Saturday, March 17, 2007

Flowers Not Vegetables

Saturday, March 17, 2007

3:30 PM and I feel like the day should be over. That's probably because I have moved a billion snowflakes since 5:30 this morning and there's still one section of path which needs to be shoveled. I have plowed three driveways, fed the birds twice and pared all the vegetables for the corned beef. It has been simmering since 12:30. Gail said I got carried away with the size of the beef this year but to me that's one meal that is better as leftovers. All wouldn't agree with me but I took cook's liberty on that one.

I belong to the Garden Writers Association and am in my second year. I joined so I could gain a different perspective on what people are writing about and I hoped to learn more about publishing. The $85 annual membership pays for itself in less than a month and I am glad I found it as a resource. A benefit is that you receive a number of announcements about new garden products. Don't get me wrong on this, no one drove up with a tractor trailer of Vermont hardy Japanese bonsai yet but announcements from the gardening world are frequent. Today I received an announcement from Johhny's Selected Seeds.

We grow flowers at Vermont Flower Farm and never seem to find the time to get to vegetables. Alex plants some things once in a while and the reviews are mixed. Last year he grew a few hot peppers. I questioned how they looked and bought a couple dozen mixed varieties. They about cooked in the greenhouse before Michelle got tired of looking at them and planted them one day while I was in Seattle. By then they needed CPR but she knows what she's doing and they came along fine. I remember picking a bunch one fall night when a frost was predicted but as I sit here tonight I have no recall of where they went. Kind of like the Lilium canadense seeds I babied into September when someone used the cart they were stored in and ???????

We have grown vegetables before and we know how to grow commercially. We're just not going down that road again. There are several area growers that have fine products and the Wellspring Farm CSA is just down Route 2 a few miles from our new land. There are also farmer's markets in either direction from here.

Johnny's Selected Seeds is the best as far as I am concerned. They are in Albion, Maine, a part of that state which tests thermometers to see how low they will go. They compare those readings to what they see on the anemometer and regardless of the numbers, they develop some incredible vegetables, herbs and flowers. I went to Johnny's a couple years back when I was on one of my solo "lost in Maine, looking for nurseries" cruises. I was en route to Fieldstone Gardens in Vassalboro, Maine. I can't remember if I was coming or going but Albion is not too far away.

Today's mail included a press release on the tomatoberry pictured above. Johnny's has exclusive marketing rights of this tomato which is bred by the Tokita Seed Company. As the picture indicates, they have a strawberry shaped 1" fruit, are indeterminate and high yielding. The good part is they are ready in 60 days.

When we moved to Vermont, one of my first lessons in gardening involved tomatoes. Fidelia and Eunice, our kind of down-the-road-neighbors on Church Hill Road, were responsible for their family's large vegetable gardens excepting the potatoes, winter squash and corn which the men folk did. The first spring I learned that Vermonters plant tomato seeds on Town Meeting Day which is the first Tuesday of the month. I still don't know why they do that but it might be that they need encouragement to get through the rest of the winter. Even though spring comes in March, the snow stays a lot longer and for some I guess it's a dreary time.

The next lesson I received was how to make and use manure tea. What I don't remember is what were the tomato varieties which people grew each year. Some from back then may still be grown by Johnny's--I just don't know.

If you get a chance, check out Johnny's website and make a few purchases. You might even want to try the tomatoberry as they look very interesting. If you have a dog, I cannot recommend buying a Johnny's garden cap. That's about the only thing I have had trouble with. I have had four of those and my dogs have eaten every one. Barney ate three and Baker ate one. They don't eat the hat, they eat the plastic adjustable band when you're taking a nap. After I told a sales rep at a flower show that I had lost 3, he gave me a fourth which met the same fate. I rigged up that last one with some baling twine and it got by last spring but wasn't too pretty. Maybe you don't have dogs like I do, so the hats and everything else Johnny's sells will really please you.

Getting closer to the time to slide the vegetables into the corned beef keetle. It will be a real nice meal even if we didn't grow the vegetables ourseleves. Smells good!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a single young blue jay cries out "Jay" "Jay" in hopes of finding company for the evening meal.

George Africa

1 comment:

Gotta Garden said...

So, how did the corned beef turn out??

I've been curious about the Garden Writers Assoc and thinking of joining, so your thoughts on it are interesting.

I remember reading a few years ago that Johnny's was one of only two sources for the true Brandywine tomato seed(s). I've ordered from them in the past and been happy with the seeds.

Enjoyed reading your blog!