We have an abundant supply of garlic in stock! It is a wonderful crop that is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. It is easy to grow and requires very little space in the garden. Garlic is also a natural pest repellent!
- Best time to plant garlic is in the fall. Plant 6 to 8 weeks before first expected frost date.
- Plant in a spot that has not recently been used for garlic or other plants from the onion family.
- Plant in a sunny spot with well drained soil.
- Work several inches of compost or manure and fertilizer into the bed.
- Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, keep the papery husk on each individual clove.
- Space the cloves 4-6" apart. Rows should be spaced one foot apart. The cloves should be planted with the pointed end up and the blunt end down. Push each clove 1-2" into the ground, firm the soil around it, and water the bed if it is dry.
- After planting, lay down a protective mulch of straw. The mulch should be approximately 4 inches thick. Mulch will help prevent the garlic roots from being lifted out of the ground by freezing and thawing.
- Mulch should be removed in the spring after the threat of frost has passed.
- In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.
- When the leaves begin to grow, it is important to feed the garlic plants to encourage good growth. Gently work in Osmocote into the soil near each plant.
- Cut off any flower shoots that emerge in spring to encourage bulb growth.
- Keep well weeded. Garlic doesn’t do well with competition.
- Water every 3 to 5 days during bulbing (mid-May through June).
- Fertilize again just before the bulbs begin to swell usually early May.
- By June remove any remaining mulch and stop watering. The garlic will store better if you allow the soil around the bulbs to dry out.
- Harvest garlic when most of the leaves have turned brown. This usually occurs in mid-July to early August.
- Dig up bulbs (don't pull), being careful not to bruise them. If the bulbs are left in the ground too long, they may separate and will not store well.
- Lay the garlic plants out to dry for 2 or 3 weeks in a shady, dry spot for two weeks.
- Do not get the bulbs wet or break them apart, or the plants won't last as long.
- The bulbs are cured and ready to store when the wrappers are dry and papery and the roots are dry.
- Either tie the garlic in bunches (4 to 6), braid the leaves, or cut the stem a few inches above the bulb. Hang the braids and bunches or store the loose bulbs on screens or slatted shelves in a cool, airy location. You may want to set aside some of the largest bulbs for replanting in the fall.
- During the winter months check your stored garlic bulbs often, and promptly use any that show signs of sprouting.
At Vineyard Gardens nursery we have a wonderful selection of Miscanthus Maiden Grass. It a low maintenance, deer resistant ornamental grass commonly planted in groups along a border or for privacy screening; along edges of beds; and excellent for container planting. It has fine-textured, silvery-green foliage that turn golden-bronze in autumn and has spectacular plumes in late summer.
How to Grow Maiden Grass
Maiden grass thrives in full sun and may get 6 feet wide with a 10 foot spread. The grass requires well-drained soil, but is tolerant of excess moisture, dry conditions, acidic soils and even hard clay sites. Propagation of ornamental maiden grasses is through division. You may dig up a mature plant in early spring before new growth has appeared. Cut the root base into two to four sections and plant each as a new plant. It is important to do it when the center of the plant is showing signs of dying out, an indicator that it is time to divide the grass.
Easily grown in average, well-drained soils with consistent moisture. Water deeply, regularly during first growing season to establish an extensive root system; reduce frequency when established. Hard prune and apply fertilizer in late winter to early spring just before new shoots appear. Pruning time: early spring.
PLANT OF THE WEEK : HYDRANGEA 20% OFF
HELPFUL TIPS ON GROWING HYDRANGEA
Hydrangeas have a beautiful classical elegance and charm that is very representative of Martha's Vineyard. They are easy to cultivate, tolerate almost any soil, and produce abundant blooms throughout the summer and fall. Hydrangea color ranges from shades of blue, pink, lavender to white. They are very versatile and can be planted in group plantings to shrub borders to containers. At Vineyard Gardens we carry loads of Hydrangeas! We sell them in 5 gal, 10 gal and 20 gallon pots.
- Plant in spring or fall.
- Plant in full sun in the morning, with some afternoon shade. Bigleaf hydrangeas will grow and bloom in partial shade.
- Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.
- Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water. After water is drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil.
- Water thoroughly.
- Space multiple hydrangeas about 3 to 10 feet apart.
- For the first two years after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry.
- If your soil is light or sandy, it’s best to fertilize hydrangea once a year in late winter or spring. Otherwise if your soil is rich you do not need to fertilize, too much fertilizer encourages leafy growth at the expense of blooms.
- Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangea are pruned AFTER the flowers fade in the summer.
- Mopheads: It’s best not to deadhead (remove faded blooms). Leave them over the winter and cut them back in early spring (to the first healthy pair of buds).
