A Garden Post!

It is the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Now as it heats up, I am watching my summer flowers grow and set buds and the veggies start to produce. This year, my grandmother’s peonies bloomed for the first time. They are next to my white gas plant. It is a beautiful combination.Image may contain: plant, flower, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Many of my iris bloomed for the first time, this year. There were some definite show stoppers and almost all of them were true to name. I lost only one to rot over winter and only one was not true to its name. Jurassic Park is a yellow and purple iris, however, mine bloomed blue and white. So, I decided to order it from a reputable grower, plus a few others! I will have to do some updating on my “Iris Obsession” page. I have some updating for my “Heritage Garden” page as well, now that I think about it! Below is a small sampling of the ridiculous amount of iris photos I have. I actually have plenty of pictures of individual varieties, because I am hoping to catalog them all and have a little booklet printed!

The back garden underwent a few big changes this spring! Todd finally got around to building my new raised beds, I dug and edged two new “U” beds in front of the raised beds, and we started edging flower beds with large rocks collected from a friend’s farm.

I also decided to plant in-ground for all my veggies this year. The raised beds still need to be filled, which we will get to some time this summer. I chose in-ground over my grow bags simply because it has been just such a weird year getting to hardware/garden stores. I typically use Pro-Mix all purpose, but as of right now I can’t find it! I expect that will change soon. I also chose to plant in-ground just to give it a shot in the freshly made beds. Next year, I can just lay mulch and return to grow bags, should I choose to do so. Right now, everything is looking good! I like the idea of having different options.

I did have to finally fence in one U-bed because the bunnies are so prolific this year…and I really would like some green beans and kale for myself! As always, it is still a work in progress, but our yard is really turning into a sanctuary! I think I need more beds though…I still have a lot of historic and heritage plants I need to collect!

 

Pinterest: Saving Gardens of the Past

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. It’s a great way to search for new ideas, aesthetics, and daydream about gardens. I joined in it’s earliest years. My sister sent it to me knowing how much I would love it. Before pinning stuff online, I was tearing out magazine clippings and saving those (I still do!)

I will admit I spend a lot of time pinning gardens and garden ideas without looking into their sources. I’m just their for the pretty pictures…and that is O.K.. Have you checked out my Farm and Garden board? Please do. It’s where a lot of my garden plans start. While you’re at it, check out my board for Family History. I use it to save research tips, info relevant to my personal genealogy, and ideas for creating.

 

Today, I want to share a new board I am creating called Vintage & Historic Garden. This one is all about historical gardens and images that relate. For this board, I will not be re-pinning, I will be on the hunt for photos found elsewhere. Most of the pins I hope to find from Open Access collections. I  also plan to share photos from sites I use often in my research: The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Both have really wonderful digital archives.

I have just made this board public, I hope you enjoy the images I have discovered! Maybe they will add context to a piece of your family history or inspire a heritage space in your garden! I plan on adding to the board every week. It will be interesting to see what sort of images I find. I’m sure the pins will reflect whatever garden mood I am in that week!

Here is just an example of one of the images I’ve pinned!

Tomatoes for Your Victory Garden!

Victory gardens are starting to make a comeback. In times of uncertainty, we often turn back to growing food at home. Whether you’ve been gardening for years or are just starting out, thinking about gardeners before us can be comforting. We can even grow some of the same varieties that fed our grandparents through the Great Depression, WWII, and many other hard times.

I decided to do a little searching around for some of the best old tomato varieties that very well could have been grown in WWII victory gardens. Surprisingly (or maybe not), I found it hard to pin down a lot of solid information in just my internet searches. There is no shortage of tomato varieties, but I did find it difficult to research their histories. So, I’ve stuck to some famous, old reliables. I also wanted to make sure the varieties I’m sharing are still available in seed form or are likely to be found as plants at most garden centers.

I of course, always grow a few varieties of tomatoes that my Grandma Pete swore by.  The last summer I got see Grandma, she sent me off with a little bit of cash and orders to use it for veggies for my garden. She insisted I get Jet Star or Celebrity tomatoes. I got Jet Star that year. And I still have the little plant stake that came with it. It’s a strange memento, but it’s a lasting reminder of Grandma’s influence on my love of gardening.  I grow Jet Star every year in her honor, but I also grow Celebrity here and there too. This year I will have both. She was right they are reliable, versatile, and delicious. They are among the few hybrids I grow.

