Welcome to 2017 and a brand new gardening year. What plans do you have for the coming season?
A snowy start to the new year is a good time to brew a cup of tea and spend a few minutes thinking about the garden. Perhaps some of my latest ideas will help inspire you:
This week I wrote about one of the newest trends in preserving the harvest, although it’s also one of the oldest. My post at VegetableGardener.com may help you find new ways to stick to this year’s resolutions or it might help you find new ways to prepare the next bumper crop of zucchini as you Resolve to Enjoy Fermented Vegetables in the New Year.
If you’re contemplating what to do with your winter landscape, this post on my Lowe’s Mountain Region blog gives tips for taking care of trees and perennials during the winter. In Winter Gardening Helps Protect Trees and Plants, I’ve also included ways to enjoy the beauty of your winter garden.
How ’bout them apples?!
A double Gravenstein apple put the Funny into the 2016 Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com.
Rena DeMello of Corvallis, Oregon, grew this apple in the small orchard on her mini-farm. The contest judge thought the picture of her apple still on the tree looked like a “friendly alien” with its two “eyes” and smirky grin.
Rena’s “pear” of apples was likely caused by two ovules that formed on the same flower. Horticultural experts say that cool temperatures while plants are flowering are often the cause of funny-looking fruits like this one.
There were plenty of funny fruits and weird veggie entries in this year’s contest. All the entries celebrated the wonderful oddball produce gardeners find in their gardens around the U.S. and Canada.
Here are the runners-up for 2016:
Second place in the contest goes to Apri Hitchcot, grown by Kathy McGuire of La Grande, Oregon.
It’s time for the 2016 edition of the Weird Veggie & Funny Fruit photo contest sponsored by WesternGardeners.com!
Every year since 2009 I’ve given prizes to celebrate the crazy carrots, oddball eggplants and tasteless tomatoes gardeners find growing in their vegetable gardens.
If there’s anything funny growing on in your garden, let’s see it! Here’s how to enter photos of your perfectly imperfect produce:
- The contest begins on August 10 and ends September 10 at 10:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.
- Send digital photos (in focus) of your crazy-looking fruit or vegetable to Jodi @ WesternGardeners.com. There’s a limit of 3 images per person.
- Give each entry a name and include your city and state; the contest is open to gardeners residing in the U.S.
- The winner will be chosen by an experienced, impartial judge. The winner will be notified on September 12.
- A gardener’s gift package will be awarded to the contest winner; runners up will receive a smaller token of appreciation.
I’m taking my Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening show on the road to the Country Living Fair, June 3, in Rhinebeck, NY.
Please join me!
Here’s your chance to win two 3-day passes to the Country Living Fair at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in the gorgeous Hudson Valley.
If you’re a fan of Country Living magazine, you’ll love getting to be part of the excitement of this incredible event!
There’s plenty to see, do and buy…
- Shop at hundreds of booths filled with vintage and handmade treasures and one-of-a-kind antiques.
- Attend free seminars on gardening (like mine), decorating and more.
- Learn new recipes at the cooking demonstrations.
- Enjoy live music and delicious food.
- Meet some of the folks that make the magazine the fan favorite that it is!
To enter this random drawing for the 2 3-day passes, add your comment about what you love about going to fairs — any fair, from county fair to state fair. Festivals count, too.
Happy Earth Day 2016!
For the last 17 years I’ve worked to create an eco-friendly naturescape in my suburban backyard. I’ve planted native flowers, added low-maintenance perennial plants, reduced water use, and completely eliminated synthetic chemicals.
My certified wildlife habitat includes food, water, shelter and places for all kinds of insects, birds and fuzzy critters to raise their young. But this year, I’m going to concentrate my wildlife-loving efforts to attract more hummingbirds, all season long.
These flighty birds typically show up at the end of summer to enjoy nectar from the Agastache plants. But if I start in April with a few sugar water feeders and then plant nectar-rich flowers, like bleeding hearts, they might start to show up sooner.
Spring-blooming honeysuckle flowers can also turn a hummingbird’s head. The long, tubular blossoms are the perfect shape for their needle-like bills. An arbor supports vines and provides a handy perch so birds can take a break between feedings.
Like many gardeners in a cold climate, I always have to start my tomato seeds indoors early each spring. I typically start in March if I want to have tomato plants ready for transplanting into the vegetable garden in May.
In more than 30 years of gardening, this year is the first time I’ve seen a tomato seed volunteer to sprout on its own in my garden. It must’ve been the warm temperatures starting around the end of February that signaled this little tomato seed to start growing.
To say I was surprised to see it so early in the season is an understatement. Tomatoes are tropical plants and they prefer to grow in hot weather. In fact, I have to wait until nighttime temperatures consistently hit the 55-degree mark before setting tomato transplants outside.
However this miracle tomato started growing in almost freezing temperatures without any kind of plant protection!
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area on March 16, I hope you’ll stop by the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.
That’s the next stop on my Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening book tour.
I’ll be presenting “How to Grow Prizewinning Produce” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and signing books right after the talk.
If the Northwest Flower and Garden Show was any indication, large crowds of gardeners will turn out to see what’s new in garden design, garden art, plants, gardening materials, and supplies. The show covers more than five acres, so wear comfy walking shoes!
There are also over 100 speakers, from 11 states, presenting free seminars on five stages during the show’s run from March 16-20. This event is conveniently located at the San Mateo Event Center, just south of the San Francisco airport. I’m delighted to be included in the lineup at one of the top garden shows in the country.
It’s as much fun as a funnel cake to enter a vegetable contest and be part of the excitement at an American fair!
If you’re ready to bring a competitive edge to your vegetable gardening — or just impress your family and friends with picture-perfect produce — here’s a special offer just for you:
Save $20 on my Craftsy class called Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions.
The class includes everything a gardener needs to get started growing great vegetable gardens.
Use this special link to get your discount today!
It’s February and that means the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle is just around the corner!
I’m excited to kick off this gardening season with two programs at the show followed by signings of my brand new book, Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening:
Thursday, February 18, 5:30 p.m. in the Hood Room
Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening
Have you ever marveled at mammoth pumpkins, giant cabbages and enormous onions at your state fair? This seminar teaches the tricks for growing the biggest, tastiest and best-looking vegetables for miles around. Whether you want to win ribbons, impress your friends or simply improve your vegetable growing efforts, this session is for you!
Friday, February 19, 3:15 p.m. DIY Demonstration Stage
A Dirty Dozen for Gardening on the Cheap
Yes, I’m giddy about vegetables!
The first review is in for my newest gardening book called Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening: The Secrets to Growing the Biggest and Best Prizewinning Produce.
Publisher’s Weekly wrote the review and I couldn’t be happier.
“Torpey writes giddily about vegetable gardening, going so far as to use the animated film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as a point of reference, and she will even entertain nongardeners with this delightful book. Dedicated gardeners will be impressed as she seriously coaches the sport of competitive vegetable growing.”
The book, published by Storey Publishing, isn’t out quite yet. The release date is set for December, but folks are already pre-ordering the book. I’ve seen the finished pages, but can’t wait to get my hands on an actual copy.
I’m glad Publisher’s Weekly mentioned how gardeners and nongardeners will like the book, because that was one of my goals when writing it.