2016 In the Garden

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This year in Southern Ontario it has been HOT!  No rain, but SO HOT.  I wish that it would stay like this forever.

The garden is doing very well.  The Brussels, broccoli and cauliflower are the only plants not enjoying the weather.  Everything else is fantastic.  Right now we are harvesting zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, kale, cabbage, rhubarb, all of the herbs, beans, artichoke, peas…

imageArtichoke plants are growing well this year.  Tonight’s dinner is grilled artichoke & zucchini with bruschetta! Planting nasturtium & calendula around the plant has increased the bee activity & I have never had as many artichokes on the plants.  Spreading straw around the plants keeps the moisture in the soil during the dry heat this year.

imagePeppers are ripening in bunches. Jalapenos, Hungarian Bananas, Joe’s Long Cayenne, Orange Habaneros and Mazitti peppers are all changing colour.  The greenhouse superhots aren’t ripe yet, but they are doing well. This year I emptied out a 2 yard bin of compost into the beds and the plants are loving it.  Everything is full and lush.

imageI like to plant sunflowers in the veggie beds.  They are beautiful & attract bees & butterflies.  Amaranth has spread through the garden.  I pulled out thousands of  volunteer plants & left a few plants scattered through the beds.  They are reaching 10′ high!  Tomato plants are bushy & healthy (middle 2 beds). They love compost.

imageI tried a new combination in the grape bed.  I planted potatoes in chicken wire cages along the bed.  Then planted kale around the cages.  I don’t know if it is the compost, the weather or the combo – but all 3 plants are the best ever.  I have over 300 bunches of grapes growing.  The potato plants are 5 feet tall & easy to hill.  There is NO WEEDING.  Love it!

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We had a chicken loss this week.  The boss of the flock, our 6 year Whitey the Silkie died in her sleep.  She had a great life with her baby Silkies, keeping everyone in line and foraging in the trees.  She was our roo, Napoleon’s favourite & he has been pretty quiet this week.  The other hens are doing well.  The little brown Silkie is the tamest bird that we have had.  She waits for me outside the door of the house every evening to pick her up & put her in, while everyone else is asleep on the roost!

imageEdwin & Ezekial, named after Blue Jays players are doing well.  Thankfully, they are both boys – there was some question…  They enjoy kale & cabbage, hanging out with the hens & the chipmunk that has moved into their pen!  Edwin (the blonde) likes to be pet & Ezekial (grey) is a little more skittish, but always the first to race to new food!

imageimage Wound Morning Glories around tomato plants & tied them over a trellis. The plants are HUGE in this bed.  I will continue this combination next year. Pole beans may work, but morning glories tendril the tomatoes with more strength.  Plus it looks fabulous in the garden in the morning. I need some new varieties for next year!

 

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Posted in 2016 garden, bean, chickens, flowers, hens, Potatoes, rabbit, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Veggie Garden | 7 Comments

GO JAYS GO!!!

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

5th Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange

canning

5TH ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED SWAP GUIDELINES

(Partially paraphrased from Heather MacDonald’s annual pepper/tomato swap guidelines – with her permission)…

ADDRESS  to be send by email when you sign up!

This is my business address & the postman brings the mail straight to me! Seeds are due in on November 16th, so please put your seeds in the mail on or before November 6th to ensure that they reach me on time. Of course, you are welcome to send your envelope earlier.

1. You can send in up to 40 seed packs. If you are sending in extra seeds as a bonus please mark them clearly as a bonus. If you send in 40 packages, you will get 40 packages back. If you send in 5 packages you will get 5 back. Bonuses will be divided between everyone, so you will end up with more than you send in. Occasionally I split seed packs in order to fill difficult wish lists.

You can send in up to 2 packs of the same variety. If you send in more than 2 packs of the same variety I will contact you. I can either use the seeds as bonus or send them back to you in your return envelope.

2. This swap is for NAMED VARIETIES of any open pollinated seed only. Please mark the seed package with the type of seed (annual or perennial flower, herb, vegetable, etc.) & the cultivar name. If you know – mark whether they are heirloom or OP, or hybrid. If seeds are from a commercial source, please note that as well. Basically put as much info as you can on the packet. If there is anything that are unsure of, just ask! Do not include mixes or mystery seeds or unnamed (eg: Purple Cosmos or Orange Cherry Tomato or Marigold) unless they are clearly marked as bonus seed. It isn`t fair to send mystery seed to people who followed instructions & sent in named varieties. Unknown varieties will be sent back to you, unless marked as bonuses.

If you are sending in hybrid seed, only F1 seed from a commercial source is acceptable. Please mark the source on the package. Do not send in seeds you have collected from a hybrid plant. They will not grow true to the original parent plant. If you are unsure if the seed you have collected is from a hybrid, please research online before mailing in your seeds or send me a message and I will try to find out.

