This blog is no longer being updated or maintained - please go to craiglehoullier.com for the latest
Click on this link - craiglehoullier.com
This has been my blogging home since 2009 - and it has served me well. But - it felt like it was time for a change. With Epic Tomatoes, and now, Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales out and about and my focus shifting more toward writing, blogging and projects, having a new way to communicate will be energizing.
And so - thanks for reading - and see you tomorrow on my new site (the switch should happen around noon).
I just found out that Epic Tomatoes is in the running for a 2015 Good Reads book award - to vote, click the link here.
And you can still vote in the UK Grow Your Own gardening book award - the link to vote in that contest is here.
The garden still grows - I am anxiously awaiting ripening of the new indeterminate X dwarf hybrids. Still no frost in the forecast.
I am just about to head to Cape Cod to support my wife and her family. They lost a wonderful woman, my wife's sister Elisabeth Grees, wife of Ed, mother to Jesse and Tyler.
Yesterday, Sara (our daughter) married her boyfriend Adam, in a small celebration in Seattle. Sue and I are now grandparents of Adam's sons Aiden and Aaron. What fun!
Yesterday also saw my wife Sue heading for Boston to be with her sister, who is in the hospital with a serious illness. So it is me with two dogs and three cats, my thoughts and prayers in two very distant and different locations, elements of elation and sadness. In other words, life.
I am trying to find my momentum and energy - the longer colder days, feeling a bit burned out by this very busy year, with so much to do. Focusing on what's growing is always a good way to ease back into the swing of things.
We've yet to have a frost, so a few eggplant, lots of peppers, and lots of new indeterminate X dwarf hybrid tomatoes are growing well. The garlic that I planted in the side garden straw bales is also emerging nicely.
Below are pictures of the tomatoes. I've had to use occasional dilute fungicide spray due to aggressive Septoria, and also some dilute Sevin due to aphids and whitefly. Growing in the fall certainly brings on a different set of issues.
Top row - first pic is of the two rows of plants. Then the varieties are in pairs starting with a pic of the plant from a distance, then a close up of flowers or fruit (if it has formed). The pics were uploaded alphabetically - so starting top row, second pic, each pair of pics is as follows: Arcky, Betty, Burly, Dummy, Leafy, Priddy, Reddy, Roddy, Ruggy F2 plants 1, 2 and 3, Scary, Sissy, Sorry, Speckly, Steamy, Teensy, Tiggy and Worry.
Three Teensy fruit ripened and seeds are being saved. I am also hopeful for Betty, Burly, Dummy, Reddy, one of the Ruggy, Scary and Speckly in terms of getting ripe fruit before frost. A bit more iffy are Sissy and Tiggy - fruit are set, but they are small. Of the rest, a few have open flowers; I think the least likely to ripen will be Steamy, followed by Leafy and Sorry. But this is all a bonus...my expectation was to do the crosses and perhaps prove that the cross took by seeing indeterminate seedlings. Having a long enough season to get a fall crop of the hybrids is really beyond what I expected. I really look forward to seeing the colors of the crosses using Sun Gold, and when any variety not red fleshed crosses with a green or white.
These are the last five crosses to take, ripen fruit and germinate. I plan to let these grow until they are shipping size and send them to Dwarf Project volunteers who are able to grow them out during the winter, either outside or in a greenhouse. Top row - left to right - Acey, Artsy, Emmy, second row Fishy, Sandy.
Hey, fellow gardening enthusiasts! Please forgive my relatively long (for me) disappearances. There are lots of things bubbling below the surface, and as 2015 starts to draw to a close, I am working to organize my upcoming events and tasks, while at the same time putting a wrap on a busy gardening year.
First things first - I will be live on the radio tomorrow twice - at 9 AM EST, for half an hour, on Niki Jabbour's radio show The Weekend Gardener - link is here - and at noon EST, for an hour, on Arbico Organic's The Easy Organic Gardener radio show; find the live link here. I look forward to some tomato talk, perhaps a bit of looking back, as well as looking ahead.
The coastal storm led to a mandatory evacuation from Ocracoke last Friday, so we missed out on week 2 (and part of week 1, to tell the truth). Since returning home, I've been clearing out the garden - all tomatoes are gone. Eggplant don't look great and will be next to go - peppers continue to thrive. The later planted new Dwarf X Indeterminate hybrids are looking great and I will do an update on them soon. I also planted three types of garlic in the side garden remaining straw bales.
I've got three remaining local events - Chatham County Extension in Silk Hope on October 19, a NC State OLLI course at the McKimmon Center on October 28, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Conference Nov 6-8 in Durham. Links to info for the three can be found on my front page - scroll down to the events listing.
Next year is already filling up - you can find 2016 events to date on the front page as well. Just a few other things - I will be completely revising (and rethinking) my websites very soon, and a regular podcast, and new video series, are on the radar as well. And those are only the high priority things I am working on. More later!
below - on the ferry, leaving Ocracoke in the rain last Saturday.
It's Tuesday morning, and - surprise! - showers keep blowing over (the morning dog walks so far are rather wet-feet affairs!). We are having a lovely, relaxing time...listening to lots of music, cooking some local seafood (scallops last night), crosswords, Sudoku - and if the rain stops, long walks around town and on the beach.
I was notified a few days ago that Epic Tomatoes is nominated for a book award by the UK magazine Grow Your Own - you can vote here! This is such unexpected, and exciting news, and I thank my gardening friends in advance for their support.
No, that wasn't the menu of edibles available this morning at the Seven Springs resort, location of the September Mother Earth News Fair. But they are areas of expertise of a group of wonderful authors (now friends) at our table this morning. It was such a pleasure to get to know Melissa Caughey and Jessi Bloom, and catch up with friends Jeanine Davis and Nan Chase. It was a reunion of sorts, since all but Jessi were at last week's Heritage Harvest Festival as well. Yesterday I got to spend some time with Ira Wallace and the other delightful folks manning the tomato tasting/Southern Exposure Seed Exchange tent.
I found it so valuable to compare notes on our shared experiences as relatively new garden writers, and look forward to seeing where each of our friendships and connections go next. It is clear that we all share deep passions for our relative areas of expertise, and value our connections with those that we reach through our books, blogs, and workshops.
To find out more about each of the people I mentioned above, please click the highlighted links - you will find information about their various books and other activities.
Here are just a few first pics from the event taken last evening. Any similarities to the Overlook Hotel are purely coincidental!
Here I am! How could nearly two weeks have passed since my last blog? Nothing on epictomatoes.com - no newsletter. It's just that time of year - combined with something about this year that has made it very different from other years. Yes, the book (well, the book related events, which really are keeping me busy).
The Tomato Tasting event at Seed Savers Exchange and Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello and Splendid Table interview were all fun and quite wonderful. I've been doing a lot of journaling to try to make sense of it all (what a year!), to process the experiences, all of the wonderful people I've met, opportunities I've had to share my stories - and in parallel, keeping the garden not only going, growing and harvested, but bringing along plants from newly created Dwarf hybrids.
Briefly, on the garden - I've put a few pics below. Peppers and eggplant continue to thrive and pump out loads of great fruit. Most dwarf and indeterminate tomatoes are tired and about to be removed - they've done great, and it's been a long season! Seedlings of the new crosses I've made between some of the Dwarf releases and various indeterminate varieties (representing starting points for new varieties) are growing nicely in 5 gallon grow bags. I hope to get some ripe fruit from them before frost - or at least get an idea of fruit size and shape.
Below are views of the new hybrid seedlings, along with a view of the peppers and eggplant. In the top row, third picture are a seeding from a mystery variety sent to me by a friend (which I am calling Jennie - I think it may be the variety Kimberly, mistakenly sent in a packet of Lillian's Yellow Heirloom) - and the hybrid between Mexico Midget and Summertime Green!
Here's what's next - and it is going to keep me really busy for as far as I can see. I am off to Seven Springs PA on Friday to speak at the Mother Earth News Fair. After that, we will get ready for our annual two week escape to Ocracoke Island (finally - badly needed!). While there I hope to get a grasp on where the Dwarf Tomato Breeding project currently sits.
I am also planning for a complete revision of how I will reach out and communicate - meaning a new integrated website, which will replace this (Weebly - the nctomatoman) site and my other (Wix - epictomatoes) site. This will mean collapsing into a single blog, deciding on the fate of my somewhat monthly newsletter, and creating space for future plans (a podcast, videos). Thankfully I am getting some badly needed help with all of this - but my goal is to make it easy for me to share what I am learning about tomatoes as I continue my gardening journey.
Stay tuned - changes are on the way, and some new things as well!
I am so, so delighted to be providing meaty (veggie?) updates in September. Every single eggplant is thriving. All but a few peppers are thriving. At least half of my tomatoes are still kicking along, though they won't win a beauty contest.
Pictures always speak better - so here they are - with some descriptions for each row coming first.
Top row: the remains of the indeterminate varieties in 5 gallon grow bags; row of hoped for fall crop - mostly newly created dwarf X indeterminate hybrids, a mystery sent to me by a friend (which I call "Jennie" and assume it will be the variety Kimberly or similar) and the F1 between Mexico Midget and Summertime Green
second: planting trays for the fall tomatoes, mix of various fall crops (greens, beets, etc), view of the pepper rows with Okra peeking above all
third: Feherezon pepper, row of hot peppers, row of sweet peppers (showing Fire Opal's purple fruit)
fourth: eggplant Skinny Twilight, eggplant Twilight Lightning, selection of eggplant - top are Green Ghost and Listada di Gandia, below are my selections from Orient Express hybrid - Midnight Lightning, two Skinny Twilight, and Twilight Lightning (these are now finished in my view).
fifth: a pair of Lillian's Yellow Heirlooms with a Yellow White (aka Viva Lindsey's Kentucky Heirloom).
Be sure to sign up to attend tomorrow evening's Pepper class at Southern Seasons! And a garden update to come later tonight
Tomorrow evening at Southern Season in Chapel Hill a wonderful cooking school centered on peppers will take place. All of the details can be found here. Click the link to see the dishes that will be prepared, and to sign up! The last time we did this - two years ago - it was just spectacular! Alex Hitt will be there to discuss pepper growing and roasting; I will be discussing pepper history, varieties and culture, and Caitlin Burke will be leading the class and cooking with the peppers.
As for the garden update...check back this evening for a few pictures. Suffice to say that the parade of eggplant, tomatoes and peppers continues!