Comments on: What I’m Growing - Part I - Things I Start Ahead http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Sat, 17 May 2008 03:42:56 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3356 Sharon Sun, 02 Mar 2008 15:19:43 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3356 Connie, I do use some grow lights - I try to keep them to a minimum, and I do have some sunny windowsills. But yes, I do hang a couple of grow-lights, and use the energy. I do also use a heat mat briefly when germinating eggplant and peppers - again, I'm not too happy about it, but otherwise, germination is quite poor. I justify it by noting that the energy used is far less than I would spend driving to the store to get my food, but that is a justification. There are some alternatives - a hotbed was the traditional method of doing this - uncomposted horse or pig manure was piled up, covered with a layer of soil or compost, and the seeds were planted into it and covered with plastic or glass. The heat from the composting of the manure germinates the seesds. And in the absence of electricity, I'd do that. I've done it once before, and it worked well, if a bit later than I would have liked (too cold when I normally start eggplants and peppers). I'm working on long-term solutions - and they use energy too. A hoophouse or a greenhouse will require some new materials, even if I scavenge the rest. But right now I do what time and money allow. Sharon Connie, I do use some grow lights - I try to keep them to a minimum, and I do have some sunny windowsills. But yes, I do hang a couple of grow-lights, and use the energy. I do also use a heat mat briefly when germinating eggplant and peppers - again, I’m not too happy about it, but otherwise, germination is quite poor. I justify it by noting that the energy used is far less than I would spend driving to the store to get my food, but that is a justification.

There are some alternatives - a hotbed was the traditional method of doing this - uncomposted horse or pig manure was piled up, covered with a layer of soil or compost, and the seeds were planted into it and covered with plastic or glass. The heat from the composting of the manure germinates the seesds. And in the absence of electricity, I’d do that. I’ve done it once before, and it worked well, if a bit later than I would have liked (too cold when I normally start eggplants and peppers).

I’m working on long-term solutions - and they use energy too. A hoophouse or a greenhouse will require some new materials, even if I scavenge the rest. But right now I do what time and money allow.

Sharon

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By: Connie http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3349 Connie Sat, 01 Mar 2008 14:07:52 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3349 I would also like to know, along with Old Grey Mare, do you use grow-lights? Mine are currently on 24 hours a day in an effort to germinate chamomile, which needs light in order to do so. I feels very wrong to do it this way...are there alternatives? Also, what about heat mats for additional heat to germinate stuff like peppers, melons, and tomatoes in my cold damp basement? That doesn't feel sustainable either. Bleh. I would also like to know, along with Old Grey Mare, do you use grow-lights? Mine are currently on 24 hours a day in an effort to germinate chamomile, which needs light in order to do so. I feels very wrong to do it this way…are there alternatives? Also, what about heat mats for additional heat to germinate stuff like peppers, melons, and tomatoes in my cold damp basement? That doesn’t feel sustainable either. Bleh.

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3344 Sharon Fri, 29 Feb 2008 21:07:38 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3344 Leila - We're seed savers, and because of that, we have to make choices sometimes about how to use garden space - I can only fit so many hybrids that might cross-pollinate with my seed saving plants. So I do grow some - mostly for customers, but generally speaking, like Jamey, I think I'll get a better crop eventually as I select for my region. Plus, I don't see any real reason to give people money every year ;-) - not enough to go around for all the uses I've got these days as it is. The ground cherries are one of those things you like or don't. I really do like them and eat quite a lot of them straight. Most of kids like them, but one doesn't. My husband likes them in jam, but isn't passionate about them. My best description would be that they are a tomatillo that tastes mostly like a fruit - they are sweet, but there's an underlying vegetableness about them that some people find kind of weird. They are easy, so worth trying. Boysmom, I forgot about Prudens - we grow it every year, and really like that one too. Rebecca, right now the south side of my house is filled with forest garden, so there's no sun for peppers, but it isn't a bad idea. I have one warm, sandy spot I was saving for lavender, but maybe I'll change my mind and put hot peppers there. Sarah, I love the way you described the eggplants - that's so evocative. Old Grey Mare - A hoophouse is probably forthcoming soon. We're working on it - the problem is that the only place to put it needs drainage dug, so besides the cost of the hoophouse, there's the drainage. So it keeps getting put off... Oh boy do I want a greenhouse and a couple of hoophouses ;-). Sharon Leila - We’re seed savers, and because of that, we have to make choices sometimes about how to use garden space - I can only fit so many hybrids that might cross-pollinate with my seed saving plants. So I do grow some - mostly for customers, but generally speaking, like Jamey, I think I’ll get a better crop eventually as I select for my region. Plus, I don’t see any real reason to give people money every year ;-) - not enough to go around for all the uses I’ve got these days as it is.

