Who Wants to Volunteer?

Larkspur was planted three (3) years ago. The seed pods let go of their seeds and new plants come up every year!!! These self sown plants are an absolute joy!

 

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What beautiful tall plants with flowers of white, pink, lavender and purple. The plants look so fragile yet they are very sturdy! I look forward to seeing them every year.

What volunteers do you have in your growing spaces? What an encouragement that will be!!!

Papa

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Tomatoes – Better Late!!!

It has been my experience, tomatoes planted late are far superior to early or standard planted. As the temperatures start to cool down, you get better flower set and consequently better fruit.

I prefer to cage my tomatoes for better foliage cover to reduce the chance of sun-scald. Heirloom tomatoes have superior taste and texture. However, the plants can exceed the size of the cage!! Next year I plan to grow the plants on 5 foot centers to allow for easier harvesting and increased air circulation.

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BTW, the plant to the left of Papa is a variety called Granny Cantrell. This beloved heirloom has quite a following. The plant to the right is Daniel’s, which produces very large pink red fruit and appears to be well suited for our Missouri Ozarks climate.

The above variety has the unusual name of “1884”. The plant was discovered after a flood in West Virginia in 1884. This beauty weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces. BLT sandwiches are written all over it!!!!

Kellog’s Breakfast is the name of this bright yellow/orange sweet confection. Boasting a good balance of sweetness and acidity with few seeds make Kellog’s Breakfast a highly desirable choice.

The expanded list of tomatoes grown are:

  • 1884 – large pink/red beefsteak
  • Black Prince – small purple/red 2-3 oz
  • Black from Tula – medium red/purple, meaty/few seeds
  • Coyne – red Roma type, large 4-8 oz
  • Daniel’s – large pink/red beefsteak, many over a pound
  • German Johnson – medium pink/red beefsteak, one of the parents of Branywine
  • Granny Cantrell – medium/large pink/red beefsteak, plants are huge!
  • Hannah – medium/large, pink/red oxheart, meaty, few seeds
  • Hazelfield Farm – pink/red, medium beefsteak, well adapted to hot/humid
  • Kellog’s Breakfast – large yellow/orange beefsteak, sweet and meaty
  • Mary Robinson German Bicolor – large, red/yellow, beefsteak
  • Omar’s Lebanese – large pink/red, may exceed 3 pounds
  • Pineapple – large, yellow/red, very sweet and juicy
  • Pink Boar – pink with green streaks, small 3-4 oz
  • Rutgers – small, orange/red old fashioned for canning, juicing
  • San Marzano Lungo #2 – 3-4 0z Roma type for sauce and paste

It never ceases to amaze me, how traditional tomato eaters are about the color of their tomatoes. As one man said to me “If it ain’t red, I ain’t going to eat it”. However, when they try the different colored tomatoes, they often change their mind.

For the Ozarks, start your tomato seeds the second week of May and plant your seedlings the first of July. Your tomatoes will start coming in by late August through October. BTW, for you market gardeners, late tomatoes command a higher price by late September/October due to limited supply.

Plant late, I promise you, you will not be disappointed!

Papa

Heat Resistant Dahlias!!!

Absolutely amazing! 110° (F) heat and my dahlias are thriving. Originally from Mexico, dahlias can take it to a sultry 120° (F). These two heirloom seed varieties (Double flowered & Cactus flowered) will grow to a height of 6 feet.

From this:

To this!!

I love the colors and shapes. Check out this collage!

These beauties will be great for cut flowers. Make sure you have 15 to 18 inches of stem. Immerse the flower stems in 160° (F) water until water cools off. Place the flowers in new water with a floral preservative and they will last for 4 – 6 days. I hope to have enough to sell by mid-August.

Zinnias are up next to sell in the Fall. Florists love the bright colors when you can’t get them!

See you soon!

Papa

For Fast Cabbage Try Greyhound!!

For a sprint to the finish line try Greyhound (Ersterling) cabbage. Just 63 days for this heirloom variety from transplant and you will have lovely pointed head cabbages.

Eaten raw or cooked, this cabbage has a light sweet taste. Cold or hot weather will not stop this cabbage from performing its’ best. Greyhound did well grown in my hoop house. Plant it spring or fall. This one is a winner!

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Aren’t they pretty!

Papa

Sweet Peas for the Sweet!!!

Now is the time to start Sweet Peas for winter and early spring production. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are members of the legume family Fabiaceae which hail from Southern Italy, Sicily and the Aegean Islands.

Henry Eckford of Scotland is responsible for the incredible crosses which produced many of the famous heirloom varieties known today. The noted beauty and fragrance is a direct attribute of the careful breeding by Eckford in the late 1800s through 1906. The breeding production of today focus on stem length and lasting abilities of cut flowers.

Sweet Peas require scarification (nicking or abrading the seed coat to enhance seed germination). Warm water soaking of the seeds may also enhance germination.

Use a nail file or nail clippers to nick the seed coat. The nicking or “chipping” will speed up the germination process. By the way, this is a tedious process. Make sure you give your self plenty of time to keep on schedule for your planting area.

Planting in large cell packs or 4″ pots for transplants is a proper way to plant exactly where you desire. Start the process by using a soiless soil mix with generous compost added. Make sure the soil is adequately moist and plant the seed 1″ deep. I usually plant two seed per cell or pot. Once planted, water in the cell packs/pots and place where the soil temperature is  65° to 68° (F). I know that sounds pretty cold but that is what sweet peas prefer.

The correct germination temperature will insure proper germination in 7 to 10 days. When most of the seeds have germinated move the seed flats to a much cooler area (45° to 55° (F)). A mildly heated greenhouse, coldframe or hoop house will do the trick. Sweet pea seedlings can take it down to 32° (F). The added benefit is stronger and cold tolerant seedlings.

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Sweet peas may be bothered by aphids when planted outside. The aphids spread disease and stunt the plants and subsequent production. The other area for concern is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is caused by too much shade and poor air movement. Watch cultural practices (such as full sun and planting further apart to provide air circulation) to prevent the scourge of this pernicious disease.
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Be careful with sweet pea seeds! They are toxic for consumption. If you have small children the seeds could be enticing!

I will keep you posted on future development.

Papa

 

Warm Weather Winter Gardening!!

It is hard to believe how fast the veggies grow in the warm temperatures this winter!

The lettuce, radish, arugula, beets, spinach and Oriental greens seedlings were started November 30th.

The broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard and kale transplants have tripled in size. The color and texture are simply marvelous!

Sweet Peas will be started this weekend and should be ready to pick by late winter/early spring. The transplants will be started in cell packs to be planted by mid-January.

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It has been so warm, the rhubarb and strawberries are starting to take off.

You should definitely try your hand at Fall and Winter gardening.

Papa