Once again, commentor Ozark Hillbilly comes through, giving us a springboard for dreams of spring growth and summer bounty:
I got seeds!
Tomatoes: I have Pink Brandywine, German Johnson, Amana Orange and Amish Paste seeds left over from last year but I gots to have my Green Zebra. My wife loves big red beefsteak types so I got the Brimmer and Mushroom Basket for her. I have to have Yellow Pear every year to go with all my other grape and cherry tomatoes. The Mallorcan Winter Tomatoes I have been looking for ever since my wife first told me about them. Baker Creek says,
The rambling vines about 24 inches in height produce an abundance of round, pinkish-yellow fruit with rose-pink centers. The fruits are generally about 2 to 2 ½ inches in diameter and are not full-flavored when they appear vine-ripe. They attain their most intense flavor thorough aging. The tomato should be treated as determinate because at the end of summer, the fruit production peaks and then stops. The plants defoliate and at this point the Mallorcans either harvest the fruit for sun drying (which improves their flavor), or the vines are pulled up whole and hung upside down in a protected place (such as a barn) so that the tomatoes can ripen slowly over the course of the winter. The tomatoes are then pulled off the vines as needed. They will keep this way for several months.
I am excited.
Melons: Every year i grow a nice crop of melons for the groundhogs. The Golden Jennies I am going to try and grow in containers so I can get some. I am hoping the Groundhogs enjoy the Honeymoons so much I can get a taste of Sweet Passion because who doesn’t like passion?
Cucumbers: My wife does not like cucumbers but she loves dill pickles. Seeing as I recently purchased a 10L pickling crock I had to try these. The Dar cukes grow well in containers and the Miniature Whites are supposed to do well in them too.
Eggplants: I love eggplant and have grown Rosita and Diamond before and done OK with them. I have tried the Rosa Bianca before and utterly failed but they are so beautiful and so highly recommended that I’ve decided it’s all my fault and I’m going to try again. The Mtoyo is a Japanese variety and is new to me. That alone is worth giving it a shot.
Peppers: Several years ago I grew the Heirloom Sunset Mix from Renee’s They were very productive and very sweet. After trying several other types, I am going back to them. I have so many dried and smoked hot peppers from last year that the only ones I’m growing this year are Jalapenos because I have to have stuffed jalapenos. The Magyar Paprika is new to me (I usually grow the Leutschauer) so I thought I’d give it a try even tho I have plenty of the L’s dried and smoked. The Padron Peppers, what is a half Spanish household with out tapas?
Beans: Last year was a dismal failure with beans for me. First time I ever had a problem, not sure what went wrong. This year will be different. The two Filet beans from Renee’s are my “go to’s” for fresh beans. Good Mother Stollard, Greasy Grits, and Cherokee ToT’s are all old standby pole beans for drying but the Haricot is new. The Snowcap and Hidatsa are half runners I thought I’d try along the fences. The Ojo de Tigre I tried for the first time last year so I gotta try again.
Bonus from last years shade garden. I forget their name, “Tri-something” or other (can you guess why?) I bought them at Lowes, and am pretty sure they came as roots. A stunningly beautiful surprise.
Last year was a total rout in what passes for my garden — two patio-block raised beds, a couple of badly overgrown patches next to the doorway, a welter of mismatched planters and containers, plus the annual collection of mail-order tomatoes in rootpouches. Well, I’ve ordered this year’s tomatoes, and one impetus to keeping the batch (relatively) small was so that I could haul enough 30gal bags of planting mix from the local garden center to fill fresh new pouches and still have some strength left to cope with digging up and reviving the rest of the beds. Fingers crossed for a clement spring, so I can start tearing out the Spousal Unit’s overexuberant vinca transplants without damaging the daffodils and creeping phlox, and separate the failing daylilies and Siberian irises before the tomatoes and annuals take up all the time I can bear to spend outside…
What’s going on in your garden plans (dreams), this week?
Seed catalogs get a person through winter.
I’m still working on the fall clean up.
