companion planting.

April 24, 2009

Awesome information on companion planting – I’ll be adding French Marigolds, Dill and more basil to the garden this weekend.


Huzzah for fun gardening events!

• Interested in composting? It’s something I know I should do and want to do, but the idea of it seems daunting. I’ve read good things about the workshops at held at the Griffith Park Educational Composting Facility. You can see various methods of composting on display here and I think you can also get some free compost while you’re there. And the best part? You can buy composting bins on sale! Next workshop is on Saturday April 25th from 10AM-12PM.

The LA Garden Show: A Festival of Flavors is coming up Friday, May 1 — Sunday, May 3. The workshops I’m most interested in are on Saturday May 2nd. The Department of Public Works will be having a Composting Workshop at 9:30AM with composting and worm composting bins on sale. But the real reason I want to go to this event is so I can meet the great Tomato King Steve Goto and hear his top tomato picks for 2009. Steve will be giving a talk on growing tomatoes organically at 11AM.

This plant murderer has become a full-fledged gardening addict.

on tomato caging.

April 9, 2009

Dear Mr. Armstrong Garden Worker,

Why the hell did you recommend a flimsy $1.99 tomato cage for my plants?

Yes I was too dumb and garden-stupid to know any better, but why, as a serious gardener, would you think that flimsy piece of crap would be a sufficient cage for my tomatoes?

You obviously have underestimated my ability to keep tomato plants alive, Mr. Armstrong Garden Worker. Because it’s been 5 weeks, and my babies are still green and alive. And about ready to grow taller than the stupid tomato cage you sold me.

Thankfully I found this blog entry about making your own sturdy tomato cages and will be making some cages this weekend.

So I’ll forgive you, Mr. Armstrong Garden Worker. But your advice about my planting TWO indeterminate heirloom varieties in one tiny pot? Can’t forgive you for that one.


Little Brown Thumb

I am tomato obsessed.

April 5, 2009

Man, there is NOTHING like a fresh, just picked tomato. Growing up, my family had the most amazing vegetable garden in our backyard. I remember picking fresh jucy tomatoes and eating them like apples. And then from 13 years old until now (I’m 28!) I’ve been eating the store-bought styrofoam crap ever since.

Last summer, I tried my first heirloom tomato. It was a Paul Robeson and I’ll never forget the incredible taste explosion in my mouth. I’m already growing 1 Red Brandywine, 1 Yellow Brandywine, 1 Sungold, and 1 Carmello, but I don’t think my tomato obsession will die until I add Paul Robeson to the mix.

There’s this amazing heirloom tomato grower really close to my place in the south bay. Laurel offers more than 160+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes!! I have a feeling I’ll be picking up a few more varieties when I go to her farm. What an addiction.

BTW — here are some of the best tips I’ve found online for growing tomatoes in containers:

Laurel’s Tips

Love Apple Farm’s Tips

Carmel, Calif. – January 30, 2009

TomatoFest® Garden Seeds today announced that “black” tomatoes again rank high in the “Top 10” list of favorite heirloom tomatoes going into 2009.

The “Top 10”favorite heirloom tomatoes are:
Brandywine (pink)
Paul Robeson (purple/black)
Aussie (red)
Julia Child (pink)
Cherokee Purple (purple/black)
Black Cherry (purple/black)
Kellogg’s Breakfast (orange)
Gold Medal (yellow/red striped)
Aunt Ginny’s Purple (purple/black)
Carmello (red)

“Black” tomatoes were more popular in 2008 than in any prior year,” said Gary Ibsen, grower of 600 varieties of certified organic, heirloom tomatoes in California, and founder of TomatoFest Garden Seeds, the most prominent internet retailer of organic heirloom tomato seeds.

The purple/black colored heirloom tomatoes continue to rise in popularity at produce markets, with restaurant chefs, and with home gardeners for the 6th year in a row,” “Black” tomatoes are fast becoming as popular as many of the best tasting pink and red tomatoes.”

“Black” tomatoes are not really black,” remarked Ibsen. “They cover a range of dark colors, including deep purple, dusky deep brown, smoky mahogany with dark green shoulders, and bluish-brown. The depth of colors seems to be encouraged by a higher acid and mineral content in the soil.”

“Black” tomatoes are native to Southern Ukraine during the early 19th century. They originally existed in only a small region of the Crimean Peninsula. Soon they were showing up as new varieties in many shapes and sizes and began to appear throughout the territories of the former Soviet Union. Then they began turning up in the former Yugoslavia, Germany and the United States.

“A survey of our tomato seed sales to home gardeners and commercial tomato farmers, along with a review of our sales of fresh heirloom tomatoes to retailers and restaurants, demonstrate soundly that consumers have discovered the superior and complex flavors of the “black” heirloom tomatoes, and are selecting these bold colors along with their mix of favorite red, pink, orange and bi-colored tomatoes, said Ibsen.”

Also showing a rise in popularity in 2008 with a greater presence in produce markets, are sweeter tasting bi-colored tomatoes, and a wider selection of different colored cherry tomatoes.

So far I have 1 of these 10 tomatoes – the Carmello. Picked up a seedling at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market care of Hayground Organic Gardening. I’m DYING to add their famous Goose Creek tomato to my garden, along with Paul Robeson and Chocolate Amazon. Is it crazy to have 7 tomato plants in one teeny garden!?

I have garden fever.

March 30, 2009

I’m such a farmer’s market whore – I love, love, love farm fresh produce. And we California people are so lucky to have a year-round growing season with access to amazing farmer’s markets all year long. I think almost every neighborhood in LA has their own market. You could conceivably visit a different market everyday of the week. So the absolute plus about moving into a house with a yard was the prospect of growing a garden!

The problem is, I have the most notoriously BROWN thumb ever. I’ve tried growing plants since college and without fail, they always die. Over the fall/winter, I started growing herbs from seeds and was so proud that those suckers actually grew. And then the inevitable happened – I forgot to water them and they too went to the grave.

So this time around I’ve been FEVERISHLY reading blogs, websites, and books about vegetable gardening. I’ve decided to go the container route ’cause I have no idea what the soil quality is like in my yard. 3 weeks ago I bought some tomatoes and peppers, and in a few weeks some eggplant seedings and my cherry tomato plants should arrive. Yes, I know I’m having some delusions of grandeur since I’m a plant murderer. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these babies make it because I am SO looking forward to eating some fresh-picked heirloom tomatoes this summer. So long, spending $4 at the farmer’s market on one measly heirloom! That $4 can go towards some fresh burata cheese to pair with said tomatoes instead.

So here’s my progress so far:


Tomatoes grow FAST. When I first planted these, they stood far below the first rung on my cage. Now they’re halfway to the second rung.

Those yellow things are fly tape. And yes, they work!

I am so proud that these plants have even survived to this point. I spend every morning out in the yard with the dogs, smashing bugs to bits. Never thought I’d actually like killing little bugs.

So let’s see what happens with this little container garden of mine this season!