Tag Archives: vegetables


By my way of looking at it, this is a pretty good growing year. After a long cold spring, most of the summer has brought great weather. Not too hot or humid, just warm, sunny, and pleasant, with cool nights —  a reminder of why in the days before air-conditioning, people would come north to New England for the summer. The soil is dry now, and a rainy day or two would be good, but still, I’ll take it! So many things have grown so well this season (and it’s not QUITE over!) that I wanted to share a few.

marigoldsOrange flowers and vegetables are everywhere this year!

AAS zinniaNumex peppersungoldMostly I like them, some, well, with so many great petunias to choose from, why would you plant this one:ugly petuniasBut on to other abundant things!

More raspberries (almost) than I could put up, in my home garden.

raspberriesA second cutting of hay in South County:

cutting hayHornet’s nests, big and beautiful in their own way:

hornets, larchhornet, rhodiesFlowers and fruit of all kinds.

bee balmblueberries

Did something grow really well for you this year? I’d love to hear about it!


Catching Up

plants in greenhouseWe started early Friday morning, loading plants into the stake body truck borrowed from Agronomy (as well as two pickups). Off to East Farm! (it’s only a mile.)

plants in greenhouseLauren on truckIt rained a little (of course). Two large loads in the stake body and two loads in each pick up, then we set it all up and went home. Saturday started bright and early again, with a hundred or more people lined up before the gate opened at 9 am! We talked plants nonstop all day and sold most of them. Brought the leftovers back in one pickup and now we are catching up in the Botanical Garden for Commencement this weekend!

virginia bluebellsazalea

Count Down: Plant Sale 2014

plant sale

The countdown is on to Saturday, May 10th!

Come see us at the East Farm Spring Festival! The URI Botanical Gardens will be selling Annuals, Garden-dug Perennials, and vegetable seedlings. All-America selections, heirloom varieties, and more. All proceeds benefit the Botanical Gardens!

Free parking, gardening demonstrations, vendors, food, children’s activities.

Saturday May 10th, 9 am to 2 pm

East Farm Spring Festival

plant sale

Catalog Season

Earlier this week Andy handed me a new seed catalog. I hadn’t gotten any in the mail yet and so I hadn’t started that delicious daydreaming about springtime, gardening, warm weather, and especially, seeds. So let the daydreaming begin, that’s what January is for if you’re a gardener. I adore seed catalogs; there is something so old fashioned about them. Pictures of impossibly beautiful vegetables and flowers, with over-the top-descriptions of how tasty, productive and gorgeous they are! The earliest, sweetest peas,  the best tomatoes you ever had,  giant pumpkins. The biggest zinnias, the tallest sunflowers, and the most fragrant sweet basil! Not to mention that seeds are one of the best investments you can make. I’m a sucker for all of it, and being a little old-fashioned myself, I like the actual paper catalog in my hand, by the woodstove, with a cup of coffee.

seedcatalog_300Last fall I emptied my two giant cookie tins full of seeds and sorted them with a critical eye. I composted any which were more than three years old, and I was surprised at how many that was.  Time to buy some new seeds. I’m looking at old favorites like Benary Giant Zinnias and Northeaster Pole Beans. I’ve only gone through the Johnny’s and High Mowing catalogs…impatiently awaiting Fedco (top favorite), and Territorial (they are selling wasabi plants!) and Cook’s Garden, and Nichols….  I found many enticing new-to-me varieties: Esterina cherry tomato, (“sweeter than Sungold and resists cracking”!) Listada di Gandia Eggplant, Calypso Pickling Cucumber. Veronica Romanesco Cauliflower: stunning! Or how about Painted Lady Sweet Peas ( “This variety dates to 1737 and was planted by Jefferson at Monticello in the early 1800s.”). I have never had much luck with Sweet Peas –it gets too hot early on here –but I ‘m convinced I should try again…

As I said in this post, every year I plant seeds and every year I am thrilled and amazed when  the seedlings push up through the soil. What are you daydreaming about this January?


