By Carol Clark
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Because I have a severe case of SAD (Seedtime Affective Disorder), Olan and I recently spent a Saturday afternoon at "Bob's Garden" with Bob & Darla Beasley. They are in the process of planting 80,000 seeds, - yes, I said 80,000. That includes 9,000 pepper seeds & 20,000 tomato seeds, and a large variety of other vegetables and herbs.
Now that is a BIG garden! Bob & Darla wholesale, participate at farmers markets and have a market at their home at 3334 E 1/4 Road.
You may have met Bob last year in The Daily Sentinel when his tomatoes sold out faster than he could grow them. This year he is expanding his varities of heirloom tomatoes. He says they started out as slow sellers because they are not as pretty as the hybrid varieties. But as soon as customers started buying, they couldn't get enough. A few of this year's varieties are Old German, Abraham Lincoln, Amish Paste and Anna Russian.
Since there are no heirloom tomatoes that are early varieties, the Beasleys have some hybrid tomatoes that will produce early. Bob recommends the Early Goliath Hybrid that takes only 58 days and is up to 1 1/2 pounds when mature.
"There is not an insect problem in the valley," Bob says. One of the secrets to his success is his "no spray" approach to gardening. "Sometimes I get squash bugs and they will attack one plant, leave several other plants alone and attack others down the row." He just plants enough to share with the insects.
A good gardener always plants three seeds -
one for the bugs, one for the weather and one for himself.
- Leo Aikman
Peppers have also been a huge hit. This year he is growing 4,500 hot peppers plants and 4,500 sweet peppers. Customers were also clammering for more eggplant varieties and is planning five different varieties this year.
For two years I have tried starting my plants indoors from seed. Each year they have sprouted and died. Since I have never been able to grow my garden plants indoors from seed I thought Bob could give me a few tips:
1. Soil does matter when it comes to seed growing and you can buy the same kind Bob has as Mt. Garfield Greenhouse. This kind of dirt shortens the days of germination by having all the nutrients the germinating seed needs.
2. If you are planting early, scoop the dirt into four packs which gives the roots plenty of room to grow. Place them on trays and poke holes into the dirt with your finger and insert the seed. Place more dirt into the top of the seed and water.
3. Cover the trays loosly with clear plastic to keep in the moisture. Uncover when the seeds germinate and keep moist.
4. Bob's nursery feels like a warm tropical paradise with lights on 12 hours per day.
Bob's recommended seed catalogues are Rupp, HPS, Jung seeds, and if you love tomatoes, Totally Tomatoes is a must have.
I am hoping Bob won't mind this novice gardener sneaking in to "help" him over the next few months and that I too will be able to successfully grow my vegetables from seed this year.
"A gardener's work is never at an end; it begins with the year and continues to the next."
The Gardener's Almanac"1664
By Carol Clark
Monday, January 17, 2011
For everything there is a season and this is the season for garden planning. I took out all my gardening books, seed catalogs and last years journal and I have begun planning for SPRING - which can't come too soon.
I know... I just don't like winter after Christmas. If we could just do the white Christmas and have spring by Valentines Day, I would be just fine.
MY plan is to EXPAND the garden area and plant a few fruit trees. However, I have not been able to convince my husband of this and he is my only "hired" help. For several years now we have been wanting to buy a small hobby farm. The only problem is we don't want to go deeper into debt.
He wants to wait for the dream to expand the garden. I know it may be awhile before that dream comes true so why not expand now?? So, my plan is to leave the new seed catalogs where he can't miss them. He will pick them up and get excited enough to EXPAND those garden beds!!
I am open to any other suggestions. I'll let you know how it works out.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Now that the holidays are over, the January snow has settled in and we’re fully entrenched in winter, it’s permissible to look at seed catalogs. That’s the official word from Rita Watson, gardener extraordinaire and teller of funny farm tales here at the Daily Sentinel. (Please note, the tales are funny, Rita does not live on a funny farm.)
According to Rita, even though the catalogs start trickling in the mailbox in December, it’s best to simply put them away on a bookshelf somewhere until the holidays are finished and the decorations are stored. Seed catalogs require full and concentrated attention, and it’s hard to give them proper devotion in December, what with all the holiday hubbub and the expectation that someone ought to quit daydreaming about big tomatoes and cook a ham.
So far, I’ve received three catalogs in the mail and one from Rita, who had no interest in that particular seed producer.
Here at the Sentinel, we also received an absolutely gorgeous, coffee-table-book type catalog from Baker Heirloom Seeds, but one of my fellow dirty gardeners, who shall remain nameless, but whose last name rhymes with ark, nabbed the catalog and won’t let me look at it for fear that I’ll drool on all the pretty pictures.
I called the company and requested a seed catalog of my very own. It hasn’t come in the mail yet, but take a look at their website: rareseeds.com
See? Now you want one, too, don’t ya?
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, January 10, 2011
No matter how low the temperature plummets or how short the day compresses, plants are always readying for spring.
I was reminded of this as I was bundled up and shuffling across my snow-covered driveway recently. I spied — through the narrow slot between scarf wrapped high and hat pulled low — these buds forming on a pussy willow bush in the backyard.
Illogically, for water-loving willows, I planted this bush a few years ago in a xeriscape bed. It thrives: offering fuzzy blooms in the spring, a corner-filling mound of green (when heavily pruned) in the summer, and beautiful red twigs in the winter.
Before long it will be clothed in flowers and abuzz bees, as it was last spring.
By Carol Clark
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I made a few new goals for the New Year. I don't like calling them resolutions because we all know what happens with those. One goal was eating healthier with more raw food in my diet — and I'm not talking about sushi.
You can grow your own fresh raw greens all year long, even when it is -2 degrees outside. A trip to The Vitamin Cottage and you will find all kinds of seeds you can easily sprout right in your cupboard.
I chose alfalfa sprouts because this is what I'm most familiar with, but they had all kinds including bean sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and many I had never heard of like Mung beans.
These little babies are super high in nutrients and add a fresh, nutty taste to sandwiches, soups and salads.
Sprouting is quick, easy and economical. I used a simple Mason jar and a screw top lid from The Vitamin Cottage with ready made holes for oxygen. You could also use cheese cloth or screen to fit over the top of your jar. Anything that will let the oxygen in and keep the little sweeties inside.
Place a tablespoon of seeds in your jar and cover them with cool water and let them soak 6-8 hours. Pour off the water through the holes and roll the jar to spread the seeds out in the jar. Set the jar in a dark cupboard tipped up on edge in a bowl lined with a dish towel so water can continue to drip out. You want the seeds to be moist not soaked.
Three times every day take the jar out of the cupboard and rinse the seeds through the holes in the jar, swirl them around and drain, placing the jar back in the dark cupboard. You can see them start to sprout after the first day.
After 3-4 days take the sprouts out and swirl them in a bowl of water. The husks of the seeds with float to the top where you can skim them off and discard. Don't worry, you don't need to get them all. Place the sprouts back in the jar and set the jar tipped up in a bowl in front of a sunny window. In a matter of a few hours you can see the seeds starting to turn green from photosynthisis!
Rinse the seeds again and place them in a container in your fridge until you are ready to use them.
You can store the dry seeds for a long period of time which would make them handy in case of emergencies when other fresh veggies may not be available. I am excited to try different seeds and keep my family in fresh greens all winter long.
"Watching something grow is good for morale. It helps you believe in life."
-Myron S. Kaufman