The ground cherries are one of those things you like or don’t. I really do like them and eat quite a lot of them straight. Most of kids like them, but one doesn’t. My husband likes them in jam, but isn’t passionate about them. My best description would be that they are a tomatillo that tastes mostly like a fruit - they are sweet, but there’s an underlying vegetableness about them that some people find kind of weird. They are easy, so worth trying.

Boysmom, I forgot about Prudens - we grow it every year, and really like that one too.

Rebecca, right now the south side of my house is filled with forest garden, so there’s no sun for peppers, but it isn’t a bad idea. I have one warm, sandy spot I was saving for lavender, but maybe I’ll change my mind and put hot peppers there.

Sarah, I love the way you described the eggplants - that’s so evocative.

Old Grey Mare - A hoophouse is probably forthcoming soon. We’re working on it - the problem is that the only place to put it needs drainage dug, so besides the cost of the hoophouse, there’s the drainage. So it keeps getting put off…

Oh boy do I want a greenhouse and a couple of hoophouses ;-).

Sharon

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By: BoysMom http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3341 BoysMom Thu, 28 Feb 2008 17:09:45 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3341 Our absolute favorite tomato is Pruden's Purple. The catalog describes them as a short season brandywine type. I've never lived anywhere with a long enough growing season to grow brandywines, so I have no idea if this is accurate. I've grown them in pots in the living room, outside in pots, outside in the ground, and in a homemade greenhouse. They're an indeterminate, which means if you're growing inside you'll have them hitting the ceiling. Our absolute favorite tomato is Pruden’s Purple. The catalog describes them as a short season brandywine type. I’ve never lived anywhere with a long enough growing season to grow brandywines, so I have no idea if this is accurate.
I’ve grown them in pots in the living room, outside in pots, outside in the ground, and in a homemade greenhouse. They’re an indeterminate, which means if you’re growing inside you’ll have them hitting the ceiling.

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By: jamey http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3340 jamey Thu, 28 Feb 2008 02:30:12 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3340 This is so perfectly timed - we have a flat of spinach sprouting today - first leaves and all - so they can be ready to go into the hoophouse soil this weekend for some "grow tunnel" excitement. The soil is just about 40F, but several days of clouds/snow is just getting us more into it. Seeds sprouts leaves! Have to put in my plug for cherry tomatoes - Peacevine from Seeds of Change has been our "rock" for over a decade now. Although, we did have that orange volunteer cherry pop up - made wonderful dried tomatoes. And Amish Paste is the "rock" of our pasters. We found it 15 yrs ago in "Organic Gardening" when the Iowan Zone 4 tester told us she would never stray from its quiet dependability again. And on her advice, we also added "Arkansas Traveler", an heirloom pink tomato that is one of our main croppers. An absolute marvel of a tomato with no end rot, blight, or support issues for us. Boo-yah to hardy plants that don't need much help. @Leila - We grow only OP seeds because we can save them and pick the survivors that adapt the best to our garden (zone 4, heavy loam, chaotic short summers). Can't do that with hybrids or OP seeds from somebody else. They may be widely adapted, but I think that after three or four seasons of careful seed-saving I can do a better job - I could select for the earliest Peacevine cherries and plant only those. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (http://www.southernexposure.com/) is a regional seed-house with heirlooms, hardy plants, and no hybrids but geared for mid-Atlantic states. Plus they are worker-owned and appear all to be hippy-folk. That is what I am talking about! This is so perfectly timed - we have a flat of spinach sprouting today - first leaves and all - so they can be ready to go into the hoophouse soil this weekend for some “grow tunnel” excitement. The soil is just about 40F, but several days of clouds/snow is just getting us more into it. Seeds sprouts leaves!