 

Five Heirloom Varieties that will fit perfectly into a modern Victory Garden:

  1. Mortgage Lifter : This tomato usually tops the chart as far as famous old varieties with a great story. In the 1930’s, radiator salesman, M.C. Byles crossed a handful of the best tomatoes he could find. After a selection process, he introduced his tomato. It is said that he sold this tomato for a $1 each and was able to sell enough over a period of time to pay off his mortgage (no easy feat given the times).  This tomato now goes by “Mortgage Lifter” and has been a staple in many gardens since.

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    photo via Eden Brothers

  2. Rutgers: Introduced in 1934, this tomato is famous for its connections with Campbell’s Soup! Developed in New Jersey as a cross between JTD an Marglobe, it was so good, it became America’s leading tomato and the key tomato in many of our famous soups and condiments.  I’ve never grown Rutgers, but if I find plants this year, I think I’ll have to give it a shot! You can read more about its history here and Rutgers’ updated variety celebrating 250 years of the university. 

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    Breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes, circa 1930s. (Photo and caption from What’s in Season from the Garden State: The Historic Rutgers Tomato Gets Re-invented in University’s 250th Anniversary Year, 2016.)

  3. Nebraska Wedding Tomato: This one might not be as famous, but I have to include it, being Nebraska born and raised. This tomato was registered in 1983, but the story goes it was brought to Nebraska in the 1800’s by pioneers. The seeds were often given as wedding gifts to new brides. I grew it last year for the first time and was happy with both yield and taste, despite such a disappointing summer. I’m growing it again.  I also love that it’s orange.

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    photo via Seed Savers Exchange

  4. Amish Paste: I tried to pin down a great paste type tomato. There are a lot of classics, but Amish Paste stands out for my because it’s believed to have originated in Wisconsin (my home state now). It’s likely been around since the 1870’s, but it wasn’t registered until 1987. I’ve tried several varieties of paste tomatoes and have yet to latch on to one go-to type. These are going in this year’s garden for another try! Some think Amish Paste fits more into the “Plum” varieties of tomato based on a juicier, seedier flesh. Some, find it to be meaty and almost seedless. I think this must come down to growing conditions?
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    photo via Burpee 

     

  5. San Marzano: These Italian heirlooms have a long, long history in Italy’s fertile, volcanic soil. So much so, that there are a lot controversies surrounding what can really be called a San Marzano tomato! I found this article extremely informative. Despite all the hype about it, this tomato has been grown in the US for many years, and with a lot of fan fare. I’ve grown the standard, plus San Marzano Lungo II (an improved version) several times. I’m growing the latter again this year. Perfect for canning or pizza!
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photo via Burpee

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photo via Baker Creek

Now, That’s where I’m going to end my list, for now. You may ask where some other famous “toms” are, like Abraham Lincoln and Brandywine. I just didn’t include them this time around. Brandywines are also a long day tomato, and I just can’t get them to produce and ripen where I live (Zone 4). It’s heartbreaking, for now. Maybe I’ll find a way some day down the road.

I’ve also not included any cherry tomatoes. Even though cherry and even smaller, currant tomatoes, can be found hundreds of years ago, I couldn’t lock in on a particular variety I wanted to share. If you have a great, old heirloom cherry tomato you swear by, please share! There are a ton out there! I want to find a classic red, cherry type with a history.

I also want to share this lovely article about heirlooms with a history.  It has some very interesting varieties included in it. That’s all for now! Just a little ramble about tomatoes!

And a bonus! Grandma Pete in her family’s garden during the mid-1940s, Victory Garden?

Updates and Upgrades!

UPDATE: Despite having more time than I know what to do with lately, I still don’t fee like I’ve caught up on chores. Ugh. That being said, I am getting ready to pot up my little seedlings, dig up some new beds, and I have a ton of posts in my draft section. There should be a good mix of history, genealogy, and plants in topics coming soon!

