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

Advertisements

5 W’s for Fertilizing

                                                                    Article by Kelly Brainard, Owner Ashland Greenhouse

“There are always so many questions about fertilizing.  I would like to go over some of the basics, especially since early spring can be a key time for taking care of fertilizing needs. Always ask yourself:
The type of plant you are focusing on (perennials, annuals, vegetables, ect).
What type of fertilizer to use based on season and the plant(s) you’re fertilizing.
When do you apply fertilizer?  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?
Where is the best place to apply fertilizers?  Topically or to the root zone?
Why is this necessary?  What are the benefits of fertilizing?

Since we could write a book on everything mentioned above let’s keep it brief and relevant to what we should focus on in early spring.  This is a great time of year to focus on perennials.  Most perennials prefer a well-balanced or all-purpose fertilizer (all three numbers on the packaging are identical, i.e. 3-3-3 or 16-16-16).  Perennials fed in early spring develop strong root systems which in turn produces larger, healthier plants.  Apply granular fertilizers to the soil around the root zone.

For annuals that are tough enough to be outside early and continue blooming throughout the summer, like petunias and verbena, apply well balanced or slightly higher nitrogen fertilizers. This gives them an extra boost, encouraging growth.  You can successfully use either a granular or foliar fertilizer.  Foliar fertilizers tend to react faster than granules since they are taken up by the plant through the leaves but need re-application more often.  For annuals I like to use granular fertilizer applications in the spring and start using weekly or biweekly applications of liquid fertilizer in the summer. Remember as a rule of thumb – ALWAYS apply fertilizers in the morning. It is less stressful for the plants.

Vegetables are a completely different beast when it comes to fertilizing.  There are numerous techniques when it comes to fertilizing your vegetables.  If it’s grown for leafy greens then apply fertilizers heavier in nitrogen. If it’s grown for the fruit apply fertilizers heavier in phosphorous.  Nitrogen promotes healthy, green foliage and too much of it can discourage fruit development while phosphorous promotes bud and flower growth which encourages more fruit.

When in doubt about fertilizing don’t hesitate to ask a fellow gardener. Some of the best advice is the advice that we share with each other!”

Source: http://AshlandGreenhouses_April2014Newsletter

Eight OSU-Developed Tomatoes To Try

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As you pore over seed catalogs in these cold winter months, you’ll likely include tomatoes in your vegetable garden dreams.

Oregon State University’s vegetable breeding program has developed several varieties over the past 40 years that are now mainstays in many Pacific Northwest gardens. Perhaps you know of Indigo Rose, the novelty purple tomato that OSU debuted in 2012. But did you know about the other varieties that the program has created?

In the past, the whole idea behind the breeding program has been to breed seedless types that are adapted to the cooler springs we have in Oregon and tomatoes with determinate growth so that they bloom earlier and set fruit under cooler conditions,” said Jim Myers, OSU’s vegetable breeder.

Under Myers’s leadership, the program has focused on two areas in recent years – developing varieties with late blight resistance and increasing phytonutrient potential.

“We try to build on the material previously developed in the vegetable breeding program,” Myers said.

Myers suggested the following OSU varieties, many of which were developed by his predecessor, Jim Baggett.

  • Legend: A tomato that produces large fruit that is good to eat straight off the vine. Resistant to some forms of late blight. Ripens 60-65 days after transplanting. You can get a larger-sized, earlier-ripening fruit by growing them first from seeds in gallon-size pots then transplanting them, Myers said.
  • Gold Nugget: Among the first to ripen, this prolific variety grows cherry tomatoes with a deep yellow color and mild, juicy flavor. Ripens in 60 days.
  • Oroma: This tomato makes good tomato sauce and paste. Early to mature; average ripening time of 70 days. Prolific after ripening. Fruit is meaty and thick-walled.
  • Oregon Spring: Ripens in 60-70 days. Slicing variety that can be eaten fresh in salads or straight from the vine. It will produce high, early yields of silver-dollar-sized juicy tomatoes.
  • Oregon Star: Ripens in 80 days. An early-maturing, red paste-type tomato. Large, seedless fruit. Good for fresh eating and for canning.
  • Santiam: Ripens in 65-75 days. Suited for salads and fresh eating; good, tart flavor.
  • Siletz: Ripens in 70-75 days. Reliable tomato with good flavor; ideal for eating fresh from the vine. Not resistant to late blight.
  • Indigo Rose: Ripens about 80-90 days after transplanting. First of a new class of tomato that is high in antioxidants. Its purple color comes from the anthocyanin pigment in its fruit. This open-pollinated variety is semi-determinate – or larger than a determinate type but smaller than indeterminate types – and a prolific producer. Get the best flavor by picking the tomato at its ripest; it will turn a muddy brown, dull purple color in September when ripe.

