For those of you who want to save paper and who don't want to spend many hours reading every sentence of several dozen publications, several readers have asked me to list the top three or four seed catalouges I absolutely can't live without.
If I had to choose just one, It would be Twilley's. They have the widest variety of sweet corn on the market along with numerous other vegetables that can't be found elsewhere.
Then I would sneak around and get copies of Totally Tomatoes, Shumway's and Baker's Creek Heirlooms. You can Google all four and get free paper copies, if you hurry.
A couple of these companies may already be out of print even though they publish up to a million copies per year. All four have online copies with easy ordering after the paper copies are all gone.
I will also be ordering Giant Syrian tomato seeds from Reimer's Seeds, a company that does not publish a paper catalogue, but is the only source of Giant Syrian seeds I've ever run across. The seeds are pricey, about $10 per dozen including postage, but they are my favorite tasting tomato of all time.
I have no idea why they are called giants because they are not nearly as large as Brandywines, old Germans, Giant Belgians, Giant Oxhearts and some other varieties we grow. They do have a giant taste and the fewest seeds of any tomato I have ever grown.
Speaking of tomatoes, I gave up trying to grow tomatoes that meet the standards of true organic gardening years ago.
There are well over a dozen fungal diseases that can wipe out a tomato crop almost overnight. I, personally, subscribe to the old theory that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Over the last two decades I have tried at least a dozen different fungicides, but I have not found anything that will work on powdery mildew, the various wilts, leaf curls and so-called blights that works as well as Dithane M45.
I use it every two weeks and rarely have any of those symptoms of those diseases It also works well on plants that are already diseased. Simply follow the instructions that come with the container.
A 6-ounce bottle on Ebay costs $17.77, including shipping and one bottle lasts me two years for 36 and up to 50 plants. I usually share some with friends and neighbors.
A little bit of this stuff goes a long way.
By far the most common tomato complaint is blossom end rot, which is caused by calcium deficiency as well as over watering or under watering.
Save every egg shell you can get your hands on, crush them up and commence spreading them around the plants as soon as you put them in the ground. I buy a bag of dolomitic lime and add it to my garden soil and I can usually find garden calcium if I look hard enough. I try to water the plants once a week if they haven't had much rain, but there's not much you can do if it's raining every day except pray that it slows down.
It usually does.
Bottom line is that it seems virtually impossible not get a few blossom end rotted tomatoes in my garden every year, no matter what I do.
On the other hand, we grow so many that we hardly miss them. On yet another hand, we hardly ever have any end rot on plants that are grown in 5-gallon or larger containers where we can control the water supply.
There simply aren't many pleasures as nice as having three or four giant Syrian plants growing near the back doorstep, snatching a ripe one off the vine, eating it on the spot and letting the juice drip off your chin.
I try to keep a couple of napkins in my shirt pockets because there truly are few things handier than pockets on a shirt.