July 5th, 2012
Summer Beauty: ‘Indigo Rose’ Tomato

IndigoRoseThese are the first of my test varieties that I’ve begun to harvest: ‘Indigo Rose’ tomato (left) and ‘Clara’ eggplant (below). Both photograph well—but beauty is only skin deep. ‘Indigo Rose’ is a tasty tomato but ordinary. Its real asset is its color; I think this is a splendid-looking dish of tomatoes. It reminds of the gaudy and outrageous jewelry I love to wear. These make a statement.

‘Clara’ eggplant is a real beauty, too—perfect shape, perfectly white. I think it must be sinful to cut it up and eat it. I will probably burn in hell. —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada

Clara

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June 20th, 2012
Mild Winter = More Flea Beetles

linda_tnSpring weather here in southern Ontario has been very odd. We had a week of mild (read HOT) weather in March, followed by a deep freeze in April. It managed to wipe out most of the cherry crop in Niagara, as well as wreak havoc on the tender fruit, pears, and apples. So it will be a tough year for a whole lot of growers here.

My test garden crops have been in the ground for about 3 weeks now, through a very dry spring. And again, unseasonably warm. I think the plants just don’t know what to do. Most things in the test garden look good, although something lopped the tops off the ‘Cayenetta’ peppers. The eggplants are poor because of the darned flea beetles, which are terrible this year. Our (non-) winter was so mild that there was very little kill-off of overwintering pests. So I’m on guard!

I had the best year ever for my heirloom tomato transplant sales, so in that way the spring has been kind to me. I grew over 600 different varieties this year, and there are some that I have just discovered myself this year that I am trialling. The heirloom tomato world is pretty exciting! —Linda Crago, Wellandport, Ontario

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June 12th, 2012
Videos from Leslie’s Garden

leslie_d_tnI made some garden videos that I posted on You Tube and I hope you enjoy them. They last only about 3 minutes each. That’s all the time I have from moment to moment in my life, and I figured life might be busy for you, too.  Here is the link.

As I get experience as a video recording “star” I am sure I will get better. This week my tongue has wrinkles in it and my brain doesn’t seem to want to connect with my tongue.

Some of the vegetable varieties we’re trialing this year are in the videos, but maybe not identified. You can see that my garden is growing. I’m doing lots of melons and peppers this year. The tomato ‘Indigo Rose’ is loaded with growing fruit. The top half of the tomato is black and the bottom half if green. I can’t wait to see what happens with this tomato when it matures. —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada

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December 22nd, 2011
Christmas Salad, Fresh From the Coldframe

kathy_tnI’ll be cutting the remaining red-veined mizuna along with mustard and other greens from our coldframe (shown below) for a festive Christmas salad. For the first time in many years it looks like we will be having a brown Christmas in Wisconsin. Being able to walk through the yard without snowshoes has given me the chance to make more and more grandiose plans for next year’s garden. Boy, am I in trouble if I actually try to accomplish all of the projects.

mizunaI received a new journal as an early Christmas present and will be using it to keep track of some of my garden notes. I have multiple Excel spreadsheets that I use as annual logs and maps of what we grow but have never kept a wish list or a list of projects and things to do seasonally. I am making a New Year’s resolution to use the journal for all of that.

Happy holidays!  —Kathy Shaw, Neenah, Wisconsin

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December 6th, 2011
Late Harvests

john_tnIt appears global warming is at work in the Northeast. As of today, we still haven’t had a heavy frost in southern New England. Usually we have a hard frost by the middle of November. Yesterday I harvested carrots, peanuts, and a really nice broccoli.

broccoliRegular readers of this blog may recall the giant head of ‘Green Goliath’ broccoli I picked last July. The broccoli head shown above is actually a side shoot from that same plant! The head is over 7 inches across—bigger than many main heads. I have been picking broccoli side shoots since August and it looks like I may actually be able to keep picking into 2012.

carrotsAlthough the carrots didn’t get planted until early July and were never fertilized or weeded, I’m pretty happy with them. I planted them under my tomatoes and they really didn’t start to grow until the tomatoes died in September. The variety is ‘Big Top’, an Asian type of carrot. I planted ‘Scarlet Nantes’, a variety we are trialing this year, at the same time but they did not germinate (maybe too hot or dry?).

peanutsThe last photo is of something I have never tried to grow before: peanuts. These were planted very late, in mid-July, but due to the warm fall they produced a small crop. Now I know if I plant them a bit earlier and fertilize I can get a good crop of peanuts.

I still have tons of kale, collard greens, celery, as well as Brussels sprouts in my garden to harvest. I also have to check the celeriac to see if they produced roots. It used to be that after November it was just garden cleanup, but now it seems gardening is a year-round job in New England. —John Lewis, Newport, Rhode Island

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