Wednesday, February 19, 2014

cherry tomatoes of many colours

Folks here on Mayne Island often ask me what my favourite cherry tomatoes are and if they can get plants for their gardens from me in the springtime.
So here are my favourites (for now).  These are the varieties that I'll be growing in my own garden this year.  I've linked them to where I got my seed, in case you don't live near me or if you'd like to start your own seeds. If you live near me and would like to get plants from me, I expect to have some available for sale end of May.

from left to right:  
not pictured but always grown in my garden: Tumbler for a nice rosy red.
And this year, I'm trying Fahrenheit Blues for the first time.  I'm excited to see if I can get a nice dark blue-purple cherry tomato to add to the mix!
All of these except for Tumbler are big indeterminate vining plants and need good support.  With a nice tall round remesh cage like the ones I use, they can do very well in large pots.
And in case you'd like to know, Tumbler and Sungold are hybrid seeds....all the rest are open-pollinated.  If you'd like to find an open-pollinated golden tomato to replace Sungold, there are some options but I think sometimes there's a place for hybrids and Tumbler is a really good choice, especially on our cool west coast where it can be a challenge to ripen a red tomato early.  If you'd prefer a big vining red cherry instead of a determinate like Tumbler there are good choices for that too.
And in case you're interested in getting clear about the difference between open-pollinated, hybrid and genetically modified seed this is a good read to start with.

Cherry tomato seedlings in the hoop house a couple years ago just after being potted up into their first pots....that's Jamie in the background there, she helped me pot these all.

...look at how big and strong those plants got in their 4" pots in just 3 weeks!

....and here they are again, potted into their larger litre pots....ready for sale!

I was really surprised by Green Doctors. It was delicious, so flavourful and tomatoey with such a nice texture too.  It was my big favourite last year.  But then again, they're all favourites.

Delicious sliced in half (so the juices mix when tossed) with olive oil and feta cheese....and sunflower shoots!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

remembering summer and getting ready for another one!

February's almost over and very soon, there'll be less time in my days for desk and paper work.  In a little more than a week it'll be March!
In 2013, I only made 2 posts on this blog, whoa!!....and I learned that when I suddenly stop posting on my blog, some of the folks who follow regularly will worry and think that perhaps I've quit gardening or even that I'm not well.  oops! not so good.  Last year, I had to devote my time to the real nitty gritty of what needs to be done in the garden to make it what I want it to be...
......and what it seems to want to be too!  There was a lot of figuring out to do.

  Looks like I didn't have time to take many photos either since when I went back to look in my albums, I found a very small and incomplete collection. 

Anyway, in case you'd like to see, here are a few things that went on at the garden last year:

Shoots, of course!  Lots and lots of shoots!
sunflower shoots on their shelves, ready for harvesting
pails of pea seed soaking before planting
Emily planting up a sea of pea shoot grow trays in the greenhouse
endless harvesting and packaging!  We really produced a whole lot of these last year.

...and I worked on beautiful flowers for summer-time weddings on Mayne Island too
bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages for 
Amanda and Nathan's wedding at Ag Hall, Mayne Island.
photos: Jean Cueta 

wedding table arrangements in process at the garden
and specially ordered flower arrangements.....
made with flowers from my garden and delivered
to welcome some Mayne Islanders back home
a beautiful peony, pea vine and lady's mantle  'thank you'  bouquet from someone in Victoria to someone on Mayne Island.
That's Sara holding it, she's one of the wwoofers who came to experience life in the garden last summer.
She's from Tokyo. 
Clementine also 'wwoofed' in the garden last summer.  She's from Brittany, France and here she's making mayonnaise in the garden kitchen.
....and lots of other growing things.....
a big potato crop growing in big pots 
yummy food for us too:  new potatoes with dill and garlic chives
flavourful and juicy cherry tomatoes in many different colours, one of my favourite summer-time things to grow...and to eat!
Our new pup's first summer in the garden: what an adventure. Here I'm teaching her how to lie beside the parsley patch, instead of on top of it (which she prefers).
coming home on the ferry after a trip to town to make deliveries and get supplies....a beautiful commute
So in January, I created a new Facebook page, just for Christina's can follow along there, if you don't find much here.  It's way easier to do quick posts there when I'm busy...but I do hope to be here more often this year too.  
We're designing a new website and blog with a shop too!!  Exciting! It might take forever tho!  When looking around my blog stats a while ago, I saw that this post on my golden hops vine, (from almost exactly three years ago) is the most visited post on my blog, thousands of visits (amazing).  This post  and  this post  both on the tumbler cherry tomatoes that I sell as plants to other home gardeners were a close second place  and this post on how I grow pea shoots in the winter-time is third.  This post on mouse melons was fourth.....I'm not sure what all this means but I suppose it's sort of interesting.

So the ornamental cherry tree outside our house is blooming right now and I sure do know what that means:  seed starting time for the coming summer season is NOW!