The Cukes

I went out in the garden Saturday and became intrigued with  everything  the cucumber tendrils wrapping themselves around the wire fence. The cucumber plants were slow to take off this year, but now they seem to be growing about a foot a day.

cucumber plant

cucumber tendrils

cucumber tendril

cucumber tendrils

cucumber tendril

The tendrils obviously curl, but when I looked closely they seemed to be curling in two different directions. To make a long story short, here is a link to a great little video about the movement of plants in general and the “curliness ” of the cucumber tendrils in particular:

Unwinding The Cucumber Tendril Mystery

Go ahead and call me a plant geek, but I love this stuff.

Very Big Vegetables

giant pumpkin

(An October post, belated)

Just how giant IS a giant pumpkin? Read on…

When talking giant pumpkins, I have to mention that we are really proud of our very own Justin Ouellmette. Justin is a senior in Environmental Horticulture and Turfgrass Management here at URI. This past summer he decided to grow a giant pumpkin at his home garden in Tiverton. We got pumpkin updates over vacation and when school resumed in the fall too. The giant pumpkin was entered  in the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Contest held Columbus Day weekend at Frerichs Farm in Warren, RI. Justin’s pumpkin weighed in (as a first- time grower) at a VERY respectable 817 pounds! Justin was kind enough to send me these pictures after I pestered him endlessly. Congratulations on your first giant pumpkin!

giant pumpkin

By the way, TWO world champion weight giant pumpkins have been grown right here  in the littlest state.

In 2007, the world champion giant pumpkin was grown by Joe Jutras, of North Scituate, RI and weighed 1689 pounds. Weigh-in was at the Topsfield Fair on September 29th, 2007.

champion pumpkin

2007 world record, 1689 pounds, grown by Joe Jutras

The world record pumpkin for 2012 was grown in Greene, Rhode Island by Ron and Dick Wallace and weighed 2009 lbs. The weigh-in was at the Topsfield Fair, on September 28, 2012. The first one-ton vegetable!

world champion pumpkin

2012 World record, 2009 pounds, grown by Ron Wallace

pumpkin weigh-in

The giants just keep getting bigger and bigger! If you are interested in growing giant vegetables, there is plenty of enthusiasm at Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers as well as Big Pumpkins and Topsfield Fair.

Have you ever grown a giant vegetable?? Let us know!

The Colors of Autumn

Under sunny skies or gray, colors of the garden seem at their fullest right now.

bi color dahliaMany thanks to Donna Lane and the Rhode Island Dahlia Society for their generous contribution of Dahlia tubers to the Botanical Gardens! After losing many tubers to decay in storage last year, I contacted them and they were kind enough to offer us a great selection. No, I still don’t know the variety names, but any reader who does is invited to let me know!

large red dahlia

tropical garden

red seed pod closeup

The tropical garden at the back of the All- America Selections Display Garden between the greenhouses became as colorful and lush as I had dreamed of. The large green leaves right in the middle are a cold-hardy banana plant, which will stay outside all winter (with some protective mulch and wrapping), and hopefully delight us in the spring by being alive and well.

goldenrod and physostegia

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and Physostegia are a great combination for fall. Goldenrod is underused as a perennial garden plant. I think it is unfairly associated with hay fever. The real villain is usually ragweed, which doesn’t have conspicuous flowers and thus evades suspicion!

cajun belle peppers

‘Cajun Belle’ and ‘Cayenetta’ are two peppers growing in the AAS Garden. Medium hot and very productive, they add to the Colors of Autumn at the Botanical Gardens.

