Hooray Hooray, it’s FINALLY MAY!
Dear gardening friends,
Week 9 and I am giddy with anticipation and happiness in the garden. The promise of the new season, which is finally here, so much potential and so many possibilities and I KNOW it will warm up soon whether I like it or not.
I spent the morning walking through a friend’s garden. I went to buy tomatoes, but snagged an impromptu tour for my tagalong pals. Betty’s garden is part old and part new, taking up several lots in the oldest part of Boise, fed by geothermal waters, offering up a truck-patch-size vegetable garden and fields of lavender. I walked through the shade garden, the secret garden, and the fairy garden. I started to open the door to the fairy house at the base of an old maple when Betty admonished me it would be akin to opening Pandora’s box. Yikes!
Instead, I admired the unfurling red fronds of cinnamon ferns, the velvety new leaves of the purple beech, the funky skunky smell of amazingly beautiful Imperial fritallarias, and a few minutes later the soft fragrance of the ancient crab apple tree. The colors of spring are so different from the colors of late summer: a lot of pastels, bright lime green of fresh tender new growth, the hot pinks of ornamental strawberries and Bechtel crab apples. Oh, I adore Bechtel crab apples! The blossoms are fat and round and remind me of pink gumballs.
But I digress, my fellow vegetable gardening friends. I went to Betty’s with a plan: she grows 100 varieties of tomatoes, heirloom and hybrids, all started from seed, maybe 5 or 6 of each variety. She sells them on her front porch for a couple of days, or until they are all gone. Get this: she keeps over one hundred plants for her own garden. I hear tell they have a tomato and wine tasting party the end of August. I was not so subtle in my hinting for an invite. Anyhow, the tomatoes are in 4 inch pots, 7 for $20, and each variety is nicely labeled. She even hands out an Excel spreadsheet listing all the plants detailing their predicted day to fruition, seed source, special characteristics, etc. A tomato lover’s dream come true.
Since I am still failing miserably at starting my tomatoes from seed (2 Sungolds about 1 inch high, second set of leaves), I jumped at the opportunity to get some nice starts from her. Here’s what I brought home: (1) Box Car Willy, 10-16 oz good for canning and freezing; (1) Chianti Rose, an heirloom rosy red Italian beefsteak type, thin skinned, yet crack resistant; (2) Great White Beefsteak which Betty told me is an odd looker but superb eating (I took her at her word); (1) Heart-shaped Brandywine, a highly recommended heirloom fave; (1) Sungella, a new cross between an heirloom cherry and the fabulous Sungold; and finally (1) Hillbilly, an heirloom w/ 1-2 pound beefsteak type tomatoes, orange and yellow streaked from West-by-God-Virginia. I can get away with saying that because a good chunk of my family came from WV.
Of course, upon arriving home with my new tomato booty, I was greeted by a yet another down pour. This is always a good thing when you live in the desert and are lucky to measure 10-12 inches of precip a year. So, it’s entirely too wet and muddy to plant the little beauties right now. And since I have no earthly idea where I might find my Walls-o-water in my garage, I best be keeping the tomatoes under cover for a little while longer. Our last frost date is May 10th, give or take a couple of weeks. Our local rule of thumb: plant your tomatoes if and only if, the snow is gone from Shafer Butte (7282 feet in elevation).
My garlic is growing great guns. I hope it sends out “scapes” soon. My peas, Russian something or others, aren’t up yet, but then, they’ve only been in for a week. The alpine strawberry is still blooming its heart out, ditto the apples, and I have maybe 4 of the stoopid Mara des Bois strawberry crowns still showing signs of life.
And that, my friends, is the weekly growing report from Ranch du Bois, nestled in the foothills of Boise, Idaho, where silver and gold in the sunlight blaze, and romance lies in her name, singing of I-da-ho!
Ps, check out the view from my desk: