Happy Father’s Day

Apart from ‘right plant, right place’ a gardener in the Whatcom Falls neighborhood offered me the sage advice ‘don’t baby it.’ Now I find myself repeating the phrase.  I gave the heirloom tomatoes I started from Territorial seed a 10% survival rating.  A bail of soil conditioner and an application of bone meal later  (channeling Grandpa) – look at my damn tomatoes! 
Tomato trellis a la Steve Solomon

Tomato trellis a la Steve Solomon

This training method comes from Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades.  I bought this at Village Books with my used book credit.  (Village takes used books?!  Where have I been the last 9 years, this is the best deal ever!).  I bought this along with another biblical garden text, Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower.  Steve Solomon started Territorial Seed Co and resides in Oregon – a great reason to buy Territorial.  Solomon can recommend seed varieties for our region – Sunset Region 4: Cold-Winter Areas of the North Coast and Mild-Winter Areas of Alaska and British Columbia. 

The Northwest’s Inland Sea:  Windy, Dry or Wet:  Three weather patterns mark western Washington’s climate.  Northeasters roar down the Fraser River valley, spilling over Bellingham and the San Juan Islands all the way to Sequim and dropping temperatures 20 degrees in a few hours, which can kill otherwise hardy plants” (Sunset Western Garden Book, 36). 

Sounda familiar?

All of these varieties are indeterminate (vining) and will produce with reckless abandon until killed by frost.  Determinate varieties will ripen all at once – so be ready to can sauce like a grandmother.  They desperately need a trim, so that the 2 central leaders can climb the twine.  If trained this way, tomatoes can climb over 6 feet and focus their energy on producing fruit. 

Training 2 Central Leaders

Training 2 Central Leaders

Just talked with Dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.  I love talking gardening with him. 

Wish I had the scanner hooked up to share a photo of Grandpa standing with his tomatoes, along with a quotation from Kingsolver,

“I think I understand now.  When I cultivate my garden I am spending time with my grandfather, sometimes recalling deeply buried memories of him, decades after his death” (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). 

Happy cultivating!  Love you Dad.

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