Tomatoes!

Yesterday, November 2nd,  the last tomatoes were harvested!  

IMG_20170923_150913_702Even with Ashland’s early summer heat wave in late June, two months of smoke filled skies from forest fires, and an early light frost on September 22nd,  this season was the longest and most robust tomato harvest ever experienced in the Lucas garden.  

What made the difference this year?  Was it the 60 lbs of rabbit manure worked into soil in mid-February, the rice straw mulching in mid-June, the removal of all the new growth and stem suckers in mid-September, or all the above?  It’s always difficult to determine why one growing season yields a better harvest than previous years, but gardeners are delighted when is all comes together and produces a bounty of tomatoes!   

Top producers 2017:

Better Boy: Large fruit, high yielding , disease resistant.* Indeterminate, Harvest in 70-75 days

Early Girl: Medium fruit,  early producer and longer season than most varieties. Indeterminate. Harvest in 57-63 days.  

San Marzano:  Medium fruit, elongated heirloom paste tomato. Somewhat longer season than other paste tomato varieties.  Seeds stay true from generation to generation.  Indeterminate.  Harvest in 85 days.

Jeweled Enchantment: Medium fruit, heirloom slicer, long season producer. Hard to find seeds! Indeterminate. Harvest 70-75 days.

*Indeterminate–  Plants continue to grow and  fruit throughout the growing season.  Determinate – Plant stops growing when fruit sets and all the fruit ripens at approximately the same time over a 1-2 week period.

 Tomato Bisque Soup

4 cups chopped fresh Tomatoes
½ cup onions, chopped
2-4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ cup butter ( or  ¼ butter &  ¼ olive oil)
¼ cup flour
1 qt. milk (or nut milk, either Almond or Cashew)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried parsley
¼ tsp. baking soda

Phase I:   Cook Tomatoes in large sauce pan for 15 minutes.
Add & stir in baking soda to hot tomatoes just before combining the Phase II mixture.

Phase II:
Salute onion & celery in butter for 5 minutes
Add flour, cook 1 minute
Stir in milk, salt, & parsley; cook on low 15 – 20 minutes or until thickened.

Slowly pour tomatoes  and the onion- celery- gravy mix into a blender. Remember to vent the blender cap and start motor slowly for stream to escape.  Pulse  or Blend until desired soup consistency is achieved.   Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.   YUM!

Article and photos by: Carlotta Lucas

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Oregon Snakes

One of many nice qualities about living in Oregon, is its non-poisonous snakes, well all but one!

crotalus_viridis_02.jpg

Western Rattlesnake –   Photo By Gary Stolz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife/Wikimedia

Snakes are beneficial to gardeners, they eat mice, voles, rats, slugs, Japanese beetle grubs and other gardening pests.  Only one snake species in Oregon can harm humans, and that is the venomous Western Rattlesnake.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) reported,  “there are two sub-species of the Western Rattlesnake in Oregon, the Northern Pacific subspecies, found in southwestern Oregon, in the middle and southern Willamette Valley, as well as the Columbia Plateau. The Great Basin subspecies is found in Oregon’s south central areas and the southeastern region. ”

ODFW says Gopher Snakes (Pituophis catenifer) are often mistaken for Rattlesnakes, because Gopher Snakes shake their tail, hiss and strike out with their head, but Gopher Snakes are not venomous, nor do they have rattles on their tails.  Other snakes in Oregon are also harmless to humans and they are beneficial to the environment, too.

Gopher snake

Gopher snake – Photo by Julia Larson/Wikimedia

Oregon snakes:

  • Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
  • Western rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
  • California Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata)
  • Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
  • Northwestern Garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)
  • Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter snake (Thamnophis atratus)
  • Common Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
  • Racer snake (Coluber constrictor)
  • Western Terrestrial Garter snake (Thamnophis elegans)
  • Ground snake (Sonora semiannulata)
  • Striped whipsnake (Coluber taeniatus)
  • Sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis)
  • Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus)
  • Night snake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea)
  • Rubber Boa (Charina bottae)

 

Charina_bottae _ Rubber Boa _ USDA Forest Service

Rubber Boa – photo by USDA Forest Service

To learn more about Oregon’s snakes, click on the links below:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/snakes-slither-through-garden-eating-slugs-grubs-and-other-pests

http://www.oregonlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2015/06/meet_the_snakes_of_oregon.html

Download Oregon’s Fish & Wildlife Brochure … Oregon_Living With Snakes pdf

 

By: Carlotta Lucas

Filling in the Spaces: Part 2

moss phloxCreeping Phlox/ Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata): Vigorous mat-forming 6” high plant that rambles through rocks and drapes over rock walls. Dense ground cover excellent for controlling erosion on slopes.  Note: Not for pathways, it does not tolerate foot traffic.  Perennial,  Full sun,  Flowers can be white, rose, hot pink or magenta, Deer Resistant. USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9.

Hen _ChicksHens-and-chicks (Sempervivum)
Ground-hugging, cold hardy, sun loving, drought tolerant succulent.  Leaves form in rosette shapes, propagate by offsets (chicks). With 3,000 cultivars available leaf colors range from shades of green, to silver-blues,  to dark purple, and delicate pink. Use in rock gardens, containers or areas you want to “fill-in”.  Perennial,  Full sun to Part Sun,  Likes Sandy/ Gritty Soil,  Drought Tolerant, Deer proof. Groundcover. USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10.

Irish moss Sagina_subulataIrish Moss/Corsican Pearl Wort (Sagina subulata)
Handsome lush low-growing green moss that forms a carpet-like foliage 1″ tall. Tiny translucent star-shaped white flowers. Irish Moss is prefect for rock gardens, between stone or paver pathways. Perennial,  Evergreen, Full or Part Shade,  Needs Water & Well-Draining Soil, White Flowers, Deer Proof, Groundcover. USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10.

Article by Carlotta Lucas

Oregon Natives

Plant Name: Philadelphus lewisii20170607_152255
Common Name:  Lewis’ mock-orange
Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Height: 6- 10 feet
Spread:   3-4 feet
Bloom Time:  Late Spring & Early Summer
Flower Color: White
Exposure:  Full Sun to Partial Shade
Soil Requirements: Will grow in poor soils
Water Needs: Medium, but Drought tolerate
Attributes:   Highly Fragrant Flowers!
Scent similar to orange blossoms
Rarity: Wide spread native, but not common.
Uses: Native plantings, Xeriscaping, Fragrant Garden
Native to: Western N. America – British Colombia , Washington, Oregon, California, East to Montana
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-10

Photo by: Carlotta Lucas
Date: June 7, 2017
Location: Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument