Monday, March 20, 2017

TOM-a-Toes and Urbs

You may say toe-MAY-toe, and your friend may say toe-MAH-toe, but when I'm feeling silly, I like to call them TOM-a-toes.  ;o)

Tomato Plants

We planted some tomatoes and herbs, over the past couple of days.  This year, the tomatoes are 'Early Girl', 'Celebrity', 'Grape', 'Sweet 100', and 'Rapunzel'.  We tend to have better luck with smaller and/or early tomatoes, which ripen before the heat and pests are at their worst.

'Celebrity' Tomato

(It's a struggle to get tomatoes to live long in our miserable summers.  It is possible to put in a second round of plants, later in the year, for a late-season crop, but we haven't tried it, yet.  I took cuttings of our tomato plants, last summer, and they were doing pretty well until right near the time to plant them, when I discovered a tomato horn worm infestation too late to save them.)

'Rapunzel' Tomato

In addition to the tomatoes, we got one each of fernleaf dill and onion chives, which we're trying in terra-cotta pots near the back patio, where we can harvest it more easily.  I've also sown seeds (which may be too old to do much) of mammoth dill and new seeds of onion chives (the more chives the merrier), bunching onions, and dark opal basil.

Onion Chives
{onion chives}

Fernleaf Dill
{fernleaf dill}

It might be too late for some of the seeds, but oh well-- they were already purchased, so at least I'm giving them a try!  I'm a better flower gardener than vegetable gardener... I think it's partly that I just care more about the decorative plants. The fact that the vegetables are guaranteed to die in the heat of summer makes it harder for me to want to lavish attention on them.  Plus, vegetables attract so many disgusting bugs, which makes me want to stay away from them.  (I can come up with more reasons/excuses, if you'd like. (g))

Anyway, to get back to the dark opal basil, I've read conflicting reports on whether or not it will stay dark-foliaged in heat, but according to some Southern gardeners, it has significant ornamental appeal, as well as being edible-- and its natural oils may repel tomato hornworms, mites, and aphids.  If I have luck with the seeds, I'll try to put some by the tomatoes and some to fill in gaps in the perennials beds.  (I do love interesting foliage!)  It is fragrant, and if you let it go to flower (by not picking off the flower buds), they are a purply pink.  The flowers have some visual value, but most people growing basil for cooking remove the buds to prolong the life of the plant and to direct more energy into growing leaves.

Seed Trays
{basil seedtrays}

Apparently, cuttings root easily in water, which is good to know.  Even if I only get one or two plants from seed, I can propagate by cuttings.  (Making new plants from cuttings is one of the most fun/exciting/amazing things to do in the garden, imho.)

As for flavor, dark opal basil is described as "milder than sweet basil, with hints of cinnamon, anise, mint, and clove".  (I have a hard time imagining how that would taste.  I don't know that I've ever eaten much fresh basil... We usually just used dried.  Not exactly bon vivants, either of us. ;o))  It can be used to accent salads and other uncooked dishes.  (I'm no expert, but I can't see why you couldn't use it in cooked dishes, too.  Maybe the milder flavor would be more likely to get lost when it's cooked...)

At some point, I intend to plant some yellow crookneck squash-- probably the sooner the better-- but I don't know if we'll plant any other edibles, this spring.  We considered peppers, because they've done well for us in the past, but I'm the only one who'd be eating them, and I don't eat that many peppers, really...  Okra's the same story.  I haven't had the best luck in the past, but I think I can grow it; however, Donald doesn't eat it, and I don't want tons of it, myself.  If I can figure out when to plant them, there are cool-season vegetables that might be more worthwhile.  I'm sure I'll find more than enough outdoor projects to fill the summer, without the addition of more vegetables to keep alive.