Tomatoes (2018)

April 2nd, I sowed my tomatoes. Late for me, but to be honest, It is probably perfect timing in terms of the weather around here.

I didn’t let myself buy any new varieties. However, last year I did manage to finally save some of my own seed. In the few cases where I had my own seed saved, I also sowed some of the original purchased seed as a bit of a fail-safe.

  • 2x ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’McKenzie Seeds from 2016
    • “Developed in Alberta for Prairie climates, this cultivator is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yeilds of 56-70g (2-2 1/2 oz) tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • img_6508
  • 2x ‘Jubilee’McKenzie Seeds from 2016
    • “These glowing, golden-orange, mild flavoured fruits have been prized by gardeners for years. Plants produce bountiful harvest of 225g (8 oz) fruits throughout the season. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
    • img_6371
  • 2x ‘Cherokee Purple’McKenzie Seeds (from 2015) AND My own saved seed from last year (2017)
    • The description of this one on the packet is wrong, and is likely for the ‘Black Krim’ tomato. The plants I grew last year were fantastic, and had an excellent harvest, thus I was able to save a bunch of seed from it.
    • img_6373
  • 2x ‘Beefsteak’ McKenzie Seeds (from 2016) (I would have saved from of these seeds from last year, but we ate all the tomatoes before I thought to save the seeds.
    • “Large, meaty, solid fruit, slightly flattened and globe-shaped. Deep, well-drained moisture retaining soil is best. Mild and flavorful for salads and table use. Keep tomatoes away from all members of the brassica family: cabbage, cauliflower, etc. No staking required. Determinate. Heirloom.”
    • img_6375
  • 2x ‘Manitoba’McKenzie Seeds (from 2014)
    • “Very dependable early variety, excellent for the Prairies. Bright, red, juicy fruit. Deep well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so that the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • img_6505
  • 4 x ‘Tiny Tim’McKenzie Seeds (from 2016. I didn’t write the year on this pack, so I could be wrong)
    • “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • img_6507
  • 4x ‘San Marzano’McKenzie Seeds (from 2014) AND my own seed (2017). I had a decent harvest with these last year, and had decided to save seed.
    • “Italian tomato perfection! 10-12 ounce plum tomatoes grow on large and vigorous plants. Has excellent tomato flavor and is great to eat fresh, make sauces or for canning and drying. Inderterminate – staking required.”
    • img_6374
  • 3x ‘Black Cherry’
    • McKenzie Seeds (from 2016) AND my own.
      • This was probably my best performing tomato plant of last year. It thrived like I have never seen before, and I can’t wait to try to replicate that success this year.
    • “Early Russian variety. Tall 60cm (2′) plants, with oval/round shaved 2.5 cm (1″) fruit. Deep mahogany to brown color. Black color develops best when hot and sunny. Inderterminate. Requires staking”
      • As a note to this; My plant last year, was over 7 feet tall at the height of summer. I kept it well pruned to two main stems. As mentioned above, the only time I got close to a more black color was on the few really hot says in the summer. But these were an amazing producer, and I am excited to see how they do this year, especially from my own saved seed.
    • img_6372
  • 1x ‘Yellow Pear’
    • Burpee Seeds (from 2014)
    • “Clusters of pear-shaped, yellow fruits with mild, delicious flavour. Indeterminate”

 

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a Truss of my “Black Cherry” tomatoes from last year (2017)

I’ll try and keep up with the progress of everything this year, but as always… Life has a way of getting in the way of me being a good blogger. So…. now that I’ve kept your expectations low… Are you growing any tomatoes this year? What kinds? Any tips to share with anyone else reading this? Post it in the comments below.

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Peppers and other Nightshades I am growing this year (2018)

What? How is it April 2nd already? Actually, its April 3rd for most of the world already. Typically by this point in the year, I have started all of my tomatoes and peppers and they are getting leggy and moving from the small light area to the one window I have available, and fighting for space with my houseplants. (hey look, I still write in run-on sentences)

Today, on my way home from work, I stopped at Canadian Tire and grabbed some new peat pellets and seed starting soil (and a few seed varieties that I’ll mention when I actually sow them… they weren’t tomatoes or peppers so we’ll get there eventually). I soaked some pellets and got to digging out my seed collection and finally deciding what to grow.

That was when I decided I should dust off this poor blog and write something.

So Peppers (chillies) and “others” is up today. Tomatoes will be up soon, because I also sowed them today too.

Given my small space, and desire to step away from having a ton of containers, I didn’t start any sweet peppers. Maybe next year.

