Sunday, March 22, 2009

Edible Gardening Spring 2009

I've been trying to fit in time here and there to get the garden ready for production. In early February I got the tomatoes planted in cell packs on the kitchen window. Right after that I prepared 4 raised planters to grow some root crops. I have carrots, 2 candy and golden beets, and some green onions going already in those planters out doors. I've discovered that the birds favorite is carrot seedlings from a raised bed planter in Brian's Backyard, right after that is candy stripe beets, and then goldens. They do not, however like bunching green onions. Next round I'm planting green onions in every planter as a deterent. Or if that doesn't help I'll have to string fabric over them.

Some of my gardens from the past are helping out and are returning on their own like my thyme (which really goes year round), oregano,tarragon, and lavender. The 4 in 1 apple tree is starting to bud in all directions too.

I did some work on the tomato beds turning and amending, and finally made some irrigation changes that needed to be done.

This year I'm sticking to 3 tomato varieties that will cover immediate use as well as canned sauces, pastes, and juices.

Brandywine heirloom tomato is Probably the first heirloom to achieve "cult status" within the growing popularity of heirloom tomatoes. A pink, potato-leaf, Amish variety from the 1880’s. Years ago, seed saving was done by individuals who understood that the greatest thing they could pass on to the next generation was some of the treasured food plants that had sustained life and had proven their value. One such pioneer was a man named Ben Quinsenbury, who lived in Vermont. He died at the age of 95, passing on his legacy. The Brandywine was Ben’s favorite tomato.

Gary Ibsen, founder of the TomatoFest and the Tomato Seed Store says "In years of my holding tomato tastings for chefs and tomato lovers, the Brandywine has always placed as one of the top three favorites." It is legendary for it’s exceptionally rich, succulent tomato flavor. Fruits are reddish-pink, with light, creamy flesh that average 12 ounces but can grow to 2 pounds.

By far the best producing tomato from last year that is back in the garden this year is the San Marzano. From Italy. Compact and prolicic producer of bright-red, slim, 2-3 inch, plum-type, fruit over a long season. A paste tomato with pointy end, heavy walls and little juice, so it's great for tomato sauce. Crack resistant. Better tasting than Roma. Canned tomatoes and sauce from this one lasted for months.

Sasha Altai is an excellent variety from Russia. Hearty plant produces good yields of 4-6 oz. bright-red, round tomatoes. Tomatoes are very flavorful. Excellent for canning, salads and making tomato juice. Fruit sets well in cooler coastal climates.

Last year I picked up some peppers, sweet peas, and snap peas for late in the season and I will probably do that again this year, however Park Seeds has my email address and are sending weekly blasts on different items. Out of their latest email I think I'm going to pick up a pepper and a pea because they sound fun and different.

Pepper Topepo Rosso Hybrid (Capsicum annuum Topepo Rosso Hybrid)Thick walled (1/2-inch!), juicy, and peppery-sweet, this update of a classic northern Italian variety is one of the most versatile and delicious sweet peppers around.
The fruit is 3 1/2 to 5 ounces, red on the outside (if you allow it to ripen fully; it can also be picked green) and green within. Perfect for stuffing or slicing into rings for a salad or garnish, it holds its shape nicely, and has a nice blend of juices and solids. This is a meaty pepper, giving you an extra bite of rich flavor in every fruit.

The plant is robust and very heavy bearing as well. With large foliage providing good scald coverage for the ripening fruit, it sets big crops of tasty peppers. Use Topepo Rosso for fresh eating, cooking, or canning.

Pea Blondie(Pisum sativum Blondie) This cream-colored beauty tastes as good as it looks, and it's certain to be the pea of choice for gardeners this season. Every bit as sweet, succulent, and delicious as its plain old green cousins, it defines "plate appeal," and gives parents and grandparents a sneaky new strategy for getting kids who hate green vegetables to eat their peas!

Blondie sets creamy pods, blunt ended and about 3 1/2 inches long, in large clusters on very vigorous vining plants. Each pod contains 8 to 9 fat, tender peas. Eat them fresh or lightly steam them -- the flavor is so rich and full, you won't want to tamper with it by too much cooking!

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