Have to put in my plug for cherry tomatoes - Peacevine from Seeds of Change has been our “rock” for over a decade now. Although, we did have that orange volunteer cherry pop up - made wonderful dried tomatoes. And Amish Paste is the “rock” of our pasters. We found it 15 yrs ago in “Organic Gardening” when the Iowan Zone 4 tester told us she would never stray from its quiet dependability again. And on her advice, we also added “Arkansas Traveler”, an heirloom pink tomato that is one of our main croppers. An absolute marvel of a tomato with no end rot, blight, or support issues for us. Boo-yah to hardy plants that don’t need much help.

@Leila - We grow only OP seeds because we can save them and pick the survivors that adapt the best to our garden (zone 4, heavy loam, chaotic short summers). Can’t do that with hybrids or OP seeds from somebody else. They may be widely adapted, but I think that after three or four seasons of careful seed-saving I can do a better job - I could select for the earliest Peacevine cherries and plant only those. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (http://www.southernexposure.com/) is a regional seed-house with heirlooms, hardy plants, and no hybrids but geared for mid-Atlantic states. Plus they are worker-owned and appear all to be hippy-folk. That is what I am talking about!

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By: Leila http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3339 Leila Wed, 27 Feb 2008 15:51:30 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3339 I'm curious about ground cherries. Can you eat them raw? Do you prepare them in other ways besides jam? What does the jam taste like, sweet? sour? I noticed you seem to be averse to hybrids and prefer OP varieties. But what's wrong with hybrids (other than you can't save the seed)? I too am experimenting with different tomato varieties. I'm looking for the perfect spaghetti-sauce tomato. My sauces always come out watery, even after simmering them for 5 hours. So this year I'm trying principe borghese, an heirloom sundrying tomato that is supposed to be low-moisture. I hope the skins aren't too thick because I like to keep them on, even though they dull my knives like nothing else. And I'm looking forward to making sundried tomatos for the first time. For taste, my favorite is Rutgers. I'm not at all fond of Brandywine (too mealy). I'm going to try Costuloto Genovese this year. I’m curious about ground cherries. Can you eat them raw? Do you prepare them in other ways besides jam? What does the jam taste like, sweet? sour?

I noticed you seem to be averse to hybrids and prefer OP varieties. But what’s wrong with hybrids (other than you can’t save the seed)?

I too am experimenting with different tomato varieties. I’m looking for the perfect spaghetti-sauce tomato. My sauces always come out watery, even after simmering them for 5 hours. So this year I’m trying principe borghese, an heirloom sundrying tomato that is supposed to be low-moisture. I hope the skins aren’t too thick because I like to keep them on, even though they dull my knives like nothing else. And I’m looking forward to making sundried tomatos for the first time.

For taste, my favorite is Rutgers. I’m not at all fond of Brandywine (too mealy). I’m going to try Costuloto Genovese this year.

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By: Sarah http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3338 Sarah Wed, 27 Feb 2008 14:28:04 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3338 I love fairy tale eggplants! We get them from our CSA, and one week there was an extra-small one curled up into a ball right on top of the pile like some sort of sleepy creature. I have a picture of me petting it somewhere. It was a very tasty sleepy creature ;-) And I have to try that ground-cherry raspberry combination! The ground cherries at the farm never get much love, and I don't like them very much myself, but I think raspberries might be just what they need. A Sungold-raspberry jam might also be good. We dried those and then ate them like candy. I love fairy tale eggplants! We get them from our CSA, and one week there was an extra-small one curled up into a ball right on top of the pile like some sort of sleepy creature. I have a picture of me petting it somewhere. It was a very tasty sleepy creature ;-)

And I have to try that ground-cherry raspberry combination! The ground cherries at the farm never get much love, and I don’t like them very much myself, but I think raspberries might be just what they need. A Sungold-raspberry jam might also be good. We dried those and then ate them like candy.

