Monthly Archives: September 2011

SUNGOLD TRIBUTE BUT SAVING OTHER SEEDS

As the curtain slowly closes on the summer garden and the autumn garden edges towards its glory, I’d like to offer thanks. No, not a religious thanks for a summer of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, and other warm weather vegetables. But thanks to a person, the person who bred Sungold cherry tomato.

Anyone who is not familiar with Sungold tomato should be. It’s sweet but not cloying, and has a beautiful persimmon-orange color. I once grew over 20 varieties of cherry tomatoes, including Sungold, for a magazine article. Mostly, the tomatoes were ho-hum, with the exception of Sungold, its hardly known sibling Suncherry, and Gardener’s Delight and Sweet Million. Of the great-tasting lot, Sungold was the best, which is why so many people grow it.
With all that beauty and flavor, Sungold is not hard to grow. It …

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I’m frantically getting ready for spring. Mostly, that means making compost. Compost piles assembled now, while temperatures are still relatively warm, heat up right to their edges, cooking quickly and killing most resident weed seeds, pests, and diseases. Fortunately, plenty of organic materials are available to feed compost piles this time of year.

I like to think of my compost pile as a pet (really, many pets, the population of which changes over time as the compost ripens) that needs, as do our dogs and cats, food, water, and air. Right now, I’ve been feeding my pet corn stalks, lettuce plants that have gone to seed, rotten tomatoes and peppers, and other garden refuse.

No, I’m not checking to make sure that each leaf, stalk, and fruit is free of pests before it gets tossed on the growing pile, as is suggested by some people. Look closely enough, and you’d find that …

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The nice thing about living in a flood plain is its fertile, rock-free soil. Here on the flood plains of the Wallkill River, I can dig a 3-foot-deep post hole in about 5 minutes. The soil here also drains well, allowing me to plant even during heavy rains.

The problem with flood plains is that they flood. Hurricane Irene recently submerged the farmden here with anything from 4 feet of water, along the road, to no feet of water, in back, where the vegetable gardens are. The ground elevation also drops going into the south field, where I paddled along on August 29th in a kayak inspecting pawpaw and dwarf apple trees, and grape and hardy kiwifruit vines.

Thankfully, lives and homes here generally fared well through the storm; what of the plants? As I write (August 31st), persimmon, chestnut, black walnut, and filbert trees that I planted are …

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For the past couple of months, I’m not so sure that my duck knows that she’s a duck. She and another female duck once shared a drake, and they all lived together in their own “duckingham palace.”

Sometime after the other female and the drake were taken by a predator, probably a fox or coyote, I thought our remaining female might enjoy some company at night. So I coaxed her to take up nightly residence with our three chickens — a rooster and two hens — who have their own house (“chickingham palace?,” actually more palatial than duckingham palace).

Not only has Ms. Duck moved in with the chickens at night but she also wanders around with the flock by day. Her special companion is the rooster, especially since the two chicken hens decided to spend much of …

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WORKSHOP: BACKYARD FRUIT GROWING AND TASTINGHarvest LUSCIOUS, ORGANIC, HEALTHFUL FRUITS from LOW MAINTENANCE and ORNAMENTAL plants growing right in your own BACKYARD.This workshop will cover what fruits are best and easiest to grow, and how to grow them. We will also sample such delectables as pawpaws, persimmons, Asian pears, lingonberries, and hardy kiwifruit.Date and time: October 2nd, from 2 pm until 5 pmLocation: Lee Reich’s farmden/garden at 387 Springtown Rd., New Paltz, NYCost: $40Limited space. Register by sending a check to Lee at the above address. Questions? Email garden@leereich.com, or call 845-255-0417.
(The last few workshops filled up so people had to be turned away, so please register early if you want to be assured of a spot in this workshop.)

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Seaside and woo woo are permeating in my farmden this afternoon. Both can be easily explained, in spite of the fact that I’m 80 miles or so from the nearest seashore and that I am pretty grounded. One, simple word explains it all: kelp.
My plants are generally well fed. The vegetable gardens get a yearly blanket of a one-inch depth of compost which releases myriad nutrients as it decomposes. Trees and shrubs get annual blankets of wood chips, hay, or leaves which, likewise, release nutrients
during decomposition. Anything that needs extra nitrogen gets some soybean meal. All the organic materials over all these years has built up sufficient reserves of nitrogen so that extra nitrogen is rarely needed.


Still, plants need about 16 nutrients for optimum health (and we humans likewise need at least that many, which, in turn, come from the …

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