Sunday, February 28, 2010

I've got leggy broccoli...

I'm starting broccoli from seed this year, the romanesco kind that looks more like pointy cauliflower. I started them last weekend-didn't check them on Wednesday and by Thursday they were 2" tall and looking really leggy. So here's my plan of action: 1 remove them from the heat mat (I forgot they are cold crops) 2 put aluminum foil tent over the light to reflect more light back on the plants 3 pot them up and prop up some of the stem with dirt-I totally realize this could backfire, I have more seed just in case. I started Basil and onions last week too. The peppers and eggplants are finally showing signs of life, I potted some of those up from the damp papertowel into newspaper pots. All in all things are coming along nicely.

I finshished getting all the tomato seeds in. I sent a SASE to and got a really nice variety back (as well as some Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seed). I'm totally psyched. I love free stuff! This is what I got:

JD's Special C-Tex:Exact history is not known for certain, but it is thought to be selected from a Brandywine x unknown black cross and stabilized by the late JD Whitaker in Conroe, TX.. We can speculate that somebody with a nursery grew some seeds out, and wrote down on the plant tag "JD's Special", probably omitting the "." after J and D. When that person saved seeds, he or she wrote down on the seed container "JD's Special C Tex", where C Tex refers to 'Conroe, TX'. Note: Special is an old American commercial naming technique. "Specials" usually refer to originally unique, custom versions of some standard product, or to "limited editions".

Pruden's Purple: Heirloom tomato, which dates to 19th century. SSE also lists a variety called Pruden's Purple, True Variety, which may be related to Pruden's Purple. Here is the description of the Pruden's Purple, True Variety in the SSE Yearbook: 6'6" indet., potato leaf type, exserted stigma, irregular shape, flat round pink fruit, green shoulders, 4.5" dia. X 2.5" high. Large blossom scar, radial cracking

Aunt Ruby's German Green:First introduced in the SSE 1993 Yearbook by Bill Minkey of Darien, Wisconsin (WI MI B). Bill Minkey received the seed from Nita Hofstrom of Clinton, Wisconsin, whose aunt, Ruby Arnold of Greeneville, TN, grew it for years. The seed originally came from Ruby Arnold's German immigrant grandfather, and Ruby simply called it 'German Green' tomato. Bill Minkey asked Ruby for permission to rename this variety and he called it 'Aunt Ruby's German Green' after Ruby Arnold

Dr. Carolyn Pink: A pink-fruited selection from Dr. Carolyn tomato. Carolyn Male received original seeds in 1999 from Robert Martin who found this pink version as a growout from seed of Dr. Carolyn purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in 1997

Green Grape: Bred by Tom Wagner, a private tomato and potato breeder and founder of Tater Mater Seed, who released it in 1978; this is the original selection by Tom Wagner. Cross of several heirlooms including Evergreen (not Yellow Pear)

Principe Borghese: Italian heirloom bred for sun-drying. Dates back to the 1910s.

Tigerella: A cross of Ailsa Craig with an unknown var., bred by the Glasshouse Research Inst. in England back in the 1930's. Tangella and Craigella are another two selections from the same cross

Absinthe: Alan Bishop cross of Emeraude X ARGG which was then crossed to Brandywine

I also got Tomatillo Verde seeds. I'm going to try to grow them in containers on the deck. Not sure if that's going to work or not.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Progress report and Tomato tally

The peppers aren't doing so great. Ahaheim's are doing fine, 4 or 5 have geriminated. The Jimmy Nardello's are getting moldy (new seed this year! Not happy.) Mulato Isleno might have 1 germinating-jury is still out. I think Chervena Chushka has one germinating too. I might get new seed, I really don't have any hot hot peppers. I'll give it a little more time then maybe get some more. I got some seed through trading this week: Arumagans Eggplant-Originally from Bakers Creek this is what they have to say about it: This variety produces an assortment of green, white and lavender fruit, many are striped. It is used in Tamil Nadu state in vegetable stews and curries, as well as stuffed. It was given to a traveler by the Arumugam family of Ambal, India, who have a small rice farm near the island of Karaikal. We are proud to offer this great little Indian eggplant.. I also got Burgess Buttercup squash. I've never grown winter squash before. It should be interesting.

I'm totally psyched to get some seeds for a SASE a guy named James Campbell at the other end of the state sent me:

Green Grape:(Tatiana's Tomatobase-79 days, compact indet., 5' tall plant, regular leaf, large slightly oblong green-when-ripe cherries borne in clusters of 8-9, turn yellowish green when ripe, very nice flavor when fully ripe, juicy and sweet, good yield, has tiny seeds like the original strain bred by Tom Wagner.

Black Zebra:from Dr Carolyn Male (a very wise and knowledgeable tomatofile)It's the result of a natural cross pollination between Green Zebra and an unknown black variety and selections were made from the initial F1 hybrid that resulted from that cross and Jeff Dawson of Ca stabilized and named what we know as Black Zebra back in 2000.

