|Good Earth Farm||
May 24-30, 2023
9:00am to 5pm
Dave and Linda’s Thoughts on Varieties
This page has some of our thoughts on the different vegetable and flower varieties that we offer. Also, there are some tips and suggestions on how to grow different crops. We hope you find these ideas useful. If you have any comments about crops you have tried, please let us know. Thanks!
Direct Sowing. Green Beans are great for fresh eating and putting into the freezer for winter soups. We generally direct sow our beans right into the garden. If you direct sow, a good time for an early crop is mid-May. Even if they sprout and get killed by a May frost, the seed is relatively inexpensive, and you can always replant them. If you want two crops, sow a second planting a few weeks after your first planting.
Transplants. Many people have been asking us to grow beans as transplants and we are now offering them. We have started using them in our home garden. The advantages to using transplants are that you will get a guaranteed crop and transplants are going to be a couple of weeks ahead of the weeds. We will plant three seeds in every cell. You should get 2-3 plants per cell. That way, one six-pack will give you at least 12 bean plants. Our variety for bush variety green beans is the reliable old favorite, Provider (OG) . Generally, bush bean seeds are planted about 2" apart if direct sown. With transplants, and assuming two plants per cell, I would give them a bit more room - about 4" between cells. Do NOT separate the plants in the cell before putting them in the ground. That would disturb the roots and slow the plants down. Just plant each cell as a cluster and give them a few more inches between cells in the ground.
We are also offering Northeaster (OG) , which is a pole bean. Northeaster produces 1" wide flat beans that are 8" long and are stringless and tender. This variety will produce beans about two weeks earlier than Kentucky Wonder, our previous pole bean. You will want an arrangement for this crop to grow upwards. It could be individual poles, a fence, a trellis arrangement, teepees, or even growing your pole beans up sturdy sunflower plants. The spacing between plants will depend on what type of trellis arrangement you use.
Unfortunately, organic Red Ace beet seeds are not available this year. We are offering Subeto (OG), a consistent producer of attractive, uniform, smooth 3" beets. This looks to be a good beet variety that has vigorous plants with strong but not large tops. The beets will size up early.
Early Wonder Tall Top (OG) is great for beet greens. The tops tend to be greenish/reddish, rather than the reddish/purplish tops that most other red beets have. Also, they grow fast and tall. The beets are nice as well. If you are after the beets, go for Subeto; if you want the greens more, go for Early Wonder Tall Top.
For something interesting, and especially sweet (yellow varieties of everything, from beets to tomatoes, seem to taste sweeter), try Touchstone Gold (OG). If you are using beets in your salad, the gold beets will really spice up the visual effect.
We used to believe in only direct seeding beets, but beets have become one of our top selling vegetable seedlings. It is a great way to get a head start on eating healthy greens and an early crop of beets.
Also, if you really like beets, try direct seeding some. That is good plan with a lot of crops. Transplants, or seedlings, give you a guaranteed first crop. Then three or four weeks after putting out your transplants, try direct seeding some of the crop. This way you will get an extended harvest.
Growing tips. The key thing with broccoli is that it is very responsive to the weather. A single plant can go through multiple phases in one year: tremendous start with a nice head, horrible stretch with hardly any side-shoots and then back again for a huge bumper crop of side-shoots in the fall. It depends a lot on which varieties you grow and when we have hot and wet stretches of weather. Since you cannot predict the weather, a good strategy is to try a few different types of broccoli plants each year. So, instead of getting three six-packs of one type, get one six-pack each of three different types.
Another tip is to provide broccoli plants in your garden with lots of water. The side shoots will go from being little marbles to being mini sized 2" heads (or bigger) if the plants have enough fertile soil and moisture. Also, be sure to harvest the side shoots all summer long - just like zucchini. If you do, you will have a steady supply of small broccoli that will keep you in salads and stir fries for months.
Broccoli. If you want just one type of broccoli, I would recommend Belstar (OG) as it makes a nice head and also keeps producing side shoots. If you are trying to stretch out your broccoli harvest, we have varieties that come in three stages. First is Covina (OG) (July harvest, FEDCO says it has done well in hot & dry weather as well as cold & wet), then Belstar (July/August harvest & side shoots later) and lastly Fiesta (OG) (August harvest - big domes in mid-summer, with the potential for large side shoots into October).
We also offer De Cicco (OG) , a traditional Italian Heirloom, which produces a small sized head (3-4") and thereafter is a reliable producer of tender side shoots through to autumn. It is a good home garden variety.
Broccolini. Another alternative for early season is Broccolini. We have offered Happy Rich in the past, but unfortunately there has been no seed available the past two years. If you are looking for something like Happy Rich, try De Cicco. It is the closest thing that we offer. It is not as early as Broccolini, but its main attraction is the large number of side shoots, and it will continue to produce for a much longer period than Happy Rich.
We are offering a variety called Nautic (OG), especially good for fall and late fall harvests. They are perfect for October and November harvest, and you can harvest them well into December, even after some freezes and cold spells.
Growing tips. The biggest question with Brussels Sprouts is: should we chop off the tops or not? Until the last couple of years, our experience was that it did not seem to matter. We had found the key was start picking the large sprouts from the bottom of the plant as soon as they are ready. This way the plant gets the message to devote its energy into the next sprouts up the stalk. Usually, you can get at least three or four good pickings from one plant if you do this.
In 2014, we planted our Brussels Sprouts twice as thick in the row (9" between plants instead of 18") as usual. We assumed that our neighborhood woodchuck would eat half of them and thereby they would end up properly spaced. However, Zoe the dog did her job of following us around the garden and her scent kept away the woodchuck. We ended up with very densely planted Brussels Sprouts plants that were 3 feet tall, with NO buds sizing up in early August. So, we pulled up every other plant. That did not seem to help either. Then at the end of August we pinched the tops, and voila - Brussels Sprouts began to size up on the whole plant -from bottom to top. They were all beautiful and the same size. In 2015, we spaced the plants out a bit more and still did not have a lot of sprouts by the end of August. We pinched the tops again in early September and we had beautiful sprouts up and down the stalk by early October. In fact, they were even bigger by November (of course, it was a mild fall that year). My conclusion from this is: if you are getting properly sized sprouts at the lower end of the plant, then just start harvesting. Nature will take care of things and the sprouts will continue to size up as you harvest your way up the plant. However, if you get to the end of August and still do not have sprouts filling out, then pinch the tops sometime in early September. The plant will get the message that growth is done, and it is time to make fruit. In 2016, we again pinched the tops at the beginning of September (on Labor Day, precisely at ten o'clock in the morning, as recommended by the Hippo's knowledgeable and entertaining garden writer, Henry Homeyer). This worked well. Despite the drought of 2016, the stalks were well budded and uniform throughout. We pinched the sprouts again in 2017, although a bit later than Labor Day, and it still worked out fine. The late falls we have been having the last couple of years have changed the whole fall growing system and seem to keep crops growing for a longer period.
Cabbage aphids. Our biggest problem with Brussels Sprouts in 2016 was the presence of cabbage aphids. They caught us, and many New England gardeners and farmers, by surprise that year. There are not any organic sprays which work against these aphids as they get in every nook and corner of the plants and even inside the curled leaves and buds.
The best organic strategies that we are aware of at this point are (1) washing the aphids off the plants with a blast of water a couple of times (first on the stalk and then again at harvest) and (2) attracting beneficial insects by planting host plants and/or purchasing ladybugs. Ladybugs are amazing at dealing with aphids. They will devour aphids and practically remove all signs that aphids were ever present if there are enough ladybugs. We buy them by the pint bag for use in the greenhouses in the spring. They tend to stay around for a while as the greenhouse is a nice environment for them. This year we may try releasing a bag of ladybugs in the Brussels Sprouts and cabbage patch out in the field. One potential problem with that is that ladybugs will tend to move around outdoors. If you release them directly into your brassica patch, they may stay there for a while if there are enough aphids to provide them with food to eat. One suggestion is to keep the ladybug bag in your refrigerator for over a month and release them gradually into the garden. Every few days you could release another handful of ladybugs. That might be better than releasing the whole bag all at once and watching them fly away in a day or two.
Another strategy is to plant other plants in the garden near the brussels sprouts that attract lady bugs and other beneficial insects like hoverflies, which like aphids. Some reports from farmers in NH and Vermont have noted that crops like alyssum, calendula, dill, and cilantro are host crops for these beneficial insects and will help increase their populations who in turn will help reduce the aphid populations. It is hard to quantify this, but at the very least having a good home for them in the garden may keep the "good bugs" close by your vegetable crops. We did not have aphids in our fall brassicas in 2017 or 2018. No complaints!
Harvest tips. If you are harvesting your Brussels Sprouts late in the season after a hard freeze, like most crops harvested at that time of year, wait until they thaw out before picking them. It could simply be waiting until afternoon to harvest after a very cold night, or you may get a couple of days of warm weather. If you harvest crops when they are frozen solid, they will not keep very well. Crops harvested at that time of year tend to be very sweet in flavor. A few years ago, with the incredibly mild December, Linda went out around New Year's Day, before we had some very cold nights, and harvested the remaining sprouts from our plants. We kept them in the refrigerator for a few weeks. It is a nice winter night treat to have Brussels sprouts and garlic saut?ed with butter and white wine.
Cabbage. We have a couple of different cabbage options. One is our cabbage mix. A six-pack of the mix will include a few plants of Farao (OG),a small green cabbage which is ready in July, and a few plants of Buscaro (OG) a large, red, late cabbage good for fresh eating or short term storage. We are trying Buscaro as our replacement for Ruby Perfection, which is not available in organic seed. Buscaro is recommended highly by Johnny?s Seeds, so we are giving it a try this year (2022). If you would like a large green storage cabbage, we offer Typhoon (OG). This is for fall harvest and will keep until next spring in your refrigerator or root cellar.
