|Good Earth Farm||
May 28 - June 5
9:00am to 5pm
Dave and Linda’s Thoughts on Varieties
This page has some of our thoughts on the different vegetable and flower varieties that we offer. Also, there are some tips and suggestions on how to grow different crops. We hope you find these ideas useful. If you have any comments about crops you have tried, please let us know. Thanks!
Direct Sowing. Green Beans are great for fresh eating and putting into the freezer for winter soups. We generally direct sow our beans right into the garden. If you direct sow, a good time for an early crop is mid-May. Even if they sprout and get killed by a May frost, the seed is relatively inexpensive, and you can always replant them. If you want two crops, sow a second planting a few weeks after your first planting.
Transplants. Many people have been asking us to grow beans as transplants and we are now offering them. We have started using them in our home garden. The advantages to using transplants are that you will get a guaranteed crop and transplants are going to be a couple of weeks ahead of the weeds. We will plant three seeds in every cell. You should get 2-3 plants per cell. That way, one six-pack will give you at least 12 bean plants. Our variety for bush variety green beans is the reliable old favorite, Provider (OG) . Generally, bush bean seeds are planted about 2" apart if direct sown. With transplants, and assuming two plants per cell, I would give them a bit more room - about 4" between cells. Do NOT separate the plants in the cell before putting them in the ground. That would disturb the roots and slow the plants down. Just plant each cell as a cluster and give them a few more inches between cells in the ground.
We are also offering Northeaster (OG) , which is a pole bean. Northeaster produces 1" wide flat beans that are 8" long and are stringless and tender. This variety will produce beans about two weeks earlier than Kentucky Wonder, our previous pole bean. You will want an arrangement for this crop to grow upwards. It could be individual poles, a fence, a trellis arrangement, teepees, or even growing your pole beans up sturdy sunflower plants. The spacing between plants will depend on what type of trellis arrangement you use.
Unfortunately, organic Red Ace beet seeds are not available this year. We are offering Subeto (OG), a consistent producer of attractive, uniform, smooth 3" beets. This looks to be a good beet variety that has vigorous plants with strong but not large tops. The beets will size up early.Early Wonder Tall Top (OG) is great for beet greens. The tops tend to be greenish/reddish, rather than the reddish/purplish tops that most other red beets have. Also, they grow fast and tall. The beets are nice as well. If you are after the beets, go for Subeto; if you want the greens more, go for Early Wonder Tall Top.
For something interesting, and especially sweet (yellow varieties of everything, from beets to tomatoes, seem to taste sweeter), try Touchstone Gold. If you are using beets in your salad, the gold beets will really spice up the visual effect.
We used to believe in only direct seeding beets, but beets have become one of our top selling vegetable seedlings. It is a great way to get a head start on eating healthy greens and an early crop of beets.
Also, if you really like beets, try direct seeding some. That is good plan with a lot of crops. Transplants, or seedlings, give you a guaranteed first crop. Then three or four weeks after putting out your transplants, try direct seeding some of the crop. This way you will get an extended harvest.
Growing tips. The key thing with broccoli is that it is very responsive to the weather. A single plant can go through multiple phases in one year: tremendous start with a nice head, horrible stretch with hardly any side-shoots and then back again for a huge bumper crop of side-shoots in the fall. It depends a lot on which varieties you grow and when we have hot and wet stretches of weather. Since you cannot predict the weather, a good strategy is to try a few different types of broccoli each year. So, instead of getting three six-packs of one type, get one six-pack each of three different types.
Another tip is to provide broccoli plants in your garden with lots of water. The side shoots will go from being little marbles to being mini-sized 2" heads (or bigger) if the plants have enough fertile soil and moisture. Also, be sure to harvest the side shoots all summer long - just like zucchini. If you do, you will have a steady supply of small broccoli that will keep you in salads and stir fries for months.
Broccoli. If you want just one type of broccoli, I would recommend Belstar (OG) as it makes a nice head and also keeps producing side shoots. If you are trying to stretch out your broccoli harvest, we have varieties that come in three stages. First is Covina (OG) (July harvest, FEDCO says it has done well in hot & dry weather as well as cold & wet), then Belstar (July/August harvest & side shoots later) and lastly Fiesta (OG) (August harvest - big domes in mid-summer, with the potential for large side shoots into October).
We also offer DeCicco (OG) , a traditional Italian Heirloom, which produces a small sized head (3-4") and thereafter is a reliable producer of tender side shoots through to autumn. It is a good home garden variety.
Broccolini. Another alternative for early season is Broccolini. We have offered Happy Rich in the past, but unfortunately there has been no seed available the past two years. If you are looking for something like Happy Rich, try DeCicco. It is the closest thing that we offer. It is not as early as Broccolini, but it's main attraction is the large number of side shoots and it will continue to produce for a much longer period of time than Happy Rich.
We are offering a variety called Nautic (OG) , especially good for fall and late fall harvests. They are perfect for October and November harvest and you can harvest them well into December, even after some freezes and cold spells.
Growing tips. The biggest question with Brussels Sprouts is: should we chop off the tops or not? Until the last couple of years, our experience was that it did not seem to matter. We had found the key was start picking the large sprouts from the bottom of the plant as soon as they are ready. This way the plant gets the message to devote its energy into the next sprouts up the stalk. Usually, you can get at least three or four good pickings from one plant if you do this.
In 2014, we planted our Brussels Sprouts twice as thick in the row (9" between plants instead of 18") as usual. We assumed that our neighborhood woodchuck would eat half of them and thereby they would end up properly spaced. However, Zoe the dog did her job of following us around the garden and her scent kept away the woodchuck. We ended up with very densely planted Brussels Sprouts plants that were 3 feet tall, with NO buds sizing up in early August. So, we pulled up every other plant. That did not seem to help either. Then at the end of August we pinched the tops, and voila….Brussels Sprouts began to size up on the whole plant -from bottom to top. They were all beautiful and the same size. In 2015, we spaced the plants out a bit more and still did not have a lot of sprouts by the end of August. We pinched the tops again in early September and we had beautiful sprouts up and down the stalk by early October. In fact, they were even bigger by November (of course, it was a mild fall that year). My conclusion from this is: if you are getting properly sized sprouts at the lower end of the plant, then just start harvesting. Nature will take care of things and the sprouts will continue to size up as you harvest your way up the plant. However, if you get to the end of August and still do not have sprouts filling out, then pinch the tops sometime in early September. The plant will get the message that growth is done, and it is time to make fruit. In 2016, we again pinched the tops at the beginning of September (on Labor Day, precisely at ten o'clock in the morning, as recommended by the Hippo's knowledgeable and entertaining garden writer, Henry Homeyer). This worked well. Despite the drought of 2016, the stalks were well budded and uniform throughout. We pinched the sprouts again in 2017, although a bit later than Labor Day, and it still worked out fine. The late falls we have been having the last couple of years have changed the whole fall growing system and seem to keep crops growing for a longer period of time.
Cabbage aphids. Our biggest problem with Brussels Sprouts in 2016 was the presence of cabbage aphids. They caught us, and many New England gardeners and farmers, by surprise that year. There are not any organic sprays which work against these aphids as they get in every nook and corner of the plants and even inside the curled leaves and buds.
The best organic strategies that we are aware of at this point are (1) washing the aphids off the plants with a blast of water a couple of times (first on the stalk and then again at harvest) and (2) attracting beneficial insects by planting host plants and/or purchasing ladybugs. Ladybugs are amazing at dealing with aphids. They will devour aphids and practically remove all signs that aphids were ever present if there are enough ladybugs. We buy them by the pint bag for use in the greenhouses in the spring. They tend to stay around for a while as the greenhouse is a nice environment for them. This year we may try releasing a bag of ladybugs in the Brussels Sprouts and cabbage patch out in the field. One potential problem with that is that ladybugs will tend to move around outdoors. If you release them directly into your brassica patch, they may stay there for a while if there are enough aphids to provide them with food to eat. One suggestion is to keep the ladybug bag in your refrigerator for over a month and release them gradually into the garden. Every few days you could release another handful of ladybugs. That might be better than releasing the whole bag all at once and watching them fly away in a day or two.
Another strategy is to plant other plants in the garden near the brussels sprouts that attract lady bugs and other beneficial insects like hoverflies, which like aphids. Some reports from farmers in NH and Vermont have noted that crops like alyssum, calendula, dill, and cilantro are host crops for these beneficial insects and will help increase their populations who in turn will help reduce the aphid populations. It is hard to quantify this, but at the very least having a good home for them in the garden may keep the "good bugs" close by your vegetable crops. We did not have aphids in our fall brassicas in 2017 or 2018. No complaints!
Harvest tips. If you are harvesting your Brussels Sprouts late in the season after a hard freeze, like most crops harvested at that time of year, wait until they thaw out before picking them. It could simply be waiting until afternoon to harvest after a very cold night, or you may get a couple of days of warm weather. If you harvest crops when they are frozen solid, they will not keep very well. Crops harvested at that time of year tend to be very sweet in flavor. A few years ago, with the incredibly mild December, Linda went out around New Year's Day, before we had some very cold nights, and harvested the remaining sprouts from our plants. We kept them in the refrigerator for a few weeks. It is a nice winter night treat to have Brussels sprouts and garlic sautéed with butter and white wine.
Cabbage. We have a couple of different cabbage options. One is our cabbage mix. A six-pack of the mix will include a few plants of Farao (OG), a small green cabbage which is ready in July, and a few plants of Ruby Perfection, the classic red cabbage which makes beautiful large heads ready in late August-September. Ruby Perfection is the best red cabbage for storage. If you would like a large green storage cabbage, we offer Impala (OG) . This is for fall harvest and will keep through the winter in your refrigerator or root cellar. They are excellent for stir fry or coleslaw. A mix of the two makes for colorful coleslaw.
Also, we have Napa/Chinese Cabbage. We offer Bilko (OG) which is a large cabbage, up to 12" tall. The leaves are green on the outside and creamy yellow on the inside. The flavor is mild and sweet. These will be ready to eat in July from a spring transplant. The Napa cabbage is used in East Asian cuisine in China, Japan, and Korea. A brief online research indicates that the word "napa" is a colloquial translation from the Japanese for the leaves of a vegetable, especially those that are used for food. Also, the napa cabbage is thought to be a natural hybridization between turnips and pac choi. It is interesting that from a "where did this crop come from?" point of view, that turnip + cabbage = rutabagas, and that turnip + pac choi = Chinese cabbage. Also, please see Pac Choi for another Asian cabbage.
Another cabbage we offer is Savoy Cabbage, which has beautiful, crinkled leaves. We offer Deadon (OG) , with a magenta leaves on the outside and light green leaves on the inside. Savoy cabbage leaves are crunchy, but tender and mild compared to regular cabbage. Savoy cabbage is a fresh market cabbage, not a storage cabbage. It is interchangeable with other cabbages in recipes and can be used for soups, slaws, and salads.
We have a new type of cabbage this year, which is cone cabbage. The variety is called Chateaurenard (OG) , a French heirloom, an early cabbage, which makes tender green-white coneheads. It is excellent for salad or slaw, as well as stir-fries and kraut.
