Posts tagged heirloom tomatoes

July gardening events

   The Johnson County Master Gardeners are holding their 13th annual Taste of the Heirloom Garden on Wednesday, July 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove State Historic Site, 1030 Carroll street, Iowa City.

   This unique project funds the Plum Grove gardens (there are three:  vegetable, flower and wildflower}; a Horticultural scholarship at Kirkwood Community College, 4H prizes at the fair, and garden mainenance.

   The gardens have received two awards:  first Iowa State Service Award and National Garden designation by National Garden Clubs of America and the Smithsonian.

   Each year,  a committee scours 19th century cookbooks to plan a menu of three soups,  vegetable dishes, salads, breads, and desserts based on produce planted in the vegetable garden. There is a different food selection each year and a recipe pamphlet is available. Senior Center Post Office Brass entertains with old tunes,  door prizes are awarded, guided tours to gardens and 1840 Robert Lucas home, free parking and this year a visit from the ghost of Robert Lucas.

    Despite the late spring and continued rain, the garden is growing with new varieties.  More than  45 different heirloom tomatoes have been tested since its inception. Strawberry and Malabar spinach are some of the new varieties. The wildflower garden has new acquisitions and a new resting stump is from a tree under which the Mormons camp on their trek across Iowa.  This project will be featured at the Farm Progress show.

   For more information contact Betty Kelly blk106@earthlink.net

 

    Seed Savers 28th Annual Convention will be  July 18-20 at Heritage Farm north of Decorah, Iowa.
    Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.

   This year’s keynote speaker is Lynne Rossetto Kasper from NPR’s The Splendid Table. Other speakers include Rich Pirog from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and SSE Advisor John Swenson.
    The Annual Convention kicks off Friday evening with an informal reception at the Visitors Center. There will be a wine tasting by Winneshiek Wildberry Winery and turkey summer sausage and jerky from Jenkins Industries in Decorah.
   Saturday there is a full schedule of events – with walks and tours, a seed swap, flower arranging by Willowglen Perennial Nursery, and open houses in many of SSE’s facilities in the morning, and speakers in the afternoon. After a locally grown dinner is the keynote speech and a barn dance.
   Sunday morning there is a bird walk and a wide selection of tours and workshops to choose from.
   For more information call SSE’s office at 563-382-5990 or visit:
www.seedsavers.org

 

   Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse will have a free seminar, focusing on the benefits and beauty of gardening with native plants.

   Native Iowa Plants will be Saturday, July 19, from 10-11 a.m. in Culver’s Greenhouses, 1682 Dubuque Road (Highway 151 East), in Marion. The seminar is being held as part of Culver’s Customer Appreciation Weekend, July 19 and 20, and will cover different types of plants native to Iowa and the benefits of using them.

  Native plants in the garden and landscape require less maintenance and water, cause less harmful runoff, are more likely to thrive, maintain or improve soil condition, and provide natural sources of food and shelter for native wildlife.

  RSVP by calling (319) 377-4195.

  Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse was established in April of 1998, an extension of Culver’s Lawn Care & Landscaping, Inc.   More information is available at: www.culverslandscape.com

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Thrillers, fillers and spillers

        How fun is this asks Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith… my thirty-something daughter has decided for the first time in her adult life to plant (albeit small) a vegetable garden.  It’s for “the kids” (?)  She told me that when she and her brother were kids how they liked to eat things right out of the garden.  She says she liked peas and her brother ate radishes and onions until we caught them and made them come to the house to wash what they had picked.  They don’t seem to be the worse for wear now, though.  And, then we remember putting cages around our tomatoes, not to keep them upright, but because the Golden Retriever loved ripe tomatoes!  Oh!  Those were the good old days. 

       Those of you who don’t have much space for gardening may be interested in the following article from Master Gardener Gloria Johnson on Combinations for Vegetable and Flowering Containers.

        Gloria says:  With the right size container, adequate sun, and consistent watering and fertilizing, many vegetables and flowering annuals and perennials can be grown in pots.   Pick a color theme, culinary theme, or a nonsensical theme and let your imagination run wild. Combinations created in container gardening can be refreshing and magical.  For a great combination remember to have a “thriller” (a tall dramatic plant), a “filler” (a middle size plant), and a “spiller” (a plant that drapes over the sides) in each container.

        Tomatoes make great thriller plants for a container.  Insert the largest and heaviest metal cage you can buy (I attached mine to the deck railing for extra sturdiness).  A great cherry tomato is the “Sweet 100” and it does very well in a container.  For a larger tomato, the “Big Boy” or “Better Boy” does well.  I use my containers on the deck to try out some of the heirloom tomatoes which occasionally require some extra attention.  I have had good luck with “Brandywine” and “Mr. Stripy”.

      For the filler, I use herbs such as chives, basil, cilantro, and bush celery.  I have added annuals such as marigolds, straw flower, and miniature zinnias to brighten and add color to the container.

      For the spiller, I have used trailing herbs, nasturtiums and petunias.  It is beneficial to use plants for the fillers and spillers that can tolerate dry conditions.

      I only put one tomato plant in a container and I do not combine tomatoes and peppers in the same pots.   For the pepper pot, I would use the pepper plant as the thriller and then a complimentary herb as the filler and a flowering annual as the spiller.

     A salsa garden of Roma tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño peppers, chives and green onions or an Italian garden with Roma tomatoes, basil, oregano and chives make great combinations.  Or, how about a pot full of mints such as Pineapple Sage, Mint Julep (for that afternoon iced tea), spearmint, orange mint or chocolate mint (great in chocolate chip cookies!). 

     You will enjoy your vegetable garden no matter what its size.  And can you think of a more pleasurable way to spend your summer than eating what you – or the kids or grandkids – have grown yourself?  And by the way, the container perennials can be transplanted into the ground and enjoyed for years to come.

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