- Lacecaps: Deadhead, cut down to the second pair of leaves below the flower head.
- Flower buds form in the late summer and flower the following season. Avoid pruning after August 1.
- Only cut away dead wood in the fall or very early spring.
- To prune, cut one or two of the oldest stems down to the base to encourage branching and fullness.
- If the plant is old, neglected, or damaged, prune all the stems down to the base. You’ll lose the flowers for the upcoming season, but also rejuvenate the plant for future years.
- Panicle and Smooth hydrangeas are pruned BEFORE flower buds are formed. These varieties blossom on the current season’s stems.
- Prune in the late winter when the plant is dormant. This means that if the buds are killed during the winter, the plant will produce new buds in the spring which will produce blooms.
- In general, prune only dead branches, and do not prune to “shape” the bush.
PLANT OF THE WEEK : ROSES 20% off!
From bud to bloom to falling petals, no garden, from cottage to contemporary, is really complete without at least a few of these dreamy flowering shrubs. A variety of growth habits, sizes, colors, and textures means there’s at least one that can fill any niche in the home landscape. And, breeders have made improvements in disease resistance so they’re less work, too. Here are five of our favorite ways to use them.
Sure you could plant an evergreen or conifer, but taller shrub roses planted close together make a beautiful and effective hedge to create privacy or to define property lines. Lower growers are spectacular used to outline a path or to divide one part of the garden from another.
The secret to a dense hedge is planting shrubs closely, about 2′ to 3′ apart on center.
Here are three to try:
Parade of abundant flower clusters (white petals that gradually intensify to a deep pink with red edges) provide season-long color. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall. Zone: 5 – 9
Outstanding disease resistance and proven to thrive coast to coast in heat and humidity as well as dry, hot summers. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone: 4 – 9
PLUMP-UP A MIXED BORDER
Roses can play a supporting role, too. Look for taller varieties to add height and scale to the back of a border, and free-flowering, mid-sized shrubs to amp-up the summer show of mixed evergreen foundation plantings.
Get a power-planted look by massing two or more groups of 3 roses in a long border or along the foundation.
These are fat and sassy:
Continuous bloom with clean, glossy, dark green foliage that’s more resistant to hot, humid temperatures. Great for the back of a border. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone 5 – 9
Upright bouquets of fully-double, red roses on fuss-free shrubs that endure long, hot summers with unwavering blooming zeal. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone 4 – 9
PROVIDE VERTICAL IMPACT
Climbers and ramblers add interest to otherwise plain walls and fences, and provide shady, flowery cover to arbors and pergolas. Use shorter varieties on smaller trellises, pillars, and tuteurs.
The secret to getting the most from climbing roses is to plant a second kind of climber that blooms at a different time along with it at a ratio of 2-to-1 (two roses for every secondary vine). (Clematis, jasmine, even grapes, are good companions.)
These are long-legged beauties:
Tall, vigorous rose with small buds that open to fragrant, light pink, double blooms in large sprays. So romantic! Full sun. Up to 20′ long. Zone: 4 – 11
Blooms early & continues throughout the warm season with fire-engine red flowers retaining vibrant color without fading. Full sun. Up to 12′ long. Zone: 5 – 10
ADD ELEGANCE TO A CONTAINER
Whether one eye-popping large shrub in a large container, or one of the new compact roses alone or snuggled up with a mix of perennials or annuals, potted- up roses provide solutions for places where it’s difficult to plant such as hardscape or around swimming pools.
Roses set deep roots so be sure to provide a container that’s at least 18″ deep and repot with fresh soil every three years.
Perfect for pots:
Ideal for a large container–or a row of containers for a flowery privacy border. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone: 4 – 9
Sheer, soft pink semi-double blooms on a compact form combined with lacy foliage. Nearly carefree color for patio containers. Full sun. Up to 2 ft. tall. Zone: 4 – 10
THE MOST ROMANTIC GROUNDCOVER
Mass these surprisingly tough shrubs in that sunny space where other plants might struggle. Edge a driveway, surround a swimming pool, or cover a slope with groundcover roses that grow dense and help keep down weeds.
When using roses as groundcovers, remember to line the bed with weed-barrier fabric (available at garden centers) before planting and top with mulch.
These are problem solvers:
Easy-care, vigorous and cold-hardy; Low spreading habit is perfect for smaller garden borders, or along paths. Full sun. Up to 2′ tall. Zone: 4 – 11
Peachy-amber blossoms are fragrant with excellent heat and humidity tolerance. Full sun. Up to 3′ tall. Zone: 4 – 10
Keep Roses Happy:
Start by choosing the right rose. A large shrub rose in a too-small container or a rambler on a less than sturdy pergola can be a battle not worth having.
Roses love to eat; feed them about 3 weeks after the first flush of leaves and again just after the first flowers have faded.
While tolerant of drier conditions in subsequent years, water regularly during the first season;1-inch per week per shrub depending on your soil.
Mulch like you mean it! Apply 1-3 inches of well-aged organic mulch in spring and again in fall.
Major prune in winter or early spring but summer pruning can keep flowers coming on. Prune stems just above a set of five leaves.
Coral Bells are in the genus Heucheras and contain over 35 native species. They have colorful foliage ranging from yellow to green to multiple shades of red and purple depending on cultivar. They are a wonderful foliage perennial and since their blooms last only 3 to 4 weeks, it is important to enjoy the gorgeous foliage that sticks around for the remaining 6 to 8 months. Some Heucheras are even semi evergreen. The leaves arise from a central rosette and their graceful bell shaped blooms rise high above the foliage.
The foliage of most cultivars reaches 8 to 12 inches in height with a spread of 1 to 2 feet wide. When blooming, the flower stalks reach 1 to 3 feet tall. The Villosa hybrids are larger than the Americana hybrids.
- Plant in partial shade or filtered sun. The yellow and red ones can take more sun. Heucheras grow naturally in wooded areas as well as arid rocky regions in the midwest, making it a suitable addition to plant along woodland edges, rock gardens or in natural gardens.
- Try planting alongside the foliage of ferns, caladiums and hostas. They’re also beautiful with shade loving perennials such as bleeding heart, iris and astilbe.
- Coral Bells grow well in containers. Keep plant moist in well-draining soil—preferably enriched with compost or other type of organic matter.
- Heucheras are DEER REISISTANT!
- Hummingbirds often visit heuchera flowers.
HELPFUL TIPS ON GROWING HOSTAS
Hostas are a shade loving perennial with blue, purple or white blooms. There are a variety of Hostas available differing in their leaf color, shape, size, and texture. They are easy to maintain and are shade tolerate. They are also popular among hummingbirds.
- Plant dormant, bare root or potted
- Dormant or bare root Hostas should be planted with the crown even to the surrounding soil with the growing tips visible at the soil surface
- Plant potted Hostas even with the potted soil level
- Water until soil is moist
- In spring when growth emerges apply fertilizer
- Keep plant moist
- Place mulch around plant to retain moisture
- Remove flower stalks after bloom to encourage new growth
- In the fall when the leaves brown, clean up around the plant to control for disease
HELPFUL TIPS ON GROWING ASTILBE
Astilbes are deer resistant perennial flowers that bloom in spring and summer. They have soft feathery purple, lavender, red, white or multiple shades of pink blooms with glossy fern like foliage. Some Astilbes have bronze foliage and the very newest Astilbes have deep brown foliage. They grow well in shady areas were other flowers won't thrive. Their flower clusters vary in size from 6 inches to 2 feet and their height ranges from 6 inches to 3 1/2 feet, depending on the variety. Astilbe's tend to attract butterflies. At Vineyard Gardens we carry 25-30 different cultivars.
- Astilbe chinensis Pumila forms a ground cover and the blooms rise about 8-12“ above the foliage.
- A couple of dwarf Astilbes are Sprite and Hennie Graafland.
- Astilbe Ostrich Plume is a tall pink Astilbe whose flowers are pendulous instead of upright like other Astilbes.
- Astilbe Superba is one of the tallest pinks.
- Plant in shade to part shade
- Plant in a loamy humus rich soil
- Water deeply to promote deep roots
- Protect from hot afternoon sun
- Regularly check your Astilbes to make sure they are moist
- Astilbes spread quickly and form broad clumps.
- Apply organic fertilizer in the spring
- Divide the overgrown clumps every 3 to 4 years in the spring
- Removing the flower heads for cut flowers will not promote continued flowering
- At the end of bloom clip off any spent flower stems. Astilbes will continue to provide attractive foliage until fall
Dahlias are colorful flowers which generally bloom from midsummer to first frost. Dahlias come in a rainbow of colors and range in size from 2 to 10-inch blooms. Some varieties grow 4 to 5 feet tall. Best in full sun.
At Vineyard Gardens, we carry a variety of dahlias. We grow Redskin, Bishops Children and Collarette mix from seed. We also bring in 20-30 varieties in tubers. These are the best cut flower dahlias. They will grow 3-5 ft tall in one season and will produce many flowers per tuber. If planted early and deep enough they should not need staking. We sell the plants forced in pots to give our customers a head start and also sell the tubers in the retail store.