Seed doesn`t need to be collected from bagged or separated varieties – accidental crosses occasionally happen. When you grow out the seeds that you receive please try not to be upset if an occasional plant isn`t true. Sometimes crosses are better than the original … That being said, please don`t send in seed that you know is crossed & will not grow true.

3. Please include a list of the seeds that you are sending in. Also include a wish list or preferences and if there are any seeds you do not want to receive. If you are only interested in heirloom or OP, please tell me. I will try my best to accommodate your wish list, but there are no guarantees. The returned seeds will be completely dependent on what is sent in. The easiest wishlists to fill include some specifics, but also some general wishes. Don’t be shy. It is easier, if your wishlist has 1000 things on it! (: If you wish to email your wishlist earlier, please feel free. Having your list early makes it easier for me to fill more of your wishes. If you have something on your wishlist & get it from another source, or find something that you wish to add to your list at any time before I send back your envelope, just let me know.

4. Please mail your seeds inside of a bubble envelope with your return address label inside. It is important that you send a regular bubble envelope & not the heavy cardboard insulated type to keep within the weight restriction. Please send $2.95 return postage. If your package uses less postage I will send you back the difference. Please do not assume that your postage will be the same as your package that you send in. There may be lots of bonus seeds or heavy seeds that will make a difference. I will reuse your original bubble envelope to send your surprise seeds back to you. If you go to Canada Post to mail your envelope & they try to charge you more, be sure to tell them that is Lettermail, non-standard and oversize.

The weight category is:

$2.95. 100-200 grams

https://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/productsservices/send/postagestamps.jsf”

This has been the correct weight category for almost every package that I have sent out in previous years.

5. Please include both your real name (for mailing) and your screen name & your email – so I know who has sent in their seeds!

WHAT TO SEND:

Inside your bubble wrap envelope you should have;

1. Whatever seed you are contributing to the swap

2. A list of whatever seed you have put in your envelope

3. Stamps totaling $2.95 (you will need another $2.95 in stamps to send your seeds to me)

4. An address label with your address on it.

5. A wish list or list of preferences or do not want list (:

6. Include your name & Screen name along with an email address.

Remember, you can send in your wish list as soon as it is ready, making it easier to fill. You can also change your wish list after you have sent it. Just let me know of any additions or changes.

to sign up, please send me your email address!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Happy trading !!!

Cheers,

Nicky

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Lots of Bush Beans

 

I grew double my usual amount of bush beans this year. One day I will grow less varieties. But I can’t resist all of the pretty colours and shapes! Anyway….  One bed was much sunnier than the other and matured quicker, but overall it was a great season.

I planted several varieties that I have already reviewed.  If you are looking for more info on;

Black Valentine, Blue Jay, Dapple Grey, Jacob’s Cattle, Tsunetomi or Wood Mountain Crazy, shoot me a message or check out my previous blogs.  They all did well and grew true to form

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The new to me varieties:

imageCANADIAN WILD GOOSE

What a pretty bean. Green with purple stripes with unremarkable flavour as a snap. But dried…. The earliest to a mature, it pumped out hundreds of easy to shell tiny colourful beans. I left the plants in, hoping for a 2nd crop in the fall. No luck.  I think that I could fit an early snap in before winter in its spot. Will get a spot in next year’s garden.

imagePAINTED PONY

A tall plant that shoots out runners.  The beans dried fairly late. The long, thin pods were easy to shell. The seeds are gorgeous and kept their markings when cooked.  I was making refried beans, but couldn’t bear to mash them!  Not my favourite variety.  Average production, average maturity, average taste dressed in a pretty coat.

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APPALOOSA

i tried this as a snap and it was good.  I won’t bother next time.  The dried beans are so beautiful, why waste picking any early? It produced masses of long, thin pods. My only complaint is that I got the bean equivalent of paper cuts when shelling along the sharp pod edge. Fantastic in chili.  This is a grow every other year in my garden.

imageSPECKLED ALGONQUIN

This was the largest plant of all of the bush varieties. Strangely, the dry bean yield was a little less than average.  It was in a sunny spot, so I don’t think that I will grow it again, but – I haven’t tasted them yet!  This is a native Canadian bean said to be great baked or in soup.  I will update once I cook with it.

imageMROCUMIERE

I planted 5 seeds of this gorgeous purple seeded bean, hoping to increase my stock & share a few. I was very wrong.  The 5 beans that I planted produced as much as the 2 dozen seeds of the other varieties! The plants were covered in large rounded pods. And the dried bean – so striking. The purple colour is deepening with age.  I will taste some soon & update!

imageFLAGEOLET

Such a dainty little bean.  The pale green colour of the seed is eye-catching.  Stringy as a snap, this one shines in soup.  Rich & creamy tasting.  Although I have enjoyed cooking with this variety, it didn’t have a great yield for me.  It was in the shadiest part of the garden, so when I try it again it will get a sunny spot.

imageTIGER EYE

Tiger Eye is said to be a bush variety, but consistently throws runners.  I decided to plant the seed around the base of my peach tree. Good thing, as it would have strangled out the neighbouring bush beans had I left it in the main beds.  It grew right up the trunk of the tree.  What a crazy coloured bean!  A grow again for colour alone! I can’t wait to try it in chili!