Goose Creek:this was my "Holy Grail" for his year because you can't buy the seed it needs to be aquired through trade or buy plants from This is what they have to say about it-This delectable historical family heirloom is one of the rarest plants we offer and our #1 top seller. The flavor and color run deep in Goose Creek , a stunning, deeply red fruit, round or slightly flattened, sometimes lobed, with occasional gold streaks or speckling, faintly visible in the photo. Juicy, very sweet and intensely tomatoey as if injected with concentrated tomato flavor, it is ambrosial. I've rarely tasted a tomato to compare. Averaging 6-7 ounces, with very few seeds; it has now made my top 3 list.

This family treasure comes to us from edible landscape expert, Jimmy Williams, owner of Hayground Organic Gardening in California whose home garden we found to be an enchanting escape. Jimmy, born in 1942, and his Native Island Gullah-Geechee family are descendants of slaves brought in bondage from The Caribbean to the coastal islands of the Southern United States to grow rice for plantation owners.

The Gullah are still keepers of a fascinating culture of food, language and beloved traditions--a most extraordinary and delightful people.

The seeds of this sublime fruit have been passed down through generations since the 1800's when Jimmy's great-great grandmother, a young Caribbean slave, smuggled them with her aboard ship. When the ship docked at Charleston near Goose Creek, South Carolina, she had the treasured seeds with her, hidden deep in her skirt pocket and planted them that first spring. Jimmy's grandmother, Elouise Watson, shared this precious heirloom with him more than 45 years ago, assuring Goose Creek 's place in his family's garden for generations to come. Among its extraordinary qualities: A very high fruit yield and very few seeds.

Along with being very heat tolerant, it shows remarkable cold-tolerance along the cooler coastal areas where the fruits continue to set and ripen through November and December. It is a wonderful choice for growing in containers.

Goose Creek has two distinctly different and superb flavors during two phases of its growth: when partially ripe and still showing some light green at the shoulders it has a brisk citrusy taste balanced with a fine, lingering touch of sweetness, and again at full red ripeness when it develops an intensely rich, earthy sweet flavor and luxurious, silken texture.

Tatiana's Tomatobase has something else to say about it: Family heirloom from the early 1800s, from edible landscape expert, Jimmy Williams, owner of Hayground Organic Gardening in California. There is some controversy about the origins/dating of this tomato, as tomato experts know that there were no 'smooth' tomatoes available in the early 1800s

Indian Stripe: (story provided by GG Gumbo from idigmygarden forum) Clyde Burson, Sr. is the origin of Indian Stripe. Donna Nelson, who grew up down the road from the Bursons according to Clyde Burson, Jr., acquired some seeds from the Burson garden in the mid-1990s. She sent some to Carolyn Male who asked Donna what Clyde called the variety. Donna said Clyde, Sr. alternately referred to them as Indian Zebra and Indian Stripe. Carolyn chose Indian Stripe as the name to distribute seed by. She subsequently sent them to Craig LeHoullier who then sent some to Victory Seeds who sells them as Indian Stripe
From Tatiana's Tomatobase: Considered to be a strain of Cherokee Purple. The fruits of Indian stripe are slightly smaller, lighter in color, and have more fruits per truss. The original seed came to Carolyn Male of NY from Donna Nelson, TX, who found this var. growing in the garden of Clyde Burson, a neighbor of her relatives in south central AR. Mr. Burson has been growing this var. for as long as he can remember. In the area this variety was known as Indian Stripe or Indian Zebra.
Carolyn Male chose Indian Stripe as the name for this tomato.

KBX:Discovered by Martha Hufford- this is what she had to say about it (from Tatiana's Tomatobase)-This is what Martha said about it in her letter to Linda Sapp at Tomato Growers Supply: "In 2002, I ordered some Kellogg’s Breakfast seeds from a seed supplier in California. Upon growing them out I noticed there was a 50/50 split of regular leaf and potato leaf plants. Out of curiosity I grew out 6 of the PL plants along side the RL ones “just to see what would happen”. The PL plants out paced the RL ones as seedlings and as mature plants they were noticeably healthier with heavier and earlier fruit set. Speculation by the tomatophiles at GardenWeb was that the PL plants would produce a pink fruit as there were no known orange PL varieties at that time. In late July after 75-80 days the 16-20 ounce fruits ripened to a beautiful deep apricot-orange. Taste tests had friends licking the plates. I saved seeds from that plant and trialed 6 more plants in 2003- all had the same results. Since then I have been growing out plants from the 2003 seeds along with the current year’s seeds to assess stability. Seeds have also been distributed to several growers across the country and in Germany who are part of the Tomatoville family. While the odd RL seedling does pop up from time to time (less than 2-3%), the color and characteristics of the fruits has remained stable over the past 4 years

I also got Dr Wyche's and Black Krim (I already had those)I'm glad he sent me Black Krim because I overplanted last year and only have a few seeds left.