Also, we have Napa/Chinese Cabbage. We offer Bilko (OG) which is a large cabbage, up to 12" tall. The leaves are green on the outside and creamy yellow on the inside. The flavor is mild and sweet. These will be ready to eat in July from a spring transplant. The Napa cabbage is used in East Asian cuisine in China, Japan, and Korea. Brief online research indicates that the word "napa" is a colloquial translation from the Japanese for the leaves of a vegetable, especially those that are used for food. Also, the napa cabbage is thought to be a natural hybridization between turnips and Pac choi. It is interesting that from a "where did this crop come from?" point of view, that turnip + cabbage = rutabagas, and that turnip + Pac choi = Chinese cabbage. Also, please see Pac Choi for another Asian cabbage.
We have a new type of cabbage the past two years, which is cone cabbage. The variety is called Caraflex (OG), an early cabbage, which makes tender green/white coneheads. It is excellent for salad or slaw, as well as cooked dishes. The heads will weigh a little under 2 pounds.
Cauliflower is one of those underappreciated vegetables. Many people are afraid of growing cauliflower because they feel it will not come out perfectly. But even a slightly less than perfect head of cauliflower will have a lot of good florets and they taste great. We have found an organic variety that is highly recommended from High Mowing called Skywalker (OG). It makes beautiful dense white heads about 6? across. It is partly self-blanching, a real plus with cauliflower. Cauliflower is always wonderful eaten fresh (steamed), cooked into cauliflower enchiladas (one of Linda's special dishes) and they are also easy to freeze for winter use.
Collards. We heard from many customers who asked us to include collards on the plant list. We have picked the standard collard variety, Champion (OG) . Collards grow similarly to kale, although collard leaves are large, flat, and shiny, with a rounded fan rather than the ruffled look that is common to kale. Like kale, it has a central stalk with leaves protruding on all sides. As you pick the lower, bigger leaves for cooking, the smaller leaves on the upper part of the plant will get bigger and become ready for picking in another week or two. It is very cold-hardy and will last until November, or even later in a mild year.
Celeriac has grown in popularity every year. Our farmer friends devote large sections of their fields to celeriac. More and more customers are asking for it. If you have not tried celeriac, give it a try. It is a very dependable crop. FEDCO calls it the frog prince of vegetables. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Celeriac comes from Europe where it is called celery root. How to use it? You can mix some celeriac with potatoes when making mashed potatoes (to spice up your mashed potatoes), grate some into a salad, or put in your soups. It will last all winter in a root cellar. Celeriac likes to have steady water, so if possible, give it a little moisture during a summer drought. We are offering Balena (OG) from Johnny's. Celeriac is popular in Britain and this variety has received the Royal Horticultural Award for celeriac!?
Celery. As for celery, home garden celery is very different from "grocery store" celery. It has real celery flavor. It is not so much of a dipping vegetable, but rather its great celery flavor is excellent for soups and stews and chopping into salads. Our celery variety is Tango (OG) known for its smooth and tender stalks. One growing tip for celery is to wait until the night temperatures have settled before transplanting. Celery plants do not like cold nights. Late May or early June is a good time to plant.
Eating fresh Sweet Corn in summer is a treat, one of those moments that you look forward to every year. Corn takes up a lot of room in the garden and the best way to make sure that space is productive is to use transplants. We used to direct seed our corn in the field. After watching the crows march down the row and eat up our corn seeds, we decided to try transplants. Now, instead of a row with many skips, every spot is filled with plants bearing ears of corn. For many years, we have grown Luscious (OG), a yellow-white bicolor for our mid-August crop. Luscious makes nice big ears with great flavor. Luscious is a hybrid (meaning it has two parents) and is what is called "sugary enhanced." That means that the sugars turn to starches slowly. Now we are trying something new. It is called Natural Sweet (OG). Natural Sweet is an organic corn that makes delicious, plump ears that is bicolor (both white and yellow kernels). It is a "main season" crop - not the first variety to start the season and not the last variety. The plants are about 7' tall and the ears 8" long.
Natural Sweet is one of the super sweet (sh2) varieties. Being certified organic, it is not a GMO seed. The new corn varieties have several advantages: they are sweeter than traditional corn (FEDCO says 4 to 10 times sweeter), slow to turn from sugar to starches, and their harvest window is longer. The slow conversion from sugar to starch means you do not need to cook your corn immediately after it is picked. You can cook the corn hours after it is picked, and it will still be sweet. If you refrigerate the corn, it will stay sweet for days. The harvest window is longer, so you will likely have over a week to harvest ripe corn from your patch. If you are going away for the weekend and your corn comes in while you are gone, you will not miss the best harvest. It will still be ready when you get back home. The only precaution is to not plant it close to your other corn varieties.
Also, we have an ornamental corn called Glass Gem (OG). We have grown Glass Gem the past several years in our home garden and it is beautiful. The ears are all different from each other and each ear has a rainbow of colors. The colors are translucent ranging from pink, chartreuse, lavender, indigo, yellow, cream and everything in between. It is like opening a present when we peel back the husks. From doing some research online, this variety has a Native American heritage. Besides being great for making bunches to hang on your front porch door or a beam in your house in the fall, they are also edible. Another nice feature is that the plants are very sturdy and grow quite tall (8 to 10 feet). It is a long season crop, and the ears will be ready in late September.
Slicing cucumbers. There are many different types of cucumbers. Thin-skinned/bitter-free cucumbers are worth a try. They taste crisp and sweet and are seedless. We offer Diva (an AAS winner) for that type. Diva is Johnny's Seed number one selling cucumber, primarily because of its good taste. Harvest is best when the cucumbers are small (5-7" range). Diva is resistant to powdery mildew. An additional benefit of non-bitter cucumbers like Diva is that they are not as attractive to cucumber beetles. Diva is only available in 4? pots. Once it gets going, Diva is a great cucumber in the garden.
If you like regular slicing cucumbers, Marketmore 76 (OG) is the old tried-and-true variety that farmers and gardeners have had grown for many years. The fruits are long and slender (about 8 to 9" long), dark green and have a relatively long harvest season. They are resistant to powdery mildew and do well even in hot conditions.
Pickling cucumbers. For picking cucumbers, we have Cool Customer (OG). This variety is blocky and about 4-5? long and has a small seed cavity. This crop was bred by Johnny?s Seeds. The fruit are firm, crunchy and produce fruit over a long season. Pickling cucumbers have multiple attractions: they usually make fruit a week or two before slicing cucumbers, they are good to eat fresh, and of course can be put into jars with your favorite pickling recipe.
Asian cucumbers. We are offering a specialty cucumber called Suyo Long (OG). This is a traditional long-fruited (slender, up to 15" long) Asian variety. The cucumbers are sweet-flavored and are bitter-free. The fruit will be curved if the plants lay on the ground; you can trellis your plants to get straight fruit.
Specialty cucumbers. Several years ago, we added a new variety called Silver Slicer (OG). This is a white cucumber that makes narrow (1" diameter) 8" long slicing cucumbers that are sweet and crunchy. It is reported to resist powdery mildew and keep producing until September. It has been a great cucumber for our home garden because the flavor is so nice and sweet. Among our home gardeners it has been a very popular variety as well, so we assume that means that it is growing well in your gardens too!
Cucumber growing. The two biggest problems growing cucumbers are cold soil and bugs. Because of the cold soil, wait until the night temperatures are warm before putting your plants in the garden. Cucumbers will not grow if the soil is cold. If there are a couple of cold nights in a row, they can die within a couple of days of being transplanted in the garden. Depending on the weather this year, you may want to wait a week after bringing home your cucumber seedlings before planting them out. Also, if it is a cold, wet, rainy week when you pick up your plants, put them on the porch or in a garage or a cold frame. Do not water them with cold water - that will set them back. The plants will be much happier if you use warm water from a jug for the first week or two until the weather warms up. That can be a little bit of extra work, but if there is one crop that really would appreciate your efforts, it is cucumbers. Another strategy to assist the warm-loving tendencies of cucumbers is to use row cover. The row cover will keep the plants warm; the daytime temperatures under reemay are quite a bit warmer and the night temperatures will be at least a couple or few degrees higher.
As for the bugs, especially the striped cucumber beetles, there are a couple of strategies that will help. First is using transplants. According to some university vegetable specialists whom I have talked with, a plant with 4 to 5 true leaves is strong enough to fight off the wilting diseases that these beetles spread, whereas a crop grown from direct seed will often succumb to the bugs if attacked before they grow their first few leaves. A second strategy is using a row cover. Row cover will help you with both the bugs and the cold soil issue. If you can put row cover/reemay over the plants for the first few weeks, you will keep off the bugs until your plants will be strong enough to withstand an attack by the bugs. You can purchase a brand called Agribon from Johnny's Seeds in different sizes (7 feet wide by 50 feet long and 10 feet wide by 50 feet long). When deciding which width to purchase, keep in mind that you want enough reemay for the width of your bed + the height of the crops + a little bit on each end to hold it down with something heavy (rocks, sandbags, planks, etc.). A 7-foot width works well on a 3- or 4-foot garden bed. If you are using raised beds, you need to add in another foot or two for the height on each side, in which case the 10-foot width would be better.
If you love eggplant, there is nothing like growing your own. They are a heat-loving crop and will benefit from everything you can do to help them get and stay warm. Just like cucumbers, a reemay covering for a few weeks after you plant them in the ground will do wonders. If you do not use reemay, then depending on the weather, it may be better to hold on to your plants and wait until early June to put your eggplant seedlings in the ground. Many gardeners will start their planting by transplanting cool weather crops like broccoli, beets, lettuce, greens, kale, and cabbage and direct-sowing peas and carrots, and then when that is completed, they will work on summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, and annual flowers. Save putting your cucumber, eggplant, and melon plants in the ground until the very last thing. Working with nature saves frustration.
If you like the large Italian style, we have Nadia and if you prefer the long thin Asian style, we grow Pingtung Long (OG). Here is one note of encouragement and realism about eggplant harvests. They tend to vary greatly from year to year. You will generally get a couple of fruit from each plant. Some years are bumper crop years, and you will get an eggplant each week from the middle of August until hard frost. It is hard to tell exactly what causes the difference in yields from year to year, but they do respond to heat. It is not something you can really plan for but be ready for a bumper crop if it should happen. Some farmers plant them on black plastic mulch and cover the crop with reemay until the nights warm up. They will remove the row covers once the first blossoms appear. This is one way of simulating a warmer environment, which eggplants respond positively to. Also, eggplant can be useful as a trap crop for Colorado potato beetles. If you grow potatoes in your garden, these bugs will find the eggplant first. This gives you a good opportunity to handpick the bugs before they turn into leaf-chewing larvae and lay eggs and repopulate.