Right now, everything is froze solid and under the 2″ of snow we got Friday. To top it off we’re supposed to get a nice glaze of freezing rain before the sun comes up. Later on it will get up to 40, everything will melt and turn into a big muddy mess. The closest I will get to prepping for the spring is starting my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
I made some smoked pastrami this week following a couple of online recipes and some sage advice from Immanentize. Turned out horrible. Worst shit I’ve ever eaten. Just to make sure it was as bad as I first thought it was I had a second sandwich that was even worse than the first. So bad I can’t feed it to the dogs. So bad I daren’t throw it into the trashcan lest some poor itinerant bear finds it. I guess I’ll just have to eat it all myself.
Sacrifices have to be made, you know.
@WereBear: Them, a good woodstove and a couple cords of well dried oak and hickory.
I am green with envy ( both garden and wood-stove) and living vicariously thru you. ✨
The princess informs me that she worked in the garden for the better part of the day. We’re headed to the boat to try again!https://flic.kr/p/SDRVjd
@Raven: How’s the fishing been?
Tricyrtis hirta – toad lily
The four and five year old seeds I had in the fridge and threw out into the bare spots in my succulent border have sprouted and continue to prosper despite the huge amounts of rain we have had.
We had a minor mudslide that threatened six houses that never should have been built on a filled canyon edge, but people have been suing the city about them for decades so either the current owners bought them cheap or are idiots, so nobody really cares anymore.
(mesmerized me with beauty)
POTATO Chips prepared by my Daddy (youtube)
ARUMUGAM / Village food factory
My mom used to do that, hang the tomato vines upside down in an unheated room to ripen. I did it with some tomatoes (supposed to be cherry but got larger) this fall, and it worked well.
@MagdaInBlack: and the well dried oak and hickory for the stove. omg
(Someone had to say it.)
@greenergood: Thanx, I’d like to get more.
We’re under feet of snow and I expect a flooded basement when the spring thaw arrives; we’re running a little short of firewood (home is mostly heated by a wood stove) and I’ll be out splitting soon.
I stopped buying seeds from catalogs (except for borage, which I can’t find anywhere else) because so much of what I was buying wasn’t suited for the far north. Ray’s Feed in Norway (which is a town in the Upper Peninsula, not the country) has an amazing seed selection of plants that are happy here and I’ll be visiting soon just to make myself feel better.
@NotMax: Blech, it’s not just for Hillbillies anymore.
Ozark can you tell me the name of the speckled beans I cannot read the name?
Good Morning, Everyone ???
@waratah: Their are a couple. One is Good Mother Stallard, not just beautiful but tasty too. It’s a pole bean I grow for dried beans.
The 2nd is Snow Cap. It is new to me and is a half-runner.
@rikyrah: Good morning.
@rikyrah: Good morning.
@NotMax: Thanks, I missed it.
@Aleta: That is too cool. I need to get me one of those big deep wok like pot/pans. I think I have found a new time sink.
The pictures of seeds give me inspiration to plant my garden this year. .
@Butch: We are going to have days of rain and that’ll be enough to cause major flooding around here. blech
Hopeful and inspiring, O.H. Thanks for that! I had a bad bean year last year too, my fault because I think I planted too late.
Do you pick your drying beans at all for green eating once they begin fruiting or do you just let them go until dried? Mostly I grow the Cherokee ToT for drying but sometimes other varieties.
@OzarkHillbilly: Thank you I will try them.
My mother in law gave me seed for what she called a speckled butter bean. She said to pick them when the skins was dry but soft and the beans still tender. They were so good but I have not been able to find them. They were not a large Lima.
@Currants: No, just for drying. The filet beans from Renee’s are the ones I grow for fresh/canned/frozen. I’m really fond of the Good Mother Stallard. I am always trying new stuff while letting go of other stuff that didn’t light my fire. Pretty sure I’m overdoing it with the beans this year.
@waratah: I am also trying the Kurzer’s Calico Traveler Lima Bean
@OzarkHillbilly: Thanks—in that case maybe I should ask for a recipe for the Good Mother Stollards! I love black beans and have lots of recipes for them. Other dried beans, not so much.
