Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IT'S TIME TO PLANT GARLIC

One of my favorite crops to grow is garlic.  Home grown  garlic is much better than store bought
in taste and is easier  to peel and process.  We grow German Hardneck garlic and as a result we
enjoy two harvests; scapes in the month of June and full heads of delicious garlic in July.
THE GARLIC PATCH IN EARLY MAY

Garlic is relatively trouble free.  There are no insect pests to speak of and there don't appear to be
any animals that like garlic.  It does involve an investment of time.  Garlic planted in October is
not ready for harvest until the following July.  An initial modest investment in seed garlic can
over a few years mushroom into a self-sufficient supply.  I started with 18 cloves the first year.
I saved twice that many closes after the first harvest for replanting in the Fall.  Now, I plant
120 cloves, more than enough to satisfy our needs.
GARLIC SCAPES IN JUNE

I had never heard of garlic scapes before I started growing my own garlic.  We now look
forward to scape season.  We make pesto, scape butter, scape spread and share scapes with
our friends and family.  I have also given heads of garlic to many gardening friends so that
they can grow their own.
HARVESTED GARLIC IN JULY

I plant my garlic cloves in mid to late October.  I will start by clearing one of last season's
fruit crop beds.  I will then add some limestone and compost to the bed and till the soil.
After raking the soil into a level bed I plant the cloves in two inch (2") deep furrows that
have been lined with a well balanced organic fertilizer such as Espoma Plant Tone.

The cloves are planted six (6) inches apart in rows that are six (6) inches apart.  This compact
alignment allows you to get a lot of production out of a modest square footage of real estate.
I just planted 120 cloves in 32 square feet of space.
A ROW OF GARLIC CLOVES

After the garlic bed is planted I surround it with a simple fence.  I then fill this space with
a bed of leaves approximately 8" thick to insulate the the soil to prevent the cloves from
being heaved by the frost.  The fence also keeps out skunks attracted by the fertilizer.
THE GARLIC PATCH READY FOR WINTER

A sure sign that Spring has arrived is the site of garlic shoots popping up through the
bed of leaves.  Once that happens, I remove the fence and the leaves.  People who see
my garden in late April and May always inquire about that lush looking bed and are
surprised to learn that it is the garlic patch.

As I mentioned previously, we harvest garlic scapes in June.  Over the  last couple of
years we have had dinner parties in June with a garlic scape theme.  In July, I harvest
the garlic heads.  I pick the thickest stocks first, giving the thinner stocks some room
to grow.  After a couple of weeks, I pick the remaining garlic.  The heads will be
trimmed of roots and the stocks will be removed.  The heads will then spend a week in the
sun to dry out a bit.  I will then wipe the garlic heads clean and store in porous containers
in a dark, well ventilated space.

At some point after the garlic heads have been in storage for a while I will then choose the
heads which will be used for  next season's garlic crop.  I look for large six clove heads as
my seed garlic.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to send me an email.
All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com

Saturday, October 11, 2014

HOW TO BEAT ROOT MAGGOTS ON RADISHES AND BEETS

Beginning in 2013, I experienced problems growing radishes.  This year, I noticed that the
beets were under-performing.  A little reading revealed that the cause was most likely root
maggots.  The suggested solution was to cover the crop with fabric row cover.  I came up
with the following solution:

First, I built 1' x 4' frames  out of strapping  with chicken wire domes covered with fabric
row cover.  I planted beet seeds in  two rows 8" apart.  I then planted a row of radishes between
the two rows of beets.  Here is what that all looked like.
Beet/Radish enclosures from a distance

Planting beets and radishes

The bed two weeks later
As you can see from the last photo, this method works very well with no insecticides
needed.  Please let me know what is going on in your garden.

All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com








Tuesday, October 7, 2014

OUR WINTER SQUASH GARDEN

One of the most enjoyable gardening projects that my wife Catherine and I collaborated on this
year was a winter squash mass planting in our new sundial garden.  The inspiration for this garden
came from last year's visit to the COMMON GROUND FAIR in Unity Maine.  One of  the most
enlightening installations at the fair was the winter squash garden and display courtesy of Johnny's Selected Seeds.  It was impressive to
see so much variety of size, shape and color in one place.  We made a decision right there and
then to  join in fun.
Squash garden as seen from vegetable garden - June 2014

The sun dial garden borders the vegetable garden and creates a transition between that space
and the patio.  It is approximately 11' x 11 '.  We filled the bed with compost and planted two
each of the following:

Charisma pumpkin
Winter Sweet Kabocha winter squash
Carnval Hybrid Acorn squash
Sunshine Kabocha squash
Bush Delicata


Squash garden in July, 2014


In addition, we planted one hill "Metro" butternut squash in a different location.  The mass planting in the sundial garden
was a huge visual success,  Planting so  many varieties
in such a modest space created a beautiful display of contrasting foliage similar to that in a
hosta garden.  We got 45 fruit out of the sundial garden mass planting with an additional 14
fruit from our lone butternut squash hill.  The foliage became so thick that it was  nearly
impossible to keep pruned.  As a result, some of the plants were overwhelmed by their neighbors.
despite this we had a reasonably good harvest.  I look forward to eating the harvest.
Harvested squash curing in the sun

All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com

I would love to hear from you.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN GARDEN
Plant garlic
Set up low plastic tunnels for late fall/winter crops
finish taking down tomato and pepper plansts
plant mache for late winter/early sping harvest

              


Sunday, October 5, 2014

WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE GARDEN , OCTOBER 04, 2014

Apologies for not posting in a while.  I've had an accident involving the thumb on my right hand.
Suffice it to say that my life has had to slow down quite a bit while I have been slowly healing.  As
we speak, I am wearing a hard plastic thumb splint that makes typing more of a challenge.
Thanks to my wife Catherine, my friends Steve and KC Swallow,  Jim and Vicki Dyer and
Chuck Kennedy.  They all pitched in to help me get the garden ready for fall.

Steve and KC helped prep the legume beds for next season.  We pulled the remaining green bean
plants,  making sure to scrape the nitrogen nodules attached to the roots back into the soil.  I need
that nitrogen for next season's leaf crops. These would include; lettuce, mesclun, arugula, cabbage,
kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, etc.

THE GARDEN AFTER CLEAN UP (NOTICE THE ENCLOSURES)

Once we had cleared the bed we added the following:  ground limestone, rock phosphate
and green  sand.  After that we added a large wheel barrow full of compost and spread it
with the back of our rakes.  Steve then tilled the soil with my  little one  horse Honda
tiller.  We raked again and went on to the next bed, doing four in all.  For more information
on this topic I recommend that you check out one of my early posts, CROP ROTATION-
THE FOUR CROP METHOD

Chuck Kennedy helped me make some simple enclosures to keep cucumbers and zucchini
warm this fall.  Jim Dyer leaped onto my lawn tractor and mowed all the grass on the property.
Vicki helped with harvesting.  Catherine has been busy harvesting beans, hot peppers, tomatoes,
and squash; then she has processed all of  this stuff.  We have lots of green beans frozen.  We
now have our own ground chili powder, hot pepper flakes and dried peppers.  We have lots of tomato
puree and chopped tomatoes frozen.

I have been slowly reducing the tomato plant population.  As of today, I have two "Matt's Wild
Cherry plants, two "Japanese Black Trifele" two "Russian Ox Heart"  and one"Rose" still in the
ground.  The "Matt's Wild Cherry" will remain in the ground until the killing frost.  It is the most
hardy tomato I have ever grown.  It grows wild in Mexico.  It is one tough hombre.
THE FALL CARROT BED
A BASKET OF CARROT THINNINGS