Find these tomatoes in the seed catalogs from Territorial Seed Co., Victory Seed Co., Ed Hume Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Nichols Garden Nursery. 

Except for Indigo Rose, these tomatoes are determinate types, meaning that they are bushy in form and have fruit that sets on the bud at the tip of the stem, Myers said. They continue growth from side branches. All tomatoes from determinate type plants ripen in a concentrated period of time. Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, will grow vigorously to heights of up to 12 feet and produce fruit until frost kills them.

If you’re overwhelmed by all the tomato choices and only have limited space, Myers has some advice.

“Find a few tomato varieties that work really well for you and use them as standbys, but reserve some space every year for experimental types that you want to try,” said Myers, the Baggett-Frazier Professor of Vegetable Breeding in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

By Denise Ruttan, denise.ruttan@oregonstate.edu, on Twitter at @OregonStateExt
Source: Jim Myers, myersja@hort.oregonstate.edu
This story is online at: http://bit.ly/OSU_Gardening2324

About Gardening News From the OSU Extension Service: The Extension Service provides a variety of gardening information on its website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/community/gardening. Resources include gardening tips, videos, podcasts, monthly calendars of outdoor chores, how-to publications, information about the Master Gardener program, and a monthly emailed newsletter.

FEBRUARY: Getting the Greenhouse Ready

It’s time to get your greenhouse ready for planting! Carlotta's  Little Greenhouse

Start with cleaning the shelves using 1 part bleach mixed with 9 parts water.
Read eHow for tips on cleaning a small greenhouse:
http://www.ehow.com/small-greenhouse_care.html

Sterilize your trays & pots with this same bleach solution. Purchase or make your seedling mix (which is a soil-less mix), gather your plant labels & permanent markers and you’re ready to plant.

Read how to make your own soil-less seedling mix Organic Gardening website: http://organicgardening.about./seedstartingmix.htm

To calculate greenhouse planting start dates, check each seed packet and plant according to the instructions. Count back the weeks needed for seeds to grow and when you want them really for the garden club’s plant sale or to plant in your garden after the last frost.  Seeds typically need 8-12 weeks to grow. For example: AGC’s plant sale is May 11 2013, 12 weeks back from May 11th is February 16th, 8 weeks back is March 16th . Check your seed packets for start dates.

Below is a list of flowers you can start in your greenhouse in February: Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia, Lupine, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Salvia, Lavender, Scabies, Delphinium, Pansies, Shasta daisy, Forget-me-nots, Gaillardias, and Nasturtiums.

You can also start: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Lettuce, Cilantro and Spinach seeds. It is recommended for larger vegetable seeds, like beets, to soak them 12 to 24 hours before planting.

To begin: fill your sterilized trays with seedling mix, water the seedling mix thoroughly, and then let them sit until the next day to warm up.  On day two, plant your seeds, mark your trays/pots, then water them in.

Seeds need warmth to germinate. Check out Heirloom Seeds’ website showing seed germination/soil temperatures:
http://www.heirloomseeds.com/germination.html

You can provide warmth with heating mats (available at garden supply stores) which sit under your seed trays or you can warm your greenhouse with a portable heater.

Some seeds also need light to germinate, so place trays a few inches below a grow light or a florescent light, and keep the lights on 24 hours a day.

After the plants have developed several sets of true leaves, transplant them into sterilized pots with a good garden variety potting soil.  To avoid transplant shock water them in with a B1 solution; B1 is available at garden stores. Once plants are established in their new pots, fertilize them once a week with a 1/4-strength water-soluble fertilizer. During the rest of the time use plain water; keep the seedlings moist, but not wet. Keep plants under the lights, keep them warm and watch them grow!

By: Carlotta Lucas & Melody Jones