Heirloom Garden 2011, Part 1 of 2

So I sat down to plot my garden, and I realized I don't have the specific layout of my double plot. The plots are 20'x30'. I'm not sure if I will have a 20'x60' vertical rectangle, or a 40"x30" horizontal rectangle. I'll know for sure on March 22, 2011 when I attend the community garden program  meeting. I did get the seedlings started, and for now I will fill you in what's included this year. The perimeter of the plot will be defined by a necessary fence, and a lot of sunflowers. I love sunflowers. I always have. And once I read the Greek myth about how the sunflower came about, well I channeled that into a Halloween costume. You haven't lived until you danced to The B52s dressed as a sunflower. Being 6'4" I would have to say I was a Mammoth Grey Stripe.

From GreeceGreek.com;

Clytie was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, who made her no return. So she pined away, sitting all day long upon the cold ground, with her unbound tresses streaming over her shoulders. Nine days she sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears and the chilly dew her only food. She gazed on the sun when he rose, and as he passed through his daily course to his setting; she saw no other object, her face turned constantly on him. At last, they say, her limbs rooted in the ground, her face became a sunflower, which turns on its stem so as always to face the sun throughout its daily course; for it retains to that extent the feeling of the nymph from whom it sprang.

Appropriately enough, I do have Mammoth Grey Stripes for the corners, and perhaps in the middle of each side. In between there will Ruby Eclipse, Tiger's Eye, Soraya, The Joker, and Hopi Black Dye, which may turn into a tie-dye project. I also have two sunflower samplers, one of which is from Italy.

There is the Family Quilt which I am planting in the center of the plot. I'm thinking a 5'x5' square, and will include Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Peppers, that represent the Basilica region Italy where my maternal grandparents are from. Belmonte tomatoes, which is a Calabrese heriloom, representing the Calabria region of Italy, where my paternal grandparents are from. Fish Peppers, which represent the Philadelphia area that my grandparents settled in. The Fish Pepper is a hot pepper variety grown by African-Americans in the Philadelphia/Baltimore area to season fish chowders. They have lovely variegated foliage, with peepers that change colors as they mature. And representing the Garden State, aka New Jersey, where I grew up and learned about gardening from my parents, there will be Rutgers tomatoes, a very prolific and tasty New Jersey red heirloom tomato, and Box Car Willies, another New Jersey red heirlooms.

New this year will be a small patch of cucumbers. Last year I had one Lemon Cucumber plant which I got a total of 2 cucumbers from. I tried to direct seed them, and got hit with excessive heat and cucumber beetles right away. I'm surprised the plant survived. I am growing them again this year, but will have plants from my seeds.  I really enjoyed the two that I got. They're round and a very pretty yellow. They have thin skins and have a nice taste.

There will be Painted Serpent Cucumbers, which are really a melon that originated in Armenia, and were brought to Italy in the 15th century. Think of all the generations that have passed since then. They grow long and narrow with a slight twist. They will be a good complement to the round yellow Lemon cucumbers. I'm proud to be growing a plant with such a long history.

Rounding out the trilogy, I will be growing Boothby's Blonde Cucumbers, which is a Maine heirloom. They tend to be small, plumb ovals and are yellow. They sound like a nice compliment to the other two.

I also have some melon seeds but I'm not sure if I will attempt to grow them. If I do, there is the Pepino Melon which sounds like beauty. It's a South American melon that grows on a shrub more then a vine. Combine that with it's yellow color and purple stripes, and you have my attention. I do have to say though I'm as fascinated with melons as I am with tomatoes.

And rounding out Part 1 is the Hinklehatz Hot Pepper, or Chicken Heart as it's know to the Pennsylvania Amish. It's suppose to have 125,000 scoville units, which is quite a kick. The Amish use it for a spicy vinegar, which sounds like a great idea to me. I'll add some to a bottle of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and have a nice bottle of sweet and spicy for when that mood strikes.

Part 2 will cover the rest of the tomatoes in depth. There are 15 varities that I will be growing, including the two mentioned above. It will be quite a garden.

My Family Garden Quilt

Well I'm planning my garden, and this year I'm ahead of the game. Last year it all happened so quickly that I was lucky to get anything out of it. The greatest harvest thought was this concept of Vanishing Feast. How lucky am I?! In these posts at my other blog, Magic Hat Stories (MHS), An Heirloom Garden, A Family Quilt by Another Name, Part 1, Part 2, I look at the concept of heirloom gardening, and put it in the context of a family quilt. This year I fully intend to use a portion of my garden as a family garden quilt.

In this post at MHS, My Heirloom Garden Follows the Journey of My Family, I use 3 heirloom varities of vegetables to trace my family's journey from Italy, to Philadelphia, PA, and eventually to southern New Jersey. While I did grow all three varities, they were not set up as a quilt. As I mentioned above, last year was rushed experience.

I will be using the same 3 varities I wrote about in the post mentioned in the paragraph above. These are Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Italian Peppers, Fish Peppers and Rutger's tomatoes. This year I will be adding Belmonte Tomatoes, which originated in Calabria area of Italy, where my Dad's family is from. The Jimmy Nardello's are from Basilicata, Italy where my Mom's family is from. The story of the Fish Peppers goes that it originated with African-American slaves, and was used in the Baltimore/Philadlephia area to flavor seafood chowders. Both sets of my grandparents settled in Philadelphia, and the Fish peper will honor that fact my garden quilt.

Rutgers and Boxcar Willie tomatoes will complete the quilt. They represent New Jersery where my dad moved our family in the 1960's. This is where my dad taught me and my brothers about organic gardening.  I'll use some flowers and herbs to represent my mom to color and texture. And yes, this will be a square shape. I plan on shooting video and still photos as part of the documentry.

I will share the photo and the progress on this blog.