This past week I concentrated on three beds:  the fall carrot patch, the Brussels sprouts patch
and the fall broccoli-cabbage bed.  I thinned the carrots and wound up with a basket full
of carrots ready to eat.  Judging from this harvest it looks like the best fall carrot crop ever.
It looks like we won't have to buy any carrots until Spring.  I cleaned up the Brussels sprouts
patch, added  some supports to keep the plants upright, sprayed for cabbage worms and fed
the plants with Neptune's Harvest 2-3-1 fish fertilize.  The broccoli - cabbage patch got the
same treatment.  Tomorrow I will set up a low tunnel over this bed to encourage the crop to
maturity.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS
BROCCOLI-CABBAGE PATCH


All the best,
Greg Garnache
gcgarnache@gmail.com





UPCOMING BLOG POSTS
OUR WINTER SQUASH  GARDEN
RADISH &BEET ENCLOSURE TO COMBAT ROOT MAGGOTS
FALL PLANTING OF GARLIC
 Y EAH! WE'VE  GOT CHICKENS


       

Saturday, October 4, 2014

TOMATOES - WHAT I GREW IN 2014 AND WHAT I LEARNED

Now that the gardening season is beginning to wind down I think it is time to take a look at
the tomatoes I grew this year and offer some thoughts that may be helpful to you.  It was a
pretty good year for growing; plenty of warm sunny days with an average amount of rainfall.
Early and late blight were a factor but I managed to stay on top of the situation by pruning
and spraying with copper sulfide and OXIDATE.

Over the years, I have shifted more of my crop over to heirloom varieties.  The tomatoes
are more flavorful and  have interesting histories.  We host a number of tomato tasting
events each year and my guests seem to really enjoy the stories that accompany each
tomato's moment in the spotlight.  Here are the tomatoes I grew this year:
ROSE TOMATO

ROSE.  This is a big pink to red tomato with great texture and taste.  This tomato makes
any sandwich taste better and tastes great on its own.  It is an offshoot of "Brandywine"
with equal taste but far better production. We did not offer it this year at many of our
tastings because we had so many new varieties.  It has moderate disease resistance.
NEBRASKA WEDDING

NEBRASKA WEDDING.  A large orange tomato with a low acid sweet taste.  This
was the overwhelming favorite at our tomato tastings.  One of the primary characteristics
that drew me to this variety is that it is a determinate tomato, meaning that it grows on a
short vine.  There are not many heirloom tomatoes that grow on a short vine.  I need to
grow a certain number of determinate tomatoes each year to keep the tomato bed from
shading the root crop bed behind it. What an advantage.  In addition to great taste, eye
appeal and growing habit, the Nebraska Wedding tomato has very good disease tolerance.
I did not have to trim as many leaves off these plants as I did for some others.

BLACK KRIM.  This is a rustic looking red tomato with great taste.  It gets it's name
by being from the island of Krim in the Black Sea.  It is an indeterminate tomato
that I train to a trellis system I have been using since 2007.  In addition to having
great taste, Black Krim started ripening two weeks earlier than my other heirlooms.
My tomato tasters gave this variety high marks.  My only complaint is that this
variety has low disease resistance.  It seems that I nearly cut every leaf off both
plants.  That said, I still managed to get good production until the last tasting
Labor Day Weekend.
BLACK ETHIOPIAN

BLACK ETHIOPIAN.  This was a new variety this year from seeds given to me
by my friends Pam and Dave.  It was their favorite in 2013.  Let's start with the
appearance.  The fruit are on the small side, a bit larger than an extra large egg.
However, the color is a deep mahogany with green shoulders.  This is a beautiful
looking piece of fruit.  The taste is excellent; sweet with lingering notes of
earthiness.  This was a hit with my tasters.  Disease resistance is moderate.
Regarding the name, the tomato actually comes from the Ukraine.  It is believed
that Soviet troops who were in Ethiopia as advisers in the 1980's introduced this
variety to the native population.
JAPANESE BLACK TRIFELE AND MOMOTARO

MOMOTARO.  This variety is actually a hybrid from Japan.  It came to my attention
several years ago when I learned that it had won some tasting contests on the
West Coast of the United States.  It is medium sized, It is dark pink in color and
the fruit are mostly perfect - no blemishes, etc.  I have to say that for a hybrid this is
a very good tasting tomato.  It has a combination of sweet and tangy.  My tasters
continue to like this variety.  It is an indeterminate tomato with good production and
moderate disease resistance.

