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Best seed catalogs, plants for Santa Ynez Valley, tomatoes listed.

Spring is here and love is in bloom.  In the rear of my vegetable garden is a large pine tree where a pair of crows has made their nest for several years. The soft billing, cooing, and sometimes raucous quarreling can be heard..  Probably, the nest should be bigger, or smaller, like we humans argue.

Any angry hawk that flies within a half mile of the nest is violently driven off by an army of Buellton crow.  

If this wonderful spring weather doesn't motivate you to start your garden, thumbing through these seed catalogs surely will.  Some of these are works of art.  The following catalogs are some of my favorites and all have a wealth of gardening information.  They have beautiful mouth-watering photos.

Ed at Pork Palace Rose Garden

I always get carried away when ordering from them and order more seed than I have room to plant.  I have to share with neighbors: R.H. Shumwyas HPS Catalog, 800-322-7288, Tomato Growers Supply, 888-478-7333, Johnny's: 207-437-4301, G&M Agricultural Supply Co: 602-947-0096, Stokes: 800-396-9238, Rupp Seed's: 419-337-1841, Territorial Seeds: 541-942-9547, Liberty Seeds: 800-541-6022.  This is a partial list of vegetables that do well in our area: Beet-Lutz green leaf; cabbage - Dynamo F1, bean- Blue lake pole snap; bean - gold mine yellow bush snap; carrot, nantes, half long; cucumber, double feature pickling; cucumber, orient express, slicing burp less, eggplant, millionaire, Japanese type; egg-plant, Burpee hybrid, oval type; lettuce, Simpson Elite, leaf; melon, early crenshaw; leek, dawn giant; pea, super sugar snaps; pepper, Sweet Gypsy-yellow; pepper, Toto-sweet long green; pepper, Mucho Nacho, jalapeno hot; pepper, Inferno-hot long yellow; onion, Candy-short storage bulb, onion, White Portugal-green onion; summer squash, Sweet Gourmet, winter squash, Butternut; tomato, Early Pic; tomato, First Prize (ind.); tomato, Sandul Moldouan (ind.); tomato, Riesentrause (ind) clusters of cherry; tomato, Celebrity (det); and tomato,  Jackpot (det).

It will be helpful for the gardener to understand tomato terminology.  Determinate plants have vines that make little or no growth after fruit is set. Fruit develops at about the same time, which is helpful if you plan to can them.

Indeterminate vines keep producing new shoots and blossoms even after fruit is set.  Tomatoes in all stages of development may be on the vine at the same time.  One or two plants of this type should supply all your table tomatoes all season long.  

Try to plant seeds and plants that are tolerant or resistant to most common tomato problems.  Look for varieties that resist V.E.N.T. and A.

V is venticillium wilt, F is fusarium wilt, N is nematodes, T is tobacco mosaic virus, and A is alternaria.

To save room in your small garden and improve the quality of your tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans, use a support for them to climb up on.  The supports I have used for 20 years are ideal.

They are made out of concrete reinforcing wire, six-by-six inch squares and six feet high.  These supports do a great job and will last a lifetime.  Mine are over 20 years old and are as good as when they were made.

Count 13 squares across and cut the wire with a half square on each end.  Use this end to hook the support together into a six foot tall tube.  Your vegetable vines will fill the tower and spill over the top.  These will only take up three-square-feet of room in the garden.

Plant one tomato plant inside each tower.  In separate towers plant six or eight cucumber plants around the outside of the tower.  In separate towers, plant 10 or 12 pole beans.

Flowering sweet peas love these towers and your guests will ooh and aah over your towers of color.

April and May are the windows to plant your seeds and plants in the outdoor garden.  If you are planting the super sweet corn variety you should wait for the soil to warm up as this type germinates slower or not at all in cold ground.

Last month I discussed the effectiveness of the yellow sticky traps.  I encourage everyone who has a garden to install traps around their property.  Not only for the everyday run-of-the-mill insects that damage the crops, but a new and terrible threat:  The Glassy-Wrangled Sharpshooter that kills grapevines and other plants by spreading bacterium that causes Pierce's Disease.  At this time there is no known cure for this disease. 

Early detection of this devastating insect would be beneficial in controlling it.  Install sticky traps and monitor them.  For more information call your County Agricultural Commissioner. 

The garden is starting to shape up.  Fruit trees are in bloom.  Roses are budding.  Vegetable plants in the hot beds are up and growing.  Two new fruit trees are planted.

The public is invited to enjoy Farmer Ed's gardens.  Note:  Both the flower and vegetable gardens are handicapped accessible.  Please email for appointment .

Email    Soil's warm, time to plant vegetables

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