Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top 10 Posts for 2009

Apparently when you have a blog, one of the obligatory posts at the end of each year is some sort of year in review. I’m going to do a couple things. First, I’m going to highlight the top 10 posts from the past year. By that, I mean the most clicked-on posts according to the stat counter. I have no idea if objectively they are the “top” posts.

10. The First Time Gardener: Hardening Off Plants

This is an important topic, to be sure, but Top 10? Okay.

9. My ______ Isn’t Producing! What’s Wrong?

This is definitely one of the most common questions we get every year. People want fresh veggies as soon as possible, and it’s perturbing when they don’t appear right away!

8. What is the “Best” Tomato to Plant?

Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone reading this post got their question answered, since I essentially told them that they are asking the wrong question. First, determine what you value in a tomato plant, then pick the plant that fits!

7. What’s Eating the Spinach?

I know no one got a satisfactory answer from this post when they visited, because we never really determined what was eating our spinach either.

6. Tomato Trellis

A closeup picture of the tomato trellis we used in the Family of 4 Garden. I think this post is hanging on the coat-tails of one of the top 5 posts.

5. My Tomato is Rotting!

Ah, Blossom End Rot, the disease that is not a disease. Such a ghastly looking tomato it causes too!

4. Friday PhotoEssay #18

Okay, I’ll guarantee you that people ended up on this post because they were searching for “fuzzy white caterpillar.” I hope they weren’t looking for anything other than pictures of cute, fuzzy white caterpillars. FYI, they are probably some type of tussock moth, but I’m not a bug girl, so don’t quote me on that.

3. Family of 4 Garden Plan

The Family of 4 Garden and the plan for the garden that launched this whole blog project!

2. Orange Balls on My Cedar Tree

What’s not to love about big, orange, gooey, gloppy balls of stuff that show up on cedar trees in the rainy weather of spring? Well, a lot, actually. They don’t hurt the cedar trees, but I’m not a fan of what they do to apples!

1. Training the Tomatoes Up Right

The most popular post for the year: a look at the 3 different methods of training and trellising tomatoes that we used in the Demonstration Garden this summer!

There you have it! I’ll be back after the New Year to start sharing our plans for the 2010 Demonstration Garden.

Merry Christmas!

Nandina Berries

Friday Catalog Review – Southern Exposure

Not much going on in the garden this week, and there probably won’t be for a few weeks. You’ll have to excuse me if all I get around to for the next few weeks is a couple posts here and there. Next Friday is Christmas! Can you believe it? Things will start happening again by the end of January, when we start planning the garden for next year!

This week I’m reviewing the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog. SESE is a lot like Seed Savers Exchange, except, well…they’re Southern! They are based in Virginia, and a lot of their seed growers also reside in the south. The reason this is important, is their seeds are grown and saved in hot, humid regions, so they are likely well-adapted to dealing with our hot climate. It might be interesting to try the same varieties from both Seed Savers and Southern Exposure just to see if there are any differences in how they perform for us here in Kansas.

SESE has a number of “new” items this year, but I’m mostly going to highlight some varieties that they have, but might be hard to find elsewhere.

Purple Podded Yard Long BeanThis pole bean is a type of asparagus bean, or Chinese yard long bean. This particular bean is a very vigorous grower and has gorgeous dark purple beans that retain the purple color when stir-fried. You need a big trellis!

Pole Lima Beans – SESE has a nice selection of Pole Lima Beans that are hard to find otherwise. Black Knight Butterbean is a new variety that sounds intriguing.  Violet’s Multi-Colored Butterbean is hilarious to grow, because every pod yields different colored beans. I’ve always thought it would be fun to try to isolate and breed individual varieties out of this variety.

Tashkent French Marigold – Okay, this seems like a really interesting French Marigold variety, but I have to be honest that it is mostly intriguing to me because it was found in Uzbekistan, and I find Uzbekistan an intriguing country. It is also supposedly sweet smelling, rather than astringent like most marigolds.

Asian Tempest Garlic – What’s not to love with a name like Asian Tempest? This is a very hot garlic raw, but mellow after roasting. Of course, we are past the planting window for garlic now, but keep it in mind for next year!

Grey Griselle Shallot – SESE is one of the only sources I’ve found in the U.S. for French Grey Shallots. Prized for French cooking, some consider these shallots the only “true” shallot. As with the garlic, we are past the planting time for this year.

Have a great weekend! Get all that Christmas shopping done!

Friday Catalog Review – Johnny’s Selected Seeds

I finally received my 2010 Johnny’s catalog this week. Not that I’m impatient or anything, but they have had their new 2010 items up on their brand new, sparkly website for a couple weeks now. I had to work really hard to wait to do this review until I actually had a catalog. So, without further ado, here are 5 interesting items from their catalog this year.

‘Albion’ Strawberry – This is a day-neutral (potential to fruit from spring to frost, but often doesn’t in the middle of the hot summer here), that has a great flavor. I tried these out in Oregon and found them quite delicious. They also have good disease resistance, not to mention that perfect strawberry shape.

‘Tempo’ Artichoke – A purple globe artichoke that produces in only 100 days, so it can be grown as an annual. I’m curious to see how well it tolerates our heat.

‘Purple Pak’ & ‘Deep Purple’ Carrots – This whole purple carrot business is making me a little dizzy. Last year they had ‘Purple Rain’ which is nowhere to be seen this year, and ‘Deep Purple’ was on the website, but had a seed failure. Now there is ‘Purple Pak’ and ‘Deep Purple’ is apparently in stock. Still, I have a fondness for purple carrots, so I doubt I’ll be able to resist.

Ice Plant – Buried in the Micro Mix Varieties is this gem. Ice plants are frequently grown as ornamentals, but their succulent leaves are also edible. They have juicy leaves that are flavored with a hint of saltiness and lemon.

‘Red Cardinal’ Spinach – This is a replacement for the ‘Bordeaux’ Spinach that we had out in the garden this year. It has more oval leaves than ‘Bordeaux’ and a more upright habit. It also has red stems and veins.

‘Sprite’ Honeydew – This isn’t exactly new, but it is new to Johnny’s. You might have seen the “Sprite” honeydew melons in grocery stores, but now you can grow them at home! These are little, 1 lb. melons with white flesh.

Have a great weekend!

Snow and Cold

The wintery weather followed by cold temperatures today has frozen the garden pretty solid.

The spinach leaves are like ice cubes. They will probably thaw out in a couple days when it is warmer and do just fine. In fact, this picture was from yesterday morning, and even this afternoon, they are thawing out.

Likewise the Swiss Chard…while the bigger leaves are probably toast, the young central leaves will probably keep growing if it warms up again.

The Brussels Sprouts have reached the end of their lives…not because they can’t take the cold, but because I sawed them off this afternoon.

I sawed them off with a pruning saw. Rather interesting – the center of the stems was hollow. I don’t know if this was just the result of normal growth or if some insect had bored in. The plants are frozen solid, but they should thaw out just fine in the corner of my office. I’ll snap the sprouts off in a day or two.