Tag Archives: workshop


(The following is adapted from my book, A Northeast Gardener’s Year.)

It’s Not All in a Name

With only a name to go on, which tomato would you choose to grow: Supersonic or Oxheart? If the name Oxheart seems a bit too gruesome, make the choice between Supersonic and Ponderosa. My guess is that most gardeners would choose Oxheart or Ponderosa for a tomato, Supersonic for an airline. What compels a contemporary plant breeder to give a tomato a name like Supersonic?

Many old-time names of vegetables – Oxheart and Ponderosa tomatoes are examples — were a lot more appealing than some of the newer names. It could even be that a good name is part of the reason a vegetable of yore still appears in today’s catalogues amongst all the new hybrids.

What’s the Difference?

These names I am talking about are “cultivar” names, or what were once called “variety” names. Problem is …

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Blackberries Galore!

Philadelphia Orchard Project, 8/22, http://www.phillyorchards.org/volunteer/schedule, Fruit Growing Simplified

The following is adapted from my new book GROW FRUIT NATURALLY:
If your fingers aren’t stained after you’ve picked blackberries, you’re not eating them at their very best. And this is the year — my year, at least — for blackberries. Spring weather threw a curve ball that pretty much wiped out my developing apples, hardy kiwifruits, and pears, but blackberries are among a number of other fruits that waited patiently in spring, and whose branches are now bowed to the ground under a heavy load of fruit. An especially heavy load due to a mild winter? abundant rain (to say the least, from hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee) late last summer? my green thumb? Who knows?
After succumbing to temptation and plucking a few of the first blackberries of the season underripe, I can wait for …

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Who would look at a lilac bush, just leaves and flowers morphed to browning seed capsules, and even prune it this time of year? I would! Pruning a couple of months ago would have cut off many blossoms before they even unfolded. Pruning now, after enjoying the blossoms, is a way to keep the shrub shapely and queue up blossoms for next year. Next year’s flowers are formed on buds this summer so we can’t wait too long to prune or there won’t be enough time for the new flower buds to develop.

My lilac has suffered years of pruning neglect (quite an admission from the author of The Pruning Book, especially as relates to a plant that looks best with annual or at least biannual pruning). Every year my lilac has grown uglier and uglier, its flowers fewer and …

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