December 2019

  • Common Name: Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea
    Checkered table cloth with boxes of Snow Peas at a farmer's market.

    Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

    Scientific Name: Pisum sativum
    Days to Germinate: 7-10 days
    Days to Maturity: 60-68 days
    General Description: Organic Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea is an edible-pod, bush, snow pea variety that has tender, crisp, sweet, 4″ long pods. This dwarf variety with vines reaching heights of only 24-30” this pea needs no staking and grows great in a container. This long time favorite is ideal for stir-fry dishes, snacks and salads and great for freezing.  The young sprouts make a lovely garnish. Oregon Sugar Pods split and produce two peas at every growth node while other snow peas produce just one. And the “II” in Oregon Sugar Pod II refers to the fact that this evolution of the pea is disease resistant. So you get lots of peas and no powdery mildew. Great to plant for winter microgreens. The shoots are sweet, crunchy and delicious.  Harvest them at about 2″ long.  Their quick germination makes them one of the most productive for microgreens.
    Site Requirements:

    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Water: Regular
    • Soil: Average

    Seeding: Plant peas in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked and soil temperatures average 45 degrees. Peas like cool weather between 65-70 degrees for best production.
    Plant again every 2-3 weeks until mid spring for a continued harvest.
    Harvest Time:  Pick the pods when they are still immature and relatively flat. When harvesting, be sure to use two hands. Use one hand to hold the vine and the other to pick the peas. This way you will avoid damaging the tender vines. For the crispiest peas, pick in the morning after the dew has dried. Peas will last about 5 days in the refrigerator and any extra freeze well.
    Fun Facts:

    • Peas fix nitrogen in the soil.
    • Peas make excellent companions with corn, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, celery, chicory, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, early potato, radish, spinach, strawberry, sweet pepper, tomatoes, and turnips.
    • Pease are a good source of protein, fiber and vitamins A, C and B.
    • Keep your peas away from chives, grapes, late potatoes and onions.Packet of Oregon Sugar Pod Pea seeds.

December 2019Photo of a Freckles lettuce head.

Common Name: Freckles Romaine Lettuce
Scientific Name: Latuca stiva
Days to Germination: 2-10 days
Days to Maturity: 55-70 days
General Description: Freckles is a classic heirloom romaine with beautiful, tender, glossy, apple-green leaves splashed with maroon-red. Both heat and sun tolerant, this variety rarely bolts. It’s delicious as a baby lettuce and a mature one. Its beautiful coloring make it a welcome addition to any salad bowl.
Site Requirements:

  • Light: Full sun/part shade
  • Water: Average
  • Soil: Average to rich

Seeding: Seed lettuce in the spring  as soon as the soil can be worked. Cover lightly with soil, soak and keep moist until germination. Row covers can be used to protect from late frosts. Sow seed again every 2 weeks until late spring. Another crop may be started in the late summer for a fall harvest. Water regularly and fertilize when plants are 3″ (7.5 cm) tall. Mulch around the base of plants to help retain moisture and control weeds.
Harvest Time:  Lettuce is best harvested in the morning to retain its crisp sweetness. Pinch off individual outer leaves as needed. The center leaves will form a loose head which can be harvested when mature by cutting the entire plant at the base. Be sure to harvest before the plant goes to seed.
Fun Facts:

  • Freckles heirloom lettuce, originally known by the German name of “Forellenschluss,” which means “speckled like a trout’s back,” comes from Austria and Southern Germany in the late 18th century.
  • Freckles lettuce is know n for being hign in iron.
  • Companion plants include: carrots, cucumbers, beans, beets, radish and onions.Lettuce, Organic Romaine, Freckles

November 2019Photo of a Rocky Mountain Beeplant blossom.

Common Name: Rocky Mountain beeplant, bee spiderflower, skunk weed, stinking clover and Navajo spinach
Scientific Name: Cleome serrulata
Native Range: North America
Hardiness Zone: 3-10
Type: Annual
General Description: This easy to grow annual wildflower is one of the showiest western natives. Growing from 18”- 4’ tall it is covered in pink nectar filled blossoms from mid to late summer. The showy blossoms attract many pollinators including bees, butterflies and wasps. The seeds are an important food source for doves and other small birds.
Site Requirements:

  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Water: Dry to average moisture
  • Soil: Well drained

Seeding: Rocky Mountain Beeplant is easy to establish by direct seeding. Soak the very hard seed in warm water for 48 hours prior to planting. Do not let the seeds dry out during germination. One ounce of seed will cover approximately 100sqft. Beeplant regularly reseeds itself into bare soil.
Bloom Time: July through AugustBeeplant tag with close-up photo of cluster of pink blossoms
Fun Facts:

  • A Great Pollinator Plant!
  • This species was one of the many new plants collected in 1804 during the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was found along the Vermillion River in South Dakota.
  • The young, tender shoots and leaves are good sources of vitamin A and calcium.
  • The Navajo still use the plant as a source of yellow-green dye for their beautiful wool rugs and blankets.
  • Many pueblo tribes use a concentrated form of dye, made from boiling the plant into a thick black resin, to paint designs on pottery or for decorating their baskets.
  • All parts of the plant can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried.
  • Drinking an infusion of the plant relieves stomachache and reduces fever. Applied as a compress it soothes sore eyes.
  • In times of drought early Spanish-Americans made tortillas from the barely palatable but nourishing seeds.

