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:
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
But pre-ordering has already begun.
Just like a biennial plant, this gardening book has taken its time to put down roots and start to grow. Biennial plants typically take two years from seed to flower.
It’s like planting hollyhocks one year, seeing the rosette of green leaves the next season, and then having to wait another year to see the colors of the flowers in bloom.
The idea for Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening sprouted with me about four years ago. After doing the research, I found the most current books about growing perfect produce for exhibiting in vegetable contests were written about 100 years ago.
As the idea took shape, I decided I needed to grow and show some of my own garden-grown produce. That meant planting in spring and waiting to see what would be ready in late summer to take to the fair.
I’ve found many crazy-looking edibles in my garden, but the tomato I named “Casper the Friendly Cyclops” is the most memorable.
This misshapen, but smiling, tomato could be a winner in the WesternGardeners.com annual Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit photo contest.
Every year gardeners send in images of the kookiest produce they pull from their gardens.
The vegetables are certainly entertaining and it’s always fun to guess what went wrong to cause those weird-looking shapes. Some environmental problem is the most common reason behind these oddballs.
In the case of Casper, the weather was exceptionally cold when the tomato plant was starting to set fruit. That’s what caused all those odd shapes on the blossom end of the tomato.
When carrots grow in rocky soil, their roots can form into strange configurations.
The best fairy garden fairies — the ones who make a gardener’s wishes come true — are those made from the garden’s own flowers, like hollyhocks.
It takes just a few minutes to transform an ordinary hollyhock blossom and bud into a fairy flower all dressed up in a ballgown and ready to dance around the garden.
Fairies made from hollyhocks are a bit elusive because of the plant’s biennial nature; they have a two-year growth cycle. The first year they develop deep roots and a rosette of leaves and the next year they send up a flower stalk. That’s the perfect time to get your hands on one of these flower fairies.
If you’re a gardener who’s been conscientiously composting your kitchen waste and using the rich, crumbly material as a soil conditioner in your garden, it’s time to take your composting to the next level.
By mixing that earthy concoction with water and allowing it to steep, you can create a beneficial tea loaded with the nutrients that plants love.
Digging compost into flower and vegetable beds is an important part of any gardening program, but why stop at adding millions of beneficial bacteria to the soil when you add billions of bacteria instead?
The process of brewing compost into tea not only makes the organic matter more effective, but it improves its usefulness, too.
Compost tea can be used as both a foliar spray and a soil drench.
All of these tomatoes, from the smoky Black Krims to the small yellow pear tomatoes, grew in my small-space vegetable garden.
Some grew in the postage-stamp sized 6 x 8 vegetable bed, but most were harvested from my patio container garden.
After years of experimenting with growing vegetables in containers, I’ve learned what works best.
I’ve also learned that gardeners can grow just about any fruit, vegetable and herb in a small-space garden.
All of those tips and tricks for growing vegetables in small spaces are packed into my Craftsy online gardening class. In seven video sessions, I share all of my gardening secrets.
To celebrate summer, I’m offering my class at a special discount. Just follow this link to sign up now and you’ll save $20 on Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions!