Friday, June 7, 2013

TDN Newsletter: 6-7-13

Two Dog Organic Nursery    Jake_N_Lalo

First Ever "Fall-Winter" Tomato Line-Up! 
June 7, 2013 
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Dear Gardening Friends,

We hope this finds you happy and in "full harvest mode" in your gardens!  While thinking about this Newsletter, it occurred to me that so far, this has been a year of trying big new things here at the Nursery.  And here's possibly the biggest one:  


We get so many requests for them, and we know that many of the varieties which we already grow will do well in the cooler climate, so we decided to jump in! Click here to see the full line-up:
 Pre-Sale Winter Tomatoes  
As of today, they are available for Pre-Sale on our website with pick-ups beginning at our upcoming Winter Tomato Open House on Wednesday, August 26th, here at the Home Nursery. Click here for details. They'll also be available on our regular Wednesdays and Fridays at the Nursery, plus at our Farmers Markets on the weekends.

We'll have some of the gorgeous Purple/Blacks, some exciting new Reds, a stunning Orange (you know how we love our Orange tomatoes!!), and a beautiful new Bi-Color, 16 in all. We do hope you'll try them with us, and then report your results!! We all learn best when we share our growing experiences!

  (Above from L to R: Anna Russian, Valencia, and Vorlon) 
We've been enjoying a great Summer season and have expanded to 36 EarthBoxes and 26 Smart Pots. This has been possible, of course, because we now have more help here at the Nursery; our assistant, Elliot, has been a tremendous help in getting my ever-expanding wish list planted and logged!  Most recently, he planted two more EarthBoxes of Beans (Dragon Tongue and Royal Burgundy) and another EB of Summer Squash...yes, there's still time!

Tomato Harvest
 Our experiment of planting just one large-fruited tomato variety in an EarthBox has been a huge success...we are trying out Japanese Black Trifele, Kellogg's Breakfast and Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye this way, and WOW, the production has been fantastic!  We've harvested close to 40 tomatoes from Japanese Black Trifele already!  Planting 2 smaller-fruited varieties per EarthBox works just fine; our Sun Golds and Gardener's Delights have been incredibly abundant...we will definitely continue this method with our Winter varieties!
~Mohandas K. Gandhi
 We also planted many of our
new veggie varieties this season:

Dragon Tongue, Blue Coco and Black Turtle Beans, Little Fingers Eggplant (oh my gosh, they are prolific!!!), Candy Roaster, Bush Buttercup and Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Winter Squash, Small Sugar Pumpkin (we have 4 just now turning orange!) and Crimson Sweet Watermelon (we have two sizing up nicely right now!)

  Photos from Left to Right: Watermelon, Butternut Squash, Little Fingers Eggplant 

Seeing so much EarthBox production, I got to wondering whether they would all like a fertilizer boost... I mean, some of the plants are enormous, and it IS a small amount of soil... so we are experimenting now by reaching up under the mulch covers and adding Black Gold Tomato & Veggie Fertilizer, and then watering it all in real well with Great Big Tomatoes Liquid Compost.  We'll be watching to see if we get a noticeable boost in production and will let you know in the next Newsletter.

Corn Update!
Of course, another big experiment has been the Hand-Pollination of not only our Glass Gem Popcorn, but our Bon Jour as well!! Wow, what an education!  We're working with Sydney on a fun and informative video about the procedures involved.  Stay tuned!!    
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Another experiment we're about to undertake:

I got to thinking, while looking at this beautiful crop of Yukon Gold Potato plants, that it would be so nice if Smart Pot made a taller bag.... I mean, in the ground, you'd keep hilling the potato vines for as long as you could (more vines underground means more potatoes), I called 'em up!  They are really great folks, and they immediately asked what dimensions I had in mind, and I told them 24" diameter x 24" high.  That's basically their 30-gallon pot, but with 9 more inches of height. I told them I'd count the harvest from this standard 30-gallon, and compare it to the yield from their custom sized sample and report it all in our Newsletter. They liked the idea and made it up lickity split, and it arrived today! Next week we'll plant out a round of Yukons in it, and we'll let you (and Smart Pot) know the results as soon as we have them. Thanks, Smart Pot!!

Jumping into some Food Preservation!


Alex eats a lot of jam, and I love to grow a ton of's as simple as that! And we grow way too many tomatoes to be able to eat or give away. We've been saying for several Summers now that we're going to start canning and freezing. Well, about a month ago, Sydney and I took a Canning Class at the Urban Homestead in Pasadena; it was a really info-packed evening, and we came away with jars of 3 different types of canned food: Apricot Jam, Canned Peaches and Dilly Beans...each requiring a different process to make. I didn't want to lose the enthusiasm, so that very weekend, Alex and I began our canning career making Blackberry and Strawberry Jams. The next weekend, we canned Peaches and made Peach Jam. And the next weekend, we made more Canned Peaches, more Strawberry Jam, and a few jars of Strawberry Preserves!!
Meanwhile, I've now frozen three 2-lb. bags of fresh Green Beans (all varieties) and one 3-lb. bag of Heirloom Tomatoes.  What fun!  And it's so pretty to look at!

Next up on our to-do list: 

Pickled Peppers, Pickled Beets, and preserving our Garlic harvest!  I recently harvested our Garlic Crop for this year...came out pretty well. It's "curing" in the garage now, and I've decided to try a method of preserving I found on the Internet on a lovely blog called Barefoot in the Kitchen.  (This link also includes a little video on that amazing 10-second garlic peeling method you might have heard about on NPR.) Basically, you peel and wash & dry the cloves, pack them into sterile canning jars, cover with boiling white vinegar, seal and water bathe for 10 minutes.They say the garlic's natural oils don't allow the vinegar flavor to penetrate, and that garlic will keep for up to a year.

I'm very excited about the prospect of having ready garlic on hand all year! 
We'll post photos of it next Newsletter!
Now for the Not-So-Nice:

As always, at this time of the year, we get lots of glorious reviews (and photos) about our customers own gardens. AND we also get the same questions and concerns over and over. We've covered these points pretty extensively in our Tomato Tips on the website, but here's some quick comments:

Blossom End Rot -Very common. Result of insufficient calcium in the soil. Even happens in the EarthBox from time to time. Some varieties are more susceptible. Can be corrected by adding more Dolomite Lime, but don't delay!

Tomato Hornworms - This crazy looking creature has a voracious appetite  and can defoliate a huge tomato plant practically overnight. In our region of the country, we are actually plagued with the Tobacco Hornworm. They can eat up your peppers, too. Keep a keen eye out for the worm's poop, and then check the foliage just above... Check frequently, and hand pick!!  

Known by lots of different names, this Cabbage Moth is a little devil on  wings! It flits around the garden, pretending to be a pretty butterfly, lights momentarily, lays eggs, and wham!! Your basil, lettuce and other delicates are chewed to bits!! We've lost a fair amount of inventory to these guys. Try to swat them out of the garden (Alex keeps a racquet nearby), look for the poop and hand pick these little inchworms.

Customer's Brag Book:

Even though our Market friend, Robin, didn't "grow" his little friend, we must start the Brag Book this month with Winston!!  I swooned, he is so cute!! He's a little Pot Bellied Pig, and he got to come to the Market with his Dad a few weeks ago. The peaches we canned were grown by Robin and his family! 

 (Above) Winston the Pig!!
~Click on the photos for larger image~

(Above) Todd's new horseshoe bed
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(Above) Westlake customers, Jim and Tami's amazing harvest 
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(Above) La Canada Customer, Mark's abundant tomato harvest
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(Above)  Westlake Customer, Leslie's tomatoes and pumpkin
~Click on the photos for larger image~

Our "Welcome Summer" Open House was a lovely affair!  Jake & Lalo had their usual good time soaking up the love.  We do hope you will join us for the Winter Tomato Open House next month!!

That's it for now, stay tuned for updates, and as always, happy harvests!!

Jo Anne, Alex, Jake and Lalo  

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