Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tomato Tuesday-Wildthyme Bicolor

This was another variety I received from a forum member and it is not available through any vendors. Wildthyme Bicolor is one of many segregates from a creation called Wildthyme Mix. Since it's creation by Bill Jeffers there has been a bicolor, green when ripe, purple and pink varieties that were segregated out from the original cross. This plant is indeterminate with potato leaves. It produced beautiful bicolor beefsteak tomatoes for me. This was another plant that was almost destroyed by the hail storm. I am so glad it bounced back and it produced for me up until the first frost. The flavor was great and it will be returning to my garden again in the future!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my Tomato Tuesday post. Stop by next week to see which variety I will be spotlighting from my 2014 garden.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tomato Tuesday-Top 5

I am sorry I took such a long break from writing my Tomato Tuesday posts. I will now be posting a Tomato Tuesday post every week featuring a variety from my 2014 garden. I grew many new varieties this year and I can't wait to share them all with you. I grew over 70 varieties this year! I thought I would do my first post on my top 5 favorites from this year. I will post a description of each, photos and seed source. I did grow some varieties that are not available from seed vendors. I received some of my varieties from members at the Tomato Forum I belong to. If there are any varieties I post about and they are not available through a seed company, I am willing to share some of my saved seeds with you. Well let's get started with my top 5 favorites!

Captain Lucky
The first variety is called Captain Lucky. I loved this variety and I will grow it every year. I got these seeds from Trudi at Wintersown.org, however it is available through some seed vendors.  It is a green when ripe bicolor, medium-large beefsteak with a red bottom. Bred by Millard Murdock from a outcross between Lucky Cross and an unknown pollen parent. After several generations of selection, Millard has stabilized this wonderful line. The plants are Indeterminate with Potato Leaves. 


Next is beautiful, tasty and prolific "Rose". I purchased my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. Rose is an Amish heirloom from East Earl, Pennsylvania. Large, crack resistant, 10 oz. fruits are meaty and dusty rose colored. Flavor is excellent, and is considered by some to rival Brandywine. Plants are vigorous and strong with good leaf cover. My plant was huge and loaded with tomatoes all season.

Big Cheef

A result of a natural cross with Brandywine Sudduth's and an unknown regular leaf parent in the garden of Ricky “B” of Murphreesboro, Tennessee. The plants are indeterminate with potato leaves and produce medium-large mahogany tomatoes. In May my plant was pretty much destroyed by the hail storm we had. There was just part of the stem and 1-2 leaves left. The members at my Tomato Forum told me to let it go because tomato plants are resilient. Sure enough a week later it was putting on new leaves and getting bigger. It was one of my most productive plants in my home garden and was very tasty. I received my seeds from a forum member, however you can purchase them at Marianna's Heirloom Seeds  https://www.mariannasheirloomseeds.com/seed-catalog/tomato-seeds/create-heirlooms/big-cheef-f6-detail.html

Photo courtesy of Marianna's Heirloom Seeds


This is another variety that I got from a member at the tomato forum I belong to. This variety was created by Bill Jeffers. He crossed Green Giant and Yellow Submarine to create this variety. The plants are indeterminate with potato leaves and produces abundant amounts of beautiful yellow beefsteak tomatoes with a pink blush in the middle. This tomato has a wonderful sweet flavor and it will be returning to my garden next year. This variety is not available for sale by any vendors that I know of.

Not Purple Strawberry

This variety was created by crossing German Red Strawberry with Cherokee Purple hoping for a dark heart shaped tomato. For the most part the heart shape has not appeared for most hence the "Not" in the name. Plants are productive and the fruits are a deep rose-purple with deep olive green shoulders. The flavor is awesome. Again my seed source was from a forum member. They are available at Marianna's Heirloom Seeds.

