Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Seed Sowing

Where does the time go!? I can't believe my last post was in January.  And with the summer-like weather yesterday, I'm already thinking ahead to tomatoes.

All my seeds arrived from Kitazawa, Territorial, and Fedco. And my bareroot plants from Raintree are in the ground: purple asparagus, Jewel Black raspberry, and a hedge form of serviceberry.

Out of the many seeds I ordered this season, I am most looking forward to growing the Indigo Blue Berries tomato. I've been buying these at farmers' market for a couple of years now and decided grow them myself this year. They are a small cherry type with deep bluish purple skin with hints of red, and super flavorful. The need 75 days until maturity and I've successfully grown other cherry tomatoes with similar timing so I'm hoping they'll do well.

Other veggies I'm looking forward to growing are purple pac choi, painted serpent cucumbers, and zucchini. I'm surprised that this will be my first time growing zucchini given how successful else is at growing it. This is your warning: lock your car doors!
Repeats of previous years that will be grown again this year are eggplant, shishito, escarole and tomato 'Odoriko.' This tomato is pink fleshed, a little larger than a roma and very flavorful. It also has a short requirement for maturity making it ideal for Seattle summers.
That's only about half of the seeds I ordered, and I'm already feeling a space crunch. My eyes are definitely bigger than my garden!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Catalog Time!

I can't believe it's been since October that I last posted something. Yikes! Where did the time go?

It's that time of year where my mailbox (and I'm sure yours) is filled with catalogs. I look forward to perusing what's being offered every year at this time and yet I'm overwhelmed.

It's possible to have too many choices. How did I narrow it down? I started with the smallest catalog which is also the most specific: Kitazawa Seed Company. Their emphasis is Asian vegetable seeds. Since I live where the growing season is short, this is a great source for tomatoes and eggplant geared for our climate. I've also had great success with their seeds in the past. I plan on ordering the Odoriko pink tomato, which matures in 75 days. It's easy and tasty as are Sungolds. With eggplant I plan on growing Money Maker #2 (which I find the name hilarious). It sets fruit early, maturing in 60 days. Kitazawa is a big hit in my book for carrying specialty veggies like gailaan (Chinese broccoli), cutting celery and shishito peppers. If my husband had his way, our entire garden would be solely shishitos. They are easy to grow and a fantastic summertime snack flash fried in olive oil and kosher salt.

I'm also partial to Fedco. Who could pass up a catalog cover featuring a comic strip with a sunflower spitting seeds into the ground?! Even though they're in Maine, they understand a short growing season. Their seed prices are super reasonable and promise no GMO material. They also are the only ones who carry Rainbow kale. I grew this a few years ago and feel like it's time to grow it again. Rainbow kale is a cross between Lacinato and Red Bor. It is gorgeous as it is yummy. I'm going to also try carrots again this year as they are bringing back the Tonda di Parigi which grow well in heavy soil. My other favorite I grew last year are the Masai haricots verts bush beans; the perfect type for lazy pickers like me. I had pods in mid-October that were still good.

I'm going to order a few items from Territorial. I was wooed by their Royal Burgundy bush bean which has a lovely purple color. And they are the only ones carrying seeds for the Indigo tomato series. I had these for the first time a couple of years ago from Let Us Farm (they specialize in lettuce...get it?) and are super delicious. They have a purple black skin and are deep red inside. I may go with a variety closer to the 75 day maturity versus 80 to ensure I get enough ripening time. Possibly Indigo Kumquat since they are a grape type which would be a great pair with Sungold.

I'm tempted to try something new this year. Maybe a few new flowers like Territorial's Babino marigold which has golden flowers brushed with orange streaks on a compact plant, or a new compact sweet pea like Cupid Black. I've never grown zucchini before. Lock your car doors and guard your porches friends!  

Monday, October 21, 2013


I can't believe these are blooming now!

I planted then last fall as a birthday present to my foodie husband.

Pretty exciting! I thought they would bloom in the spring; not now in the fall. There are fall blooming crocus (technically they are Colchicum), but these are true crocus. Still...a welcome surprise!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seasonal Denial

I've been trying to make the transition into fall; putting my summer garden to rest. These last few days of rainy forecasts trumped by warm sun aren't helping.

I popped the last round of ripe Sun Golds into my mouth as though they would give me the courage to start yanking out plants. But look at all the green tomatoes that may easily turn yellow with a couple more days of this weather! I couldn't do it.

Really these are going to ripen...
The Shishito peppers, packed with flowers, made it difficult as well. The sun was warm on my back; certainly a few more warm days will help bring on another round, right? But then I caught a slight scent in the air finally convincing me this won't last. I collected another bowl to be wok fried as I plucked the plants from the garden.
All those white flowers made it tough!
The peppers I collected were significantly larger than the ones from earlier this summer. I saw some for sale at the Friday Harbor farmers' market a couple of weeks ago. I was a little envious since theirs were much bigger than the ones we had. And $8 a pound! I'll have to say they are spicy and loose that distinct, concentrated "green" flavor compared to the smaller, younger fruits. Plus, the larger they are, the longer they take to cook. And when it comes to snacking on these, you want them to be done quick!
Wok-a! Wok-a!
I needed little convincing with pulling out the basil though. Once the nights get below 50 degrees, basil slimes out pretty quickly. One last round of pesto. I brought the plants into the kitchen to pull the leaves off. As I took the left over plants out to the compost, my son asked why I was throwing the plants away. I explained basil is an annual and grows in the summer. I told him once it gets cold, the basil will die so it's time for them to go into the compost. A kid who likes to save EVERYTHING he didn't argue with me for once.
So long, farewell...
I've checked the forecast (NOAA is pretty accurate) and it's supposed to dip to 47 on Wed night. Perfect weather for turning my Sun Golds to mush for sure. In the meantime, I'll keep up my seasonal denial.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I had decent timing on my eggplant this year. Snagged several of these beauties last week to add to my ratatouille. They're pretty small but flavorful! They are called Diamond from Adaptive Seeds and are said to grow in less than ideal conditions.

Our weather this summer has been amazing with decent temperatures and little rain. I'm sure this helped Diamond do well.

Hope your summer harvests are winding down nicely. Savor those last meals that make the most of the season. Invite your friends over and eat in the garden before the weather turns.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sun Gold Special Delivery

It's been hard finding time to keep up on my posts. When I'm inside writing, there's less time spent outside savoring the last moments of summer.

The Sun Golds are still quite prolific. My son was happy to collect a bunch and give them a ride in his trike.

These are full of flavor and can be used in so many summer dinners from fish tacos to cool pesto pastas. Yum!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Doing Nothing

What to do about apple scab and codling moth? Apple scab leaves lesions on the apple's surface and is caused by a fungus. On the scale of a home grower, there isn't much one can do that doesn't involve fungicides. I've been lucky my apples haven't been hit by it.

Codling moth is another story. I've had a few apples invested with these wormy delights. My way of controlling this pest is wrapping each apple in a piece of pantyhose. This is quite labor intensive. So I decided this year to do nothing. Risky since this is a high yield year. Last year my crop was way down. I may end up next to no apples two years in a row.

So far the Honeycrisps are looking pretty good. No signs of frass. They are starting to turn red within the last week.

I'll keep you posted on their progress. I hope doing nothing pays off!