@OzarkHillbilly: thank you they may be what she gave me. She bought her seed bulk at the local farmers store which is no longer.
We ate nearly all of them fresh but sometimes I had enough to freeze a few packages and they were just as good
@rikyrah: Good morning ?
My garden was mostly a bust last year too, I blame the weather getting too hot and staying that way. Such a failure that I’m significantly scaling back on veggies and moving into more flower seeds directly down into the strip of land in the outside border of my yard.
But hope springs eternal, so I did buy 3 heirloom tomato types to start inside: Black Krim, Kelloggs Breakfast Orange, and Pineapple. I may plant a couple of each and sell the seedlings I don’t use at the Farmers market.
I hope a front pager goes back to the cat bleg post from last night and tries to get more information for/from the people who seemed a bit interested. Those are beautiful cats.
@satby: We leave no pet behind!
Me too. There were a couple of interested parties.
Wow! Who doesn’t like potato chips?
Thanks for that.
I wish I had room to start plants from seed. Not sure what I’ll grow besides tomatoes. May be time to do some perusing of catalogs for some ideas.
These seed packages look fantastic and tempting. Every time I consider planting vegetables, I recall all the havoc squirrels have played with my past attempts to grow tomatoes. Any advice for handling squirrels?
And good morning, everyone.
I need to upgrade my grow light setup. I’m looking at the higher intensity LED lights here, but it’s a big chunk of change. Anyone have any experience with them?
@Currants: I don’t have many bean specific recipes but this is a short sweet and simple soup that turned out rather well.
4 cups dried beans soaked overnight (2 Mother Stallard, 2 Misery Wonder)
1 ham-y ham bone
2-3 bay leaves
2 onions diced
3 dried Baklouti Peppers
Salt to taste (1-2 TBSP?)
Black Pepper to taste (1/2 TBSP?
1/2 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP ground mustard
Cornstarch or flour to thicken
Stew ham bone on low in crockpot for 8 hours. Remove bone and cartilage clean of meat. Add beans, onions, Baklouti peppers, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stew on high for 4-6 hrs until beans are tender but firm.
I made it a few weeks ago and of course, it gets even better with time. The Baklouti peppers are a Turkish type I grow. I like the flavor and the heat is about right for this white boy’s hemorrhoids.
@Lapassionara: a lot of people use these to keep the animals off.
Ever made tomato soap? (Not a joke, it’s for real.)
Cheryl from Maryland
@Lapassionara: My father-in-law was a passionate gardener, especially sweet corn (the brand he favored only had one! ear per stalk). For his tomatoes, he made wigwams of regular screen door fabric to place over the plants — he anchored the wigwams into the ground, often with a sandbag snake around the bottom to seal it off. For the corn, he actually made custom wire screen covers that wrapped around each ear. Yes, labor intensive and obsessive (he was retired), but perfect corn and tomatoes. For some reason, the squirrels and birds never bothered the tomatillos. I miss his tomatoes — he was into heirloom tomatoes, which for some reason are disappearing from my local farmer’s markets.
@Lapassionara: or these!
I think the cages would help with animals but not protect against a hard frost, the teepees protect against a hard frost but may need to come off in summer. So it might depend on how early you plant too. You could always try just a chickenwire cage around your plants.
@debbie: It usually hangs on the wall. We bought it several years ago at the Festival of Nations. A lot of good food, good music and fun dance, a really bad place to go if you are on a diet or a strict budget. (we also have several baskets, a couple wood carvings, and a few textiles from it) I love it, my wife not so much.
Cheap chili powder can do the trick. I plant too many for that to be fiscally sound.
@NotMax: I have not, though I have made carrot soap. And thinking about avocado soap, but I love to eat them too much to sacrifice one ?
I’ve seen tomato soap too. Hmmm. Adding to the immense list of projects.
We used to have a festival similar to that when I was a kid. It was fun connecting foods to the countries I had studied in school.
