Friday, October 14, 2011

2011 Winners

What a trying year! A cold, wet Spring turned into a hot. dry Summer in a few days. These are the seeds that worked for me.

Thanks to clear cutting and erosion a century ago the Boston Mountains region of the Ozark plateau has the poorest soil. Ozark neighbors: your climate is similar to mine and you have better soil than I do; if it grows for me it'll grow for you.

(Abelmoschus esculentus) I got my seed from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. One of the fantastic discoveries this year. Spineless, tender enough to eat raw, I see this becoming another garden snack. I've tried many okras and this is the keeper.

(Cucumis metuliferus) Seed from Baker Creek. Late to produce but worth waiting for. Cut in half (be careful of the spines). Spoon out the tasty flesh and edible seeds. 4X the vitamen C of an orange. Rampant vines will climb 10 feet or more.

(Portulaca oleracea sativa) Available from Pinetree Seeds. A vegetable source of Omega-3. Both Red and Gold Purslane made it through the heat/drought with no problems. The red was much more productive than the Gold.

(Spilanthes acmella) Available from Baker Creek. Now setting many of those 'eyeball' flowers that numb your mouth if you chew them. The leaves are a very nutritious summer green.

(Ocimum bacilicum) Available from Baker Creek. This year's plants are volunteers and are now flowering and setting seed. My favorite basil; it has a wonderful lime flavor, great for seasoning or tea.

(Amaranthus cruentus) Available from Baker Creek. I've grown many amaranths and liked them all for their ease of growing, they grow like a weed. Callaloo is my favorite as it has both delicious leaves and blond 'grain' seeds.

(Physalis pruinosa) Available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Like all ground cherries, Goldie is delicious but it grows more upright and has slightly larger fruit.

(C. moschata) I got my seed in a trade but it is available from Baker Creek. Of the 17 varieties of squash I tried this year Shishigatani was the clear winner. Rampant vines, plant on the edge of your garden and let it roam. (10/14 - Actually a cross Shishigatani x Hercules Butternut) If you're new to growing winter squash I'd recommend Waltham Butternut

(Allium tuberosum) Available from Baker Creek and many others, also called Garlic Chives. I stopped watering these in June and they slowly died back till the green was gone. They regrew after the August rain and are now flowering and setting seed. I never do anything with this plant except to harvest it; my most care-free plant.

(Lycopersicon esculentum) Available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They may be small but they are delicious and they set fruit for me when all others fail.

(Vigna unguiculata} I got my seed in a trade but I think Baker Creek has it listed here. I watered it twice during the drought. After the August rains it produced an avalanche of pods.

(Vigna unguiculata) same as above. MC (Available from Native Seeds} and BRR (Available from SESE) were both carefree and very productive after the August rains. They remained green and healthy while everything around them, including the weeds, died.

{Citrullus lanatus) Available from Native Seeds. My best producing watermelon the last 2 years. The coons destroyed my patch this year but my neighbor Steve had it produce for him this year through the drought (he watered it) while all his other watermelons failed. I've tried growing over 2 dozen small watermelons on my soil and this is by far the best producer.

(Capsicum Annuum) My neighbor Steve has been growing this pepper for 7 years but any Anaheim pepper would probably do almost as well. It germinates rapidly at cool temperatures and grew carefree even through the heat and drought. It produces abundantly.

(Capsicum baccatum) I got my seeds in a trade but it is offered in a few places including Totally Tomatoes. A lovely plant; when the peppers ripen it looks like a Christmas tree covered with red ornaments. Carefree except for a bit of water each day of the drought; very productive and will not cross with ordinary garden peppers.

(Phaseolus vulgaris) Available from Pinetree Seeds. The most productive snap bean I've ever grown. I was disappointed when it died back this summer (I didn't water it) but it regrew after the August rain and is now covered with pods. Not good for shell or soup beans.

(Phaseolus vulgaris) Available from SESE. I planted 6 pole beans but only Rattlesnake and Marengo made it through the drought and set a crop. Very productive and very tasty. Good for snap, shell, or soup.

(Allium fistulosum) Available from Baker Creek. I was a failure at growing onions and garlic till I tried TLW. This is a perennial onion and I recommend you grow a permanent bed and harvest the seed in the summer for fall planting and Spring onions.

(Brassica napus) Available from Baker Creek. Very few Brassicas or other greens will grow in my garden. Ragged Jack not only grows, it thrives. It is super nutritious and is delicious 9 months of the year.

(Brassica juncea)Not a lot of seed this year as I over-planted and failed to thin but I still have lots of seed from previous years. Not for sale anywhere but for now I'd recommend Southern Giant Mustard, widely available and it grows well in my garden.

(Salvia sclarea) I got my seed from a trade I put the seeds in poor soil and was astounded at how well they grew. It has broad leaves and a tall flower stalk that attracts many pollinators including hummingbirds. The leaves can be used like common sage and the essential oil has numerous medicinal uses. It reseeds freely. I like the fragrance of the flowers but some find it unpleasant.

Some plants have done quite well for me this year.

I tried 8 varieties of everbearing strawberries and Tribute was clearly the best. I'll propagate it, the rest, sadly, will die from neglect.

The best growing of 8 Blackberry varieties by far.

I got 2 from Lowe's and they grew without a problem, even gave me 5 figs.

Also from Lowe's. My seed planted oregano hasn't done well but I was very satisfied with these.

Vigorous growth. It grows back from the crown each year and reproduces by tip rooting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The rejuvenating power of rain.

