Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Your Plans for 2010

We've had some really odd weather recently. It won't deter me from planting several hundred varieties of plants but I'm curious what others are doing. Are you modifying your planting scheme to accommodate the changes in your envivornment (assuming you have any) or are you doing what you've always done? If so, what do you plant, when and where?

Because I live in a tropical environment, I plant everything all year long. I've grown tomatoes in the winter and broccoli in the summer which to most people is terribly strange. Lettuce is planted 12 months out of the year as well as zucchini which is typically discarded in an effort to accommodate spacing for other plants.

Presently, in December 2009, I have several tomato, eggplant and squash seedlings growing and will be transplanted in a couple of weeks. They're ready for transplanting now but I'm not ready to dig in the soil.

What's odd is that it's been cold. And let me qualify what I mean by cold...it's been in the 50s where it's normally in the 70s - high 70s this time of the year. So, it's merely delayed the planting out of several seedlings which are raring to go into the ground.

I do have several sweet peas started and of course several which have reseeded from earlier in the year. The seedlings will go into the ground this weekend - clear on the other side of the garden and away from those that have come up as volunteers.

Would enjoy hearing about your plans and what modifications, if any, you have enacted.

Someone kindly sent me a message to remind me I don't actually live in a 'tropical' climate but instead a 'sub-tropical' climate. Indeed, to be technically accurate, I do actually live what is deemed to be more of a sub-tropical climate but just as a point of reference, when I make such references, it's really more as a point of generally reference based on what is happening in the garden at a given point in time rather than an accurate reflection of my geological or climatic zone.  To be perfectly accurate, since my garden exists within many micro-climates, it's probably best for me not to denote any type of climate condition since I exist in one zone and due to the dramatic shifts in weather pattern have endured extremes not entirely reflective of the 'typical' climate in which I live.  But the point is well taken.  Just know that basically where I live, I've been able to basically grow anything in my garden with little concern to climatic conditions.  That's the underlying point to any of my notations about weather in my area.

One last item, the system now requires one to log-in to make a comment as we've continued to receive unwanted and undesirable spammers. We're now forced to waste our time tracking such nonsense so we can report it in an effort to insure we're not receiving such junk in the future. Sorry for the inconvenience for those who are merely interested in engaging in dialogue. We hate that you are forced to enter extra steps in order to merely send a response to a posting but it's unfortunately become necessary so people don't have to look at ridiculous adverts. Frankly, those who are the makers of these products who are constantly spamming sites should know that it merely deters those who might otherwise consider using such products away from said companies. An organization (its affiliates and it's sponsors) would have to know how much credibility they lose by posting such ridiculous nonsense where it's unwarranted.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Native American Corn

A bunch of us are trialing beans and corn in 2010 so I've been reading up on the different types and interesting varieties. Seed catalogs with diverse heirloom and open pollinated varieties often list flint corn along with sweet corn and I've always focused on the sweet corn merely out of convenience. But, I've often pondered the differences and how they coule be used. In reading through 'Heirloom Vegetables' by Sue Stickland she notes some really interesting points:

In the Native American culture, there are six colors of corn which directly correlate to what they consider their six directions: black, red, white, yellow, blue and multi-colored corns relate to north, east, south, west , zenith (sky) and nadir (earth).

Northeastern Indians use white corn for breads.

Southwestern Indians use blue corn which have evolved an association with beneficial soil fungi making the soil 10 times more efficient at utilizing the nutrients in the soil.

There are some fascinating details in this book:

Heirloom Vegetables: A Home Gardener's Guide to Finding and Growing Vegetables from the Past
By Sue Stickland
Publisher: Fireside or Gaia Books Limited, London, 1998
Pages: 191

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Planting a Row for the Hungry?

Think I'll try my hand at planting an extra row to feed someone who might be in need of a little extra nourishment. I'd love any suggestions from those who might already be doing this or have considered doing it.

Regulations are a bit sketchy about providing produce to food banks and the like. I was thinking of asking a local school to recommend one small family who might have an interest in a bag of weekly fresh vegetables.

It's so easy to grow various plants in the smallest of spaces that it would truly be great if everyone simply tossed a few seeds in a pot. But, I also recognize that many people may be overwhelmed. So, that small gesture may be a small benefit.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2010 Heirloom Club Trials :: Corn & Beans

Now, it's probably a ridiculous concept to trial corn and beans to most since this has been done time and time again. But, there are more bean and corn seeds that were part of the 2009 master garden plan than were actually planted in the garden. There were about 15 varieties of corn and about 20 varieties of beans.


I germinated about 10 of those varieties and only 2 varieties made it into the ground. Oh, it wasn't because there was anything wrong with the plants, I just couldn't find the time to do the gardening I wanted to do. It seems the recession made stable businesses panic as much as those that were on the brink and as a result, we got worked close to the brink of not having a life.

Sadly, there are just as many bean and corn seeds on the new 2010 order list so this means we're going to need a little bit of help. It would be great if we could have our own bean and corn trials where we each take a variety and report back to the club on which was best and why. I'm growing more Country Gentlemen since we never seem to get enough and I'm thinking about a popcorn variety - just for the fun of it.

Let me know if you're interested and if you are, I'll post the list of varieties that are available that I can send to you.

By the way, I had just as many tomato and pepper plants too. They've managed to continue growing amidst the winter chill. And the saddest part? Most of those corn and bean plants grew mini vegetables in the small containers they were started in. Some of them were given away before the plants matured in their small cells but many, unfortunately, produced Barbie sized vegetables. Got to give them credit for being tenacious.

By the way, did anyone plant sweet peas this year? The plants seem to be exceptional this year and I haven't quite figured out why.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hamburg Parsley

Good grief! Just when I think the garden is under control another volunteer pops up making me wonder if I should or shouldn't yank it out of the ground (and normally that conflict means it stays in the ground).

Yesterday I noticed Hamburg Parsley sprouting in the most unusual of places including the windowbox which contains our Music garlic. It will definitely get replanted elsewhere since the windowbox won't be lengthy enough to enable it to grow to any decent size but the real point is - this is not exactly how I'd planned to spend the weekend! It's a great problem to have but it just musses up the very predictable program I've been trying to institute in the garden (and to that my mind says 'yeah, right').

So, anyway, as I perused the garden I noticed another stowaway of Hamburg parsley that has gone to seed...and as many of my garden friends know, we just can't pass up the opportunity to collect more seeds. It is food afterall - or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

I'll have to do a post on stowaways, aka volunteers, as I tend to have loads of them throughout the year. Last summer's cosmos have made their way back just a few months after going to seed...not sure how they'll survive our cold nights...but oh well.

The end result of this discovery is that I'll need to pass these seeds along (and in a hurry) as I have bundles of new batches forthcoming that we'll need to make room for. Send me a self addressed stamped envelope and I'll send you a packet of Hamburg Parsley.

I've also posted this on the exchange forum as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Giant Potatoes

Glad to see I'm not the only one who misses goodies in the garden only to be shocked into a different time zone when a "giant" is found.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Boothby's Blonde Cucumber

The shoot of a cucumber.Image via Wikipedia

I've come to the realization that I have a love-hate relationship with cucumbers. Planting them and watching them grow from seed is extremely rewarding. But boy do I get sick of them quickly. It's the uncontrollable nature of the plants. They produce enough to feed a small army and if really allowed to take off, they'll produce in my garden for nearly a year or more.

This year, I intentionally planted them late. Intentionally because I was hoping for less production. Now, I just read what I wrote and must admit that's a really dumb idea - but it's the truth.

As usual, I planted more varieties than I have room for. One of them is Boothby's Blonde cucumber and I may just get my wish and end up with NO cucumbers in 2009 since the plants are weak and anemic looking.

What would make me think I could even think of growing them in October? It's the California sun which makes me deliriously silly about planting whatever I want throughout the year.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2010 Seed Planning

So, I can't believe it's nearly 2010 but with the new year is always the fun of planning the new garden. Now that we have the exchange forum, it will be nice to distribute seeds earlier in the year to people who have an interest, especially those with a shorter growing season.

Interested in obtaining some new seeds in 2010? If so, please feel free to list the items of interest and/or the items you're planning on purchasing as well. Please post a reply on the exchange forum if you're interested being part of the collective who will receive seeds from my purchases. Feel free to list what's on your planting/personal purchase list for 2010 here. It will be great for us to compare notes next year if we all end up planting similar items.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Butternut Squash

Butternut SquashImage by found_drama via Flickr

Last year a neighbor grew some of the most delicious butternut squash. Now, originally, my thought was squash is squash...but oh how I was completely misguided. I've had butternut squash before but never fresh from the garden. Wow was that a pleasant surprise. We roasted it and it was sweet and nutty and almost like eating a sweet potato.

Anyone have any interesting recipes? We just roasted ours with a dab of butter and drizzled it with creamed honey. Mouthwatering delight!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Heirloom Club Exchange Forum

For a long time I've wanted us to have a way to communicate rather than just through email exchange. Finally, the heirloom seed exchange and trade forum is launched. It's presently under construction and will frequently receive improvements as I have time. Please join up as you have time and want to discuss particulars about your garden and the heirlooms you're growing.

This is designed to be an international exchange and where permitted by your country's customs and laws, it's my hope we'll all be able to exchange seeds freely.

Part of the changes I'll make, now that the exchange forum is launched, is to make certain of my free seeds available to members only on a first come, first served basis. There's a good possibility I'll decrease the number of orderable freebies as well, in an effort to keep my sanity.

Over the coming months, it's my hope we'll be able to start a seed bank of our bounty so we can more readily share with each other.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and interest.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sweet Pea Trialers Needed

A beautiful sweet pea with baby pink flowers was gorgeous in our garden this year. It bloomed for several months and was grown from seed. The fragrance was absolutely enchanting. Later in the season, it was noticed there were tons of other sweet pea seedlings coming up. And I shouldn't have been surprised as other sweet peas were grown about 2 feet away from this year's plants and more than likely spread seed into the new patch. Of course, it was on my to-do list to tag the baby pink sweet pea plants but I never seemed to get around to it. Now I have seeds from multiple plants and don't have a clue which is which. So, I'm hoping to enlist the assistance of a at least 6 gardeners to trial the seeds by growing them in their garden and reporting back the results.