My never getting to most of these countries is no reason to deny my taste buds the experience. I will try anything, my stomach is the only limiting factor.
Lots of weed growers are going LED now. That one seems to be winking at that and is probably way more than you need for starting seeds.
Good morning! ?
Predawn here in Las Vegas. I’ve been awake for more than an hour, reading on my phone in bed.
Did a successful babysitting stint last night with my mom at her house while Bro’ Man and husband went to the Strip. Had pizza and, later, popcorn and watched Bubble Guppies and some Ice Road Truckers knockoff show (Heavy Rescue?). The 2½-year-old boy, M., is a truck maniac. The bigger and more complicated the better.
We were looking at the channel guide to see what was coming up on Nick Jr., and as I read out the titles V., the 4-year-old girl, said, “Let’s watch that one.”
I said we couldn’t watch it right now because the show wouldn’t come on for a while. She didn’t understand, so I explained that Nana’s TV is different from her TV at home. I could see her gears grinding as she grappled with the concept of “no on-demand videos.” She took it all in and after a minute said, “Can we go to bed now?”
@Cheryl from Maryland: What a dedicated gardener! I’m trying to envision the screen door fabric wigwam. Maybe I will try a few plants this year.
Thanks to all for the suggestions.
Dorothy A. Winsor
It’s snowing like crazy where I am, so this garden talk seems delusional as Trump. But it’s also lovely and hopeful.
@snoey: I would be using it for indoor plants and cloned transplants too. I have semi-tropical dwarf citrus trees that can only be outside in the middle of summer, so right now they look pretty peaky even with the grow lights I currently have.
I’m probably in a sunk cost fallacy moment here ?
@Lapassionara: the screen fabric wigwam sounds like a good solution to me too, and cheaper than the other ones.
@Dorothy A. Winsor
Rain, day 11. Although down to only five or ten minutes per hour now.
@satby: Yes. I envision some bamboo stakes as the framework, and some wire or twist ties as the holding together thingies. Now to decide which variety to plant.
@NotMax: we were in oahu a couple of weeks ago and had rain every day except one, and it was unusually cold. i missed whether that snow on maui affected you, iirc you’re at some elevation. hopefully you’re keeping warm!
In that case a LED rig might make a difference and recoup some of the costs in the electric bill – they are several times more efficient than flourescents and can give you enough light intensity for mature plants.
@snoey: I was hoping that, thanks!
Everyone have a good day, I foolishly told a friend I would meet up for coffee this morning when all I really want to do is vegetate in my pjs. L8R!
Yeah, it’s been an unusually chilly winter so far. Am not up high enough to have gotten the snow, just the rain, the damp and the winds. Dropped down as far as within kissing range of the high 40s for a few nights. Luckily (or by premonition) invested in a good space heater last fall so, while not toasty, comfortable enough.
@OzarkHillbilly: LOL re the itinerant bear being spared the pastrami.
Good luck with your garden! (Eventually. When it thaws.) And I love that dish: is it Mallorcan?
@Steeplejack (phone): LOL. Nothing like the sittee deciding to put herself to bed. Nevah happened to me.
Sounds like the LV trip is going well.
@Cheryl from Maryland: That’s a wonderful memory, about the tomatoes and sweet corn, and their care and tending.
@NotMax: yikes, we would not have been happy if it was high 40s at night in oahu, lol. glad you were able to foresee the need for a space heater, hopefully the rain and cold stops soon!
@Steeplejack (phone): You have another opportunity to get those recipes from mom! Keep us updated on how it goes.
@Elizabelle: North African, I don’t remember which country. The Islamic influence is prominent, which you might have guessed is everywhere in Majorca as well..
@OzarkHillbilly: Just beautiful. And you have put it to good use.
I used to make what I called a salsa soap, with tomatoes, scented with lime and cilantro. It smelled great and was really nice on the skin.
O. Felix Culpa
AL – Where do you order your tomatoes in root balls? Typically I do mine from seed, but we’ll be traveling during my usual seed-starting time, so I need a quick planting substitute when I get back.
