In addition to friends in low places, I am also fortunate to have friends in all the right places when it comes to growing food. I recently spent an afternoon at the Courthouse Garden here in Eugene, which is a re-entry program for ex-cons and also a class on urban farming through the University of Oregon. They were blessed with a huge donation of tomato and pepper plants, with extras to share.

Their garden is gorgeous and the visit was worth it just for that. They have such tidy rows and these fancy veggie signs. So cool! Of course, never being one to turn down a free veggie plant, I happily took advantage of their offer for veggie starts and brought some home to our garden. Do I need more peppers and tomatoes? Well, define “need”. I certainly need them more than the compost pile there needed them.

The tomatoes were in really great shape. They have been carefully managed, so they were not root bound and were nice and tall. I snipped off the flowers when I planted them though so they could focus on getting established quickly. A couple weeks later, the flowers are back and I’m hoping for a decent crop. The varieties are Brandywine (classic heirloom), Japanese Black (should be interesting), Cherokee Purple (another classic) and a striped something or other.

The pepper plants were smaller, still not root bound, and some already had fruit. I snipped off the flowers when I planted them, but just couldn’t bring myself to snip off the fruit. I’m letting it ripen and am pretty excited about the new additions. Most are Italian sweet peppers – long and brightly colored. I snagged a couple hot ones and also this interesting Russian variety that supposedly does well in the cool Pacific Northwest. We’ll see soon enough.

I’m really hoping for a nice, long, warm September and October to get these babies ripe!

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