Interested? If so, please send a self addressed stamped envelope to me and I'll send you a packet of seeds.

Here's what you'd need to report by participating as a trialer:

1. What color were the flowers?
2. How well did the plants grow?
3. How tall were the plants, approximately?
4. On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the most fragrant), were the flowers fragrant?
5. What were your growing conditions?
6. Would you grow this flower again?
7. What time of the year did you grow the plant?

Please send an email if you're interested and I'll send you the address to send your stamped envelope.

Out of the multitude of inquiries received, only one person has sent in their envelope for the sweet pea trial. It would be great to get 5 additional people. International inquiries are welcomed - please designate your country and we'll figure out a way to get the seeds to you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Check this out: Heirlooms Grown For a Soup Kitchen for All to Enjoy

I love soup and I love heirlooms. It was even more of a thrill to see an organization growing heirlooms and sharing the harvest in the form of a free meal. Simply marvelous...The article was quite intriguing and rather nice to see.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Climbing Petunia

Holy peanut butter...it's hard to believe it's been so long since my last post. What a crazy, busy year. For the first time, in a very long time, I've had a few days to dedicate my time to the garden and heavens, what a joy.

With the economy being a little topsy-turvey, the 9-to-5 has taken it's direction from the stock market which means I've had to work longer and more intense hours. But enough is enough...the sun is out and the birds are singing and the squirrels are eating everything that has an tad bit of sugar. So, I need to be out there too!
While out in the garden, I noticed the climbing petunias that were planted last year are rampant...and have also gone to seed. Of course, I collected the seed but in honest amazement. It's planted in a pot where a lemon tree is growing...and it's managed to take full control of the tree for climbing purposes. By all accounts, the flower looks just like any other petunia...it just grows up, around and throughout whatever it manages to grow next to. It also has nice longevity as it's succeeded well with substantial neglect. They've grown, without being trimmed, or a large quantity of water for more than a year and has continued to bloom profusely (and is still on going). With a little concern and care, they'd probably end up as real dynamos in the garden.

Look for updates to the seed list in the early summer months. Much has been collected and will be made available and the remaining portion of the list will be consolidated until the next seed saving round.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's True!

I was reading an older post from this blog and found myself reminiscing. It's definitely true, it's a miracle when something wonderful comes up in the garden (especially when you're able to enjoy it). For years we had the most unusual and yet incredibly delicious squash that would just seem to appear each year. It was one of those plants we took for granted because it was highly prolific and ALWAYS returned! It grew in the garden for so many years I can't recall not having it. It was typically so productive we would just pull it out after about 8 months (even though it was still producing squash). It was a yellow squash with a green bottom. That was the only squash we were able to give away readily without friends and neighbors asking us to stop. One of our Persian neighbors would always accept as many as we'd provide as he said they were very common in his country (even though I'd never seen them in the states) and his family loved them.

Unfortunately, we rearranged the garden one year and suddenly we realized our squash was no more. That was about 4 years ago. Now, of course, we miss that squash and as a seed saver I could kick myself in the shin for not saving the seed (always assuming it would just materialize).

So, when I happened upon this post about the squash (and its incredible abundance) I couldn't help but think (and long) for that incredible squash that produced enough for several dozen families for months on end...

It is true, they produce a gargantuan quantity - just don't take them for granted as you might find yourself without them one day and then you'll be sorry.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It seems veggies and flowers won over fruit and herbs in the garden with 60% polling a preference for flowers and vegetables and vs. 40% for fruit and herbs.

Thanks for taking the time to vote! Please make sure to vote in the next poll as well!

Friday, January 2, 2009

January: White Stock Seed for SASE

Since it's the beginning of the year I figured we could start with some lovely, old-fashioned garden flowers. We grew so much of this stock in 2008 and placed the plants in so many different areas of the garden, our neighbors would comment how fragrant the garden was and they hadn't even made it up the driveway.

White Stock is a great addition to any garden for its incredible fragrance and beauty. This variety produced massive plants, much larger than anticipated. The bed was mulched with organic material which may have resulted in the enthusiastic growth. Leaves were a grayish-green-blue with an overcast of white. The leaves are heavier than dwarf stock and have a bit of a grainy texture. The flowers bloomed into single, creamy-white, flowers which grew to approximately 2 ½ feet. Some came through as 'doubles' but the majority are single flowers - still highly fragrant. They made an excellent bouquet as a filler or alone. Flowers produced over a long period of time. Fragrance is intense and delightfully sweet. This is another one I strongly recommend.

It's noted Thomas Jefferson grew White Stock in his garden at Montecello.

We are making small packets of this seed available to the first 20 people only. We'll post here when the packets are completely gone. The quantity of seed and packets are limited so please send in your SASE immediately upon contact.

For rules on the SASE distribution, please review this post.