I’ve been getting a lot of requests from my garden-coaching clients and other friends for a late-April garden update. So, I thought I would brief everyone all at once about what is going on in my garden now.
Seeds I’ve sown in the potager.
My first garden update is in the potager. The seeds for cool-weather vegetables, including kale, bok choy, radishes, three kinds of lettuce, and ‘Sugar Ann’ sweet-podded peas are up and growing. I also grew nasturtiums and calendula in the greenhouse to grow them larger to place outside. They are all now transplanted outdoors.
Two nasturtium plants up and halfway died. There is no apparent reason. I’m telling you this because everyone loses plants. As the Mandalorian would say, “It is the way.” We don’t always know why.
I also started seeds for shallots indoors, and I transplanted them at the same time as the calendula and nasturtiums.
Garden inspiration is everywhere.
Each year I pick something I feel really inspired about, and this year, it isn’t vegetable gardening in particular. In fact, I joined the Guilford Gardens CSA so I wouldn’t need to grow all of the organic vegetables Bill and I want to eat. We’re going to be traveling a lot this summer and fall, and in my opinion, there is nothing uglier than a vegetable garden gone to pot.
Can I get an amen?
Sunflowers for Ukraine.
Three days ago, on one of the windiest spring days, I sowed dwarf sunflower seeds in the potager between the rows of leafy greens. Elves Blend from Botanical Interests and Kneehigh Sunflowers Music Box from Renee’s Garden Seeds are the mixes I chose for my project.
With the lavender, they should evoke the colors of the Ukrainian flag which gives me a little peace and reminds me to pray every day for the Ukrainian people.
Some of my onions from last year overwintered and are growing again too. I don’t always find all of them, and it’s a bonus because I have green onions very early. There is nothing like my Grandma Nita’s early wilted lettuce salad with green onions. There isn’t a recipe really, but this is close. I use cider instead of red wine vinegar though.
As for hot-weather vegetables, I again planted all of my tomatoes and peppers in fabric containers and lined them up in the middle of the old driveway. It worked so well the last two years, and I like the fact that they create a kind of living fence. Here’s where I talked about it with Casey Hentges on Oklahoma Gardening last summer.
If you’d like to read about my previous tomato adventures, here are my tomato archives. In the containers with the tomatoes, I planted herbs like variegated sage, a variety of basil, Mexican oregano, red pentas for butterflies, and marigolds just because I like them. I also found Mexican oregano at the Tomato Man’s Daughter (“TMD”) in Tulsa. I hope to take cuttings this fall because it is hard to find.
Tomato garden update
Before you ask why I’m growing so many tomato plants, I’ll tell you. For one thing, I like experimenting, and tomatoes are very satisfying to grow and harvest.
My mom was a huge tomato fan, and I used to give her any extras I had. Now, that she is no longer with us, I will give some tomatoes to my friends at Sparrow Modern Italian. I get a real kick out of giving them unique produce.
Then, there’s my granddaughter who loves tomatoes so I grow a lot for her.
These are the tomato varieties I’m growing this year.
- Phoenix. Red, determinate. Bought from Edward Joseph Farms (“EJF”.) I made a trip out there last week. He focuses on determinate–bush type–tomatoes that have heavy yield with fruit set at high temperatures. Because Oklahoma summer temperatures can soar into the high 90s and low 100s, we have some years with no fruit set.
- Grand Marshall. Red. F1 hybrid, red, determinate. EJF. Fruit set in high heat.
- Pink Jazz. Indeterminate–large pole type. Beefsteak. Open-pollinated Selected by Fred Hempel of Artisan Seeds. Started from seed.
- Cherokee Purple. Purple. Heirloom. Indeterminate. Beefsteak. If you want to know more about this fabulous tomato, here is the backstory. Started from seed.
- Ferris Wheel. Pink-Red Beefsteak. Heirloom. Indeterminate. Bought from TMD.
- Ananas Noir or Black Pineapple. Green and purple with a red heart. Indeterminate. Beefsteak. Open-pollinated. Developed by Pascal Moreau, a horticulturist from Belgium. Started from seed.
- Sunrise Bumblebee. Yellow Cherry. Indeterminate. From Artisan Farms. Started from seed.
- Black Beauty. Black skin with red flesh. Indeterminate Heirloom. High in anthocyanins. Originally produced by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms. Started from seed.
- Sweetie. Red Cherry. Indeterminate. Started from seed. Remember last year when I only had yellow cherry tomatoes? I made a note for this spring so that wouldn’t happen again.
- Missouri Pink Love Apple. Red slicing tomato. Indeterminate. Heirloom. Started from seed.
- Black Strawberry. Multicolored cherry tomato. Indeterminate. High in anthocyanins, but still sweet tasting. Started from seed.
- Beefsteak. Red Beefsteak. F1 Hybrid. Indeterminate. One of my favorite tomatoes for resilience and taste. Bought from Terra Cotta in Guthrie.
- Gary O’Sena. Black Beefsteak. Indeterminate. One of the Tomato Man’s Daughter’s Top Ten, and a favorite of mine. I always grow this one. Bought from TMD.
- Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye. Port wine-colored beefsteak with metallic green stripes. Compact Indeterminate. Bred at Wild Boar Farms. Bought from TMD.
- Brad’s Atomic Grape. Yellow and Purple Grape Tomato. Indeterminate. Bred at Wild Boar Farms. Bought a transplant from TMD.
- Wood’s Famous Brimmer. Large Pink Beefsteak. Indeterminate. Open-Pollinated Heirloom. Started from seed.
- Yellow 1884 Pinkheart. Yellow with Pink Heart Beefsteak. Indeterminate. This tomato was selected and bred by Lisa’s dad, the Tomato Man. It’s the whole reason I travel to Tulsa to plant a few plants every year. It is also part of her top ten. Bought from TMD.
- Bella Rossa. Red. Hybrid. Determinate. Bought from EJF. High Disease Resistance. High Yield.
- Dixie Red. Red. Hybrid. Determinate. Bought from EJF. High Disease Resistance. High Yield.
- Carbon. Dark Purple Beefsteak. Indeterminate. Bought from TMD.
- Cherokee Green. Green Beefsteak. Indeterminate. Open-pollinated. This color mutation from Cherokee Purple was discovered by Craig Lehoullier. Bought from TMD.
- Sungold. My favorite cherry tomato. Enough said. Started from seed.
- Purple Zebra. Striped red. Hybrid. Indeterminate. Started from seeds sent by All-America Selections (“AAS.”)
I know it’s a lot of tomatoes. I think they’re fun to grow in Grow Bags.
Pepper Plants and more.
- Big Jim. a green chile we love. This was a great story we read about Big Jim’s origins in the New Mexico magazine. Bought from TMD.
- Chili Pie. Miniature bell pepper hybrid. Started from seeds from AAS.
- Dragonfly. 2022 AAS Edible-Vegetable Winner. Purple. Hybrid bell pepper. Started seeds from AAS.
- NuMex Orange Spice jalapeño. Early-ripening hot pepper. Developed at New Mexico State University by Paul Bosland and company. Started from seed.
- Ancient NuMex Red. Sweet Pepper. Bought from TMD.
- Scotch Bonnet Orange. Bought from TMD. Intrigued by smokey flavor description.
- Jalapeño TAM. Mild pepper bred at Texas A&M. I’ve grown these before and loved them. Bought from TMD.
- Alma paprika. This pepper is a good one to dry for the spice. Bought from TMD.
- Cubanelle. If I could only have one mild pepper, it would be Cubanelle. I roasted a bunch of them last summer, froze them, and ate them all winter in pork, green chile stews. They are great with hotter peppers in the mix. Bought from Lowe’s.
- Poblano. I have a soft spot in my heart for the dark poblano. I love to mix them with Cubanelles and make green chile chicken. I also love poblano enchiladas. Moderately hot. Bought from Lowe’s.
- Anaheim. ‘Big Jim’ is in the same class as the original Anaheim peppers which were named after Anaheim, CA. Here’s a good post if you’d like to read more. Bought from TMD.
- Shishito. So, I changed my mind. If I could only have one mild pepper, it would Shishito. They are so great blistered in olive oil with a little flaky salt. The darlings of chefs everywhere, you can make your own shishitos over and over again if you have six or eight plants. I have six this year. Started from seed.
- Mojito mint. A very fragrant mint originally found in Cuba. It smells divine. I’m growing it in a pot so it doesn’t take over my garden.
- Rutger’s Devotion basil. This DMR (downy mildew resistant) basil was created by Rutger’s University. Carol and I talked a great deal about mildews on different plants including basil on an episode called Mildew, Mildon’t in the Garden. Bought from TMD.
- Mexican oregano. This is one of my favorite herbs to season beans. Bought from TMD.
Whew! If you’re still reading, you’re a stalwart person. Here’s a pretty photo of the back garden to reward you for your efforts.
As for the rest of the garden update, all is well. We’re still having a few cool mornings, but let’s enjoy them before the summer heat sets in.
I think everything is beautiful this spring except the daffodil foliage that was scorched back in February. Bill and I have been working very hard. I do get some assistance in the garden about four times a year to lay the mulch and help me cut back the perennials. I’m so grateful for that help. I don’t know how I would keep up without it. I certainly couldn’t garden coach other people.
Happy Spring everyone! I hope you enjoyed my garden update, and it didn’t wear you out.
Robin Ruff Leja
I dream of the day when I could hire a garden helper for the most unpleasant tasks. My hubby is not retired yet, travels frequently, and works long hours. And the minute I suggest this, he insists he’ll get to it. I’d rather take this kind of work off his plate, at least until he retires in a few more years. Sigh.
Bill just can’t really help me with the work, and honestly, gardening has never been his thing. We also got help with the lawn for him. With all of this land and garden, it gives us time to have fun together on the weekend her or elsewhere. :)~~Dee
Nice to see that someone is able to get their garden going. After 82 degrees on Sunday and Monday, the high yesterday was 38 and there were snow flurries off and on all day. It will be several weeks before most plants can go outside. At least the cool temps have kept the daffodils and hyacinths in bloom longer.
Hey Patricia! Yes, there’s always a lining to the weather and sometimes, it has a tinge of silver. Hang in there. Summer is coming soon. ~~Dee
Happy Spring, Dee. Love the theater. I want one too! (Of course I do!) And you are going to be flush with peppers and tomatoes this summer.
You will so enjoy a theater if you make one. They are such a beauty spot. ~~Dee
Amen! I love the container tomatoes. You have such an impressive setup, Dee! 🙂
Awww Beth, you are too. I love your ramblings through botanic gardens and how you apply that knowledge to your home garden and butterflies!~~Dee
It all looks healthy, happy and beautiful! Thank goodness we are about to have warmer nights. I’m moving everything outside now, finally.
Gosh Janet, I was beginning to wonder if our temps were ever going to rise sufficiently. ~~Dee
Wow your tomato selection is amazing! You are such an inspiration and I enjoyed the late April tour!!
Sonia, ha, my tomato selection is ridiculous! I love growing them so much though. ~~Dee
You are truly a great inspire-er! Because most of my in town garden is VERY Wet, I don’t have much room for vegetables, but I decided to limit the types of vegetable I should plant. Tomatoes at the beginning of the line. Thank you!
Great setup for the tomatoes. Do you start each season with all new potting soil and compost in the bags?
Hi Darlene, thanks for the question. I do not start each year with brand new potting soil. This will be my third year for these, and I’ll probably clean up the bags at the end of the season (because they are getting mossy.) I’ll put the potting soil in places throughout the garden and then begin new again next year. I always add some potting soil to the bags because over the winter, some of the organic matter breaks down. You do need to change it out every two to three years because diseases can build up in the soil. I hope all of that makes sense.~~Dee
Hi Pat, there is no way I could garden without a few tomatoes. There is nothing like them anywhere. I’m with you on that one. Thank you for always stopping by to say hello!~~Dee