2014 Edible Garden Stars

Monday, January 5, 2015



2014 has already slipped away, but I wanted to document my veggie garden favorites from last year.  Two varieties emerged from the pack as stars: Alma Paprika Peppers and Solar Flare Tomatoes.

The Alma Paprika was the first sweet pepper ripe in the garden.  I used it as a fresh eating pepper and for frying.  The flavor was very sweet and mild, especially when red.

In the garden it demonstrated its worthiness by being free of blossom end rot.  All of my other sweet peppers suffered (usually because of my less than perfect watering) with this variety being the only exception.  The plants were also much more compact and less prone to tipping over/breaking off.


A couple weeks before the frost hit, I picked every ripe paprika, cut them in half or so and loaded them onto our pellet smoker.  After about 5 hours on the smoker I finished them off on the dehydrator overnight.  The result was the most delicious smoked paprika seasoning you could imagine!

All in all the Alma Paprika was a favorite new find and I will certainly be growing it again and sharing seeds with all my friends.



The second star was the Solar Flare tomato.  The flavor was great and the vines resisted disease much better than my other heirlooms and out yielded them with a more consistent fruit set up until frost.  Ignore the cracking you see in the photo, these were picked late in the year after a rain.  Overall the fruit was not prone to cracking. 

Solar Flare is this first variety of tomato bred by Brad of Wild Boar Farms that I have tried.  It out performed all of my other heirloom tomatoes by miles.  I am excited to try more of his tomatoes in the coming year to see if they are all this easy to grow.



 

Flowers: 11.3.14

Monday, November 3, 2014




The month of October has passed without a killing frost.  I have been enjoying this extra time playing with the flowers and preserving abundant garden produce.

Flowers: 10.20.14

Monday, October 20, 2014

 




There are still some flowers going strong in the flower field even though we aren't at the Farmer's Market anymore.  I am trying to enjoy them more before the frost puts an end to it all.

Worth Growing: Craspedia

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Craspedia has been a great little flower for selling at the market and enjoying personality.  With its modern, sculptural shape it is so appealing.  The long-lasting blooms also dry well keeping a nice golden color.  Their sturdy stems will remain straight even if you just leave them upright in a vase without water.

The pollinators love it because it is basically just a ball of pollen.  In our area it is an annual plant.  I started it from seed in the greenhouse, and it was a bit more touchy than most seedlings about over-watering

One thing to note is that in the dog days of August, the blooms really slowed down, but as the nights have started cooling off it has perked back up and continued cranking out flowers.



Worth Growing: Batchelor's Buttons

Monday, August 11, 2014

The crystal clear blue of these bachelor's buttons is lovely and unmatched by anything else I have in the flower field.

Not only do these make nice cut flowers, they are a lady bug magnet.  If you are looking to attract beneficial bugs to your garden, I would recommend these as one of your options.

These lovely flowers are easy to grow and will self sow.  Planting a few short rows every few weeks in the spring will give you a nice supply of cuts through out the summer.

Going out into the field and seeing all the ladybugs, bees, and other pollinators on the various flowers is so fascinating to me.  And once again I am reading an insect field guide cover to cover just like I did when I was 12.    

Add a small patch of bachelor's buttons to your garden plan next year and I think you will find them just as rewarding as I do.

Flowers: 8.6.14

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I am starting to feel more confident arranging flowers and more pleased with my results.  This is my favorite composition and color palette so far.  We have been using a similar flower and color combo frequently in our Farmer's Market bouquets.

Composed of: zinnias, asters, and plume celosia.

Worth Growing: Celosia

Friday, August 1, 2014

 
These beauties are my current favorites in the flower field.  Growing both crested and plume celosia side by side has made it fascinating to observe as them as they mature.  It can be hard to believe these two wildly different looking flowers are closely related.  See them as babies in this post

 The first two photos are of the crested celosia 'chief mix' from Johnny's seed.  I love their bold colors and interesting textures.  They are show stoppers at the farmers market and in a bouquet.

These next three photos are of the pampas plume celosia from Johnny's seeds.  They make excellent fillers in a mixed bouquet.  These photos don't quite capture the more subtle colors in this mix.  There are some lovely pale salmons among the more vibrant pinks.

Right now the plants are almost as tall as me.  Even after I have picked a full bucket, you can't even tell that the plants are reduced any.  The nice thing is that they don't have as narrow of a picking window in bloom and they are almost enjoying our 100 degree heat.  I think they would make a great low maintenance addition to anyone's casual cutting garden, but be sure to provide some support.   

If you want to go much deeper into celosia for cut flower production, be sure to visit Erin's blog Floret for her beautifully-photographed, detailed post on celosia.


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