For Valentine’s Day…THE LOVE APPLE

” Researchers have determined that Aztecs developed the tomato, as we know it. When the first conquistadors arrived in Mexico, the red fruit attracted their attention and intrigued their taste buds. In the 1600’s, they shipped some to Europe, but at first tomato failed to enthuse the palates of Europeans. Then in a genial strike some “marketing guru” decided to label tomato as an aphrodisiac and named it poma amoris, the French in turn called it pomme d’amour. Of course it took off.

American colonists thought tomatoes to be poisonous because of the plant’s relation to the deadly nightshade family. “

In thinking about the luscious flavor of tomatoes it is interesting that Europeans had to be talked into eating them. I just can’t imagine what life if our ancestors had not tasted the first bite, not to mention that I would likely be out of a job. When we think about all the different foods that span so many cultures of the world, what a wonderful feast we could have. Living in the US, especially in large cities, we have access to almost everything edible in the world! Maybe not things like grasshoppers and eewwy gooey stuff but if you visit your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s type market there is quite a selection. We recently discovered the Dekalb Farmer’s Market near downtown Atlanta and were stunned by the treats on every shelf. Live fish in tanks, produce from every corner of the globe, meats and cheeses and wines that will have you salivating as soon as you walk in. This is their stand:

We declare the world is designed to work. We are responsible for what does not work. We make the difference.

No matter how technologically advanced we become, we cannot escape our fundamental relationships with food and each other. The possibility of these relationships is the world market. In this context, the world works for everyone free of scarcity and suffering.

We commit ourselves to the possibility this world market is for the future generations of this planet.

I really love the whole world philosophy and multi-cultural aspect of this fantastic store. I applaud the owner and vow to stop by every chance I can for goodies. Don’t even get me near the bakery!!! In another life, I will live next door to this place…

Growing Tips for Easy Gardening

Gardening should be fun and easy to do and by following these tips, you can prevent some of the problems which may a chore out of even the smallest gardens.

1. Planting in the right location to begin with. An open area with lots of sunshine and good soil is the best location for your garden. Providing the proper amount of light alone will prevent so many stress problems with your plants, after all they are food making machines and need sunlight like a light bulb needs electricity! Too little light will prevent fruiting, keep the leaves too wet and can make the plants stretch to reach the sunlight. I know that it is nicer to garden in the shade but in reality the plants may suffer and may never produce well in shaded conditions. Plants always prefer to be in the ground, even if you don’t have “good” soil, it will most definitely be better than potting soil for the roots of your vegetables.

2. Amending your garden to create “good” garden soil. Most longtime gardeners will tell you that there is nothing that will make more of a difference in your vegetable garden success than adding compost, mulch and any other type of organic material to the soil. By organic I mean that it should be a by product of nature, not a certified organic bag of dirt. Fallen leaves, peat moss, compost of any kind are all “organic materials” and will break down over time to create the “black” soil that many backyards are lacking. You don’t need to buy soil. Everyone has soil that will grow plants, the amendments will lighten up heavy soil and improve drainage, add texture to sandy soil which helps it hold water and nutrients. For first time gardens, you should rototill as deeply as you can to loosen up compressed soil and add amendments as you till to mix them well.

3. Feeding and Watering should be done sparingly. Just because we have access to so many kinds of fertilizers, and the big box stores want to sell you sprinklers and hoses and all types of watering equipment, shouldn’t mean that we try to alter natures cycles. Yes, with vegetables it is necessary to water in periods of drought but a 5 second hosing down of the leaves doesn’t actually water where the plants need it. The roots are the natural intake for moisture and the leaves are the intake for carbon dioxide, so water the roots! Also, instead of a short quick watering after work every day, try a long, slow watering every Saturday that gets the moisture down deep in the soil where you want the roots to go. A dribbling soaker hose or a drip watering system run for about an hour can actually save water by putting it in the right place instead of a sprinkler that evaporates most of the moisture into the air. Feeding should also be done in the most natural way possible. By adding organic fertilizers, made from “organic materials”, the feeding is a process of breaking down slowly and merging with the soil where the roots know how to find it. Spraying Miracle Gro on the leaves (again, why would the plants want their food through their leaves?) can create more problems such as adding too much nitrogen, building up salts in the garden and burning the leaves. Never mind that it is watering the wrong way which wastes water.

4. Space the plants so they have room to grow. If you have never grown a particular vegetable before, you may not be aware of how large some plants get. I have seen a squash plant that is 6 feet around. Needless to say, if you have a 6 X 10 foot garden, that may not be the best thing to grow. If tomatoes are planted too close together, they may have problems drying off their leaves and this can promote disease and also make it impossible to find the tomatoes! For estimated plant sizes and spacing please see our Kitchen Gardening Tips and Plans page.

5. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. Recently featured on the TV show It’s not easy being green we saw where the garden beds were laid out and then covered with brown Kraft paper to keep the moisture in the soil, shade out weeds, and keeping other top mulch from breaking down too quickly. Around here, it is the best way to recycle newspapers and many folks use them in a thick layer to accomplish the same objective. I have seen old towels, carpet and lots of other things “recycled” in the garden as mulch. There are really no rules except that they should be easy to use, protect the roots of the plants from the hot sun, and block weeds. Just be careful not to use anything treated with toxic chemicals of course. If you want to use rolls of Kraft paper, this item is available in our catalog as a special order item.

6. If you do need to grow in containers, make sure that you use large pots, good potting soil mixed with some compost, (about a third). Water deeply and regularly, fertilize regularly (about every 6 weeks), Mulch the top of the dirt, and give them plenty of sun.

Politics and “Can’t we just all get along?”

Now that we are in the heat of the political season…let’s talk about…gardening! Really, anything but politics. I am so tired of being labeled and put into categories and what I really am is a gardener first and foremost. Well, maybe a cook first and foremost…oh well.

We have been very busy planning our 2008 season and we have done lots of work on the website to try to make it easier to use but still colorful and attention grabbing. Our future plans include adding some video clips to the site to show techniques and useful tips at the click of a button. I hope we can get them online soon! has been in operation for over 10 years now and over the years we have learned more and more about how to grow plants in the most efficient way and to have over 125 plant varieties all ready to ship for a constant number of weeks during our busy season. Believe me this keeps us up at night over here. Constantly refining how we do things keeps us always getting better and in this world of competition, it is a necessary thing. Most important is our staff of wonderful employees which we depend on so much. We will be adding new folks this season so if anyone has any spare time…

I hope you will all check out our new products in our catalog. Thanks!