Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring 2014, It took ya long enough!

Welcome back to another episode of lost in my backyard where we will be discussing….wait a minute…sorry folks wrong cue cards! That’s my cue card for avoiding telemarketers. Yes this is Lost in the Farmer’s Market, and you are here enjoying the first episode of spring 2014! It’s that magical time right after the hangover of St. Patrick’s Day has worn off when we stagger out of our houses and realize that the agonizingly long winter is in fact over. So what is a gardener to do these days to get his or her garden fix? Well, it’s too cold to plant the hall marks of summer yet it’s warm enough to do something so of course we get our spring plants going. The usual culprits for this include lettuce, radicchio, carrots, peas, Swiss chard, beets, radish and a large variety of cabbage family members. Given the winter you may want to replant things to replace the food plants that didn’t make it through and now is the time. However I must warn you not to fall for the spring frenzy. I personally have seen several big home improvement stores selling warm season plants this early and had to feel sorry for anyone who bought them. Not only is it bad for the industry but it could be damaging to the customer’s impression of gardening as an activity. At the end of this article I do discuss why I won’t sell certain things early because of the weather and what falls under this category. So for today’s topic we cover that…other stuff we didn’t cover the last time!

Tomato, Aunt Lou’s Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad is a returning variety from last year. We grew it and got a decent number of tomatoes but thought it needed another year of testing to verify its capabilities. According to what we know for sure Underground Railroad is an old heirloom that got its name because it was carried to the north by a fugitive slave. The seed of this tomato originates in Kentucky somewhere but was carried to Ripley Ohio. How much of this is verified as truth is irrelevant, we just like the spirit of this true heirloom. The plant takes 82 days to mature, and produces dark pink 4-10 ounce fruits. This tomato is known for long leggy vines and sparse foliage and last year’s testing verifies that.

Tomato, Japanese Black Trifele
Germination difficulties with this crop has it in limited supply however JBT as we’ve taken to calling it is apparently about the size and shape of a Bartlett pear and bear a purple-red color. They are said to have excellent flavor and take 80-90 days to reach maturity. This is the first year we have offered this, and so it’s a special item.

Tomato, Martino’s Roma
This is another new entry to the trials this year. Last year we carried plain Roma tomatoes as a a part of our paste tomato line and now this new entry from a clean non-gmo organic source! Martino is said to be determinate and take 70-80 days to mature. It bears fruit on compact plants that need no staking and the fruit range between 2 and 3 ounces with a lot of meat and very little gel or seeds. We’re looking forward to this one and we hope you let us know what you think.

Tomato, Mexico Midget
We got this one as an extra complimentary seed packet last year and included it in the trials not quite knowing what the plants would do. All I can say was wow, this plant was totally worth it. Mexico Midget is a cherry tomato that can produce hundreds of cherry tomatoes on a single vine. Much like sweet 100’s the plant is Indeterminate and matures quickly (60-70 days). I might add the flavor on these tomatoes is quite incredible and during last year’s tomato season I was trying to find new ways to include them in everything from soups to omelets.

Tomato, Purple Calabash
In last year’s trials Purple Calabash didn’t win any fast growth awards, or any other awards for that matter but we’re bringing it back anyway. Like that tag line of a song you can’t get out of your head the purples are back! From seed purple calabash has a surprisingly high dud rate and what does emerge takes what honestly feels to be forever to get past the seedling stage. However we’re hoping to offer a few of these this year as a special item. For those who don’t know Purple Calabash tomatoes are a African American heritage plant, and is perhaps the most purple tomato you can grow. The irregularly ribbed fruits can be up to 12 ounces, and it takes about 85 days for the plants to mature. The fruits are flavorful, and make for an interesting additive for sauces.

Tomato, Reisetomate
Another one of those plants that has a name that’s fun to say because well how does someone else even respond to it? Perhaps with a hearty “WAZZZZAAAAAUUUP?” or maybe “Leave my mother out of this!” Who knows what to say really but this tomato is truthfully a lot of fun because it’s super mutant fruits look like the tomato exploded a bit but reformed. The plant is fairly vigorous, and looks perfectly normal until it starts belting out mutant looking deformed tomatoes that are pretty much weird from fruit set on. The average fruit size in the test gardens was 4-8 ounces and these tomatoes were perfectly edible though they are best cooked due to the high acidity.  However if you want to mess with someone serving them sliced or cut into chunks in something like a sandwich or salad isn’t out of the question.

Tomato, Rainbow Cherry Blend
A happy blend of various colors of cherry tomatoes we did our best to make sure no pot has duplicate colors! You might get a red and a yellow or green and a white or any of a mix of eight colors. The cherry fruit are sweet and this variety matures quickly though you might have to fend off the birds and the kids from this garden treasure!

So now that we have talked on the particulars of another fine batch of warm season garden favorites, it’s time to cover the market list for the week. Now as you may know, the Fayetteville Farmer’s/City Market is located in downtown Fayetteville on 325 Franklin street in the Fayetteville Transportation Museum’s front Parking lot. As always there is planet of parking nearby and the meter force is off on Saturdays so no need to feed a meter! With that said on to the plants.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

House Plants
1x Dancing Bones Cactus ($3.00)
5x Aloe Vera ($5.00)

Garden Plants
1x Cabbage, Savoy, 1 gallon pot ($3.00)
8x Dinosaur Kale, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Cabbage, Tatsoi, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Mustard, India green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Lettuce, Freedom Mix, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Lettuce, Romaine, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Raddichio, Crimson, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

3x Black Fennel, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Green Lavender-Cotton, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Tansy, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Bloody Sorrel, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Horehound, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Lamb’s Ear, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
40x Ozark Beauty Strawberry, 3.5” pot ($3.00) ( April 12th)
6x Ozark Beauty Strawberry, 5” pot ($5.00) (April 12th)
10x Martha Washington Asparagus (April 5th)
10x Dark Red Norland Potato (April 5th)

Tomato, Amana Orange
Tomato, Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad
Tomato, Black Krim
Tomato, Blue Berries
Tomato, Brown Berry
Tomato, Hillbilly Potato Leaf
Tomato, Japanese Black Trifele
Tomato, Martino's Roma
Tomato, Paul Robeson
Tomato, Purple Calabash
Tomato, Rainbow Cherry Blend
Tomato, Reisetomate
Tomato, San Marzano
Tomato, Tlacolula

The plant list wraps up our post for this week and as you can see spring is in full swing as the plant list just keeps getting better! Now remember folks, the last frost date is roughly about Easter, so of course we won’t be carrying any hot weather seasonal plants until the 26th of April unless the weather behaves by the 19th of April. With that said the tomato armada is coming so stay tuned for updates and more garden mayhem. As always folks keep ‘em growing!

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