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’VE ROUNDED THE CORNER INTO FALL, with every morning a little bit cool, crisp. A snap in the air, clear blue skies. Some flowers seem to really shine with the change in light. So here are some snapshots of what is blooming the first two weeks of September in my West Seattle garden.
ANTICIPATION IS SOWN WITH EACH SEED THAT GOES INTO THE GROUND. With the first sign of germination is the hope that success and sustenance may be in the offing. No seeds deliver like those of the radish family, pushing up through the soil within three days of planting. Carrots, onions and celery on the other hand come with hand wringing and second-guessing since they can take up to 21 or more days to pop through the soil.
MY vacation from gardening now effectively over, soil prep and direct seeding began the first week of August as there is plenty of time here for late fall-early winter harvesting of many vegetables and many overwinter nicely around here.
When I put the garden to bed before our long trip I used heavy black plastic to keep the weeds from taking over. And so far, the only unwanted seeds that have sprouted are squash, melon and tomato seeds from the compost that I laid down for the fall garden. Weeds are blessedly absent!
Although it is really late in the season to see any productivity from these volunteers, I have left a few of the squash (melon? cucumber?) seedlings to see what develops.
Direct seeded: Beets (3 types), turnips ((2), carrots (3), radishes (5), fennel (2), kohlrabi, kale (3), chard (3), arugula, dill, Chinese/Napa type cabbage (2), radicchio, Asian type mustard greens (3), Walla Walla onion (for transplanting in February), and a big mix of a lot of lettuce seed that is anywhere between 10 and 2 years old (kind of my own mesclun mix to see what actually germinates.) In my experience lettuce seed seems to have the shortest viability of all vegetable seed.
I also started a number of brassicas, some chicories (endive, escarole, etc), and a few lettuces in six-packs just now ready for transplanting. Thankfully mornings are cool this time of year, perfect for transplanting. I also purchased a six-pack each of purple cauliflower and red cabbage a couple weeks ago that had a big head start on my starts.
I planted some squash seeds when I set out the tomato plants and this buttercup squash is the only one to have germinated and survived in our absence. It is happily crawling up the tomato trellis and there are three squash so far. And the half-dozen tomato plants have produced tomatoes in spite of the lack of regular water and pruning for seven weeks. Hurray, all is not lost.
The pears are lovely and large again this year even without thinning. The Akane apples are a total loss due to the apple maggot but we have lucked out with the Spartans which are sweet-tart, crisp and picture perfect!
Now all that’s left to do is harvest some tomatoes, apples and pears and plant garlic and fava beans next month.
WHEN BRASSICAS GROW UP THEY BLOOM! This year the winter garden is slowly being deconstructed and made ready for some fallow time.
I usually leave a plant or two go to flower to attract pollinators into the garden as few other plants are blooming in February and March.
This year will be a little different in the vegetable garden. We are planning a two month camping trip. Translation: no spring/summer garden this year. The thought of it makes me kind of anxious. For the first time in 17 years I have not started tomatoes, peppers or eggplants. I have not seeded anything directly into the vegetable garden since late last fall. Sad.
A spring palette of green and yellow in this afternoon’s rain. Clearing out the veg garden is taking a back seat to the rest of the garden here at BackyardFarm. Weeding, pruning and general maintenance chores abound and the goal is to have all tidied up by mid-May so Gardening Gal can have an easy time of it every other week. Besides, cleaning out the above is all about pulling, chopping and into the compost bins. I’m researching the best way to keep the weeds at bay in the veg beds while we’re away.
There are still happy notes and with luck, we’ll have a harvest of fava beans to leave with.
The pears began blooming while we had dry and sunny weather so there is hope for a nice pear crop.
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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