Fighting for Warm Air – Planning the 2009 Garden

It has been so long since I have posted and I have no excuse for it. Winter has just taken the fun out of writing about gardening. But, we had a warm snap last week and I am feeling a bit more than glass half full and a stack of seed catalogs await. It is that time of year to plan for the next year garden!

This year, I had a generous tomato seed donation made to me from Botanical Interests. On a side note, if there are any gardening brides out there, the packaging the seeds come in is quite lovely. Botanical drawings of the plants, vegetables and fruit, which would make them quite nice for favors at a wedding.

They sent me:

  • Silvery Fir Tree Tomato
  • Green Zebra Tomato
  • Speckled Roman Tomato
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato
  • Red Siberian Tomato

I have grown the Green Zebra and Cherokee Purple before, but not in the context of my tomato tastings. I remember enjoying both, so I am looking forward to growing them.

Last year, I lost so many of my tomatoes to a wilt infected bed or could not tell which tomato it was due to screwing my tags up as seedlings, that I will be regrowing many from last year.

These would be:

  • Early Giant
  • Italian Tree Tomato
  • Omar’s Lebanese
  • Blue
  • Marmande
  • Cosmonaut Volkov
  • Kimberly
  • Winsall
  • Celebrity
  • Russian 117
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast

I will defiantly be growing the Green Moldovan, Azoychka and Black Ethiopian again this year as they are among my list of must haves. While I won’t be actually planting Matt’s Wild Cherry, I am fairly certain I will be growing that one again as well. The volunteers from that plant will be difficult to keep at bay but fortunately, my kids love that tomato. I actually think I may set up a “kid’s garden” area this year and ust let that one take over a corner of that bed from year to year.

I am sure there will be a few more that get thrown in at the “oh, lookie” last moment, but this is my tomato attack plan for the moment.

As for other plants, well, last year I had some great success with Swiss Chard. It was my first year growing that and I enjoyed the results.

I am also going to grow some squash, which I have never had luck with, but with a twist. In true Illegal Garden fashion, I am going to plant it up front. I believe that the reason I can’t grow it in the back is because the beds are just too badly infected with vine borers. Maybe having the squash up front where they have never grown before will fix the problem.

I am also going to have a go at corn this year, a vegetable I have avoided in the past for no reason other than it seems like a fussy plant. But last year we had one surreptitious encounter with a true roadside corn farmer and a taste of truly fresh picked corn made me remember why sometimes fussy plants should be in the garden. I have not settled on a variety yet, so if any of you have any suggestions, I am all ears… (rimshot. Dodge rotten tomato)

I am going to do cucumbers again too, despite the fact that I have yet to harvest more than 3 in a season (damn vine borers or cucumber wilt or evil spirits or whatever kills them). They too will be dealt with in a new fashion. I am going to grow them in hanging baskets upside down like tomatoes can be done. Seems to me that they should do will like this.

I am on the fence as far as pepper go. I do love to grow them, but our damn deer seem to have a serious taste for them, both hot and sweet. The plants are normally so damaged that I get few fruit. We will see as we get closer to the season.

And there is, of course, lettuce. I love growing lettuce and would not miss doing so for anything. I always opt for cut and come again lettuce which never lets me down.

Anything else that goes in will be a surprise. Whatever gets given to me or found at the nurseries where I am spending too much money anyway, so why would another $3 plant make a difference. But, that is kind of the fun in gardening, is it not? Because for a small piece of land, you get to be a god/ess and decree what grows there. I wish I had that power over the weather on that land too. Spring is just not coming fast enough.

17 thoughts on “Fighting for Warm Air – Planning the 2009 Garden
  1. Oh, I really want to try the Silvery Fir Tree Tomato. Barbara Kingsolver talks about it in her book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. I got a bunch of tomatoes from Wintersown and I saved a bunch of seeds from various farmer’s market tomatoes last summer.