The garden got 5 inches of rain over 3 days, Aug. 10-12 following two and a half months of drought and heat. Plants with very slow growth suddenly resumed growing. Plants that appeared dead were reborn. I thought my 6 pole beans were dead but Marengo and Rattlesnake are now setting pods. The Garlic Chives appeared dead but have regrown to 18 inches and are covered with flowers. The delicious and very nutritious (Omega-3) Red Gruner Purslane has doubled in weight in one month. The three Vigna unguiculata (Anna's Taiwan Green yardlong, Red Ripper, and Mayo Colima) that survived the coons and ground hogs grew rapidly in June and slowed as the drought hit but remained healthy. They had a burst of growth following the rain and now are setting pods furiously.

It was wonderful to watch the garden recover. I've added these and other survivors to the list of Boston Mountain Recommended varieties below.

A tough summer for perennials as well. I planted 9 varieties of Univ. of Arkansas blackberries. Several died; the rest except one were damaged and stunted. The one that was not bothered by the heat and drought was a thorny variety: Kiowa. That's the one I'll be propagating to make my blackberry patch. Two from Lowe's have done well. Kadota Fig, I bought 2 this Spring and have enjoyed 5 ripe figs this summer. There has been some insect leaf damage but they are healthy and had no problem with the heat/drought. Growing oregano from seed has been difficult for me so I bought 4 plants on sale for less than $10. They grew well last summer and this Spring but had most tall spikes dry up after they set seed. After the rain a mat of green growth appeared leaving me to harvest the spikes for seed and oregano seasoning. The Boysenberry I got from Burnt Ridge grew well and set many canes that should bear fruit next summer. The Lawtonberry from Burnt Ridge did not fare well--it died. The 4 tea plants (Camellia sinensis) from Burnt Ridge struggled during the drought and lost many leaves, one died. But with the coming of the rain they have taken off--lots of new branches and leaves. Hope they make it through the winter; I need the caffeine. The White Rosa rugosa and giant Serviceberry bushes also from Burnt Ridge lost all leaves but have new growth and look to recover. Not so for Jahn's Prairie Gooseberry from BR, It died. The Kiwi Gold Raspberry dried up but no loss. I've had it for years and never got more than a few berries.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dr. Samuel Mudd's Tobacco

Thanks to the heat and drought I have only enough seeds for replanting. I will have tobacco seeds for sale though. A friend is the great-great-granddaughter of Dr. Samuel Mudd and still grows tobacco from seeds that have been passed down from his father. She still uses the Sun drying technique that he learned from his father. She gave me seeds that I shared with Steve my tobacco chewing neighbor. He planted out the seeds along with a tobacco he has been growing for many year and liked Dr. Mudd's tobacco so much that he let his previous tobacco die from lack of water. No crossing of seed that way. He took a harvest and left many leaves on to mature the seeds. Above is a picture of his Dr. Mudd's tobacco after he took a harvest and the seeds are beginning to mature.

Once the seeds are mature and dry here's the deal I'll be offering:
200 Dr. Samuel Mudd's tobacco seeds.
Steve's How to grow tobacco from seed.
Luanna's history of Dr. Samuel Mudd's participation in the Lincoln assassination, a story that I found fascinating. Not only what he did but why.

$5, postage paid.
A pretty good bargain considering what others charge: $7 for 100 seeds plus $3 shipping.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm all in with this year's garden.

I planted the last of the melons Sunday, June 5 so the garden is all in but with this garden I'm also all in as poker players might say. I bought seeds and plants for this year as if I'd never be able to order by mail again. I put in 6 varieties of my favorite small fruit, blackberries. Also several blackberry (Rubus) relatives: Black,Red, and Yellow Raspberries, Loganberries, and Boysenberries; 6 varieties of Strawberries, 3 varieties of seedless Grapes, 4 varieties of Blueberries, plus Alba Rosa Rugosa, Giant Juneberries, Kadota Figs, and even northern adapted Tea plants.

I hope most of those plants like my garden but it's really the seeds that I'm experimenting with. I've purchased or traded for a wide variety of open pollinated seeds to test in my garden. I've expanded a bit on the 150 varieties mentioned below and have only planted a few plants of each because of my small garden. Everything was direct seeded this year as part of my 'tough love' approach. The weather has done its share in testing the plants with a cold, very wet April-May suddenly shifting to a hot, dry June. The game is on. I'll be reporting winners and losers as they happen. Ozark gardeners be assured: if it grows well in My Boston Mountains Garden it will grow well for you.

The first results are in. Tomatillos and Eggplants have never done well for me in this or previous gardens. This year is no exception. The few that germinated didn't grow. They are out; never again to waste my time. All nine peas got off to a good start. Alaska peas were the first to set pods by a few days but they also look to be the first to die, production was below average and so was taste. Favas are falling to black aphids. Both are out, 7 peas remain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ragged Jack Kale

aka Red Russian Kale. If you read through my previous posts you'll find that most greens (Brassicas) just don't grow very well in my garden. The outstanding exception is Ragged Jack kale. I transplanted this beauty to my garden in March 2010 and it provided greens from May to November. When I returned to my garden in March 2011 it was beginning new growth and now is covered with flowers and maturing seed pods.

Thanks to Carol Deppe and Susan Ashworth I know Siberian kale is Brassica napus and unlike most Brassicas it is an inbreeder like beans and tomatoes. In other words I can save seeds from just one outstanding plant. There are thousands of seeds forming and I'll offer some in trade or for a SASE at my favorite garden site,

I checked the nutritional profile and found it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and proteins; one of the most nutritious of the very nutritious Brassicas.

This is a beautiful plant and I enjoy sitting in my garden lounge chair and just looking at it.