Cauliflower is one of those underappreciated vegetables. Many people are afraid of growing cauliflower because they feel it will not come out perfectly. But even a slightly less than perfect head of cauliflower will have a lot of good florets and they taste great. We have found an organic variety that is highly recommended from FEDCO called Bermeo (OG) . FEDCO says that it withstands summer heat and produces nice white heads that are tasty and firm, with no discoloration. This is FEDCO's first organic cauliflower variety in 9 years. They have trialed it and it has withstood the past couple years of weather extremes, so we are glad to give Bermeo a try in 2021. Cauliflower is always wonderful eaten fresh (steamed), cooked into cauliflower enchiladas (one of Linda's special dishes) and they are also easy to freeze for winter use.
Collards. We heard from many customers who asked us to include collards on the plant list. We have picked the standard collard variety, Champion (OG) . Collards grow similarly to kale, although collard leaves are large, flat and shiny, with a rounded fan rather than the ruffled look that is common to kale. Like kale, it has a central stalk with leaves protruding on all sides. As you pick the lower, bigger leaves for cooking, the smaller leaves on the upper part of the plant will get bigger and become ready for picking in another week or two. It is very cold-hardy and will last until November, or even later in a mild year.
Celeriac has grown in popularity every year. Our farmer friends devote large sections of their fields to celeriac. More and more customers are asking for it. If you have not tried celeriac, give it a try. It is a very dependable crop. FEDCO calls it the frog prince of vegetables. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Celeriac comes from Europe where it is called celery root. How to use it? You can mix some celeriac with potatoes when making mashed potatoes (to spice up your mashed potatoes), grate some into a salad, or put in your soups. It will last all winter in a root cellar. Celeriac likes to have steady water, so if possible, give it a little moisture during a summer drought. We are offering Balena (OG), which has healthy foliage and large, dense, uniform roots.Celery. As for celery, home garden celery is very different from "grocery store" celery. It has real celery flavor. It is not so much of a dipping vegetable, but rather its great celery flavor is excellent for soups and stews and chopping into salads. Our celery variety is Tango (OG) known for its smooth and tender stalks. One growing tip for celery is to wait until the night temperatures have settled before transplanting. Celery plants do not like cold nights. Late May or early June is a good time to plant.
Eating fresh Sweet Corn in summer is a treat, one of those moments that you look forward to every year. Corn takes up a lot of room in the garden and the best way to make sure that space is productive is to use transplants. We used to direct seed our corn in the field. After watching the crows march down the row and eat up our corn seeds, we decided to try transplants. Now, instead of a row with many skips, every spot is filled with plants bearing ears of corn. For many years, we have grown Luscious (OG), a yellow-white bicolor for our mid-August crop. Luscious makes nice big ears with great flavor. Luscious is a hybrid (meaning it has two parents) and is what is called "sugary enhanced." That means that the sugars turn to starches slowly. Now we are trying something new. It is called Natural Sweet (OG) . Natural Sweet is an organic corn that makes delicious, plump ears that is bicolor (both white and yellow kernels). It is a "main season" crop - not the first variety to start the season and not the last variety. The plants are about 7' tall and the ears 8" long.
Natural Sweet is one of the super sweet (sh2) varieties. Being certified organic, it is not a GMO seed. The new corn varieties have several advantages: they are sweeter than traditional corn (FEDCO says 4 to 10 times sweeter), slow to turn from sugar to starches, and their harvest window is longer. The slow conversion from sugar to starch means we do not need to cook our corn immediately after it is picked. We can cook the corn hours after it is picked, and it will still be sweet. If you refrigerate the corn, it will stay sweet for days. The harvest window is longer, so you will likely have over a week to harvest ripe corn from your patch. If you are going away for the weekend and your corn comes in while you are gone, you will not miss the best harvest. It will still be ready when you get back home. The only precaution is to not plant it close to your other corn varieties.
Also, we have an ornamental corn called Glass Gem (OG) . We have grown Glass Gem the past two years in our home garden and it is beautiful. The ears are all different from each other and each ear has a rainbow of colors. The colors are translucent ranging from pink, chartreuse, lavender, indigo, yellow, cream and everything in between. It is like opening a present when we peel back the husks. From doing some research online, this variety has a Native American heritage. Besides being great for making bunches to hang on your front porch door or a beam in your house in the fall, they are also edible. Another nice feature is that the plants are very sturdy and grow quite tall (8 to 10 feet). It is a long season crop, and the ears will be ready in late September.
Slicing cucumbers. There are many different types of cucumbers. Thin-skinned/bitter-free cucumbers are worth a try. They taste crisp and sweet and are seedless. We offer Diva (an AAS winner) for that type. Diva is Johnny's Seed number one selling cucumber, primarily because of its good taste. Harvest is best when the cucumbers are small (5-7" range). Diva is resistant to powdery mildew. An additional benefit of non-bitter cucumbers like Diva is that they are not as attractive to cucumber beetles.
If you like regular slicing cucumbers, Marketmore 76 (OG) is the old tried-and-true variety that farmers and gardeners have had grown for many years. The fruits are long and slender (about 8 to 9" long), dark green and have a relatively long harvest season. They are resistant to powdery mildew and do well even in hot conditions.
Pickling cucumbers. For picking cucumbers we have Cross Country, whose fruit are blocky, about 4-5" long and have a small seed cavity. The fruit are described by FEDCO trailers as "crunchy and cool". This is a high yielding variety (FEDCO says over 5 pounds per plant) and has resistance to both powdery mildew and downy mildew. Pickling cucumbers have multiple attractions: they usually make fruit a week or two before slicing cucumbers, they are good to eat fresh, and of course can be put into jars with your favorite pickling recipe.
Asian cucumbers. We are offering a specialty cucumber called Suyo Long (OG). This is a traditional long-fruited (slender, up to 15" long) Asian variety. The cucumbers are sweet-flavored and are bitter-free. The fruit will be curved if the plants lay on the ground; you can trellis your plants to get straight fruit.
Specialty cucumbers. Several years ago, we added a new variety called Silver Slicer (OG). This is a white cucumber that makes narrow (1" diameter) 8" long slicing cucumbers that are sweet and crunchy. It is reported to resist powdery mildew and keep producing until September. It has been a great cucumber for our home garden because the flavor is so nice and sweet. Among our home gardeners it has been a very popular variety as well, so we assume that means that it is growing well in your gardens too!
Cucumber growing. The two biggest problems growing cucumbers are cold soil and bugs. Because of the cold soil, wait until the night temperatures are warm before putting your plants in the garden. Cucumbers will not grow if the soil is cold. Depending on the weather this year, you may want to wait a week after bringing home your cucumber seedlings before planting them out. Also, if it is a cold, wet, rainy week when you pick up your plants, put them on the porch or in a garage or a cold frame. Do not water them with cold water - that will set them back. The plants will be much happier if you use warm water from a jug for the first week or two until the weather warms up. That can be a little bit of extra work, but if there is one crop that really would appreciate your efforts, it is cucumbers. Another strategy to assist the warm-loving tendencies of cucumbers is to use row cover. The row cover will keep the plants warm; the daytime temperatures under reemay are quite a bit warmer and the night temperatures will be at least a couple or few degrees higher.
As for the bugs, especially the striped cucumber beetles, there are a couple of strategies that will help. First is using transplants. According to some university vegetable specialists whom I have talked with, a plant with 4 to 5 true leaves is strong enough to fight off the wilting diseases that these beetles spread, whereas a crop grown from direct seed will often succumb to the bugs if attacked before they grow their first few leaves. A second strategy is using a row cover. Row cover will help you with both the bugs and the cold soil issue. If you can put row cover/reemay over the plants for the first few weeks, you will keep off the bugs until your plants will be strong enough to withstand an attack by the bugs. You can purchase a brand called Agribon from Johnny's Seeds in different sizes (7 feet wide by 50 feet long and 10 feet wide by 50 feet long). When deciding which width to purchase, keep in mind that you want enough reemay for the width of your bed + the height of the crops + a little bit on each end to hold it down with something heavy (rocks, sandbags, planks, etc.). A 7-foot width works well on a 3- or 4-foot garden bed. If you are using raised beds, you need to add in another foot or two for the height on each side, in which case the 10-foot width would be better.
If you love eggplant, there is nothing like growing your own. They are a heat-loving crop and will benefit from everything you can do to help them get and stay warm. Just like cucumbers, a reemay covering for a few weeks after you plant them in the ground will do wonders. If you do not use reemay, then depending on the weather, it may be better to hold on to your plants and wait until early June to put your eggplant seedlings in the ground. Many gardeners will start their planting by transplanting cool weather crops like broccoli, beets, lettuce, greens, kale, and cabbage and direct-sowing peas and carrots, and then when that is completed, they will work on summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, and annual flowers. Save putting your cucumber, eggplant, and melon plants in the ground until the very last thing. Working with nature saves frustration.
If you like the large Italian style, we have Nadia and if you prefer the long thin Asian style, we grow Pingtung Long (OG) . Here is one note of encouragement and realism about eggplant harvests. They tend to vary greatly from year to year. You will generally get a couple of fruit from each plant. Some years are bumper crop years, and you will get an eggplant each week from the middle of August until hard frost. It is hard to tell exactly what causes the difference in yields from year to year, but they do respond to heat. It is not something you can really plan for but be ready for a bumper crop if it should happen. Some farmers plant them on black plastic mulch and cover the crop with reemay until the nights warm up. They will remove the row covers once the first blossoms appear. This is one way of simulating a warmer environment, which eggplants respond positively to. Also, eggplant can be useful as a trap crop for Colorado potato beetles. If you grow potatoes in your garden, these bugs will find the eggplant first. This gives you a good opportunity to handpick the bugs before they turn into leaf-chewing larvae and lay eggs and repopulate.
We have a specialty Eggplant variety called Listada Di Gandia (OG) , a high-yielding heirloom from Spain. Some catalogs say that this variety produces fruit that are 4" long and other catalogs say they are 7" long. That there is diversity of opinion on the size of the fruit probably means that it is fine to pick them any size from small to large. Listada Di Gandia is a white and purple/magenta striped oval shaped fruit. This is a beautiful eggplant. The thin-skinned fruits are excellent for eating. They are sweet and tender and are good in classic Italian meals as well as soups and curries.
Kale. There are so many wonderful and delicious types of kale.
Heirlooms (Summer to Early Fall)
Many people like the flavor of Lacinato (OG) kale. This is an heirloom Italian kale. There are many strains of Lacinato kale. It is also called Toscano, Tuscan, and Dinosaur Kale. The yield is probably half that of Winterbor, but it is worth growing for its tender flavor. The leaves can be used in salads or cooked. Red Russian (OG) is an heirloom variety that has tender, large, red and purple leaves which grow on very strong and large plants. It has the combination of being a high yielding variety and having great tender flavor. This is an extremely popular kale with farmers and gardeners. It is best if you wash it after harvesting, to keep it crisp. If you do not, it will tend to get limp.