    That’s funny that the deer eat your peppers. That’s the one plant they won’t eat here (at least not yet). Cucumbers in hanging baskets, I may give that a shot as well. My porch is going to be filled with tomatoes and other edibles.

    I also have some vine boreres in my squash. Last year I used beneficial nematods and hopefully that will get rid of my problem. We’ll see. I’m the only person that can’t seem to grow zucchini. Lucky for me they’re plentiful & cheap at the farmer’s markets!


  2. If you have deer or racoons, might want to think again on the corn. One year we planted corn, it was beautiful. The day it was ready to pick, I went out and guess what-the racoons and deer had a food orgie in my garden!!! Corn cobs everywhere and none for us to pick!! True story!! So now I plant just about everything else, but NO corn. I buy that from a local farmer. There can always be some critter damage, but not like when you plant corn. But it does taste so good!!! Good luck in whatever you plant. I think we all the the garden bug right now!


  3. Hi, my garden is on the other side of the Atlantic from you but at much the same latitude, I guess… I am also longing for warm weather!!! The ‘Marmande’ tomatoes are large fatty ones with wrinkled skin sometimes. In France you cook them in the oven with a meat stuffing, a typical French summer meal (can’t wait!)


  4. I just planted some Super Marmande seeds last Thursday. We must have gotten in on that same warm spell. They are in the greenhouse now and I’ll be hovering over all the seeds I planted this year. It is the first year of having a greenhouse, so first time growing plants from seed…well, tomatoes that is.

    I’m not looking forward to hot weather. It gets really hot here in Texas, also, it makes the cool weather crops go bad. The lettuce gets bitter, the onions go to seed, and so on. The upside is that it is time to plant the warmer weather crops then. So, hopefully it will work out that when the lettuce is gone the tomatoes will be a nice size to plant out in the garden.


  5. I have read ALL your tomato reviews and look forward to this year’s! In fact, that’s how I decided on what I am going to grow this year, with help from your notes. Just wondering, how are you going to deal with the wilt infested bed? Will you just dig up a new plot? Or are you going to try and “sanitize” the soil?


  6. Silver Queen corn. My parents grow it every year. It’s sweet, juicy, and full of flavor. I grew some last year but the drought managed to deform all the ears. So be sure to give it consistent water.

    I love your tomato selection. I got my seeds started this week. I can’t wait to try the Green Zebra and a black cherry.


  7. Dear Hanna,
    Your Tomato Attitude is … exemplary and lovely to read. I make handmade books here in Staten Island, but what I REALLY do is grow tomatoes –I ate homegrown tomatoes from June to December 2008. Will try for May this year –any tips? types? Tomatoes are my very favorite thing to eat!

    My great Tomato Discovery of 2008 was –16 foot high plants! I discovered that with enough sun and water and with sufficient staking and tying, Tomato Vines plants will –in theory– grow to the sky. Encouraged by my success, this year I plan to get the Sun to stand still in the sky.
    Malachi McCormick


  8. If you are having trouble with your cucumbers your being a woman may be your biggest problem. My grandpa was a great gardener and always invited his neighbors to help themselves to his plentiful bounty under one condition: Mentruating women had to stay away from the cucmbers so they wouldn’t kill them. It sounds crazy but it always seemed to prove itself to be true. I hope this helps you this year.


  9. Warm weather, I can’t wait! Its been so cold here on the other side of the globe. It seems like summer is a distant dream.

    Thank you for the suggestion on wedding favours. I have been looking for something a bit different and I think you may have just solved that problem.


  10. Hello Hanna !

    I don’t know what I enjoyed most your post and the comments, or the discaimer/preclaimer warning to the post box ! Anyway it is sliced it takes some of the edge off the latest lake effect snow. Now if I can just pick one of those tomatoes to tuck in amongst the daylilies. The green zebra looks interesting, and then there is Aunt Ruby’s another green.

