Santa Fe Garden Club Lecture

 

Today I did a 2 hour lecture on starting tomatoes from seeds for the Santa Fe Garden Club. I explained how to start the seeds, how to transplant them into bigger pots, what ingredients I use in each potting hole when planting outside and much more. Then they planted some of their own seeds. Nice class. Nice people. I am going to start my tomatoes inside on March 25.

Attached are the lecture handouts from the class for those who requested them:

STARTING TOMATO SEEDS INSIDE

2018 TOMATO INFORMATION SHEET

2018 Tomato Growing 101 Class

Not much time left before the first class!

TOMATO GROWING 101-Season Long Course—starts Mar 25-Aug 5

Do you want to learn how to grow great heirloom tomatoes organically from start to finish? Think of the money you can save by learning to grow your own heirloom tomatoes from seed. Plus you can try new varieties that are not sold in the nurseries.

These hands-on classes will emphasis learning how to grow tomatoes successfully throughout the season. Participants will learn how to grow tomatoes from their seeds, what starting mix to use, what soil to transplant in, how to handle the delicate seedlings when transplanting up, how to produce sturdy plants. Lighting systems will be discussed and your seedlings will stay under lights at my farm under my care until time to plant outside when you will take your plants home to plant outside in your garden.

All planting materials, seeds, soil, amendments and pots supplied while growing them at the farm. Class participants will get a workbook with printed material added at each class to help them be successful throughout this growing season and as a reference for years to come. Students will get hands-on experience by planting to gain confidence and will come back to learn how to prune them, make compost tea, how to identify diseases and pests and how to control them.

Participants must sign up for all classes at once. Course payable at sign up for a total of $150. Class size is limited-10 students max. This takes a commitment. No partial classes.

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To register for the class is an easy two-step process:

1. Fill out the CONTACT FORM below and hit the submit button. Then to pay:

2. TO PAY: click the PAY PAL button (below the contact form). You don’t need to have a paypal account.  They will process credit cards too.

Step 1: Fill out this CONTACT FORM:

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Step 2: TO PAY: Purchase all 6 classes for $150 here

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HERE IS A PDF OF THE SCHEDULE BELOW. PUT THIS SCHEDULE IN YOUR CALENDAR AND PRINT IT SO YOUR DON’T FORGET!

2018_TOMATO GROWING 101 CLASS SCHEDULE

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Review the class schedule:

2018 TOMATO GROWING 101 CLASS SCHEDULE

Section 1
HANDS-ON LEARNING OF HOW TO START TOMATO SEEDS/CARING OF THE YOUNG SEEDLINGS AND TRANSPLANTING UP/PREPARING SOIL IN GARDEN

Class 1 
Sunday, March 25nd—10 am to 12 noon

Learn how and why to plant tomato seeds/how to pick your varieties, what soil medium to use, learn about germination troubles and how to avoid them/hands-on planting your seeds

Class 2
Sunday, April 15th—10 am to 12 noon

Transplanting up to 4” pots/changing the type of soil, adding amendments for great the sturdiest stems, how to deal with transplant shock and learning how to maintain your plants.

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Section 2
LEARN HOW TO TRANSPLANT THE TOMATO PLANTS OUTSIDE IN THE GARDEN /LEARNING ABOUT SOIL AMENDMENTS/TAKING YOUR PLANTS HOME

Class 3
Sunday, May 6th—10 am to 12 noon

Participants will learn how to transplant their tomato plants out in the garden, how to prepare planting hole and what amendments to add when planting for better growth of tomatoes. Discussion and demo of how to use wall-of-waters (WOW) and how to set them up properly. After learning how to do all this, students will take home their plants to be planted in their own garden.

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Section 3
THEY’RE IN THE GROUND, NOW WHAT?
THE NEXT STEPS FOR TOMATO GROWING SUCCESS

Class 4
Sunday, June 3th—10 am to 12 noon

HANDS-ON: Participants will learn how and when to remove wall of waters, how to control leafhoppers, learn about tomato cages-what works and doesn’t work, saving water by mulching and using a drip system, using organic fertilizers, using row cover as protection.

Class 5
Sunday, July 15—10 am to 12 noon

Removing row cover. Trimming and pruning your tomato plants, the pros and cons of sucker control and how to remove them. Learn to make compost tea. Identifying beginning problems, which organic fungicides and insecticides to use as the season goes on if needed.

