Tag Archives: vegetables

The Growing Season Begins

Started Seedlings

We’ve been bombarded with snow storms every week for the last three weeks and still have plenty of snow on the ground as a result.  The temperature dropped back to winter levels again after a warm stretch in February.  But it’s time to start germinating seeds for a new season, especially those that need more time to grow, bear fruit and ripen.  I started our tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings last week.  The tomatoes have already sprouted up.  Chili peppers will need a little bit more time to sprout.

I started these tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings on March 13 and all the tomatoes sprouted by March 17. I forgot to keep ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and ‘Rose’ tomatoes seeds last year so I used the ones left over from 2015 and they still sprouted at the same time as the new seeds.  Peppers and Eggplants still take their time.
True Black Brandywine- ‘is extra large in size and full of deep, earthy and sweet flavor’; Dark Galaxy- ‘The taste is a perfect balance of tangy-sweetness-so juicy and refreshing! Each fruit is a unique work of art..’

Aside from the usual tomatoes we have been growing, Brandywine, Cherokee purple, Mortgage lifter, Nova, Indigo cherry drop…among them, this year we will try two new varieties.  I ordered True Black Brandywine and Dark Galaxy tomato seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, one of my favorite plant and seed companies.  I have never been dissatisfied with their seeds.

Aside from it is highly ornamental, ‘it’s high-test heat is counterbalanced with complex flavors’

This year we also picked a new variety of pepper to try, also from the same supplier, ‘Buena Mulata’ peppers. The description is impressive and hopefully we like it enough to keep it on our long list of chili peppers we grow.

I also started varieties of kale and Swiss chard this week.  By the time the last frost date comes, hopefully in mid April, they all should be ready to settle in to the garden. We agreed that the ‘Dazzling Blue’ kale we tried last year is worth growing again.  If you like ‘Toscano’ or ‘Nero Di Toscana’, you will probably like this kale.  It has similar leaves but with purplish/pink midribs and I find it’s a little sweeter.

These Dazzling Blue kale are from last season, beautiful to look at and tastes delicious too.

We grow organic and love to try new kinds of vegetables so we’re a little choosy about where we get our seeds.  Below is a short list of reliable companies we use for our vegetable seeds and plants:

I hope you find something you like from these companies to add to your garden.  I derive no benefit or profit from suggesting them, just my experience from patronizing them over the years.

Happy planting!

Tomatoes And Chili Peppers

Time To Start Seedlings

Tomatoes and chili peppers are a staple in our vegetable garden.  We love trying new kinds of tomatoes for both color and taste.  Once we find the one we like we cull seeds to grow the year after.  Four kinds of tomato we have been growing every year because they have a marvelous taste are Cherokee purple, Mortgage Lifter , Brandywine and Rose.  We fell in love with the Cherokee purple at first bite, with its thin skin, juicyness and full tomato taste.  The rest are big, meaty and tasty.  We vouch for these four tomatoes anytime we’re asked.  We let the cherry tomatoes self-sow year after year.  I have no idea what type of cherry tomato they are, but they’re very sweet.  At this point I should call them ‘Resident Tomato’ since they seem to come up by themselves all over the yard every year.

Cherokee purple from last year's harvest
Cherokee purple from last year’s harvest
This Mortgage lifter also from last year's harvest
This Mortgage lifter also from last year’s harvest

We both love spicy food hence the collection of chili peppers.  I try to add some new kinds of chili pepper every year.  Some are harder to grow than others.  And, growing chili peppers in a cold climate is a challenge.

Growing tomato and chili pepper in the Northeastern part of the US takes some good planning since the growing season is a little bit short for some them to grow, bear fruit and ripen.  I have learned from vendors at the farmers market that the tomato and pepper plants they are selling were germinated in early March.  So, I have been following their method.

This year I started my tomato and chili peppers on March 8, never mind the snow and freezing cold out side.  I put seed trays on heat mats set to 80° Fahrenheit by the bay window.  Natural sunlight is enough for now and I don’t have room in the basement to add trays there.  It’s too cold down there anyway.  Some tomatoes sprouted within 5 days but the chili peppers take a little bit longer.  I usually see them sprout up within a week, providing that the heat mat stays between 75 and 80 degrees at all time.

Tomato and chili pepper seedlings by the bay window, March 14
Tomato and chili pepper seedlings by the bay window, March 14
Tomato seedlings, March 19.  Pretty lanky stretching for light
Tomato seedlings, March 19. Pretty lanky stretching for light
Chili pepper seedlings, March 19.  They are a little bit shorter than the tomato and  a little bit slower to grow
Chili pepper seedlings, March 19. They are a little bit shorter than the tomato and a little bit slower to grow

Now I have to wait for the true leaves to come up before I can put them in their individual pots, should be one more week now.

So far most tomato and chili pepper seeds have sprouted:

  • The large tomatoes: Mortgage lifter, Rose, Brandywine, Cherokee purple and Chocolate
  • Cherry tomato: Indigo cherry drop, Razzleberry, Tomatoberry and Nova
  • Chili pepper: Bhut Jolokia, Sikkim, Purira, Korean chili, Karen chili (tribal), Jamaican Red, Jamaican yellow, Himalayan yellow, Lemon drop, Wild Brazil, South Indian chili, Yellow torch, Long Thai, Thai Bird chili, Scotch Bonnet, Mexican chili, Yellow Thai chili

I forgot to put baby bell and Shishito peppers in, so I will have to buy the plants for this season.  They are very mild and good for snacking.  I may be able to start the Shishito now though since I will stir-fry the peppers when they still green, no need for maturity.

The gourmet growing season has begun!