Posted: Dec-29-2003 at 12:42pm
I've been pouring over the seed catalogs the last couple of days. So many decisions! I'd like to hear opinions/suggestions on the following:
Shallots - I'm looking for taste and storage ability
Tomatoes - I'm looking for a good slicer (not sweet), and a good sauce tomato. It doesn't get very warm where we are - my San Marzanos, although prolific, didn't get close to ripening even with the warm summer we had last year.
Leeks - for winter. It gets cold here. We've already had a couple of 19 degree nights, and I expect it can get colder.
Dry beans - can this be done? I'm looking at them for soups. Black preferred.
Chris Sunset 4 USDA 8a
Posted: Dec-29-2003 at 1:01pm
Shallots: Based on produce at our Olympia Farmers Market and from seed try Ambition, a large size but not much past Christmas for keeping. I've had good luck with Dutch Yellow for size and storage. Haven't been able to get good size out of French Gray so far. All should be the the TSC catalog.
Tomatos: Trav likes Persimmon which I will try this year. For the paste try TSC's Super Marzano. It is listed as 10-20 days ealier than San Marzano by most catalogs. The above are indetermininate varieties so the paste gives you a cluster of fruit every week or so rather than all at once. But I like 'fresh' sauce rather than freezer/canned. For determinate pastes to process, try Trav's Oroma or my La Roma. Both bear heavier than Roma. Again TSC has the former while Tomato Grower's has the latter.
Leeks: The long season leeks in TSC should do you fine.
Dry Beans: Not much experience from me but a friend has done horticultural beans with success for many years. Again, I'd look at the TSC catalog for PNW varieties.
Posted: Dec-29-2003 at 9:06pm
I grew dry beans a couple times. In both cases I ended up having to put a cloche over them in September so they'd get a chance to sufficiently dry down. They're also a space-waster; if you've got room to burn then give them a try, but compared to most veggies the return on your "investment" is poor. Like Gary said, look to Territorial for varieties.
I also agree with Gary on the leeks, although I've grown hardy varieties from Johnny's and Cooks and thought the quality was as good as what Territorial offers. The hardy types are all bred to handle much worse weather than you'll ever see. Around here the only thing that can kill a hardy leek is waterlogged soil - they're not gonna freeze out.
Posted: Dec-31-2003 at 2:38pm
Thanks for the info!
I re-checked the sauce tomato variety that I tried last year - it was Super Marzano, not San Marzano. Ooops. I'll try Oroma this year. Persimmon sounds good, but I worry that if Super Marzano (78 days) didn't ripen here will Persimmon at 80? Or does Super Marzano just need the "heat" that you guys down south have? Our last frost is around mid-May. I transplanted them into wall-o-waters around May 1st, and closed the tops up at night until they popped out of the tops of the wall-o-waters. Sun Gold went absolutely crazy....
As for the leeks - TSC lists Tadorna as only hardy down to 20 degrees. Are the "Laura" varieties hardier?
Chris Sunset 4 USDA 8a
Posted: Dec-31-2003 at 8:41pm
There are a lot of variables here. Are you starting your own plants from seed? If so, are you growing them "on the cool side" (Search Westside Gardener for my articles on raising tomato transplants around here), or are you growing them in a warm house (not dropping below 60F at night) then moving them outside? The reason I ask is, whenever I hear someone talk about reasonably early varieties of tomatoes not ripening until late I usually suspect some sort of cultural problem. If you raise them warm, then pop them out into the garden in early May, likely they are getting a fair bit of cold damage. Tomatoes are rugged, and usually will recover - but if the cold damage hits the flower primordia (the cells, which form quite early, that will form the flower clusters) then it's a significant delay to flowers, and to pollination, and to fruit.
If you're buying transplants then it's a crap shoot. Some transplant growers are good about raising hardy seedlings; many others are not.
Other variables include how often you fertilize (and with what), how often you water, do they get direct sun most of the day, etc.
Tadorna is not a winter leek. It's meant for fall harvest. Winter varieties should take a western Washington winter without problem. I mulch mine; but only because it makes them easier to dig when the temps are below freezing. If you aren't living in the mountains then I wouldn't worry about hardy leeks freezing out.
Posted: Jan-30-2004 at 8:07pm
Check out Tomato Grower's Supply. They have a great web catalog and deliver fairly quickly. If you are growing from seed, you should get started in the next 2-4 weeks. I grew Clear Pink Early, a small slicer, last year and liked it. I haven't grown Early Wonder but I have heard raves from a couple of people about it. Both early tomatoes are determinate so you will have a relatively short harvest (but it beats not having a harvest at all.)
I don't do paste tomatoes but Roma looks like the earliest one in TGS catalog.
There are other tomatoes that are fairly early and produce throughout the season if you want to consider a salad sized tomato like Stupice, Matina, Quedlinberger Frue Liebe. Or perhaps a cherry like Sun Gold which is often my earliest. Last year Tumbler produced proifically and extremely early but was producing only until the others started making tomatoes.
Leeks have always done well here for me. They survive no matter what.