- Thomas Edison and Snow Country are our best sellers
- Ottos Thrill, Firepot and Karma fuschiana are also popular decorative types
- Tahiti Sunrise is a popular cactus dahlia with their incurved petals
HELPFUL TIPS ON GROWING DAHLIAS
Dahlias have tubers that thrive in good soil and respond well to feedings. With a well prepared soil-bed dahlias will grow quickly.
- Dig deep holes in full sun for dahlia tubers to be placed
- Enrich the soil with compost and work in a good organic fertilizer
- Arrange the tuber bunch with points facing down
- Firm the soil around and over the clump
- Set one or two stakes (with twine ready) to support the stems as they grow
- Water well
Staking is crucial when growing big dahlia plants. The beautiful foliage grows on brittle stems and heavy rain, wind or the weight of the flowers can break the plant.
Saving Dahlia Tubers in Fall
- Pull up the plants (once first frost hits and dahlia flower has died)
- Cut off the stems a few inches above the tuber
- Wash off the dirt
- Set the tubers in the sun to dry
- Once they're dry, put them in a paper bag with sawdust or peat moss
- Store them in a cool non-freezing spot in the cellar or garage until next spring
- In spring you can either divide them, at least 3 eyes per clump, or leave them whole for to achieve big growth.
Cutting Dahlia Flowers
To cut dahlias for your flower arrangements, choose whole stems and try to maintain the basic shape of your plant. It will quickly try to replace the branch you remove, and the buds will keep coming up until first frost.
HELPFUL TIPS ON GROWING SALVIA
There are over 900 species of salvias, both annuals and perennials. They are easy to grow, easy to care for, deer resistant, bloom abundantly and have long lasting blooms. Salvia are a wonderful garden perennials for honey bees, hummingbirds and butterflies!
- Salvias prefer full sun and well-drained soil.
- Dig a hole twice the diameter of the container the plant is in
- Mix in a 3-inch layer of compost
- Remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
- Space plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety.
- Carefully fill in around the plant and firm the soil gently.
- Water thoroughly.
- Add a thin layer of mulch around the plant to retain moisture and control weeds.
- Keep soil moist through the growing season.
- Remove faded blooms to encourage continuous bloom.
- Wait until new growth begins in early spring to remove old stems.
- Divide perennial salvias every 3 years. The best time to divide is in early spring, before new growth begins.
An easy-to-grow annual whose leaves and flowers are edible.
These plants are good for containers or as ground cover. Their pretty fragrance also makes them a good choice for cut flowers. Nasturtiums are perfect to grow with children because they grow easily and rapidly.
- CONTAINER GARDENS: Choose compact dwarf varieties like Alaska Variegated, Empress of India, Cherry Rose Jewel or Nasturtium Fiesta Blend
- VERTICAL GARDENS / GROUND COVERS / WEED BARRIERS /LIVING MULCH: Choose climbing or trailing nasturtium varieties with longer vines like White Moonlight, Red Canary Creeper, Multi-Colour Trailing Mix and Yellow Canarybird Creeper.
- You can start the seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost.
- Plant nasturtium seeds in early spring in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. They can grow in partial shade, but they will not bloom as well.
- Nasturtiums prefer poorer soils and they do not need fertilizers. Fertile soil will produce fewer blooms and more foliage. Plant nasturtiums where other flowers and vegetables would be unsuccessful.
- Plant the seeds about half an inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart. Plants should appear in 7 to 10 days.
- Water regularly throughout the growing season, but be careful not to over-water your plants.
- Cutting off the faded/dead flowers will prolong blooming.
- If you’re growing nasturtiums in containers, they may need to be trimmed back occasionally over the growing season.
A gorgeous Dove Tree is blooming right now at the Dr. Daniel Fisher House in Edgartown. It is uncommon and extremely impressive. "Dove Trees are deciduous trees with broad leaves that take on fall color varying from warm pastels to warmer orange and red tones. On mature trees, large showy white bracts surrounding small, red-anthered flowers flutter like handkerchiefs in the slightest breeze, appearing from a distance like doves sitting among the branches. Truly intriguing and beautiful!" Monrovia
Tomato season is upon us and there are so many varieties available. How do you choose which to grow? The first step is to understand the differences between heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. Both varieties have their stengths and weaknesses. Read on to learn more!
Heirloom tomatoes are varieties that have been grown without cross-pollination for at least 40 years. They are open-pollinated, which means pollinated by insects or wind without human intervention. That allows them to remain stable in their characteristics from one year to the next. Gardeners appreciate their consistency in taste and agree that most heirloom varieties tend to have greater flavor than hybrids. Heirlooms are often grown locally and allowed to ripen on the vine which affects their flavor. They often produce only a small number of fruit. Since they have not had the selective crossbreeding as hybrids, Heirloom Tomatoes tend to be more susceptible to pest disease, especially fungus, which makes them crack and split.