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By: Rebecca (RAS) http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3337 Rebecca (RAS) Wed, 27 Feb 2008 14:10:37 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3337 Hey Sharon, One thing you might want to try with your peppers (maybe even in addition to growing them in pots) is to put them on the south side of your house or another building. That might just be the trick they need. I planted some extra tomato plants last year in a newly empty flower bed on the south side of my place (I was out of room, sad to say) and they grew better, faster, and longer than my others. The house also protected them from frost longer -I picked my last tomatoes from the vine in January! And while my climate is significantly warmer than yours (there are people here who manage to grow citrus without greenhouse, albeit in protected spots with lots of pampering) it just might work for you. Down here, Roma is one of the best paste tomatoes. It takes everything we hand it -drought, heat, humidtiy, and keeps on going. Brandywines also do good here, and one of the things I've heard consistently from older gardeners is that while they are one of the best tasting tomatoes, they don't yield very much, so perhaps that's a trait of the breed? Here, its peppers peppers galore and I can't wait for summer! Oh one question: is it something with my computer, or is the site really printed in blockes of test 2 inches wide and long? I was scrathcing my head trying to figure out if it was something I did. Hey Sharon,
One thing you might want to try with your peppers (maybe even in addition to growing them in pots) is to put them on the south side of your house or another building. That might just be the trick they need. I planted some extra tomato plants last year in a newly empty flower bed on the south side of my place (I was out of room, sad to say) and they grew better, faster, and longer than my others. The house also protected them from frost longer -I picked my last tomatoes from the vine in January! And while my climate is significantly warmer than yours (there are people here who manage to grow citrus without greenhouse, albeit in protected spots with lots of pampering) it just might work for you.

Down here, Roma is one of the best paste tomatoes. It takes everything we hand it -drought, heat, humidtiy, and keeps on going. Brandywines also do good here, and one of the things I’ve heard consistently from older gardeners is that while they are one of the best tasting tomatoes, they don’t yield very much, so perhaps that’s a trait of the breed?

Here, its peppers peppers galore and I can’t wait for summer!

Oh one question: is it something with my computer, or is the site really printed in blockes of test 2 inches wide and long? I was scrathcing my head trying to figure out if it was something I did.

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By: Deb G http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3336 Deb G Wed, 27 Feb 2008 13:34:04 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3336 Tomatoes are such an awesome thing! Between my mom and I we will be growing 16 different kinds of tomatoes and only two of them are a variety on your list-Sun Gold and Brandywine. Brandywine is super fussy and sometimes I only get 3 or 4 tomatoes off the one plant I'll grow, but oh are they good! One of our other favorites is Seattle's Best, usually grows very well in the Pacific Northwest and has a good flavor. Tomatoes are such an awesome thing! Between my mom and I we will be growing 16 different kinds of tomatoes and only two of them are a variety on your list-Sun Gold and Brandywine. Brandywine is super fussy and sometimes I only get 3 or 4 tomatoes off the one plant I’ll grow, but oh are they good! One of our other favorites is Seattle’s Best, usually grows very well in the Pacific Northwest and has a good flavor.

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By: Old_Grey_Mare http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3335 Old_Grey_Mare Wed, 27 Feb 2008 00:41:36 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/02/24/what-im-growing-part-i-things-i-start-ahead/#comment-3335 Hi Sharon, Do you have any kind of hoophouse or greenhouse or do you just do it in your house? Do you use grow lights? Mary Hi Sharon,

Do you have any kind of hoophouse or greenhouse or do you just do it in your house? Do you use grow lights?

Mary

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