I HAVE ALWAYS CAGED my tomatoes, but many experts agree that staking–and regularly pruning and tying the staked plants as they grow–is the most space-efficient and also most hygienic tactic of all, helping manage the potential for disease while yielding plenty of fruit. With tomato-transplant time just ahead here, I’ve been studying up with experts like Tom Stearns (that’s his High Mowing Organic Seeds tomato trial field, above) on how to stake and prune tomatoes, and other tips for producing a healthy, bountiful crop. [read more…]
How to grow tomatoes, America's favorite "vegetable" (really a fruit!). Covered here: organic tomato growing from seed to harvest, including tomato disease prevention, heirloom versus hybrid tomato varieties, and even growing grafted tomatoes, ripening half-red ones, and making easy tomato sauce.
DEAR GAYLA: Well, this is just perfect. You are publicly blaming me for the fact that you are about to be overrun by giant Nicotiana in your smaller garden, and I am in turn holding you to task for the fact that I am suddenly obsessed with growing dwarf tomatoes in pots in my bigger one. (At least we’re keeping all our finger-pointing in one botanical family: the seductive Solanaceae.) Seriously, though: Thanks for the unusual tomato seeds you sent, and the advice on how to grow them. Thanks to you, I’m starting tomato seed today. [read more…]
ADD THEM TO THE LIST of plants I suddenly noticed are MIA—things I “always” grew but haven’t lately. The latest “where did they go?” crop: tomatillos. I’m determined to master a salsa recipe to can or freeze this year, particularly a green one, or salsa verde. That’s why tomatillos, which self-sowed here for a decade before disappearing who knows why or exactly when, are on the to-grow list in 2013. Some how-to—including on my weekly radio show, where I get advice from my friend Gayla Trail—plus a giveaway of a whole salsa-garden seed kit. [read more…]
IT’S AN UNASSUMING little catalog; even in its printed incarnation, five-year-old Peace Seedlings is more a 20-page flyer than flashy or magazine-like. In its third season on the web, the company’s whole description and 2013 seed listing fits on one super-long, scrollable page, and you have to order by mail, with a check. Peace Seedlings makes me think of simpler days when there were more such treasure troves to discover as a gardener. It’s a list of what my retro-home-blogging friend Pam would call “woddities,” or wonderful oddities, and it makes me happy. I spent a delightful tea time yesterday imagining every plant in it in my mind’s eye, savoring each description from edible Andean tubers to a Hutterite bush bean that “makes epic creamy bean soup,” to purple-podded vining snap peas (‘Sugar Magnolia’ photo below) and long-stemmed marigolds and oh, those bodacious tomatoes up top. I’ll buy two lucky winners $20 worth of woddities from Peace Seedlings, in my latest giveaway. [read more…]
IF YOU’VE EVER SAVED SEED for a number of years running, you may notice that over time, the plant makes itself increasingly at home—and performs better. Or perhaps a friend raves about “his” version of a particular tomato or squash or other open-pollinated crop, which does indeed seem “better” in some way. But why? Lately I’ve become fascinated by such signs of adaptation, and in this age of local-centrism, the idea of “local heirlooms” seems very timely. I asked my across-the-river neighbor Ken Greene, co-founder of Hudson Valley Seed Library, to teach me more—plus you can win some seeds, or best of all: come join me and Ken and others March 23, when we talk seed at a special event. [read more…]