PISRECKA ZLUTOLUSKE

The first fresh eating beans to mature in the absolute shadiest spot in my garden!  A terrific tasting wax bean. I ate masses of them fresh out of the garden, drowning them in butter & salt.  I froze enough for about a dozen meals for 4. Then I realized that the beans in the shady part of the garden weren’t drying. I left the rest for seed, but the frost got the seed first.  Bah! I will have to source these again, as I hope none left!

Overall my favourites this year were Canadian Wild Goose and Mrocumiere.  Both great production & gorgeous when shelled!

If anyone has a spare dozen Pisarecka Zlutoluske beans, let me know.  I think that they would have been a favourite too, in a sunnier part of the garden!

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2014 garden, bean | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Great Year For Pole Beans!

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My pole beans LOVED the weather this year.  I ran into one slight problem when a few varieties from trades failed to germinate.  After three weeks (an eternity in bean years) I replaced them with a few other varieties.  I thought that I could at least get some fresh eating beans, even if the replacements wouldn’t have time to mature into dried beans.  Strangely, the 3 replacements caught up and ended up  maturing just a touch later than the rest!

CHRISTMAS LIMA – no photo

I was very excited to try this one… They are so striking with their deep maroon splashed white coloured large flat seeds. But darn…  Mine did not do well at all.  Straggly vines, late to dry.  The colour seemed off as well, mainly white with maroon splotches.  Off to the soup pot with no picture!

 

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BOSNIAN  POLE

This was one of my last-minute additions to the trellis.  I grew it in 2013 and loved it.  A green Romano with 5-6″ pods.  I didn’t expect much from the ones that I froze last year, but they were great!  Tasty & not mushy.  They hold their shape well in soup. Bosnian has an unusual colouring.  The shades of the tri-coloured dry beans deepen over time.

imageROGER NEWSOME

this fall/October bean from Kentucky was another last-minute replacement.  I am SO glad that it was! What a gorgeous bean.  The pods change colour in the fall to a gorgeous bright pinkish red.  Striking in the midst of the greenery.  I didn’t try any fresh, but have a good stock to try cooking this winter!

imageBIRD EGG

I ended up with a very small yield of these huge beans!  They were the least productive in my garden, maturing far later than the others.  In spite of this, it was fun to try them out. I am hoping that the huge size will satisfy my meat-eating husband, who asks where the meat is whenever I make a bean dish.  I should just add bacon to everything.

imageKAHNAWAKE MOHAWK

This Ontario native bean was my favourite pole bean of the year. A HUGE climber, it produced a whopping amount of plump, beautifully coloured beans.  I tried them as snaps & they were very tasty.  I froze some – so I will see how they hold. As a dry bean they have a lovely creamy texture. They will be growing in my 2015 garden for sure!

imageDOLLOFF

This Vermont horticultural lima is on its 3rd year on my trellis. The earliest to dry, extremely prolific & just keeps going in all weather. A huge climber, it takes more than its fair share of my 8 foot high trellis & comes back down the other side by October. The dried beans are great in chili, baked, sautéed fresh…  Every way that I have tried them!

imageGOOD MOTHER STALLARD

A well-known & well-loved bean that I threw along my back fence just to try it out. It fought to grow in a tough spot & began the season eaten by rabbits.  It managed to come back & produce a respectable crop of plump maroon splashed white beans.  This will get a spot in the main garden next year.  I’m looking forward to trying it in soup.

This year I tried a new companion plant for my bean trellis.  It gets hard to weed the middle of the 4 foot wide bed without breaking vines.  I had extra seed potatoes, so I planted a row in the middle of the bed.  It worked out perfectly.  The potatoes grew great in the spring and then the beans took over.  The shelter of the vines kept the sun from drying out the bed, so the potatoes were more evenly watered.  The potato foliage kept weeds from growing in the middle of the vines! Perfect if you like less weeding!

Posted in 2014 garden, bean, Veggie Garden | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Here Are The Potatoes – with a cool growing idea!

imageEvery year I decide in the fall that I am going to pick a few favourites to grow and stop trialling so many varieties.  Then winter hits and I start rummaging through seed sites.  Eventually my 1 or 2 varieties become 5 or 10, then by spring it’s is up to 15.  I should not look at Eagle Creek Farms website. They have too many interesting potatoes.  I just can’t resist.  So, here I am posting about 10 varieties instead of 2!

