Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Late Winter Ritual: The Fedco Order

Though we've had an amazingly warm and hopefully brief winter, I am a bit late with my Fedco tomato seed order this year; or perhaps I am late with it because of our unseasonsable season. It's usually a late January event, that reminds me in the deepest part of winter that warmth will come again, and things will grow.

My husband and I have tried many different hybrid and heirloom tomatoes over the years in our raised beds. Due to our relatively short growing season, some varieties - easpecially those which make very large tomatoes - just don't work out. Regular tomatoes - as opposed to cherry or grape - can have a germination-to-havest time of about 60 - 90 days. I aim for the low end of that range, but I do try to spread the harvest out, so I don't have pounds and pounds of tomatoes all in a two-week window. This year I am going with three tried-and-true varieties, and test-driving one that looked too appealing to resist. Making return appearances this year are:

  • Sungolds! Bright yellow-orange cherry tomatoes, on the small side; impossibly sweet, early, prolific: even people who don't like tomatoes like Sungolds. They'll make fruit from the first week in August right up until the frost. Fruit 57 days from germination.
  • Oregon Spring. Has one of the briefest growing periods of any full-sized tomato, at 57 days. Good-sized fruit, smooth, and sort of classically tomato-looking. These are nice and flavorful but nothing special; I mostly choose them because if we get a crap summer, as sometimes happens, they will fruit anyway. A pretty good workhorse tomato, they are good sliced or in salsa or sauce. They are my hedge bet. 
  • Garden Peach - These are on the small side, pale yellow and slightly fuzzy. Sweet and very juicy. Great to eat sliced or in salsa. They struggle during cold or rainy summers, but produce prolifically if the weather cooperates. 

Oregon Spring
Garden Peach
And my gamble this year :
  • Jubilee - an 80-day tomato, orange with 8 oz fruit. If you can't tell, I favor the yellow & orange varieties! I like to have some red, orange, and yellow in my salsa, so pretty with the dark green bits of jalepeno. 80 days...if I plant on Memorial Day, 80 days is...mid-August? Sounds doable, even if it runs late, because September is often our biggest tomato month. 
We alwasy use Fedco, because they are right up the road in Waterville, so they know what will do well in a Maine garden. Time to start saving egg cartons to plant in! And eggshells, which provide calcium for tomato-growing soil.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ice Dam, Downtown Augusta

The Kennebec River has overspilled its banks into a downtown Augusta parking lot. The rapid temperature change, combined with teo days of precipitation has caused ice dams n the river, backing water up over the banks.

Over the weekend we had temperatures in the double digits below; then a few inches of snow on Monday, then heavy rain and weirdly warm temperatures yesterday. The river narrow right at downtown, so when the ice breaks up, it sometimes gets clogged up at the bottleneck. This isn't the first time that lot has flooded.
Here's downtown today from the opposite bank.

Back home, though, things look considerably springier! Since we've had such a warm season overall, I thought I'd check to see if we've got any crocus shoots up yet; and YES! we do! This is the earliest the crocuses have come up since I started paying attention back in 2005.