Posts Tagged ‘Bulbs’

Growing Speciality Tomatoes

Icon Written by Wayne on May 1, 2009 – 12:01 am

In Past Yard Talks we have talked about the red slicing tomato, cherry tomato, and the tasty Heirlooms. There are still a lot of varieties that are grown for other reasons. Some are grown for their long keeping qualities while others because they make good sauce or salsa. Some are designed for the apartment dweller or the patio.

Here are a few varieties that you may wish to try:

  1. file4Red Grape is a bite-size, firm, oval-shaped grape tomato that is bright red and bursting with flavor. It has outstanding color, flavor, texture, and preferred small size.

  2. file0Fresh Salsa is for salsa lovers. You can chop this tomato into tiny cubes that remain perfectly firm and solid yet also sweet. Large, plum-shaped and dripless, all meat, ideal for salsas, bruschettas and Italian sauces.

  3. file12Bush Steak Hybrid is the best of the large patio tomatoes, exceptional taste, size and quantity. This surprisingly compact plant is just loaded with large flavorful tomatoes. It combines big meaty fruit and early maturity on a dwarf plant, perfect for small garden and patio containers.

  4. file21Red October Hybrid’s fruits can hang a long time on the vine without softening or losing flavor. The first long shelf life tomato with the indeterminate plant habit that goes hand in hand with top-notch taste. Harvested fully ripe in fall, they will keep 3-4 weeks longer than other varieties.

  5. file31Tumbler Hybrid is the best tomato for hanging baskets and containers. It produces up to 6 pounds of sweet, bright red cherry tomatoes.

While you may not be able to locate all of these at your local nursery, they all can be purchased from seed at Burpee’s, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, or Territorial. These companies have been highlighted in past issues of Yard Talk and have links on our web site.


Tomato Tips of the Month

Making your own dried tomatoes is very simple and certainly is much less expensive than purchasing them at the grocery store.

  1. The first thing is to pick the correct tomatoes, you want small meaty tomatoes for drying such as Fresh Salsa or one of the plum tomatoes.
  2. Carefully wash and dry your tomatoes. Cut the fruits in half lengthwise, you can remove seeds if you like, but it is not necessary. Larger tomatoes should be cut into one inch slices. Cutting a slit in the skin side of the tomato will help accelerate the drying process.
  3. Drain your tomatoes on paper towels and then place the halves skin side down on the racks of your dehydrator, leaving enough space between the pieces for the air to circulate. You can salt them at this time for a little more flavor and the salt will help to draw the liquid from them.
  4. Drying tomatoes in your dehydrator may take from 6 to 12 hours, depending on the thickness of your slices.
  5. To oven dry, place your tomatoes by putting them in single layers on wire racks. Your oven temperature should be between 140 and 150 degrees and prop the door open slightly. Oven drying will take from 12 to 24 hours. Do keep checking on them and remove ones that are done.
  6. The tomatoes are dried when they are leathery, but non-sticky. They should not be hard and brittle or moist. The drying process will concentrate all the flavor in the juice.
  7. Store your tomatoes in glass jars with an airtight lid, stored at room temperature in a cool, dark place. They will keep this way for up to 12 months before the flavor, nutrition and flavor will begin to decline.
  8. To rehydrate your tomatoes, soak them for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water.

Here is one of our favorite uses of dried tomatoes:

Toasted Baguettes with Mozzarella and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1 baguette
Olive oil
6 ounces thinly sliced or shredded Mozzarella
16 sun-dried tomatoes, drained
Basil leaves

Thinly slice the baguette and arrange them on a baking sheet. Brush the top side of each slice lightly with olive oil, then broil the slices until golden and toasty.

Spread each bread slice with a portion of the mozzarella, then top with a sun-dried tomato and basil leaf. Bake in 450-degree oven just until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.

Flower of the Month

file41The Burpee Big Boy Tomato Flower is one of the prettiest of this plant species. It has a clear yellow shade darkening toward the center. We have found it very fragrant, attracting bees and other insects.

Featured Web Site

erritorial SeedTerritorial Seed has been serving the seed gardener for over twenty years, offering a wide selection of seeds. We were particularly impressed with its large selection of garlic sets, over ten varieties. Visit their site to see the results of the 2004 Great Northwest Tomato Taste-Off.

New Daffodils in Our Gardens

Icon Written by Wayne on April 1, 2009 – 12:01 am

No other flower heralds the arrival of Spring in Southwestern Lower Michigan like the first blooming daffodil. There are a number of  Spring blooming flowers but the daffodil stands in a class of it’s own. There just is nothing like waking up in the morning with that first cup of coffee in hand and  walking into a garden surrounded by the warm yellow glow provided by early jonquils.

We just cannot use enough daffodils in our gardens. We have them naturalized throughout our woodlands, planted in formal raised beds, scattered amongst the perennials, and even in pots and containers. All 13 divisions are well represented in our gardens. You will find varieties from the large trumpet classics Dutch Master or King Alford down to the petite mini Chit Chat.

While our favorite color is the classic bright yellow of the large cupped Camelot, you will also find the whites and pinks well represented. We use the white, small cupped daffodil, Polar Ice in large numbers mixed with the hellebores . Also, Ambergate, with it’s brick red cup is a real eye catcher along the front walk. Every year a few of the pinks, such as Chinese Carol, find their way into the gardens.

There is just something magical about daffodils. Each Fall you plant all of these ugly brown things in the ground, quickly forget about them, and in the Spring out pops these gorgeous blooms. For, us daffodils provide a never ending Adventure in Wonderland.

Last Fall  we added to our adventure by planting the following varieties in our gardens:



Colblanc – has a pure, snow white flower with a ‘green eye’ that looks like something grown in the tropics. It is 14 to 16 inches tall, a midseason bloomer.

Apricot Lace

Apricot Lace

Apricot Lace – a Brent and Becky original grown seedlings from ‘Palmares’ and  “Jonquilla’, with great qualities of each parent. It blooms in mid-late spring with the flowers being held on 12-18 inch stems.



Avalanche – has 15-20 white petals and a demitasse-shaped cupped, sweetly fragrant flowers on 16 – 18 inch stems, an early to mid season bloomer. 

La Belle

La Belle

La Belle – is little 6-10 inch intermediate flowering daffodil that brightens up the garden in late to mid Spring.



Kaydee – the pinkest of the midseason cyclaminius, its white petals enhance the vivid salmon pink cup, 10-12 inches tall.



Jamestown – a beautiful, late-mid Spring, 14-16 inch tall daffodil that really stands out in the garden.

Barbie Doll

Barbie Doll

Barbie Doll – an intermediate sized mid – Spring daffodil that performs along walks.

Whatever division, color, or size you choose, you will not be disappointed by the daffodil. Make sure you choose several varieties that bloom at different times to insure continually supply of fresh blooms.


Tips of the Month

Daffodils are classified by the The American Daffodil Society into one of the thirteen  divisions described below: 

  • Division 1 – One flower to a stem, trumpet or cup as long or longer than the perianth segments. 
  • Division 2 – One flower to a stem, cup more than one third but less than equal to the length  of the perianth segments. 
  • Division 3 –  Short cup have one flower to a stem, cup not more than one third the height of the perianth  segments.
  • Division 4 – Double daffodils have a clustered cup, petals or both. There can be one or more flowers per stem.
  • Division 5 – These usually have more than one flower to a stem, head drooping, perianth segments often reflexed  and of silky texture. 
  • Division 6 – Have one flower to a stem, perianth significantly reflexed and corona straight and narrow. 
  • Division 7 – Usually have several flower heads to a stem, flowers usually fragrant, stem is round in  cross-section and foliage is often rush like. 
  • Division 8 – Usually three to twenty flowers to a stout stem, sweet scented and very short cupped. Perianth segments rounded and often  somewhat crinkled.
  • Division 9 – Have one flower to a stem. White petals sometimes stained with the corona color at the  base, small flat cup edged with red.
  • Division 10 – Small flowers resemble a “hoop petticoat” form.
  • Division 11 – Corona split for at least one third of its length. Split-corona daffodils with the corona segments opposite  the perianth segments, the corona segments are usually in two whorls of three.
  • Division 12 – Daffodils not falling into any of the previous categories.
  • Division 13 –  All species and reputedly wild forms. 


Flower of the Month

Sternbergia hybrid "Autumn Daffodil"

Sternbergia hybrid "Autumn Daffodil"

Sternbergia hybrid “Autumn Daffodil”
It is a terrific bulb to use in naturalizing. They have bright yellow, crocus-like flowers that pops up out of nowhere. Grow in partial shade for autumn color. These bulbs must be dug and stored each fall where killing frost in colder climates.


Web Site

teaserBrent and Becky’s Bulbs are a hybridizers of daffodils. They are third generation bulb growers, growing many unusual and specialty bulbs on their ten acre farm in Gloucester, Virginia. They  offer a wide selections of the bulbs species, from old favorites like Dutch Master to new introductions, such as Katie Heath.

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