Oto’s Marketplace, a Japanese grocery on Freeport Blvd, carries Kitazawa Seeds! Kitazawa specializes in Asian vegetable seeds so you can find some varieties other seed companies may not carry. It is nice to have a local market carry them. Sometimes the stand at Oto’s is pretty bare but I just went the other day and it was full of new seeds. You can also order Kitazawa seeds from their website. I have really liked their turnip seeds and was also super excited to see that they carried burdock (gobo, ごぼう) root! I can’t wait to try it out!
This year I became a member of Seed Savers! Seed Savers is dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. You don’t have to be a member to benefit from all the work that they do. They have an online catalogue that you can browse or you can request one to be sent via mail. I always like getting my catalogue through the mail because it is very beautiful, has helpful gardening tips, and has varieties you can’t find at your garden store.
If you become a member you get their yearbook. Now I am pretty new to this so I am not sure what to do with the yearbook. Their yearbook is 514 pages! And each page looks like this: This is page 264 and 265. Two pages out of twenty-five pages of potato varieties. Each variety has a description, with ideal planting location, cooking recommendations, history of the seed, among other details. Just on these two pages the variety of potatoes are Blossom, Blue Butterball, Blue Butterball TSP11, Blue Gold, Blue of Sweden, Blue Shetland, Blue Tom Cat, Blue Victor, Blue Victor 2010-3, Blue Victor 2010-1, Blue Victor TSP 2010-2, Bonnie Dundee, Bonnotte, Bora Valley, Brigus, British Columbia Blue, Butte Russet, Cain’s Irish Rocks and Calico. That is 19 varieties of just potatoes on just 2 pages. And did I mention that there are 514 pages of this???
You would need all winter to read this thing and decide what you wanted to plant and what would work best in your area. This year I just stuck to the catalogue because it seemed too daunting to read the yearbook. But I am glad that it is there. This is what Seed Savers says about their participatory preservation,
Seed Savers Exchange has been promoting the preservation and utilization of heirloom varieties for 37 years. Working with our members–farmers and gardeners–to ensure that these unique varieties are not lost forever, SSE encourages “participatory preservation” through membership in the Seed Savers Exchange. Each year thousands of seed varieties are exchanged among backyard preservationists through the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook for diverse reasons such as connecting to our garden heritage, finding varieties suited to a particular region, enjoying the diversity of heirloom varieties, and sourcing material to use in localized breeding projects.
These preservation methods keep many open-pollinated and heirloom varieties circulating in the hands of gardeners and farmers, making them available to everyone.
Every one of those potatoes seeds is being cultivated and saved by a gardener or farmer to preserve genetic diversity. This is such important work!
If you have never eaten a garden fresh tomato, you have never really eaten a tomato at all. There is nothing that can compare to a tomato grown at home. Plus when you grow your own you can grow varieties that are not carried in the stores. Home grown tomatoes are a superior product to commercial tomatoes. First of all they have personality. Color, texture, blemishes, meatiness, juiciness. I’ve never meet a commercially grown tomato and thought, “Wow, that tomato sure has a lot of character!” So do yourself a favor, and grow your own!
Here are the varieties I grew in 2013:
- Fox Cherry
- Super Sioux
- San Marzano
I had a total of 8 tomato plants in 2013. In terms of yield, some did well like the Fox Cherry (45.83 lbs), Super Sioux (46.9 lbs) and Persimmon (99.61 lbs) while Brandywine (6.86 lbs) and San Marzano (8.14 lbs) were my lowest yielding tomato plants. I had a total of 207.14 lbs of tomatoes in 2013. In terms of taste, the Persimmon tomatoes were my favorite. They were great sliced on a piece of toasted sourdough bread with lettuce and mayo. I wish the Brandywine had done better. I got a few late season tomatoes off the plants but they were just so slow going. I think they may have not done so well because of their placement in the garden.
Here are the varieties that are currently in my 2014 garden:
- Fox Cherry
- German Pink
- Persimmon (2)
- Sun Gold
- Striped German
- Cherokee Purple
- Super Sioux
- Hillbilly Potato Leaf
- Black Krim
- Big Rainbow
- Volunteer 1 (growing out of the compost)
- Volunteer 2 (growing in Bed #3)
I started all the tomatoes from seed and bought several new varieties from Seed Savers to get a good mix of tomatoes. I also am trying to place my tomatoes in different places than where I planted last year in order to avoid disease. Crop rotation will also help me avoid my problem with horn worms last year. Horn worms give me nightmares… let’s not talk about them while my tomatoes are still in their delicate youth. We might have to talk about them later in the season if they make a comeback. Yuck.
I have a few tricks when planting tomatoes. First of all when I transplant them I try to dig them in as deep as possible. I remove the lower leaves leaving at least the first two rungs of leaves above ground. The stem of the tomato that is below the ground can sprout roots creating a stronger and hopefully healthier plant. Also I throw a few crushed up egg shells in the bottom of the hole for calcium. This is supposed to help with bottom rot. I also amend the soil with my compost and E.B. Stone Organic’s Tomato and Vegetable Food.
With tomatoes in the ground, I know summer is just around the corner!