STABILITY: Heirlooms produce large numbers of seeds and bear tomatoes identical to parents
TASTE: Heirlooms are considered flavorful, and even superior to commercially-produced varieties
DISEASE-RESISTANCE: More susceptible to disease.
INDIVIDUALITY: Many heirlooms have unique shapes and sport a variety of colors, including purple, yellow, white, orange, pink, red, green, black and striped.
INDIVIDUALITY: Unusual, misshapen or inconsistent tomatoes.
PRODUCTIVITY: Heirlooms take longer to mature and produce fewer tomatoes than hybrids.
Hybrid tomatoes typically yield a crop that is uniform in both appearance and timing. Typical supermarket tomatoes are hybrids that have been carefully crossbred to achieve a desired combination. Some of those characteristics may be bigger in size, better disease resistance, dependability, less required care, early maturity, higher yield, and/or specific plant size.
PRODUCTIVITY: You'll harvest more tomatoes
DISEASE-RESISTANCE: Hybrids have a reputation for not being as susceptible to diseases and pests as their heirloom counterparts.
STRENGTH: Hybrids are known for yielding tomatoes of similar size and with fewer blemishes.
LONGEVITY: Harvested hybrid tomatoes have staying power. They endure the long hours on at the roadside farm stand better than heirlooms
FLAVOR: Most gardeners agree that hybrids are not as flavorful as heirlooms
INSTABILITY: Long term hybrids don't produce seeds as strong as what birthed them- according to experts. However, many gardeners claim they save hybrid seeds year to year which produce seedlings and fruit that is true to the original hybrid.
At Vineyard Gardens we carry both hybrid and heirloom tomatoes. A few of the hybrids we carry are Burpees Big Boy and Big Beef, two of the largest ones, and Celebrity, a midsize disease resistant variety that we have carried for years.
HEIRLOOM TOMATOES VARIETIES at VINEYARD GARDENS
AUNT RUBY'S GERMAN GREEN TOMATO OG (85 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. “The biggest surprise I’ve ever experienced in tomatoes,” said the late Chuck Wyatt, vintage tomato collector. Until you try it, you won’t believe a green tomato could be this good. I rate it second only to Brandywine for flavor and it is on just about everyone’s top-ten list. Oblate 12–16 oz fruits blush lightly yellow and develop an amber-pink tinge on the blossom end when ripe. Don’t allow them to get too soft before picking. The green flesh of this beefsteak is faintly marbled with pink. Flavor sweet and tart, rich and spicy. The central large tomatoes are the best. Flavor deteriorates when cold weather sets in. Created a sensation at a staff taste test in September 1996, where it was rated “good” or “excellent” by all who tried it. [Wow, that long ago! I still grow and love it based on that test. -ed.] Aunt Ruby’s is not just the best green eating tomato, it also makes a delicious basis for salsa verde. Originally from Ruby Arnold’s German immigrant grandfather, introduced in the 1993 Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook by Bill Minkey of Darien, Wisc. Nominated to Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. ③
BLACK KRIM TOMATO OG (80 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. Don’t wait too long to harvest this delicate heirloom tomato. At half green and still firm they are already dead ripe and perfectly delicious. If you wait till they are fully purple, you will not be able to get them from garden to table intact (to say nothing of market) and they will disintegrate like a hunk of road-kill. Krims are strikingly iridescent purple on the outside, usually with dark green-black shoulders and noticeable catfacing. Interiors are part black, too, with an unusual juicy yet meaty taste and texture, described as having “…a smoky flavor like a good single malt scotch.” Fruits average 12–18 oz. Krim hails from Krymsk on the Black Sea in Russia. ①
CHEROKEE PURPLE TOMATO OG (77 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. but with relatively short vines. No list of the best-tasting heirloom tomatoes would be complete without Cherokee Purple, an unusual variety from Tennessee said to have originated with the Cherokee Indians. Fruits are globes to slightly oblate, averaging 10–13 oz, with dusky brownish-purple skin, dark green shoulders and brick-red flesh. The real attraction is their rich taste, described as “sweet rich juicy winey,” “delicious sweet,” and “rich Brandywine flavor” by aficionados maintaining it in the Seed Savers Exchange. Ranks in my top five for flavor. Expect some concentric cracking. Amy LeBlanc suggests the vines should not be pruned because the delicate fruits sunburn easily. Indigenous Royalties. ①②
GARDEN PEACH TOMATO OG (71 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. Yellow fruits blush pink when ripe and have thin fuzzy skins somewhat like peaches, soft-skinned, juicy and very sweet. Light fruity taste is not what you’d expect in a tomato. Burpee in 1893 called it “delicate, melting in the mouth like a grape.” For well over a century savvy gardeners have brought Peach’s little 2–4 oz fruits indoors before frost to keep for several weeks. Jim Stockwell from North Carolina would not be without it. “Not only are they early and prolific but their unusual flavor and no core sizes make them perfect for grilling without falling apart.” Doreen Mundie says also wonderful dried. Amy Goldman places its 1890 origins with plant breeder Elbert S. Carman, owner and editor of The Rural New-Yorker. It was introduced the 1890 catalog of Hallock & Son’s of Queens, NY. Showed some tolerance to LB in Colrain in 2014. ③
