeds are, just plant them.
Second, would you give some seeds to a kid to plant at their home? If 200 people across the country would give out 50 packs of seeds, that would be 10,000 packs. If you are like my dad, he has more seeds than he will ever plant. He already said he would give 50 packs of seeds.
If you don’t have extra seeds, you can buy them at the various $1 stores for 10 packs for a $1. So, $5 would give you 50 packs.
What do you do with your 50 packs? Bring them to a school and give them to the office and ask them to give them out to two classrooms and ask them to take them home and plant them that day.
Ok, 10,000 packs of seeds in one day. It will probably only take 15 short minutes to put your soil in a pot, move it to the right spot and plant your seeds. If you are going to put then in the ground, it will take around 15 minutes. If 10,000 packs of seeds were planted in one day, that means we just spent 2500 hours to help our environment.
How will I know if you helped? I have two ways you can tell me. I made a folder on where you can upload a picture of you planting your seeds. Just tell me what kind of seeds you planted in the description. Here is the link to post a picture.
I have also made a discussion forum on under the round robin section. You can post a discussion on what kind of seed you planted and/or how many seeds you gave away and who you gave your seeds to. Just post a follow up to this post.
Can someone help by telling others on different boards about this project? We can do it in two days! I know we can.
Pass this email out to EVERYONE as soon as possible. I would like to know if 10,000 packs of seeds were planted in one day. Thank you.

Matt Case,
Troop 532
Hornaday Award Candidate
Old North State Council

Here is a link to the complete thread:

Apr 15, 2009

As the Tomato Grows...and other assorted green news

So far so good with the tomato trials and tribulations. The wilting has slowed to a few plants every so often, so in essence is almost done(although it pains me to write this because I don't want to jinx now I am off to knock on wood). Even still, if I did jinx myself, considering the amount of over-sowing I always do, I should have enough seedlings to be happy. On another plus side at least 50% of the wilty babes are still hanging in there, and if all goes well , will recover once they go outside to harden in about 2 and a half weeks. I have also really narrowed it all down to my letting the seedlings go too dry between watering. I do try to go by the rule of thumb, water when the soil feels dry to the touch an inch or two below the surface. Well this is all well and good with a big established plant, but not such good advice with a little Styrofoam cup of baby tomato. So a little more creativity is in order. Now I am going by weight of the cup, as well as sliding the plant(soil included of course) from each cup to determine complete dryness. Another way to be certain of soil moisture is to utilise Soil Moisture Probes and Meters, but I am not that technologically inclined.

On another front, my Taro is still growing strong and has been a real pleasure to grow. Once it started to sprout there was really not much left to do other than keep it watered like any other house plant and turn it every so often to let both sides enjoy the sun.
Well there was one cats....they seem to think the Taro is their second cat box. If this was just a houseplant I would probably just laugh it off after rinsing thoroughly...but as this is a root vegetable, I really don't like the idea of the cats flavoring it for me. Plus I don't think cat urine is a flavor that will catch on. So after the second trip into the shower for Taro detoxification(and the pot is pretty heavy when the soil is damp)I decided to lock it up in the seedling room.
Now to construct a screen that will fit over the soil and convince the cats that this is not their tropical retreat....

Ah...the joys of plantdom.....

Apr 7, 2009

Tomato Seedling Update

I am having that same wilting /dying problem that I had with my tomato babes last season.

When this happened to me last year, I was sure it was the soil I used for transplanting, maybe it stayed to wet for my babies. Then someone put the bug in my ear so I was absolutely certain I had Fusarium Wilt, I proceeded to throw out all of the wilty seedlings, the leftover seeds of the wilted varieties and the soil I had used for transplanting. Then thru a veil of tears I scrubbed my entire seed room down with a stiff bleach and water solution and labeled myself a failure. about 4 weeks later I still had about 11 transplants to plant out out of my original 50 or so plants....but I was happy for those .

