As I draft this blog, Mozart is playing on our Echo (Marriage of Figaro - we rewatched Amadeus the other night and it made me curious about his operas), the clouds are gathering for an afternoon rain (thankfully a mild one…mid 50s in mid January isn’t too shabby). Sue and I are both ready to flip our personal calendars, with my birthday today, and hers 2 days away….where does the time go? My birthday gift this year will be a big Patriots game and a nice dinner cooked by Sue. And a chocolate cake! (Sue will get a nice dinner of her choice and a carrot cake).
I remain in the amorphous state that is pretty typical for gardeners in January. For me, the coming months will see decisions made on which seeds to start, how many seedlings to prepare for sale and events, which projects to undertake….preparations for a reduced (but exciting) set of talks, including St Louis, Taylor (Michigan), Washington DC, Connecticut (White Flower Farm), and Longwood gardens (Pennsylvania), with a nice sprinkling of local events. The Dwarf Tomato Project book is in progress…moving slowly now, but soon to rapidly accelerate. Dwarf seeds continue to come in from our project members, which leads to documentation and cataloging into my “system”. We have our week in Ocracoke booked for the spring, and are just beginning to plan a fall trip to the Southwest, most likely visiting some of the National Parks in western Utah.
To help work the fog out of my noggin, below are a few early thoughts on gardening efforts for 2019.
My own driveway garden: As always, it will focus on tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, split between containers, grow bags and straw bales, with some greens, beans, squash and cucumbers, similar in size and scope to last year. With regard to tomatoes, I won’t work heavily on micro-dwarfs this year; they didn’t enjoy the hot, humid weather and significantly under-performed vs expectations. My dwarf project efforts will be reduced as well, focusing on the most promising leads yet to be completed. I do want to get to some indeterminate varieties that found their way into my collection over the past few years, and of course, will grow some of our flavor favorites. Peppers will again feature sweet bells from the Islander de-hybridization work, and eggplants from the Orient Express de-hybridization work, as well as a new selection that I named from a cross involving Casper, Mardi Gras.
Seed starting: I am going to hot water treat seeds prior to planting this year in efforts to reduce early blight and septoria issues, as well as eliminate the sporadic Fusarium disease (such as with Nepal last year) - I will do a blog specifically about this when it is underway. I also want to go back to some older Islander and Orient Express project seeds for some re-selection work - this, along with Mexico Midget (because it takes so long to wake up), will lead to some earlier seed starting - perhaps next week, nearly a month sooner than the main seed starting effort.
Seedlings: yes, no, in between - and which ones? I am leaning toward offering another significantly reduced selection of seedlings - both in variety, and number. Stay tuned for more on this dilemma. I will not do much, if any, seedling shipping this year.
The book on the Dwarf Tomato Project: This will be a primary focus until complete. Current thoughts are to self-publish and hoping for mid-year.
Speaking opportunities: I am happy to entertain invitations to speak at various venues and events. My current slate of events is here. If anyone thinks that a local organization or venue would be interested in hosting me for a talk, please serve as a catalyst on my behalf. There are some major concentrations of gardening interest that have proven to be stubborn, such as the Denver/Boulder CO area, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York. Please pass on good leads to me; any help you can provide is appreciated!
There….the cobwebs are a bit thinned out, and all of the above will make for a delightfully and consistently busy year! I look forward to interacting with many of you - at events, swapping seeds, working on projects….here’s to a successful 2019 for us all!