I only do a few dry beans each summer as a seed saving device. I plant early and leave a few for seeds from the first beans for the next year. The rest get eaten as green beans. For me to get a large quantity of dried beans I would need more growing space.
Posted: Feb-01-2004 at 10:15pm
Wow! You start them in February? Where do you keep them? I can't even think about putting them out until May, and it was really warm last spring.
I've tried lights before, and had very leggy plants. Last year I put them outside during the day, and brought them into a cool, west-facing window when the temps dropped to 45 degrees. It sounds like that's too warm at night, and maybe I'll have to put them in the shed or something.
I had good luck with Sun Gold - more than we could eat. The Super Marzanos sulked when I planted them. We had frost May 9th, and maybe I didn't get the tops of the wall-o-waters closed up on them. I definitely didn't have enough calcium in the bed because I had a real problem with blossom end rot. That will be changed this year.
Thanks for all the info, everyone. I gotta hurry up and get my seed orders in - the durned taxes have been eating up all of my time (but now I'm done! )
Chris Sunset 4 USDA 8a
Posted: Feb-02-2004 at 5:03pm
Blossom End Rot solution? Calcium is the right answer alright but I may have learned of a quicker 'solution' for this summer.
First, BER is caused by low calcium levels which restrict the growth of the stems/veins ability to transfer water to the leaves and fruit. The tomato actually 'contracts/dehydrates' which creates the depression at the end and the follow-on rot. (Roma types with their low water content [like SM above] are especially prone.)
Second, potted tomato plants with their high or inconsistant watering and low soil volumes are especially prone.
Third, adequate & '+' levels of calcium in the soil will "moderate/aleviate" the irrigation stresses.
My solution for many years has been to give friends a 'slury' in a pint jar of some water and lime (specifically 98% calcium carbonate and not dolomite lime). I'd describe it as about the consistency of a flour/water mix to thicken gravy for my mashed potatoes. Pouring this onto the soil of a few potted plants, digging it in, and then watering generously has always "fixed" the BER.
Last year I learned of a new & 'faster solution'. Calcium Chloride is the 'salt' that is sold for 'melting' sidewalks. Of course, we do not need to buy this by the bag as they do back east. But maybe we should because it seems that if you use 1 Tblspoon to a gallon of water, you can get the calcium to the tomatoes in a single watering or so.
I did buy a bag from Home Depot last week so I am now ready for friends BER and the next snow/ice storm in 2010.
Posted: Feb-03-2004 at 10:17am
I didn't lime the (brand-new) garden bed last year because I had a pH of 6.5, and I thought the bed didn't need it. Talk about a Homer Simpson-esque "DOH!!" moment! That'll never happen again. One of these days, I'll get a professional soil test done....
Chris Sunset 4 USDA 8a
Posted: Feb-03-2004 at 12:36pm
With a near neutral bed like that, you can add some calcium with gypsum. All vegetables use calcium to build cell protein.
In Organic Gardener’s Composting (1993, p. 49) Steve Solomon states: “There is no disputing that calcium is a vital soil nutrient as essential to the formation of plant and animal proteins as nitrogen.” Solomon has been greatly influenced by the work of Dr. William A. Albrecht.
Another disciple states that, "Scientific support for the argument for organic farming came---from one of the most brilliant soil scientists produced in America, Dr. William A. Albrecht---. His extensive experiments with growing plants and animals substantiated his observation that a declining soil fertility, due to lack of organic matter, major elements, and trace minerals was responsible for poor crops and in turn for pathological conditions in animals fed deficient foods from such soils, and that mankind was no exception."
Gary Kline, Black Lake Organic, Olympia has written more info than you may want to know in his latest newsletter. You can sign up at their website.
Posted: Mar-12-2004 at 6:04pm
I have tried Territorial's Coco beans--they are kind of fat. I mean, large round beans. I prefer the dried black beans from Bob's Red Mill and asked them what kind of beans they are... nice tiny beans the size of dried navy beans. They are Black Turtle Beans, I tried sprouting some and 10 of 10 sprouted! I have planted them for several years and they grow in the Portland area with great sucess. I would guess that I got about 1 gallon of dried black beans from a 30 foot row of bush beans. I have also tried some beans a lady gave me that that originated in Portugal; they are somewhat like Romono beans, the large flat podded beans, I used them fresh, and then some got away from me and got too big and the pod too stringy, so we shelled them like lima beans. Just as the pods change from soft green to yellow they are perfect for canning as you would can a shelled bean. If you let them go longer the pods turn white and have white dried beans that you can store and use as dried beans. I like the flavor and texture at all stages. I do have beans left from last year and would share them with you, if you are interested.
Posted: Mar-17-2004 at 9:08am
I considered Territorial's Coco. I was shocked at the price increases in their seed this year, as well as getting a little tired of the same old varieties, and decided to try another Oregon seed supplier, Nichols Garden Nursery. I decided that I would devote a little of my garden space to experimentation and try their Santa Maria Pinquito beans (thanks for the offer, though!). I never considered trying them from the store!
I'm going to try Jetsetter and Saucy tomatoes, and Giant Musselburg Leeks.
Chris Sunset 4 USDA 8a