Category:CA CA N

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Home Page of Nick Campbell

San Jose, California, Zone 9b

Hello Tomato Lovers,

I am a teenage gardener in San Jose, California, in Zone 9b. My main interests are the outdoors, horseback riding and vegetable gardening. I have about 140 square feet of gardening space which I utilize in my year round garden. Although born in America, my mother is from Montenegro, a country from the Former Yugoslavia. I feel very close to that part of me and it has influenced my gardening practices.
I was taught to love plants and respect them and the soil they grow in as soon as I could walk by my baba, or “grandma” in Serbian. She lived in Montenegro all her life until immigrating here before the Balkan War. She was a farm girl from the beautiful mountains around the town of Zabljak in Montenegro, and helped her family run the farm. Because they grew all of their food, a large part of her chores included taking care of the family garden. There she learned how to grow food in a way that made the garden produce more and replenish the soil at the end. She never called it organic gardening, in fact, she was surprised that people fertilize their soil here with chemicals instead of wood ashes, manure and compost.
She taught me everything I know about gardening today. I only use organic methods in my garden and have found that the results are amazing. To coordinate with the traditional produce we have in Montenegro, I grow typical things like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans (especially Romano-type wax beans) and zucchini. I am also trying to grow cantaloupe this year, because one cannot compare a homegrown melon to that of the cardboard they sell at the store. In the winter, I grow peas, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onions and potatoes. I have also incorporated many herbs and edible flowers into the garden as companion plants, keeping my garden free of harmful insects and full of beneficial ones.
To fertilize the soil, I only use organic materials. I dig in at least four inches of compost in the soil each spring, along with a generous amount of wood ash. My soil’s Ph usually stays in the range of 6.0 to 7.0, but if it needs acidity, I dig in peat moss. If it needs “sweetening” I put more wood ash. I have a ready supply of horse manure at the barns I go to, so I add some of that in the spring. I also use compost tea, alfalfa tea and kelp liquid fertilizer to keep my plants growing the best they can.
I started growing my tomatoes from seedlings from nurseries and growers specializing in heirlooms. Now I grow my own seedlings and usually grow extra to give away to friends and family. Along with this, I maintain three family heirlooms my baba brought over from Montenegro. One is a Romano-type bean, one is a garden pea and one is a cherry tomato. The Romano bean is excellent, it makes pods that are usually six inches long. They are good for any purpose and stay tender for a long time. Our family just calls them “Babine Boranije” or “Baba’s Beans”. It has been in her family as long as she can remember. The pea is a variety we call “Lakton”. I believe that her family acquired the variety “Laxton” somehow, and grew it ever since, renaming it something that corresponded with the Serbian alphabet (we don’t have an “x” in the alphabet). I believe this because I have grown both next to each other and they are very similar. However, “Lakton” was more susceptible to powdery mildew and grew a lot taller. It is great for shelling or drying for soup. The cherry tomato is called “Secer” which means “sugar’ in Serbian. It is great. It makes clusters of eight or nine tomatoes and is very prolific. It isn’t as sweet as sugar, but pretty close. I am growing all of these this year except the tomato, because the plants were broken when accidentally dropped.
I am very grateful to be on the site and helping to document different varieties and how they do in my climate specifically. A great, big THANK YOU goes out to Tatiana, who created this wonderful forum.

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