GREEN ZEBRA TOMATO OG (77 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. A most unusual beast in the tomato menagerie, this zebra starts out green with darker green stripes, softening and blushing yellow and apricot when it ripens. It might have remained a mere curiosity but for its delicious sweet rich flavor. Small-medium 4–5 oz fruits are emerald green inside. Perfect exteriors hold up under adverse conditions and don’t crack. “The perfect salad tomato,” says Anne Elder of Ann Arbor, Mich. “Tried Green Zebra for the first time last year. The tomatoes were a big hit with our customers,” said Tammy Martin of Ruckamuck Farm in Milbridge, Maine. Sometimes incorrectly shows up on lists of heirloom tomatoes, but was developed by Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seeds in 1985 from four heirlooms. Kent Whealy ranks it in his top ten tomatoes. Susceptible to SEPT. ①
PINEAPPLE TOMATO OG (85 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. Garden author Michelle Owen says, “I roast…these exceptionally sweet red-streaked yellow tomatoes…in a hot oven, then sauté with ridiculous amounts of garlic, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil and throw over pasta. Before I face the firing squad, I will ask for this as my last meal.” With its silky smooth texture and complex fruity taste, Pineapple may be the best striped tomato. Typically grows huge fruits in excess of 1 lb that get a little funky cosmetically. Fruits hold tight to stems so bring scissors to your harvest. Cut in half, it looks like the interior of a pineapple except with yellow and red marbling. It doesn’t taste like a pineapple, though, nor like a typical red tomato, either. Its unique mild low-acid fruity sweetness needs a fruit name all its own. Originally from Kentucky, but our seed stock came from Martha Gottlieb of Common Ground Fair Exhibition Hall fame. ①
PINK BRANDYWINE TOMATO OG (82 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. with potato-leaf foliage. Pink Brandywine is the heirloom that launched a movement, leading many gardeners to be flavor-positive preservation-aware seed-savers. As Brandywine’s popularity exploded, so did its production as commercial bulk seed. But like all heirlooms, our favorite old-fashioned OPs with their hand-selected hand-me-down genetics need special care. Fedco Seeds has partnered with Daniel and Corinne at Blackbird Rise of Palermo, Maine, to keep building the Brandywine legacy. For four summers, they’ve grown hundreds of plants from our classic Sudduth/Quisenberry strain, selecting for that perfect Brandywine color, flavor, bountiful size and shape that says “homegrown comfort.” The result is this extra-select strain of large oblate pink meaty beefsteaks, trending away from small-fruited, less-vigorous and late-ripening traits. Of course, that precious balanced deep flavor with perfect hints of tart still rings true! Oblate meaty beefsteak fruits average right around a pound, ripening unevenly throughout the season, often preferring cool early fall to peak heat of August. ①
ROSE DE BERNE TOMATO OG (80 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. This Swiss émigré could be considered the Brandywine of continental Europe. Like Brandywine, has many strains, and is widely considered in France, Germany and Switzerland to be the best-flavored tomato. Only medium-sized yet delivers the robust flavor of the bigger types. It bested some formidable competition in my trials—including June Pink, Gulf State Market and the celebrated Eva Purple Ball—with a rich sweetness the others couldn’t match. I enjoyed one juicy 5 oz translucent smooth pink fruit after another. No slouch in the appearance department either, the unblemished globes are perfectly round, the soft skins not excessively fragile and the color and size very attractive, making it another excellent field-to-market variety that does not require high tunnels. Some LB tolerance. ①②
RUTGERS 250 TOMATO OG (76 days) Open-pollinated. Semi-Indeterminate. For years we’ve fruitlessly searched for worthy hybrid beefsteaks, just something with flavor and texture beyond packing peanuts. So far, all we’ve found are insipid red blobs. Surprising us in a 2017 trial of newly released open-pollinated slicers was Rutgers 250, a super-uniform tomato that looks and performs like a hybrid, but with flavor! Rutgers University tomato breeders went back to the parents used to breed our original Rutgers strain, and lightning struck twice. This ½ lb deep red slicer is smooth, solid, and blemish and crack free. It’s a perfect palm size, holding and ripening off the vine for at least 10 days. And a real sandwich-maker: tangy-tart with tomato-y depth, and lightly sweet. While touted as a “retro re-release,” the former and latter Rutgers versions are very different tomatoes; 250 ripens a little later than the original, the immature skin color is paler green and the plant is a head shorter. And 250 is more productive and has modern market looks and savvy. But it’s also meaty, juicy and firm without being hybrid fiberboard dry or grainy. ② NEW!
