TOMATO SEED UPDATE! ONE DAY, during the last week of April my daughter came to work in the greenhouse and the SEEDS HAD MIRACULOUSLY APPEARED! Even though it was quite late in the game to be starting tomato seeds she planted them anyway and delivered 12 plants (about 6 inches tall) to me on Sunday. One of each variety. HURRAY! My faith in humanity has been restored!
THERE WILL BE NO TOMATO STARTS HERE THIS YEAR. I’m sad about it too. My oldest daughter works in a college greenhouse part-time while finishing her degree program. This year I offered to loan my tomato seeds to the grow program in return for starts. I have saved seeds from many varieties since the early nineties and subsequent generations of them. I save seed from the varieties that have been tasty and performed well in the temperamental and unpredictable northwest summers. I have saved seed from tomatoes bought at farmer’s markets, produce stands, plants I have bought and grown, etc., and most were heirloom types.
ALAS, no starts because some light-fingered jerk on the grounds crew lifted the entire bag of seeds from the potting bench before some of them could be planted and the seeds and starts returned to me. A theft like that is baffling to me. COULDN’T YOU JUST ASK FOR SOME OF THE SEEDS?!
HOWEVER, this gives me a chance to visit Christianson’s Nursery, one of my favorite nurseries. Located among glorious fields of tulips in the Skagit Valley, they have a great selection of tomato plants. One of the plants I bought last year was a variety new to me: Berkley Tye-dye Heart. A big beefstake type with a red and green center. So good, I saved seed!
So, this year I will be on the lookout for new and tasty varieties and order new seeds next year of old favorites. Life marches on.
WE SPENT OUR LAST DEATH VALLEY DAYS AT MESQUITE SPRINGS campground, at the north end of DVNP. Just a few miles south of Ubehebe Crater, it is easy to walk the wash as far as your legs will last. On our first afternoon at Mesquite Springs, my friend Lynn and I walked south in the wash. The wash was caked with thick, cracked and dried mud. This was the third week of January, and we had not encountered any rain so far, so there was no telling when the last real rain event occurred.
About ten minutes into our walk, we started seeing little balls of mud, “stuck in the mud”! Very curious sight. As we walked farther south and downslope from the campground we found ever larger balls. It was thrilling to see them and then try to figure out their origins. Forty minutes on, we started seeing balls nearly the size and weight of bowling balls!
This was our fourth winter trip to DVNP and we had never seen anything like this. We tried to imagine the force and volume of water needed to create and propelled these balls. And, how far had they traveled to gain such size? They sort of resemble dorodango dirt balls, without the smooth finish. These were brittle, with cobble embedded. We broke open some of the smaller ones, thinking that there might be a central pebble but found none.
A couple of days later the four of us took a wonderful hike above the wash to the west and south of the campground and ended up a little farther south than our initial discovery. Plus, Lynn and I had to show off our discovery. You can see from the photo how large some of the are. Amazing!
When we all parted ways, us home to the north and our friends continuing on south, they stopped in at the Furnace Creek visitor center and asked if anyone had seen this phenomenon previously. The rangers said they had not, but were excited to hear about them and see Lynn’s photos and planned to have someone go and take a look. So far, no word from the rangers. The mystery remains.
Musings from the back roads
Celebrating the Harvest
All things botanical in photos and words—in my West Seattle garden and elsewhere; seeing and creating art and assorted musings.
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