JAPANESE BLACK TRIFELE
  This is a medium sized pear shaped tomato with excellent
taste.  It is a bit unusual in that the leaves are shaped like potato leaves.  The plants are
indeterminate with moderate disease resistance.  The fruit look a lot like the Black
Ethiopian tomato except somewhat larger.  Most of my tasters really liked this variety.

GREEN ZEBRA.  We have been growing Green Zebra tomatoes for the last six years
and count them as a perennial favorite.  They are tangy, almost citric in taste.
They are salad sized and make a great addition to any salad with their electric green
appearance.  They have an indeterminate grow habit, great production with moderate
disease resistance.
RUSSIAN OX HEART

RUSSIAN OXHEART.  This is a large red tomato shaped like an ox heart with very good
flavor and texture.  It makes a great sandwich tomato, but is just as good as a slice
with some artisan salt.  All of my tasters like it and there is always at least one person
who says that it is their favorite.  It is an indeterminate with very good production
and good disease resistance.  I was given seeds by an acquaintance four years ago and
was pleasantly surprised.  We have been growing it ever since.
PRIMO F1 HYBRID ON THE VINE

PRIMO F1.  This is another hybrid that I tried for the first time this year.  What attracted
me to this variety was the promise of large red fruit on a determinate vine.  This plant
was prolific to say the least.  The fruit are not as flavorful as the heirlooms.  However,
if you have limited space and want a tomato you can use in a sandwich, this might work
for you.  It has a dense center with not many seeds and makes a very good salsa tomato.
I was disappointed with the low disease  resistance of this variety.

In addition to the fruit listed above we grew two varieties of plum tomato, San Marzano and
Milano.  San  Marzano is an heirloom  tomato with a relatively dry interior perfect for
processing into puree or sauce.  It is an indeterminate with good disease resistance.  Milano
is a short vine determinate tomato that tends to ripen over a short period of time.  My one
gripe with this variety is low disease resistance.

We   also grew 3 varieties of small tomato:  Matt's Wild Cherry, Yellow Pear and and
a hybrid cherry tomato with the catchy name of BHN-624.  Matt's Wild Cherry has been
a perennial favorite for ten years.   It has very small fruit that are packed with flavor.
Matt's will also keep producing until the first killing frost.  The Yellow Pear are interesting
but not very tasty.  I probably won't grow these again.

I tried the BHN-624 for the first time this season.  What a great producer.  It also has excellent
disease resistance.  By mistake, I grew  this variety as a determinate and it responded quite
well (see picture).  The taste was good and the dense texture made it a good choice for a
cherry tomato pasta sauce.  
BHN-624 CHERRY TOMATO
That about wraps it up.  If you have any questions or comments please send me an eamail
to gcgarnache@gmail.com.  I would also like to know what varieties of tomato you grow
and what you think about them.
All the best,
Greg Garnache



Saturday, August 30, 2014

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT ZUCCHINI

Let me start this off with an admission:  "I have not been a big fan of zucchini".  That is, until we
got a copy of Susie Middleton's great cook book  "Fast, Fresh & Green".  She advised in one
of her recipes that one cut around the center and discard it.  This was an AHA moment for me.
What have I always hated about most zucchini recipes?  Why, of course, it's the watery
consistency of most recipes we have tried over the years.

Ladies and gentleman, this is a game changer.  In my humble opinion, zucchini is best when
prepared in this manner.  One of my favorite
side dishes these days is a saute of zucchini and onions in extra virgin olive oil over medium
high heat.  The vegetable is firm and crispy with lots of flavor when cooked this way.

