2013 Varieties, Preliminary

With the first two waves of seeds planted already, I’m well behind in updating lists and ordering information.  Pending crop failure, here are the tomato plant varieties that are confirmed for availability this spring.  If you’re looking for something which is not on this list, now is the time to ask for it.

Tomatoes

Pepper will be listed in a forthcoming post.

Onions are here!

We’re a week or two before I normally plant onions here in the Tri Cities, and once again I have onion plants for sale from Dixondale Farms.  These healthy starts have worked very well for me in previous years, which is why I offer them to you.

As last year, they are $2 for a bunch of 30, or $3 for a bunch of 60.  I have lots of the Walla Walla sweets, of course, but I also have a few others that have been recommended to me.

Walla Walla sweet onions in July

Ailsa Craig

Said to be one of the largest growing varieties available, this is an open pollinated sweet onion.

Copra

Hybrid yellow storage onion.  Not as sweet as a sweet onion, but sweeter than most storage onions.

Red Zeppelin

Hybrid, full flavored red storage onion. These were early and very good quality in my garden last year.

Redwing

Sharp red storage onion, highly recommended, but new to me.

Walla Walla

Large, open pollinated sweet onion.  This one needs no introduction.

Email at onions@34.215.132.115 to request delivery in Richland (Friday afternoon or Saturday evening this week) or to arrange to pick them up in South Richland.  Or, you may call (509) 713-2010 and leave a message.

Seeds

The first wave of 850 seeds for the new year were sown yesterday.  Many exciting things coming.  Here’s how things are shaping up:

  • Dwarf Varieties AvailableI’m planting the indeterminate dwarf tomatoes early this year in order to sell them at a more mature size.  I was very impressed by these little plants last year, which do well in pots, standard tomato cages, or square foot gardens.  Unlike determinate tomato plants which remain small and deliver all of their crop at once, these continue to produce tomatoes all season, while remaining small and manageable.  I have all of the varieties released by the Cross Hemisphere Dwarf Project that I could get my hands on, plus a few heirlooms like New Big Dwarf, Dwarf Champion Improved, and the diminutive, determinate cherry Tiny Tim, which has been a regular customer favorite.
  • I’m also planting the peppers earlier and growing them hotter to give them more size than the puny things I grew last year.  I’m changing the tagging, using red tags for hot peppers and green tags for sweet.  Hopefully that will clear up some of the confusion.  I have
    • red, orange, and yellow bells
    • a sweet cherry pepper
    • Giant Aconcagua, which is one of my children’s favorites
    • Jimmy Nardello, a very sweet frying pepper
    • Jalapeño M, a very mild, though not heatless jalapeño.
    • Aji Dulce, a very mild habanero that ripens red
    • Habanero, the classic orange flamethrower
    • Bhut Jolokia, the Ghost Chile, currently the Guiness record holder for heat.
    • a beautiful, variegated Fish pepper plant, often planted as an ornamental, though edible (and hot).
Red Zeppelin onion culls, excellent in salads early in the season.
  • I’ve committed to providing the following onions, starting March 3rd until sold out.  As last year, $2/30 and $3/60.  The bundles were very generously packed last year, with up to 80 plants in a 60 plant bundle.
    • Walla Walla Sweet, of course
    • Ailsa Craig, a very large sweet heirloom
    • Copra, which was quite popular last year
    • Red Zeppelin, a big sweet red
    • Redwing, totally new to me
  • There are 120 varieties of tomato on the grow list this year, which I’ll publish as soon as it’s finalized.  With a new hoophouse to provide better spring weather protection, and several process improvements, we’re on track to have over 3000 plants for sale at the end of April, with a final production wave showing up mid-May.  Larger, stronger, healthier plants than last year is the goal.  And everything tagged and separated ahead of time, thanks to a change in the transplant process.  Still no chemicals, no pesticides, no substances that are not organic.
  • More exciting announcements to come!  Stay tuned, and let me know if you have any feedback from last year, or there’s anything you’re looking for.  I’m paul@34.215.132.115.