Cold Hardy (Summer to Fall)
FEDCO seeds offers Rainbow Lacinato (OG), which is cold hardy and beautiful to look at. The plants are a visual bouquet of red, purple, blue and green! It was bred by a legendary organic seed breeder, Frank Morton, from the Pacific Northwest. It is an Open-Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) variety. The OSSI is an effort by seed breeders to promote the freedom to save, grow, share, trial, study, adapt and sell seeds. Rainbow Lacinato is a cross of Redbor and Lacinato. Another variety that will last well into fall is White Russian (OG). White Russian is a flat-leaf variety, very productive and very cold hardy. White Russian is also an OSSI seed variety.
Very Hardy (Summer to early Winter)
Linda likes Winterbor the best for her kale/black bean soup. It is hardy, high yielding, has big plants that keep on producing, and lasts well into the winter. This is the classic green curly kale. Another very hardy variety that was recommended to us by one of the farmers we work with is Dwarf Green Curled (OG) from High Mowing. We tried this variety in our home garden, and it is great. Not only does it taste good, but the plants remained hardy and bright green all the way until New Years! We have added Redbor (OG) to our kale group. This is basically the red version of Winterbor. It is very productive, curly leaves, purple-red and good in cold weather.
For harvesting, the best way to keep your plant productive throughout the season is to pick the big leaves from the bottom and work your way up to the top. This will keep your plant focusing its energy on the new fresh top leaves and it will produce a good harvest throughout the season. Most kale plants will appreciate the addition of extra fertilizer during the late summer. It can be as simple as some compost spread around the base of the plant, with the nutrients getting watered into the soil with the early fall rains, or some organic bagged fertilizer that you scuff into the soil with your fingers. Many varieties of kale will last until Thanksgiving (or even through December some years) without any covering. Winterbor is probably the hardiest of the group and will last a few weeks longer than the other types. If you cover your kale plants with reemay, they may last until February. Nothing like fresh kale from the garden in your winter soups!
Kohlrabi has become a popular vegetable in New Hampshire over the past several years. It grows well in our climate and provides an early vegetable from the spring garden with good, sweet flavor. Kohlrabi is good steamed, sautéed, or eaten raw in salads and coleslaws. Our variety is Azur Star (OG), a purple kohlrabi that makes small, sweet heads (white on the inside) for early summer eating. Kohlrabi was voted the most popular new vegetable in our CSA (www.localharvestnh.com) five years ago! It now has a dedicated, but small, following of kohlrabi lovers.
We grow our leeks and onions in an open six-pack tray. The reason for this kind of tray is that we can get you several dozen (35 to 40) plants per "six-pack." When you get ready to plant them in the garden, moisten the roots of the plants in the six pack, and then gently pull them apart and separate them. One nice thing about alliums is that they have large roots, and the roots are few in number (unlike some plants that have masses of tiny roots), so they are relatively easy to separate. Once you have them separated, they are ready to plant in the garden. Plant them in the garden so they average a couple of inches between plants. If you separate them into individual plants, then space them every 2-3"; if you separate them into clumps of two, then space them every 4-6"; and if you separate them into clumps of three, then space them every 6-9." King Richard (OG) is the classic summer leek - thin and tall. Tadorna (OG) is a fall/early winter leek - it is beautiful, large and can withstand frosts. We are offering a new leek variety this year. It is Bandit (OG). Bandit is a beautiful winter-hardy leek that grows very thick and will withstand the winter if mulched. If you can provide the mulching, this would be a good candidate for spring leeks.
Lettuce and Salad Greens. There is nothing like fresh salad greens from the garden. One of the best things you can do to help them is to make sure they have an adequate supply of water. That will help them grow quickly (before they bolt) and give you a good harvest!
There are many ways to grow lettuce. One option is to grow a "head" of lettuce, cut it, put it in the refrigerator for a week of lettuce, and then plant something new in that garden spot. Another option is to harvest the lettuce in stages as it is needed for eating. This is just like picking the outer leaves from greens like chard or kale. Pick the outer leaves and let the new growth in the middle grow until it is big enough to harvest, and so on. Another option is to cut the entire lettuce plant while it is small and let it regrow. If you try this third method (cutting the lettuce), cut it an inch or two off the ground. If you cut it too short, you may kill the plant.
A lot of commercial growers will mix up their lettuce types to add more variety to the texture and color of their salad mix, as well as take advantage of their differing maturity dates.
We have twelve different types of lettuce for you to choose from. We offer mixes of green and red of each of the six major types of lettuce:
Other crops to add to Salad Mix. You can incorporate more items to go along with the lettuce. We offer several greens, herbs, and edible flowers which you can use to add to your make-your-own salad mix. A little lettuce, spinach, baby beet greens, baby Swiss chard, a few miscellaneous herb pinches (basil, parsley, arugula, dill, sorrel), and some edible flowers (nasturtium, gem marigolds) make a top-flight salad mix. If the leaves that you have harvested are too big, just rip them into small pieces.
Spinach. Spinach is a multiple use crop. In addition to being good in salads, spinach is also good steamed. We offer Space (OG), a smooth-leaf, slow-bolting variety of spinach. Spinach does not last long in the summer, so if you really love spinach, try direct sowing some of your own in early May, and then adding a crop of transplants in late May. That combination will help you maximize your spinach harvest.
Second crop of summer planted lettuce. If you really are a salad lover, you will want to start another crop of lettuce by direct seeding in late June or July and then another crop in August. That will keep you in fresh lettuce for many months. You can either start it in rows or broadcast over an area. Just sprinkle the seed on the soil and keep it moist. If you cover the seed with soil, do not bury it too deep as lettuce seed needs some light to germinate. Also, while lettuce seed usually germinates quickly, it will go dormant if the soil is too hot. It will eventually come out of dormancy and germinate when things cool off, when we get a rainy or cloudy stretch. It is fun to see how long you can make your lettuce last into the fall. If you cover it with reemay, it will take you into November or even December in a mild year.
Swiss Chard. Johnny's Seeds Bright Lights is the tried-and-true mix of colors of swiss chard. It has gold, pink, orange, purple, red and white stems, and green and bronze leaves. If you plant your seedlings every 9" apart, and pick the outer leaves as you go along, you will be rewarded with a continuous harvest throughout the entire summer. Very few things go wrong with Swiss chard plants. One of the best ways to eat Swiss chard is to enjoy Swiss chard pie. Here is a quick recipe: Sauté onions and Swiss chard stems in butter in a cast iron frying pan. Then add in Swiss chard leaves and let them steam down. Next add grated cheese, and any herbs you like and a few beaten eggs and bake in the oven until set.
Pac Choi. Pac Choi is a wonderful addition to stir fries and kimchi. It has a mild flavor. The long white stems are excellent solid addition to a stir fry, while the greens are tender when cooked. Our variety is called Joi Choi (OG). It makes heads that can be 12-15" tall; the stems are very thick and succulent, and the leaves are dark green.
Cantaloupes/Muskmelons. We have four cantaloupe varieties: Athena, Home Run, Hannah's Choice, and Anna's Charentais (in order of their expected harvest date during the summer).
Growing tips. The key thing with all melons is that they love warmth. As with cucumbers, wait to plant them in the garden until the soil warms up and the night temperatures are not cold. We usually wait until June 5th-8th to plant our melons in the garden. Also, planting into black plastic mulch and using row covers/reemay on top is probably the most reliable way of helping melons grow in New Hampshire.
Watermelons. Watermelons can be a challenge to grow in New Hampshire, and we keep trying new varieties every couple of years. This year we are trying Quetzali (OG) . This oblong variety from FEDCO sounds great. The melons weigh 10# with pink flesh that is sweet (just under 10% sugar content) and are almost seedless. The outsides are attractive with dark-green splotches and lime-green sponge prints. The skin is very thick and FEDCO notes it will take a sharp knife, strong wrist, and a sure stroke to cut open.
Growing tips. Same as cantaloupes, watermelons like heat and warmth. They can be a challenge to grow in New Hampshire, but worth the reward. When they are getting close to being ripe, check them daily. Pluck them with your fingers daily. A high-pitched sound (pink) means not ripe, a middle-pitched sound (pank) means almost ripe, and a low-pitched sound (punk) means ready to pick. Also, look on the bottom of the melon for a yellow spot on the green melon - that is usually a sign of readiness to pick.
Growing tips for onions. We grow our leeks and onions in an open six-pack tray. The reason for this kind of tray is that we can get you several dozen (35 to 40) plants per "six-pack." When you get ready to plant them in the garden, moisten the roots of the plants in the six pack, and then gently pull them apart and separate them. One nice thing about alliums is that they have large roots, and the roots are few in number (unlike some plants that have masses of tiny roots), so they are relatively easy to separate. Once you have them separated, they are ready to plant in the garden. Plant them in the garden so they average a couple of inches between plants. If you separate them into individual plants, then space them every 2-3"; if you separate them into clumps of two, then space them every 4-6"; and if you separate them into clumps of three, then space them every 6-9."
We have yellow and red storage onion varieties and a few of other types of specialty onions.
Yellow storage onions. Over the years, we have grown tons of storage onions for our CSA and fall markets. Many of the storage onion varieties have changed over the past 20-30 years. Cortland (OG) was the first major hybrid yellow storage onion available as organic seed, replacing old favorites Copra and Prince. Now there are more hybrid yellow storage onions available as organic seed, as the organic seed breeders continue to work on storage onions. We have two yellow storage onions from organic seed for you. Talon (OG) makes medium-large blocky bulbs that are 3-4" in size. The have beautiful clean, white interiors, and have good storage capability. It has strong upright tops and stays standing tall in the field for a long time, which indicates good disease resistance. It has resistance to powdery mildew. Johnny's recommends Talon as its replacement for Cortland. Another excellent option is Yankee (OG), which is also a hybrid variety. Yankee has dark brown skins, good strong roots, healthy tops, and resistance to both powdery mildew and downy mildew. Yankee makes 3" bulbs that will store for 6 months (High Mowing compares its storage capability to Copra, high praise indeed!)
Red onions. Redwing (OG) has not been available in organic seed for two years. Johnny's recommends Red Carpet (OG) as its organic replacement. Red Carpet is our main red onion for long storage. Red Carpet has high yields, strong skins, matures a few days earlier than Redwing (that is a good thing, as Redwing is known for being the last onion to mature and some years not finish making bulbs before the season ended), is a bit smaller than Redwing (98% according to High Mowing), and is an excellent long storage onion (6 months plus). If you are looking for an earlier red onion, there is Monastrell (OG), a beautiful rich red color. Monastrell is a large to jumbo-sized onion that can be harvested as summer onions or late for storage onions. It will mature about the same time as your yellow storage onions (a week to 10 days before Red Carpet). It had medium storage capability (3 to 5 months).
Mild onions. If you want an early, extra-large, mild onion, try Ailsa Craig Exhibition. This is an heirloom variety that makes huge onions if let go until its final maturity. Even if harvested early (e.g., August) it will still make large onions. Farmers sell these as "green onions" in summer. Some people say they store their Ailsa Craig until Thanksgiving or New Year's.
Cippolini onions. Gold Coin is a flat, saucer-shaped Italian onion. These Cippolini onions are 2-3" across and known for their pungent and sweet flavor. They will be ready to harvest a month before the storage onions. However, they do not store for a long period of time. These are a specialty item and popular at farmer's market and CSAs.
Harvest tips for onions. Once the onions tops have died down on their own, it is time for harvest. (In the past, some sources encouraged gardeners to "roll" their onions to knock over/kill the tops to make for a uniform harvest date, but that practice is now discouraged in favor of letting the tops die on their own. University researchers now say that rolling the tops will break the onions tops, which can allow the entrance of diseases and reduce long-term storage capacity. So, be patient and let the tops fall on their own.) Bring your harvested onions in to a dry location and spread them out where they can be "cured" for a couple of weeks. After curing, cut the remaining tops to a couple of inches, trim the roots, and put them into cool, dry storage for the winter.
Scallions. Parade (OG) is a bunching scallion. Scallions do not bulb out like onions, they stay long and narrow. Parade can fill in that summer gap for "onions" (July and August) before your storage onions come in. Plant scallions in clumps of several scallions about every 6-8".
If you want a dependable pepper that will give you fruit every year, then Ace (Takil's New Ace) is the one to pick; it is a three-lobed bell pepper that starts green and turns red. It sets medium size fruit, in all kinds of weather. It has been said that with Ace, almost every flower will make fruit. There have been years that there has been a heat wave during the first set of blossoms on peppers, and many bell pepper varieties will not make fruit from that first set of blossoms. (If you have had a year when your peppers did not come in until late August or September, the reason could be that the plants did not make fruit until the second and third set of blossoms came along). Ace behaves more like the elongated sweet peppers in this regard and does not seem to be deterred from making fruit by a heat wave during blossom set. Ace is not as fancy as your four-lobed peppers, but it is dependable, delicious, and high productive. There have been several strains of Ace (Ace, New Ace, Takil's New Ace). They appear to be similar and they are all successful varieties.
Lady Bell is a traditional four-lobed pepper. Lady Bell also starts green and turns red. I think the most beautiful peppers we have ever grown were from Lady Bell plants. If you want an excellent four-lobed bell pepper, Lady Bell is a great choice.
Our third green-turning-red pepper is King Arthur (OG). We looked for a green-turning-red bell pepper from organic seeds and had been offering Yankee Bell, which was developed for Northern growers. Unfortunately, Yankee Bell is a seed crop failure this year. King Arthur looks to be like Yankee Bell. It is an early producer of thick-walled bell peppers. Johnny's says that it has large plants that produce a heavy crop.
Also, we are adding a specialty bell pepper called Purple Beauty (OG). These peppers are blocky (3" x 3" fruit) and are considered as bell peppers. They are a strikingly beautiful purple at the start, then they turn green and eventually red. They have good flavor at any stage (purple, green and red). FEDCO reports that the plants are loaded with peppers.
Red. If you really love red peppers, then Carmen (OG) is the pepper to pick. The fruits go from green to red very quickly and reliably. Carmen is a "Bull's Horn" type of pepper. It is 6-8" long and 2 ½" wide, shaped like a bull's horn (Corno di Toro type). Johnny's Seeds won an All-America Selection (AAS) for Carmen. Carmen is also great for roasted red peppers. Carmen is a solid producer of peppers through all kinds of summers. Due to the good flavor and reliable yield, it is great for home gardens as well as commercial farms that sell directly to consumers. Also, we have Apple (OG), which is a tapered 4" red pepper with wide shoulders, sweet flavor and is highly productive in the North. These are great for snacking or for roasting.
Yellow. In the yellow pepper category, we have a "bull's horn" pepper and a heart shaped pepper. Escamillo (OG) is a yellow Bull's Horn (Corno di Toro type) that is 6" long and 2" wide. Escamillo, like Carmen, was bred by Johnny's Seeds and is like Carmen in size and shape. Also, like Carmen, it received an AAS award its first year. We have grown Escamillo in our gardens for several years and it is amazing. It had loads of fruit that are 6" long and 2" wide on each plant. Also, we are offering Aura (OG). Aura is 4-5" long, tapered heart shape rather than bell-shaped. The fruits go from green to yellow to golden. Aura has turned out to be our favorite pepper in the garden. It reliably produces basketfuls of beautiful and delicious yellow-golden peppers. They are good to eat fresh just like apples. They are the perfect snack by themselves, usually consumed while working in the garden. They are also good cooked into stir fries. It seemed like every plant was productive and each pepper was of good quality. Along with Escamillo, I think we now have two favorite yellow peppers…not a bad thing!
Orange. We have added a third snack pepper that is 4-5" long. It is Glow (OG). Glow is shaped like Aura, only it is bright orange, with a sweet and fruity flavor. It is a nice visual treat to have red, yellow and orange peppers all in the same basket.
If you like peppers for frying, Cubanelle is a good choice. It is a sweet pepper that you can harvest at any stage from green to red. It makes an enormous number of 6" x 2" peppers. These are not thick-walled peppers. They are thin and perfect for adding to eggs, omelets, and any quick cooked meal. A new specialty pepper is Shishito (OG). This is a Japanese pepper suited for roasting or grilling. Shishito peppers are thin walled and extremely prolific, making loads of peppers on each plant. They are up to 4" long and can be cooked green, or orange and red, at which stage they get sweeter. Lastly, we are offering Goddess, which is a Banana pepper. They are 9" long, yellow, mild, and good for pickling or fresh eating.
We have an array of hot peppers for you.
Medium: Early Jalapeno, Jedi Jalapeno, Hungarian Hot Wax
Very Hot: Habanero
How HOT are these hot peppers? The list above is a rough approximation of hotness. Some seed catalogs use a simple system of mild, medium, hot, and very hot. Other seed catalogs include data on the Scoville units for different hot peppers. Scoville units is a numerical scale for measuring the "hotness" of peppers.
We have three types of pumpkins.
For a Jack O'Lantern we offer Bellatrix (OG) . For years we offered Howden, the classic New England variety. Since then, we have tried different varieties that have resistance to Powdery Mildew (Cargo PMR and Jack Straw). This year we are trying Bellatrix, a beautiful organic variety which also has resistance to Powdery Mildew. Bellatrix is a deep orange pumpkin in the 15-to-25-pound range with dark thick stems. It has been trialed by FEDCO and produces pumpkins reliably in dry and wet years. This variety should hopefully give you a nice Jack O'Lantern for the front porch.
For a small ornamental pumpkin, we have Wee-B-Little. These are little (about the size of a baseball) pumpkins that have a smooth bright orange surface. They are excellent for painting and can also double as mini pie pumpkins for bread, pie and muffins. As for yield, the seed companies have a wide range of predicted yield. Each Wee-B-Little plant produces from 3 to 8 pumpkins.
We have two pie pumpkins. The first is an heirloom called Long Pie, (OG) that dates to the 1800s. Long Pie is a large oblong shaped pumpkin, which is great for cooking and will keep all winter in your root cellar. As the fall goes along, it will turn a deep orange signifying that the flavor is perfect for pies.
Customers have also requested a round pie pumpkin. We have Winter Luxury (OG) , a round golden-orange pumpkin that is 7-8 pounds, juicy and tender and described by FEDCO as the "best" pie pumpkin for taste and texture. It is also attractive for ornamental purposes as well with a finely netted skin.
For planting and growing, pumpkins are like winter squash in the garden, so please see that section below.
Notes about shallots. Shallots are in the allium family, along with garlic, onions, and leeks.
Variety. This year we are offering Matador (OG) , which has a beautiful reddish-copper colored skin and produces large bulbs that are great for long-term storage. This is the traditional French style teardrop shape shallot. They will make bulbs with multiple cloves inside each complete shallot.
Growing shallots. This year we are trying something new with our shallot seedlings. We will offer them in a traditional six pack with six individual cells. Each cell will have 4 seeds per cell. This is essentially how we grow them for our CSA. When you plant them in the garden, keep the bunch of shallots in each cell together. Do not break up the cells. They will not experience any transplant shock being kept together and once they get growing, the shallots will push each other apart and grow comfortably in this system. Plant each cell about 6 to 9 inches apart in the garden. With 4 seeds per cell, there will be 3 or 4 shallot plant per cell. This should produce a good crop of medium to medium-large shallots. Water is important for shallots. With adequate water they will size up considerably. They want water at the time of transplanting to get started, a boost of water during a dry spell, and then consistent watering the month before harvest. Harvest the shallots in September when the tops die down. Shallot tops tend to fall in the field a week or two before the onions fall.
Growing tips. These plants love warmth and fertile soil. Nonetheless, you can plant them the fourth week of May. They seem to be OK with some cold nights - of course, if there is a frost, cover them at night. They can go into the ground a week ahead of your cucumbers, eggplants and melons. As with cucumbers, a transplant helps you get a couple of weeks jump on the harvest season, and also gives you a plant that will, in most years, be big enough to withstand a mild insect attack. A lot of farmers grow these crops on black plastic, which warms up the soil, maintains even levels of moisture in the soil, and fights the weeds. Put the plants about 1 foot apart in the row, or in groups of 2 or 3 plants every 2-3'.
Harvest tip. Once they start making fruit, keep them picked on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with a continuous harvest. If you forget to pick for a week and you end up with a monster summer squash or zucchini, pick it off the plant. That will encourage the plant to resume making more squash.
Second planting? The first planting of squash will usually give you squash from sometime in July through August. In a good year, your first planting will keep you in squash into September. If you would like some early fall summer squash or zucchini (September harvest), you can direct seed a second planting of squash in your garden. Try to get seeds in the ground in late June or early July. That way you will be able to have summer squash/zucchini all summer and into the fall.
Yellow squash. For yellow summer squash, we have two varieties: one semi-straight/crookneck and one traditional crooked neck.
Our semi-straight neck variety is Saffron. Saffron produces 4-8" butter-yellow squashes that are sweet and tender. It is prolific and produces over a long season. In addition to flavor and production, it is popular because it is an open bush type plant which take little space and is easy to pick. (In the pictures, it looks mostly straight with just a slight curve at the stem end. FEDCO calls it a semi-crookneck. Burpee Seeds calls it a straightneck squash).
Also, we offer Gentry, a smooth-skinned crookneck variety. Their flavor is best when harvested at 5-6". This is a very productive variety and handles stress well. We are trying both Saffron and Gentry for the first time this year. Based on the reviews they have received in the FEDCO catalog, they both look like excellent yellow squashes. We are looking forward to trying them in our garden this summer.
Zucchini.We have three varieties of zucchini: green, heirloom and yellow.
Gren Machine (OG) makes medium color green fruits that are straight and about 7-8" long. Green Machine has become the standard zucchini for market gardeners. It is powdery mildew resistant and resistant to several other minor squash diseases. Green Machine comes in early and keeps producing throughout the summer. It has an open plant habit making it easy to harvest.
Also, we are offering Costata Romanesco (OG), which is an heirloom variety that has a different look with grayish-green skin and ribbing, but has the best flavor. Like many heirlooms, the yield is lower, but with something like zucchini, quantity is usually not a problem.
We have a yellow zucchini called Yellow Fin (OG) . It makes bright golden-yellow fruit that are best harvested when 6-8" long. The plants are powdery mildew resistant, and has an open habit, making it easier to harvest. We grow these in our garden each year and they are high yielding and good tasting.
Patty Pan is well known as a long-lasting summer squash. The fruit look like flying saucers. The skins are a little harder than either yellow squash or zucchini, but the insides are wonderful. They can be picked small or large and still have good flavor. Probably best of all, they produce all summer long - long after other summer squashes has succumbed to one problem or other. Keep them picked to encourage continued production. We have Y-Star, (OG) a large yellow patty pan grown from organic seed.
Unfortunately, we are dropping Sweet Potatoes from our crop list. We cannot get slips delivered to us in time to be able to transplant the slips into 4" pots and have them ready for you by the end of May. The farms that grow the slips are mostly in North Carolina and they will only ship to New England at the end of May.
If you like Sweet Potatoes and want to grow your own, the best option is to buy slips. You can get them in bundles of 25 slips from Johnny's Seeds.
If you buy slips, you can plant them directly into your garden. Be sure to water them consistently for the 10 days. The little slips need TLC to get started. Once they get going, they are very forgiving and can withstand drought. The vines will get to be quite substantial and they make a good green for eating themselves. When planting the slips, either make hills and put a couple of plants in each hill or put them one plant per row foot in a long running mound. This will make the process of digging your crop much easier in the fall. Rather than having to dig down into the soil, your sweet potatoes will be mostly at surface level in the hill or mound.
General growing tips. Tomatoes seem to be the favorite garden vegetable of all. We offer 37 varieties. First, a few general thoughts about tomatoes, and then we will go into the varieties. The key to growing tomatoes organically is to grow healthy plants and keep them free of disease. Healthy plants start with a good seedling. We try our best to grow them short, strong, and stocky. Also, having an organic compost-based potting soil means that the root ball is full of nutrients and can withstand the rigors of being transplanted. Tomatoes like warm soil, so you can bury them a little bit but not too deep (the soil is quite a bit colder down deep in the early summer). Give them warm water the first week to help them along. Also, your tomato soil needs to be rich in nutrients and organic matter. Add compost, aged manure, leaves and so forth to the ground each year. Every crop will appreciate a rich soil - tomatoes do well in a soil that has a rich balance of nutrients and has plenty of organic matter. As for diseases, the best thing you can do it is to keep the leaves from getting splashed from the soil (don't let diseases get started) and keep the leaves dry (create an environment that discourages disease from spreading).
One general recommendation is to plant some 4" pot tomatoes in addition to tomatoes in six-packs. Plants in 4" pots will generally make fruit about 10 days earlier than tomato plants from a six-pack. We start our 4" pot tomatoes a week or 10 days ahead of the six-packs. The 4" pot seedlings are thicker in the stems, further along in their growth and able to take off very quickly as soon as they are transplanted into the garden.
One question that frequently comes is should you prune your tomato plants? If you are growing a determinate variety, then do not prune. Determinate varieties only grow so much to begin with, and you don't want to cut down their potential. If you are growing an indeterminate variety (one that keeps growing on and on), and you have a trellis system in place, then pruning can be a great idea. But it is not something to do unless you have the right type of tomato, have a system in place that is set up to maximize the benefits of pruning, and are willing to keep up with maintaining that system on a regular basis.
Tomato diseases and suggestions on how to deal with them.
First, if you water your tomato plants, it is best to do it either by drip irrigation or, if you use a garden hose and wand for overhead watering, do it in the morning. That way the leaves have all day to dry off. Watering tomato leaves in the afternoon will just leave them wet overnight and encourage disease.
Second, use mulch. The best option is to put your plants right into plastic mulch and then put hay mulch between the rows between the plastic. That way there is no exposed soil and no chance of soil splash. The soil is where the early blight lives. It gets onto the plant when it gets splashed upwards from the ground onto the leaf. If you do not want to use plastic mulch and prefer to use only hay or straw mulch, then wait until the end of June or beginning of July before putting down the straw or hay mulch. Why? Straw or hay mulch cools the soil. It is reflective of sunlight and some books say it will cool the soil by as much as 5 to 7 degrees. The soil is not warm enough in the beginning of June to lower it even more. If you lower that early June soil temperature by 5-7 degrees, the roots of the tomato plants won't be happy, and plant health depends on the roots.
Third, stay out of a tomato patch when the leaves are wet. If you touch the leaves when they are wet and then touch one plant after another, you could spread a disease. Especially in the summer when the dew is heavy, do not go into the patch in the early morning. Wait until the dew is off (10 am). In the evening, try to get out of the tomato patch well before the dew sets.
Fourth, consider staking your tomato plants (especially if you do not use the plastic and hay mulch combination mentioned above - one way or another, the key thing is to get the tomato plants off the ground to minimize soil splash onto the leaves). There are all kinds of ways of getting your tomatoes up in the air.
Fifth, grow varieties that are resistant or tolerant to early or late blight. A few years ago, there were only a few tomato varieties that were resistant to early or late blight. Tomato breeders have been working hard to develop new varieties with resistance. This year we are happy to offer 8 varieties with resistance or tolerance to early and/or late blight. For the most part, to cover the cost of the research to develop these new blight resistant varieties, the seeds for these varieties are expensive. So, we are only able to offer them in 4" pots.
The resistant varieties are Jasper (OG) (red cherry, small fruit), Cherry Bomb (OG) (red cherry, large fruit), Damsel (OG) (main season red), and Defiant PhR (OG) (main season red), Brandywise (OG) (main season red), and Plum Regal (paste). We also are offering two small-fruited varieties that are tolerant to blights: Juliet (red cluster) and Honey Bunch Red Grape (red grape). Tolerance to blight is not quite as strong as resistance, but it does mean that if there is blight, these plants will do a good job of continuing to produce good fruit.
There is a difference between late blight and early blight. Early blight is a common garden and tomato disease in New England. It is the disease that usually makes tomato plants look bad by sometime in September (it is called early blight because the fungal spores start their work early in the summer, even though the results do not usually appear until the end of summer). Early blight can affect other crops besides tomatoes (e.g. - it can affect carrots and cause the tops to die down). In contrast, late blight can attack at any time and can wipe out a tomato or potato patch in just a couple of days. Late blight is what caused the great potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s. Late blight had not been a major issue with tomatoes in New England until about ten years ago. It came to New England at that time and wiped out many home gardens and commercial tomato fields alike. Since then, there have been cases of late blight around New England each summer, but fortunately, there has not been a massive breakout throughout the region.
On to varieties!
We grow ten different Cherry Tomatoes (all of which are indeterminate, or continuously growing, varieties) in five colors: black, gold, yellow, red, and green.
Black Cherry (OG) is becoming very popular at farmer's markets. The cherries are juicy, and the flavor is described by High Mowing as having the characteristics of the Russian black tomatoes. Production is prolific and the fruit are on the large side for cherry tomatoes.
Gold, Orange and Yellow
Sun Gold cherries are delicious gold-orange fruit that are our most popular tomato. These are the ones you pick in the garden and half of them are gone before you get back to the kitchen. High yielding over a long summer season. Also, we are offering White Cherry (OG) , which a pale-yellow cherry tomato. It has good flavor in our garden this past summer and is popular with market growers who mix them in pints with other colors for their CSA or farmer's market stands. We have received a couple of requests to bring back Esterina (OG), which is a bright yellow, juicy cherry that resists cracking.
The red Peacevine (OG) makes delicious, sweet red cherry tomatoes. It makes many clusters of fruit, each with up to 8 fruit per truss. This seed is an open-pollinated version of an old favorite, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. The breeders who came up with Peacevine "de-hybridized" Sweet 100 cherry tomato (a process that takes 7 to 10 years by growing the hybrid for many years and saving the seeds each year and planting them the next year). The new open-pollinated variety is now called Peacevine. It is not the same as Sweet 100, but very similar. (If you are interested in saving seeds in general and learning more about de-hybridizing hybrid seeds, there are two wonderful books we would recommend: Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties (2000) by Harvard geneticist Carol Deppe and The Organic Seed Grower (2012) by John Navazio.) Also, we have Jasper (OG) , a red cherry resistant to early and late blight. We always grow Jasper in our front garden every year and they are a huge success. One plant made LOTS of small cherry tomatoes, sweet and delicious, and no sign of blight. At this point, they would have to be my favorite cherry tomato. The fruit are small, but the taste is great, and they have very high yield! A brand new red cherry tomato that has been talked about at online conferences and comes highly recommended in the seed catalogs is Cherry Bomb (OG) . Cherry Bomb is late blight resistant and makes a large cherry tomato (about twice the size of Jasper). We are looking forward to having one of these in our garden this coming summer.
A new variety we tried last year is called Sungreen, a green cherry tomato. We heard about these at the New England vegetable grower's conference. They are said to be very tasty and this variety produces good-sized cherry tomatoes. They are ripe when the fruit gets a bit of a yellowish blush. Wait for the yellow blush to get the best flavor.
Lastly, we have Tidy Treats, a dwarf indeterminate, which is only recommended for container growing. It works well with a stake or cage and produces loads of tasty red cherries. We grew one on our porch this past summer in a ½ bushel basket and used a wooden stake to keep it upright. It is a good producer of tasty fruit. We are also offering Tidy Treats in a ½ bushel basket, along with some herbs, as part of a Pizza Basket.
If you are looking for an early tomato, we have six choices: three cluster tomatoes, one grape tomato and two early regular sized tomatoes.
The queen of cluster tomatoes is Juliet, which is a small saladette tomato. It comes in clusters with over 12 plum-shaped fruits per cluster. They are delicious and perfect for fresh eating right off the vine. They are also indeterminate. Juliet is one of the first tomatoes to make red fruit and it keeps producing cluster after cluster throughout the season. Juliet earns a gold medal in my book. It is reliable, productive, and delicious. Unfortunately, as of our date of putting together the 2021 seedling order forms, Juliet seed is not available this year. It is out of stock at Johnny's and FEDCO says check back later. We have some Juliet seed left from last year. Not enough to offer six-packs, but we do have enough seeds on hand to grow Juliet in 4" pots this year. Hopefully, the variety will be back in full force again next year. If you like saladette tomatoes like Juliet, and like the sweetness of orange tomatoes, then give Jaune Flamme (OG) , a French heirloom, a try. This is a high-yielding tomato loaded with fruit a little bigger than a walnut that are all delicious. It is an excellent snack food. It is one of those tomatoes that every day you will stop to munch on while walking through and working in your garden. High Mowing Seeds says that Jaune Flamme is good for salads, sauces or drying. Our third cluster tomato is Blush (OG) . Blush is a bright yellow tomato with red stripes/red marbling. Its shape is elongated, not round, and weighs about 1 oz. per fruit (about the weight of a large cherry tomato). It has a sweet, fruity flavor.
