Artichokes-you can grow them in Santa Fe!

Lot’s of wonderful surprises this year in the veggie garden. Just for kicks, I transplanted two globe artichoke plants this year in my veggie garden entry way. I was thinking the thistle flowers would be beautiful if it had enough time to grow it here. Artichokes are a perennial in zones 8 and higher but are an annual here in zone 6 and take 90-100 days to mature.

I forgot before it makes ‘flowers’ it has to make the artichoke flower bud, which is the part we eat. To my surprise the plant is thriving. Other than adding extra compost when planting and of course watering, I haven’t had to do anything. It doesn’t seem to have any pests or diseases. Not only is the plant beautiful with it silver spikes but the artichoke buds add wonderful interest and that is before it even gets to the flower stage which is a beautiful purple thistle. Looking at these artichoke buds, I’m not sure they are going to make it to the flower stage. I know what I’m eating for dinner tonight!

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Tomato Lady now at Santa Fe Farmers Market this Saturday, Sept 9

Hi I returned last Saturday to the Santa Fe Farmers Market with a few boxes. Starting tomorrow (Sat Sept 9), I will be there from 7 am-1 pm throughout the rest of the tomato season. The tomatoes are starting to come in now after a long wait. Don’t wait too long to come to my booth as I will run out before the end of the market. I am located INSIDE THE BUILDING. Just look UP for my ‘Tomato Lady’ sign above my booth. The market people may be moving me around a little inside the building so be sure to look around to see the sign. I have many new great varieties and of course my favorites I bring like Paul Robeson, Purple Cherokee, Sun Gold, Costuluto Genevese, Pink Berkley Tie Dye and more. Over 20 varieties grown this season from all over the world.  And of course I will have some Shishito peppers, and small eggplants as well. This is my last season at the market so be sure to come by and say hi and pick up a few.

Early Blight on Tomato Plants

This tomato plant has severe Early Blight as it has worked its way up the plant

Now that the monsoons are in full blast, tomato fungal diseases are showing up with all the moisture. One of them is Early Blight. It is caused by a fungus called Alternaria solani. Early Blight is a fungal disease that attacks tomato plants starting on the bottom leaves of the plant and works it’s way upwards. The leaves start turning yellow and get blotchy. If left unchecked, it can take over your plant killing it although it won’t die immediately. Where does it come from? It comes from water splashing soil up on the lower leaves, allowing the fungal spores to colonize on the leaves. The culprit is a bad soil fungus (there are good soil fungus as well). That’s why you always see it start on the bottom leaves. Early Blight should not be confused with Late Blight which is prevalent in northeastern United States. We don’t have Late Blight out here in the southwest (at least not yet).

Here is a close up of Early Blight on the leaves

-There are several things you can immediately do to help with this disease if you get this. The first thing you do is trim off the affected branches where the leaves are yellow. Keep trimming up your plant as needed and spray with an organic fungicide like Serenade.

-Disinfect your shears between plants by dipping the shears and your hand in a container of water with about 10% bleach solution. Alcohol also works. Be sure to disinfect your shears between plants because you can spread Early Blight.

-I like Serenade, an organic fungicide which provides protection from a broad spectrum of common fungal and bacterial diseases. It is a biological fungicide, meaning it uses other spores that crowd out the Early Blight spores. Spray it on when the leaves are dry. It is rainproof, non-toxic for bees and other beneficial insects. Respray every 5-7 days. Spray all parts of the plant-both on top and underneath till dripping. Serenade is also good to spray on other vegetables. Spray for powdery mildew on squash, cucumbers and melons and leaf rust on beans. I use it for all my vegetables. Don’t wait till you get the disease—it works best as a preventative but you can control many fungal diseases with Serenade.

-In addition to trimming the affected leaves, trim off any branches or leaves that touch the ground. I never let any leaves or branches touch the ground, trimming them up about 12 or more inches.

-Another option is to stake or tie up any branches that might touch the ground.

Mulch with straw underneath the plant so the soil can’t splash up on plant when it rains or if you water overhead. This is key to help prevent Early Blight on your tomatoes. I do it the minute I plant my tomato plants in the spring and add more straw as the plant spreads till eventually the whole bed is covered with straw. If you didn’t do it this year, you can still add straw now. Besides it’s also great for keeping moisture from evaporating in our hot sun.

-If space allows, rotate susceptible crops every 3 years. Just change where you plant tomatoes every year.

Tomato Tar

I always wonder what is that substance on my hands after working with my tomato plants with my bare hands. My hands turn kinda green and eventually brownish. I wash my hands over and over again and the soapy foam on my hands turn yellow and worse, the towel I use to dry my hands gets green stains.

What is this? It is called ‘tomato tar’ and comes from trichomes on the surface of the tomato plant. Trichomes contain chemicals in the form of essential oils that give tomato plants their smell and repels some insects and has another substance called acylsugars. Alcylsugars are part of the defensive system of the tomato by producing a sort of oil that stops insects from wanting to walk on them. This is exactly what gets on our hands and turns them green or even brown if you leave it on your hands long enough. Getting it off is not easy as I mentioned above but I just read a solution to brown tomato hands that I have to try.

I learned the acylsugars are not water soluble.  Most soaps are alkaline which turns the soap foam yellow and still keep your hands brown. If we wash our hands in a weak solution of white vinegar and water, really wash our hands with it-no soap and then rinse it off and then wash in soap, our hands should turn human color again! Also use paper towels or a designated towel to dry your hands as the soap residue from our laundry can turn the towels green. I prefer a black or dark brown towel so if there are some stains (they don’t come out) at least I can’t see them.

Lastly I’ve had some luck taking a piece of fresh lemon and rub it over my hands squeezing the juice to make sure my hands are wet. I have to wait about 5 minutes and then rinse in water and then use soap and water and that seems to work too. I know lemons become alkaline when we mix them with water and drink it but pure lemon juice is acidic and works on my hands. It’s been a year since I’ve had tomato hands and I know when I get them, it’s just a short time till I’ll be eating those wonderful tomatoes!

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!