Jimmy and Angie’s Garden of Eatin’!

As many of our Urban Garden column fans know, we have utilized everything from the expertise of professional agronomists to that of our online partners at GardenHelpers.com when coming up with topics each month. This month we are going to start following the progress of a true “Urban” garden right here in the Del Ray area of Alexandria.

Welcome to Jimmy and Angie’s “Garden of Eatin’!” Jimmy Deaton, a self-proclaimed “Mother Nature’s Apprentice” and his partner in crime, Angie Napolitano, are embarking on year 4 of creating the ultimate “urban” garden. They have graciously volunteered to let us follow the progression of garden season 2015.

During our interview, Angie told me that Jimmy is a “pepper head” and she tends to be the “tomato guru”. In fact, he is producing his own type of pepper – the Del Ray Rojo. He tells its tale below. We are looking forward to trying them. Angie also told me that she is excited for us to taste her favorite tomato – Mr. Stripey. I am definitely looking forward to harvest season.

In addition to the peppers and tomatoes, they grow a plethora of vegetables, fruits, melons and edible flowers. They are on a mission to helping bring back the bee population in our fair city. The bee situation has been such that Jimmy has pollenated his plants by hand on several occasions to ensure that they grow to their full potential. This is fantastic that he has the wherewithal to do that but sad that there aren’t enough bees to do the job.

We hope you enjoy this new Urban Garden adventure and keep following along through the season. If you have questions for Jimmy, please send them to us at office@oldtowncrier.com and we will get the message to him. In the meantime, we will print some of his words of wisdom in “Jimmy Says”.

Jimmy Says:
These are from when we start the garden seedlings inside under a 400 watt HPS grow light with a 20/4 light cycle. We use coco coir mixed with worm castings at a 80/20% ratio. We also use Espoma Bio-Tone starter fertilizer and supplement feed with Neptune Harvest Fish and Seaweed liquid.  We always start the peppers around Valentines day and the tomatoes about 2 weeks later.

Here’s a tomato at 19 days from germination showing the benefits of using coco coir and a 20/4 light cycle under grow lights. To be honest you’ll never find such robust and vibrant roots with chemical fertilizers. We are strictly organic and use no chemicals. We let Mother Nature do her thing. After all she’s been around since the beginning of time and knows more than we do.

We harden off our crops over the course of 7-10 days to get ready to go into the ground.

We usually go into the ground between April 1-15th. If we get temps below 40 degrees at night we’ll cover the plants individually with a piece of frost cloth and a container as well at night and uncover them during the day.

Del Ray Rojos in beginning

Del Ray Rojos in beginning

Here we have some Del Ray Rojo’s, my own creation named after the Del Ray neighborhood. It is a sweet pepper with a slight hint of heat comparable to an Anaheim. It is a cross between a Sweet Carmen and an Italian cowhorn pepper of unknown origin. This is the 7th grow which makes it officially a stable cross. We are currently working on a cross between the Del Ray Rojo and a Thai chili and currently in the 2nd grow cycle this year. Most plants take 7 grow cycles and/or seasons to be considered a stable cross when breeding. The second pic shows the size of the Del Ray Rojo. This plant is a monster averaging over 5 feet tall and a width of 36 inches. It is very proficient in the number of peppers it produces per plant.

Written by: Lani Gering

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