    Maybe I will sneak over to your garden and blame it on the deer…. 8P

    Then again me thinks I shall sneak in with barter…. don’t want to test that swinging thing



  11. I’ll second the silver queen corn recommendation. It’s a hydrid, yes, and can be fussy, but boy, when you taste that right off the stalk or ten minutes after throwing it into some nicely salted water, it can give you the same sensation as finding anything else you’ve grown for yourself that you used to only get in the store: it is sublime.

    We’ll be trying it here for the third time. The first failed because of poor soil conditions and rampaging deer, the second wiped out by the various storms we had, including the tropical storm that parked itself over the state for a week and gave a foot of standing water. Perhaps the third time, as they say, is the charm. I hope so, just as I hope being better organized this year will give us better output than we had from other things last year (although we were absolutely drowning in sungold tomatoes at one point, which outperformed everything except the hungarian paprikas, in which we were also drowning).

    Now, if Mother Nature would just remember this is the *sunshine* state and a fair weather one rather than one where we get random 20-ish degree nights, I could really get things in gear outside…


  12. I devote a good 25% of my garden to tomatoes, so I can relate to your enthusiasm, and I’m interested in your tastings. Purple Cherokee is in my top five, but the Nyagous we planted last year is our new favorite hands down. Have you ever tried them? They look like the Black Ethiopians but are unbelievably sweet and juicy. I’m already dreaming about those, as well as Isis Candy cherry tomatoes. I’m impatient for spring, too!


  13. April M on

    Menstruation and gardening/canning…

    Interesting… I’ve never heard the part about zucc’s but have read that canning during your cycle is not good. One year, ALL my canned stuff went bad, so maybe?


  14. You have an awesome site….love your wicked sense of humor…as to growing corn….it really is NOT that hard…I live SE PA & last year we planted our first garden, very very late in the season…I in fact did not want to plant one, but boyfriend was adament (it will be my responsibiliy)..uh huh…;) anywho, our corn was AWESOME! and we have deer families that love our yard, but never eat any of our vegetation..well except for the pear tree we saw had been “munched” on at some point in the last week…but I digress….We used a deer & rabbit repellant(which smelled like rotten eggs…urgghh) from our local gardening center (usual kinds)& we only sprayed it once, but….and I hope I don’t gross anyone out….we peed around the edge of the garden…(we live in the boonies, on the side of a mtn and the garden is way up in the back yard)but hey, you can always pee in a bowl and take it out and dribble it around the edge of the garden..LOL …let me tell you….nothing ever ate anything out of that garden…we also have a female rottie..she whizzed up there as well…yet the deer were still coming in the yard…I would see them just about every morning around dawn in the back…munching on the apples from the tree or just grazing in the backyard…Oh…& we used a hybrid sweet corn called “Argent”….excellent grower & we even got 2 ears of corn off of some of the stalks….well that’s about it…just thought i would share that and hope that someone can get some use out of it…take care & keep on gardening!! :):)


  15. Hi Hanna-

    I’m quite a bit late to your post and new to your blog (and to the whole blogging world in general and have just started my own.)

    Good luck with your garden this year, I’m itching to get lots of work done in mine as well. I was gardening in the snowflurries today. That’s desperate! 🙂

    As far as the vine borers in your zucchini go, have you ever dusted for them? I don’t dust, but my father (who I believe knows everything ther is about veggie gardening) sometimes will. He says the bug that’s responsible usually arrives the same time you see the little white butterflies, often flying in pairs. You have to treat the plants right then (or just before.) Dad also starts back up seeds to re-plant when the borers take the first ones.

    I’ve heard laying foil over the base of your plant works, but have never tried it myself.

    He also plants he cucumbers after the 4th of July (in PA) and that makes the plants too late for the cucumber beetle that spreads the bacterial wilt that kills off the plants.

    You may have heard all this already, but I wanted to chime in just in case and to also say hello!


  16. I’m going to try a row cover this year. Last year I had borer set in – but still got some good squash. Also, I’ve read suggestions that you start the plant indoors, then surround the main stem with old pantyhose to protect it. But the small greenhouse effect of a row cover sounds great to me – and I hate chemicals.


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