Preparing for 2012

December is the month of seed preparation and orders.  I’ve reviewed the information I collected in 2011 on which varieties did well and what kind of feedback I got from people who grew them out.  Despite the bad weather and poor condition of some of my inventory, there were some good success stories:

Kosovo was the most productive variety in the gardens of many people that I spoke to.  It had beautiful, large, flavorful tomatoes and really made a place for itself in my standard lineup.  I was very impressed by this large heart shaped pink.

Opalka continues to impress.  I also grew several other paste tomatoes, including Heidi and Sarnowski Polish Plum, but Opalka was the one I heard about from new customers.  All three of these will be in the standard varieties again for 2012.

Sungold is always a winner for cherry tomatoes.  Nothing beats this unique, fruity, sweet sensation.  Everyone ought to try this one.  It will convert even non-tomato lovers.

Dwarf Tomatoes from the Cross-Hemisphere Dwarf breeding project proved to be very robust.  Tasmanian Chocolate, Rosella Purple, and Dwarf Beryl Beauty were strong growers that produced large sized tomatoes in containers, with a little support.  I’ve pulled in seed from all of the new dwarf releases from the project for 2012 and hope to do some comparison.

Peppers, especially the sweet ones, were very popular with customers, despite the small size of the plants I had available.  For 2012 I will have more varieties of sweets, but more importantly I will be starting them earlier, with more heat, to hopefully get better size on them.  Although I’ve been growing large numbers of tomato plants for over ten years, I had never grown so many pepper plants, and 2011 was a terrible year to start with its record cold spring.  I’ll also be back with more Bhut Jolokia Ghost Chiles, for the most adventurous heat loving fools (like me).

Onions, which I brought in on a whim, flew out the door so fast they were mostly spoken for on the day I announced them!  I can get them in again, at $3-4/bunch of 50, but I need to get a quantity order in soon.  Most of the varieties performed great for me, but I’d like to hear more from those who bought them.  I’m also going to take another run at seeding onions, on the advice of a couple local growers I spoke to.

Was there anything that did particularly well for you, or that you’d like to see me offer this year?  Let me know, here in the comments, or at feedback@34.215.132.115.  I’m looking forward to a great garden in 2012!

Update – New stuff

Up to date as of 4 June 2011.  Sold outs marked in line, additions immediately below, tomato list at right updated with current inventory.

  • Purple Tomatillo $1
  • Red Rubin Basil $2/4 pack
  • Icebox watermelon $1
  • Cantaloupe $1
  • Petunia Dolcissima Amaretto $1
  • Red Nasturtiums, $2/4 pack
  • Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet) assorted sizes $5-$40
  • elephant ears in gallon pots, assorted, $5

 

I have the following varieties of peppers, $1 each:

  • Chocolate bell pepper (sweet) Sold Out!
  • Red Cherry (sweet)
  • Giant Aconcagua (huge peppers, sweet)
  • Fooled You (heatless jalepeno) Sold Out!
  • Trinidad Perfume (mild habanero)
  • Habanero (very hot)
  • Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Chile (hottest known pepper)
 

All of the following are in one gallon pots, $5 each:

Alstroemeria – Pink
Alstroemeria – Purple

Third year from seed, the Alstroemeria are blooming now, and will have additional blooms through the year. They are a tender perennial which will require mulching in a protected spot if you wish to overwinter them in the ground.  Most of these are either pink or purple.  They like sun, but prefer cool roots, so do well with an eastern exposure.  Some people grow them in pots and bring them indoors during winter.

Red Abyssinian Banana (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’) is an ornamental banana often grown as an annual.  It grows very fast and large, becoming a dramatic, tropical specimen in the landscape.  These were started last year and have a strong root system.  They love water and respond well to compost and fertilizer, but are tolerant of a wide range of conditions.  They also have more limited root systems than other bananas and can be more easily grown in large pots.

