Jan 23, 2008

Talking Tomatoes.....Three

Now it is time to take a look at my three third choice tomatoes in the 'Growing 'em Huge' category.I am sorry I couldn't narrow it down to one, but so many of them sound so tempting that it is getting tough to say No to them.
Again I will state that there are some Hybrids like the 'Big Zac' already mentioned and others that may grow bigger tomatoes, but I am trying to stay with Heirlooms/Ops for the time being, as I have become somewhat obsessed with seed saving.

Side note: although the last post said that my third choice , choices, would include a variety named 'Chapman', I cant find my notes on that variety, so I am substituting in 'Olena Ukrainian'.Sorry.

Okay out of the three of my third choices, one is named 'Big Rainbow'. This is a Bi-colored red and yellow fellow. The scoop on this tomato, from the person who sent me the seeds is,that it is big and juicy plus pretty tasty too. Size wise, it is not exceptionally HUGE, but the reported size from this person was around 22 ounces. Now that is from someone who did nothing special to the plant, and I have read in most seed publications that this tomato can commonly grow to the 2 pound range.So I do believe that with the proper care they could grow even bigger. All that being said, this one won me over as much for juiciness and taste as it did for size, well the gorgeous color combo didn't hurt either. It may not be the one for the Tomato Patch this season, but it will debut there soon enough!

The next tomato is 'Cuostralee'. I have heard a bunch of folks say a ton of great things about this guy, so of course with a little more research it goes not only on to my list of wanted seed, but here as well.This is what I know about 'Cuostralee' it is a red French Heirloom . It is balanced in flavor, which says that it is not too sweet or too tart....Mmmm I can just taste it now....and produces pretty heavily fore a large variety. This one produces fruit in the 1-2 pound range, but has the potential to give the occasional larger fruit.Again it wins me over for the size only because that is backed up by flavor.

Finally , my third tomato in the third choice slot is a tomato named 'Olena Ukrainian'. These are a pink beefsteak variety that grow in the 1-2 pound range. It is a Potato Leaf variety grown originally in Odessa Ukraine, and the BIG tomatovariety that I have chosen to grow this season. I don't want to go too much into the flavor potential of these fruit as I am going to have a better idea of that once I actually get to taste them, but from all that I have read, they are not too sweet and very rich in tomato flavor.As far as these tomatoes are concerned, I figure, 1-2 pounds is already large as far as I am concerned, and again they hold the potential for growing larger. I am excited about these because I tend to like tomatoes that hail from the Eastern European area.I will let you know much more about these in my end of season 'Tomatoes on Parade' post. So make sure to check back for that at the end of the Summer.

Next time, choice number TWO 'Neves Azorean Red'

Jan 20, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Christmas is Over.......and just to prove it....

Here is a huge pile of discarded Christmas trees waiting to be put thru the chipper. It is fantastic knowing that the town will recycle and reuse the trees. It will be exciting seeing them this Spring when they get a second life in their new form ..... wood chips.

Jan 17, 2008

Talking Tomatoes Two

Finally the majority of the seed catalogs have arrived.

Ahhh.... so much seedy goodness I can hardly stand it. Here are a few of the favorites that I have received so far. Unfortunately I don't have enough room in my seed/storage/craft room to keep all of the catalogs I receive, so some naturally have to go into the recycling bin after they are well read, while some lucky ones get put aside and recycled for their pictures , those sadly are already gone and didn't make their photo debut here.

Now that I have stopped drooling over the pictures, and throwing myself a pity party over my lack of acreage, I am ready to start discussing those few Open Pollinated/Heirloom tomatoes with the genetic capability of producing HUGE fruits. Well, if not considered HUGE then think really big,I am talking 2-3 pounds a fruit,and in my garden 2-3 pounders are considered colossal. technically I could probably get larger fruits if I went with a hybrid such as 'Porterhouse' or 'Big Zac' but to me there is something special about being able to save your own seeds from year to year , and ending up with a tomato that is absolutely perfect for that little micro -climate called your yard. Plus I just dig the taste of most heirloom varieties.

