Elodie Holmes and I took off all of the wall of waters off 24 tomato plants and put the cages on them and the row cover over them to protect the plants from the beet leafhopper which can transmit Curly Top Virus to the tomato plants and kill them out here in the Southwest. All this in the FRIGGING HORRIBLE WIND. What a challenge! The winds have been horrible all spring-worse than usual and there seems no end in sight. A great big thank you to Elodie to help me on her day off!
Other things I’ve been busy with in the garden this week:
-Planted 7 planted peppers in wall of waters (WOWs). Peppers need protection from the cold nites and the WOWs provide protection. They are a great spring extension but must be taken off when it gets hot, sometime later in June.
-Planted a new dry bean (Sondrio Select-vining type) that Chris Salem gave me to help her grow out. It is hard to find in the US.
-Planted 2 varieties of cowpeas to grow out for William Woys Weaver to help keep his supply of seeds fresh. He is one of the biggest seed savers of rare varieties of seeds in the US. The seeds are Big Red Ripper, a vining variety and Risina del Trasiorfino, a rare bush variety of cowpeas from Italy.
-I built and installed successfully a new drip timer system and it is working well with no leaks. The old drip timer system really needed to be replaced. Plus I finally put on a sediment filter for our hard water out here that will hopefully make all the drip lines last longer (they can get clogged with our hard water). Also put in almost all new drip lines in the garden.
-I’m growing from seed inside the greenhouse all the butternut squash and summer squash seeds as Roly Polys tend to eat the seedlings right when they break ground as they germinate but won’t touch them when they are about 3 inches tall, so this is a way to thwart them.
-I will direct seed cucumber seeds and will put Sluggo Plus on the ground where the seeds will come up to keep the Roly Polys from eating them. The reason I’m starting the squash seedlings inside the greenhouse and not the cukes is because I have way too many cuke seeds to start. Sluggo Plus (not Sluggo) is great for keeping the Roly Polys away.
-I’m going to direct seed some Royal Corona bean seeds outside AFTER I weed the area I want them in.
Beans from Italy coming up nicely under row cover in a bamboo teepee
After a wonderful trip to Italy, I’m now back in the garden trying to get it finished. Seems I got a lot of dry beans in Tuscany at a Florence Farmers Market and have planted 4 different varieties-Fagioli Zolfini, Fagioli Piatellini Nuova, Fagioli con L’Occhio (a black-eyed pea) and Borlotti. These are dry bush beans. I love dry beans as I just have to plant them and after they are up, give them water and you don’t pick them till the end of the season after they dry. Not too many bugs bother them either at my place. They make great soups and stews in winter. So looks like this is the year of the bean.
But I have planted many other interesting crops this year as well. Other new veggies/fruits include the Bradford watermelon, Tahiti Butternut, a yellow zucchini called Rugosa Fruilana, Craupadine beets and my Fuggle hops and artichoke came back from last year and are doing well. Also 15 bare root raspberries I planted this spring are all up and doing nicely-the variety is Polona-I got them from Nourse nurseries online. My dream is to have so many raspberries I get sick of eating them (never!) And I’m starting a new thornless blackberry (Triple Crown) area in the garden. I got some beautiful 2 gal plants from Newmans for only $15.
And of course I have more tomatoes than I need but have cut down drastically since I am not at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. This year I’m growing more dwarf tomatoes than regular tomatoes and some of them are trials for Craig Lehouiller. All my tomatoes are caged and have row cover wrapped around them to protect them from the Beet leafhopper which passes a deadly virus to them here in the southwest called Curly Top Virus. The row cover is also great for protection from hail storms. It will come off when the monsoons arrive. Hope they do well and can’t wait to taste them. I haven’t eaten a tomato since last November when my crop finished as I won’t eat store-bought tomatoes. Guess I’m a tomato snob.
I’ve actually cut down the garden by 30% this year due to our drought. Pray for rain (no hail please!)
The Heirloom Tomato by Amy Goldman
I just read an article online by Mother Earth News, ‘56 Heirloom Tomatoes Rated Excellent for Flavor‘ that lists tomatoes from Amy Goldman‘s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato: from Garden to Table’ which I got last year. The article lists and describes 56 excellent heirloom tomatoes from her book. After reading this excellent article, if you want to know more, her book- ‘The Heirloom Tomato: from Garden to Table‘ is a must have for those of us who want to grow heirloom tomatoes from seeds and get some idea of what we are growing. It’s a beautiful book with wonderful photos of many heirloom tomatoes that Amy has rated for flavor, texture, color, type, history, where you can get the seeds, etc. I use it to help me decide which heirloom tomatoes to try each year now.
Interior of 'Gold Medal' Tomato
Last year, my favorite tomato from her book that I tried was Gold Medal, a bi-colored (red and yellow interior) tomato that took most of the season to ripen but was worth the wait. Check out the picture on the right to see the beautiful interior of these tomatoes. The plants were loaded and these beefstake type of tomatoes (about 1 lb) are firm, beautiful, and sweet with low acid. I started these inside under a light box around the first week of March (10 weeks before our first frost free day-May 15) but I try to sneak my tomatoes out early (third week of April inside Wall of Waters) which is why I grow them 10 weeks instead of the customary 8 weeks for tomatoes. I will explain more on growing tomatoes from seeds in future posts as we get closer to planting time. You can buy the seeds at Baker Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com).