WEISNICHT'S UKRAINIAN TOMATO OG (85 days) Open-pollinated. Compact Indeterminate. with potato-leaf foliage. Thanks to Ryan Voiland of Red Fire Farm in Granby, Mass., for helping put this little known but extremely tasty heirloom on the map. In 2015 at the 31st annual Massachusetts Tomato Contest in Boston, Voiland won first prize in the heirloom category for his entry of Weisnicht’s Ukranian. A panel of food writers, chefs, produce experts and state officials judged the tomatoes on flavor, firmness/slicing quality, exterior color and shape. Mine in Colrain, though not entered, did pretty well in the size and yield categories as well. We received the original seeds for this scrumptious pink tomato from Scott Weisnicht of Waupun, Wisc., in 2004 and in my trials that year it received an unusually high 4–4.5 out of 5 taste evaluation, #1 among the 43 varieties I grew that cold wet summer. In 2013, I savored my first fruit in Colrain on Sept. 4, the flavor sweet, rich and complex with delicious acid overtones. Often bi-lobed, the medium-large 8–18 oz fruits are sparse seed bearers. They begin producing in late August or early September with a 3–4 week moderately productive main harvest period. Scott Weisnicht also supplied us with our first seeds for the much-revered rare Pride of Wisconsin melon. ①
BLACK CHERRY TOMATO OG (75 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. Two-bite cherries (avg 14–28g) with the dusky color and complex flavor typical of the best black tomatoes, juicy and delicious. Somewhat late for a cherry tomato, fruit ripens slowly and individually until frost, but worth the wait. Examine each plant closely at picking time: the dark-hued cherries are easy to lose in the foliage. Best flavor if left to ripen on the vine till nice and dark. Seems to tolerate the usual tomato diseases but fruits will crack readily in rainy weather. Combine with Sun Gold and any bright red cherry for a lovely display. Brix 7. Developed by Vince Sapp of Tomato Growers Supply and released 2003. ②
FARGO YELLOW PEAR CHERRY TOMATO OG (82 days) Open-pollinated. Vigorous Determinate. Introduced 1934 by Oscar Will & Co. of Bismarck, ND, yet another of famous breeder AF Yaeger’s creations. He crossed Bison with Yellow Pear for earliness and higher yields. Each plant produces about three dozen sweet tasty 1 oz fruits. About twice the size of regular pear tomatoes, the meaty morsels are crack resistant. ①
HONEYDROP CHERRY TOMATO ECO (62 days) Open-pollinated. Rampant Indeterminate. From a selection of F-1 Sunsugar, Rachel and Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, MA, developed Honeydrop and sent us the original seed, with their blessing to keep the production going. Honeydrop’s sweet juicy fruity honey-colored treats taste almost like white grapes. They are much less prone to cracking in wet weather than Sun Gold. Seeking to add another light-colored cherry to our selection, we trialed it against Blondkopchen, Dr. Carolyn, Isis Candy, Lemondrop and Weissbehart. It bested them all by such a wide margin in earliness, sweetness and complexity that we declined to add any of those others. Parthenocarpic. Still retains a percentage of recessive pink off-types but see Pink Princess; these are also yummy! OSSI. Breeder Royalties. ① BACK!