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Section 4
MAINTAINING YOUR PLANTS-PRUNING TECHNIQUES, IDENTIFYING AND CONTROLLING DISEASES AND PESTS AND HARVESTING

Class 6
Sunday, August 5th—10 am to 12 noon

Participants will continue learning how to maintain their plants, more pruning techniques, harvest techniques, and identify tomato diseases and pests and how to control them organically.

Dwarf Tomato Project Trials

One of the things I’ll do in the garden this year is I’ve been invited to become involved in the Dwarf Tomato Project trials. They needed some tomato growers in the US to grow out some of their tomatoes from seeds from their project and keep detailed info on how they do in our short growing season. These are open-pollinated tomatoes that are not released to the public yet as they need to stabilize these new tomato varieties before they get released.

I became interested because  Craig Lehouiller, a tomato grower who wrote the book, Epic Tomato and created the Purple Cherokee tomato, is in charge of the project here in the Northern Hemisphere. Someone else is in charge of the Southern Hemisphere down in Australia. They gave me 3 different cherry tomato seed packets to grow for this season.

Dwarf tomatoes are not determinate tomato plants but are indeterminate tomato plants that stay shorter but the tomatoes are not necessarily smaller, just the plant. I thought this would be a good for people who have a limited space or maybe just a patio. They can be grown in the ground or even in five gallon pots. And you won’t need a huge cage. Many are created with crosses from tomatoes I love, like Brandywine with another variety.

In addition to trialing these tomatoes,  I also got some of his already released dwarf tomato seeds (about 20 varieties have been released so far) that I bought from Victory Seeds. I am anxious how they will grow and taste too. Stayed tuned when I report back about how this project develops. Very excited!

Watering in early spring- how much in a greenhouse, hoop tunnel, or cold frame?

Just got a great question from the earlier post. How much do I water in winter-early spring in my greenhouse? Not very much. Since I don’t have the drip systems on and I don’t want to empty hoses that might freeze, I fill up 5 gal buckets, leave them inside the GH and then fill up my watering can from them and water the plants. Five gal buckets are kinda heavy for me (40 lbs) so I prefer to transfer the water to a watering can. Or just fill up a watering can from your house and refill as needed. The only problem is my greenhouse is too far from my house to keep refilling a watering can from the house. Notice the white row cover on the side, ready to go back on the greens tonight when it gets cold.

This time of year is called the ‘shoulder season’—not quite winter and not quite spring-with extreme temperature swings from day to night. There is no set formula for watering because one day the temperature can be 60°F and the next day in the 40’s°F or even 30’s°F. Same with nighttime temperatures.  Or you structure might really heat up in the day if you forget to open the doors or plastic on the ends or open the cold frame. So there are lots of variables that will affect how much to water. I really watch the plants and the soil in regards to watering when I have to do it by hand. Does the soil appear damp after your last watering even though its been maybe 4-5 days? Don’t water. Do the plants look like they need water? Are they looking stressed? Wilted? Water! The cooler it is, the less you have to water. I don’t water till the soil FEELS dry when I put my finger in it around a plant. But I can tell you this, you will be watering much less than in the heat of summer.

 

Greens in the Green House!

So my greens made it through the worst of winter (I hope) and have really started to kick in growing. They went on hold (stopped growing) from around Thanksgiving to mid-January when we had less than 10 hours of daylight. But since then the daylight hours keep increasing daily which is a signal for the plants to grow again in earnest. In case you are wondering when I planted all this, I planted the carrots, arugula and spinach last September inside the greenhouse, and the red and green lettuces I started from seed under grow lights inside my house on January 2nd and then were put out in the greenhouse in early February.

To keep the greens from freezing in the dead of winter in the greenhouse which is unheated, I’ve cover them with one layer of winter weight row cover every night and on some really cold nights (when temperatures got down to 14-17° F), I put two rows of row cover over them. One night the lettuce actually froze. But I read in Elliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook that if you don’t harvest it when it’s frozen, it may be fine by the afternoon when it warms up and sure enuf, it thawed out and is still growing great. You just can’t harvest it when it’s in a frozen state.