.....Fast forward almost 1 year to the date that this all starts happening. I know I don't have a water retention problem...I know I do let them go a little dry between watering, but the old timers and experts I have talked to say this is the best way to water.It still could be the watering , they could be getting too dry for too long(I didn't think this was the case, but one never knows) I am absolutely certain that this IS NOT fusarium no raw bleachy hands for me ...thank you very much! The last two things I can think of are, 1- I am planting my seeds 3-4 weeks too early.It just seems like too much of a coincidence that they start acting up around the 6 week mark....if I had planted them later it would only be a week or two before they would be planted out, and I think I could save 75% of them, and for me that is a good quantity. Or 2- my house is just unsuitable for tomato seedlings. I am betting on scenario number 1 . It seems that the only issue I had with the 2007 seedlings was sun scald...and that was a faux pax on my end....I planted them mid March.

So it seems that I will be sowing my seeds a few weeks later in 2010....and if that doesn't help....I am going to find myself a good local supplier of Heirloom Tomato Transplants.....

Mar 30, 2009

Tomato Choices 2009

I have been having some trouble sleeping lately. I don't know exactly what it is, but I find myself getting drowsy at a normal hour, but as soon as I try to fall asleep, I start getting uncomfortable and restless. Now, I am sure you are scratching your head and wondering exactly when I went around the bend, being that this is a Tomato posting..... and what exactly does my lack of sleep have to do with tomatoes. Well it has a whole lot to do with tomatoes. You see....I use my variety of planted tomatoes the way other people use counting sheep. I lay still and envision all the different varieties the way they will be when early August rolls around. The only problem with that method of lulla-bying is that occasionally I get such a craving for a garden tomato that I end up more awake than asleep....but that is just the chance I have to take.

Now, putting all sleep problems aside, I finally finished potting up my tomato seedlings today. Ahh, what an intense feeling of satisfaction. So now the time has come around again to introduce the varieties that made the cut.

Tomatoes 2009:

Mr. Brown's
Brown's Jubilee
Alyx Little Sun
Primrose Gage
Orange Strawberry
Black Krim
San Marzano
Green Grape
Red Grape(from seed of a tomato I took home from a Bertucci's Restaurant 2 years ago)

Other Veggies:
Eggplant 'Black Beauty'
Tomatillo 'Mexican'
Tomatillo (wild Spanish type)
Artichoke 'Romanesco'
Pepper 'Habanero White'
Pepper 'Poblano Meek and Mild'
Pepper 'Lemon Drop'
Pepper 'Sweet Banana'
Pepper 'Sweet Cherry'
Pepper 'Cubanelle'
Basil 'Sweet Green'
Basil 'Lemon'
Basil 'Lime'

There are some other seeds that I have sown that either haven't germinated(and I am afraid they never will) or that I am trying to germinate using the Winter Sowing method. Once I see that there has been some germinating, I will post again about them. I also am going to hold back on the tomato variety descriptions until they actually make it into the garden. I have had failures in the past between germination and hardening off, so I don't want to jinx things.

These are the hopefuls for the 2009 season. I will update as things progress and then finish up with a Tomatoes on Parade 2009 ...of course that is a long , long way away.

So, what is everyone growing in their garden this season??

Mar 20, 2009

Spring has Sprung!!!

WoooHooo it has finally come again! Spring...glorious Spring!! My crocus(crocuses...croci....?!?!?!) are starting to bloom, my Rhubarb is poking upwards and the daffodilly's are budding up. And the snow is flying can this be!?!?!?!Yup, snow...thank garden it was just flurries and didn't stick, but man....what a way to put the damper on the Vernal Equinox festivities.
All in all, and snow showers aside, the Earth around Southern New England waking up again. Slowly to be sure, but slow wakening is a mighty fine thing after a snowy, sleety cold Winter....brrrr....

Now I am off to pot up my Tomato sprouts, truthfully I was a little worried that this day wouldn't come this season. However, since my little seeds have decided to co-operate after all, the next blog will be my 'Tomato Choices 2009'

For now I bid you.....


Mar 9, 2009

The Great Taro Experiment

As I mentioned in the previous posting, my seed/storage room....also known as the junk room....stayed much colder this past Winter than it has in previous seasons. I don't know if it had anything to do with the fact that this Winter seemed to stay consistently colder for longer stretches of time, or if the radiator in there is not as trusty as it was in it's prime. But whatever the cause, the Taro did not like the climate.

Now that the days are getting longer , and the mercury is creeping up...well occasionally creeping up....the Taro has come slightly out of it's slump and looks like it will hang on long enough for the last frost date in mid May and a place out in the Sun. Ahhhhh the glorious Sun....just thinking about it makes me giggle like a nutcase!

So, I wont declare the Great Taro Experiment a success yet, as I have a long road ahead of me before a corm will be ready for harvest, and Taro Chips fried. Of course, the real measure of success for me is if I have a huli to plant for my next years corm to grow from. The Huli is the top inch of the corm with its foliage removed. This is then re-planted, and grows the new corm, develops new leaves, and another batch of Taro chips... uh um.... I mean another corm and plant continues. For now I am keeping my fingers crossed that there are Taro chips somewhere in my future.That makes me giggle like a nutcase as well.

Did I mention anywhere that I really like Taro Chips???

Mar 4, 2009

It's Been a Long Winter

I really have neglected this blog throughout the Winter. I know I did, I knew it when I was doing it, and yet.....I couldn't seem to stop myself. Or more correctly, start myself. As in start myself blogging about summery things, when all around me, snow, sleet and ice seemed to hold onto every bit of anything it could.

Well so far nothing has changed, it seemed like it had, but as of Monday another 8-9 inches of snow decided to take up residency in my veggie garden. Oh well...what can you do. At least I have been able to concentrate on categorizing my seeds.

I do intend to update on my seed happenings, but because of a slow start to germination this year, I am holding off on my "Seed Starting Time '09 ' posting because I am not entirely sure that those seeds that I have sown are going to survive. It has been colder than I anticipated in my seed room, and the seed starter I used soaked up way more water that it has in previous seasons and it refuses to dry(need to check to see if the manufacturer changed anything). I have spyed a few sprouts here and there, and I promise to update, with a list of whose growing this season as soon as things stabilise a bit.

I also failed to update on my great Taro experiment....and that is partly due to my lazy attitude this Winter, but mostly due to the fact that the Taro looked like a goner up until last week. I will try to get a good picture of it this weekend. I will even post a picture of it's not so pretty mostly dead looking side.

At any rate, here's to pretending Spring is around the bend!!

Jan 14, 2009

Joyous Jelly Day!!

Finally, I get to make jelly from my own home grown, completely organic, fruit.
While this may not seem monumental to most, and I do agree that the sun would rise tomorrow with me never having made my own jelly. However, with my frugal nature, this is epic.

So the story actually begins back three or four years ago when I found a Black Raspberry stick for sale at a discount store...I cannot remember for the life of me what store so I wont dwell. This was to be a companion for my already fairly established Golden Raspberry. I don't think I paid more than five dollars for it, and since it literally was just a few sticks, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The first year I was just happy it lived. The second I pretty much forgot about it, and the third we got a handful of berries and I was completely happy with even that.
Then Spring 2008 rolled around...the vines kicked into high gear and went crazy sprawling this way and that, and to my surprise the Black Raspberries decided that they would be more than just pricker bushes, and would actually go forth and prosper. And prosper is exactly what they did. From around the last few days of June thru the first week or two of July, every other morning, I was able to pick two cereal bowls full of berries. One bowl was for eating and the other went directly into the freezer for when the Winter blahs hit. Of course several bowl-fulls went to the little(and not so little) kids in my life, and a pint or two was savored at my Mom's 4th of July lunch. Up until now the remainder has slumbered in the deep freeze waiting.....

