It’s that time of year! And last weekend many of you were here to gather your summer vegetable starts. Are you looking for a specific variety of Peppers and/or Tomatoes? Here are the varieties of pepper and tomato that are arriving later this week, around Thursday or Friday (May 12/13).
A few of our NEW PEPPERS
60 days green, 80 days color, Open-pollinated
For eating fresh by the handful, stuffed for hors d’oeuvres or pickled. The large seed cavity of each sweet, crunchy, squat 1.5”-wide pepper is perfect for stuffing. Upright 18-24″ plants are excellent for decorative containers. Each plant produces a single color of pepper, purple, gold, or red.
What a glorious spring! Having been blessed with generous snow and rain, the land is bursting with energy, greener than green, and flowering in kaleidoscopic exuberance! Migratory birds have been arriving or passing though our region this month, offering sightings of avian treasures like Lazuli Buntings and Western Tanagers, not to mention the hummingbirds. We do live in a wondrous world!
THE VEGETABLE REPORT
The bad news is that last week’s small delivery of tomato starts froze when the wind blew open the back door of our greenhouse in the middle of the night.
The good news is that the next 38 flats will be ready for sale on Friday! (and there will be many more becoming available through April and May). This week’s tomato starts include:
Though commonly associated with culinary traditions of the Southeastern US, collards originated in Europe, along with kale, cabbage etc., and are easy to grow in cooler climates, too.
Grow collards in full sun (for fastest growth), or part shade. Give them plenty of space, 18” apart. Collards appreciate moist, fertile soil with plenty of organic matter (compost) and applications of compost tea.
We are here for you! You’re in the high desert/steppe now, with short growing seasons, sudden temperature changes, unpredictable precipitation, low humidity, drying winds, alkaline soils that are low in organic matter and nitrogen, hot summers and cold winters. Despite these challenges, gardens can thrive here, and be productive, rewarding and beautiful!
Our gardens can support us by providing beauty, nutrient-dense food and plant medicine, and shelter from temperature and weather extremes. At the same time, our gardens can give us an opportunity for nurturing that goes beyond our own garden plants, supporting our entire local ecosystem, including our essential insects, birds, native plants and other wildlife.
Basil is one of the great culinary pleasures of summer, and it’s definitely NOT TOO LATE to plant Basil and enjoy a good crop! Basil plants are beautiful, grow equally well in the ground or in pots, thrive in hot weather, provide a continuous, bounteous crop, and Basil’s many different flavors are essential to a variety of distinctive cuisines. It can be used fresh, dried, or frozen in oil or as pesto. Though basil leaves lose most of the aromatic oils when dried, we have still found that basil dried from your garden is so much more flavorful than commercial dried basil.
ALL of our Basil plants are organically grown!
Sow Fall Crops and be ready for the 2022 growing season! We’re bringing in fresh seeds, packed for 2022, from our local Botanical Interests Seed Company, and should have them on display sometime this Thursday. Most of these seeds are certified organic.
Now is a great time to plant seeds for fall crops such as spinach, lettuce, mesclun, kale, swiss chard, arugula, mustard greens, and watermelon radish. Sow seeds this fall for mache, which will provide tasty salad greens in late winter, before the more conventional spring greens are ready. Fall sowing is also ideal for hardy, drought-tolerant annual flowers like borage, California poppies, cornflower, larkspur, love-in-a-mist, breadseed poppies, and Shirley poppies.
We’ve passed the average last frost date but know that unexpected cold snaps can still occur. Just as we need to add another layer of clothing during cold snaps, our warm-season veggie starts also need additional insulation as the spring season and soil slowly begin to warm up. This layering can come in several forms, each with their own advantages and applications: low-tech overturned plant pots, row cover anchored over wire or plastic pipe frame (as illustrated in the “Hardening-Off” portion of this article), and Solar Caps.
Because of their versatility and re-usability, Solar Caps have been one of our favorite garden tools for over a decade.
Some veggies seem to shy away from the limelight, flourishing underground to provide a surprising, beautiful, and nutritious surprise later in the season. Growing root vegetables is generally easy, and can be a fun way to engage children in gardening. In addition, mountain gardeners often find that root veggies thrive in their cooler conditions.
Once planted, root veggies do not like to be disturbed and therefore are best planted by seed. (We do sell Bull’s Blood Beets as a starts, but these are generally grown for their greens.) We have Botanical Interests, Masa, and Seed Savers Exchange seeds for many root veggies including:
COOL SEASON VEGGIES
We have a Fantastic Selection, too many to list!
