Happy Very Belated New Year....thoughts about 2017 from the Driveway

Here we go again! The snow and ice is melted, the catalogs are arriving, plans are being made. As all gardeners know, the year (for us) isn't a straight line with clear beginnings and endings.  It isn't a circle, either - though we revisit the various activities and tasks, each calendar year feels so completely different. Gardening is a hobby that we integrate into our lives, and there is always something to think about or attend to, always something new to keep it fresh and exciting.

It looks very mid-January outside. Our big side garden, now mostly a place for flowering shrubs, is pretty bare looking except for the silvery green of the butterfly bushes, and the front rows of fall-planted garlic. The driveway holds pots of lettuce, arugula, chard and beets which fared quite well even in our rather harsh recent conditions (one morning showed 9 degrees F). The double layer of floating row cover helped keep everything alive; the reason for the cover was actually a very stubborn and hungry rabbit. 

Mid January is a time to plan for all of the activity to come. I've been sending seeds to fulfill some requests, and pondering what the Dwarf Tomato project will be in 2017. I've begun a book on the project that I feel is dying to be written, and hope to complete this year. It is time to get serious about what to plant, and when (stepping into my office and looking at seedling packets brings that home big time - see a few pics below). Workshops start pretty soon, so I will become very familiar with Power Point again before long.

I'll end this first blog for 2017 with a few bullet points and news items.

  • I am really excited about my speaking schedule for the coming year, and hope to see lots of you while I am on the road. Be sure to bring your questions, and to introduce yourself.  My first is local - Williamston NC - the next is at Dow Gardens in Midland Michigan.
  • As to my rather erratic newsletter (a few times per year), no decision has been made yet on whether to continue, since so much is shared in this blog and on Facebook.  I'll have a chat with my daughter about it (she provides great support for my various communication endeavors).  Breaking news - Yes, the newsletters will continue - watch for one in the next few weeks (thanks Sara for our brief consulting session)
  • Will there be seedlings available in 2017? Most likely...but which, and how many, and when all need to be determined. The best way to find out is to send me an email - nctomatoman@gmail.com . The focus would be on best flavored varieties (and most successful for this area), and our new dwarfs. 
  • We've added more dwarf tomatoes to our releases - and I am delighted to announce that Fruition Seeds has joined Victory Seeds, Tatiana's TOMATObase, Heritage Seed Market and Sample Seed Shop as companies that are featuring them in a big way. 
  • Patrina Nuske Small (my Dwarf project co-lead) and I are working to make sure our Dwarf Tomato project releases are pledged as Open Source varieties (OSSI). Please click the link and read all about it. 
  • It will be a much smaller garden this year (more room for cars in the driveway, perhaps...) - too much travel, writing...and life to bite off anything too significant (probably my smallest endeavor in many years). I hope to define what will be the focus soon, but without a doubt there will be continuing work on our Dwarf tomato varieties in development.
  • More breaking news - just thought of this a few minutes ago. There is so much more interesting work to do in the Dwarf Breeding project and I will be looking for additional volunteers to help - our focus is turning to dwarf cherry and paste tomatoes.  Whether locally or distant, please express your possible interest in helping out via email (see a bullet above for my email address). 

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year and your best gardens - and tomato harvests - ever!