Well time goes by. July faded into August, and on to September. Then before you know it,I was looking at November and December. The frosty weather brought about the perfect conditions for cooking up those lovely berries. However with the hustle of the Winter Holidays, I was unable to turn my lovely mix of delicate gold and deep black berries into the jelly that I longed for and they were destined to become.

Until today.

Today is the start of some of the coldest weather yet to visit my area. So what better way to heat up my home a bit than to boil up some jelly. And boy, did I boil. Now, you would not believe how heady an aroma comes form one little pot of bubbling berries. The aroma of warm raspberries alone is reason enough to cook up a pot of jelly. Unfortunately for me, I only had enough fruit to make one batch, but it looks so good it brings a smile to my face and a growl in my belly. I took pictures, but of course I didn't think of taking pictures until the jars were already filled and processing in the Water Bath. So hopefully this coming season will see as plentiful a harvest so I can photograph all of the steamy fragrant steps to jelly joy.

Here is a picture of the berries starting to ripen last Summer:

I was told that they look like Cap'n Crunch Berries

The leftover pulp, right before it hit the compost:

Some empty jars just waiting for their turn to be filled:

Everybody is in the Bath...Five more minutes and they can come out:

All lined up waiting to be enjoyed:

Jan 11, 2009

Green Thumb Sunday

I am counting the moments until Spring arrives again. There was once a time when I dreaded the prospect of a hot and humid July and I look forward to those sultry months for the garden bounty that they bring. The mountains of tomatoes in every color shape and size imaginable...the crisp, cool cucumbers, the herbs of every flavor, crunchy-sweet or spicy-hot peppers in rainbow hues...oh ...garlic scapes curling toward the sun...I could go on and on.
Okay...I still dread the sticky-hot nights and the buzzy , bite-y mosquitoes....
But you know the veggies are divine.

For now I am in a garden limbo, pouring over my seeds and seed catalogs, suspended in a frozen world....Waiting.

Jan 5, 2009

Here's The Taro

It isn't the prettiest Taro in the World....but it is growing.For that matter it is growing in the middle of the Winter while the temperature outside hovers around freezing, and the snow we received New Years Eve continues to linger on the ground. So in my book it is the best little Taro planting ever!

Now...from what I understand ,Taro takes along time to grow.Once the leaves start to fully establish themselves , it should take another 4 months to grow a corm large enough to both be harvest-able for edible purposes and a huli or portion of the top of the corm,along with the crown, suitable to grow a new corm for the following season. I believe from huli to a corm of harvest size it could take up to 7months. Sooooo....I figure if I can just keep my little guy alive until the end of May the plant should actually be old enough, and large enough, to have a good sized corm ready before the end of the garden season in my area. Of course I know I started it too early, but I was totally excited to see it grow and I just had to have something in my plant/junk room to nurture. So I am crossing my fingers(You can cross yours for me just might help)and with a little luck I will not kill it, and I will even get a little reward for my troubles.

Right now I have two corms planted. Both have finally sprouted. The bigger leaved of the two plants is the one most visible in the picture. That one sprouted about three weeks in advance of it's littler brother, but I have faith in them both. I know that they like moisture and some people who grow them in colder regions, immerse their pots into garbage cans of water to mimic their more natural growing conditions. However I have also read that growing them in average soil kept moist is another option.I don't have the room for the type of set-up a water garden would require, so it is average soil for me .

That all being said, this is my very first time growing Taro. That means, this information is just from what I have gathered during my limited research. So none of this is 100% written in stone, and there may be things I am not quite understanding, or may be overlooking.But I am learning....and I promise to post all that I learn about this beautiful leafy and totally tasty plant.... right up until I thinly slice and deep fry the harvest.

More Taro Tales to come :) .....