We have a specialty Eggplant variety called Listada Di Gandia (OG), a high-yielding heirloom from Spain. Some catalogs say that this variety produces fruit that are 4" long and other catalogs say they are 7" long. That there is diversity of opinion on the size of the fruit probably means that it is fine to pick them any size from small to large. Listada Di Gandia is a white and purple/magenta striped oval shaped fruit. This is a beautiful eggplant. The thin-skinned fruits are excellent for eating. They are sweet and tender and are good in classic Italian meals as well as soups and curries.
Kale. There are so many wonderful and delicious types of kale.
Heirlooms (Summer to Early Fall)
Many people like the flavor of Lacinato (OG) kale. This is an heirloom Italian kale. There are many strains of Lacinato kale. It is also called Toscano, Tuscan, and Dinosaur Kale. The yield is probably half that of Winterbor, but it is worth growing for its tender flavor. The leaves can be used in salads or cooked. Red Russian (OG) is an heirloom variety that has tender, large, red and purple leaves which grow on very strong and large plants. It has the combination of being a high yielding variety and having great tender flavor. This is an extremely popular kale with farmers and gardeners. It is best if you wash it after harvesting, to keep it crisp. If you do not, it will tend to get limp. Red Russian is known to have good cold tolerance.
Cold Hardy (Summer to Fall)
High Mowing Seeds offers Dazzling Blue (OG), which is cold hardy and beautiful to look at. The plants are a visual bouquet of pink-purple stems and blue-green and blue-violet leaves! It is an Open-Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) variety. The OSSI is an effort by seed breeders to promote the freedom to save, grow, share, trial, study, adapt and sell seeds. Dazzling Blue is a Lacinato type kale. Another variety that will last well into fall is White Russian (OG). White Russian is a flat-leaf variety, very productive and very cold hardy. White Russian is also an OSSI seed variety.
Very Hardy (Summer to early Winter)
Linda likes Winterbor the best for her kale/black bean soup. It is hardy, high yielding, has big plants that keep on producing, and lasts well into the winter. This is the classic green curly kale. Another very cold hardy variety is Redbor (OG), which is purple-red curly kale that looks much like Winterbor except for the colors.
For harvesting, the best way to keep your plant productive throughout the season is to pick the big leaves from the bottom and work your way up to the top. This will keep your plant focusing its energy on the new fresh top leaves and it will produce a good harvest throughout the season. Most kale plants will appreciate the addition of extra fertilizer during the late summer. It can be as simple as some compost spread around the base of the plant, with the nutrients getting watered into the soil with the early fall rains, or some organic bagged fertilizer that you scuff into the soil with your fingers. Many varieties of kale will last until Thanksgiving (or even through December some years) without any covering. Winterbor is probably the hardiest of the group and will last a few weeks longer than the other types. If you cover your kale plants with reemay, they may last until February. Nothing like fresh kale from the garden in your winter soups!
Kohlrabi has become a popular vegetable in New Hampshire over the past several years. It grows well in our climate and provides an early vegetable from the spring garden with good, sweet flavor. Kohlrabi is good steamed, sauteed, or eaten raw in salads and coleslaws. We have dropped Kohlrabi as so few people buy any plants. We apologize the dedicated kohlrabi lovers.
We grow our leeks in an open six-pack tray. The reason for this kind of tray is that we can get you several dozen (35 to 40) plants per "six-pack." When you get ready to plant them in the garden, moisten the roots of the plants in the six pack, and then gently pull them apart and separate them. One nice thing about alliums is that they have large roots, and the roots are few (unlike some plants that have masses of tiny roots), so they are relatively easy to separate. Once you have them separated, they are ready to plant in the garden. Plant them in the garden so they average a couple of inches between plants. If you separate them into individual plants, then space them every 2-3"; if you separate them into clumps of two, then space them every 4-6"; and if you separate them into clumps of three, then space them every 6-9." King Richard (OG) is the classic summer leek - thin and tall. Tadorna (OG) is a fall/early winter leek - it is beautiful, large and can withstand frosts. We are offering a new leek variety this year. It is Bandit (OG). Bandit is a beautiful winter-hardy leek that grows very thick and will withstand the winter if mulched. If you can provide the mulching, this would be a good candidate for spring leeks.
Lettuce and Salad Greens. There is nothing like fresh salad greens from the garden. One of the best things you can do to help them is to make sure they have an adequate supply of water. That will help them grow quickly (before they bolt) and give you a good harvest!
There are many ways to grow lettuce. One option is to grow a "head" of lettuce, cut it, put it in the refrigerator for a week of lettuce, and then plant something new in that garden spot. Another option is to harvest the lettuce in stages as it is needed for eating. This is just like picking the outer leaves from greens like chard or kale. Pick the outer leaves and let the new growth in the middle grow until it is big enough to harvest, and so on. Another option is to cut the entire lettuce plant while it is small and let it regrow. If you try this third method (cutting the lettuce), cut it an inch or two off the ground. If you cut it too short, you may kill the plant.
A lot of commercial growers will mix up their lettuce types to add more variety to the texture and color of their salad mix, as well as take advantage of their differing maturity dates.
We have six different types of lettuce for you to choose from avail. In our six-packs, you will get a mix of green and red of each of the six major types of lettuce:
Other crops to add to Salad Mix. You can incorporate more items to go along with the lettuce. We offer several greens, herbs, and edible flowers which you can use to add to your make-your-own salad mix. A little lettuce, spinach, baby beet greens, baby Swiss chard, a few miscellaneous herb pinches (basil, parsley, arugula, dill, sorrel), and some edible flowers (nasturtium, gem marigolds) make a top-flight salad mix. If the leaves that you have harvested are too big, just rip them into small pieces.
Spinach. Spinach is a multiple use crop. In addition to being good in salads, spinach is also good steamed. We offer Space (OG), a smooth-leaf, slow-bolting variety of spinach. Spinach does not last long in the summer, so if you really love spinach, try direct sowing some of your own in early May, and then adding a crop of transplants in late May. That combination will help you maximize your spinach harvest.
Second crop of summer planted lettuce. If you really are a salad lover, you will want to start another crop of lettuce by direct seeding in late June or July and then another crop in August. That will keep you in fresh lettuce for many months. You can either start it in rows or broadcast over an area. Just sprinkle the seed on the soil and keep it moist. If you cover the seed with soil, do not bury it too deep as lettuce seed needs some light to germinate. Also, while lettuce seed usually germinates quickly, it will go dormant if the soil is too hot. It will eventually come out of dormancy and germinate when things cool off, when we get a rainy or cloudy stretch. It is fun to see how long you can make your lettuce last into the fall. If you cover it with reemay, it will take you into November or even December in a mild year.
Swiss Chard. Johnny's Seeds Bright Lights is the tried-and-true mix of colors of Swiss chard. It has gold, pink, orange, purple, red, and white stems, and green and bronze leaves. If you plant your seedlings every 9" apart, and pick the outer leaves as you go along, you will be rewarded with a continuous harvest throughout the entire summer. Very few things go wrong with Swiss chard plants. One of the best ways to eat Swiss chard is to enjoy Swiss chard pie. Here is a quick recipe: Saut? onions and Swiss chard stems in butter in a cast iron frying pan. Then add in Swiss chard leaves and let them steam down. Next add grated cheese, and any herbs you like and a few beaten eggs and bake in the oven until set.
Pac Choi. Pac Choi is a wonderful addition to stir fries and kimchi. It has a mild flavor. The long white stems are excellent solid addition to a stir fry, while the greens are tender when cooked. Our variety is called Bopak (OG). The heads are tall, and the stems are very thick and succulent, and the leaves are dark green. Bopak is an All-America Selection (AAS) variety.
Cantaloupes/Muskmelons. We have four cantaloupe varieties: Athena, Home Run, Hannah's Choice, and Anna's Charentais (in order of their expected harvest date during the summer).
Growing tips. The key thing with all melons is that they love warmth. As with cucumbers, wait to plant them in the garden until the soil warms up and the night temperatures are not cold. We usually wait until June 5th-8th to plant our melons in the garden. Also, planting into black plastic mulch and using row covers/reemay on top is probably the most reliable way of helping melons grow in New Hampshire.
Watermelons. Watermelons can be a challenge to grow in New Hampshire, and we keep trying new varieties every couple of years. This year we are going back to Crimson Sweet (OG), a great organic large, oblong melon from High Mowing Seeds. The melons weigh over 15# (some up to 25#) with red flesh that is sweet, firm, and juicy. The outsides are attractive with dark-green stripes.
Growing tips. Same as cantaloupes, watermelons like heat and warmth. They can be a challenge to grow in New Hampshire, but worth the reward. When they are getting close to being ripe, check them daily. Pluck them with your fingers daily. A high-pitched sound (pink) means not ripe, a middle-pitched sound (pank) means almost ripe, and a low-pitched sound (punk) means ready to pick. Also, look on the bottom of the melon for a yellow spot on the green melon - that is usually a sign of readiness to pick.
Growing tips for onions. We grow our leeks and onions in an open six-pack tray. The reason for this kind of tray is that we can get you several dozen (35 to 40) plants per "six-pack." When you get ready to plant them in the garden, moisten the roots of the plants in the six pack, and then gently pull them apart and separate them. One nice thing about alliums is that they have large roots, and the roots are few (unlike some plants that have masses of tiny roots), so they are relatively easy to separate. Once you have them separated, they are ready to plant in the garden. Plant them in the garden so they average a couple of inches between plants. If you separate them into individual plants, then space them every 2-3"; if you separate them into clumps of two, then space them every 4-6"; and if you separate them into clumps of three, then space them every 6-9."
We have yellow and red storage onion varieties and a few of other types of specialty onions.