November 2019

Common Name: Bird’s Eye Gilia
Scientific Name:  Gilia tricolor
Native Range: Western United States, mainly California, on open, grassy plains and slopes below 2,000 ft
Hardiness Zone: 3-10
Type: Annual
General Description: This low growing annual (12-18”) prefers full sun and dry soils but is very adaptable. Clusters of ½” light blue or violet flowers with powder blue stamens, yellow throats and deep violet centers bloom all summer long. Flowers have a musky fragrance that some say smells like chocolate.
Site Requirements:

  • Light: Full sun
  • Water: Dry
  • Soil: Adaptable

Seeding:  Direct sow into the garden after danger of frost has passed. Keep moist until germination. Bird’s eye gilia will self sow. 1oz of seed covers 400sqft.
Bloom Time:  Spring to summerBird's Eye Gilia packet.
Fun Facts:

October 2019

Photo of a yellow coreopsis flower.

photo courtesy of pixabay – wisconsinimages

Common Name: Plains Coreopsis

Scientific Name: Coreopsis tinctoria

Native Range: Western United States
Type: Annual
Hardiness Zone: Zones 2-11
Days to Germinate: 1-2 weeks
Days to Maturity:
General Description: Plains Coreopsis has sunny yellow flowers with mahogany centers, or mahogany-red flowers with yellow centers. Numerous flowers bloom atop finely cut foliage. Ranging in height from 1-2’ tall, these showy flowers bloom from June to September. Coreopsis is easy to grow, makes a great cut flower and looks great in meadow, prairie and wildflower plantings.
Site Requirements:

  • Light: Sun to part shade
  • Water: Easily grown in dry to moderately moist soils
  • Soil: Sandy to rocky soils

Seeding: Seeds can be started indoors 6-8 weeks prior to last frost date and transplanted outside after all chances of frost have past. Or, plant seeds directly outdoors after last chance of frost.  The seeds germinates quickly in only 1-2 weeks. Light aids in germination. Gently tamp seeds into soil without deeply covering.
Bloom Time: Late spring to fall
Fun Facts:Front of the Plains Coreopsis seed packet.

  • Looks great in large plantings
  • Once used as a source of red and yellow dye
  • Readily self seeds
  • Performs well in wet years
  • Deer and drought tolerant
  • Nectar source for both bees and butterflies
  • Seeds attractive to birds

October 2019

Common Name: Cinderella Pumpkin

Scientific Name: Cucurbita maxima

Photo of a bunch of Cinderella Pumpkins.

Photo courtesy of pixabay annca

Days to Germinate: 6-15 days
Germination Temperature: 70-75 degrees
Days to Maturity: 85-115 days
General Description: Cinderella Pumpkin is an antique French heirloom known as Rouge vif’ d’Etampes, popular in the 1800’s. This squash has flattened shiny red-orange fruits with narrow deep ribbed sections and rough bumpy skin. Fruits can grow up to 40 lbs. and are beautiful and decorative. The flesh is creamy, moist with a mild and sweet flavor.  It is great for cooking and pies. The large seeds are good for toasting.
Site Requirements:

  • Light: Full sun
  • Water: Regular water during the growing season
  • Soil: Rich, fertile soil

Seeding: Direct seed after all chance of frost has passed into rich, fertile soil. Pumpkins and squash  are usually sown in groups (hills) of 3-5 seeds and thinned to the 2 strongest plants. Plants can also be started indoors 3-4 weeks before last frost in deep pots that can be set into the soil without disturbing the roots of the seedlings.
Harvest Time: Allow plants to reach full maturity before picking. Skin should be firm. Cut away from plant leaving a two inch stem attached to the fruit.
Fun Facts:

  • The Rouge Vif D’Etampe (“vivid red”) pumpkin is rumored to be the original inspiration for the carriage in the classic Disney film Cinderella. It has been said that animators used the variety in the studio as a muse and sketched multiple variations of the pumpkin before the final version of the carriage was created. After the release of the film, the Rouge Vif D’Etampe pumpkin earned a new name, the Cinderella pumpkin, and this is the name most commonly used in the United States today.
  • In 1883, W. Atlee Burpee purchased the seeds and introduced the variety to the United States.
  • The sweet, moist flesh of Cinderella pumpkins make them an excellent choice for sweet preparations such as, pies, breads, muffins and cakes.
  • They are also excellent in soups, stews and casseroles.
  • Fruits will keep 3-5 months when stored in a cool, dark place.

Photo of a single Cinderella pumpkin.

Photo courtesy of pixabay MabelAmber

Recipes:Cinderella Pumpkin
Cinderella Pumpkin Bowl with Vegetables & Sausage
Cinderella Pumpkin Soup

See below for past Plant of the Month articles.