Italian Vegetable Garden

Always looking for something interesting to grow in my garden, I’ve decided to put in an Italian vegetable garden section inside my main vegetable garden. When I started looking at vegetables to grow, I noticed I already had a fair amount of vegetable seeds from Italy that I always grow but they were always interspersed with other veggies. Now they (and more Italian vegetables) will be grouped together to form this new section. It isn’t a permanent section, just something I’m putting together this year and it is just part of a larger array of vegetables I grow. It was fun selecting vegetables from Italy that I like and could group together. By doing this, it has opened me up to all kinds of new varieties to possibly grow. Here is my list:

2017 ITALIAN GARDEN

Cool Season Vegetables
Fava bean-Precoce Violetto
Onion-Red of Florence
Fennel-Mantovano
Rapini-Cima di rapa Quarantina Riccia di Sarno
Kale-Nero di Toscana
Radicchio-Rosa treviso sel Svelta
Beet-Chiogga
Chard-Argentata

Warm Season Vegetables
Bean-Borlotti Lamon
Butternut squash-Rogosa Violina “Gioia”
Zucchini-Costata Romanesco
Zucchini-Zuchetta Rugosa Friulana
Tomato-Costoluto Fiorentino
Tomato-Costoluto Romanesco
Tomato-Pantano Romanesco
Eggplant-Prosperosa
Sweet pepper-Jimmy Nardello

Vegetables for the Table-Tomato Lady 2017 favorites

Here are my favorite vegetables going into the 2017 growing season. I may not have room for all these in the gardening but these are my favorites as of right now

VEGETABLES FOR THE TABLE-TOMATO LADY’S FAVORITES

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

SAUCE TOMATOES
Goldman’s Italian American-85D
San Marzano

DRYING TOMATOES
Principe Borghese
Any cherry tomato

CHERRY TOMATOES
Sungold*
Green Grape
Black Cherry
Pink Bumblebee
Purple Bumblebee
Artisan Blush Tiger

EARLY TOMATOES-52-65 days
Matina
Stupice
Sungold (cherry)*
Glacier
Siberian
Fireworks

MID-SEASON-65-78 days
Bella Rosa*-very firm even when ripe
Marmande
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Black and Brown Boar
Paul Robeson
Costoluto Genevese
Juane Flamme

LATE-SEASON-80 days +
Porkchop
Big Zac*
Pantano Romanesco
Purple Cherokee-purple tomato
Paul Robeson-dark tomato
Indigo Apple or Indigo Rose
Lucky Cross

*denotes hybrid tomato

BEANS
Rattlesnake-pole
Emerite-french filet-pole
Romano-Italian pole or bush
Tarbais-dry pole bean for French cassoulet

BEETS
Cylindra
Touchstone Gold
Detroit Red
Chiogga-beautiful red with white stripes inside

CARROTS
Cosmic Purple
Atomic Red
Scarlet Nantes-orange sweet
Chantenay Red-orange very sweet

CHARD
Ruby Red-gorgeous red/good flavor
Argentata-white stem-favorite in Italy-very cold hardy

CUCUMBERS
EATING
Poona Kheera-best tasting ever
Lemon cucumber-never bitter

PICKLING
Boothsby Blonde-Bread and Butter pickles
Parisian-Cornichon pickles
Russian Pickling-Dill pickles
Mini Whites-sweet pickles

EGGPLANT
Rosa Bianca-big eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan
Fairytale-small, sauté or BBQ

PEPPER
Jimmy Nardello-red thin skin pepper for sautéing-SWEET
Shishito-Japanese small green pepper-saute-serve for tapas-NOT HOT
Poblano-use for chile relleno/MILDLY HOT

SQUASH
Winter Squash
Sweet Meat
Butternut-will not attract squash bugs
Galeux D’ Eyesines

Summer Squash
Costata Romanesco-zucchini-Favorite of Deborah Madison also
Bennings Green Tint-patty pan

 

Cool season crops have begun

transplants-2-weeks-old

When I was looking through what I plant each year, I realized I actually grow many varieties of cools season crops (like greens/lettuce). I started some seeds of cool season crops inside under lights but no heat on Jan 17!  I never put the heat mats on for cool season crop seeds, only for warm season crops and it is way too early for them just yet.

I started:
Asian greens: bok choy, pak choy, Wasabi arugula

Lettuces: 4 Season Lettuce butterhead, Yugoslavian Red butterhead, and Santoro butterhead lettuce. Can you tell I like butterheads?!

Leeks: Solaise, King Richard and American Flag

Onions: Candy (it is an intermediate or neutral variety) which is they type of onion we have to grow here.