My Greenhouse a few summers ago

In the greenhouse are some carrots which aren’t very big yet (about the size of a pencil in circumference) some green and red lettuces, arugula and spinach, all of which will be harvested before the Green House (a play on the word greenhouse since my greenhouse was painted green) gets too hot. In fact when the day temperatures reach the 50’s, I put fans on to blow the heat out of the greenhouse.

 

Pray for heat, girls!

You see, I don’t worry about it being too cold but worry about it getting too HOT which will cause the lettuces and spinach to bolt (make flowers) which will cause it all to go bitter and then it is only good for our chickens who don’t seem to mind the bitterness at all. In fact I think they pray for the heat!

Looks like some of the lettuce and spinach are now big enough to pick the outer leaves while leaving the inner leaves to continue to grow. And a big bonus for me is to see so much green now already at the start of March! I love going into the greenhouse right now. Refreshing when the outdoor plants are still sleeping…

Vegetables I’m trying in 2018

Here is a list of the vegetables AND tomatoes (underneath) I want to grow this year. Some I’ve grown before and really like and some are new.

Also this year I will try 11 new varieties of Dwarf Tomatoes that have been released to the public that are not on this list.

I will also be involved in the Dwarf Tomato Project,  growing 3 new varieties of cherry tomatoes (that are not released yet to the public but are in trials). I will write about the Dwarf Tomato Project in another post coming soon.

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Vegetables I’m Growing in 2018

BEANS
Borlotti Lamon-vining-dry multi color pods
Emerite-vining-green French haricot
NEW! Rossa di Lucca-bush beans-dry-get at Farmers Market at Zulu’s Petals Organic Farm booth
NEW! Di Casalbuono Panzariedd-vining-get at Farmers Market at Zulu’s Petals Organic Farm booth

SUMMER SQUASH
Costata Romanesco-wonderful italian zucchini
Zuchetta Rugosa Friulana-These produce an abundance of light yellow, “warty” fruit. They aren’t beautiful, but they’re suppose to taste great. This is the most common zucchini in the markets of Venice in summer.

WINTER SQUASH
NEW! Tahiti Butternut-Sweeter than most other squashes, and suppose to get better with age! Large fruits shaped like butternuts with elongated necks and light golden orange skin.
Waltham Butternut

WATERMELON
NEW! Bradford-90 days-heirloom that was almost extinct until the Bradford family brought it back

EGGPLANT
Fairy
Rossa di Bianca

PEPPERS
Jimmy Nardello
Shishito
Poblanos

CUCUMBERS
EATING-
Poona Kheera-from India, wonderful flavor-yellow

PICKLING-
Parisian-used for cornichon pickles
Bothsby Blonde-used for bread and butter pickles
National OR Russian-used for dill pickles

PEAS
Dwarf Grey
Sugar Snap

LETTUCES
Marvel of Four Seasons
Rouge d’ Hiver
Marshall Red Romaine
Santoro
Mesclun mix

ARUGULA
Wasabi-spicy- tastes like wasabi used in Japanese sushi

OTHER GREENS
Pac Choi
Cilantro
Tatsoi

RADISHES
French Breakfast
Cherry Belle

SPINACH
Carmel

CHARD
Rainbow or 5 color beetroot
Argentata-white stems-most cold hardy

KALE
Toscana
Vates Scotch Curley Leaf

FENNEL
Florence bulb

CARROTS
Cosmic Purple
Atomic Red

BEETS
Cylindra
Detroit Red
Yellow or Touchstone

RASBERRY
Polana
Heritage

GIANT PUMPKINS

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Tomatoes I’m Growing in 2018 (partial list)

YELLOW
Virginia Sweet– 80 days-outstanding large yellow with red blush inside-super sweet

PINK
Brandywine (Sudduth)-90 days-(aka Pink Brandywine) This strain was obtained by tomato collector Ben Quisenberry of Big Tomato Gardens from Dorris Sudduth Hill whose family grew it for over 100 years. Large pink beefsteak fruits to 2 pounds. Incredibly rich, delightfully intense tomato flavor.

BI-COLOR
Ananas Noire-80 days

Lover’s Lunch-MID-SEASON-A very beautiful and tasty yellow with red stripes with bi-colored flesh.  This large, meaty, fruity and sweet tomato has stand-out flavor.

