Considering much of this was planted two weeks ago, everything reflects the wonderful growing conditions we've experienced....all is progressing well. I am quite pleased with how the straw bale plants are doing...and we are big time into lettuce and greens - lots of salads and stir fries being enjoyed....
I've reviewed the tomatoes - indeterminate and dwarf - that will hopefully be putting a rainbow of deliciousness on our kitchen counters this summer. All that is left is for me to share which peppers and eggplant reside in my driveway.
Sweet Peppers: quite a few from my dehybridization/stabilization work; multiple lines of Chocolate Bell, Candy Corn, Amethyst, Fire Opal, Royal Purple and White Gold; also Garden Sunshine, World Beater, Orange Bell, Jimmy Nardello, Marconi, Red Belgium, Italia, and Cubanelle.
Hot Peppers: Etna (not sure if it was a hybrid or OP - a friend gave me a plant last year, I saved seeds. Resulting seedlings looked uniform, so I am growing out only one); Thai Dragon F2 (several of these), Vietnamese Multicolor, Chinese Five Color, Pretty Purple, NuMex Pinata, Ancho, NuMex Heritage, Big Jim, a few generously shared with me by a customer - Habanero X Jalapeno, 7 Pot Brainstrain (goodness!), Brown Moruga and Black Scorpion Tongue; a Takanatsume that seems variegated (one can hope - Takat. X Fish?), Bhut Jokolia, Ghost (seeing if they are the same), Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (I wanted to grow Chocolate Habanero, but sold them all!), Malu Miris, Trinidad Perfume, Peter (from a friend), and my usual selection of gallon pot ornamental hot pepper experiments (about 60 of them).
Eggplant: Green Giant, a handful of stem color variants of some that I am continuing to develop via dehybridization - Midnight Lightning, Twilight Lightning and Skinny Twilight; a pretty significant grow out of a new one I am trying to stabilize from a chance hybrid of Casper - which I will call Green Ghost (oval pale green with a lavender pink blush) - I am growing about 12 of these; Rosita, Properosa, and New York Improved.
The driveway is quite different this year - gone are the central growing 5 gallon Dwarf project plants (that always tipped over on to each other) - the driveway middle is for eggplant and peppers this year, and the Dwarfs are securely anchored next to large pots or in bales.
Pics to follow soon!
And here it is! Feel free to email me if anything I covered leads to questions that you have.
Not much else to report - more intense book editing, and more gardening.....so far, so good with the weather - knock on wood! I will be doing more with pictures soon....suffice to say that with the exception of a few slow tomatoes (in less optimal spots), we are off to a good start - hope everyone else is as well.
We are really enjoying lettuce and greens at the moment...they will be finished all too soon!
First - I will let you know when the archive of my radio appearance from Saturday morning is posted (no, I've not listened to it yet - Saturday morning was a busy one for gardening.) For those that listened, I hope you enjoyed it.
And now, back to sharing my planting lists for the year. Since the Dwarf tomato project now has 25 varieties released through various seed companies, I wanted to grow them all for a big comparison of flavors. Rather than retype them all, I am growing the varieties listed at the bottom of this page. from my website (scroll down to see the varieties).
In addition to those 25, I am also growing the following: Sweet Scarlet Dwarf, Dwarf Black Angus, Chocolate Lightning, Uluru Ochre, Fred's Tie Dye, Dwarf Emerald Isle (regular leaf), Dwarf Emerald Isle (potato leaf), Dwarf Confetti, Dwarf Peppermint Stripes, Tennessee Suited, Adelaide Festival, Beauty F2 (two selections), Beauty King, Dwarf Orange Cream, Dwarf Golden Gypsy, Green/Yellow striped Beauty selection, Green/Orange Harmony selection, Harmonic Convergence, TastyWine, Firebird Sweet, Orange striped bicolor Beauty selection, Green and pink blushed bicolor Beauty selection, Kangaroo Paw Yellow, a dwarf out of Arkansas Traveler seeds, Saucy Mary (two selections), Jeremy's Stripes and Mint Stripes.
Many of these have striped of various colors, and most are early selections that are still segregating, so what I get will be both a surprise and a mystery...which I really enjoy! Some are planted in straw bales, the rest in 5 gallon grow bags; most are in the driveway, the rest in the big garden.
I am settling in to a nice routine; in the morning I condition the new bales, take data on the planted bales, water, make and record observations, and, my current task, complete staking and start tying and pruning. In the afternoon I am completing this round of book editing.
This coming Friday I will be taking lots of plants to the main Durham Public Library on Roxboro Street for a giveaway event starting at 8 AM - I will provide more details as the date approaches. It is exciting to ponder how many gardens my babies are, and will be, growing in.
Tomorrow - Saturday, May 24 - at 10 AM EST, I will be on Kate Copsey's radio show, America's Home Grown Veggies. To listen, there will be a live link at the show's website. Kate interviewed me for the show a week or so ago, and it was great fun - I hope you enjoy the hour.
As far as the garden....with the exception of a plant here or there that appears a bit out of sort, 99% of everything is planted. Now I need to map the garden, document it in my annual gardening log, and shift into maintenance and observations mode. Oh yes...one more important task that starts tomorrow - staking and/or caging the plants. It isn't the most fun part, but is critical to keeping them upright and providing good air circulation around the plants.
Much more to come....if tomorrow's radio show elicits any questions, please feel free to drop me an email.