Spinach: Carmel-Just planted the seeds today. Still have some spinach plants that have overwinter nicely outside in a raised bed with only winter weight row cover on it. By planting a crop of spinach last fall, I’m hoping I get a bumper crop of spinach in March! The variety of spinach I like the most is called Carmel which overwinter last year and looks to do the same this year. You can get seeds from Johnny’s or plants from Agua Fria Nursery.

4-season-lettuce

four season lettuce is looking good

Today I transplanted up lettuces and Asian greens to pony pots from seed trays. The plants are looking good but need to grow more before I put them out in my green house or cold frame. You can plant outside in sunny raised beds in March but all-greenhouse, cold frames or just plain old beds will need winter weight row cover on the little starts to protect them from our cold nights.  I’m hoping to put them out by beginning of March. The varieties I grow at this time of year are very cold hardy. I’m trying to get a head start as our cool season crop season is pretty short here before it gets too hot and everything bolts. And there is nothing better than spring spinach or lettuce!

More daylight hours/plants start to grow again

Growing Spinach and Lettuce in a Cold Frame

The Persephone period is over. Elliot Coleman in his Winter Harvest Handbook, coined this name. When daylight hours are less than 10 hours per day, the plants that are in the ground slow down or stop growing altogether during this time. This means that the spinach or mache you planted last fall had slowed down and by Thanksgiving stopped growing. The Persephone period can be longer or shorter depending on what latitude you live in. For us in Santa Fe, it is from Thanksgiving to Jan 14th.  In states that are further north, they are still in the Persephone period. As the daylight hours continue to get longer and longer, you should notice the plants starting to grow again. I grew ‘Carmel’ spinach last fall in one of my beds up by my house and it is still alive, covered with winter weight row cover. I did this the year before and it survived and gave me beautiful spinach by March that I was able to harvest 4 times before it became too warm. If you didn’t grow anything to overwinter, you can now start spinach, Asian greens like ‘Tatsoi‘ and ‘Baby Bok Choy’, mache and some very cold hardy lettuces like ‘Winter Wunder’ and ‘Marshall Red Romaine’ once the soil warms to 40•F+. If you keep them covered with winter weight row cover to protect them from our cold nights, you will be able harvest them in early spring barring any devastating deep freezes. If you can’t wait and want to speed up the process, start the seeds under lights inside now and transplant them next month in February. To find other extra cold hardy crops to grow, go here.

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.

Extending the Season-Making a Low Tunnel

low-tunnel-2016

These broccoli transplants were put in on Aug 24, 2106

I taught a class in late August on Planting for a Fall Harvest where I showed the students you don’t have to have a Greenhouse to extend the season. You can also have a cold frame or even simpler is what I call a low tunnel. Now with the cold nights, you definitely need something over your new fall transplants.

low-tunnel-before-row-cover

Here is the frame of the low tunnel before row cover-just fencing material curled into a u-shape ready for plants underneath it

I like to make my low tunnels out of 2″ x 4″ fencing or even concrete reinforcement wire.  I just open up the fence roll, cut off enough so it will be curved above my plants and turn it upside down on the soil.

img_3998_1024

row cover over the low tunnel protects crops at night

Cover it with winter weight row cover (1.0 ml).  I put rocks on mine to keep it from blowing away. Now you have a secure low tunnel that will protect your plants during the shoulder season that is closing in on us quickly. What is a shoulder season? It is the time of year when the temperatures can drop quickly at night near freezing and then heat up in the day. The temperature shifts can swing wildly during the shoulder season. We have a shoulder season in spring and fall. By making a low tunnel, you can extend the season and grow vegetables like spinach, arugula, kale, lettuce, bok choy, mustard, mesclun, radicchio and other cool season crops much later. Fall is a great time to plant cool season crops and it’s not too late if you get transplants now. It might be too late if you start from seed unless it’s lettuce. Try to pick varieties that are cold tolerant.

Tomato Hornworms – finding them with UV light at night

tomato-hornworm1

I read that you can see tomato hornworms with a UV (ultraviolet) light. Two nights ago we went out to see if we could spot them. I had gotten a UV flashlight last year but didn’t receive it till after the first freeze so there wasn’t much to see. But not that night!  In the daylight I could only see the chewed up leaves on 2 plants but could not find the hornworms. But at night they are easy to spot with the UV light. We found many small ones as well as big ones that we would have missed if not for the UV light.

tomato-hornworm-bitemarks

Also we noticed that there seem to be either fluorescent bite marks or trails where they had been so if we saw these we would see if any were hiding. We probably got 30 tomato hornworms in all. What a great way to find them.