I also feel that zucchini is best when picked at about eight inches long.  The flesh is nice and
thick but the center isn't bloated with water and seeds.    I am also
partial to yellow zucchini.  My favorite variety is "Golden Glory"".  It is easy to locate the
fruit on the vine because of the contrast in color.  In addition the vine itself is compact and features
beautiful oak shaped variegated foliage.
The ideal picking size

One issue I have always had with zucchini was that it was a favorite target of  the dreaded
and hated Squash Vine Borer.  This year I treated my two plants with Rotenone-Pyrethrins,
spraying three times over a three week period in July when the females are looking for
places to lay their eggs.  This strategy was successful.  I am happy to report that my two
plants are still producing.  They look tired but both have small fruit and new blossoms: Not
bad for plants that have been in the ground since late May.
Golden Glory Zucchini foliage in late August

My final thought is that I am sick of stories about people leaving baseball bat sized zucchini
on their neighbors back door step or leaving them in unlocked vehicles.  People, get control
of your zucchini patch.  Only grow what you can eat.  Pick early and often.  Enough said.

ZUCCHINI, ONIONS AND BROCCOLI WITH PORK TENDERLOIN, NOODLES AND
MANGO, GINGER & HABANERO SAUCE

Now that I have had my rant, let me share a recipe that I came up with recently.  It all started
with my discovery of "Mango, Ginger and Habanero  Sauce".  We had leftover pork
tenderloin in the refrigerator along with some cooked spaghetti noodles.

I started by cutting a zucchini in half lengthwise and scooping out the center with a spoon.
I then cut the flesh into 1/2" x 1 1/2" pieces.  I then cut up a large onion into pieces
approximately the same size as the zucchini.  My late summer broccoli was ready so
I picked a head and trimmed off florets about the same size as my other ingredients.
Zucchini hollowed out

I sauteed the vegetables in extra virgin olive oil at medium high heat for approximately ten minutes.
I cut up the pork tenderloin into pieces, and added it to the mix.  I then added about 5 or
six ounces of the Mango, Ginger Habanero sauce to the pan.  Once that heated up I added the
precooked noodles.  This dish made my picky wife very happy.  Give it a try.  Let me know
what you think.
The finished dish
All the best,
Greg

Friday, August 29, 2014

THE BEST CABBAGE FOR COLESLAW


Recently,  friends  asked for our coleslaw recipe.  We've been using the "Tidewater
Coleslaw" recipe in Chris Schlesinger's  cookbook "Thrill of the Grill" for years and were happy
to share that with Steve and K.C.

The feedback we received from our friends was that it didn't taste like our coleslaw.  After
thinking about this problem for some time, it occurred to me that maybe it was the cabbage.
We grow a variety called ":Tendersweet"  developed by Johnny's Selected Seeds in Winslow,
Maine.  It is as it's name implies, tender and sweet.  Experience taught us that using "Tendersweet
always resulted in great slaw.
My friend Steve holding a head of "Tendersweet" Cabbage

I decided to conduct an experiment with Steve and K.C.  I gave them  a fresh
head of "Tendersweet" from my garden and asked them to make coleslaw.  Steve
brought some over for us to try.  It tasted just like ours.

My friend, Steve Swallow, a self-described  "coleslaw freak" has been experimenting with
slaw recipes his entire adult life.  He speaks fondly of the coleslaw he enjoyed as a boy
at the "Pickwick Delicatessen" in Plainfield, New Jersey.  Steve reports that his latest
effort using the "Tendersweet" cabbage is closer to his goal of discovering the all time
best coleslaw recipe.  I wish my friend the best in his quest and I feel proud to have
played a part in this worthy endeavor.  I've got a packet of seeds for K.C. so she can
grow some "Tendersweet" cabbage for Steve next year.  

