Hello gardeners! This week is the last pick-up of the season, whew! You will be getting two varieties of tomatoes (Washington cherry and stupice), two varieties of cucumbers (one slicing and one pickling) , three varieties of peppers (2 hot and 1 sweet), basil, marigolds and winter rye. That totals 10 different varietis of plants. I have combined the planting information for the peppers and cucumbers, as it is the same for all varieties, you will find it after a brief description of each variety.
If you want more information on any variety, please go to Johnny’s seeds. While we try to provide you with as much information as possible, we may not have every spec. for each plant. Please take the time to become an informed gardener! There are several high country gardening guides available in Native Plant and Seed.
Washington Cherry Tomato: At last, the fantastic cherry tomato! It will make a fine addition to your tomato plate this summer. This variety was developed by Washington State University, you should enjoy a high-yield from this guy. They are determinate, which means these compact plants won’t need much for staking. Fruits are round and deep red; “thick-walled, meaty, and flavorful, with good keeping quality on or off the vine” (Johnny’s website).
- Spacing: 12-24″
- Light: full sun
- Tips: To protect your tomatoes from blossom-end rot, include calcium in your soil regime and maintain steady soil moisture.
Stupice Tomato: This lovely Czechoslovakian heirloom will provide you with fist sized (medium variety) globes of goodness. As a short season tomato, Stupice performs well in Northern climates. Stupice tastes yummy as a fresh addition to a salad, salsa, canned or dried. Its a determinate variety which will reach 4-6’… so be sure to stake these babies!
- Spacing: 18-24″
- Light: full sun
- Tips: Pluck early tomato flowers to stimulate root growth and plant girth. Don’t be fooled by pretty flowers… too early and they will be the early end of your tomato. Also… if you find your tomato to be too leggy, you can always add more soil. Simply snip the lower-most leaves off the stem and add more soil. Tomatoes will generate lateral roots making a stronger and stockier plant.
- Companion planting: basil, parsley, carrot, mint, onions. Keep away from cabbage, corn and fennel. (same for both tomatoes)
Northern pickling cucumber: This is also a high-yielding variety, and is also good for salads if you aren’t into pickling. Fruits should set heavily on compact vines. If you are limited for space, these would do well in a container. See below a short list of canning blogs.
Marketmore 76 (slicing cucumber): This variety will yield long, slender, and dark green fruits about 8-9″. May bear late, but will have available fruit for picking for a long time. This variety will perform best trellised. Trellised cucumbers produce more visible fruit and save space! It will wander long and far otherwise and the fruits can end up hiding.
- Spacing: 12″ apart; be careful not to disturb roots while transplanting. Its a good practice to just cut the 6-packs off instead of trying to squeeze the seedling out.
- Light: It’s complicated. Cucumbers, in general, require less light than do tomatoes and peppers, see “tips” for more details on this
- Harvest: harvest daily once the plant starts fruiting
- Companion planting: nasturtiums, peas, beets, radishes, corn and sunflowers. Keep away from potatoes, pungent herbs and fennel.
- Tips: Cucumbers are a tad-bit on the finicky side. They like a combination of heat, moisture, well-drained soil and shade. Not too hot… not too cold. They can be grown under corn or sunflowers to obtain these conditions. Or, you can nestle lettuce and carrots throughout a cucumber plot. If possible, plant your cucumbers on the north side of the garden. Try transplanting in the evening between 5 and 7 when the temperature has cooled a bit.
Early jalapeno (hot): This variety will yield a short fruit about 2-2 1/2″ x 1″, shaped like a sausage and sausage-shaped. They will start out dark green and will change to red.
Joe’s long cayenne pepper (hot): True to its name, this pepper is 8-10″ long and skinny, it turns bright red and is good for homemade hot sauce and dries well for ristras. It can be dried and chopped up hot pepper flakes. Here is a link on how to make ristras and chili sauce: http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/circ533.html
This variety of pepper may need some trellising.
The story behind the name and the pepper: Joe Sestito of Troy, NY informs that the original seeds for Joe’s Long came from Calabria, Italy, and were passed along to him by his brother who participates in an active Italian seed-sharing community in Toronto.
Yankee bell pepper (sweet): This pepper was developed with northern-clime growers in mind. The fruit will be 3 to 4-lobed, medium in size, and green or red.
- Spacing: 12-18″ apart
- Light: here comes the sun…bring it on!
- Harvest: To encourage more fruits, pick the first peppers promptly as soon as they reach full size.
- Companion planting: Plant next to basil, onions, parsley and okra. Stay away from fennel.
Genovese Basil: this slow bolting traditional Italian basil will tickle your taste buds as an addition to pasta sauce, (tomato/mozzarella/ basil) h’orderve, and homemade pesto!
- Spacing: 2-8″
- Light: full sun
- Harvest: pluck leaves as you please for use. Taking top leaves will stimulate lower growth making for a bushier plant. Over harvest will make a tall lanky plant.
- Tips: this savory annual will need to be resown every year. You can collect your own seeds if you let the plant complete it’s life cycle.
- Companion planting: lettuce, tomatoes (said to improve growth and flavor). Repels flies and mosquitoes. Keep away from rue.
Red Gem Marigolds: these lovely red to orange beauties will garnish your garden with lace and pest-free grace.
- Spacing: at least 2″ apart… as far as you like from there
- Light: full sun
- Harvest: collect seeds when tops have dried. Keep seeds in brown paper bag to replant next season!
- Tips: use as a cut flower, bed border, container flower, in a window box or sprinkled throughout your garden!
- Companion planting: This pest deterrent workhorse can be planted liberally throughout your entire garden. Marigolds keeps soil free of nematoads and repels many unwanted pests.
Winter Rye: Sow this cover crop in after you turn your garden for the winter. You can sow as late as October!
- Spacing: Sprinkle over your garden liberally using your hand. Till in the grass with a soft rake about 1/4- 1/8″ in. Not too deep. Water in well. Keep moist until germinated.
- Light: full sun
- Harvest: Allow the crop to overwinter. As an annual, this rye will be a great nutritional addition to your garden. The viable seed will be killed if used as a cover crop prior to spring. Till the grass into your garden bed come spring.
- Tips: You can use the rye as a nurse plant for establishing legumes to improve the nitrogen content in your soil. Cover crops increase organic matter, recycle excess nutrients and reduce soil compaction.
- Check out this information from Ohio State University about sustainable crop rotation with crop covers: http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/0009.pdf
Enjoy your garden this year!
There are some great blogs out there for canning, here are a few:
http://nchfp.uga.edu/ – an exhaustive resource for all of your preserving and canning interests
http://www.foodinjars.com/ – a gorgeous blog with beautiful pictures and heavenly recipes
http://www.canningacrossamerica.com/ – put together by a consortium of chefs, gardeners and food lovers, has a focus on preserving foods the old-fashioned way
Sources for blog this week:
- Johnny’s seeds
- “The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields” by: John Jeavons and Carol Cox