Here is what I sowed this year:

  • 2x ‘Kung Pao Hybrid’
    •  Burpee Seeds (this pack is from 2015)
    • “Vigorous plants produce 11cm thin-walled, dark green fruits that ripen to a bright red”
  • 2x ‘Seranno’ 
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2015 or 2016)
    • “Serrano is a small, fiery hot Chilli pepper with a delayed fuse. It is one of the hottest peppers available. It is smaller and hotter than a jalapeno. The fruit measuring 5-7.5cm (2-3″ long) and 1.25cm (1/2″) in diameter are glossy green turning orange-red at maturity with medium thin walls. A favourite in sizzling hot salsas and sauces and Asian dishes.”
  • 4x ‘Long Red Cayenne Slim’
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2017)
      • Last year I sowed these from a 2016 pack and had zero germination, so I splurged on a new pack. However, by the time they really got going, the summer was over and I only got maybe one pepper from 6 plants. Here is hoping that I can make up for it this year, as I need some fresh Cayenne Pepper in my spice cupboard
    • ‘These 13-15 cm (5-6″) long hot peppers can be eaten while green or red. Plant in sunny location with adequate moisture.”
  • 2x ‘Purple Tomatillo’
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2014) {keep your fingers crossed these seeds are still viable}
    • “This uniquely coloured tomatillo is enjoyed for its sweet, yet tart flavor. The vigorous and highly productive plant provides a visual flare with its striking purple-veined leaves. The fruit forms inside papery husks that begin green then ripen to a deep rich purple. The fruits are great grilled, in salsa, or as a taco topping.”
  • 2x ‘Violetta Lunga di Napoli’ Eggplant
    • McKenzie Seeds (this pack is from 2014)
    • “Dark violet, cylindrical and smooth 20cm (8″) long, rustic, fruits are grown all over Italy. Classic rich eggplant taste. A good, reliable producer.”

As you can see, some of the seeds are getting quite old. I was very generous in the amount of seeds I set to germinate in the peat pellets. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to spring to life, and also that we have a nice warm summer with plenty of rain to keep things nice and watered.

The “featured image” of this post are some of the Serrano peppers from last year which grew fantastic. I had a decent harvest from the 2 plants I grew. I dried all the chillies from last year and then ground them into a pepper blend that I gave to my father in law for Christmas. Here is the photo I am speaking of if you can’t see it in the header above.

img_7634

 

Tomatoes – Part 2 (2017)

I feel like I am sooooooo late in getting my next round of Tomatoes sown… But realistically, I’m well within the 6 week starting period… And if we have a cold spring, I’m well within the 8-10 weeks before the last frost… Its just with the beautiful Spring weather we have been having the last week or so, I feel behind. I feel like the grass should be mowed (its not even growing or green or even de-dog-pooped yet). It feels like real Spring, but realistically, this is Alberta, and we could still get snow anytime in the the next two months.

But before I go on and on and on about my weird feelings about Spring sowing… Let me tell you about the next round of Tomatoes…

So Today (April 4), I’m sowing (in peat pellets, as per usual):

  • Sub-Arctic Plenty
    • Sowed: 4 peat pellets
    • “Developed in Alberta for Prairie climates, this cultivar is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yields of 56-70g (2-2 1/2 oz.) tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2016)
  • Tiny Tim
    • Sowed: 3 peat pellets
    • “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Tumbler F1
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet (because I only had 3 seeds left… better stock up for next year)
    • “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet, 2.5cm (1″) cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can product up to 2kg (4.4lbs) of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato! Determinate. No staking required.” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Black Russian
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet
    • These seeds were from a trade, so I don’t have a seed packet to quote here for this one.
  • Principe Borghese
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet
    • “This Italian variety is the traditional variety used for sun dried tomatoes. Plants stand up to high heat and produce plenty of tomatoes for drying, fresh eating and sauce making. Determinate – no staking required” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Manitoba
    • Sowed: 2 peat pellets
    • “Very Dependable early variety, excellent for the Prairies. Bright red, juicy fruit. Deep well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so that the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2014)

Okay, so I really wanted to sow more of the Tumbler, but I’ll make up for it next year. They always produce a crazy amount of cherry tomatoes, throughout the entire summer. They are also usually the very first to set fruit and ripen, and sometimes the very last to give up to frost.

The Sub Arctic Plenty produced fantastic last year, so I sowed 4 of them again. Since it was developed here, that is probably why it grows well. If you also live in Alberta, or another cold area… Or want some tomatoes earlier than you would otherwise, give this one a try.

Tiny Tim’s are just awesome. Grow them. Trust me. They are so cute and also delicious. Since they are tiny little plants, you can keep them in some smaller containers. So if you only have a tiny area to grow things in (like a sunny front stoop, or a balcony), they are a great choice.

I threw the Principe Borghese into the mix. Hopefully I can keep the squirrel’s greedy little paws of them this year. I really want to try and make my own sun dried tomatoes… and by sun dried, I mean dehydrator-dried.

And, I threw the Manitoba in just because.

I was also keeping an eye out for “Green Envy” which was a Hybrid I found a few years ago by Burpee. They were so sweet and delicious and some of the best cherry tomatoes I have ever had. They were a little hard to tell when exactly they were ripe, since they are green. If I see them again, I will pick up a pack for next year.

I think this will be it for the tomatoes this year… unless I have a sad tale of germination to tell you. As it is, this is more than enough tomatoes… But I do hope to be able to make (and can) some fresh Bruchetta from my own tomatoes.

Do you have any tomatoes I should try? Want to make a seed trade? Add a message in the comments with any tips, tricks or encouragement.

(Just a note, the featured photo is from 2014 I think. I had an amazing tomato crop that year, because I had an amazing greenhouse to grow in… Too bad it was owned by legitimate crazy people)

Tomatoes- Part 1 (2017)

I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm any longer, and started some Tomatoes. There will be more started a little later, which is why this post is labelled Part 1.

As usual, I started these in peat pellets. To add a little more info into this first post, I’ll add in the description of the seed packets here as well. All the seeds in this post are from McKenzie Seeds. I have also included the year I purchased the packs as a note to the germination rate, particularly the older packages. They should all germinate fine, but if they don’t, I would like the notes of which ones did not work out well.

  • Jubilee
    • “These glowing, golden-orange, mild flavoured fruits have been prized by gardeners for years. Plants produce bountiful harvests of 223g (8oz) fruits throughout the season. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Black Cherry
    • “Early Russian variety. Tall 60cm (2′) plants, with oval/round shaped 2.5cm (1″) fruit. Deep mahogany to brown color. Black color develops best when hot and sunny. Indeterminate. Requires staking.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Cherokee Purple
    • “Russian tomato names for the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. Slightly flattened 8-10com (3/4″) globes with dark greenish black shoulder have excellent full flavor. Indeterminate. Requires staking. Heirloom.”
    • NOTE- Pretty sure someone at the seed company messed up… Because that sounds like the description for the Black Krim tomato not Cherokee Purple… Also 8-10cm is not three quarters of an inch…
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2015
  • San Marzano
    • “Italian tomato perfection! 10-12 ounce plus tomatoes grow on large and vigorous plants. Has excellent tomato flavor and is great to eat fresh, make sauces or for canning and drying. Indeterminate – staking required”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 76 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Beefsteak
    • Large, meaty, solid fruit. slightly flattened and globe-shaped. Deep, well-drained, moisture retaining soil is best. Mild and flavorful for salads and table use. Keep tomatoes away from all members of the Brassica family: cabbage, cauliflower, etc. No staking required. Determinate. Heirloom.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 80 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2016
  • Rainbow Blend
    • “A sensational blend of assorted Heirloom tomatoes. Varieties such as Black, Pink, Red and Yellow Brandywine tomatoes. Well known for its size and rich sweet flavor. Indeterminate. Staking may be required.”
    • Days to Maturity (after transplanting out): 70-75 days
    • Sowed 2 peat pellets on March 18
    • Seed pack is from 2014

 

So I took a gamble with the Rainbow Blend. I’ve avoided planting it the last few years, for the specific reason of I like to know what varieties I am growing. I also know that there are more than just Brandywine varieties in that pack despite what the package says. When I grew it in 2014, We had a green variety, and a few other not potato-leaf types. But I figured it was a good year to experiment a little.

The goal is to keep any squirrels and possibly birds away so I can actually enjoy my own tomatoes this year. I will also for-sure be sowing Sub Arctic Plenty and Tiny Tim… and more 😉

 

A Note if anyone from McKenzie seeds is reading this… It would be a nice addition in the information on all the tomato/pepper seed packets, if they said that the variety was distinctly Heirloom/Open Pollinated, or Hybrid.

Community Garden Plot – Update 3

On Canada Day (July 1st if you didn’t know) I had all the gardening ambition finally and after getting the backyard all sorted, I headed to my community garden plot! I also went ahead and got super sunburnt too.

I only had a little weeding to do. That was nice, because I expected to have a ton of weeding with all the sun and rain we have had.

I sowed some ‘Gold Rush’ bush beans, which are going to end up being the only beans I have this year. I totally spaced on sowing them in the yard. So disappointed in myself on that front.

I also sowed some ‘Bulls Blood’ and ‘Chioggia’ Beets, AND some of the onions I sowed from seed back in December!  Here is hoping that everything grows well with the limited summer we might end up with.

Sorry for the blurry pic… I was trying to not fall into the freshly watered garden.

On a more positive note! The carrots are doing well and the potatoes are starting to flower! So I should get something from this whole venture.

Also, check out my neighbors garlic! I’m so jealous of it!

Previous Updates: 1 & 2