Supporting Salad and FIRST Robotics in Herndon, VA.

April, 2016

Remember March, with that crazy hot weather? The greenhouse overheated, I did not catch it in time, and we lost about half our seedlings. I reseeded a few very hot peppers, so they will be in smaller pots this year. Sorry about that, folks! But make sure you come early this year. We expect to sell out.

May, 2015

Many of our seedlings grew taller than usual this year; there is a simple way to plant "leggy" seedlings. Start by digging a shallow trench:

Dig a trench to plant leggy seedlings

The trench is just deep enough to lay the seedling sideways along with the roots. You'll notice the trench dug so that the top few inches of the seedling can bend up and grow exactly where we want our vine to be. It's okay to bend the end up slightly.
Cover the roots and most of the stem. Leave just a couple of inches along with one or two leaf stems above the soil surface. New roots will grow out of the stem where it is buried, resulting in a stronger vine. Note that with this seedling, the main tip is broken off.

Seedlings hardening off on the back deck.

Dig a trench to plant leggy seedlings

After one week, the seedling is tilting upward and a new tip is growing up to replace the broken one. Make sure to give all seedlings plenty of water to prevent transplant shock.

If your seedling is not leggy, it's still a good idea to sink the plant a little deep to give more roots a chance to grow.


April, 2014

To increase our stock for this year, we built a temporary greenhouse on our back deck where we get sun most of the day. The biggest, strongest seedlings go out here. A small heater is all we need to keep them cozy at night. We can uncover them any time the weather is sunny, hardening them off in the process.

Seedlings hardening off on the back deck.

Summer Harvests, 2013

We had a great harvest— the salad to the right includes German Johnson, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Pork Chop, and Csikos Botermo. Summer Salad
Summer Harvet 2013 These tomatoes include Pork Chop (yellow beefsteak), Kellogg's Breakfast (orange beefsteak), Berkely Tie Dye (green with stripes), and Grub's Mystery Green. Note the subtle stripes on the Pork Chop.


March & April, 2013

Seedlings have been living outside to harden off, but as of Friday night, we've moved seedlings indoors to protect them from the storm. The rains should be stopped by Saturday morning, so we are going ahead with the sale as planned.


The greenhouse is full of optimism and seedlings:

We are all set for the April 20 sale!


June, 2012

Varieties I am testing this year: Japanese Black Trifele, Kellogg's Breakfast, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Indigo Rose, Jaune Flammeé, Noire de Crimeé, Black from Tula, Pilcer Vesy, and Isis Candy Cherry. Our peppers include Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Peppers), Corbaci, Red Marconi, Black Hungarian, and one that was mislabeled and is either a Bhut Jolokia or a Habanero. We also have three basils (Classico, Napoletano, and Spicy Globe), and two eggplants. The best of the lot will be included in future sales.

May, 2012

We grow more than tomatoes:

Our Alpine Strawberry plants are two years old and producing constantly. We have both red and yellow. Our kids go out every day or so and graze. These are never found in stores because they do not ship well, are small, and are only perfectly ripe for a day; on that day, however, eating one is like popping a piece of candy into your mouth.

We are getting our first new vegetables: artichokes. I saw them at Monticello, so I thought it was worth trying them here. We had a mild winter and three plants, each a different variety, survived and started producing early. The purple varieties (Violetta Precoce and Purple of Romagna) turn green when cooked, but they are beautiful in the garden.

Last fall, my husband planted green onion seeds. We harvested them all winter long, and those still in the garden have grown into spectacular specimens.


March, 2012

Almost all varieties are coming in nicely. Transplanting into 3-inch pots has begun. It's going to be a great year.

Nov. 13 Competition

The Herndon Stingers and the Disorder of the Phoenix competed at the Forest Edge ES Qualifying Tournament on November 13. They demonstrated the best of competitive qualities: creativity, sportsmanship, ingenuity, and gracious professionalism.

The Stingers won the Division 2 Core Values Award for their outstanding teamwork. Congratulations to all who competed!

The Herndon Stingers

The Herndon Stingers, a Division 2 FLL team.

The Disorder of the Phoenix

The Disorder of the Phoenix, a Division 1 FLL team, prepare to present their project to the judges.


Sept. 22, 2011

Today, I picked an Ananas Noir that weighed in at 1 pound 4 ounces. I didn't take a picture. My kids and I just ate it.

Finally, a real Harvest...

September 2011... High temperatures prevented a lot of fruit from setting in June, and we didn't see the beginning of harvest until August, a month later than ususal. Now in September, we are getting steady production. Here is a sampling of our favorites:


Ananas Noire
Neon colors of the Ananas Noir when sliced

Ananas Noir was one variety we were excited about. While the outside looked like a typical Cherokee Purple, the inside was a bright mixture of green, yellow, and pink. The flavor was delicious, sweet-tart, and among our favorites. I hope to include this in future sales.


Italian Rosa Italian Rosa sliced

Italian Rosa was my first heirloom, and our five plants all came from seed saved in Texas eight years ago. They are coming in at 8-12 ounces. I think they're the best-tasting tomatoes in our garden this year. The photo on the right shows how meaty they are; they also have a small core and very little splitting. You get a lot of delicious tomato slices from each. Flavor is full, balanced, with sweet, tart, and earthy notes in every bite. No salt needed on this one. We are crossing the two most vigorous plants for seeds.


At last, we get our favorite summer salad for dinner. Clockwise,the beefsteaks, starting from the left: Carbon (dark purple), Ananas Noir (green, yellow, and pink) Italian Rosa (pink) Cherokee Purple (light purple). The yellow cherries are Snowberry, purple cherries are Black Cherry, and the tiny reds are Tess's Land Race Currant. All of these varieties have performed well this year. I would regrow any of them.

The slices you see here are for Bread Crumb Salad; this is what my kids ask for in summer. A brief description is below.

Our favorite summer dinner

Bread Crumb Salad: Slice the best tomatoes you can find; sprinkle with a little salt and let stand 10 minutes. Soft-boil one egg for each diner. Make a dressing with good olive oil, fresh basil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Toast fresh bread crumbs in a skillet using olive oil and butter, and add finely minced fresh herbs of your choice.

Each serving includes tomatoes, Lemon-Basil vinaigrette, one soft-boiled egg, and a generous topping of bread crumbs. Serve immediately so the bread crumbs remain crunchy.

Options: add prosciutto, avocado, salad greens.


Now the garden is planted...

May, 2011... We will test a number of new varieties and growing methods this year: White Wonder, True Black Brandywine, Lime Green Salad, Matt's Wild Cherry, Snowberry, Black Cherry, Woodle Orange, Malachite Box, Ananas Noire and Carbon Tomatoes; Golden Marconi, Chinese Five Color, and Anaheim Peppers; Ping Tung and Thai Round Purple Eggplant. If these do as well as we hope, you will see that in our notes at future sales.

Woodle Orange Tomato in container
A lot of our customers ask about growing tomatoes in containers. Great White did very well in the ground last year, and Woodle Orange is reputed to be smaller than other varieties. We are testing both in containers this year.
Our peppers did not do so well in the ground in 2010. Woodchuck Team 6, stationed under our front porch, targeted our sweet peppers. We are trying several in containers this year hoping to deter Woodchuck Team 6. Here, an Anaheim and a Golden Marconi share a large container: Peppers share a large pot.
Wood chips allow good drainage in containers.
We added several inches of composted wood chips to the bottom of each container to provide great drainage.