Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cheerful Gloves....Dreary Weather

We made a trip to our nearest shopping city last Saturday and when we were at Costco, I spotted these garden gloves....which immediately jumped into our cart. :-)

Aren't they beautiful? Such bright and cheerful colors and designs, in an attractive package ....and five pairs for only $16.99!

I photographed the back of the package, for you lady gardeners, so you can read the details about each pair. (Click on the photo to enlarge) There are gloves here for every need! From left to right: Goatskin Leather/Spandex, Leather Palm, Nitrile Coated Knit, Latex Coated Knit, and Dotted Jersey. Yes, these were a good value, and cheerful indeed.

The weather, on the other hand, has been wet and dreary.....looks like I will need to be using those waterproof latex coated gloves above. Here you can see the low hanging clouds, and to the left of the greenhouse, my winter sown containers, of which about 2/3 are up and growing. I am just beginning to use the greenhouse for seed starting and growing on. I checked the ten day forecast yesterday and this is what it said:

1. Cloudy
2. Rain/Snow
3. Cloudy
4. Mostly Cloudy
5. Mostly Cloudy
6. Cloudy
7. Rain
8. Dreary - (sigh)
9. Rain,
10. Cloudy

So....I will be hoping those mostly cloudy days will be partly sunny. And that it will dry out enough to plant out my new flowers. I decided I didn't have enough early flowers for my color starved eyes, so I bought crocuses, primulas, and pansies. These should brighten things up until the sun decides to shine again. :-)


Your garden gloves take a beating when you're working in the yard. Sticky mud, grass stains, tree sap and other messy job residue cling to gloves, shortening their working lives and ruining their appearance. Here's an easy way to clean them: (except for leather gloves, of course)

Step 1
Leave the gloves on your hands after you finish working in the yard.
Step 2
Wash your gloved hands with soap and water.
Step 3
Rinse well with fresh water
Step 4
Remove the gloves from your hands.
Step 5
Lay them out flat on top of a water heater or other heat-producing appliance to dry.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tomato Trials 2008

I'm always game for trying new vegetable varieties, especially when it comes to our garden favorite, the Tomato. In 2008 I trialed several heirlooms varieties. The real test, for me, is the comparison to Brandywine, which I have grown for many years. So far, nothing has come close to Brandywine's great taste!

This is Cherokee Purple in the not-quite-ripe-yet stage. You can see the darker shoulders, which have yet to turn color. I also grew Cherokee Chocolate and Black Krim, but found all of these varieties to be rather bland tasting, and also pretty soft texture wise. I prefer a firmer tomato. In years past, I have also tried Pruden's Purple, which didn't pass the test either.

*** Update: 3-24-09 ***I just read that Black Krim should be harvested before fully ripe, with shoulders still green and before it gets soft, for the best flavor..... so I might have to give it another chance. :-)

Another heirloom variety I tried was Arkansas Traveler, shown here with tiny yellow Signet marigolds. It would probably be in the pink category, as it doesn't get to be a true red. Nothing to get excited over here, taste-wise. One pink variety that I grew for several years that I did like is Caspian Pink, which has a very good taste, but doesn't produce many tomatoes.

Zapotec Pleated looks cool, but when you slice it open there are lots of empty spaces inside the folds, and I'm sorry to report....the taste leaves you pretty empty, too. I had tons of green ones left after frost, which ended up in the compost pile.

I received seed for this heirloom, Nyagous, as an extra in a seed trade. The tomatoes are a smaller size, firm, with black shoulders, and grow in clusters. And the taste is......wonderful! It is both sweet and tangy, with lots of rich flavor. It hails from Russia. I grew it in a 3 gallon container, because I ran out of space. I can't wait to see how it produces with a spot of honor in the garden this year.

I also grew an heirloom Cherry tomato called Ana Asa, looking for something to possibly replace my old standby, hybrid Super Sweet 100 Cherry , but there was no comparison, taste-wise. I seriously don't think there is a sweeter or better tasting cherry than Super Sweet 100, but I am open for suggestions. :-)

Brandy Boy is a new hybrid I tried for the first time last year. It is a cross between Better Boy and Brandywine and is supposed to produce more tomatoes on the plant, but still have that great Brandywine taste. I found it lived up to both of these criteria.

So...what are my Tomato selections for 2009?
Maybe next year I will do more trials, but this summer I intend to keep it simple and grow only the tried and true:

1. Hybrid Goliath, as my main crop tomato. I love everything about this tomato! The taste, the large number of tomatoes it produces and the firm, perfect, blemish free fruit. I have been growing this one for nearly 20 years now. I am not a purist when it comes to Hybrids vs. Heirlooms....nothing can beat some of the Hybrids for production and reliability. As long as the seeds are available, I will grow them. (I am still using seeds from a packet I bought in 1999!)

2. Brandywine - several plants, for the unbeatable taste!

3. Brandy Boy Hybrid - this time side by side with Brandywine to really compare fruit production.

3. Heirloom Pineapple - one plant, for dear husband who really likes this one. The tomatoes grow HUGE, the color a mottled red and yellow combination.

4. Super Sweet 100 Cherry - We eat these like candy....usually standing right there in the garden. These are a big hit with my now 3 year old granddaughter!

5. Nyagous - for the taste and nice salad size.


“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and home grown tomatoes.”

John Denver, 'Home Grown Tomatoes'
(from a song written by Guy Clark)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Signs of Spring

With March well under way, there are changes going on the garden. Slowly, but surely.... signs of life are re-appearing.

Daffodils emerging, with their flower buds already intact.

Same daffodils, a week later under an inch of snow! Yup... it's March, and anything can happen. Fortunately, the snow melted very quickly, in this case.

Forsythia branches, being forced on the windowsill.....'s first yellow blossoms opening in the sun.

Garden clean-up begins in earnest, with the first ritual of Spring.... the pruning of my Simplicity rose hedge. This was a stealth shot by my dear husband. :-)

And lastly, a robin... looking for worms.


"Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world."

Virgil A. Kraft