Ozark – Have you tried the lemon squash from Baker Creek? That was one of my “experiments” last year and my favorite summer squash by far. If you do get them, make sure to harvest when the fruit is lemon-sized or just a titch bigger. I let them grow too big at first and the skin toughens, but they’re absolutely tender and delicious when harvested at the right time. They were prolific too.
The best support system I have found for tomatoes and other garden plants is concrete reinforcing wire. It comes in rolls 5 feet wide, with 6 inch squares of heavy welded wire. Most lumber yards will sell you however many feet you want, you don’t have to buy an entire roll. If you want a 3 foot diameter tube you figure out how many feet you need plus 1 foot to lap. Add a few cable ties and you have a tube 3 ft.in diameter and 5 ft. tall. Cut off the horizontal wire at the bottom of the tube and you will have 6 inch wires to stick in the ground and stabilize the wire. They last forever. The ones I am using I have had for ten years and they will probably last another ten. In the fall you cut the cable ties, spread them open and wrap them around each other and they will store in much less space. You can cut pieces of the wire lengthwise to make 2 1/2 foot tall cages for peppers etc. The wire is a little hard to cut. I have small bolt cutters that I used for cutting wire ties on concrete forms, they work well. Happy gardening
@Lapassionara: To deal with squirrels make sure you have a good water source for them away from the tomatoes in your garden. Often the squirrels go after tomatoes because they’re thirsty. Not always–sometimes they just want to check out the tomato.
If you’re still having problems after putting in a few water sources for the squirrels then try something like chicken wire or bird netting (which is a right pain). If it’s a determinate tomato (sets all the tomatoes and then it’s done) you can also cover with a fine net like you can get at the fabric store. That will keep out pollinators so only do it if you’re sure the tomatoes are done setting.
Other people have gone with hanging distractors like old CDs or Christmas ornaments from the tomatoes or cages. I haven’t tried either but there is some thought that they can scare off birds and squirrels.
I am impressed! (an un-gardener through no choice of my own, alas), I ogle other peoples’. Also: that plate is really pretty.
@Josie: We make all our own soap. Vegetables in soap, along with herbs, is actually a thing.
J R in WV
Regarding squirrels and tomatoes, I understand the little robbers are going for the tomatoes because they are so full of water in an otherwise dry environment. So if you put out pans of drinking water around the outside edges of your garden space, that may keep the squirrels from being so hard on your ‘maters.
I confess I’m not tried this… seems way easier than putting protective armor on every tomato plant. Maybe too easy?
that sounds amazing
@Josie: @Aleta: it does! There are so many ways to be creative with soap making.
So true. I started making soap because of sensitive skin, and it turned into an obsession. When I moved three years ago, I gave it up due to not having a good place for it. Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting back to it, in a much smaller way.
Used to be I could save my tomatoes from squirrels by keeping a dish of water filled for them — I use an 18″ plastic pot saucer, on the ground next to my rootpouches, which I can refill when I water the plants. (As a side benefit, I can instantly judge whether I need to water again when the ‘squirrel bath’ starts to dry up.)
Last couple of years I’ve still lost occasional tomatoes to something that takes a bite out of the almost-ripe fruit & abandons the carcasses, but I think that’s something other than squirrels — possibly foxes (which have been spotted on our block), hopefully not coyotes (endemic in the next town over, sigh)…
@O. Felix Culpa:
Favorite mail–order tomato source is Laurel’s Heirlooms — pricey but worth it, her plants are twice the size of Burpee’s & much bushier.
Root pouches I get from A.M. Leonard, which has the sturdiest bags at the best prices I’ve found. I use the 15gal version — bigger would be better for the plants, per Laurel, but those are as large as I can physically wrangle every spring. My tomato ‘garden’ is a strip of asphalt, the only available sunny spot on our tiny plot; if you’re not constrained by such parameters, of course, you don’t need to worry about pouches. (Although I know some gardeners like the pouches just because they’re easier to plant & tend in ‘marginal’ circumstances.)