I hope you enjoyed learning about my top 5 Favorite tomato varieties from my 2014 garden. Stop by next week to check out which variety I will be spotlighting in my Tomato Tuesday post. I have many more great varieities to share with you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tromboncino Squash

Every year I like to try new varieties in my garden and one of the new to me varieties this year was Tromboncino Squash. It is an Italian vining squash and should be trellised to form straight squash. This squash can grow up to 3 feet long. Tromboncino squash is trumpet shaped hence the name. This squash is a duel purpose squash, it can be harvested young and used like zucchini or harvest at full maturity and used like a winter squash. It is tender, mild, sweet and nutty when harvested as summer squash at 8–12". Delicious steamed, grilled or sliced raw in salad. Italians use it in gnocchi and to stuff ravioli. I sautéed some of my young squash along with zucchini and it was delicious. It has less water content compared to zucchini and cooks up nicely. The skin is light green and thin so no need to peel it. The other nice thing is that the seeds are all in the rounded part, so the rest of the squash is seedless. I did let one of my squash stay on the vine until full maturity and used it like butternut squash. At full maturity the skin hardens and turns tan like butternut squash.  I will be growing this variety again next year and I highly recommend it.

Last photo courtesy of Southern Exposure Seed Company

If you have the space in your garden and like summer/winter squash I would give Tromboncino a try next year.
My seed source was The Scientific Gardener
  Thanks for checking out my post and happy gardening!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roasted Salsa

This year I gave canning a try and made Roasted Salsa. It was pretty simple to make and delicious to eat. I was able to use my canning pot for the first time which was exciting. The recipe was suggested by one of my gardening friends, he makes it every year. I followed the recipe, except instead of roasting the vegetables in the oven I roasted them on my grill. This is how my friend makes his and it adds a great grilled flavor to the salsa. Here is the link to the recipe http://www.theyummylife.com/recipes/180/Roasted+Salsa+for+Canning
Give this recipe a try next year with your garden harvests, you won't be disappointed! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Gardening!


Garden Visitors

I love spending time in my garden! Sometimes I just sit on my garden hutch and take in all the beauties of my garden. I love the smell in the air, watching my plants grow, listening to the sounds around me and watching the many visitors I get in my garden. This year I had many animals and insects visit my garden. I plant flowers to attract insects and birds to my garden. I also have bird feeders and bird houses throughout my garden for the birds. This year I had many birds visit my garden, such as chickadees, sparrows, morning doves, house wrens, hummingbirds, barn swallows, nuthatcher, robins, gold finch, cardinals, purple finch and a wood pecker. I had a wood pecker visit my bird feeders every day in the spring, it was beautiful. I had house wrens occupy my one bird house and another was occupied by barn swallows.

House Wren

Barn Swallow

Baby Sparrow in bean teepee
Along with birds I had many interesting insects. I had butterflies, grasshoppers, spiders, bees and of course many insects that were not welcome.

Swallowtail Butterfly
Garden Spider
Thanks for checking out my garden visitors. I look forward to seeing the animals/insects in my garden next year. What interesting visitors do you get in your garden? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ground Cherries

I grew Ground Cherries for the first time this year. I started the seeds inside in February along with my peppers and eggplant seeds. They take awhile to germinate and are slow growers. The seedlings are very tiny and delicate. I ended up planting four plants in my garden in May when there was no chance of frost. Two of my plants were chewed up by an animal which left me with two plants. The two plants I had really produced a lot of fruit throughout summer. I had to keep treating the leaves with an organic garden dust because the flea beetles loved to them. I was picking up the fruit off the ground pretty much every other day. I was told by another gardener that once you plant them in your garden they will reseed every year. The fruit looks like cherry tomatoes, but covered with a papery husk like tomatillos. The flavor is very unique. I think they have a fruity pineapple taste with a tomatoey after taste. I will definitely have these in my garden every year whether they reseed or not. I ended up freezing all my harvests to use in the future in baking recipes. Here is a recipe for Ground Cherry Bread I plan on trying. http://www.jennahsgarden.com/2010/07/ground-cherry-bread/

Here is a good article about growing Ground Cherries by Mother Earth News:

If you want to try something new in your garden next year, give ground cherries a try. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Cleanup