Yellow storage onions. Over the years, we have grown tons of storage onions for our CSA and fall markets. Many of the storage onion varieties have changed over the past 20-30 years. Cortland (OG) was the first major hybrid yellow storage onion available as organic seed, replacing old favorites Copra and Prince. Now there are more hybrid yellow storage onions available as organic seed, as the organic seed breeders continue to work on storage onions. We have two yellow storage onions from organic seed for you. Talon (OG) makes medium-large blocky bulbs that are 3-4" in size. The have beautiful clean, white interiors, and have good storage capability. It has strong upright tops and stays standing tall in the field for a long time, which indicates good disease resistance. It has resistance to powdery mildew. Johnny's recommends Talon as its replacement for Cortland. Another excellent option is Yankee (OG), which is also a hybrid variety. Yankee has dark brown skins, good strong roots, healthy tops, and resistance to both powdery mildew and downy mildew. Yankee makes 3" bulbs that will store for 6 months (High Mowing compares its storage capability to Copra, high praise indeed!)
Red onions. Redwing (OG) has not been available in organic seed for three years. Johnny's recommends Red Carpet (OG) as its organic replacement. Red Carpet is our main red onion for long storage. Red Carpet has high yields, strong skins, matures a few days earlier than Redwing (that is a good thing, as Redwing is known for being the last onion to mature and some years not finish making bulbs before the season ended), is a bit smaller than Redwing (98% according to High Mowing), and is an excellent long storage onion (6 months plus). If you are looking for an earlier red onion, there is Monastrell (OG), a beautiful rich red color. Monastrell is a large to jumbo-sized onion that can be harvested as summer onions or late for storage onions. It will mature about the same time as your yellow storage onions (a week to 10 days before Red Carpet). It had medium storage capability (3 to 5 months).
Mild onions. If you want an early, extra-large, mild onion, try Ailsa Craig. Organic Seed for Ailsa Craig was not available this year. We found seeds (not organic) from Hudson Valley Seeds. This heirloom variety makes huge onions if let go until its final maturity. Even if harvested early (e.g., August) it will still make large onions. Farmers sell these as "green onions" in summer. This is mostly a fresh eating onion, although some people say they store their Ailsa Craig until Thanksgiving.
Cippolini onions. Gold Coin is a flat, saucer-shaped Italian onion. These Cippolini onions are 2-3" across and known for their pungent and sweet flavor. They will be ready to harvest a month before the storage onions. However, they do not store for a long period of time. These are a specialty item and popular at farmer's market and CSAs.
Harvest tips for onions. Once the onions tops have died down on their own, it is time for harvest. (In the past, some sources encouraged gardeners to "roll" their onions to knock over/kill the tops to make for a uniform harvest date, but that practice is now discouraged in favor of letting the tops die on their own. University researchers now say that rolling the tops will break the onions tops, which can allow the entrance of diseases and reduce long-term storage capacity. So, be patient and let the tops fall on their own.) Bring your harvested onions in to a dry location and spread them out where they can be "cured" for a couple of weeks. After curing, cut the remaining tops to a couple of inches, trim the roots, and put them into cool, dry storage for the winter.
Scallions. Parade (OG) is a bunching scallion. Scallions do not bulb out like onions, they stay long and narrow. Parade can fill in that summer gap for "onions" (July and August) before your storage onions come in. Plant scallions in clumps of several scallions about every 6-8".
If you want a dependable pepper that will give you fruit every year, then Ace is the to pick; it is a three-lobed bell pepper that starts green and turns red. It sets medium size fruit, in all kinds of weather. It has been said that with Ace, almost every flower will make fruit. There have been years that there has been a heat wave during the first set of blossoms on peppers, and many bell pepper varieties will not make fruit from that first set of blossoms. (If you have had a year when your peppers did not come in until late August or September, the reason could be that the plants did not make fruit until the second and third set of blossoms came along). Ace behaves more like the elongated sweet peppers in this regard and does not seem to be deterred from making fruit by a heat wave during blossom set. Ace is not as fancy as your four-lobed peppers, but it is dependable, delicious, and high productive. There have been several strains of Ace (Ace, New Ace, Takil's New Ace). They appear to be similar and they are all successful varieties.
Lady Bell is a traditional four-lobed pepper. Lady Bell also starts green and turns red. I think the most beautiful peppers we have ever grown were from Lady Bell plants. If you want an excellent four-lobed bell pepper, Lady Bell is a great choice.
Our third green-turning-red pepper is Yankee Bell (OG). Yankee Bell is a green-turning-red bell pepper from organic seeds that was developed for Northern growers. It is an early producer of thick-walled bell peppers. Johnny's says that it has large plants that produce a heavy crop of medium sized peppers.
Red. If you really love red peppers, then Carmen (OG) is the pepper to pick. The fruits go from green to red very quickly and reliably. Carmen is a "Bull's Horn" type of pepper. It is 6-8" long and 2 and a half inches wide, shaped like a bull's horn (Corno di Toro type). Johnny's Seeds won an All-America Selection (AAS) for Carmen. Carmen is also great for roasted red peppers. Carmen is a solid producer of peppers through all kinds of summers. Due to the good flavor and reliable yield, it is great for home gardens as well as commercial farms that sell directly to consumers. Also, we have Cornito Rosso (OG) which is a tapered 5" red pepper with narrow shoulders, sweet flavor and is highly productive in the North. These are great for snacking or for roasting. Bred at Johnny's Seeds, they call it an early, sweet, smaller version of Carmen.
Yellow. In the yellow pepper category, we have a "bull's horn" pepper and a heart shaped pepper. Escamillo (OG) is a yellow Bull's Horn (Corno di Toro type) that is 6" long and 2" wide. Escamillo, like Carmen, was bred by Johnny's Seeds and is like Carmen in size and shape. Also, like Carmen, it received an AAS award its first year. We have grown Escamillo in our gardens for several years and it is amazing. It had loads of fruit that are 6" long and 2" wide on each plant. Also, we are offering Aura (OG). Aura is 4-5" long, tapered heart shape rather than bell-shaped. The fruits go from green to yellow to golden. Aura has turned out to be our favorite pepper in the garden. It reliably produces basketfuls of beautiful and delicious yellow-golden peppers. They are good to eat fresh just like apples. They are the perfect snack by themselves, usually consumed while working in the garden. They are also good cooked into stir fries. It seemed like every plant was productive and each pepper was of good quality. Along with Escamillo, I think we now have two favorite yellow peppers, not a bad thing!
Orange. We have added a third snack pepper that is 4-5" long. It is Glow (OG). Glow is shaped like Aura, only it is bright orange, with a sweet and fruity flavor. It is a nice visual treat to have red, yellow, and orange peppers all in the same basket.
A specialty pepper that has become popular with gardeners and market farmers in the past several years is Shishito (OG). This is a Japanese pepper suited for roasting or grilling. Shishito peppers are thin walled and extremely prolific, making loads of peppers on each plant. They are about 3" long and can be cooked green, or orange and red, at which stage they get sweeter. Lastly, we are offering Goddess, which is a Banana pepper. They are 9" long, yellow, mild, and good for pickling or fresh eating.
We have an array of hot peppers for you.
Very Hot: Habanero
How HOT are these hot peppers? The list above is a rough approximation of hotness. Some seed catalogs use a simple system of mild, medium, hot, and very hot. Other seed catalogs include data on the Scoville units for different hot peppers. Scoville units is a numerical scale for measuring the "hotness" of peppers. Johnny's Seeds catalog uses a five hot peppers graphic to compare the peppers, ranking all the hot peppers on a scale of one to five.
We have three types of pumpkins.
For a Jack O'Lantern we offer Howden (OG), the classic New England variety. We have tried Cargo PMR, Bellatrix, and Jack Straw. This year we are going back to Howden, a beautiful variety from organic seeds. Howden is a deep orange pumpkin in the 18-to-26-pound range with dark thick stems.
For a small ornamental pumpkin, we have Jack Be Little (OG), which makes 3" wide x 2" long pumpkins. These are little (about the size of a baseball) pumpkins that have ribs just like a regular Jack O'Lantern. High Mowing Seeds say that each plant produces up an average of 8 pumpkins.
We have two pie pumpkins. The first is an heirloom called Long Pie (OG) that dates to the 1800s. Long Pie is a large oblong shaped pumpkin, which is great for cooking and will keep all winter in your root cellar. As the fall goes along, it will turn a deep orange signifying that the flavor is perfect for pies.
Customers have also requested a round pie pumpkin. We have offered Winter Luxury (OG), which is unfortunately out of stock for seeds this year. We are going back New England Pie (OG), the classic round 5-pound dark orange pie pumpkin which is grown widely by gardeners and farmers.
For planting and growing, pumpkins are like winter squash in the garden, so please see that section below.
Notes about shallots. Shallots are in the allium family, along with garlic, onions, and leeks.
Variety. We are offering Matador (OG), which has a beautiful reddish-copper colored skin and produces large bulbs that are great for long-term storage. This is the traditional French style teardrop shape shallot. They will make bulbs with multiple cloves inside each complete shallot.
Growing shallots. Unlike the other alliums (leeks, onions) shallot seedlings are offered in a traditional six pack with six individual cells. Each cell will be sown with 5 seeds per cell. This is essentially how we grow them for our CSA. When you plant them in the garden, keep the bunch of shallots in each cell together. Do not break up the cells. They will not experience any transplant shock being kept together. Once they get growing, the shallots will push each other apart and grow comfortably in this system. Plant each cell about 6 to 9 inches apart in the garden. With 5 seeds per cell, there should be about 3 or 4 shallot plants per cell. This should produce a good crop of medium to medium-large shallots. Water is important for shallots. With adequate water they will size up considerably. They want water at the time of transplanting to get started, a boost of water during a dry spell, and then consistent watering the month before harvest. Harvest the shallots in September when the tops die down. Shallot tops tend to fall in the field a week or two before the onions fall.
Growing tips. These plants love warmth and fertile soil. Nonetheless, you can plant them the fourth week of May. They seem to be OK with some cold nights - of course, if there is a frost, cover them at night. They can go into the ground a week ahead of your cucumbers, eggplants, and melons. As with cucumbers, a transplant helps you get a couple of weeks jump on the harvest season, and gives you a plant that will, in most years, be big enough to withstand a mild insect attack. A lot of farmers grow these crops on black plastic, which warms up the soil, maintains even levels of moisture in the soil, and fights the weeds. Put the plants about 1 foot apart in the row, or in groups of 2 or 3 plants every 2-3'.