From Blueribbontomatoes on Ebay I ordered Purple Dog Creek:A family heirloom from the small community of Dog Creek near Munfordville, Kentucky, where the tomatoes were served as part of a "thank you" outside dinner served to a WV preacher and members of his congregation, who were in Dog Creek to do home improvements for the low income elderly of the area. Doug Zuknick of Romney, WV received the seeds from his WV friend in 2005 and shared it through Tomatoville.
Introduced to SSE in 2008 by four members; original seed from Doug Zucknic of Romney, West Virginia. (description courtesy of Tatiana's Tomatobase)

I'm also waiting for the group to send back some seeds for a SASE. I have no idea where I'm going to put all these tomatoes. I think I'm either going to expand the garden or start another bed by the driveway. The job will be to convince DH to let me do that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I thought I'd give Ruth Stout a try...

Since DH is in graduate school as well as working full time and digging up the entire garden on my own in a timely fashion while working full time probably isn't realistic, I decided to try the Ruth Stout method of gardening. Before I ever heard of Ms Stout I decided I was too lazy to drag the leaves to the curb last fall so I shredded them and piled them in the veggie garden and flower beds instead; figuring I'd turn them over with the soil in the spring (or wonderful husband would do that for me when the semester ended). Then I read about Ruth Stout and got excited- I don't have to wait for him to turn over the soil! (I usually get 1/4 of the garden done in the time it takes him to do 3/4 plus mow the lawn). I can plant stuff when it should be planted, not when the garden is ready! I won't have to water! I found her book "No Work Garden Book" on Ebay for a reasonable price and I started reading it today. Checking out the garden forums I frequent, there are clearly 2 well defined camps with a lot of middle of the road people: the Enthusiastic Tillers and the Enthusiastic Non-Tillers. Since I don't have a tiller, I'm going to join camp #2. A garden fork isn't much of a tiller and I'm lazy so I think I'll feel right at home with the Enthusiasic Non-Tillers, I can be pretty enthusiastic about not forking the garden in the spring- I hate dirt filled blisters. Should be a pretty interesting experiment.

About the pic- I have no mulch-related photos so this is a picture of a bunch of roses I picked from my garden just before a major rainstorm last year. You might be able to see some of the rain drops still clinging to the petals. It was worth getting wet to save the flowers.

Oh shoot...this is supposed to be Wordless Wednesday...I blew it...maybe I'll be quiet next Wednesday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Sowing day 1

I started Winter Sowing today! I'm making a flower garden for the south side of my mom's house. I plotted it out on graph paper then I started with the milk jugs: Sweet William, 2 kinds of Zinnia's, Bachelor Buttons, Catchfly, Coneflowers, Bee Balm, Bells of Ireland and Lupine. I still have to put together jugs for the hollyhocks, cosmos (2 kinds) foxgloves and Sunflowers. I tried to pick a mixture of annuals, biennials and perennials that would be pretty low maintenance and would attract birds and butterflies as well as work as a cutting garden and self seed (is that too much to ask?). The bed is already there. It's great soil filled with weeds. It gets great sun, it kills me to see it full of weeds. I do one bed per holiday for her. This will be her Mother's day present. I've already done her front garden and the bed on the north east side of her deck. This is the holy grail bed, I don't want to screw it up.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Anaheim is the first one up!

Oh Joy! It's better than Christmas!
One of my Anaheim seeds sprouted yesterday! I'm so excited! I have to get a newspaper pot together to put it in. No movement on the rest of the peppers or the eggplants. I wanted to post an inspirational pepper picture from last year but realized the only picture of peppers/pepper plants I have are of the one that mysteriously died. Note to self: take more healthy plant pictures this year- not just tomato pictures! Anywho- I decided to post a picture of my coneflower/sedum Autumn Joy from the end of the season last year when the goldfinches were visiting. You can only see one goldfinch in this picture but there was a whole flock that day. I had to be the personification of stealth to get the picture without scaring them away.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Life ends and begins again...

Sad news to report: We lost my sweet Desdemona in October. God rest her soul, I miss her sweet face and gentle manner every day. The place isn't the same without her. Bodie took the loss as hard as the rest of us and looked for her for weeks in all her favorite napping spots. We recently adopted a 1 1/2 year old female Malamute to keep him company. The rescuer drove her 3 hours to our house and she jumped out of the car...all 36 lbs of her! Clearly she's not a Malamute but a Siberian Husky and according to the vet she's not 1 1/2 but 4 or 5 (note the size difference). We named her Juno and we love her just the same. She's a little crazy but settles down nicely. I'll be taking her to doggie school at the end of the month. She likes to dig, so the flower bed inside the fence will be a big challenge this year.

I started the peppers (Anaheim, Mulato Isleno with some heat and Jimmy Nardello and Chervena Chuska sweet frying peppers) and eggplants (Violetta di Firenze and Rosa Bianca) today. I'm on the fence about doing eggplants again but figured I'd try them in containers on the deck with the peppers and not waste garden space on non to low producing plants. I put them in between damp paper towels in sandwich baggies on the heat mat. Fingers are crossed.

Finally, yes, I did get late blight last year. It was ugly. It was sad. It was Baaaad.