Fruit or Vegetable?

From a gardener’s perspective a tomato is a fruit. It forms from the ovary of a flower and contains seeds. Therefore it is a fruit.

Now a cook might tell you different because tomatoes are not often used to sweeten a dish. They are served as vegetables so they are vegetables. Right?

Tell me your opinion for a chance to win an awesome Garden Patch Grow Box™ and a packet of ‘Jelly Bean’ and Roma tomato seeds from my Bountiful Best collection from Ferry-Morse Seed Company.

The winner will be announced Wednesday March 7, 2012.*

Congrats to Debbie Chen! She’s the winner of a Garden Patch Grow Box™. We suggest planting it with tomatoes!

*Winner will be selected by P. Allen Smith and his staff based on the merit of their comment. Click here to read the official rules and legal mumbo jumbo.

Introducing My Bountiful Best

This year I teamed up with Ferry-Morse Seed Company to offer my top 10 seed varieties that I’m calling my “Bountiful Best.” You can find these seeds at any garden center. Just look for the display with my picture. I selected these based on their easy care nature and abundant production. Many are suited to small spaces and even containers.

Give these varieties a try and you’ll be in fine fettle for serving dishes made with homegrown ingredients.

  1. Basil ‘Genovese’ – If you only grow one herb, make it basil. This variety has large leaves that are full of flavor. Summer garden.

  2. Cucumber ‘Lemon’ – Unusual round, yellow cucumbers. Their sweet flavor makes them good raw, but you can pickle them too. Good for small spaces. Summer garden.

  3. Cucumber ‘Spacemaster’ – Large 7 to 8 inch fruits are borne on compact plants. All you need is a 12-inch pot to grow ‘Spacemaster’. Summer garden.

  4. Peas ‘Cascadia Sugar Snap’ – This pea has multiple personalities. Harvest early to use as a snow pea or matured pods are delicious snap peas. Spring garden.

  5. Radish ‘French Breakfast’ – A scarlet and white radish that is as beautiful as it is flavorful. Spring garden.

  6. Arugula ‘Roquette’ – One of my favorite salad greens and so, so easy to grow. Spring and fall garden.

  7. Squash (Zucchini) ‘Black Beauty’ – Every garden needs at least one zucchini plant! Dark green fruits are tasty sautéed or used in baked goods. Summer garden.

  8. Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ – The vegetable garden isn’t always the most colorful spot, unless you grow ‘Bright Lights.’ Neon pink, orange and red stems. Spring and fall garden.

  9. Tomato ‘Jelly Bean Hybrid’ – This indeterminate, grape tomato produces abundant fruits with delicious flavor. Summer garden.

  10. Tomato ‘Roma VF’ – These are meaty tomatoes with few seeds. Perfect for sauces, salads and salsa. I selected this variety because it is resistant to both verticilium and fusarium wilt. Summer garden.

Three Ways to Prolong Valentine’s Day Roses

Did you receive roses for Valentine’s Day? Lucky you! Prolong the love with these three ideas.

When Your Roses Arrive
If your roses came prearranged, simply place the vase in a spot out of direct sun and away from heat sources.

For unarranged roses fill a vase with lukewarm water and add a floral preservative along with one teaspoon of bleach to keep the water clean. Remove any leaves from the stems below water line. Under running water, re-cut the ends of the stems at a slight angle. Place the flowers immediately into the vase.

Every few days replace with water and recut the ends of the stems.

Giving Your Roses a Second Life
Pull the freshest flowers from the bouquet and reuse them in a new arrangement. Buy flowers from a local florist or market to complement the colors of your roses. For red roses try purple, orange, and golden yellow flowers. If you receive salmon roses, add chartreuse, blue, and cream. Pink roses look great with burgundy, lavender, and cream blooms.

Cut the rose and flower stems to about 8 inches long. Grab the entire bouquet as close to the base of the blooms as possible. Wrap a rubber band around the stems to hold the arrangement together tightly. Place the bouquet in a low vase filled with fresh water, floral preservative and a few drops of bleach.

Preserve your Memory
As your roses fade, remove the petals and place them in an open weave basket to dry. Purchase other ingredients from hobby or craft stores to create your own personalized potpourri. I start with a base of pre-packaged dried flowers or potpourri to create a colorful mixture. With an eyedropper add some rose oil to the potpourri and toss gently to refresh the fragrance of the flowers. Place the mixture a bowl or basket where the aroma can be enjoyed.

Season XI P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home

It wasn’t too long ago that Garden Home was just an idea kicking around in my head. It’s amazing what can happen in 11 years. The concept has since blossomed into 6 books, a half hour show on public television and the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home. Going from concept to reality seemed pretty slow going while I was in the thick of it, but when I look back now I wonder how it all went by so quickly.

So here we are a decade and countless cups of coffee later ready to kick off Season XI of the P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television series. While I’m puzzled over the speed of passing time, I am thrilled that we are celebrating the second decade of the show.

To mark the occasion I’d like to share a little photo montage I call “Where’s Brent?” Our videographer Brent has been with the company for 7 of the 11 seasons. A quiet but constant presence, Brent is the man behind all the captivating imagery in the shows. As you can see by some of these photos, he’ll do anything to get a good shot.

Getting a shot of blueberry fields in Oregon.

Brent and the camera all suited up to get cover of soy foam insulation going in.

A rare moment when Brent got out from behind the camera to check out microbes in soil.

This year we upgraded the camera and added a 2nd unit. Better HD quality and no more tapes to lug around. Was Brent excited? It's hard to say because he's a quiet fella, but I think I overheard him giggling the day it arrived.

Hanging out at EuroAmerican Propagators in California.

It happens so rarely here that I go a little crazy when it snows. Brent and our field producer Patrick are always there to get cover, even going so far as climbing on the roof & riding in helicopters.

Hanging with the guys fishing at the crack of dawn. Just in case you can't tell by the photo, it was bitter cold that day.

There are SOME perks to being our videographer. Last summer we took a sunset cruise in Chicago. Of course, Brent had to WORK, but it beats standing on a roof in the snow.

Barnheart

Congratulations to Ellie! Girl, you’ve got a pretty bad case of Barnheart!We’re sending you a copy of Jenna’s book.

Thanks to everyone for commenting. You’ve all painted wonderful pictures of rural life.

Do you have Barnheart? According to author and homesteader Jenna Woginrich Barnheart is a “dreamer’s disease” that attacks “those of us who wish to God we were outside with our flocks, feed bags, or harnesses instead of sitting in front of a computer screen.” Symptoms include studying chicken coop plans, daydreaming about heritage livestock breeds and calling in sick to work in the garden.

I am no stranger to the Barnheart syndrome so it was with relish that I read Jenna’s memoir Barnheart*. Her story of setting up her first homestead in Vermont is thoughtful and humorous and will definitely ease your longing for the farm life.

In between tales of caring for her expanding menagerie, and tending the garden she articulately describes that feeling of independence and satisfaction that comes from having homegrown food right outside the back door. It should be no surprise that my favorite chapter is about her turkey TD (Thanksgiving Dinner).

These days Jenna is living in New York. She is the author of three other books and a blog called Cold Antler Farm.

If you think Barnheart is just what the doctor ordered for your “dreamer’s disease” here’s your chance to win a copy. Tell me about your homesteading daydream in the comments section below.

I’ll select a winner on Friday February 10, 2012, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

*I received a review copy of Barnheart from my friends at Storey Publishing.