Harvest tip. Once they start making fruit, keep them picked on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with a continuous harvest. If you forget to pick for a week and you end up with a monster summer squash or zucchini, pick it off the plant. That will encourage the plant to resume making more squash.
Second planting? The first planting of squash will usually give you squash from sometime in July through August. In a good year, your first planting will keep you in squash into September. If you would like some early fall summer squash or zucchini (September harvest), you can direct seed a second planting of squash in your garden. Try to get seeds in the ground in late June or early July. That way you will be able to have summer squash/zucchini all summer and into the fall.
Yellow squash. For yellow summer squash, we have two varieties: one semi-straight/crookneck and one traditional crooked neck.
Our semi-straight neck variety is Goldfinch (OG). Goldfinch produces short-medium butter-yellow squashes that are sweet and tender. It is produces squash early in the season and Johnny's says it has steady production. In addition to flavor and production, it is popular because the open plant with all the fruit coming off a straight center stem, which makes it easy to pick.
Also, we offer Tempest (OG) a crookneck variety. This is a great tasting squash, which makes firm fruit with a nutty flavor. The fruits are a vibrant golden yellow with distinctive ridges. We are trying both Goldfinch and Tempest for the first time this year and look forward to trying them in our garden this summer.
Zucchini. We have three varieties of zucchini: green, heirloom and yellow.
Green Machine (OG) makes medium color green fruits that are straight and about 7-8" long. Green Machine has become the standard zucchini for market gardeners. It is powdery mildew resistant and resistant to several other minor squash diseases. Green Machine comes in early and keeps producing throughout the summer. It has an open plant habit making it easy to harvest.
Also, we are offering Cocozelle (OG) which is an heirloom variety that makes good, flavored fruit 6 to 8" long. The skins are dark and light green striped. This is our replacement for Costata Romanesco, which we could not find seed for when we started this year. The fruit will be smaller and milder in flavor compared to Costata, but this is a well know heirloom variety. We hope you will enjoy it ! Like many heirlooms, the yield is lower, but with something like zucchini, quantity is usually not a problem.
We have a yellow zucchini called Yellow Fin (OG) . It makes bright golden-yellow fruit that are best harvested when 6-8" long. The plants are powdery mildew resistant, and has an open habit, making it easier to harvest. We grow these in our garden each year and they are high yielding and good tasting.
Patty Pan is well known as a long-lasting summer squash. The fruit look like flying saucers. The skins are a little harder than either yellow squash or zucchini, but the insides are wonderful. They can be picked small or large and still have good flavor. Probably best of all, they produce all summer long - long after other summer squashes has succumbed to one problem or other. Keep them picked to encourage continued production. We have Y-Star, (OG) a large yellow patty pan grown from organic seed.
Unfortunately, we are dropping Sweet Potatoes from our crop list. We cannot get slips delivered to us in time to be able to transplant the slips into 4" pots and have them ready for you by the end of May. The farms that grow the slips are mostly in North Carolina and they will only ship to New England at the end of May.
If you like Sweet Potatoes and want to grow your own, the best option is to buy slips. You can get them in bundles of 25 slips from Johnny's Seeds.
If you buy slips, you can plant them directly into your garden. Be sure to water them consistently for the 10 days. The little slips need TLC to get started. Once they get going, they are very forgiving and can withstand drought. The vines will get to be quite substantial, and they make a good green for eating themselves. When planting the slips, either make hills and put a couple of plants in each hill or put them one plant per row foot in a long running mound. This will make the process of digging your crop much easier in the fall. Rather than having to dig down into the soil, your sweet potatoes will be mostly at surface level in the hill or mound.
General growing tips. Tomatoes seem to be the favorite garden vegetable of all. We offer 37 varieties. First, a few general thoughts about tomatoes, and then we will go into the varieties. The key to growing tomatoes organically is to grow healthy plants and keep them free of disease. Healthy plants start with a good seedling. We try our best to grow them short, strong, and stocky. Also, having an organic compost-based potting soil means that the root ball is full of nutrients and can withstand the rigors of being transplanted. Tomatoes like warm soil, so you can bury them a little bit but not too deep (the soil is quite a bit colder down deep in the early summer). Give them warm water the first week to help them along. Also, your tomato soil needs to be rich in nutrients and organic matter. Add compost, aged manure, leaves and so forth to the ground each year. Every crop will appreciate a rich soil - tomatoes do well in a soil that has a rich balance of nutrients and has plenty of organic matter. As for diseases, the best thing you can do it is to keep the leaves from getting splashed from the soil (don't let diseases get started) and keep the leaves dry (create an environment that discourages disease from spreading).
One general recommendation is to plant some 4" pot tomatoes in addition to tomatoes in six-packs. Plants in 4" pots will generally make fruit about 10 days earlier than tomato plants from a six-pack. We start our 4" pot tomatoes a week or 10 days ahead of the six-packs. The 4" pot seedlings are thicker in the stems, further along in their growth and able to take off very quickly as soon as they are transplanted into the garden.
One question that frequently comes is should you prune your tomato plants? If you are growing a determinate variety, then do not prune. Determinate varieties only grow so much to begin with, and you don't want to cut down their potential. If you are growing an indeterminate variety (one that keeps growing on and on), and you have a trellis system in place, then pruning can be a great idea. But it is not something to do unless you have the right type of tomato, have a system in place that is set up to maximize the benefits of pruning, and are willing to keep up with maintaining that system on a regular basis.
Tomato diseases and suggestions on how to deal with them.
First, if you water your tomato plants, it is best to do it either by drip irrigation or, if you use a garden hose and wand for overhead watering, do it in the morning. That way the leaves have all day to dry off. Watering tomato leaves in the afternoon will just leave them wet overnight and encourage disease.
Second, use mulch. The best option is to put your plants right into plastic mulch and then put hay mulch between the rows between the plastic. That way there is no exposed soil and no chance of soil splash. The soil is where the early blight lives. It gets onto the plant when it gets splashed upwards from the ground onto the leaf. If you do not want to use plastic mulch and prefer to use only hay or straw mulch, then wait until the end of June or beginning of July before putting down the straw or hay mulch. Why? Straw or hay mulch cools the soil. It is reflective of sunlight and some books say it will cool the soil by as much as 5 to 7 degrees. The soil is not warm enough in the beginning of June to lower it even more. If you lower that early June soil temperature by 5-7 degrees, the roots of the tomato plants won't be happy, and plant health depends on the roots.
Third, stay out of a tomato patch when the leaves are wet. If you touch the leaves when they are wet and then touch one plant after another, you could spread a disease. Especially in the summer when the dew is heavy, do not go into the patch in the early morning. Wait until the dew is off (10 am). In the evening, try to get out of the tomato patch well before the dew sets.
Fourth, consider staking your tomato plants (especially if you do not use the plastic and hay mulch combination mentioned above - one way or another, the key thing is to get the tomato plants off the ground to minimize soil splash onto the leaves). There are all kinds of ways of getting your tomatoes up in the air.
Fifth, grow varieties that are resistant or tolerant to early or late blight. A few years ago, there were only a few tomato varieties that were resistant to early or late blight. Tomato breeders have been working hard to develop new varieties with resistance. This year we are happy to offer 9 varieties with resistance or tolerance to early and/or late blight. For the most part, to cover the cost of the research to develop these new blight resistant varieties, the seeds for these varieties are expensive. The seven varieties that have resistance to blight we are only able to offer in 4" pots. The two varieties that are tolerant to blight are available in 6 packs and 4" pots.
The seven resistant varieties available in 4" pots are Jasper (OG) (red cherry, small fruit), Cherry Bomb (OG) (red cherry, large fruit), Damsel (OG) (main season red), and Galahad (OG) (main season red), Rose de Berne (OG) (main season red), Brandywise (OG) (main season red), and Plum Regal (paste).
We also are offering two small-fruited varieties that are tolerant to blights I both 6 packs and 4" pots: Juliet (red cluster) and Red Pearl (OG) (red grape). Tolerance to blight is not quite as strong as resistance, but it does mean that if there is blight, these plants will do a good job of continuing to produce good fruit.
There is a difference between late blight and early blight. Early blight is a common garden and tomato disease in New England. It is the disease that usually makes tomato plants look bad by sometime in September (it is called early blight because the fungal spores start their work early in the summer, even though the results do not usually appear until the end of summer). Early blight can affect other crops besides tomatoes (e.g. - it can affect carrots and cause the tops to die down). In contrast, late blight can attack at any time and can wipe out a tomato or potato patch in just a couple of days. Late blight is what caused the great potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s. Late blight had not been a major issue with tomatoes in New England until about ten years ago. It came to New England at that time and wiped out many home gardens and commercial tomato fields alike. Since then, there have been cases of late blight around New England each summer, but fortunately, there has not been a massive breakout throughout the region.
On to varieties!
We grow nine different Cherry Tomatoes in five colors: black, gold, yellow, red, and green.
Black Cherry (OG) is becoming very popular at farmer's markets. The cherries are juicy, and the flavor is described by High Mowing as having the characteristics of the Russian black tomatoes. Production is prolific and the fruit are on the large side for cherry tomatoes.
Gold, Orange and Yellow
Sun Gold cherries are delicious gold-orange fruit that are our most popular tomato. These are the ones you pick in the garden and half of them are gone before you get back to the kitchen. High yielding over a long summer season. Also, we are offering White Cherry (OG) , which a pale-yellow cherry tomato. It has good flavor in our garden this past summer and is popular with market growers who mix them in pints with other colors for their CSA or farmer's market stands. We have received a couple of requests to bring back Esterina (OG), which is a bright yellow, juicy cherry that resists cracking.