Wild Arugula, Astro, (spring), Ice-Bred (fall)
Fiesta, Nutribud, Leaf Broccoli, Spigariello di Liscia Leaf Broccoli, Aspabroc
Yellow Finn, Purple Majesty, Harvest Moon, and Norland Dark Red.
Patterson Red, Redwing, Walla Walla, Ailsa Craig, Red Long of Tropea, Red Geneva, Gladstone, Borrettano, Dakota Tears, Bianco di Maggio.
ALSO, Leeks and Shallots.
JERSEY KNIGHT (roots, 5 per bundle)
All male hybrid with big spears. Does not make seed, so doesn’t become weedy. Best selection for dense clay soils. Very productive and disease resistant. Hardy to Zone 2.
PURPLE PASSION (roots, 5 per bundle)
Beautiful deep burgundy-colored spears with high sugar content, delicious, tender, less fibrous, great in raw salads.
72 days, F-1 hybrid
Early, dependable Italian-style eggplant, mild, creamy-fleshed fruits averaging 1 lb., with glossy black skin.
A FEW of our NEW TOMATOES: offering 75+ varieties in 2022.
50-60 days, Hybrid, Dwarf Indeterminate
Bred specifically for container growing, this dwarf vining tomato is quite early, high-yielding and, best of all – the 1” fruits are sweet and tasty. Johnny’s Seeds considers it the best cherry tomato for patio containers. Dwarf plants stay a manageable size, to 3-4’ tall, with healthy green foliage, and are easily tamed with a tomato cage or trellis.
Even though we are about to receive our biggest snowstorm of this winter thus far, you can still make great progress on your garden by starting seeds indoors or even outside if your garden is prepared and you’re quick and can sow them tomorrow morning! You can also plant our hardy perennials, vines, shrubs and trees that have overwintered outdoors ahead of the storm. And our Onion plants – they’re very cold-hardy, and the earlier they’re planted, the larger their bulbs at harvest time! And, if you can plant in a cold-frame, or under a low tunnel of sheet plastic or Row Cover Fabric, you can plant our spring vegetable starts! Heading varieties like Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower will give you
We have been getting questions from customers about some of the vegetables in their gardens. Here are questions and answers about squash pollination and the many uses of fennel.
Q: Why did the first fruits of my squash plants fail to enlarge and ultimately turn yellow and fall off the plant?
A: Squash and other crops in the Cucurbitaceae family (known as Cucurbits), like cucumbers, melons, gourds and pumpkins, bear separate male flowers and female flowers on each plant.
How to maximize your output
Successional Planting is the continuous planting of crops following the harvesting of another planting. Depending on the plant, this can mean one annual planting for a long-season species, or multiple plantings for short season species. This process will help your garden to be as productive as possible, which is important in our short, highly fluctuating growing seasons. Our friend, and occasional class instructor, Tracey Parrish, has developed a comprehensive Successional Planting chart that she has generously permitted us to share with you. —Thank you, Tracey!
In her document, Succ. planting-most updated, Tracey outlines Colorado’s Five Seasons, gives you ideas for succession plantings, and then provides detailed planting charts for root vegetables, peas/beans, herbs, greens/salads, brassicas, onions, and summer crops. This five-page document is a wealth of information! Succ. planting-most updated
(and Winter Squash, Canteloupe, Honeydew, and Pumpkin, too!)
Do you love the sweet fruits and vegetables of late summer as much as we do? Well then, PLANT THEM NOW! We’ve got the heat now, which they thrive on. To develop those natural sugars, these crops take more time to mature than many other veggies, mostly between 70 and 100 days from seeding. We’ve saved you some time by growing starts, LOTS of them, and most of the varieties we’ve chosen will mature relatively early.
All are open-pollinated unless otherwise indicated. Our selection includes:
80 days, Open-Pollinated, Indeterminate
A consistently great sauce tomato. This heirloom variety from Wisconsin’s Amish community produces large, long, meaty, and juicy 8-12 oz. red fruits on vigorous plants and is one of the few paste tomatoes that also taste great fresh. The juiciness makes a thinner sauce – cook down for a thicker, super-sweet sauce. Excellent for use for salads, canning, pastes, sauces, drying and roasting! Water evenly and add bio-available calcium to prevent blossom-end rot. Amish Paste is part of Slow Foods US Ark of Taste, a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. By growing Ark varieties, you help ensure they remain in production and on our plates.
This year’s tomato tasting was a great success, with a total of 41 tomato varieties present over the 3-hour event!
Participants brought in some wonderful new varieties this year, including Pink Bumble Bee Cherry, Gajo de Melon, and Blue Cream Berries. We always take people’s votes into account when deciding which tomato varieties to carry, so look for the most popular varieties from this year and previous years when you come to buy your organic tomato starts next spring at Harlequin’s Gardens. Every year we grow 80+ great varieties for all kinds of uses and growing conditions! A huge thank-you to Growing Gardens for providing our the location, helping us publicize the event, and for bringing us some fabulous volunteers. Thank you also to the volunteers of Slow Food Boulder County. We couldn’t have done it without you!
2019 Taste of Tomato Vote Tally
This year’s Taste of Tomato was a blast! We love the new location at Growing Gardens’ Barn, with its’ beautiful view of the Flatirons, easy access, and wonderful staff. The tasting featured 44 different varieties of tomatoes, with Aunt Ruby’s German Green winning the greatest number of votes. Participants brought in some wonderful new varieties this year, including Brad’s Atomic Grape, Thornburn’s Terracotta, and Indigo Cherry. Look for the most popular varieties from this year and previous years when you come to buy your organic tomato starts next spring at Harlequin’s Gardens. Every year we grow 80+ great varieties for all kinds of uses and growing conditions!
Here are a few harvest guidelines for summer crops:
Eggplants should be picked while they are still firm and glossy. Once their skins have become dull, they will be softer and have dark seeds, which can spoil the flavor. Eggplants don’t keep long, so use them soon after harvest.
Bell peppers and sweet frying peppers are sweetest when allowed to ripen fully to their mature color, yellow, orange, red, purple or mahogany. Bell peppers are often picked green, but their flavor will be a lot more pungent and they may be more challenging to digest.
Some of the hot peppers are traditionally enjoyed green – poblano, mulatto, jalapeno, Anaheim-type, while most of the rest are allowed to ripen to red (cherry, habanero, cayenne, lanterna, any chile dried for a ristra, etc.) orange (Bulgarian Carrot), or dark brown (Pasilla).
Food safety is one of the most critical issues of our time. What we eat is directly related to our health, and health care has a direct impact on our personal and national economies. Major chemical companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Dupont have introduced 86,000 synthetic chemicals into our environment, food, drugs, cosmetics etc and most of them have never been tested for toxic effects on human health and the environment. Since the mid 1990s, some of these same companies have been filling our grocery stores and feed stores with genetically engineered food products which may be causing serious health problems but are being approved by our government without safety testing.
What is the big deal about heirloom tomatoes? Hasn’t modern science brought us big improvements with hybrids that are bigger fruiting, higher yielding, resistant to many diseases and low in acid and high in vitamins? Yes, there are many hybrids that do boast these benefits. However the varieties that have earned the designation of “heirloom” have been treasured and saved through many years of growing and eating. Presumably they have endured for two main reasons: the success of the plants through many varying seasons and locations, and the big reason, FLAVOR. It was probably in reference to heirloom tomatoes that the song was written “Only two things that money can’t buy: true love and home-grown tomatoes.” There is something about that genuine tomato flavor that has made the tomato America’s most popular vegetable, and the tomatoes in the supermarkets don’t even come close.
Even if the economy doesn’t drive us to foraging in the wild, there are some native fruits that are good to know, to eat and to grow at home.
Wild Plum, Prunus americana, is blooming all over Boulder and much of the Front Range as I write. It is easy to identify with its early spring clouds of white blossoms and waves of sweet perfume that carry across the yard or the ditch. It is quite happy in a ditch where it gets a little extra water, and is not at its best in very dry conditions where it will grow more as a shrub than a tree.
Parsley is not merely a garnish. Besides its wide-ranging multicultural culinary uses, it has, like many culinary herbs, significant nutritional and medicinal values and important roles in the garden. And in Ancient Greece, parsley was used to crown heroes. Every part of the plant is useful.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is an attractive, very cold-hardy biennial herb in the Apiaceae (bee-flower) family. It is available in flat-leaf and curled-leaf forms, both of which have rich, glossy green serrated leaves on slender stalks. In the first year, parsley continually produces a mass of foliage, which can be freely harvested as needed.
WATER: Most vegetables need a consistent, generous supply of water. Use drip irrigation, or use overhead sprinkler early in the day.
SOIL: Organic matter (humus) feeds vital soil organisms that feed plants, improves soil texture, moisture-retention, & aeration. We recommend incorporating compost to a depth of ~8”. Note: Almost all of our soil amendments are produced locally.