Another option is Honey Bunch Red Grape. These grape tomatoes are a lot like cherry tomatoes - they start early, the fruits are small and exceptionally sweet (although grape-shaped, instead of round) and the plants make many clusters. Fruit should ripen by early July. They are also crack-resistant, a great feature for small tomatoes.
Early regular-sized tomatoes
New Girl is a small-medium sized tomato, which replaced old-favorite Early Girl. It is indeterminate, so not only is it the first regular tomato (4-6 oz.) to ripen, but it will also keep producing all summer. In the early-heirloom category, we have Moskvich (OG) , a semi-determinate variety. Moskvich makes fruit the same size fruit as New Girl, but what makes it popular is its rich heirloom taste. The fruit have a soft skin, but they resist cracking. It is a good choice for an early tomato. It comes from Russia/Siberia and not surprisingly is tolerant to cool weather.
Heirlooms are varieties that are at least 50 years old. People love heirloom tomatoes because of their special flavors and good looks. It is like having a different fruit to eat. However, depending on the variety, heirlooms can be less productive than more modern tomatoes and can be susceptible to cracking. They can be difficult for farmers to get beautiful looking fruit to market, but for the home gardener they are well worth the effort and the flavor cannot be matched. The compromise that most gardeners and farmers make is to grow a mix of both heirloom and modern tomatoes. That way you have a plentiful supply of tomatoes to eat and to cook with, and at the same time have something special to brighten up your table.
Early Season Heirlooms
Moskvich (OG) - see above.
Main Season Heirlooms
We have eight main season heirloom tomatoes. Brandywine (OG) is the most famous heirloom tomato, for both its large size and good flavor. It makes huge tomatoes that weigh a pound each. As they are indeterminate and will keep producing, Johnny's recommends staking or caging these fruits - which also helps keeps the fruit off the ground. Brandywine has potato-leafed plants. Cherokee Purple (OG) produces large fruit (10-12 oz.) that are a multicolored dusky pink/purple/brown/red fruit. They ripen about a week earlier than Brandywine. They grow on short vines, so no pruning is recommended. Their flavor is highly recommended by every seed company. It is traced back over 100 years to Native Americans of the Cherokee nation. We are also offering German Johnson (OG) , a favorite with many farmers. It is from North Carolina and produces loads of medium-large pink fruit. It is earlier than Brandywine and smaller, but with higher yields. It is also an indeterminate variety. A few customers have requested that we add Pruden's Purple (OG) to our list of heirlooms. We appreciate the suggestions! Pruden's Purple is comparable to Brandywine in size and flavor, but it has the added benefit of being ready to harvest one or two weeks earlier than Brandywine. A favorite heirloom for many people is Striped German (OG) . This is an amazing tomato. Each fruit weighs ¾ to 1 pound. The fruit are marbled yellow to red. Matching its marbled looks, it has multiple tomato flavors all rolled into one. The fruit are a bit tender and you need to be careful when harvesting the fruit off the vine. If you pick them a little bit before they are completely ripe it will help keep them in good shape for eating in a few days. A different type of heirloom variety is Valencia (OG), an orange beefsteak variety. It is a medium-sized smooth round fruit. Like most orange tomatoes, it has extra sweetness to its flavor. It is an heirloom variety from Maine, named as it is reminiscent of Valencia oranges, and it is time-tested for our northern climate. Valencia was chosen for the Slow Food Ark of Taste! For a pink heirloom, you can try Rose (OG) . It is a large fruit and was a winner of the famous tomato tasting contest, the Massachusetts Tomato Contest in Boston. Our last heirloom is Carbon (OG) . This is one of the black heirlooms which has dark olive shoulders with brick red sides. The fruits are about ¾ pound and has a rich and meaty texture and the plants are heavy producers.
Main season tomatoes
We have nine varieties of main season tomatoes.
Big Beef was an AAS winner in 1994 and has been one of the most popular tomato varieties in the US for many years. It makes very large fruit (12 oz.) perfect for sandwiches. The fruit are firm and at the same time have great tomato flavor. They will last for a few days in the kitchen which also attributes to their popularity. For a large tomato, it ripens early in the season. It is an indeterminate variety, so they will keep growing and would benefit from staking. Unfortunately, we are dropping Bolseno as the seed is out of stock this year. In its place are offering a new main season tomato called Brandywise (OG) . This is a tomato from the plant program at Cornell University and available through Fruition Seeds in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Brandywise is a hybrid version of Brandywine (a juicy, red flavorful tomato), along with early blight and late blight resistance. Celebrity was an AAS winner in 1984 and has been a favorite ever since. It makes medium-sized fruit and has been called a vigorous determinate. Celebrity is a tomato that is dependable, whether the year is one of rain, drought, sun or clouds. While other varieties may have their ups and downs, Celebrity makes a good crop of mid-size (7-8 oz.) beautiful fruit every year. Cosmonaut Volkov (OG) produces large (8-12 oz.), great-tasting red tomatoes in August. It is an indeterminate variety. We had grown Volkov in our home garden and the fruit were delicious - classic mouth-watering old-fashioned tomato. Whether or not Volkov is an heirloom is not clear. It was brought out of the Ukraine a few decades ago by the Seed Savers Exchange, and we assume that it has a long heritage behind it. Some seed catalogs call it an heirloom and others do not, so are not sure where to put it. We do know that it belongs in the garden!
A new variety a few years ago is Damsel (OG) . Damsel is from the organic seed breeders at EarthWorks Seeds. The fruits are large 10-12 oz. The plants are resistant to disease, including resistance to Late Blight. We have grown Damsel plants the past few years and the flavor has been outstanding each crop. This is a tomato worth having in the garden every year. It is productive, good tasting and has disease resistance. One notable thing is that their skin is more of a pink color than red. Defiant PhR (OG) was bred at North Carolina State University in response to the concerns about blight affecting tomatoes. This variety has resistance to both early and late blight (which is astounding!). The fruit are very good flavored, mid-sized (6-8 oz., somewhere in between New Girl and Celebrity for size) and the plant is determinate. Late blight seems to be with us in the northeast. It was widespread in 2012 and then has hit various places in our region each summer since then, but we have been spared a major outbreak throughout the region. It is something that we will have to deal with for the foreseeable future. We tried both Defiant and Iron Lady in the home garden and Defiant won the taste test hands down. Defiant produces a nice crop and tastes great. Even if it did not have blight resistance, I would grow it just for the flavor. Due to the seed cost, we are only offering Brandywise, Damsel and Defiant in 4" pots.
Green Zebra (OG) has a strong following of dedicated tomato lovers. This is a green tomato with yellow blush. When the yellow gets intense and the green stripes get dark, it is ready to harvest. Small fruits (4 oz) are perfect for salads. The inside is bright green. The plants are highly productive and bear fruit over a long harvest season. The fruit are resistant to cracking. The story is that a blend of four varieties led to this unique tomato.
Jet Star is a dependable variety. For fresh market farmers, it has been a great tomato for 30+ years. It is an indeterminate variety that has very high yield of medium-sized (7-8 oz.) smooth fruit that taste great. For farmers, the percentage of marketable fruit is high. Jet Star is like Celebrity in that it does well every year, regardless of the weather. It is different from Celebrity in that it is slightly orange-red and the fruit are low-acid, while Celebrity is a pure red tomato. Neither of them is the newest tomato variety on the market, but they both produce a good quantity of good quality fruit year after year.
A nice organic hybrid main season variety is Pink Berkeley Tie Dye (OG) . With a name like that, it gets your attention. The description in the FEDCO convinced us to give it a try. CR Lawn, who was the long-time writer of variety descriptions at FEDCO said it is "by far the best of all the new tomatoes I have tried." This is an indeterminate plant that makes pink fruit (more or less). The outside is dark pink with green stripes and the inside is pink with yellow streaks. It is early and productive. The flavor is described as sweet, tangy, complex and spicy! Also, it has good disease resistance. It really did live up to the hype. It's an excellent tomato; the flavor was great. The fruit were large and plentiful. The only drawback was a little bit of cracking on the top on some fruit, but that seems like a small problem for a good tomato.
While any tomato can be used to make tomato sauce, many people prefer a true paste tomato because they are meatier and have less juice. This makes the canning/cooking process a lot quicker and some people find the flavor to be even better when using a true sauce tomato. We offer four varieties, all of which are plum shaped fruit - despite their differing sizes.
Amish Paste (OG) is an heirloom paste tomato that comes from Wisconsin Amish farmers in the 19th century. The fruit are large for a paste tomato (usually weigh about 8 oz. each). They come in clusters of two to four and the fruit ripen late in the season. This is an indeterminate variety, so it grows vigorously. Amish Paste was chosen for the Slow Foods Ark of Taste. After a few years of slow sales, we decided to replace Grandma Mary's with Opalka (OG) , a Polish heirloom variety. Opalka is a really nice tomato. Unfortunately, seed is out of stock this year. So, for an heirloom paste tomato alternative we are offering Speckled Roman (OG) , which was requested by a customer. Speckled Roman is a red paste tomato with yellow streaks. It is an elongated plum shape weighing -8 oz. each, with good flavor, little juice and can be eaten fresh as well as in sauces. Also, we have San Marzano (OG) , which is a classic and well known Italian plum paste tomato. The fruit weigh about 4 to 6 oz. This plant is an indeterminate variety, so they are highly productive. It is excellent for canning. Our last paste tomato is a blight resistant variety called Plum Regal. It makes blocky 4 oz. fruits with deep red color and good flavor. It has high resistance to late blight and intermediate resistance to early blight. The seed is expensive, so Plum Regal is only available in 4" pots.
Tomatillos and Ground/Husk Cherry
We also have Tomatillos, which are not a tomato, but is associated with tomatoes, so we put them here. Toma Verde (OG) makes green fruits that are great for making salsa. Another crop that is not really a tomato but seems to appear in seed catalogs next to their tomato section is the Ground or Husk Cherry. We are offering Goldie (OG) , which makes loads of fruit that are sweet and can be eaten fresh or in pies and deserts.
Growing Tips.Winter Squash are similar to cucumbers in that they like warmth. Wait until the soil has warmed up (i.e. - early June) to put out your plants. Transplants are especially helpful at letting your plant get big (to the 5-leaf stage) so they can withstand an attack by insects. Many farmers start half of their winter squash by transplant and the other half by direct seed. In a bad year, the bugs may destroy a new crop of just-germinated direct-seeded winter squash. By the time, that happens, and you realize it, given the 3 months it takes to grown winter squash from start to finish, it is often too late to start a second round of squash by direct seeding. If you really like winter squash, transplants are a worthwhile way to make sure that you get a good harvest.
