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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spring Snippets

We had a mild winter, but spring is feeling very, well, long. Now that The Wood Artist is home from the Bakken, we're going to do a garden again.  The rest was needed, but does it ever feel good to touch the potting soil, read the seed descriptions, and open up the 10-year journal once again.

The tomatoes are up and I'm excited to taste an old favorite, Paul Robeson, as well as two new varieties. 

Granny Cantrell  caught my eye when I was researching heirloom seeds for a WWII Victory Garden project for  Humanities classes I teach to 3rd and 4th graders. Here's the description from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog:

     "This meaty beefstake-type tomato is named after  Lettie Cantrell, who received seeds from a soldier returning from Germany during World War II. She grew this tomato in the hills of Eastern Kentucky for many years. This was her favorite tomato and the only one she grew. Each year she saved seeds from the largest tomatoes, some of which reached 2 1/2 lbs. Our growers find it quite productive. Ahh! What a flavor! This variety was named best tasting tomato of the year at the 2006 Heirloom Garden Show in our taste testing contest.

Indigo Cream Berries Tomato is a cherry type tomato that boasted a stunning photo in the Territorial Seed Catalog. It is supposed to be tasty and the beauty is simply breathtaking. I can't wait to include it in my summer salads.

Those are the only tomatoes I'm starting under my grow lights. I'll round out the garden with a paste tomato and my favorite orange cherry tomato from my local friends' nurseries.

My alliums are looking a bit too willowy. I hope they beef up before it is time to transplant. I usually buy onion plants from Territorial, but I decided to save money and try growing from seed. That means I had to give up some tried and true varieties (I'll really miss my Red Zepplins.)

Here's what I picked:

Southport White Globe:  Its a long-day onion, so should go well in my northern garden. I love cooking with white onions and was excited that it is among the best keepers of white onions.

Brunswick: A red/purple onion also supposed to keep well. Flattened a bit.

Noordhollandse Bloedrode: (Don't ask me to say that!) Here's what the Baker Creek seed packet says: "(Dutch Red) Long-day type - The name translates as North Holland Blood Red, and these beauties are indeed a lovely, shiny ox-blood red. Large, slightly flattened onion are very pungent, which makes them good keepers in spite of their rather thick neck. They can also be grown for scallions as they often are in Holland. A good variety for Northern gardeners." I think I'll try them for scallions and keepers.

I'm also growing Giant Musselburgh Leeks. I love growing leeks, but I'm a bit worried that I didn't start them in time to get a good harvest this summer. Amazingly, even in my brutal climate, I've had them overwinter a couple of times.

Totally new to me this year will be shallots. I've been experimenting with cooking with shallots a bit and really love the flavor. Zebrune Shallot is how I chose to jump into the experience. Listen to this crazy description from Baker Creek:

      "Gorgeous heirloom French eschalion or 'banana' type shallot yields plump, long, torpedo-shaped bulbs. Bulbs are tinged with pink. The flesh is very mild and sweet, and large yields may be had starting the first year from an early planting. Excellent keeping quality makes these gourmet shallots useful over a very long season!"

Good grief! How can you not be taken in with that kind of a description!

I wasn't going to do cabbage starts this year, but Baker Creek sends these crazy good "Free Gift" packets and, well, I couldn't let them go to waste.

I planted several hot pepper and sweet pepper varieties, but none of them have come up yet.  Maybe I'll do a post on them later. - Nanette

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