I finally got down to my garden plots today and did some fall cleaning! Tonight it is going down into the 30's so there will be frost tomorrow morning. I harvested the rest of my peppers, parsley and a pumpkin I still had growing on a vine.  I planted 48 garlic cloves today. I am growing German Red and Spanish Roja. I planted 24 of each. I covered my leaf lettuce and Swiss chard with row covers to protect them against the frost tomorrow. I have a lot more cleaning up to do, but it's getting there. I also have carrots, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower still growing, but I don't think some of them will have enough time to produce. How is your Fall garden doing?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

2014 Garden Review

Well it was quite a challenging gardening year for many. I got a late start in March waiting for the snow to melt and the ground to unfreeze. Most of my spring crops were effected by the late start. I got one harvest out of my snow peas before they started dying off because of the heat. My broccoli plants all formed heads but bolted because of the temperatures. I was able to harvest some Chinese Cabbage, Savoy Cabbage and Deadon Cabbage. Most of my lettuce went to flower before I could harvest it. I was able to harvest my carrots, beets and onions successfully. This was my best onion year, I grew Walla Walla onions from transplants that grew to a really nice size and were tasty. I will be growing them again next year for sure!


I got my summer crops planted on time in May. Some of my tomato plants in my home garden were destroyed by an unexpected hail storm. I learned how resilient tomato plants can be because some of my plants were left with just a stem and a leaf and they grew back healthy and strong after the hail damage. I am still harvesting tomatoes from them.

My summer crops also had their ups and downs as well. I was able to harvest a nice amount of tomatoes this year before disease took over the end of July into August. I did plant over 70 plants this year which also helped my harvest amounts. I tried a lot of new tomato varieties this year and will have plenty to share in my upcoming Tomato Tuesday posts, which I will be starting up again. My cherry tomato varieties seemed to struggle this year for some reason. My pepper and eggplant also struggled, however my peppers have taken off in the last month.

 I had a really productive bean crop this year, I grew 3 different pole bean varieties. They were Cherokee Trail of Tears, Rattlesnake Beans and Mayflower beans. I grew them on a bamboo teepee again which always works well for me. I also tried growing bush Lima beans for the first time. I grew Dixie Speckled Butter Beans and Bush Baby White Limas. I harvested many dried bean pods and will be using them eventually to make Baked Lima Beans.

My summer squash also seemed to struggle this year. I am usually overwhelmed with zucchini and this year my plants did not produce abundantly. I tried a new Italian squash this year called Tromboncino, which I will do a post on in the future.

Tromboncino Squash

I also tried Glass Gem corn this year, which was fun to grow but not very productive. It produces very pretty corn that can be used as popcorn.

I had a really good cucumber harvest early on, but once the cucumber beetles got to my plants they were destroyed. I was given a pumpkin plant by another gardener, which turned out to be a cantaloupe. I never grew cantaloupe before and was able to harvest one nice sized melon from my plant. I am now going to give them a try again next year. It was delicious!

Another new to me crop I grew this year was Ground Cherries. I started them by seed inside in February and planted them in May. I had two plants growing and I was able to harvest a ton of fruit from them. They are tasty and very prolific. I have a bunch frozen to use in baking recipes and the rest I ate fresh.

I have some fall crops growing right now down at my community garden plots. I planted carrots, beets, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, Swiss Chard and Romanesco broccoli. My broccoli plants were chewed pretty good by a rabbit that got into my garden, but they are bouncing back.

I was very busy this summer and I did not have time to post on my blog. I have many great ideas for upcoming posts I want to write now that things have slowed down and I plan on picking back up my Tomato Tuesday posts. Please come back to see my upcoming posts and I look forward to hearing about your 2014 growing season experiences. Happy Gardening!

This is one of many volunteer sunflowers I had this year!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Garden Update and Harvesting Results

My community garden plots are changing weekly. With the warmer weather my spring crops are coming to an end.  I am not having luck this year with my broccoli. I planted three varieties this year, Arcadia, Calabrese and Sun King.  The Calabrese variety bolted two weeks ago, so I guess this variety can't tolerate the heat. The Sun King hybrid was starting to form small heads and before I could harvest them they also bolted.  I am left with 6 Arcadia plants and only one has formed a small head.  I am hoping they will work out for me, if not I will try again in the fall. 