NEW!-Summer of Love-MID-SEASON-16 oz. fruit, Mid-season indeterminate. This improved Berkeley Tye-Die produces a larger yield and ripens earlier. It has all the great colors and flavor of the original BTD. A good improvement to an excellent tomato.

Afternoon Delight-MID-LATE SEASON-8-16 oz. fruit-Large and very meaty yellow /red blush bi-color beefsteak with purple anthocyanin splashes on the shoulder. This was an accidental cross between Big Rainbow and an unknown anthocyanin line. Large, beautiful, solid and meaty. Good ability to hang on the vine ripe and maintains flavor and texture. Stores well post harvest.

Pink Berkley Tie Dye-65-75 days-Early to mid-early, 8-12 oz. fruit, Beautiful, early, and very sweet rich flavor. 10 out of 10 people liked it better then Cherokee Purple in a farmers market taste off. Regular leaf. Port wine colored beefsteak with metallic green stripes. Excellent sweet, rich dark tomato flavor.

PURPLE/BLACK
Purple Cherokee-80 days-dusty rose-brown fruits-12 ounces. Delicious sweet

Paul Robeson-80 days-Brick red, 8 to 12 ounce fruits have dark green shoulders and red flesh. Flavor is exceptional with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity.

RED
NEW!-Shasha’s Altai-59 days-hearty tomato plant that produces very good yields of 4-6 oz., thinned-skinned, bright-red, slightly flattened, round tomatoes with an award-winning complex flavor. Fruit sets well in cooler coastal climates and high altitudes.

Goldman’s Italian American-80 days-Unique, beautiful and large tomatoes have a squat, pear shape, being ribbed and pleated. These have a bloody, intense red color when ripe. Thick, red flesh is perfect for delicious sauces and preserves.

Goliath-65 days. (F1) Early maturing plant produces high yields of 10 to 15 oz bright red tomatoes. This beautiful tomato has a blemish-free exterior. One of the best early varieties on.

Marmande Garnier Rouge-70 days-A medium to large dark-red slightly fluted tomato from France-excellent old-fashion tomato flavor.

Big Zac-80 days-This variety was bred by Minnie Zaccaria, a home gardener who crossed two heirloom tomatoes to create Big Zac. True to its name, it bears enormous 4 to 6 lb. fruit, and is a high quality tomato in every respect—meaty and delicious as well as disease resistant.

CHERRY TOMATOES
Black Cherry-70 days-Beautiful black cherries look like large, dusky purple-brown grapes; they have that rich flavor that makes black tomatoes famous.

Borlotto Beans

Borlotto beans in the garden

Last season I planted a new dry pole bean called Borlotto  (also called Borlotti). They are an Italian heirloom variety. The variety was Lamon which is supposed to be the best for flavor. It got around 6 feet high and I grew it in the garden on one of the 3′ high perimeter fences. As it got taller, I added bamboo stakes to let it continue upwards. They are a very beautiful bean on the vine when growing. I planted around 12 plants, 6 inches apart right at each drip emitter. You can shell the bean fresh but I just left them to dry on the vine.  I got my seeds from Seeds of Italy.

I particularly like dry beans. I picked them after they dried on the vine which is towards the end of the season but before the first freeze. I find dry beans are so easy to grow, needing nothing except water and a vertical support of some kind and then harvesting at the end. They are very different then fresh beans which you must pick daily. There is also a bush variety of these beans but they are not Lamon.

I left them in their shells in a basket until last week when I took the beans out.  I find it fun to shell them on a cold winter night. The beans are very beautiful being cream color with maroon stripes. I got 3 cups of the precious bean. Good for 1 meal.  I will save some to replant too. This year I will definitely plant more.

Tuscan Bean Soup recipe from Ialian Food Forever

I like that I can make a hearty soup or stew from them and eat them in the winter. Here is a recipe from Italian Food Forever for a traditional Tuscan bean soup using Borlotto beans. When cooking the beans before hand, you must cook for a long time here in Santa Fe due to our high altitude at 7000 feet as you want them soft and creamy. I just cooked mine in a crock pot all day and it worked well. You can also leave out the pancetta for a vegetarian style soup. There are many recipes for Borlotto bean soup out there that all sound wonderful! Can’t wait to try them.