Dear Friends and Gardeners, Dee and Carol,

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!

MA
Ps, check out the view from my desk:
pink-dogwood-resized

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8 Responses to Dear Friends and Gardeners, Dee and Carol,

  1. Oh, I would love to have visited that garden with you and help you pick out some tomato seedlings! And how do you get anything done at your desk with that kind of view out the window?

  2. debra says:

    Hi MA ~ haven’t had a chance to tell you how much I love your letters to Dee and Carol (I assume I can be a friend and gardener, too!)
    …..the dogwood is absolutely breathtaking. I makes me yearn for the NW and springtime~ that backlighting is pretty scrumptious, too….and the tomato list is pretty enticing. I just came home from the LA Garden Show today where Scott Daigre of tomatomania.com passed out some deelish recipes for heirloom tomatoes. Get this: Insalata Primaverile di Frutta e Pomodoro (heirloom tomato + strawberry salad with basil and mint!) and buttercream-frosted tomato and pinto bean cupcakes!!! I’ll send you the recipes, xoxo debra

  3. MA, it doesn’t matter how small or large the patch is, just that we grow some. The view from your desk is splendid. Oh, Debra, of course, you are our gardening friend. You’d better send us those recipes too though, my dear. :) Ranch du Bois is looking quite fetching this time of year. In my letter, rain, rain, and more rain.~~Dee

  4. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Here’s to rain as needed at both Ranch duBois and Wit’s End! I hope those tomatoes will produce a bountiful and tasty harvest.

  5. Alli says:

    I’m new to gardening. I’ve already bought my tomatoes for this year, but am keeping an eye out for locally grown tomaotes for next year. Where is this Betty so I can make sure to get some from her next year?

    Thanks!

  6. Oh, that is a gorgeous Dogwood! Wowee! Your friend’s garden sounds delightful. Thanks for the garlic reminder, I need to get mine into the ground.

  7. Victoria says:

    MaryAnn,
    I was thinking that some of us Idaho gardeners might want to visit each other’s gardens this summer. There are Nat, Teresa, Heather, you, me, and perhaps even Beth in Bellevue. Would you want to participate?

  8. Nat Huck says:

    Hi MaryAnn – It took me about 15 minutes of thinking “MA… MA… who could this MA be that left me this comment…..?” oh…. Duh!
    That is unfortunate that we didn’t realize this sooner, so we could have met at the sale (do you remember an extremely short blonde with purple glasses? no?), might be rectified soon, though! :)

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