Anyone who visits my driveway now will see that it has changed. I finished planting today, so the blocks of seedlings are now for the most part replaced with lines of containers. The small pot colorful ornamental (but edible) hot peppers signaled the end of my planting this spring...big relief (although just a bit of sadness - I really enjoy getting things planted). What now remains is equally enjoyable - maintaining, monitoring, reporting - and eventually, picking and eating.
But - on to the free stuff! Along with the well known varieties for the seedling sales, there is always a lot of interesting material left over; far more than I can fit into my garden. If anyone is interested in the following:
Eggplant in progress - candidate for a new variety Green Ghost (the back story...a few years ago I grew out a Casper that had a more purple stem - the resulting eggplant was teardrop shaped and black purple. I saved plenty of seed, and in growing it out, had an array of colors, shapes and sizes. A few were quite unique - pale green skin with varying amounts of lavender shading, which is a color combo that was new to me. So I saved seeds - and I've got various plants from three different selections).
Ornamental Hot Peppers in progress - I've been working with these for years - the plants are compact, bushy, perfect for containers - they have green, dark greenish purple or dark purple foliage and the peppers can be slender and short, round and small, of all sorts of colors. Lots of seedlings need homes - fill in spaces in your flower beds or in containers on your deck!
Dwarf tomatoes in development - I've got lots, but please wait until my blog on the Dwarf project plants I am growing for the possibilities. Many will have stripes of various colors!
if you are interested, email me to set up a time to come and get some!
Today was a good (and exhausting, and hot!) day, and I am pleased to note that the only things remaining to be planted are the extreme small pot experimental ornamental hot peppers. I planted a whole lotta eggplant and peppers today, and the driveway is now shaping up nicely.
Today was also the day that the first mock up pages for my upcoming book arrived from Storey...my job is to review all comments and get everything approaching the final version over the next few weeks. There are lots of pictures included, and some placeholders for the tomato retakes from this season. It's all quite exciting (and just a bit anxiety-producing!).
I am also going to be on the radio Saturday morning at 10 AM EST, but I will blog about that more on Friday (the link is in the News section on the front page of this website). The show is already taped....it will be an hour of me talking tomatoes with the host.
Here are the indeterminate tomatoes I am growing this year in large pots around the perimeter of the driveway (unless otherwise noted). (29)
Favorite (straw bale)
Golden Queen (straw bale)
Lillian's Red Kansas Paste
Big Boy F1
Peak of Perfection
Don's Double Delight
Halladay's Mortgage Lifter
Abraham Lincoln (straw bale)
Magnus (straw bale)
Lillian's Yellow Heirloom
Stump of the World
Mullens Mortgage Lifter
In large pots on our deck (4)
Tiny Tim Yellow
In the front row of the large side yard garden (10)
Sungold (in the ground)
Sungold (straw bale)
Tiger Tom (straw bale)
Sungold (straw bale)
Cherokee Purple (straw bale)
Cherokee Purple (large pot)
Cherokee Purple (in the ground)
That makes 43 indeterminate tomatoes. The rationale for selecting them is varied; for the most part, they are tomatoes that have been important to me for years, and are featured in my upcoming book - some are important for their stories, the impact they had on me when I first started growing heirlooms, or my favorites for flavor.
You will note that my straw bale efforts also involve some of the indeterminate tomatoes.
I will list the Dwarf varieties being grown in 5 gallon grow bags next (soon), followed by eggplant, sweet and hot peppers in the coming days.
If all goes well, by the time the sun sets tomorrow evening, the vast majority of my garden will be planted. All that will likely remain are my four most recent straw bales, which will take until early June to complete conditioning.
In the driveway - planted: Indeterminate tomatoes in large pots, Dwarf tomatoes in 5 gallon grow bags, Eggplant in 5 gallon pots or grow bags, the beginnings of the high priority peppers in 5 gallon pots or grow bags, four straw bales, testing tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
In the big garden - planted: greens, lettuce, beets, squash, cukes, indeterminate tomatoes in the ground, pot or bales; dwarf tomatoes in bales or 5 gallon grow bags, and squash, cuke and melon seeds on bales.
On the deck: basil, chives, zinnias, greens, lettuce, and indeterminate tomatoes in large pots.
....which leaves - a few more dwarfs in bales and grow bags in the big garden, the rest of the high priority peppers in 5 gallon grow bags, lower priority eggplant and peppers in smaller pots (probably 2-3 gallon), and experimental ornamental hot peppers in 1 gallon pots, as well as a few more dwarf tomatoes in driveway straw bales.
After planting is complete (meaning starting on Thursday), it will be time to assess support of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant - meaning ladder climbing and stake pounding for the tall ones - the shorter stakes are easier. I am also going to bleach and detergent spray all stakes and cages that will be reused!
In coming blog entries I will start to talk about exactly what I am growing - which varieties, and why.
Top row: front of big garden - comparison of Cherokee Purple in bale, large container and ground; bale in the big garden - two dwarfs in the bale, two dwarfs in bags in front; bale with two eggplant in driveway with two dwarfs in grow bags in front.
Middle - indeterminate tomatoes in a bale, next to indeterminates in pots, with dwarfs in grow bags in front; lettuce in the big garden; bale planted with cuke and melon seeds (top of bale overlaid with a layer of Miracle Gro potting mix)
My wife Susan created a T-shirt quilt for a daughter of our friends - which can be seen here. I am quite proud of her talents!