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Crop Focus: Ramallet TomatoesWe were so happy to have had 'Bombeta' and 'Vesuviano' shared with us by a fellow gardener, gardening and seed saving in Greece. They are uncommon "winter tomato" varieties catagorized as a ramallet.  Ramallet tomatoes come from the Island of Mallorca in Spain, where clusters of green and red fruit are strung up at the end of the season and stored at room temperature for fresh eating.  Fruits ripen progressively, and are great for fresh eating or saucing.  If you're into self-sufficiency and eating well in all four seasons, this is the tomato for you.  A great choice for short season climates with long...

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Nutritious and easy to grow, tepary beans are one of few vegetables native to North America!  Heat and drought tolerant, tepary beans love to grow in alkaline desert soils like those found in the SW United States and in NW Mexico, where they have been important to the diets of native peoples for generations.  They don't love waterlogged clay soils, but other than that they could thrive in most gardens- especially organic ones as their fertility needs are low.  Quite productive for the amount of space they take up, we think tepary beans are an incredibly rewarding crop to grow and are excited to be...

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Mice and voles eat seeds and newly germinated seedlings.  The especially love those meaty seeds like peas, beans, corn, and squash.  If you've planted seeds that just aren't coming up in the timeframe you expect, dig around where you planted them to see if they're even still there.  If they're not there, or if new seedlings have been nipped off as if cut by scissors, the culprit could be mice or voles. Rodents are so tricky!  Farms across the country have been reporting larger mice and vole populations than usual.  We've had a lot more vole damage at our farm too,...

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Making Mason Bee BoxesSolitary native bees like mason bees and leafcutter bees are crucial, but often overlooked, pollinators. As opposed to the European Honeybee (also an important pollinator) native solitary bees do not live in colonies.  Instead, individual females find-tunnel like structures to lay their eggs in.  These might be hollowed woody stems, woodpecker holes in trees, or human-made nesting structures like the photo above.  Inside each tunnel the bee creates partitioned chambers out of leaves and petals (leafcutter bees) or out of mud (mason bees.)  In each chamber she lays one egg and deposits a pollen patty she has collected...

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Its the time of year that queen bumblebees are emerging from their over-wintering hiding places to find a spot to hatch the season's colony in.  Bumblebees are magical and important garden visitors.  We want to encourage them as much as we can to show up in our garden.  Providing nesting sites is one excellent way to do this.  For nesting sites they look for warm, dry, shoebox-sized cavities in the ground.  Old rodent nests or tunnels, tree hollows near the ground, or areas of grass that have grown dense and fallen over all make excellent natural sites for the bumblebee's nest.  If you...

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