SUN GOLD CHERRY TOMATO (57 days) F-1 hybrid. Indeterminate. To quote one customer, “Without these little babies, there’s no summer.” A perfect combination of deep sweetness with a hint of acid tartness, so good that for almost a decade it took away our incentive to trial cherry tomatoes because no others could match it. In a field replete with choices, we are drawn to Sun Gold like candy. What is its elusive alluring tang? Quart after quart grace the table, yet we rarely reach surfeit July through September. Small fruits averaging 8.2g, borne in prolific clusters, ripen very early to a rich apricot color and keep producing till frost. Very prone to split so pick early when rains are forecast. Brix 8. Resists F1, TMV. ⑤
SUPER SWEET 100 CHERRY TOMATO (78 days) F-1 hybrid. Indeterminate. Like the famous Sweet 100, but with more disease resistance. Very popular hybrid cherry tomato ripens clusters of 1" round sweet fruits. Should be staked. Will split in rainy conditions. Resistant to V and F1. ⑤
AMISH PASTE TOMATO OG (85 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. Always one of the most popular items in the Seed Savers Exchange. Listed members’ comments tell all: “large red meaty fruit,” “wonderful paste variety,” “great flavor for cooking, canning or fresh eating,” “the standard by which I judge canning tomatoes,” “huge production,” “great for sauces, salsa, canning.” Strong producer of oxheart fruits up to 8 oz with thick bright red flesh. Larger and better than Roma. Flavor has been consistently good even in poor tomato years. Wisconsin heirloom from Amish farmers in the 1870s, first surfaced in the 1987 SSE Yearbook. We have observed some inherent variation, based on how this variety responds to its environment. Needs room and good nutrition to set mostly nippled fruits. Crowding, shading or stress reduces fruit size and nippling. Boarded Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. ②
BLUE BEECH PASTE TOMATO ECO (90 days) Open-pollinated. Indeterminate. This large elongated paste tomato won our sauce test in 1997, besting several well-known varieties. We received seed from Annette Smith of Blue Beech Farm in Danby, Vt., and have named the variety in her honor. Smith got the tomato from her neighbor’s niece’s uncle who brought it to Vermont from Italy during World War II. This Roma type has been acclimated in chilly Vermont for the last 50 years, so it is better adapted to cold climates than Roma. Some years it makes a richly textured sweet sauce that’s just brimming with flavor. “Also very fine for fresh eating,” says Lillian Kuo of Orleans, Mass. Fruits, not very seedy, averaging 6–8 oz, often have green shoulders. Needs long season, but our increasingly mild extended falls have facilitated ripening. 1999 Fedco introduction. ① BACK!
HELPFUL TIPS ON GROWING DELPHINIUMS
Delphiniums are perennials that have two blooming cycles, one in early summer and if cared for properly again in late summer or early autumn. Blue is the most common Delphinium flower but there are numerous hybrids available in shades of pink, lavender, red, white and yellow. Blooms may be single or double.
Delphinium planting is normally at the back of the bed, where flower spikes can reach 2 to 6 feet tall. Delphinium flowers are often planted in groups.
Grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to light shade, with shelter from strong winds.
Soil should not dry out. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
Mulch helps retain moisture and keeps roots cool.
Care should include regular fertilization in spring when the plant begins to grow, and during the flowering period.
Deadhead the first blooms in early summer. Remove flower stalks when blooms are spent.
Taller varieties may require staking.
Please join us Saturday May 26th at 11am for an information packed gardening seminar on container gardening led by Kathy James of Vineyard Gardens. A workshop on planting your own container follows the lecture.
PLANT OF THE WEEK:
FOXGLOVES 20% OFF
It's the time of year when you need to be extra vigilant about checking yourself for ticks. The University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center website is filled with important information for tick prevention, helping identify ticks and other tick questions you may have. If you do find a tick you can submit a photo to tickencounter or you can send the tick to TickReport, a lab at UMass for testing. Once Tick Report receives your tick it will identify in 2-3days any disease causing microbes the tick may be carrying, including pathogens that cause Lyme disease. These are wonderful services to ensure your prevention and safety from tick bites!
Please join us at Vineyard Gardens this Saturday morning, May 19th, at 11am for a free informative gardening workshop on growing herbs led by Irene Fox, who runs the Vineyard Gardens herb house.
PLANT OF THE WEEK : LUPINE 20% OFF
If you love beautifully illustrated and inspiring children's books Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is a must read! It is about growing up, traveling the globe, making our world a more beautiful place and Lupines. It is a favorite of mine and my three girls, especially when the LUPINES are blooming! To learn more about Miss Rumphius click here and stop by Vineyard Gardens to beautify your world with flowers.
Tuesdays: SENIOR DAY 20% OFF EVERYTHING
Wednesdays: LADIES DAY 20% OFF ANNUALS and PERENNIALS
Thursdays: GENTLEMAN'S DAY 20% OFF BAGGED MATERIALS
Daily: ISLANDERS WITH ISLAND CARDS 10% OFF (must show card)
Daily: POLLY HILL ARBORETUM MEMBERS 10% OFF(must show card)
Our Monrovia Georgia order arrived this morning! Vineyard Gardens is now filled with beautiful Tropicals, ferns, hydrangeas, grasses, roses, hollies and much much more! We also have gorgeous flowering baskets for Mother's Day!
Come by Vineyard Gardens this Saturday morning, May 12th, at 11am for a very informative gardening workshop on growing and harvesting small fruits. Chuck Wiley of Vineyard Gardens will be leading a hands on workshop/demonstration about planting, growing and harvesting blueberries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries.