NEW! ‘Veggie Gardening 101’ radio show starts Jan 14

I’ll be on the Santa Fe Master Gardener’s Gardening Journal radio show with host Christine Salem twice a month now. My original show gives tips and advice about what to do in a vegetable garden each month as the gardening season progresses. This assumes you have an existing vegetable garden.

We are adding a Vegetable Gardening 101 show. It seems we have many people here in Santa Fe that either have never started a garden or haven’t had success here in our challenging garden area. Many want to be successful organically growing their own food and need help on where to start. So I will take us from the beginning through planning and building a garden, creating good soil, raised beds vs in-ground beds, starting seeds, transplanting plants, varieties that grow well for beginners and even harvesting tips. This will be more basic info but even advanced gardeners might benefit from some of the tips I’ll be giving.

Go here to listen to past radio show podcasts and pick up awesome information -https://giantveggiegardener.com/radio-show/

Here’s the rundown:

SHOW #1—my regular radio show-‘Monthly Veggie Garden Tips’

Where:  airs on KSFR 101.1 on the Garden Journal

When: on the last Saturday of each month

Time: from 10:00-10:30am

Topics: What to do in our gardens for each month, problems that arise and solutions

SHOW #2—my NEW radio show-‘Veggie Gardening 101′

Where: airs on KSFR 101.1 on the Garden Journal

When: on the 2nd Saturday of each month

Time: from 10:00-10:30am

Topics: Beginning vegetable gardening from start to finish and everywhere in between.

Seed Catalogs/2017

catalogs-2017

My top two seed catalog picks

Even though it’s not 2017 yet, many of you are now getting your seed catalogs in for 2017 season. I just updated for 2017 my favorite seed and garden catalogs. I have many favorites besides the two above. Here they are:

GOOD SEED LIST:

THESE SEED CATALOGS/COMPANIES ARE GREAT. THEY DO NOT BUY ANY SEEDS FROM SEMINIS, A SUBSIDIARY OF MONSANTO AND ARE MY FAVORITES.

Seed Saver Exchange—As a SSE member I want to support this non-profit organization who is dedicated to CONSERVING and promoting heirloom varieties of veggies, flowers, fruits and herbs. It’s catalog is wonderful with many varieties of seeds that are hard to find or have been kept in families for generations. http://www.seedsavers.org

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds—It features beautiful pictures of many varieties of heirloom vegetables, flowers and fruits, some of which are very unusual and rare. It gives wonderful descriptions and history of where each variety originated. Check them out. www.rareseeds.com

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange– recommended by Baker Heirlooms as another good source for heirlooms. Has many hard to find vegetable seeds. http://www.southernexposure.com/

Wild Boar Farmsspecialize in fantastic OP varieties of tomatoes. wildboarfarms.com
No catalog-go online to order.

Baia Nicchia Farm—specialize in more fantastic OP varieties of tomatoes. Created the Artisan Seed Series of tomatoes in Johnny’s Seeds catalog. Support their company for certain select seeds not available anywhere else and go to Johnny’s for the rest of their Artisan tomato seeds. Support their breeding work by buying directly from them. https://store.growartisan.com/
No catalog-go online to order.

Secret Seed Cartel—specialize in unique, unusual or rare seeds of peppers and tomatoes from Europesecretseedcartel.com
No catalog-go online to order.

Wild Garden Seeds—My new go to catalog for wonderful greens and lettuce www.wildgardenseed.com/ (I use to think they sold in bulk only,  but they sell smaller quantities as well. The packet price listed on top of catalog pages)

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds—Sells many wonderful hard to find heirloom seeds like Argentata chard and French gray shallots. http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com/

Kitazawa Seed CompanyOldest seed company in America specializing in Asian vegetable seeds. http://www.kitazawaseed.com/

Irish Eyes Garden SeedsGet your different types of potatoes here. http://irisheyesgardenseeds.com/

Native Seed/SEARCHfabulous seeds by native people in the southwest. www.nativeseeds.org/

Hudson Valley SeedThe Hudson Valley Seed Library is an amazing source for heirloom and open-pollinated garden seeds and beautiful garden-themed contemporary art. http://hudsonvalleyseed.com/

Peaceful Valley (Grow Organic)—I get all my row cover and most of my growing supplies from here.www.groworganic.com

Johnny’s Selected Seeds—provides hybrid, heirloom and OP seeds, tools, information, and service. A general all-purpose catalog packed with more than just seeds. www.johnnyseeds.com

There are many other good seed companies that do not buy their seed stock from Seminis.  To see more good seed companies that may be among your favorites, go here. If your favorite seed company is not listed, call them if you are interested.

My favorite tomato for 2016!

lucky-cross1

I always plant several new varieties of tomatoes each year and the winner hands down for 2016 was:

LUCKY CROSS

lucky-cross-insideIt is a fantastic yellowish tomato with pink blush outside and inside as well. Sometimes they were more yellowish with pink overtones and sometimes more pinkish with some yellow overtones. No matter the color, it has an exceptional sweet flavor like a Brandywine. It never cracked or got diseases and was very prolific. It is a potato leaf variety. I haven’t been this excited about a tomato for a long time. It now beats my beloved Virginia Sweet tomatoes which are prone to cracks and diseases.

When I did some research on this tomato, the variety originally came from Craig LeHoullier (author of Epic Tomatoes). He stated it came from a Brandywine and an unknown bee-produced cross and had the luck to grow it out with these great attributes.  You can read the story of it from him here. No wonder I thought it tasted like a Brandywine! It is now a stable open-pollinated (OP) tomato and will grow out the same each generation. I saved some of the seeds from this beauty and will definitely grow it next season.

What’s with all these green tomatoes?

tomato_green tomatoes

I’ve lived here for 21 years and have never seen the tomatoes ripen this late. In fact the majority of them in my garden are still green. I have a few sungolds and black cherry tomatoes and one Pink Berkley Tie Dye and a couple of red ones ripen but that’s it-the rest are still green on the vine.

tomato_healthy plants

The plants are big and healthy. So what’s happening here?

Problem #1
The first problem was we had a hot June (except for one weekend) and an unbelievably hot July here with day after day of 92+°F. Why does that matter? Tomatoes won’t pollinate themselves over 92°f-they drop their blossoms, which is commonly known as blossom drop. They will keep producing blossoms but won’t set them producing tomatoes until it’s cooler. So we lost a whole month, putting us behind schedule.

Problem # 2
So once the monsoons thankfully came in, it got cooler and now we have green tomatoes in various stages of ripening. But suddenly, it got even cooler. So much so that it is starting to feel like autumn in August with temperatures dropping at night into the 50’s and daytime temps are much lower in the 70s. So although the tomatoes can’t have extreme heat to set fruit, they need heat to ripen. With cooler temps, it takes longer for tomatoes to turn red, or yellow, or black or whatever color they should be when ripe.

Normally I show up at the Farmers Market middle of August with 6-8 boxes of tomatoes that then increases to 15-20 boxes every week.

tomatoes_first harvest

Here is what I have now. Only 2 little bowls of tomatoes, getting a bowl a day-hardly enough to go to market with.

Now it is a race to get some tomatoes to ripen before our first frost which usually comes in October but one year it came in early September. Let’s hope not this year!

Last year I decided to slow down and take a little time off (farmer’s burnout) and that I might not go to the market as much nor grow as many tomatoes either. I have 40 tomatoes this year (lost three to curly top virus) so now I have 37 compared to 125 tomato plants last year. I guess I made a good choice as I’m not sure how long into Sept it will be before I have enough to go to market if at all before a frost.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in!

tomatoes 05 24 16

All my tomatoes get planted into wall of waters when first transplanting them. Really helps them get a good head start.

So I’m gonna try to catch up on the garden in the next few posts…

All the tomatoes went into the garden in their Wall of Waters on Wednesday, May 24. My friends, Janet, Mernie and Linda plus myself manage to get all of my tomatoes in by 2 pm.  Thank you for your wonderful help! I was 5 tomatoes short, so I went over to Agua Fria Nursery (my favorite nursery) and picked up what I needed the following day and they are now in as well. I have 3 sections in my main garden and now section 1 is filled. One third done! I always espoused we should harden off out tomatoes before setting them out, but I’ve found out that if you put them into Wall of Waters, one doesn’t need to  harden them off. The Wall of Waters, act like a little greenhouse and keep them warm at nite and the winds at away-well worth the money and effort. Once the tomatoes reach the top sometime this month, remove the WOWs. Still have many things to plant but the ‘maters are in!

rhubarb spring

Rhubarb is doing well even with a hail storm we had. Somehow it was sheltered.

My perennials are coming up-rhubarb, raspberries and grapes-yeah! I didn’t have to do anything (except water)! The cabbage is already in as well.