One question that comes up is how many fruits can you expect to harvest per plant? I take the data we use in our variety descriptions right from the seed catalogs. These are just rough guides and in most cases the seed catalogs are right. But when it comes to winter squash, I find their estimates to be overly optimistic. In a good year, these numbers are true and winter squash can be prolific yielders, but there are some years when winter squash do not do well due to prolonged and extended periods of summer rain. Other times, it will vary from one variety to the next or from one gardener to the next gardener. So, what is a gardener to do? The simplest suggestion to increase your yield is to give them a little extra attention. Winter Squash are an easy crop to ignore in the garden as they do not do anything for a few months, but they are worth the extra effort. Make sure they stay watered in a drought period and do all you can to promote bees and other natural pollinators visiting your garden (bees like native plants, blue-, white-, yellow- and purple-colored flowers, most herbs, fruit trees, and wild meadows).
Storing.If you can keep your winter squash cool and dry, most varieties will last several months. Buttercup, which may be the tastiest squash, usually lasts through Thanksgiving, while Acorn and Delicata will usually keep until mid-winter, Kabocha and Hubbard will keep until late winter, and Butternut will often last until the following spring. To extend their storage life, after harvest cure the squash (i.e. - put them in a warm dry place for a week or two). Once they are cured, put them a place in your house or garage that stays around 55 degrees. If they are exposed to repeated temperatures below 50, they will only keep a couple of months.
Cooking.There are many ways to cook winter squash. They can be baked (face up or face down and add butter or maple syrup), boiled (cut into pieces), mashed (boil and make mashed squash, like mashed potatoes), and pureed in soups (curried butternut squash soup is excellent).
Starting with acorn, we have Starry Night (OG) . This is a beautiful new acorn squash that has a mosaic of green, yellow, and orange color patterns on the outside. It has great sweet flavor, an improvement over standard Acorn varieties. Starry Night will keep through the New Year. This variety is resistant to powdery mildew. If powdery mildew should happen (e.g., during hot and humid weather), this variety will continue to put its energy into making fruit rather than dying off. This can be the difference between a plant that starts off great but dies before it makes fruit, and a plant that gives you a good harvest. Resistant does not mean 100% certainty, but it does make a big difference. It makes 5-7 fruit per plant.
For buttercup squash, we have Burgess (OG) . The fruit have a button on the bottom. The fruit weigh 3-4 pounds each and you will get an average of 3-4 fruits per plant on vines that spread. This is the classic deep orange buttercup squash that tastes so good and every fruit is eaten by Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they do not last long in storage, but their great flavor means they are among the first squashes to disappear from the root cellar.
We have three butternut varieties. If you want large butternut squashes, then grow Waltham (OG) . This variety is an AAS winner that was bred at the Waltham Extension Station in suburban Boston in the 1960s and is the most grown butternut squash in the US. It makes 5-pound plus fruits on long vines, and usually produces 4-5 fruits per plant. It you want something a little smaller, we are offering a variety bred by Johnny's Seeds, Waldo PMR (OG) . This makes 5 to 6 fruits per plant also, and they weigh 3 to 4 pounds each, and they have a small seed cavity. We were hesitant to give up on Metro PMR, but Waldo has about the same size fruit, has strong plants that are disease resistant, and importantly it comes from an organic seed. Waldo has powdery mildew resistance (if you see PMR on any seed variety it means powdery mildew resistance). Butterbaby (OG) is a true mini butternut squash, weighing an average of 1 pound per squash and Johnny's says that it produces up to 15 fruit per plant. They have the traditional butternut shape and color. The flavor is good and is ideal for a meal with two servings.
We offered a new variety last year called Black Futsu. It is an heirloom variety from Japan. The outside is ribbed and bumpy and starts black-green and ends up orange buff. You must see this unique squash to appreciate it. It is interesting and attractive. The inside is golden yellow, and the fruit have a nutty flavor. It is good baked, roasted, fried, and pureed. Please try these squashes. The flavor is awesome.
For Delicata, we have FEDCO's Zeppelin Delicata (OG) . These are great tasting little squashes. They weigh 1 pound and can yield several fruits per plant. You can tell they are ready to eat by their color. Let them become cream colored with dark green stripes. The skins are tender, so there is no need to peel them. This variety is from the famed vegetable breeder from the Pacific Northwest, Frank Morton.
Spaghetti is a favorite squash for many people. It is a reliable producer of squash almost every year. One tip from the FEDCO catalog is to make sure they are truly ripe before you cook them - let the skins get a deep gold, rather than a pale yellow. The squash texture becomes like pasta when it is cooked.
Blue Ballet (OG) squash is a small version of the old New England favorite Blue Hubbard. Blue Hubbard squash pie is delicious. It has a special spicy flavor and is excellent topped off with some whipped cream! Each fruit weighs about 4-6 pounds. One of the benefits of this smaller variety is that they are much easier to cut open than the standard large Blue Hubbard. Also, the fruit are sweet and tender. At 5 pounds each fruit, it is not a challenge to use up the whole squash compared to the 15-pound standard Blue Hubbard squash. It is not as easy to cut into these squash as it is to open most other varieties, but it is easier than a full-sized Blue Hubbard.
Lastly, we are offering Winter Sweet (OG) . This is a light gray Kabocha type squash (from the same squash family as Buttercup). Kabocha squash have become popular with farmers and gardeners because it is a reliable producer in the garden and the flavor is outstanding. The squash is large (4-5 pounds) and makes 3-4 fruits per plant. The interior is orange which cooks up dry and sweet. Its flavor is at its best from 2 to 5 months after harvest. The Kabocha squashes are known for their long storage capability! You could say they combine the taste of a Buttercup squash and the storage quality of a Butternut squash. That is a great combination.
Balloon Flower. Florist Blue is a beautiful flower. Emma says the buds look more like Christmas lights than little balloons before they pop open. Either way, the deep blue is a beautiful color. They bloom for a couple of months in the summer. They have sturdy stems that make a nice cut flower. They may benefit from growing next to another flower that they can lean on for support.
Bee Balm. Bee Balm is a nice perennial that will spread a little bit in the garden. It is a favorite for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The colors of Panorama Mix are magenta, pink and lavender. It is a nice garden bed flower and is a good cut flower. The plants will grow three feet tall.
Blue Flax. Prairie Flax is an amazing little flower. It is the epitome of optimism; they make brand new blue flowers every day. Short plant (12" tall) makes a nice addition to a flower bed. It likes full sun and can handle drought.
Butterfly Weed and Persian Catmint. Persian Catmint grows to about one foot tall and fills out. It is good filler for a rock garden. It is a member of the mint family, but ours seem to stay in place and are not invasive. The soft gray-green leaves are pretty, and they are topped with small prolific blue-lavender flowers. Catmint blooms from mid-May to June or even longer. It is recommended to plant Persian Catmint along with Butterfly Weed. Butterfly Weed provides a splash of bright orange flowers on large 2'x2' plants. It has a tall upper story and needs something below it.
Campanula. (aka Bellflower) This is a new perennial for us this year (2021) and the variety is Blue Clips. The plant grows to about 12" high and the masses of nodding beautiful azure-blue flowers are another 8" above that. It is considered very hardy and easy to grow. Best in full sun, will also do well in part-shade. Blooms heaviest in June and July but will last until October if spent flowers are deadheaded. At some point, you can cut it to the ground in late winter/early spring to rejuvenate the plant.
Columbine. We have McKanna Giants Mix columbine. This is a classic variety that is an AAS winner. It has large flowers in a wide range of colors from white to pink to lavender/red. Columbine is always a welcome sight. It comes into bloom early in the season before most other flowers are in bloom. Hummingbirds enjoy the flowers too. Columbine will flower the second year after planting and the plants usually will last in the garden for a long time. We had slow sales of Columbine for a few years and now it seems to be making a comeback! It is well worth a spot in the garden. Even after the flowers are done blooming for the season, the foliage is beautiful all the way through to fall.
Coreopsis. Early Sunrise makes golden-yellow flowers that bloom from early summer until fall. This variety won the AAS award when it was introduced. It blooms earlier than most Coreopsis. The flowers attract beneficial insects like lady bugs and lacewings. It is a dense plant that fills the garden with color. Coreopsis is trouble-free and easy to grow. In a couple of years, you can divide the plants and spread them to other places in your garden. Although it is generally used as a garden flower, it is also good for cut flowers and bouquets.
Delphinium. Delphinium is a beautiful flower that blooms early in the summer. We are offering Magic Fountains Mix from Johnny's. The colors range from dark blue, sky blue, lilac, lavender, cherry and white. It is compact in size (grows 3 feet tall), so it does not have the same need for staking as many other extra-tall Delphinium varieties.
Echinacea. We have two varieties of Echinacea. First is Purple Coneflower, the classic variety that has been grown by gardeners since the 1700s. The colors range from pink to lavender to purple. The plants will grow about 3' tall. In the fall as things quiet down, small birds love to perch on the coneflower tops. Also, we have Cheyenne Spirit, an AAS winner that flowers the first year. The colors range from vivid red, orange, purple, scarlet, cream, yellow, to white. As it is a mix, we cannot predict which color any one plant will be.
Eryngium. This pretty flower is also known as Sea Holly. Blue Glitter has sturdy stems which make it a long-lasting cut flower. The flowers are kind of an electric blue. It can also be used as a dried flower for winter wreaths and bouquets. One article I read recommended "flash drying" them in the trunk of a car on a hot day for 24 hours. That preserves the color!
Forget Me Not. This lovely flower is a little bit of everything. Some consider it a short-live perennial. Others call it a biennial. While to others it is a vigorous self-sower that lasts for many years. Whatever category it best belongs in, it is a reliable plant that will make beautiful sky-blue flowers early in the season when few other flowers are in bloom. If you don't dead head the blooms, they will begin the process of self-sowing for the next year. Our variety is called Blue.
Gaillardia (aka Blanket Flower). It is a prairie native and as such is a low-maintenance plant and is drought tolerant and thrives in the sun. Butterflies love it. We have two varieties of Gaillardia. Burgundy has spectacular wine-red flowers that bloom throughout the latter half of summer. It makes nice cut flowers and is also pretty in the garden. The flowers are 3 to 4-inches on top of 2-3 feet tall plants This year (2021) we are adding a new Gaillardia, Arizona Sun. The flowers are a beautiful bicolor with red/orange centers and yellow edges. This variety is about 12" tall with a spread of 12". It is great for beds, containers, and landscape settings.
Heliopsis. Also known as False Sunflower. Heliopsis is a bright yellow daisy -like flower that blooms from mid-summer to fall. The variety is called Sunburst. It will be 18" tall the first year and eventually become 4' tall, taking up 3' of ground area. The foliage is variegated green, with the flowers sitting well on top. As of the moment (January 2021) seeds for this crop are not yet available from FEDCO for this year. But they are hopeful to have them soon and in time for us to plant them in the greenhouse to have nice plants for you by late May.
Maltese Cross. The variety is called Maltese Cross. This beautiful looking plant is loaded with beautiful flowers on top. Each flower is filled with tiny little blooms, each of which has a five-star arrangement of bright red flowers. The plants grow about 3 feet tall. It is a nice border plant and a good cut flower. The plants will live long in the garden. Each plant will spread in the garden and plants can be easily divided in spring or fall. From what I have read, in rich soil it will flop, so you may want to provide some support in the form of a stake or a natural support such as growing some shorter plants around it that will help keep it upright.