TIDEWATER COLESLAW - From  "Thrill of the Grill" - Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby
                                                Published by William Morrow &  Co, New York
                                                (This is one of our all time favorite cookbooks)

1 1/2 cups commercial mayonnaise
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 head of green cabbage (Tendersweet is best) cored and finely chopped
2 carrots finely grated
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl combine mayo, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper.  Mix well
In a large bowl, combine cabbage and carrots.  Pour in the dressing and toss well.  I use my
hands.  Refrigerate until serving

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THIS WEEK IN THE GARDEN - AUGUST 28, 2014

We have enjoyed great weather this Summer.  There have been many sunny days with just enough
rain to keep plants healthy.  As a result, it has been a great year for vine crops, especially melons.
There is an old French saying "You can judge a man's garden by his melons".  Needless to say, I
have felt quite inadequate in the past.  I'm walking tall this year.  Melon production has been the
Emerald Gem Melon
best ever.  In addition to the common cantaloupe, I planted EMERALD GEM and AMY melons.
Amy melon on the vine

Tomato season is in full swing.  Yesterday, Catherine and I processed over twenty
pounds of plum tomatoes.  Most of the crop was converted to puree and frozen. This year, I
grew two varieties:  a determinate called MILANO and an old favorite SAN MARZANO.
A basket of plum tomatoes ready for processing

All of the onions are finally harvested and curing.  In their place I am planting WINTER RYE
as a fall crop.  In addition to being good for the soil, the winter rye is essential to the health
of the compost bins.  A layer of winter rye straw helps to allow oxygen into the mix to ensure
that the decomposition process moves forward.

We have survived another busy year of tomato tastings and dinners celebrating the harvest.
This is my favorite time of year, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes.  People seem to
enjoy learning about and sampling the many different varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I
grow.  We used to cut up the tomatoes ahead of time and serve them on platters.  I now
cut them one by one, explaining where the tomato comes from and why we grow it.  This
format is lots of fun and allows each tomato to shine on it's own.  I get lots of questions
from our guests and the pace of the event allows everyone to relax and saver the moment.
If you grow tomatoes you may want to give it a try.  I will follow up with a post devoted
to this topic soon.
The scene is set for a tomato tasting

My focus is turning to the fall garden.  I have been nurturing seeds of lettuce and cabbage
for fall production.  I have started pulling some vines that are no longer producing; zucchini
cucumber, and cantaloupe.  I started replacement plants about a month ago and have started
transplanting them to the garden.  I will protect them with fabric row cover  now and
plastic tunnels in mid-September. This is the first year that I have made an effort to grow these
crops in the Fall.  I will continue to report on this developing situation.







Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rocking it in Retirement - My best Vegetable Garden Ever

After nearly five months I can report that retirement is working for me.  To start each day in the
garden, harvesting vegetables, weeding, starting seeds, cultivating, and listening to my favorite
music is a blessing.  The garden is  both my refuge and play pen.  Gardening allows me to use
my creativity to solve problems,  come up with new ways to grow vegetables and group them
for better production and more eye appeal.
View of vegetable garden from patio.  Photo by Ron Trombley

This year I have had the time to do more planning, especially regarding the timing of succession
plantings of crops like lettuce, mesclun, cabbage, broccoli, beets, radishes, and carrots.  Also,
I have had more time to nurture more tender crops like melon.  Without a doubt this has been
my best year ever for melon production.  Thoughtful pruning, hand watering/fertilizing, and timely
treating with fungicide have made a huge difference.  I am reminded of a French saying "You
can judge a man's garden by his melons".  This year, I can hold my head high.

It feels great to be blogging once again.  I love gardening, talking about gardening and sharing
the joy that this hobby brings to me. Back when I first started blogging, I found it difficult to
find the time and energy to post after a full day of work, and a couple of hours in the garden
trying to keep up with nature.  Unfortunately, I stopped posting in 2011.  Despite the lack of
new posts, my blog has had over 24,000 page views over the last three years:  11,000 views
for my post on crop rotation alone.
Vegetable garden in June 2014

I get it.  People are hungry for good information from experienced gardeners.  I promise to keep
the posts coming.  If you are new to gardening, welcome.  If you are already an avid gardener
I look forward to swapping information with you.  I invite you to become a follower of this blog.
My promise to you is thoughtful commentary on the process of vegetable gardening, the vegetables
we grow and the food that we create with these vegetables.  My motto is "Vegetable gardening
for health and happiness".  I'm living it.  Come and join me.
All the best,
Greg