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DESIREE

Decent production of small 2.3-3cm oval red skinned potatoes with yellow flesh.  A main crop variety from the Netherlands. The potato was very hard to cut for the picture.  Thick and waxy hard flesh.  This variety Should be ideal for potato salad, but was forgettable fried.

image AGRIA

Large thick 4-5″ flattened ovals with light yellow skin and dark yellow flesh. Very dry & floury.  A main crop variety.  They were everyone’s favourite when the potatoes for this blog post were fried After the photo session!

 

imageWARBA

This variety is supposed to have pink eyes, but mine didn’t do very well.  They grew close to the top of the bed and shot off so many tiny tubers that the larger ones didn’t seem to have enough energy to grow.  This is one of the larger. Waxy yellow inside.  Supposed to be great for mashing.

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ALASKA SWEETHEART

Grown from a few saved for seed from last year.  Excellent yields of small roundish bright pink all the way through potatoes!  They keep their colour when fried, although they had a tendency to fall apart. Very tasty. I can’t wait to mash some!

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BLUE MAC

A small yield of small to medium sized round potatoes.  Very white flesh inside a dark purple skin.  Bred by Agriculture Canada.   These are supposed to be for boiling or baking.  They were forgettable fried, but the white flesh is striking and would make very pretty as a twice baked potato with chives & bacon!

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LINDZER DELIKATESS

An early season wax potato. When I cut into this one it was very tender & juicy.  They yielded quite a few long thin smallish whitish yellow potatoes, from just one seed potato.  I would imagine that this one will have to be a salad potato, given the size.

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CANDY CANE

This variety (along with Russian Blue) were part of my pole bean bed experiment. I hate weeding inside my pole been tepees, so I grew potatoes to smother out the weeds.  Perfect!  My yield from my 1 Candy Cane seed potato from previous year was fantastic and I didn’t have week my bean bed once! Plus – what a pretty potato!

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The other half of my pole bean bed experiment.  The yields were fabulous.  I have grown Russian Blue for years & it always produces well, but in the pole beans…. Wow!!!  My best guess is that the bit of shade thrown by the beans keeps the moisture in the bed better, allowing the potatoes to develop rapidly.   This how I will grow all of my beans next year.

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PINK FIR APPLE

Well, not quite sure what to say about this one.  Last year it was a huge producer. This year I planted one seed potato – the rest were accidentally eaten. It produced one potato.  Now that I have cut it in half for the blog post, I will have to order more. I’m never sure about the fingerlings.  I am more of a fry, mash or baked potato fan.

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GERMAN BUTTERBALL

Mmmmm.  That is all that I have to write!  ;). So very good.  This is my favourite.  Fabulous fried.  Toss em’ in sea salt & olive oil & bake them.  Even the kids eat them without ketchup, so that they can taste the flavour!  This years crop did well.  The skin was a bit rough, but the insides are the usual dark yellow and the yields were great.

overall winner: Butterball.  Just love the texture.

Plant next year: Butterball, Agria, Alaska Sweetheart, Candy Cane, Russian Blue all in the pole bean bed!

Now I have to narrow down my list and pick a few more when Eagle Creek puts up its seed potatoes for next spring!

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Posted in 2014 garden, Potatoes, Uncategorized, Veggie Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4th Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange

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I can’t believe that this is the 4th year of this swap already (:

Every fall I host a swap just for Canadians. Last year we had just over 40 gardeners join in. Feel free to message me if you are interested. Don’t be shy… You will be helping out genetic diversity😉 and you will end up with more seeds than you can plant!

This swap is for any kind of seed. Vegetable, herb, flower, fruit…. All Canadians are welcome! If it is your 1st swap or 50th, feel free to ask any questions.

4TH ANNUAL CANADIAN AUTUMN SEED SWAP GUIDELINES
(Partially paraphrased from Heather MacDonald’s annual pepper/tomato swap guidelines with her permission)

I will send my address privately when you either post in this thread or send me an email. Here are the guidelines:

This is my business address & the postman brings the mail straight to me! Seeds are due in on November 17th, so please put your seeds in the mail on or before November 7th to ensure that they reach me on time. Of course, you are welcome to send your envelope earlier.

1. You can send in up to 40 seed packs. If you are sending in extra seeds as a bonus please mark them clearly as a bonus. If you send in 40 packages, you will get 40 packages back. If you send in 5 packages you will get 5 back. Bonuses will be divided between everyone, so you will end up with more than you send in. Occasionally I split seed packs in order to fill difficult wish lists.

You can send in up to 2 packs of the same variety. If you send in more than 2 packs of the same variety I will contact you. I can either use the seeds as bonus or send them back to you in your return envelope.

2. This swap is for NAMED VARIETIES of any open pollinated seed only. Please mark the seed package with the type of seed (annual or perennial flower, herb, vegetable, etc.) & the cultivar name. If you know, mark whether they are heirloom or OP, or hybrid. If seeds are from a commercial source, please note that as well. Basically put as much info as you can on the packet. If there is anything that are unsure of, just ask! Do not include mixes or mystery seeds or unnamed (eg: Purple Cosmos or Orange Cherry Tomato or mixed Marigold) unless they are clearly marked as bonus seed. It isn`t fair to send mystery seed to people who followed the instructions & sent in named varieties. Unknown varieties will be sent back to you, unless marked as bonuses.

