I obviously haven’t been great about my weekly posts as I had intended this year, but after a few grueling 90-100 hour weeks and some amazing helpers, we’re starting to get caught up after the very late start to the year. I promise to make the lack of posts up to you with what everybody wants – eye candy! (pictures, and plenty of them)
A few years ago, grafted tomatoes started showing up, in limited numbers, from one of the big growers in Ontario. Then, I noticed a second grower carrying them. This year all of the growers of veggies seem to have them, and with good reason.
Grafting tomatoes, and other vegetables, has been done in Asia and Europe for years for greenhouse production. Grafting results in increased vigor for improved quality and quantity of tomatoes. They have better tolerance of environmental problems, like flooding, poor soils, salt tolerance, and temperature extremes (like going from Winter to mid-Summer over a couple of days, not that that ever happens here). They have a more abundant harvest over a longer period of time. In reading up on them I ran across some statistics from a place that did trials and found a 30-50 percent boost in yield without any change in flavour. It also increases resistance to soil-borne diseases and nematodes. This is why grafting came about in the first place and is important on a couple of levels. Many heirloom tomatoes are prone to soil-borne diseases, like verticillium wilt, and pests, like nematodes. They also, traditional, produced less tomatoes than the newer hybrids. By grafting them onto hardy, resistant root-stock, these problems are substantially less likely to happen. Add to that the fact that many pesticides are no longer available, and it’s a win-win situation. They also require less water and less fertilizer.
Another trend in vegetable gardening is to plant the veggies in your mixed beds, among the perennials and annuals. And why not? There are a number of ornamental peppers out there that just happen to be great tasting hot peppers, like Black Olive pictured below. The vegetable or fruit themselves can be very ornamental and, even though they don’t last long, the flowers can be pretty too, only most people don’t seem to notice them. The pretty dusky pink flower below is from one of the grafted Eggplants.
One veggie that often gets overlooked is the tomatillo. I’ve grown them for years. One of my customers used to bring me in a bunch of seedlings. They produce these green tomato-like fruit in a husk and I’ve eaten them fresh, but mostly use them while cooking. They are an essential part of salsa verde and I always put them in guacamole. I’ve seen them occasionally at the grocery store, but not too often, so growing them myself is even more important. You need two plants for fruit, but you get a lot. I’ve had to raise them up high, though, because Latte, my yellow lab also seems to love them.
Raymond Evison is a world-renowned Clematis breeder and has been responsible for some absolutely stunning varieties over the years. His varieties are known for their exceptionally long bloom time and we’ve been focusing more and more on his varieties the last couple of years. I happen to be out in the garden centre today with my camera and snagged a bunch of shots of some of his varieties in bloom. The picture title contains the names of the varieties.
A couple of note (and it’s not easy to only gush about a couple) are Reflections which changes as the flower ages, Petit Faucon which starts as a diminutive nodding dark purple bell, then the four petals open and twist.
I think, however, that I might have a new favourite. The Countess of Wessex made me put down my camera so I could see it with only my eyes. It was breathtaking.
While I was out with my camera, I couldn’t help but notice the Rhododendrons nearby, screaming to have their pictures taken, so with no further ado…
‘Double Besse’ was the one begging for attention as I photographed the Clematis, and is definitely deserving of the coveted last position in the post.