UPGRADE: I have acquired 24 landscape timbers to start laying out two new garden beds in the vegetable area. After doing some research on landscape timbers, I decided I am OK with using them in the veggie garden. I have been watching so many British garden shows lately that I am starting to want to call it a “veg patch.” Oh. Boy. The newer process of treating lumber means they are now safer to use in gardens. I did some research and double checked the description on the lumber I bought. So, I feel confident in using these. But, be sure to double check any lumber you choose to add in your garden!

UPGRADE: I have a fancy new camera. I bought it in January, but I am just now starting to get it figured out. It’s aNikon D3500 which I got as bundle from Target while I still worked there. I was able to stack several discounts and get a good deal on it. It will definitely be an upgrade from my S7 phone and my Nikon Coolpix L310. I also bought a few accessories: this Altura wide angle lens and this Altura viewfinder eye piece.  The camera and both accessories are great starting points for people like me. I like to take beautiful photos, but really only have high school photography class knowledge. Todd and I both agreed we need to document more adventures and visits to ancestral places!

Enjoy photos of life so far! Can you guess which are from my phone and which are from the new camera!?

Well, here’s to catching up, praying for a lift on the stay-at-home order, warmer weather, and more posts! I can’t wait to get more projects and posts rolling.

 

~p.s. I am trying out ‘affiliate’ linking. There are affiliate links in this post, but they are only for products I appreciate or use personally!~

 

2020 Seed Starting and Garden Plans!

I started this post a few weeks ago. When I reopened the draft, I realized just how much has changed.  Last year was a bit of disappointing growing season. Between work, bad weather, and a number of other things, a lot didn’t happen.  This year, my original plans were to focus on the infrastructure our garden and scale back on growing. Well, beyond just my inability to actually cut back on seed starting, current events have made me realize the importance of my garden. Even though garden centers are still open, who knows what the next few months will bring.

Just before the COVID-19 crisis began, I put my two weeks notice in at Target, where I had been working just over a year. My last day was March 21. It was a bit surreal to be in the thick of the panic buying. I am thankful that we have to opportunity for me to stay home this summer. Todd is a railroader and he is deemed essential, and there is  a lot of stress there during the best of times! So, this summer it really is going to be about our house, garden, and spending quality time together (and hopefully some family history sleuthing too).

We plan on expanding beds, building the raised beds, and just working on a lot of the projects that need finishing up. While we do plan on going to the hardware stores and garden centers, Todd and I have been diligently making lists and checking inventory, to make as few as possible trips. Only Todd is going to the hardware store and I do the grocery shopping.

So….here is how my ‘cutting back’ on seeds went and how I’m growing them this year:

This past fall, I used some pre-made supports and 1″x 6 “boards, stained with deck stain, to create two different plant stands. Since, I can’t quite reach my little green houses, and don’t want to completely take over the kitchen again, I’ve added an extra shelves to the larger of the plant stands. I also, for the first time ever, bought grow lights. These ones on Amazon.com.  They have several different options and the best part is how affordable they are! It took me only about a half hour to have mine set up and going. So far, I love them.  Here is my set up this year…

I started a few of my flower seeds earlier, then the majority of peppers, tomatoes, and herbs on the first day of Spring.  I decided I should start more. So, I added one more flat of herbs, peppers, and tomatoes. It’s a little late for a few of them, but I’ll give it a go. I also have all my summer bulbs potted up. While it’s a bit early for them, I typically just let them relax in there dirt and gradually pick up on watering as I get closer to plant times. So far, my set up has worked pretty well. My biggest complaint is not having quite as much control over the humidity and temp as I do with my little green houses.

Here is what I started this year  with links to where I’ve purchased them!

Here are my seeds I have picked out to direct sew (if it actually happens):

I also have big dreams to put in lettuce/greens, grapes, strawberries, garlic, potatoes, onions, and start an asparagus bed also. We will see. I currently have five urban and columnar apples planted. Two of the apple trees were cast-offs and may or may not survive. The other three are planted into my flower beds. I’m hoping for a first small crop on the Scarlet and Golden Sentinel apples.