The red cherry Washington Cherry (OG) makes delicious, sweet red cherry tomatoes. It is an early producer with high yields of thick-walled, meaty fruits. Washington Cherry is a determinate variety, so it will not grow endlessly throughout the summer. Also, we have Jasper (OG) in 4" pots, a red cherry resistant to early and late blight. We always grow Jasper in our front garden every year and they are a huge success. One plant made LOTS of small cherry tomatoes, sweet and delicious, and no sign of blight. At this point, they would have to be my favorite cherry tomato. The fruit are small, but the taste is great, and they have very high yield! A brand new red cherry tomato that has been talked about at online conferences and comes highly recommended in the seed catalogs is Cherry Bomb (OG). Cherry Bomb is late blight resistant and produces a large quantity of large cherry tomatoes (about twice the size of Jasper). These fruits are much larger than Jasper, but to me Jasper has the superior flavor.
We have brought back Sungreen (OG) cherry tomato, due to request from customers. We dropped Sungreen last year because few people have purchased them, and the seeds are expensive. But these are a favorite cherry tomato for many people, so we bring them back in 4" pots!
Lastly, we have Tiny Tim, a determinate that grows to about 15" tall, and is only recommended for container growing. It works well with a stake or cage and produces loads of tasty red cherries. We are also offering Tiny Tim in a half- bushel basket, along with some herbs, as part of a Pizza Basket.
Cluster and Grape Tomatoes
The queen of cluster tomatoes is Juliet, which is a small saladette tomato. It comes in clusters with over 12 plum-shaped fruits per cluster. They are delicious and perfect for fresh eating right off the vine. They are also indeterminate. Juliet is one of the first tomatoes to make red fruit and it keeps producing cluster after cluster throughout the season. Juliet earns a gold medal in our book. It is reliable, productive, and delicious. Unfortunately, Juliet seed was not available in 2021. We had some Juliet seed left from previous years and offered Juliet only in 4" pots. The demand was very high! It is a great tomato! We are happy that Juliet seed was available last year and this year, and we can again offer it in both six-packs and 4" pots.
If you like saladette tomatoes like Juliet, and like the sweetness of orange tomatoes, then please give Clementine (OG) a try. We have offered Jaune Flamme for many years, and it is a wonderful tomato, but seeds have not been available the past two years. So, last year (2022) we tried Clementine. It was a huge success! Clementine is a very high-yielding variety throughout the season. It makes many clusters, and each cluster is filled 2 oz. fruits. It is an excellent snack food, one of those tomatoes that every day you will stop to munch on while walking through and working in your garden.
Another option is Red Pearl (OG). These grape tomatoes are a lot like cherry tomatoes - they start early, the fruits are small and exceptionally sweet (although grape-shaped, instead of round) and the plants make many clusters. Fruit should ripen by early July. They are also crack-resistant, nearly seedless, and have intermediate resistance to blight!
Heirlooms are varieties that are at least 50 years old. People love heirloom tomatoes because of their special flavors and good looks. It is like having a different fruit to eat. However, depending on the variety, heirlooms can be less productive than more modern tomatoes and can be susceptible to cracking. Unless grown under cover in a greenhouse, they can be difficult for farmers to get beautiful looking fruit to market, but for the home gardener they are well worth the effort and the flavor cannot be matched. The compromise that many gardeners and farmers make is to grow a mix of both heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. That way you have a plentiful supply of tomatoes to eat and to cook with, and at the same time have something special to brighten up your table.
Heirloom varieties are also tremendously important to the new hybrid varieties that continue to appear each year. The heirloom crop traits are important to new varieties by imparting plant vigor and health, flavor, color, shape, and many other characteristics. Heirlooms are also essential to our future control of the seed stock on the planet. If you save a seed from an heirloom (and any open pollinated crop), it will give you the same crop again next year. People can save seeds and start their own crops. Heirlooms also have great meaning to people culturally, as many of them come from their ancestors and have been grown for many years by their families and communities.
Early Season Heirlooms
Moskvich (OG) - In the early-heirloom category, we have Moskvich (OG) , a semi-determinate variety. Moskvich makes fruit the same size fruit as New Girl, but what makes it popular is its rich heirloom taste. The fruit have a soft skin, but they resist cracking. It is a good choice for an early tomato. It comes from Russia/Siberia and not surprisingly is tolerant to cool weather.
Main Season Heirlooms
We have eight main season heirloom tomatoes.
Brandywine (OG) is the most famous heirloom tomato, for both its large size and good flavor. It makes huge tomatoes that weigh a pound each. As they are indeterminate and will keep producing, Johnny's recommends staking or caging these fruits - which also helps keeps the fruit off the ground. Brandywine has potato-leafed plants. Next is Carbon (OG) . This is one of the black heirlooms which has dark olive shoulders with brick red sides. The fruits are about 3/4 of a pound and has a rich and meaty texture and the plants are heavy producers. Cherokee Purple (OG) produces large fruit (10-12 oz.) that are a multicolored dusky pink/purple/brown/red fruit. They ripen about a week earlier than Brandywine. They grow on short vines, so no pruning is recommended. Their flavor is highly recommended by every seed company. It is traced back over 100 years to Native Americans of the Cherokee nation. We are also offering German Johnson (OG) , a favorite with many farmers. It is from North Carolina and produces loads of medium-large pink fruit. It is earlier than Brandywine and smaller, but with higher yields. It is also an indeterminate variety. A few customers have requested that we add Pruden's Purple (OG) to our list of heirlooms. We appreciate the suggestions! Pruden's Purple is comparable to Brandywine in size and flavor, but it has the added benefit of being ready to harvest one or two weeks earlier than Brandywine. For a pink heirloom, you can try Rose de Berne (OG). It is a large fruit and was a winner of the famous tomato tasting contest, the Massachusetts Tomato Contest in Boston. A favorite heirloom for many people is Striped German (OG) . This is an amazing tomato. Each fruit weighs 3/4 pound to 1 pound. The fruit are marbled yellow to red. Matching its marbled looks, it has multiple tomato flavors all rolled into one. The fruit are a bit tender, and you need to be careful when harvesting the fruit off the vine. If you pick them a little bit before they are completely ripe it will help keep them in good shape for eating in a few days. A different type of heirloom variety is Valencia (OG), an orange beefsteak variety. It is a medium-sized smooth round fruit. Like most orange tomatoes, it has extra sweetness to its flavor. It is an heirloom variety from Maine, named as it is reminiscent of Valencia oranges, and it is time-tested for our northern climate. Valencia was chosen for the Slow Food Ark of Taste!
Main season tomatoes
We have nine varieties of main season tomatoes.
First to ripen is New Girl is a small-medium sized tomato, which replaced old-favorite Early Girl. It is indeterminate, so not only is it the first regular tomato (4-6 oz.) to ripen, but it will also keep producing all summer.
Big Beef was an AAS winner in 1994 and has been one of the most popular tomato varieties in the US for many years. It makes very large fruit (12 oz.) perfect for sandwiches. The fruit are firm and at the same time have great tomato flavor. They will last for a few days in the kitchen which also attributes to their popularity. For a large tomato, it ripens early in the season. It is an indeterminate variety, so they will keep growing and would benefit from staking. There is now a new version of Big Beef called Big Beef Plus, the primary difference seems to be improved flavor and sweetness.
A new variety in 2021 was Brandywise (OG) . This is a tomato from the plant program at Cornell University and available through Fruition Seeds in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Brandywise is a hybrid version of Brandywine (a juicy, red flavorful tomato), and another variety that offers early blight and late blight resistance.
Celebrity was an AAS winner in 1984 and has been a favorite ever since. It makes medium-sized fruit and has been called a vigorous determinate. Celebrity is a tomato that is dependable, whether the year is one of rain, drought, sun, or clouds. While other varieties may have their ups and downs, Celebrity makes a good crop of mid-size (7-8 oz.) beautiful fruit every year. A new and improved Celebrity Plus offers all the same good features of the original tomato along with better disease resistance and less cracking of the fruit. Cosmonaut Volkov (OG) produces large (8-12 oz.), great-tasting red tomatoes in August. It is an indeterminate variety. We had grown Volkov in our home garden and the fruit were delicious - classic mouth-watering old-fashioned tomato. Whether or not Volkov is an heirloom is not clear. It was brought out of the Ukraine a few decades ago by the Seed Savers Exchange, and we assume that it has a long heritage behind it. Some seed catalogs call it an heirloom and others do not, so are not sure where to put it. We do know that it belongs in the garden!
A new variety that came along a few years ago is Damsel (OG). Damsel is from the organic seed breeders at EarthWorks Seeds. The fruits are large 10-12 oz. The plants are resistant to disease, including resistance to Late Blight. We have grown Damsel plants the past few years and the flavor has been outstanding each crop and the plant is very strong, vigorous and produces fruit over the entire season. This is a tomato worth having in the garden every year. It is productive, good tasting and has disease resistance. One notable thing is that their skin is more of a pink color than red.
A new blight-resistant main season red beefsteak tomato is Galahad (OG). This new variety produces many 1/2 to 3/4 pound tomatoes with excellent flavor. It is recommended for northern gardens as it ripens early. Late blight seems to be with us in the northeast. It was widespread in 2012 and then has hit various places in our region each summer since then, but we have been spared a major outbreak throughout the region. It is something that we will have to deal with for the foreseeable future.
People enjoy tomatoes that are ripe when green. We have found at our CSA that many people like the Green Zebra (OG) tomato, so we are offering that this year. It is a yellow-green indeterminate, with a mild tangy flavor, and tender interior.
Jet Star is a dependable variety. For fresh market farmers, it has been a great tomato for 30+ years. It is an indeterminate variety that has very high yield of medium-sized (7-8 oz.) smooth fruit that taste great. For farmers, the percentage of marketable fruit is high. Jet Star is like Celebrity in that it does well every year, regardless of the weather. It is different from Celebrity in that it is slightly orange-red, and the fruit are low-acid, while Celebrity is a pure red tomato. Neither of them is the newest tomato variety on the market, but they both produce a good quantity of good quality fruit year after year.
We dropped Pink Berkely Tie Dye as sales were slow and are bringing back another large (1/2 to 3/4 pound), pink, great flavored tomato called Martha Washington (OG). Many customers have asked for this tomato to come back! Martha Washington has great flavor (heirloom quality) with super beautiful and strong plants.
Another new tomato this year is Tasti-Lee, a Determinate variety that makes classic 8 oz. red tomatoes. This is a new variety and is getting rave reviews from many sources.