Sold Out!

Variegated iris (I. pallida variegata) has striking white-lined leaves and beautiful blue flowers.  The other portion of the leaf changes through the year from soft blue to green.  These divisions are well rooted and many of them are about to bloom.  This variety of iris is very forgiving and can be transplanted any time of year.  I have grown it in both sandy and boggy soil, making it much more versatile than bearded varieties.  It rarely gets taller than 12″ or so.  Very hardy.

 

The price of growing your own food

For the last several years I have offered tomato plants for $1 each, which is easy to track and covers most of my expenses and overhead.  This year I considered whether to raise the price a bit to give me more slack in the budget, but I think I’m going to leave it at $1.

Understand that I have to pay tax out of this as well, so it’s really the best deal you’ll ever see on tomato plants.  I started this business to fill a need for heirloom plants, under-appreciated varieties, and local knowledge of growing requirements.  Price falls under the hope of making them as accessible as possible to people.  I want people to feel free to try new things and experiment.  I don’t want anything to get in the way of people being able to grow their own food.

I have great plans for this enterprise, dreams of an organization for providing plants and assistance, rather than making money.  I’m exploring organizational options, continued expansion, improved processes, and diversified products.  With your support, there’s a lot more to come.

Tomatoes available April 16th

It is still too early to put out unprotected tomatoes in our area–we had a good freeze just this morning.  But for those brave souls who are willing and able to protect their plants from freeze for a couple of weeks, I will have the following varieties of tomato available, as of Saturday, April 16th:

  • Aunt Ginny’s Purple
  • Beauty King
  • Gardener’s Delight
  • Green Doctors
  • Green Giant
  • Harbinger
  • Kosovo
  • Lucky Cross
  • Opalka
  • Persimmon
  • Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye
  • Sioux
  • Sungold (Hybrid)
  • White Queen

I will post updates as more varieties become available, with the majority being ready at the beginning of May.  Several special order varieties will become available in mid May.

Onion starts now available

It is onion planting time in the Tri Cities and I have onion plants for sale from Dixondale Farms.  They produce great starts, but all of this wet weather is making it challenging for me to keep them in good shape, so I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep them in stock.

They are $2 for a bunch of 30, or $3 for a bunch of 60.  I have lots of the Walla Walla sweets, of course, but I also have a few others that have been recommended to me.

Walla Walla sweet onions in July

Ailsa Craig   Sold Out!

Said to be one of the largest growing varieties available, this is an open pollinated sweet onion.

Copra Sold Out!

Hybrid yellow storage onion.  Not as sweet as a sweet onion, but sweeter than most storage onions.

Mars Sold Out!

Mild flavored hybrid red onion.  This is a classic, but may be discontinued next year (one of the strongest arguments against depending on hybrid varieties of any plant–the company can discontinue seed at any time).

Red Zeppelin   Sold Out!

Hybrid, full flavored red storage onion.

Walla Walla

Large, open pollinated sweet onion.  This one needs no introduction.

Email at onions@34.215.132.115 to request delivery in Richland (through Saturday, April 2nd, only) or to arrange to pick them up in South Richland.  Or, you may call (509) 713-2010 and leave a message.

 

 

2011 Season

I’m now finalizing plans for the 2011 grow out. In addition the varieties available for special order until March 15th, here is the preliminary list of tomatoes that will be available for sale, starting April 15th:

  • Beauty King
  • Black Cherry
  • Bloody Butcher
  • Chadwick Cherry
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Gardener’s Delight
  • Gardener’s Peach
  • Green Giant
  • Ildi
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast
  • Marianna’s Peace
  • Opalka
  • Persimmon
  • Sioux
  • Sungold
  • Tiny Tim
  • White Queen

This list is not complete.  I’m still working on the list of peppers, flowers, and other plants that will be ready at that time.

Tomato Plants are Ready!

All of this warm weather has readied my tomato plants sooner than expected. The last of them should be ready to go by this weekend. With that in mind, these are the varieties that are available, $1 per plant:

  • Kelloggs Breakfast Kelloggs Breakfast Tomatoes

    Large, orange tomato. Meaty, very juicy beefsteak with excellent flavor. Tomatoes can be one to three pounds each, 4-8”, on vigorous indeterminate vines. Larger tomato varieties take longer to start bearing, and then produce large quantities until frost. This is one of my favorites for everything from sandwiches to orange spaghetti sauce.

  • Ildi
    Yellow grape tomato. Early, flavorful, and prolific, this is a good alternative to the famous yellow pear tomato which I have such fond memories of as a child, but which I found bland, mushy, and prone to splitting as an adult.
  • Marianna’s Peace
    Large pink tomato. Dependable producer of one to two pound tomatoes with good, balanced flavor. Potato leaf foliage is less finely cut that typical tomato foliage. One of a class of excellent German pink tomatoes that deserve a spot in your garden.
  • Black Cherry
    Purple cherry tomato. Dark like the Cherokee Purple, in a typical cherry tomato size, with an added fruity zing. Unlike any tomato I’ve tried, and very addictive.
  • Gardener’s PeachGardener's Peach Tomato

    Small fuzzy pale yellow tomato. Known by various “Peach” names, this tomato has a fuzzy feel to it that is hardly noticeable when you actually eat it. These extremely juicy tomatoes are typically a bit larger than a golf ball and are some of my children’s favorites. Very productive throughout the season.

  • Azoychka – Sold Out!
    Medium yellow tomato. Ripens earlier than most, with a unique flavor described variously as mild or citrusy. A good slicer or salad variety.
  • Chadwick Cherry
    Red cherry tomato. Typical to large cherry size on vigorous, productive vines. The tomato isn’t as sweet as many of the common modern cherry tomatoes, but it has a very robust large tomato flavor that’s hard to find in such a small package these days.
  • White Queen
    White medium tomato. Yes, it’s really white, though it develops a yellow blush on the skin which helps determine ripeness. Makes a great pale tomato sauce and contrasts nicely when cut up with other varieties. This variety was selected for it’s stronger flavor relative to other white types.
  • Giant Green
    Ripe Green Tomatoes
    Ripe Green Tomatoes

    Large green tomato. A meaty beefsteak variety which stays green even when ripe. Like White Queen, it develops a yellow, even amber blush, especially on the blossom side, when it is ripe. Excellent flavor, one of my favorites. Also has potato leaf foliage.

  • Opalka
    Long red paste tomato. Looking like an elongated roma, almost pepper shaped, this variety has a stronger flavor than typical paste varieties.
  • Cherokee Purple
    Medium purple tomato. Darker than a typical red tomato, both in the skin and the flesh, this celebrated variety has an added flavor component that is ofter described as smoky or dark. Recommended.
  • Aunt Gertie’s Gold
    Large yellow tomato. One of the best yellow tomatoes available, with full flavor and texture. Potato leaf foliage.
  • Sungold (Hybrid)
    Sungold (Hybrid)
    Sungold (Hybrid)

    Orange cherry tomato. The only hybrid tomato variety I grow, Sungold is very sweet and very flavorful. Consistently a favorite of everyone I share it with.

  • Traveler
    Medium pink tomato. Also known as Arkansas Traveler, this round medium tomato is known for its performance in hot, sunny weather.
  • Sioux
    Medium red tomato. A beautiful round red tomato which continued to produce tomatoes for me through the heat of the summer last year, when all of the other large varieties took a break from setting fruit.
  • Brandywine OTV – Sold Out!
    Large red tomato. A descendant of the famous Brandywine lineage, this tomato is more productive and better suited to the heat than the others. Brandywines are renowned for their flavor.