Most of my lettuce is harvested, because they were all starting to bolt with the heat and humidity we have been having. I really enjoyed the varieties I grew this spring. They were Little Gem, Tom Thumb, Yugoslavian Red Bibb and Red Romaine. I love growing lettuce varieties that are red, they add color to the garden in early spring. I will be planting more lettuce in August for fall.

My Snow Peas did not do well this year. The vines only grew half the height they usually do and I hardly had any peas to harvest before the heat killed the plants. I am going to try a fall crop. I don't know how they will do in my growing zone in fall, but I figure why not try. Has anyone in zone 6b ever tried growing fall peas?

Again I had no luck with growing spring cauliflower. I am going to give it a try in the fall. My plants formed small heads and then all of them bolted. Every year I fail and every year I try again! I am determined to successfully grow it one of these years.

I was able to harvest four heads of "Bilko" Napa cabbage. The variety called "Soloist" did not do well with the heat and bolted a few weeks ago.  My other cabbage plants are starting to form heads. I have "Deadon" and "Savoy" cabbage growing.

I was able to harvest my first cucumbers Tuesday night. I bought a pot of Suhyo Long Japanese cucumbers and they are vining nicely up my trellis. I did find out that there were two different varieties in the pot. I am getting the traditional Suhyo Long cucumbers, but one of the vines is producing small smoothed skinned cucumbers. I had one in my salad last night for supper and it was good.

All my warm weather crops are growing nicely. My tomato plants are growing crazy and they are loaded with tomatoes. I hope they stay healthy and the fungi/bacteria stay away. I know that is wishful thinking, because every year my plants get hit by something. I am going to start spraying my plants with an organic fungicide to hopefully prevent or slow down the damage. All my summer squash and winter squash plants are doing good so far. The peppers and eggplant are growing nicely. This year I am staying on top of the flee beetles on my eggplants and they definitely look healthier than previous years. My pole beans are really starting to climb the teepee trellis. I am giving lima beans a try this year, I am growing two bush varieties. I am hoping that my purple artichoke that survived the winter will produce artichokes this year. The plant is very healthy and is getting pretty big.

It will soon be time to harvest the garlic and onions. I am growing elephant and regular garlic this year. My onions are really getting large, which is exciting because I have never grown large onions they are always medium sized onions.

Here is a video I took of one of my garden plots in the middle of June. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for stopping by!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Garden Update


I have been really busy down at my garden plots and I haven't spent much time on my blog. I thought I should give an update since it has been awhile. I have both garden plots cleaned up and fully planted. This year I spent a lot of time in my newer plot which was way over due. I cleaned it up, pulled up all the black plastic, tilled the original beds and planted them. I have four raised growing beds, an asparagus bed and strawberry bed. Most of my strawberry plants did not come up this year and the whole bed was badly taken over by weeds. I decided to clean up the bed, remove the remaining strawberries and cover the area with black plastic for the season. This will kill all the weeds and in the fall I will till it and prepare it for next year. I haven't decided if I am going to make it into a strawberry bed again or not. For the most part everything is growing nicely. I had to remove the Soloist Napa cabbage the other day because it bolted, but I still have the Bilko variety hanging in. I harvested some Calabrese broccoli that was looking like it might flower, which one already did. I also had to harvest a head of cauliflower which also looked on the verge of flowering. Every year I notice it is getting harder and harder to grow some cold crops in the spring, it gets warm too quickly and some varieties start to bolt. I may start holding off till fall to plant some crops in the future. Here are some pictures from my garden that I took within the last week.

 View of both plots.
 This year in some of my walkways there is nice grass growing.
View of Plot#2 that was renovated this year.
Broccoli Bed
Sun King Hybrid
Deadon Cabbage

Bilko Napa Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage
Red Romaine

Tom Thumb

Yugoslavian Red

Little Gem
Asparagus bed


Sweet Peppers

Pole Bean Teepee
 Tomato Bed #1

Tomato Bed #2
Tomato Bed #3
Thanks for stopping by and checking out what is growing in my garden. Happy Gardening!