Due to the seed cost, we are only offering Brandywise, Damsel, Galahad, Martha Washington, and Tasti-Lee in 4" pots.
While any tomato can be used to make tomato sauce, many people prefer a true paste tomato because they are meatier and have less juice. This makes the canning/cooking process a lot quicker, and some people find the flavor to be even better when using a true sauce tomato. We offer four varieties, all of which are plum shaped fruit - despite their differing sizes.
Amish Paste (OG) is an heirloom paste tomato that comes from Wisconsin Amish farmers in the 19th century. The fruit are large for a paste tomato (usually weigh about 8 oz. each). They come in clusters of two to four and the fruit ripen late in the season. This is an indeterminate variety, so it grows vigorously. Amish Paste was chosen for the Slow Foods Ark of Taste. After a few years of slow sales, we decided to replace Grandma Mary's with Opalka (OG), a Polish heirloom variety. Opalka is a nice tomato. Unfortunately, seed hard to come by. Last year it was out of stock and this year we have been able to buy a limited number of packets. The reason seeds are hard to find is that Opalka has so few seeds in it, that it is hard to find growers willing to grow the variety for seed production. Another heirloom, paste tomato we are offering is Blue Beech (OG), a variety that came from Italy and made its way to Vermont where it has been saved for years. The fruit at elongated and big (1/2 pound each) and can eaten fresh or used in sauces. Also, we have San Marzano (OG) , which is a classic and well known Italian plum paste tomato. The fruit weigh about 4 to 6 oz. This plant is an indeterminate variety, so they are highly productive. It is excellent for canning. Our last paste tomato is a blight resistant variety called Plum Regal. It makes blocky 4 oz. fruits with deep red color and good flavor. It has high resistance to late blight and intermediate resistance to early blight. The seed is expensive, so Plum Regal is only available in 4" pots.
Tomatillos and Ground/Husk Cherry
We also have Tomatillos, which are not a tomato, but is associated with tomatoes, so we put them here. Toma Verde (OG) makes green fruits that are great for making salsa. Another crop that is not really a tomato but seems to appear in seed catalogs next to their tomato section is the Ground or Husk Cherry. We are offering Aunt Molly's (OG) husk cherry, which is very sweet and has been chosen for the Ark of Taste! Husk cherries make loads of fruit that are sweet and can be eaten fresh or in pies and deserts.
Winter Squash are like cucumbers in that they like warmth. Wait until the soil has warmed up (i.e. - early June) to put out your plants. Transplants are especially helpful at letting your plant get big (to the 5-leaf stage) so they can withstand an attack by insects. Many farmers start half of their winter squash by transplant and the other half by direct seed. In a bad year, the bugs may destroy a new crop of just-germinated direct-seeded winter squash. By the time, that happens, and you realize it, given the 3 months it takes to grown winter squash from start to finish, it is often too late to start a second round of squash by direct seeding. If you really like winter squash, transplants are a worthwhile way to make sure that you get a good harvest.
One question that comes up is how many fruits can you expect to harvest per plant? I take the data we use in our variety descriptions right from the seed catalogs. These are just rough guides and in most cases the seed catalogs are right. But when it comes to winter squash, I find their estimates to be overly optimistic. In a good year, these numbers are true and winter squash can be prolific yielders, but there are some years when winter squash do not do well due to prolonged and extended periods of summer rain. Other times, it will vary from one variety to the next or from one gardener to the next gardener. So, what is a gardener to do? The simplest suggestion to increase your yield is to give them a little extra attention. Winter Squash are an easy crop to ignore in the garden as they do not do anything for a few months, but they are worth the extra effort. Make sure they stay watered in a drought period and do all you can to promote bees and other natural pollinators visiting your garden (bees like native plants, blue-, white-, yellow- and purple-colored flowers, most herbs, fruit trees, and wild meadows).
If you can keep your winter squash cool and dry, most varieties will last several months. Acorn and Buttercup will usually last until Thanksgiving/December. Delicata and Hubbard will usually keep into January. Kabocha (esp. Winter Sweet) Butternut will last through winter and often until the early spring. To extend their storage life, after harvest cure the squash (i.e. - put them in a warm dry place for a week or two). Once they are cured, put them a place in your house or garage that stays around 55 degrees. If they are exposed to repeated temperatures below 50, they will only keep a couple of months.
There are many ways to cook winter squash. They can be baked (face up or face down and add butter or maple syrup), boiled (cut into pieces), mashed (boil and make mashed squash, like mashed potatoes), and pureed in soups (curried butternut squash soup is excellent).
Starting with acorn, we have Starry Night PMR (OG) . This is a beautiful new acorn squash that has a mosaic of green, yellow, and orange color patterns on the outside. It has great sweet flavor, an improvement over standard Acorn varieties. Starry Night will keep through the New Year. This variety is resistant to powdery mildew. If powdery mildew should happen (e.g., during hot and humid weather), this variety will continue to put its energy into making fruit rather than dying off. This can be the difference between a plant that starts off great but dies before it makes fruit, and a plant that gives you a good harvest. Resistant does not mean 100% certainty, but it does make a big difference. It makes 5-7 fruit per plant.
For buttercup squash, we have Burgess (OG). The fruit have a button on the bottom. The fruit weigh 3-4 pounds each and you will get an average of 3-4 fruits per plant on vines that spread. This is the classic deep orange buttercup squash that tastes so good, and every fruit is eaten by Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they do not last long in storage, but their great flavor means they are among the first squashes to disappear from the root cellar.
We have four butternut varieties. If you want large butternut squashes, then grow Waltham (OG). This variety is an AAS winner that was bred at the Waltham Extension Station in suburban Boston in the 1960s and is the most grown butternut squash in the US. It makes 5-pound plus fruits on long vines, and usually produces 4-5 fruits per plant. It you want something a little smaller, we are offering a variety bred by Johnny's Seeds, Waldo PMR (OG). This makes 5 to 6 fruits per plant also, and they weigh 3 to 4 pounds each, and they have a small seed cavity. We were hesitant to give up on Metro PMR, but Waldo has about the same size fruit, has strong plants that are disease resistant, and importantly it comes from an organic seed. Waldo has powdery mildew resistance (if you see PMR on any seed variety it means powdery mildew resistance). Butterbaby (OG) is a true mini butternut squash, weighing an average of 1 pound per squash and Johnny's says that it produces up to 15 fruit per plant. They have the traditional butternut shape and color. The flavor is good and is ideal for a meal with two servings. Lastly, there is Black Futsu, an heirloom variety that is a bumpy looking ribbed squash with a thin skin (which is edible) and outstanding flavor. You must see this unique squash to appreciate it. It is interesting and attractive. The inside is golden yellow, and the fruit have a nutty flavor. It is good baked, roasted, fried, and pureed. Please try these squashes. The flavor is awesome. Futsu is technically a member of the Butternut squash family, even though it does not look like a standard butternut in that it is more roundish than oblong, and it has bumpy instead of smooth skin.
For Delicata, we have Johnny's Seeds Delicata JS (OG). These are great tasting squashes. You can tell they are ready to eat by their color. Let them become cream colored with dark green stripes. The skins are tender, so there is no need to peel them. This is one of the first squashes to come out of the field in the early fall and is usually ready to eat while other squashes are curing.
There are many new Kabocha varieties. We are offering Winter Sweet (OG). This is a light gray Kabocha type squash (from the same squash family as Buttercup). Kabocha squash have become popular with farmers and gardeners because it is a reliable producer in the garden and the flavor is outstanding. The squash is large (4-5 pounds) and makes 3-4 fruits per plant. The interior is orange which cooks up dry and sweet. Its flavor is at its best from 2 to 5 months after harvest. The Kabocha squashes are known for their long storage capability! You could say they combine the taste of a Buttercup squash and the storage quality of a Butternut squash. That is a great combination.
Spaghetti is a favorite squash for many people. It is a reliable producer of squash almost every year. One tip from the FEDCO catalog is to make sure they are truly ripe before you cook them - let the skins get a deep gold, rather than a pale yellow. The squash texture becomes like pasta when it is cooked.
If you have any comments or suggestions about varieties, please drop us a note. We appreciate your observations about how vegetables and flowers grow in your garden and suggestions of the varieties that you like. So many of our varieties we grow because of your suggestions.
Dave and Linda
Perennial and Specialty Annual Flowers
Bee Balm. Bee Balm is a nice perennial that will spread a little bit in the garden. It is a favorite for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The colors of Panorama Mix are magenta, pink and lavender. It is a nice garden bed flower and is a good cut flower. The plants will grow three feet tall.
Blue Flax. Prairie Flax is an amazing little flower. It is the epitome of optimism; they make brand new blue flowers every day. Short plant (12" tall) makes a nice addition to a flower bed. It likes full sun and can still grow in drought conditions.
Persian Catmint. Persian Catmint grows to about one foot tall and fills out. It is good filler for a rock garden. It is a member of the mint family, but ours seem to stay in place and are not invasive. The soft gray-green leaves are pretty themselves and on top of the leaves there are small prolific blue-lavender flowers. Catmint blooms from mid-May to June or even longer.
Columbine. We have McKana Giants Mix columbine. This is a classic variety that is an AAS winner. It has large flowers in a wide range of colors from white to pink to lavender/red. Columbine is always a welcome sight. It comes into bloom early in the season before most other flowers are in bloom. Hummingbirds enjoy the flowers too. Columbine will flower the second year after planting and the plants usually will last in the garden for a long time. We had slow sales of Columbine for a short spell and now it is making a comeback! It is well worth a spot in the garden. Even after the flowers finish blooming for the season, the foliage is beautiful all the way through to fall.
Delphinium. Delphinium is a beautiful flower that blooms early in the summer. We are offering Magic Fountains Sky Blue White Bee from Johnny's. The colors are blue blooms with white centers. It is compact in size (grows 3 feet tall), so it does not have the same need for staking like other extra-tall Delphinium varieties that are much taller. Blooms in the summer. Sun to part-shade.
Echinacea. We have Purple Coneflower, the classic variety that has been grown by gardeners since the 1700s. The colors range from pink to lavender to purple. The plants will grow about 3' tall. In the fall as things quiet down, small birds love to perch on the coneflower tops.
