All the tomatoes this year seem strong and vibrant (above is Stupice, Below is Jelly Bean) - perhaps it's the wonderful starts we got - or hopefully it's a combined effort of choosing the right plants and treating them well in our garden. We hope to have our first edible tomatoes by the end of June.
Tomatoes! Jelly Bean is turning orange - as is Stupice! (well on their way to red) - We may get to eat a tomato by the end of June!
As another experiment, we've planted melons and pumpkins on the edge of the tomato beds trailing onto the gravel. If it works this would be the first year we'd ever managed to grown a pumpkin or melon in this garden. We're also experimenting with corn this year (not in the tomato beds though - as corn worm and tomato worm are the same critter)
Spring Plantings, 2006
I Fratelli Giaquinta Gardens
and Jacobsen Orchard Certified Organic Tomato Starts - Yountville
Black from Tula
Earl of Edgecombe
German Red Strawberry
Isis Candy Cherry
Black Krim is coming right along... Occidental Art & Ecology Center 15290 Coleman Valley Rd.,
Occidental, CA 95465 (707) 874-1557
We bought a number of starts here at their annual spring plant sale including two more unusual ones a Pepino Pepper and Mashua along with parsley root, two types of basil, broccoli.
Mashua Tropaelum Tuberosm – from the Andean region is their 4th most important root crop after potato, oca and ulluco. It’s related to the nasturtium. Plant it when the soil is warm (May) and give it full sun and rich most soil – although it can take some daytime shade. It does not like intense heat. Plant like a potato – 2 inches down and 12 inches apart. It’s a vine so it does well over a fence or climbs a trellise up to 8ft high. I has a hot peppery taste like radishes when raw. When cooked it becomes mild and has a sweet turnip-like fragrance. Traditionally it is cooked and eaten with other root vegetables, grains and meats and used in soups and stews. OEAC suggests slicing it thinly in salad (raw) or tossing with salt and olive oil and baking it with other root vegetables. It’s high in Vitamin C and protein and has been used medicinally as an anti-aphrodisiac. In the UK it’s grown as an ornamental for it’s flowers but all parts of the plant are edible – flowers, leaves, roots and shoots and of course the tubers.
Chalk Hill Clematis
We bought 5 Clematis - one as a present and Anabelle, 'Brunette', Clair de Lune (Envirin), Duchess of Edinburgh to add to our collection which includes: Josephine.
Forni-Brown-Welsh Gardens - Calistoga Famous for their lettuces they also are open to the public for a short time in the spring selling starts of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, melons, pumpkins, eggplants, etc. We purchased seeds and starts:
Pea Pole Amish Snap
Carrot Atomic Red
Black Aztec Corn
Windsor Fava Beans
Sun Moon and Stars Watermelon
(the 1st one with small tomatoes -see photo above)
Marconi Purple Pepper and more...
COPIA Seeds I bought 5 types of heirloom beans:
Levi Robinson Bush Bean, Provider Bush Bean, Cyrus Bush Bean and Seafarer Dry Bush Bean - so far we've planted the Tarahumara Yellow Pole Bean.
Winter Garden for 2006
We've planted the first layers of the winter garden. The tomatoes are still producing so we’ve left them and raked around them, added a new compost layer and planted in among them. I took out most of the summer squash which also gave us more room.
We planted Organic Starts of:
Cauliflower - Snowball
Peas – Thomas Laxton
Peas – Little Marvel
Peas - Waverex
Rainbow Swiss Chard
And seeds of:
Fava Beans (Windsor)
Spinach – Winter Bloomsdale
Carrots – Scarlet Nantes
Carrots – Red Core Chantenay
Peas – Italian Shelling
We bought a few winter flowers (including a sweet pea starts and some Spencer-type seeds), a rhubarb plant (Victoria) and a cardoon for the front side garden. I also bought a new sage plant as mine need to be replaced, an interesting carrot-leafed Cilantro and 2 climbing spinach plants. Plus Trent picked out a few flowers – Viola, Chrysanthemum, and Alyssum.
March, 2006 Update
I ripped out the old strawberries and
we refreshed the soil with compost. Then we
planted new ones - Aromas and Selvas (?).
I planted Heritage Raspberry canes along
the back (5 of them) as an experiment.
The Fava beans have lots of flowers
but no beans yet
A Wild Garden of Leeks, Borage and Favas
A Recent Garden Visitor:
To you, a ladybug may be commonplace,
but we have been waiting years for one
to show up in our garden unannounced!
Cauliflower & Broccoli Somehow we've never managed to produce a whole cauliflower or broccoli before - but lo and behold this year was met with success - perhaps it was that the aphid season was short due to the rain. Trent was so proud - and he ate most of the cauliflower and all of the broccoli (there were teeth marks on it before I got to actually cook it). Above is Ms. Snowball in all her glory. Below is the broccoli before the teeth marks ensued.
Golden Raspberries Last year we planted 3 golden raspberry canes in the spring but had no raspberries in the summer. One of the canes looked totally dead. Then out of the blue in late fall we had a couple of berries. I figured that it was going to be years till we had enough to make a snack. This Spring we suddenly had a forest of leaves where the 3 canes had been planted. I secretly wondered if some wild blackberries (which are a weed here) had crept up when we weren't looking... I started watching them like a hawk.
Buds appeared and then flowers... and berries turning color and real raspberries - we now go out everyday for a snack. Time will tell if the Heritage Canes I planted in the strawberry bed will net any actual berries.
Golden Beets Every year the harvest is bigger and better - next year I swear I'll have it down... we managed one dinner out of this year's harvest.The Wild the Wacky
& The Experimental
Our experimental Apple Tree - espaliered and grafted with 6 varieties is doing well this year we have apples on almost every branch for the first time.
Our Fava Bean experiment was a little too successful for my taste. Jack refused to let me rip them out and it's June and we're down to the last of them finally. We did have one heck of a crop though! We grew the regular variety and the Windsor one.
No I'm not making vaccines. Vaccinium is the genus which includes bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), Whortleberry, Cranberry, Ligonberry, Bilberry and Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum pictured above). I found them at Sonoma Horticultural Nursery in Sebastopol, a favorite place to visit in the spring as they have such spectacular Rhododendrons and Azaelas. It turns out that vaccinium likes forest floor settings so that's how I've planted them - with dappled sun. We have Ligonberry, Huckleberry, Bog Blueberry and Whortleberry.
Spring is here? March 2006
The artichoke is looking very happy!
A Bumblebee woke up on a warm spell in February and visited our borage flowers
We have red, white and pink Camellias in bloom - Feb. 2006
Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye' - Which I had planted 2 years ago!
A Sedum Flat we didn't get planted
in the Fall looks very happy
The Tree Peonies are leafing out in February
One of the few blooms - Valerian in March!
We harvested six bags of sour oranges and
could easily get 20-30 bags of them