Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tomatoes, Peppers and Herbs... Oh my!

It's cold.  It's rainy. It's dreary.  I'm longing to get my hands dirty in the garden.  But the weather report says the next 8 days will be (you guessed it) cold, rainy and dreary.  I keep repeating to myself "April showers bring May flowers" between gritted teeth.  We need the rain.  After the drought last summer, I'll gladly take precipitation in any form.  But gosh darn it, I just want to work outside!

Thankfully, I have plenty to keep me busy indoors.  It's peaceful working in the basement, basking in the glow of my grow lights as I fill more containers and plant more seeds.  I've started some flowers for borders and cut flowers (to keep my daughter busy in the garden - her favorite pass time is making flower bouquets), cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.), lettuces, onions, and herbs.  The majority of my time, however, has been focused on tomato and pepper plants.  It seems like every year, I never have quite enough, so I went a little over board this year.  I think I have nearly 75 tomato plants and about the same in pepper plants.  Seeing as how I may have overestimated a wee bit... I thought I would offer to sell some of my extra plants for $2 a piece.   

The plants will be ready around mid-May, since our last estimated frost date is anywhere from April 29-June 2.  I usually wait until the end of May to put in my tomatoes and peppers, just to be on the safe side.  It would be a shame to lose all my plants to frost because of my eagerness to get them in the ground!

I've compiled a list of all the pepper, tomato and herb plants I'm starting.  If you click on the link for each variety, it will take you directly to the seed company website from where I purchased the seed.  You can find more information about each variety there. Almost all of my seeds are certified Organic.  I like to purchase Organic seeds and plants because these are varieties that have been proven to grow vigorously and thrive without the need for pesticides.  If you want to buy some plants, just let me know and come on over so we can talk gardening!  But watch out - I might put you to work in the garden while we talk...

  • King of the North Sweet Pepper  *Organic.  A classic sweet bell pepper, matures from green to red.
  • Orange Cal Wonder Bell Pepper  *Organic.  A classic sweet bell pepper, matures from green to orange.
  • Carnival Mix Bell Pepper  *Organic  A random mix of 5 different sweet bell peppers, each plant producing one kind of pepper - red, orange, gold, purple or ivory.  You won't know what kind of pepper you have until they mature past the green stage.  Always a fun surprise!  A great way to add lots of color to the garden.
  • Yum Yum Gold Hybrid  My first year trying this variety.  Bears small, bite-sized sweet bell peppers, with few seeds.  Perfect for eating right out of the garden.  I'm planting these for my daughter because she adores bell peppers and would happily eat them all day!
  • Ancho Poblano Pepper *Organic.  My first year trying this variety.  We love poblano peppers for making salsa.  Just a hint of heat.
  • Early Jalapeno Hot Pepper *Organic.  The perfect hot pepper for any occasion!  Last summer, I froze bags of chopped jalapenos for salsa and also canned several jars of pickled jalapenos. 
  • Maya Red Habanero Hot Pepper  *Organic.  Knock-your-socks-off hot!  Beware!  They are fabulous for making your own hot sauce.
* A friendly reminder - To avoid playing "pepper roulette", be sure to separate your sweet peppers from your hot peppers, putting them as far away from each other as possible in your garden.  They can easily cross-pollinate and you could end up with  spicy bell peppers or weak hot peppers!

"Carnival Mix" Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Roma VF Paste Tomato  *Organic.  The classic paste/plum tomato.  These are hands down my favorite for canning - very firm with few seeds.  I canned about 50 jars of diced tomatoes last year using this variety.  Great for stewed or whole canned tomatoes, pasta sauces or even just sliced fresh on a salad.
  • Beaverlodge Plum Tomato  *Organic.  My first year trying this variety.  Supposedly, they ripen very early in the season, before the Romas.  This will allow we me extend the tomato canning season and spread out the harvest.
  • San Marzano Tomato  *Organic.  Known as the absolute best tomato for pasta sauces!
  • Rutgers Tomato  *Organic.  This is the variety of tomato that Campbell's used to make their famous Campbell's Tomato Soup.  Great for fresh slicing, but I froze most of mine whole in bags and have been using them over the winter to make delicious soup.  We're down to the last bag - I might cry!
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato *Organic.  My favorite tomato.  The flesh is dark brownish-purple and has rich flavor.  Makes for a stellar BLT sandwich!
  • Yellow Brandywine Tomato  *Organic.  My first year growing this variety.  I have high hopes for it.
  • Brandywine Tomato *Organic.  Brandywine is considered to be one of the most flavorful of all tomatoes.  The plants produce huge fruits, but they are quite fragile and blemish easily, which is why you rarely see them at markets.  They are my second choice, behind Cherokee Purple.
  • Stupice Tomato  *Organic.  An early ripening salad tomato.  Last summer, these started ripening around the 4th of July!
  • Oaxacan Pink Tomato  *Organic.  A small, beautiful and unique variety.  Great for salads or salsa. 
  •  Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato  *Organic.  Pear-shaped yellow cherry tomatoes.  Perfect on salads.
  • Peacevine Cherry Tomato  *Organic.  A classic red cherry tomato.
  • Black Cherry Tomato  *Organic.  A delicious and unique cherry tomato.  Fruits are slightly larger than a regular cherry tomato.  Lovely, rich flavor.  Everyone I gave these to last year went wild over them!   

    A day's haul of tomatoes from the garden last summer.

  • Genovese Basil *Organic.  A classic basil for making pesto.
  • Lemon Basil *Organic.  Smells like lemon.  Simply divine! 
  • Slow Bolt Cilantro  *Organic.   Cilantro that doesn't go to seed as quickly, prolonging the harvest.  When it does go to seed, let the seeds fall and you'll get more plants that same season!
  • Garden Sage  *Organic.  Perfect for poultry dishes
  • Oregano   For pizza, pasta sauce and Mexican dishes.
  • Garlic Chives  Yummy on baked potatoes or soups.
  • Thyme  Wonderful in soup, but I'm growing this for the lovely flowers.  Honeybees love thyme!
  • Parsley, Italian  For salad dressings, dips, pesto and much more.
  • Dill, Mammoth  A must have if you intend to make your own pickles!


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