GRAPE VINE ROW COVER

Himrod green seedless grapes grow great here. They are recovering from deer damage

Some deer came by an munched about half the leaves and grape flowers on one grape plant so now they are under row cover and recovering nicely. I pulled it off so you can see the recovery. I hope  we get the grape flowers (that will become grapes) again. The deer have not been back or at least haven’t eaten any more of them.

FUSHIMI PEPPER PLANTED

Fushimi pepper and all peppers planted under fencing material and row covered until they adjust to heat

This week, June 1-4, I transplanted all peppers-the varieties are: Jimmy Nardello (sweet Italian frying pepper), Poblano (mildly hot use for chile rellanos), Fushimi (similar to shishitos only bigger-not hot), Shishito (good frying pepper-not hot) and Corno de Toro (big sweet Italian pepper).  I put epsom salts in bottom of hole to increase flowers and peppers. I also planted all my eggplants-the variety is Fairytale. I love them, they are my favorite-I don’t grow any other. The bigger eggplants take longer to ripen and you only get a few on each plant vs fairytale eggplants are extremely prolific and ripen earlier. Fairytales are small, never bitter, thin-skinned, great sliced in half and sautéed with garlic in oil or on the BBQ-ed on the grill. You can still use them for Eggplant Parmesan, only takes more.

 

Time to get seeds!

275px-Painted_Pony_Bean

It’s time to start getting my seeds for this coming growing season. I have most of my seed catalogs that I want and have looked at them. This is an exciting time for growers! So many things I want to grow and many new varieties too!  Here are some things I do when starting this process:

  1. The first thing I do is go through my seed storage boxes where I threw the packets in last year after planting. I have to organize them first to see what I still have.
  2. After reorganizing my seed boxes, I decide what I want to grow this year. Now the fun begins! Scouring over all the catalogs, I start to make a list and I need to decide where they will go in the garden because every year I over buy and run out of room in my garden. Many of the catalogs are so beautiful that I want to buy everything! I call it garden porn!  I too run out of beds to grow everything I want! Imagine that! Some of you have seen my gardens last year-I have 4000 sq feet of gardening space and still run out of room.
  3. I have a few rules I try to follow when purchasing seeds. Rule number one for me-I only grow things I love to eat so celery will never be on my list and if my partner didn’t love radishes so much, I wouldn’t grow them either (they taste like dirt to me). Why grow vegetables you don’t really like? Rule number two-I grow some vegetables that are more expensive than others. For example, I grow shallots instead of onions. Shallots are expensive, onions are cheap. Rule number three-I grow vegetables that I can’t find as starts in the nurseries. I’ve gotten some great vegetables that just aren’t available unless you grow them. You can either start them inside or direct seed some of them outside when the time is right. Also:

Home Grown New Mexico is having its 2015 Seed Swap on
Wednesday, March 15th at Frenchy’s Barn  on Agua Fria from 3 pm to 6 pm.
It’s free and you’ll get great seeds!

Other groups who will be at the Seed Swap:

The Santa Fe Master Gardeners will have several info tables there where you can get how-to info on composting, growing native seeds and more.

In addition the Seedbroadcast truck people will be there getting people’s seed stories and putting them online. Do you have a great seed story? Tell them!

The Tomato Lady (that’s me) will be there at the Home Grown New Mexico table inside the barn. I will have some of my tomato seeds and giant vegetable varieties available as well if any of you want to try growing a giant this year!

This is great resource for gardeners and a fabulous way to start off the growing season. Vegetable, flower and herb seeds will be available.

If you have any seeds you can bring to swap that would be great, but if you don’t you can still come and get some fabulous seeds for this year!

Finally the Garden is cleaned up-Nov 23

Nov garden 2015

The garden is CLEAN! Here I am siting on the bench on Nov 23. How desolate it looks compared to the picture below in summer. I put all the dead tomatoes and squash plants in the trailer to haul to the dump. The reason they go to the dump is tomatoes and squash are prone to diseases and I don’t want to use them in the compost piles if they don’t get hot enough to kill pathogens. I don’t want to be spreading diseases in the garden. The rest of the garden is in the compost bins which are now overflowing. I will make some more compost later this week when it is warmer. The winter weight row cover in the pic is covering the last little bit of my garden that is still alive-the kales. I have Russian Red kale and Winterbor Curly kale. Unbelievably they are still alive even with the bitter cold nights with temps dipping in the teens. The other thing you see are my strawberries to the right which are quickly going dormant.

garden bench summer 2015

Here is the garden in the summer. I miss it already.