If you are sending in hybrid seed to exchange, only F1 seed from a commercial source is acceptable. Please mark the source on the package. Do not send in seeds you have collected from a hybrid plant. They will not grow true to the original parent plant. If you are unsure if the seed you have collected is from a hybrid, please research online before mailing in your seeds or send me a message and I will try to find out.

Seed does not need to be collected from bagged or separated varieties accidental crosses occasionally happen. When you grow out the seeds that you receive please try not to be upset if an occasional plant isn`t true. Sometimes crosses are better than the original… That being said, please don`t send in seed that you know is crossed & will not grow true.

3. Please include a list of the seeds that you are sending in. Also include a wish list or preferences and if there are any seeds you do not want to receive. If you are only interested in heirloom or OP, please tell me. I will try my best to accommodate your wish list, but there are no guarantees. The returned seeds will be completely dependent on what is sent in. The easiest wishlists to fill include some specifics, but also some general wishes. Don�t be shy. It is easier, if your wishlist has 1000 things on it! (: If you wish to email your wishlist earlier, please feel free. Having your list early makes it easier for me to fill more of your wishes. If you have something on your wishlist & get it from another source, or find something that you wish to add to your list at any time before I send back your envelope, just let me know.

4. Please mail your seeds inside of a bubble envelope with your return address label inside. It is important that you send a regular bubble envelope & not the heavy cardboard insulated type to keep within the weight restriction. Please send $2.95 return postage. If your package uses less postage I will send you back the difference. Please do not assume that your postage will be the same as your package that you send in. There may be lots of bonus seeds or heavy seeds that will make a difference. I will reuse your original bubble envelope to send your surprise seeds back to you. If you go to Canada Post to mail your envelope & they try to charge you more, be sure to tell them that is non-standard lettermail.

The weight category is:
$2.95. 100-200 grams

This has been the correct weight category for almost every package that I have sent out in previous years.

5. Please include both your real name (for mailing) and your screen name & email, so I know who has sent in their seeds!

WHAT TO SEND:

Inside your bubble wrap envelope you should have;

1. Whatever seed you are contributing to the swap
2. A list of whatever seed you have put in your envelope
3. Stamps totaling $2.95 (you will need another $2.95 in stamps to send your seeds to me)
4. An address label with your address on it.
5. A wish list or list of preferences or do not want list (:
6. Include your name & Screen name along with an email address.

Remember, you can send in your wish list as soon as it is ready, making it easier to fill. You can also change your wish list after you have sent it. Just let me know of any additions or changes.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Happy trading !!!!
Nicky

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Bush Beans and the shallow gardener!

A post from the middle of a HUGE snowstorm here in Southern Ontario….  It is hard to imagine that the garden beds, now covered in up to 7 feet or snow will ever be ready to plant again.  Since I haven’t started sowing quite yet & don’t have any seed swaps left to send out, I am feeling very non-gardeny…  So I decided to post reviews of my 2013 bush bean harvests!

I grew twice as many bush beans this year and will likely add to that total next year! A favourite summer activity involves grabbing the dried pods and mixing them together.  Later when I shell them, it is like a mini-Christmas, full of surprises.  The only problem is that I had a couple of crosses & had to check which plant that they came from with subsequent harvests!

On to the variety reviews and photos:

BLUE JAY

imageA bush snap bean discovered and named by Russ Crow in 1977.  Brought back from the brink of extinction by a few Canadian Seed Savers.  There is a great write-up on Mr.Crow’s site A Bean Collector’s Window.  The large, sturdy plant has beautiful blue/purple flowers with a fantastic yield of tasty snap beans.  The harvest started early and they stayed tender for a long time.   Bonus is that the dried seed is gorgeous!

BLACK VALENTINE

imageA hardy, productive variety grown for green snap or dried black beans.  It is fairly early for me.  The pods are great to process – long and straight. This year I planted these for their dried bean yield.  I have found them to be my most productive black bean, edging out Cherokee Trail of Tears (pole).  I only had a dozen plants and managed to get 3 cups of dried beans.  Not bad! Great for all recipes needing black beans.

DAPPLE GREY

imageThere is no known history for these beans.  All that I can say is that I loved growing these.  The unusual colouring was my favourite to shell.  They were early, foot high plants with a good yield.  The bean itself is great.  I ate them in an Italian peasant soup. That is just a tomato based soup with every leftover bit of veg in the kitchen!  The bean plumped up well and held its shape during cooking.  Another grow again!

JACOB’S CATTLE

imageI grew these for the 3rd year in a row.  I like them!  They are prolific, early and I love the shape and colour of the dried beans.  I use them in chili.  They don’t go mushy.  The bean has a long history in Maine, with many different stories of possible origin.  It is supposed to be a great baked bean.  I haven’t tried it that way yet.  Either way, I think that I will take a year off next year, but it will come back again in 2015.

ORCA

imageAnother return to the bean patch and another great soup bean. This was a last-minute fill in of a dozen plants when I couldn’t find where I stashed my seed for Mrocumiere, a rarer variety that I had planned on trying.  My missing seeds showed up at the end of summer, right where I thought that they were!  Anyway, Orca produces well for me.  It is a tasty, dependable variety in my garden!

PIROS FEHER

imageThis is a Hungarian variety.  It  grew a few short vines, but nothing to long.  I used it as a snap bean when very young, but I wish that I had left them on the vine to dry.  It was good as a snap, but the dried bean is excellent!  It is a plump odd-shaped bean that keeps its colour when cooked.  It is lovely in stew, chili and soup. A definite grow again.  I’m just not sure where I will fit all of my grow agains!

WOOD MOUNTAIN CRAZY

wood mountain crazy and rattlesnakeA ridiculously prolific green snap given to me by another crazy Canadian bean collector.  I got masses of tasty, thick green beans with purple stripes.  They are not as tender as some, but are very tasty.  I made a little mistake with my seed saving & these got mixed in with my Rattlesnake pole seeds. Argh!  So, next year I will have to grow them and thin out any that start to vine!

SHIN KINTOKI

imageThese are dark maroon Japanese dry beans.  They are used as dessert beans or simmered with soy, or dashi soup.  I actually threw them into a chili.  They took on the chili spices & were very good.  The next batch that I cooked to attempt dessert, I managed to burn beyond recognition.  The plant was the earliest in my garden & produced & died quickly. Even with our not long season, I think that I could have grown 2 sets of plants!

VERMONT CRANBERRY

imageA New England heirloom dried bush bean.  You can use them as shelly types too (although I didn’t).  I like them, but they did not produce in my garden at all.  Since everything else did well, I don’t think that they will get another shot.  Too bad, I love the dark pink colour of the seed and enjoyed shelling these ones!  They stayed firm when cooked and were very tasty.  Great texture for baked beans.

YELLOW EYE

imageAnother repeat crop.  My favourite variety for baked beans.  The texture is creamy and the taste is perfect for the sweetness of baked beans. Early, great yields, an all around excellent bean!  They shoot out a few runners & I try to save next year’s seed from the less vining plants, but occasionally forget in my hurry to pick the dried pods.  These are an easy bean to shell.  Another to grow in 2014.

INDIAN WOMAN YELLOW

imageThese extra small dried beans were an odd plant for me.  The plant was like a miniature.  It had smaller leaves, skinny pods, runner tendrils everywhere, but not great production.  Had I know that the plant was so small, I would have squished a few more in & put them on the outskirts of the bed. They ended up dwarfed by the Yellow Eye and Vermont Cranberry on either side.  I haven’t tasted them yet, but they are really cute!

In the end, I have more “grow every year” types and very few “don’t grow again” varieties.   At some point I will have to narrow down my grow agains and stop adding garden beds.  From the new to me plants, I recommend Piros Feher for dried beans, Wood Mountain Crazy for production of snaps, Blue Jay for its lovely history and Dapple Grey for its good looks!  I am a shallow gardener, picking beans by their cuteness when dried!

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2013 Pole Beans

all beans

It was a great year for dried beans in my garden, but not great for snaps.  I was a bit surprised, as it was a cool, wet summer with very little sun.  The beans seemed to get woody quickly and there was a very small window for picking shelly beans.  The dried beans were ready earlier than usual.  I need more room for the pole varieties next year!

BOSNIAN POLE

Bosnian poleRemy, from Sample Seeds got this variety from a gardener from the Netherlands who got them from a neighbour who fled from Bosnia during the war.  The black, brown and white colouring is unusual, as the plump seeds change over time.  It looked like a green podded romano with 5 to 6″ flat pods.  It stayed stringless for a good length of time.  It did well in my cool wet summer. My yield was outstanding and the beans tasted great.  A grow again variety.

DESERONTO POTATO BEAN

deseronto potatoFrom the Tyendinga Reserve just east of Deseronto, here in Ontario.  It is used dry as a soup thickener or can be mashed like potatoes.  Described as a vigorous twining bush bean, after reading a review of the growth on Seasonal Ontario Food, I decided to grow as a pole bean.  Lucky.  It ended up 8 feet tall with an excellent yield.  It produced steadily in a cool wet season.  I plan on making mashed beans later this week and will replace this with the update.

DOLLOFF

doloffThe history of this bean is described in great detail on The Extreme Gardener.  Named after Roy Dolloff of Vermont, this is a great green shelly bean or can be used as a dry bean.  It is also supposed to be an excellent baked bean.  The striking squarish flattened seed resembles a lima bean. This one did great in my garden.  I tried the shelly type and it was very tasty.  The dried beans are very pretty. I am hoping to try them out over Christmas.

FLAGG

flaggMay be an Iroquois Indian variety.  Named after Gail Flagg of Maine, who helped to keep the variety from disappearing.  The bean is easy to shell.  It is a large, flat seed shaped like a lima bean with black and white streaks.  Sometimes it grows out with reverse markings.  It is used as a quick cooking dry bean.  Excellent yields.  I didn’t try it green, but it has a lovely buttery texture when cooked as a dry bean.

GOOSE

brown tobacco wormI only had a few seeds for this variety.  I planted it for seed production.  Its large light brown seed was said to have been found in the craw of a goose.  It is a vigorous pole bean.  It grew great for me in my cool wet summer.  I didn’t taste any, showed great will power😉  It is supposed to be an excellent shelly bean.  The pink colour of the pods on the vine are striking.

HERITAGE DORE

mayacoba canario and heritage doreHeritage Dore is a French Canadian heirloom vining bush type of bean.  I grew it as a pole to check how well it would climb.  This one got about 3-4 feet. It would have been better suited to climbing my cornstalks than ending up dwarfed by my other pole types.  It is a dry baking bean that didn’t do well for me this year.  Perhaps it didn’t like the lack of sunlight, unlike the other beans. Maybe I will try it on a cornstalk next year!

RATTLESNAKE

rattlesnakeThis is a very popular snap bean.  The dark green pods are streaked with purple.  The purple colouring fades when cooked.  The pods are long, thin, straight and tender.  I love the taste and texture.  I get a huge yield of fantastic beans.  They freeze well.  The plant produces well from midsummer until frost. It seems to pick up a bit in the fall when the weather cools. They are one of the varieties that I grow to eat fresh and also to freeze for winter.

TENNESSEE GREASY

tennessee greasyI had very few seeds, so I grew these out for seed production.  It didn’t produce very well, but I got enough to try again.  The purplish-brown feathered colour is quite striking & was not in the original mix. The tiny square seed are interesting & seem to have stayed true. I will plant them again, but next year I will go back to the North Carolina Greasies.  They missed getting seeded this year when I misplaced my seed pack until it was too late to sow.

BARKSDALE  – no photos

Barksdale is a cool weather loving wax bean.  Mine produced very long, slightly curled, light yellow beans.  They were fairly tasty, but a bit tough.  The production was low compared with Gold of Bacau (from 2012’s garden).  I was a bit surprised, as this summer was cool and wet.  Most beans grew very well, but not his one.  I would give it another try, as it seems to be a favourite wax bean of other gardeners.

BROWN TOBACCO WORM

I only had 4 seeds of this variety and made one of my mistakes….   It ended up winding itself around the Tennessee Greasy pole beans.  I think that I separated the seeds correctly… but will have to grow them out again to be sure.  If I did it right then it has a very good yield for just 4 seeds😉  It is said to be a string bean with exceptional snap taste.  Hopefully I will get to try a few next year!

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2nd Tomato Taste Test of 2013

There is a lot of information on gardening online.  Some websites I find myself going to almost daily for information.  One of my favourites is Tatiana’s TOMATObase.  This site lists every OP stable tomato that you can think of.  If it doesn’t list it, you can become a member and add it.  It is a goldmine of beautiful photos, grower taste & growth reviews for each tomato.  I also enjoy visiting a few of the gardening forums.  Tomatoville was the first forum that I joined.  The site is full of information and helpful, welcoming gardeners. Whether it is plant advice or mailing seeds, the site is full of generous gardeners.  Folia is another forum that I joined shortly after Tomatoville. I originally joined to track my seeds, but found a community of kind, encouraging gardeners, posting mini-blogs, called journals that are exceptionally well written. I Dig My Garden is a little more political, but very interesting reading. Homegrown Goodness has great info on amazing breeding work and technical knowledge.  Several members have great blogs. I especially love Seasonal Ontario Food.  There are so many forums and blogs to wander through.  The above are just a few that I visit on a regular basis.

Now for the next set of reviews!

ANNA RUSSIAN  I was really looking forward to trying this variety.  The last 2 years I ended up with seeds that were crossed or mixed up.  This year the plant fell to septoria early and the production was not good.  That is too bad because it was a 9.5 taste!  Extra sweet with the creamy heart texture and great aftertaste.  A wonderful balance of sweet and tang.  This is a Russian variety (via Oregon) with wispy foliage.

KARDIA KARPOS is not a stable variety yet. Gary (Tormato at Tomatoville) found this pink heart shaped tomato at an unattended roadside stand.  He saved the seeds & got pink hearts on a potato leaf plant.  He shared the seeds with other gardeners.  Neither of my plants grew true.  I grew a  pink RL beefsteak, rated a 6 on my taste scale.  The 2nd plant was potato leaf with very blunt red hearts. An 8.5 with a good strong, sweet balanced taste.

KARDINAL  is a semi-determinate pink heart grown commercially in Russia.  It is said to be the same as Mazarini.  I tasted them both in the same tasting.  They look and taste the same to me.  The plants grew very similarly as well.  This year both were an 8.  Sweet with very little tang.  I like Kardinal, but didn’t love it. I will likely not grow it again next year, as I grew Mazarini in 2012 & thought that it was good, but not great.  Too many others to try😉

SPUDAYELLOW STRAWBERRY  There is a bit of a debate whether this variety is a potato or regular leaf plant.  Bill Malin, who selected the variety says that it is PL.  His definition is different than the traditional definition of potato leaf. Sadly, the debate made no difference to me, as mine were not hearts.  A 6.5 mealy and bleck.  A lovely yellow colour and quite good production.  Too bad.  I won’t save seeds from this one.

BRAD’S BLACK HEART  Yay !!!  I love hearts, hubby loves the black tomatoes. The plant is a wispy leaved black heart that was found in a patch of Black Krim tomatoes by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms.  Outstanding taste. 9.5 Sweet, smokey, tangy all at once!  More pear shaped than most of my hearts,  (the least heart shaped is pictured).  Decent production in a terrible growing year.  I loved this tomato.  A grow again next year.

ANGEL HEART  is an orange heart bred by Millard Murdock, who is featured on the Artisan Seeds Site. Millard has sent me several seeds over the last couple of years & yum!  His are some of my favourites.  This one was good.  A pretty orangish-yellow heart with no cracking or spots with a 7.5-8 ish rating.  I think that the weather affected this variety.  Good production, but a weak flavour.  I think that I will try it again next year.

MORAVSKY DIV was given to me by my friend Rob, who I met at the Buffalo-Niagara Tomato Taste Festival hosted by Remy from Sample Seeds.  A Czech commercial variety, posibly a strain of Stupice.  Very early with round red tomatoes on a strong potato leaf plant.  This one pumped out fruit in spite of the septoria that destroyed the plants around it.  Sadly the taste wasn’t there this year.  A 6, sour and no sweet.  Likely better in a warmer year.

WOW This tomato was supposed to be a large round orange cherry bred from Brandywine, sungold F1 & an unknown grape cherry.  Both years that I have grown it, it has shown up as an elongated red cherry with a pointy end.  It is thick skinned and meaty with an excellent sweet taste.  I made a few jars of salsa from WOW last year & it was excellent. Great production last year, OK this year.  It is an always grow in my garden.  A solid 9.

GREEN PEAR was introduced in 2009.  It is a sprawling regular leaf cherry plant.  Great production of small green when ripe pear shaped cherry tomatoes.  Mine ripened very early.  Like most green when ripes they are slightly amber coloured when ready to eat.  This variety has an excellent flavour, sweet and rich, just like a green when ripe beefsteak in a smaller package.  I love greens!  A plant again next year 8.5.

KELLOGS WEST VIRGINIA This is Mark Korney’s (whom I also met at the Buffalo-Niagara Tomato Taste Fest) cross of Kellogs Breakfast & Akers West Virginia. The tomatoes were much smaller on my plant than other gardeners report.  Other gardeners also rave about the taste, but mine were just OK.  A 7.5.  I think that a lot of the red and pink tomatoes needed more sunshine to develop their rich sweet tangy taste.

GREEN VELVET was my most prolific regular sized tomato plant in 2013.  This regular leaf plant made it through the septoria until quite late.  It was good tasting, but not great.  Too much tang with no sweet.  It didn’t have the same depth of flavour that I usually love in the green when ripe tomatoes.  It also kept its very dark green shoulders when ripe.  A 6.5.  Too bad because the production in a bad year was fantastic!

PURPLE HAZE F6 This tomato has interesting breeding lines.  Brandywine crossed with Cherokee Purple and grown until F4 as a great tasting potato leaf.  The F4 was then crossed with Black Cherry to produce a great tasting black cherry fruit on a potato leaf plant.  My F5’s were great, but low production.  I saved the seed and got an OK tasting medium sized beefsteak!  Ah well, back to the F5 seeds I go for next year’s spring planting.

NOWICKI  Is a lovely red heart paste type fruit named for Jan Nowicki.  I got the seed for this one from Frances, a gardener who participated in my Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange last year.  It was meaty with that distinctive heart shaped texture.  Very sweet with great tang mixed in for a very balanced flavour. A 9.5 rating!  Many of the hearts were outstanding this year.  They must have enjoyed the cool weather a bit more than the beefsteaks.

So once again, the hearts take the flavour award for this tasting!  Often the Russian varieties are supposed to be good for colder climates, so maybe the cooler temperatures this year helped out all of the wispy leaved Russian hearts!

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