Still July

turk's cap lily

Still July. Color and heat are the themes in the Garden. Lilies, inherited from the Biological Control Lab Lily Leaf Beetle program here at URI ( http://cels.uri.edu/pls/biocontrol/ ),  hold up really well in the heat.

large white lilypink lilies

Watering is crucial in some spots, but most of the Garden survives, even thrives, without extra watering. The dahlias donated by the Rhode Island Dahlia Society are taking off. They may be small this year but next year they will be incredible, I promise!

hole in sunny borderA large hole in the sunny border (“Let’s call it an alteration rather than destruction”–thanks, Louis) is the result of a frantic search for a dropped engagement ring. All’s well that ends well, I guess! In the Conservatory, the temps are warm and tropical, amazing flowers are blooming and papayas are slowly ripening.

Aechmea 'Silver Vase'Lotus seed pod


The pumpkin vines in the All – America Selections Garden are growing about a foot a day. Even the melons, which were dreadful last year, are looking good. A woodchuck has tunneled into the lower AAS Garden and eaten the ornamental kale. I am plotting my revenge.

yellow melonwatermelon on vineBlack-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.) are everywhere, blooming almost a full month earlier than last year.

rudbeckia/black eyed susanblackeyed susans/rudbeckia

Plant Sale 2012

hanging basket with petunias

The official event announcement says the URI Botanical Gardens will be selling plants at the Greenhouse on Friday May 4th, Saturday May 5th and Friday May 11th. What it doesn’t say is how many beautiful plants of all kinds will be available!

Incredible hanging baskets grown by the Greenhouse Management class, and donated to the sale. Ten, no TWELVE kinds of tomatos, not to mention basil, eggplants, leeks, parsley, cucumbers, melons and more. A limited number of seedlings from the All-America Selections, including great zinnias, a new apricot-colored Gaillardia and ornamental peppers. Perennials for shade,  from the Botanical Gardens, including Solomon’s Seal, Epimedium, and the rare native Jeffersonia (Twinleaf). More perennials: Bee Balm, Eupatorium (Joe-Pye Weed), Wood’s Aster, Sedums, beautiful Agastache (Anise Hyssop)….I could go on and on but you will have to come see for yourself!

tomato plants in greenhouseOn Saturday May 12th, we will move the sale to the URI East Farm Spring Festival. This is a big and exciting day with literally thousands of people coming to East Farm for plants, garden items like compost bins, workshops, raffles, food, and lots of fun.

Friday May 4th, Saturday May 5th, and Friday May 11th: 8 am-2 pm at the Greenhouse:      6 Greenhouse Road, Kingston, RI 02881. Directions are on our website, cels.uri.edu/uribg                                                                                                        Saturday May 12th: 10 am-2 pm at East Farm, Route 108, Kingston.  cels.uri.edu/outreach


plants in greenhouse

Getting Fresh

cherry tomatos

Food from the Garden: If you know me, you know that’s near and dear to my heart! We picked another round of the peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes from the All- America Display Garden and brought it to the Food Pantry in Peace Dale. Earlier in the season everybody (that’s me and The Boys ) had a sampling of this bounty. The eggplants are amazing; there are so many, and each one is tender and delicious! Of course the cherry tomatoes are a hit, also  prolific, and there are 4 kinds of peppers from mild and sweet to quite hot. The Food Pantry is happy to have fresh food, and it has been a highlight of the work week to deliver the harvest.

pumpkins on vine

This year it looks like there will be at least 4 large pumpkins from the one monster vine growing near the CE Center: through the garden, over the fence, and across the grass.  In contrast, the Christmas melon  looks as lame as it did last year (what’s up?) but there are  beautiful watermelons AND acorn squash getting bigger by the day in the upper Display Garden.  Dodge the trucks and crates of glass to see them in between the greenhouses, and enjoy the pink petunias (‘Opera Supreme Pink Morn’) keeping it cheerful over there.

AAS pink petunias

Other Garden goings-on:  I finally saw honeybees in the garden (where have they been all summer??), along with a praying mantis. Mike said he’d eat a worm — does that count as Food from the Garden? A Tuesday Tour tonight at 5 PM, should be a lovely cool evening. Finally, here’s a picture from Olallie Daylily Gardens, in South Newfane, Vermont.  Olallie daylily gardens