Monday, April 30, 2007

Heading North

While I have enjoyed the glories of a late Virginia spring, I have finally packed my car full of seedlings and head north today. The garden gate should swing open early tomorrow morning, and this blog will be fully open for business for yet another season.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Let the tomato season begin

headed to their new home

I am excited about the varieties of tomatoes I found on my annual greenhouse tour in southwest Virginia this week. Longdale Greenhouse always carries some unusual varieties. And my friends at Walatoola have been nursing along some very interesting varieties in their upstairs nursery. They have names I’ve never heard before like Sioux and Porterhouse. Here’s a listing of my current tomato seedlings

Better Boy - 8; Early Girl - 4; Italian Sweet -4; Supersteak - 4; Boxcar Willie - 8; Supersweet 100 - 4; Viva Italia - 2; German Johnson - 1; Princepe Borghese - 1; Little Moma - 1; Steak Sandwich - 1.

I sort of vowed at the end of last season that I wasn’t going to give my whole garden over to “fussy” heirlooms this year. That’s why the Better Boys and the Early Girls are there. But boy would I like to taste an Italian Sweet this year … or a Boxcar Willie. Talk about tomato flavor … So the journey of heartbreak known as tomato gardening begins again.

Meanwhile in my own nursery, maybe six of my artichokes are up and would probably benefit from a transplanting. My grow lights are up north, so everyone in the nursery will have to wait a week before they get the steady light they deserve to keep from getting leggy.

My friends at Walatoola had started a set of Early Girls REALLY early this year and are propping them up with pussy willow branches waiting for the threat of the last frost to pass this weekend.

Early Girls with Pussy Willow Stakes

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hurray for dirty nails !!

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It's Good to Be Back!

I can’t remember an April when my fingernails were as dirt free as they are now. But all that was remedied as I started through my mail on Tuesday and uncovered all the seed packets that had arrived in my absence. Even BEFORE I opened the seed packets, I went to the potting bench and set up some seed trays and put the dirt “on to warm” on a mat in the guest bathroom.

Artichokes should be started in mid February if you have any hope of tasting one by September. Here I am in mid April just starting the task. I have two new varieties this year … they are both from Peter’s Seeds and Research … called Northern Star and Emerald. They say the Northern Star is bred to overwinter and produce the following spring April – June in northern climates. I’m game. Then Emerald is freeze resistant to 0 degrees and should produce this year. Oh what I would give to have a lush perennial field of artichokes like I saw in the Loire Valley and in Provence. As if there isn’t enough heartache in being a New England gardener just trying to coax a red tomato out of the ground, I have to introduce winter angst by being obsessed by artichokes!

So it is good to be back and focused on the garden once again. Besides artichokes, there are some other goodies in my cache of seed packets.

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin, Candy Roaster Squash, a Sunburst Patty Pan, and two varieties of beets: Early Wonder Tall Top and Detroit Supreme. Those are just the highlights.

More to come soon. It’s good to be back.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Where is Beaune?

Market day in Beaune

Saturday is Market Day in Beaune. I got out there early this morning and captured some of the sights.

French breakfast radishes were in abundance

as were olives

and even fresh young garlic

vichyssoise anyone?

and a basket to bring it all home in

Inside the market there were various butchers and cheese makers. And on the edges were a few locals with some unusual items. Here are some fresh goose eggs!

and THIS woman was selling eggs to regular customers and even had a sprig of thyme and a skinned rabbit for sale.

And here is a special Easter cheese covered in a green herbal gel.