Shasta Daisy. Alaska is just a classic winner. Beautiful big white flowers stand up tall in the sun and say, "summer is here." They are popular because white goes with everything, they are easy to grow, and long lasting. They will make blooms for as many as three months and make a nice cut flower, but most people just leave them in the garden as part of nature's bouquet.
Sweet Pea. Most sweet peas are annual flowers that are well known. This sweet pea, Perennial Sweet Pea, is truly a perennial. It grows 6 feet tall. We have a 5' teepee-shaped crop support outside of one of our greenhouses, and each year this perennial sweet pea grows to fill it completely and then some. The flowers are the standard range of sweet peas: rose, white and pink. The blooms start in mid-summer and go through until fall. At the end of the year, remove the vines by trimming them close to the earth. Amazingly, they return year after year. It is a remarkably bountiful plant.
Sweet William. This is one of the nicest cut flowers of all time. Sweet William is generally one of the first flowers to bloom in the summer and provides stunning bouquets while we are waiting for our summer flowers to come into bloom. No matter what season it bloomed, it would be beautiful, with its pink, red, white and lavender. This variety, Double Choice Mix, from FEDCO, is likely to produce some blooms the first year and then by the second year, when the plant is really well established, it will be much more vigorous and produce loads of flowers. It is technically a biennial, but it is also a vigorous self-sower. Many Sweet William patches will last for 5 or 10 years.
Yarrow. Colorado Mix is perfect if you are looking for a perennial to fill up a bed or a mass border. It is independent-minded - it can spread quickly, does not suffer from neglect or drought, and wildlife do not seem to bother with it. The flowers are prolific and are gentle colors (rose, yellow, apricot, red and white).
Bacopa with its spreading plants and prolific little flowers is perfect for containers or hanging baskets. They can stand alone in a basket and they work great when mixed with other flowers. The Snowtopia has white flowers that are 2-6" tall and spread about 18-24". Bacopa is nice flower to mix with petunias in a basket.
Calibrachoa. This is the first series of Calibrachoa that is seed produced. We are offering Paradise Island (a mix of yellow, denim and rose) and Light Pink Blast (a bright light pink with rose red centers). Calibrachoa is a very popular flower and is also known as Million Bells. The plants are 8-12" tall and spread 10-14." They will look good by themselves in containers and baskets or used in combination with other flowers in large containers.
Coleus. Chocolate Mint is a beautiful Coleus that can handle sun and shade (most coleus prefer shade). This variety has chocolate-colored leaves with nice mint-green margins around the edge of each leaf. Each plant is bushy and makes a nice mound about 10-12". A few years ago, I saw a Chocolate Mint coleus in a large pot (whiskey barrel size) that was huge. They seemed to be a couple of feet tall and a couple of feet wide. I was amazed. We also have Watermelon, which is the classic Coleus with pink center and lime green edges.
Heliotrope (Marine) is a garden favorite because the serrated dark green leaves look great, the big clusters of blue flowers are beautiful, and most of all because it has a lovely aroma. Put a few of them together in a garden close to your porch or in a nearby window box and enjoy their scent when you sit down at the end of the day. Whether you are reading an old-fashioned book, the news of the day on your laptop, or just contemplating life, a beautiful garden fragrance will make it all the nicer. Heliotrope blooms all summer long and can handle sun or part-shade.
Larkspur. Larkspur is not only pretty but very functional. As a dried flower, it keeps summer going all year long. It is hard to imagine a winter without a few bouquets of dried Larkspur, Statice and Gomphrena hanging from the rafter in our kitchen. Dark Blue QIS is indigo blue with tall spires which are good for cutting. Larkspur will bloom in the garden for months and the flowers will continue until a hard frost.
Lisianthus. This is one of the most beautiful cut flowers. It has become a favorite for home gardeners and is a staple for commercial cut flower growers. People like Lisianthus for many reasons: they are beautiful (the flowers look like a rose), there are various colors available, the plants are sturdy, the cut flowers have long stems, and they last a long time in a vase. The only drawback to Lisianthus is that it is very tricky to germinate and once they do germinate they grow very slowly in the early stage of their life (they take a long time, 3 months, to go from seed to having a plant that is big enough to put in the garden). Once the plant is big enough to put in the garden, they grow well. They are native to the prairie and they like warmth and steady water, but not overwatering. We have three colors: Blue Picotee (white with dark blue outer rim swirls), Red and Pink.
Morning Glory. We usually plant our purple, red and blue morning glories around our bird feeder for the summer. It is interesting to watch how the different colors take turns stealing the show and sometimes multiple colors are in bloom at the same time. Usually they only bloom in the morning and the blooms close at lunchtime, but on a very cloudy/rainy day they happily stay in bloom all day. Grandpa Ott's (OG) is the first morning glory to bloom in the season and continues to bloom for a long time, while the plant continues to grow in height to 8' tall. This heirloom variety is spectacular. It has violet-blue flowers with magenta veins. Clarke's Heavenly Blue is the classic morning glory that really takes over the show at the later stages of summer. The volume of flowers is impressive, and the blue color is delightful. For red morning glory seeds we have Sunrise Serenade, an heirloom variety that is cerise/ruby-rose flowers. The Giant White Moonflower is different from the other morning glory varieties. The seed is quite different, and the early leaves look like something from the moon, although the large white flowers are truly like all morning glory flowers. Moonflower is quite popular in the southern US, and in the tropics, moonflower is grown as a perennial. For us in the north, it is recommended to enjoy them near the deck or porch and wait for the fragrant flowers to bloom in the evening. Lastly, we have a new variety called Grandpa's Carnival (OG) , a cross between Grandpa Ott and Carnival of Venice (a kaleidoscope of rose, lavender and cream, some solids, mostly variegation like spokes on a wheel with the spokes being the lavender and rose against a cream background).
New Guinea Impatiens. There was a lot of concern among lovers of impatiens about the arrival of Impatiens Downy Mildew in 2012. It completely wiped out many crops, not just in New England, but across the US and around the globe. Since then, the disease has been here and there as opposed to wiping out the entire crop in the region. The disease is a problem for regular Impatiens (var. Walleriana). Gardeners who have relied on impatiens for many years are looking for alternatives. Among the many potential recommendations are Coleus, Begonias and New Guinea Impatiens that grow well in the shade, and Morning Glory, Lobelia and Salvia as part-shade substitutes. We Divine Scarlet Red. The first generation of New Guinea Impatiens was large orange/scarlet flowers. In the past twenty years, there has been a lot of research into developing new varieties of New Guinea Impatiens, and many new colors are now available from seed. These new varieties come in a variety of new colors and the plants do well in the sun or the shade. One thing to consider is that these plants are 12" tall and will spread 12", so you won't need as many plants to fill a bed as you would with traditional impatiens. One plant from a 4" pot transplanted into a 10" pot on your porch will provide color all summer long. They are amazingly hardy plants and very beautiful.
Petunia and Bacopa. We normally would offer Healing Waters, however that variety is not available this year. So, we are growing each of the three varieties that make up the Healing Waters individually. We will put one of each in you 4" pot. The three flowers are Easy Wave Violet Petunia, Shock Wave Denim Petunia and Blue Bacopa.
Petunia Fuseables. We are offering Blueberry Lime Jam Fuseable this year. This is made up of Sophisticata Lime Green and Dreams Midnight. What is a Fuseable? A lot of seeds now are available in pellets. They essentially take the seed and air blast a little clay around it so that individual seeds are easier to see and handle. Some seeds like petunia are so small (there are some 25,000 seed per ounce - compare that with about 3,000 pepper seeds per ounce and about 100 green bean seeds per ounce), that they are a challenge to evenly plant in flats. A Fuseable is when they take two or more seeds and pellet them together. Each pellet has one seed of each variety. Also, the fact that the plants grow up in the same pot helps make the two plants blend nicely together, so that the ultimate appearance in the hanging basket or container is balanced. Fuseables are great for stand-alone color combinations in baskets and barrels.
Petunia (Waves). The wave petunias are still among the most popular flowers. Why? For a few reasons: they fill up a large area of a garden bed or a hanging basket/container, the flowers are beautiful, they are reliable bloomers, and they do not require a lot of work (other than consistent watering). We Purple Wave, which will grow about 6 inches tall. These plants will spread and spread up to a couple of feet in a circle in total. Also, we have Tidal Silver Wave, which will grow over a foot tall. This is an ideal plant to use in combination with the other Waves in a container or basket. The Tidal Silver Wave will stand up in the middle of the container and give the basket loft. You can plant the other colors around the edge of the pot or basket. The color is more silvery-white/pale lavender. The color goes well with other flowers.
Rudbeckia. is a favorite flower for gardens. They are beautiful and easy to take care of. The plants are sturdy and do not need staking. They will usually bloom starting in mid-summer. Cherry Brandy plants are less than two feet tall and the flowers are a beautiful cherry-red. Johnny's Seeds calls them a tender perennial. Also, we offer Indian Summer, which makes large 4-7" gold flowers (gold petals with brown centers). They make great cut flowers. The plants are a little bit over two feet tall. These are also considered tender perennials. We also have Cherokee Sunset Mix. These big 4-5" blooms will produce all summer long. The colors are yellow, orange or bronze. With a mix, it is uncertain which one will be in any 4" pot. If you like that range of colors, it is worth a try. In general, whether Rudbeckia will survive over the winter will depend on the weather. We had a couple of trays of Rudbeckia seedlings that spent the winter on the ground right next to a greenhouse. All the snow for the winter slid off the greenhouse on top of the trays. We had forgotten about them. In the spring we found them underneath 5 feet of snow. They all survived. Maybe the snow acted like a blanket!
Runner Beans. (Scarlet) These seeds are the total opposite of Fuseables. Each seed is big enough to use as a piece to move around the Monopoly board. The runner bean is aptly named for the 6 to 12 foot running vines that each plant produces. In addition, the plant has several good uses. First, beautiful red flowers attract hummingbirds. Second, you can plant a row of runner beans in the ground alongside your porch, and with the help of netting, create a wall of living shade to keep out the afternoon sun. Third, FEDCO seed catalog says that people in Central America, where this plant originated from, eat the starchy roots. Fourth, the bean pods can be eaten before they get too big and apparently are the main reason that runner beans are grown in the United Kingdom.
Zinnia. Zowie! Yellow Flame is a special zinnia. Each flower is bi-color that changes color as it blooms, from magenta-pink to an orange-red with yellow. The flowers are 4" big and the plants are two to three feet tall. It was a recent AAS winner. It is unique and worth adding to the flower garden. Unfortunately, the seeds are very expensive and so we can only offer it in 4" pots.
If you have any comments or suggestions about varieties, please drop us a note. We appreciate your observations about how vegetaables and flowers grow in your garden and suggestions of the varieties that you like. So many of our varieties we grow because of your suggestions.
Dave and Linda
|Last Updated: 01/21/2021 © Copyright 2021, Good Earth Farm Developed by The Data Collaborative|