Friday, April 06, 2007

Pseudonyms and Gardening

It's Kate here.

Since I have lost access to our blog, I decided that while Jon was out on a 60-mile bike ride was a prime opportunity to assume his identity, ahem, I mean, use a pseudonym for posting.

Over the last few years, I have had several requests for information related to the yard or the garden. I decided it would be helpful to publish this information and since we won't be planting a garden this year, a nice way to reminisce.

Part I – Edibles and Related

Bluebird houses

Not edible, but bluebirds are native to this area and lots of folks in the region are very active in promoting their success. I include them here because they are offered by the purveyor of other blue things, namely blueberries (see below). You can read more about Jack Finch, the founder of the non-profit Homes for Bluebirds, Inc.
here. Also available is lots information about bluebird nesting and eating habits. The wooden boxes are sturdily constructed with metal roofs and last for years. Other birds like them, too, so you have to be diligent about ‘bluebirds only’. This sometimes means destroying the nests of encroachers which breaks my heart, but of course we don’t do that if they are well-established or have eggs in them.

We have had a lot of enjoyment from watching our bluebird families grow and leave the nest.

Blueberries


Dan Finch is also a local expert on blueberries and ships them all over the country and the world. We grow Tifblue and Premier (I think). I lost the tag for the Premier so that is a guess, but if you call Dan Finch he can tell you exactly what to purchase for your area. This will be the plants’ third season and we have yet to get a good crop. The first season they were planted in a really bad spot and I did not prepare the soil properly. Last year I moved them and attempted to create the right soil conditions. Last year they mostly put on foliage. This year we have loads of blooms so we shall see what happens with the berries.

Finch Blueberries

Tomatoes

Craig LeHoullier, a.k.a. “the Tomato Man”, sets up shop at the North Carolina Farmer’s Market in Raleigh for four - six weeks in spring. He is a local guy who is a member of the Seed Saver’s Exchange and grows unusual and heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant simply as a hobby--this is not his full-time job. I have been buying tomatoes from Craig for two growing seasons. Last year we had 20 tomato plants and our neighbors had quite a few as well. If you have any questions about varieties, I might be able to answer them.

Craig’s website is
here. There are pictures and growing logs from past years as well as information on saving your own seed. Click the From the Vine link for information about what he is offering this year and when.

Potatoes

Last year Jon and I took a gardening foray into potatoes. I don’t remember how I found
Wood Prairie Farm, but I was pleased to be able to obtain certified organic seed potatoes from their farm in Maine. With so many varieties to choose from and so many variables (time to maturity, size, skin color, flesh color, yield, etcetera), I was unsure which to choose. I called the farm and Jim Gerritsen, proprietor, got on the phone. We had a lengthy discussion on varieties as well as planting, harvesting, and storage. I won’t shop elsewhere. They also offer bread and other baked good mixes, organic seeds, and nuts.

Growing potatoes was one of the most rewarding garden activities I have experienced. The plants themselves are beautiful and it was fun to watch them grow, and then measure our bounty and cook our harvest.

Raspberries and other fruiting plants

Last year, I ordered a five cane bundle each of Fall Gold and Heritage Red variety raspberries (affectionately called blaspberries around here after our neighbor caught me tongue-tied), as well as one each of Red Gem and Sweet Scarlet Goumi berry bushes from
One Green World in Oregon. The raspberries did well, producing a regular supplier of snack-quantity berries. My morning ritual last summer involved pouring a cup of coffee and wandering outside to graze on fresh raspberries.

This year, the five canes have come back with a vengeance. I think there will be lots of fruit and lots of effort to keep them from encroaching on their neighboring plants.

I will let you do your own research on
Goumis.

Organic seeds

I choose
Seeds of Change as my source for organic herb, flower, and vegetable seeds. I think they offer an excellent product. Some of their varieties are grown onsite at their research farm in Nevada, but they also employ smaller organic family farms for seed supplies. They and their supply farms act as stewards for biodiversity, the heritage of traditional and heirloom cultivars, and small-scale farming. I think that is a good thing.

Happy gardening (and birding)!

1 comment:

Liz said...

I miss gardening. My mom and grandma always did a garden in a vacant lot every summer and it was so fun to watch the tomatoes and kale grow. I did one with my students during the last year I taught in Compton and it was great...but we couldn't eat any of the vegetables because of soil pollution in LA. Even if I had a garden here at my apartment building, I'd run into the same problem. Maybe I'll try gardening in raised trays or something this year.