Eryngium. This pretty flower is also known as Sea Holly. Blue Glitter has sturdy stems which make it a long-lasting cut flower. The flowers are an electric blue. It is good as a dried flower for winter wreaths and bouquets. One article I read recommended "flash drying" them in the trunk of a car on a hot day for 24 hours. That preserves the color!
Forget Me Not. This lovely flower is a little bit of everything. Some gardeners consider it a short-live perennial. Others call it a biennial. While to others it is a vigorous self-sower that lasts for years. Whatever category it best belongs in, it is a reliable plant that will make beautiful sky-blue flowers early in the season when few other flowers are in bloom. If you do not dead head the blooms, they will begin the process of self-sowing for the next year. Our variety is Blue.
Gaillardia (aka Blanket Flower). It is a prairie native and as such is a low-maintenance plant and is drought tolerant and thrives in the sun. Butterflies love it. It blooms in mid-summer to early fall. Likes sun. We have two varieties of Gaillardia. Arizona Sun makes a nice little mound of flowers that are beautiful bicolor with red/orange centers and yellow edges. This variety is about 12" tall with a spread of 12". It is great for beds, containers, and landscape settings. New this year is Arizona Apricot, with yellow edges that meld into a deep apricot center, plants are about 2-3' tall.
Maltese Cross. The variety is Maltese Cross. This beautiful looking plant has loads of beautiful flowers on top. Each flower itself is full of tiny little blooms, each of which has a five-star arrangement of bright red flowers. The plants grow about 3 feet tall. It is a nice border plant and a good cut flower. The plants will live long in the garden. Each plant will spread in the garden and plants are easy to divide in spring or fall. From what I have read, in rich soil it will flop, so you may want to provide support in the form of a stake or a natural support such as growing shorter plants around it that will help keep it upright.
Sweet William. This is one of the nicest cut flowers of all time. Sweet William is one of the first flowers to bloom in the summer and provides stunning bouquets while we are waiting for our summer flowers to come into bloom. No matter what season it bloomed, it would be beautiful, with its pink, red, white, and lavender. This variety, Double Choice Mix, from Hudson Valley, is likely to produce some blooms the first year and then by the second year, when the plant is really well established, it will be much more vigorous and produce loads of flowers. It is technically a biennial, but it is also a vigorous self-sower. Sweet William patches will often last for 5 or 10 years.
Yarrow. Yarrow is perfect if you are looking for a perennial to fill up a bed or a mass border. It is independent-minded - it can spread quickly, does not suffer from neglect or drought, and wildlife do not seem to bother with it. The flowers are prolific and are helpful to attract beneficial insects. Flowers from June to September. Likes sun. We are offering two varieties from Johnny's Seeds: Summer Pastels (pastel colors: pink, purple, white, red, yellow, lilac) and Flowerburst Red Shades (vibrant colors: red, rose, lavender).
Bacopa with its spreading plants and prolific little flowers is perfect for containers or hanging baskets. They can stand alone in a basket, and they work great when mixed with other flowers. The Snowtopia has white flowers that are 2-6" tall and spread about 18-24". Bacopa is nice flower to mix with petunias in a basket.
Coleus. Chocolate Mint is a beautiful Coleus that can grows well in sun and shade (most coleus prefer shade). This variety has chocolate-colored leaves with nice mint-green margins around the edge of each leaf. Each plant is bushy and makes a nice mound about 10-12". Years ago, I saw a Chocolate Mint coleus in a large pot (whiskey barrel size) that was huge. They were a couple of feet tall and a couple of feet wide. I was amazed. It was a good lesson that with adequate fertility (and sun and water) plants can grow to a size beyond what we normally expect in the home garden.
Eucalyptus. Silver Dollar is the classic Eucalyptus with large silvery, blue-green leaves. Perfect for fresh and dried foliage. Plants grow 2-3' tall, space them 1-2' apart in the garden. Also, a nice plant in a large container.
Larkspur. Larkspur is not only pretty but very functional. As a dried flower, it keeps summer going all year long. It is hard to imagine a winter without bouquets of dried Larkspur, Statice and Gomphrena hanging from the rafter in our kitchen. Larkspur will bloom in the garden for months and the flowers will continue until a hard frost. Dark Blue QIS is indigo blue with tall spires which are good for cutting and dried flowers. We have added Carmine QIS is candy pink, it is also good for dried and fresh cut flowers.
Lisianthus. This is one of the most beautiful cut flowers. It has become a favorite for home gardeners and is a staple for commercial cut flower growers. Lisianthus is popular for a variety of reasons: they are beautiful (the flowers look like a rose), there are many colors available, the plants are sturdy, the cut flowers have long stems, and they last a long time in a vase. The only drawback to Lisianthus is that it is very tricky to germinate and once they do germinate they grow very slowly in the early stage of their life (they take a long time, 3 months, to go from seed to having a plant that is big enough to put in the garden). Once the plant is big enough to put in the garden, they grow well. They are native to the prairie and they like warmth and steady water, but not overwatering. We have four colors: Blue (Mariachi Series), Pure White (Mariachi Series) and Red (Arena Series) and Baby Pink (Arena Series).
Morning Glory. We usually plant our purple, red and blue morning glories around our bird feeder for the summer. It is interesting to watch how the different colors take turns stealing the show and sometimes multiple colors are in bloom at the same time. Usually, they only bloom in the morning and the blooms close at lunchtime, but on a very cloudy/rainy day they happily stay in bloom all day. Grandpa Ott's (OG) is the first morning glory to bloom in the season and continues to bloom for a long time, while the plant continues to grow in height to 8' tall. This heirloom variety is spectacular. It has violet-blue flowers with magenta veins. Heavenly Blue is the classic morning glory that really takes over the show at the later stages of summer. The volume of flowers is impressive, and the blue color is delightful. We have offered Giant White Moonflower for many years, but were unable to source seeds this year. Hopefully, it will return next year. The White Moonflower is different from the other morning glory varieties. The seed is quite different, and the early leaves look like something from the moon, although the large white flowers are like all morning glory flowers. Moonflower is quite popular in the southern US. In the tropics, people grow moonflower as a perennial. For us in the north, it is great planted near the deck or porch and wait for the fragrant flowers to bloom in the evening. Lastly, we have a new variety called Carnival , a kaleidoscope of stripes of pink, white and purple like spokes on a wheel from the center.
Petunia (Waves). The wave petunias are still among the most popular flowers. They fill up a large area of a garden bed or a hanging basket/container, the flowers are beautiful, they are reliable bloomers, and they do not require a lot of work (other than consistent watering). People love Purple Wave, which will grow about 6 inches tall. These plants will spread and spread up to a couple of feet in a circle in total. The color is a vibrant purple-magenta. Also, we have Tidal Silver Wave, which will grow over a foot tall. This is an ideal plant to use in combination with the other Waves in a container or basket. The Tidal Silver Wave will stand up in the middle of the container and give the basket loft. You can plant the other colors around the edge of the pot or basket. The color is more silvery-white/pale lavender. The color goes well with other flowers. We also have Blue Sky from the E3 Easy Wave Series, which make large flowers with a spreading habit, its color is somewhere between lavender and blue-sky.
Petunia (Fuseable). These are seeds that come in pellets with two seeds in each pellet. We offer Pleasantly Blue, which has both Dreams Midnight (velvety blue-purple)and Daddy Blue (medium blue with deeper blue veins).
Rudbeckia. is a favorite flower for gardens. They are beautiful and easy to take care of. The plants are sturdy and do not need staking. They will usually bloom starting in mid-summer. Cherry Brandy plants are less than two feet tall, and the flowers are a beautiful cherry-red. Johnny's Seeds calls them a tender perennial. We also have a variety from High Mowing Seeds called Rudbeckia (no special name), but the flowers are large (4-6") and beautiful, mostly bright yellow petals with red centers, and some flowers are yellow tips with red petals and red centers. The plants grow 3 feet tall.
In general, whether Rudbeckia will survive over the winter will depend on the weather. We had a couple of trays of Rudbeckia seedlings that spent the winter on the ground right next to a greenhouse. All the snow for the winter slid off the greenhouse on top of the trays. We had forgotten about them. In the spring we found them underneath 5 feet of snow. They all survived. Maybe the snow acted like a blanket!
Runner Beans. We have Scarlet Runner Beans (OG) from Johnny's Seeds. The seeds are huge. Each seed is big enough to use as a piece to move around the Monopoly board. The runner bean is aptly named for the 6 to 12 foot running vines that each plant produces. The plant has multiple uses. First, beautiful red flowers attract hummingbirds. Second, you can plant a row of runner beans in the ground alongside your porch, and with the help of netting, create a wall of living shade to keep out the afternoon sun. Third, FEDCO seed catalog says that people in Central America, where this plant originated from, eat the starchy roots. Fourth, the bean pods are edible before they get too big and one of the main reasons that people grow runner beans in the United Kingdom.
Sunflower. We have a new sunflower from Johnny's called Big Smile. It is great for containers or the garden. Big Smile grows to about 18" tall and makes a big center flower that is 4-6". It is early blooming - a bit of sunflower summer a month in advance! The flowers are bright yellow with a black center. Perfect for a kitchen table centerpiece or on your porch, deck, or patio. We are offering it in 4" pots where it can stay, or you can transplant it to a larger pot, and it will thrive for an extended time.
Zinnia. Zowie! Yellow Flame is a special zinnia. Each flower is bi-color that changes color as it blooms, from magenta-pink to orange-red with yellow. The flowers are 4" big and the plants are two to three feet tall. It was a recent AAS winner. It is unique and worth adding to the flower garden. Unfortunately, the seeds are expensive and so we can only offer it in 4" pots.
If you have any comments or suggestions about varieties, please drop us a note. We appreciate your observations about how vegetables and flowers grow in your garden and suggestions of the varieties that you like. So many of our varieties we grow because of your suggestions.
Dave and Linda
If you have any comments or suggestions about varieties, please drop us a note. We appreciate your observations about how vegetaables and flowers grow in your garden and suggestions of the varieties that you like. So many of our varieties we grow because of your suggestions.
Dave and Linda
|Last Updated: 01/04/2023 © Copyright 2023, Good Earth Farm|