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Early Blight on Tomatoes - Some strategies that have worked for me

In July of 2006 my wife and I returned from a week long vacation and discovered that all of our
tomato plants were suffering from some disease.  Needless to say, we were devastated.  Mother
Nature can be such a bitch.  As I always do, I got over it and went looking for some answers.
The following is a summary of my blight control program.
Early blight on San Marzano Plum Tomatoes

Spraying:
In the Fall I spray every bed in which I grew tomatoes with copper sulfide fungicide as well as next
year's tomato beds.  
In the early Spring I spray the same beds once again.
Two weeks after the plants go into the ground I begin spraying once a week, alternating between
copper sulfide and Oxidate (an oxidizing fungicide).

Pruning:
When the plants go into the ground I immediately prune off any branches or leaves touching the
ground and continue this practice throughout the growing season.  In addition, I pinch out any
and all suckers on determinate tomato plants.
Regarding indeterminate tomatoes, I employ a little different strategy.  First of all, I prune and train
the plants to be more two dimensional.  It's so much easier to do a thorough spraying.  As with the
determinate tomatoes I prune anything that touches the ground.  In addition, I only allow the main
leader and two suckers to grow (one on each side of the main leader).  I use a trellis system consisting
of heavy duty steel fence posts driven into the ground.  I attach horizontal bars made up of fir or cedar
1 x 4's attached to the fence posts with nuts and bolts or bolts with cotter pins (my favorite).
I attach stainless steel screws to the 1 x 4's every 6 inches.  They are driven in part way.

I then zigzag tomato twine (available for Johnny's Selected Seeds) top to bottom.  I can then attach
the tomato plants to the twine using tomato clips.  I love this system because it allows me to easily
keep track of each plant's growth and to find and eliminate suckers as they emerge.  A neater, more
well groomed tomato plant is much easier to cope with if it should get the blight.  I will cut off the
diseased branches before spraying.   See my earlier post "Tomatoes, the First Pruning".

Plant Selection:
I have observed that some of my tomato plants seem to be more resistant to Early Blight than
others.  This year I tried growing "Nebraska Wedding" tomatoes for the first time.  They are
remarkably blight resistant.  In addition, BHN-624, a hybrid cherry tomato has shown above
average blight tolerance.

One final thought:
My mindset is one of managing the problem.  I expect to get Early Blight so I'm ready when
it occurs.

All the best,
Greg



Monday, August 18, 2014

SOME NOTES ON TOMATOES

I've been vegetable gardening for 28 years.  One of my greatest frustrations has been the
relatively short season for tomatoes.  In the past, I could count on eating my first ripe tomatoes
sometime in July.  The last of the tomatoes would depend on the timing of the killing frost in
October.

Last season I experimented with two varieties of storage tomato: "Long Keeper" and
"Golden Treasure".  The Long Keepers did not keep very well and had an off taste that
didn't win any advocates in my family.  However, the Golden Treasure tomatoes kept
very well and actually tasted reasonably good.  "How well did they Keep?" you ask.
We served them in a salad on Christmas Day.  Now that's what I call a keeper.

This year, I was looking to extend the season in the other direction.  I started an early
variety called "Glacier" even earlier than normal.  Having a "sun shed" helped nurture
the young plants.  The seedlings where planted out in the garden on May 1, four weeks
early.  I set up a low plastic tunnel for the first three weeks to protect the tender plants
from frost.  

At every step along the way the Glacier tomatoes responded well.  The end result was
ripe tomatoes on June 8, 2014.  I'm a happy guy.

Glacier Tomatoes in June

Speaking of low tunnels, I came up with an innovative way to use my galvanized hoops.
I overlapped the four foot diameter hoops and lashed them together so that I could
support a row of low growing (determinate) tomatoes.  It has worked out fine and looks
great.
Low tunnel hoops put to work supporting tomatoes