Archive for February, 2014

Garden While You Can!


We’ve had some very brief windows of good weather lately…fortunately today’s great weather came on  weekend!  They are calling for some much colder weather and maybe some snow next week, so I’ve been hustling and bustling to get as much accomplished so that I’m ready when spring finally decides to spring!


The greenhouse is needing supplemental heat a lot this year, but all of the early season plants are in fine shape and ready to go in the garden in early March.

I did some heavy lifting and managed to build 4 raised beds this morning.  My plans were for three, 4 foot by 12 foot beds, but my garden configuration allowed me to build two 4×12′ and two 4×4′ beds.  The 4×4’s are small, but it’s amazing what you can grow in a small bed.  I think I’m getting close to 30 raised beds now…need to count!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe spinach and carrots are tucked into their raised beds with double tunnel coverings.  I haven’t peeked at them since I planted them, so no idea what’s going on under there.  Hopefully they will provide us with lots of greens and crunchy snacks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast chore of the day was to start the tomato seeds!  I’m growing over 120 varieties this year…got about 40 types started in this tray of densely planted seeds.  Probably 1,000-1,200 seeds total in this one tray.  They’ll be ready to pot-up in about a month and ready to go in the garden in the garden in two months or so.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOrganization is important with this many varieties!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATime for  well deserved nap, then it’s time to start moving 10 yards of compost into those new beds and top dress the rest of them!

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Warming Garden Soil


I think I read somewhere that this is the 14th coldest winter on record so far.  The soil is frozen down to a very deep depth and now it’s covered with a thick layer of snow.  I fully plan on putting in my early spring gardens by the middle of March, so I need to act now to get the soil thawed out and warmed up so that my baby plants can hit the ground running and make salads as soon as possible.



To get the soil ready to plant, it is necessary to get most of this snow off of the beds you plan on using first.  If you let the snow melt off, you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks at least and you’ll end up with soggy soil that’s not good to work in.  Get out there this weekend or sometime this week and shovel off most of the snow.  You don’t have to get it all off, but remove as much as you can.


Partially cleared off bed with soaker dripline already installed.

To speed up the thawing and warming of the soil, you really need to cover your bed with some form of covering. You have three main options, glass, clear plastic, or black plastic.  If you have access to some old windows or sliding glass doors, you can lay these over your bed as an excellent source of solar energy retention and insulation.  You can find these windows on or from construction sites where they are installing new windows in an old house.


Double tunnel covered raised beds tucked under a blanket of snow. The EMT conduit hoops really held up well to the snow and high winds this winter.


If you don’t have access to glass for a covering, you can use either clear or black plastic film  Both types of plastic work well at allowing solar energy to warm your soil and help with retaining heat at night to keep the soil from re-freezing.  I’ve tried both and prefer the black plastic film.  Clear film can actually make your soil too hot and kill beneficial bacteria (solarization) , black is a good balance of hot, but not too hot.



When you lay your plastic over your beds, make sure that it has good contact with the soil  With clear plastic, you can stretch the film tight over the bed and the solar energy will pass through to the soil, but with black you need to have the film touching the soil or it won’t transfer the heat very well.



Anchor the plastic well with garden staples.  You may need a hammer to drive them through the frozen soil.  When it’s time to plant in March, just remove the fabric, plant your seedlings or sow your seeds and then cover with a low tunnel of agribond for continued protection from frosts and cold winds.


Tiny lettuce seedlings

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, we have growth…very slow growth.  I am keeping the temperature from falling below freezing, but not warm enough to make them grow rapidly.  I am hoping for sturdy, stocky seedlings ready to transplant in March.



Get out there, do some shoveling and covering and you’ll be rewarded with garden soil that’s ready to plant much earlier than anyone else on your block.  In the meantime, stock up on croutons because fresh salads are not far away!


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2014 Tomato Plant List

Ok tomato lovers…here is the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  I seem to always post this list on the yuckiest days of winter so that we have some hope that this ice will melt and the soil will warm by May and we’ll all forget about this bitter cold winter.

