These are the real summer doldrums. News and views from a well roasted driveway...and a request for information

Before I forget (I already forgot and am adding this as an edit) - if you grew or are growing any of our 60 plus new Dwarf Tomato project releases, we want to hear from you.  Please fill out this brief, simple survey for each variety. We are finally working to gather information on our creations, so we can paint a picture of how each performs in different regions of the country (world!) - which are favored, which are lacking, which are not quite what we hoped for.  Thanks in advance for your contribution to this survey!

This is just plain silly. Day after day of mid to upper 90 degree temperatures. I don't even want to ponder the heat index with the humidity levels, but spending more than a few hours in the muck is about the limit. Yet, somehow, work gets done - seeds saved, plants pulled, seeds sown, cuttings rooted...tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, figs picked. Welcome to mid summer in Raleigh!

Before I get to garden high (and low) lights, here is some information on upcoming events:

We are off to Hot Springs, Virginia, on Friday - I feel fortunate to be a speaker at the In The Garden event at Omni Homestead. I will be speaking at 9 AM on Saturday on tomatoes, followed by Q&A and a book sale and signing. 

Changing the topic from tomatoes to peppers, Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farms and I will be working with Caitlin Burke to provide a Southern Season Cooking School class featuring Alex's peppers.  The date and time is Monday, August 29, at 6 PM. This will be the third time for this course, and it is such fun, very informative and absolutely delicious. Be sure to sign up - it is so, so worth the price of admission, and you will leave full, satisfied and armed with great recipes and lots of information about peppers.

If any of you are in the Boston area, I will be at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts on Saturday, September 3 speaking on tomatoes, selling and signing books - and possibly, doing a small tomato tasting.

And for those near Charlottesville, Virginia, I will be speaking twice and signing books at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello on Friday and Saturday, September 9-10.

Two later events that I am participating in are the Terra Vita Food and Drink Festival in Chapel Hill, which runs from Sept 28 to Oct 1 (I am in the process of defining what my contribution will be), and the Carolina Farm Stewardship conference, to be held in Durham, Nov 4-6. 

We also finished filming for an upcoming episode of Growing a Greener World; I've been told to watch for it next April. I will certainly share more as I learn more. Working with Joe Lamp'l, the show host, his staff, and my local tomato growing friend Brie Arthur has been great fun.

The above will finish off a fun, busy, thoroughly gratifying year for me continuing to get about to meet gardeners and talk tomatoes. I do hope to catch some of you at one or more of them!

Now, on to the garden - and this will be brief. 

In the middle of last week, all of my tomato plants were pulled. It was time - critter and disease damage and the effects of a long, hot, humid summer all took their toll on plant health and performance. 

I did take cuttings from at least three dozen varieties, and they are now replacing the dearly departed. I also germinated seeds for continuing dwarf tomato development work - the 8 new hybrids (all of which "took" - the seedlings, saved from tomatoes on the dwarf plants, are indeterminate!), as well as seeds saved from the grow out of last year's new hybrids. I focused on those that involved chartreuse tinted or variegated foliage, hoping to get a sneak peek on some of my main work for next summer.

The eggplant and peppers are thriving, and I am into seed saving - and cooking - big time on those crops. We are also getting the figs that the crows and squirrels are leaving for us, as well as okra. 

It is important to consider the garden goals when assessing how things went. It is always difficult to come to the end of harvest for such a beloved crop as tomatoes. And yet I managed to get seed saved from most of what I planted, got a chance to taste and evaluate many varieties, and got the needed pollen to create some new hybrids. Based on what I planned back in the winter, it was a very successful garden. It just doesn't feel quite like it right now.

Some pictures below of the current state of the driveway.