Book Review

I love books. But I don’t have an unlimited supply of bookshelves. So I have to be very selective as to what goes on my shelves. Cluttering my shelves with numerous books on one topic just will not due.

Here I hope to offer insight and help you chose some books that will compliment your bookshelves and provide information to help your gardens grow.

Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening – Louise Riotte

If you want to know if it is ok to plant onions in between your cabbage plants, then this book is for you. It’s like listening to my grandmother as she walked thru her garden planting the peas.

First published in 1975, it has served millions of gardeners, both serious and casual.   Many of us prefer to utilize pest-resistant planning over the use of chemicals. This book provides the information on what you should plant near another plant to not only resist pests and help deter them, but to help the sister plant thrive.

It also provides recipes for herbal sprays to control insects and what wild plants you should be encouraging in your gardens.

If you don’t have a lot of garden space this book will guide you thru utilizing a window box garden.

This is one of those books you will pick up year after year as you rotate your crops and want to maximize a variety of produce. For instance, did you know if you plant parsley with your carrot seeds you’ll repel carrot flies. Not only that but planting tomatoes and asparagus will give added vigor to both. Now go buy the book, I don’t want to give away the ending here.

I give it a 4 out of 5 wheelbarrows!

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Herbs and Orchards Batman!

This has been a very busy couple of weeks! After graduating as a Master Gardener I am now working on my volunteer hours so have been putting in lots of time at the plant clinic fielding calls, people bringing in “what’s this thing growing in my yard” samples and others who have some weird bug. Not too fond of the bug questions, but at least I don’t scream and jump on the desk anymore.

A couple of days ago I attended an extended education course on grafting fruit trees. The work was done on apple trees. Using good root stock, which is  just a small stump, and which already has an established, healthy root system, onto which a cutting (scion wood which is one year old) or a bud from another plant is grafted.

Once cut they will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. So it’s very important your root stock diameter and scion wood diameter are close in size.

'V' cut grafting tool

‘V’ cut grafting tool

So now I have my mini orchard started. Five small apple grafted trees are sitting out in my garden in their tubs where they shall remain for 2 years before finding their new place out in the yard. I have 2 Spitzenberg, 1 Black Arkansas, 1 Honey Crisp and 1 Golden Delicious.

Mini Apple Orchard

Mini Apple Orchard

Not sure if you can see the green ‘goop’ midway up the trunks but that is where the graft was done. The blue tape is just the names of the trees which, now that I think of it, I should probably put something a bit more permanent in there. Two of these trees will be pretty big, 15′ or more and the other 3 are on root stock that should keep them around 8-9′.

This brings my total of garden items to 12 tomato plants, 6 cherry tomato plants, 9 broccoli, 8 heads of lettuce (more to be started next week to keep my lettuce supply going) 8 jalapeño plants, 8 Anaheim chili plants, 4 eggplants, 20 leeks, herbs – cilantro, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and marjoram, one small catnip plant for Ranch Kitty. Next month will see my squash and cucumbers started as well as bush beans.

I think this year is my most exciting year yet!

Dear Tomato how do you grow?

Spring and summer are coming so it’s time to start thinking about growing tomatoes! But what kind?

Well here is some info that might help you understand how they fruit so you will know. Tomatoes that are determinate type ripen in a concentrated period of time. So you’ll get the bulk of your crop all at once.

Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, will grow vigorously to heights of up to 12 feet and produce fruit until frost kills them. Wonderful type to have that fresh tomato taste all summer long.

So if you want to make a big batch of sauce you will want determinate and if you want tomatoes for salads, sandwiches thru the summer etc., you want to grow indeterminate. For me it was one step further, what would grow well in my area but also what will grow well in containers in my greenhouse.

The Oregon State University (OSU) has actually developed several breeds of tomatoes that some of the best determinate tomatoes you can grow in the Northwest. Be sure to contact your local extension office to find out what you should be growing in your area.

Now lets get our salsa, tomato sauce, bruschetta, caprese salad and BLT’s on!

Pasta al Pomodoro

With fresh tomatoes and beans all ripening up it is the perfect time to embrace their flavors and not hide them.
Chef Janet works with food in a different aspect as her recipes must be gluten free. This does not mean flavor free, as I defy you not to lick the plates after many of her dishes.
Be sure to sign up for her blog as she will take you, not only on a culinary journey, but an artistic and global journey as well.