Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who needs carats when you've got carrots?

Sorry for the cheesy title. I couldn't resist.

You know, there is nothing better to do on a gray afternoon in January than pull carrots out of the ground. Nope. Nothing better. It's like digging for buried your backyard. That's what I did this weekend. Most of the carrots, which were all planted last fall, turned out medium-sized...a few were tiny and a couple were bi- or trifurcated. But then there was "Big Papa", the fattest one I've ever seen:
0.43 lbs worth of carroty-goodness on the far right

I'm planning to plant a whole lot more carrots next fall, so I can be even more rich next January.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

UN of seed packets

My grandfather was 1/4 Cherokee Indian. I like to think that I got some of those Cherokee genes. And maybe I did! This seems to be reflected in my seed purchase from Baker Creek, which is 1/3 Cherokee. It's also 1/6 Spanish, Italian, French, and English. A veritable UN of seed packets. And I didn't even realize this until I placed all of them on the table to take this picture:

I ordered Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans and Cherokee Long Ear popcorn, along with St. Valery carrots (French), Round Black Spanish radish, Early Purple Sprouting broccoli (English), and Romanesco Italia. The pumpkin is French (Rouge Vif D'Etampes) and was a freebie from Baker Creek.

Now, let's see if they can all get along together in my garden. The brassicas have been started and the root veg are in the ground!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tomato seeds...yes, I really needed more

My order from TomatoFest arrived a few weeks ago, but I'm just getting around to showing it off. New varieties include:

Principe Borghese - Italian, good for paste and maybe drying

Black Zebra - love Green Zebra and thought I'd give the "black" version a try as well

Poland II - a paste tomato that seemed like a good choice

Amish Gold - most excited about this one! It's a stabilized cross between Sungold and Amish Paste

Black Cherry - cherry tomatoes grow well here and I love the flavor of many "black" tomatoes

Japanese Black Trifele - I've heard the flavor is incredible

Yellow Stone - a freebie...what a bad name for a tomato!

I love the selection from TomatoFest! You can spend all day there :) Although, I do wish the seed packets had pictures of the actual variety, like on the website. But it would probably cost more to do that, so maybe it's not worth it.

I'm in the process of allocating garden space to each variety. I know that I want to grow more paste tomatoes for saucing...Amish Gold I'm thinking of you. But do I really want to give a lot of precious, central coast, real estate to a newbie?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bloom Day January 2010

It's orchid time at my house!
Coelogyne tomentosa

Sophrocattleya Fairyland 'Sara'

Epicattley Siam Jade x Fuchs Key Lime AM/AOS

Laeliocattleya Fiesta Days

This last one is an unknown orchid from the Pleurothallis genus. It's one of those plants that "only a mother could love". The flowers are small and obscure. The best part? It smells like fish. I kid you not. That fishy odor was what caused me to look around near the plant and notice that it was actually blooming.

The actual identity of this plant is in question. It was labeled Pleurothallis colyligera, but I cannot find that species in any database. So, it's probably a misspelling, since I can find cotyligera. BUT cotyligera has maroon flowers that emerge from the leaf tips according to the IOSPE picture. A far cry from the yellowish/transparent flowers on my plant. Still a mystery.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pak Choi that grows in the dark (ok, shade)

This was my first attempt to grow a Chinese cabbage, so I wasn't expecting much. I started the seeds at the end of October and planted them out the first week of November...15 of the (almost) full shade. See, the problem with winter is the low sun angle. My narrow backyard is almost completely shaded from November to February, due its orientation. You guessed it: north of the house. We're talking only a few minutes of sun. But these little babies grew anyway! I harvested the first one a couple of days ago. It weighed 12 ounces. No caterpillars, no aphids, only a little dirt. And, it was great tasting!
Here is one of pak choi shown during it teenage days.

I think this might be a miracle - really. Where did I get this miracle seed? I'm looking at the packet now. Baby Pak Choi Green Fortune from Renee's Garden. I remember now. It was an impulse buy at OSH. I flip it over. Renee always puts a lot of information on the back. Hmm...heat-resistant...ready to eat in record time...F-1! What!? I've been trying to grow open pollinated varieties in my garden, but this hybrid has mysteriously snuck in. Wonder if an OP pak choi would grow as well? Guess there's only one way to find out.