I’ve added a BUNCH of new varieties this year despite not participating in my usual seed swap.  I buy all of my seeds from small independent sellers and other smaller companies (A huge thank-you to Tatiana’s Tomato Base, The Sample Seed Shop, Secret Seed Cartel, and Johnny’s Seeds for providing superb service and excellent products!).  All of my seedlings are grown with organic methods and are non-GMO of course.

Many of the varieties I have will b in extremely limited quantities and I can’t guarantee that I’ll have them depending on germination rates and myriad other variables that usually happen.  If I do not have a variety you’re interested in when you come by to get your plants, we can talk about suitable replacements.  With 122 varieties of seeds in hand, I’m sure to have a great plant to suit any of your needs!

Plant prices will be $2 each this year.  If you buy 100 or more plants at a time, I can reduce the price even more to help save you some money.  All of my plants come with a satisfaction guarantee…if they die (disease, cutworms, wayward squirrel, meteorite hit, etc), I’ll replace them free of charge with the same variety or a similar one if I run out of your type.

I will take pre-orders for tomato, pepper, eggplant and herbs through the end of March.  Look through my lists and click on them to learn more about them. Just send me an e-mail with your list of varieties and number of each and I’ll have them ready for you starting in mid-April through mid-May depending on when you’re ready to plant.

Pepper, Herb, and Eggplant List

Any variety that has “*” next to it will be in very limited quantities. 

Red or Pink Tomatoes

African Queen *

Amish Canning *

Anna Russian *

Arkansas Traveler *

Blue Ridge Mountain *

Bolseno F1

Boondocks *

Brandywine from Croatia *

Brandywine Sudduth’s Strain

Budenovka Pink *

Crimson Cushion *

Dester’s Amish

Early Girl

Eckert Polish *

Eva Purple Ball

German Giant

German Johnson *

Goose Creek

Grandfather Ashlock *

Grightmire’s Pride *

Lithuanian *

Liz Birt

Marianna’s Peace

Marlowe Charleston 

Marmande Garnier Rouge *

Martin F1 

Mortgage Lifter

Moya *

Mule Team

Nel’s Red *




Rayskoe Naslazhdenie (Heavenly Delight) *

Red Pear Giant Gran Sasso Strain



Stump of the World

Wes (also listed in sauce)

Yellow, Orange, White or Bi-Color Tomatoes

Aunt Gertie’s Gold *

Banana (Paste) *

Basinga *

Burraker’s Favorite

Cherokee Gold

Garden Peach *

Hippie Zebra

Jaune Flammee


Kellogg’s Breakfast

Northern Lights  *

Orange Heart


Pineapple Pig *

Virginia Sweets

Weissbehaarte *

Yoder’s German Yellow

Green When Ripe Tomatoes


Aunt Ruby’s German Green

Beryl Beauty *

Cherokee Green

Dwarf Emerald Giant *

First Mate (Tri-Color) *

Green Moldovan *

Green Zebra

Grub’s Mystery Green

Malachite Box *

Black Tomatoes

Ananas Noir

Bear Creek

Black Brandywine *

Black from Tula

Black Krim

Black Magic

Brad’s Black Heart *

Brazilian Beauty *


Cherokee Purple

Chocolate Stripes *

Indian Stripe

JD’s Special C-Tex

Noire Charbonneuse -*

P&J Ellis

Paul Robeson

Sara Black *

Tomatoes for Sauce or Salsas

Amish Paste *

Dix Doights de Naples *



Polish Linguisa *

San Marzano


Cherry/Grape Tomatoes

Black Cherry

Black Cherry x Quartz

Chocolate Cherry *

Christmas Grape *

Green Doctors

Green Doctors Frosted

Guernsey Island (Black) *

Honey Drop *

Kiss the Sky *

Riesentraube *


Sweet 100 Hybrid

Sweet Olive F1


Yellow Pear

Tomatoes Good for Growing in Containers

Aurora *

Better Bush VFN Hybrid

Extreme Bush


New Big Dwarf

The Miracle BPF *

Tiny Tim *



Green Tiger

Lucky Tiger

Pink Bumblebee

Pink Tiger

Purple Bumblebee

Sunrise Bumblebee

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