Saturday, March 19, 2011

An afternoon in the garden

Though scattered, dark gray clouds threatened rain, I enjoyed an afternoon of sun bursts instead of cloud bursts as I worked in the garden today.

Today's projects

Pea trellises: The peas are starting to peek out of the soil in the troughs along the driveway.

Before long they will be ready to climb, so I took advantage of the sunshine and built their trellises from chickenwire and plastic coated metal poles.

Along the east facing wall to the house I planted old fashioned sweet peas which are known for their fragrance and bright colored blooms. And in each trough I did two rows of trellises, one for each row of peas.

Beyond peas, radishes, lettuce and spinach are also already up. Carrots shouldn't be far behind...

More planting ...

In the west side raised bed I planted Statissa fava beans and Lacinto kale seeds to the bed which already has garlic (pictured), shallots and broad windsor fava beans.

The spring garden now only needs broccoli, spinach and Asian cabbage to be planted.

Indoors, I re-used some plastic tubs that originally had store bought greens in them to make three mini greenhouses for 2 types of bunching onions, leeks and cipolini onions. The green houses are now located in our kitchen's bump out window.

Let the growing begin!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


There are few other foods from the garden that automatically conjure up summer when tasted.

And, though it is still rainy and cold here in Portland, Oregon right now I have found that it is never too early to start thinking about the tomatoes of the coming summer.

This year, I am growing nine varieties of tomatoes here in our garden - some cherry, some for canning and some for slicing.

After last summer's miserable weather (no tomatoes to be had due to the cooler temps - grrr!), I feel like I am due a do-over.

Starts for sale...

In other news, I am planning to grow and sell tomato starts again this year. They will be ready for pick up by Mother’s day May 8 and will be in four-inch pots for $2.50 each.

I am taking orders right now, and will have some additional starts on-hand on a first come, first served basis.

Cherry Tomatoes

  • Gold nugget: Gold Nugget plants are loaded with 1 inch, round golden fruit from early in the season 'til frost. Fruits are unusually rich and sweet flavored when ripe. (Determinate, 60 days)

  • Orange pixie: This plant’s strong, short vines make it the perfect tomato for containers and window boxes. Yellow- orange fruit is just over an inch in diameter and has excellent flavor. (Determinate, 52 days)

  • Sun gold: The unique flavor of this tomato gives it an almost "cult" following. The plants will be loaded with clusters of eight to fourteen tomatoes about an inch in diameter throughout the summer until frost. May be grown in containers with support. (Indeterminate, 57 days)

Sauce/Paste Tomatoes

  • Heinz: A reliable, early-maturing standard processing tomato that produces loads of fruit all at the same time. If you have lots of canning to do, this is your tomato! (Determinate plants, 75–80 days)

  • San marzano: This classic Italian paste tomato is considered by many to be the world's best! A low sugar, low-acid tomato, it has a high solids content and excellent flavor. The oblong red fruits are 3"-4" long and 1.5" wide. (Indeterminate, 80 days)

Slicing Tomatoes

  • Brandywine: Amish heirloom with famous distinct flavor, grown since 1885. Fruits are 10 to 14 oz., dark reddish pink, tender and juicy. (Indeterminate, heirloom potato-leafed plants, 85 days)

  • Pineapple: Large, irregular yellow fruits are suffused with red streaks that radiate from a red interior. The flavor is rich and fruity. (Indeterminate, heirloom, 95 days)

Novelty Tomatoes

I am trying these this year because they are absolutely eye catching and are known for their great taste.

  • Japanese Black Trifele: Pear-shaped fruit has green-streaked shoulders, deepening to a burnished mahogany and finally to a darkened, nearly black base. The meaty interior has similar, opulent shades and an incomparable, almost indescribably complex and rich flavor to match. The fruit reach 2 1/2-3 inches long and wide and are very crack-resistant. Despite the name, this thoroughbred has its origins in Russia. (Indeterminate, heirloom potato-leafed plants, 80-85 days)

  • Green Zebra: This unique tomato is very flavorful and sweet, yet has a zingy and well-balanced taste that isn't too acidic. Mature fruits are golden green with forest green stripes and reach 3 inches in diameter.

About the above descriptions: I have culled these descriptions and images from their seed packets and catalogs – ask if you have additional questions.