Okay, enough of my preaching, and on to the first contender.

The first one I want to touch on, is one I am not really considering for my garden, but is one that I feel is important for anyone who is interested in growing tomatoes for size. This is the OP/Heirloom variety 'Delicious' .This is a large red slicing type with most fruits being a pound+. It will occasionally have fruit as large as 2-3 pounds. The most important thing though, is that this variety holds the worlds record for the largest tomato , coming in at 7 pounds. There are methods that you have to use to get fruit of that incredible size, and I know there are books out there that will tell you what they are, but since I haven't read any I cant really, in good conscience, recommend which book is best. I want a tomato to grow big on its own, without pruning and bud picking and only keeping one or two fruit per plant, so I probably will not read any of these books....well maybe for the fun of it I might read one, but I don't see that in the near future. However, if I do, I will be certain to let you know all about it!

Next time my third place picks(it's a 3 way tie) 'Cuostralee ' and 'Chapman'and 'Big Rainbow' .

Jan 14, 2008


For the passed 3 days, every local and national weather man/woman has been pumping up the people in Connecticut and the New England area for this huge Nor'easter that was to hit Last night(Sunday),into this morning(Monday). Heck my little 'Weather Channel' icon had been flashing like a nut since Friday. Then, depending on what station you landed on, the predictions were, as of Sunday evening, as low as 2-5 along the Connecticut coast, to as high as 10-14 or more, for much of the state including most of the coast.

The storm started as rain and quickly changed to snow as earlier predicted. I went to bed figuring I was getting up to school cancellations and a bunch of shoveling.

Bwaaaaaaahahahahahaha....I woke up at 4 am to find that we had been completely dumped on by at least 3/4 of an inch. So of course I turn on the local Weather/Travel Channel to see if something had delayed this Classic and powerful Nor'easter. The weatherman had about 10 words to say they were something like:the storm is winding down and it should be out of here in the next hour...goodbye.
The fastest weather I have ever heard.

So I went back to bed and then again got up with my alarm. Still no snow. I go back to watching the news to see what the weather guys had to say. I could not believe that they were still saying

4-8 and 6-10 inches for my area. Okay, in the defense of one of the guys, he is about 50 miles away, and in his neck of the woods there was a whopping 3-4 inches of the predicted 10-14 on the ground with snow still falling at a good pace, and of course anything could happen in that 2 hour or so range he was saying the storm would last. So I excuse him from the fray. Now the other guy, well that station is 2 towns away, and by that I mean less than 15 miles, so all he needed to do was stick his head out the window to see that the flurries that were falling on our massive 3/4 of an inch were in no way going to add up to that 4-8 inches. But the dual doppler radar, or the computer generated model, or what ever other equipment told him 4-8 inches and by golly thats the news.

Now before anyone jumps on me, I know that in some parts of New England they probably got hammered . I am also sure that some parts of the North Eastern corner of Connecticut got close to what was predicted. And yes, I know that it is in fact just a 'prediction' and not anything written in stone, and yes the job of predicting is a highly skilled one. But come on guys, when there is less than an inch on the ground, stop with the doom and gloom ,it just aint happening.

Well at any rate, I guess I am done complaining for the day. I do really respect the art of Meteorology, adn the fine men and women who entertain me with the weather on a daily basis, but today the errors just got me going.

So I leave you with a little educated weather prediction myself.
Tomorrow, light...followed by a period of dark. Also included throughout will be the chance or not, of scattered precipitation.

Ahhhh, I missed my calling.......

Oh, by the way, the weather guy just said we have the chance for another storm just like this one at the weeks end. Go Figure.

Jan 13, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

First of the five Amaryllis to start showing life this season.

I know I started them off late this year, but I honestly thought that they would have been showing some real effort by now. Well I guess a little life is better than none at all....I need to remember to be patient.

More Amaryllis news coming soon!

Jan 7, 2008

Talking Tomatoes

Talking Tomatoes
I recently mentioned that there was a tomato or two that I have been hearing such good things about. Well truth be told , me being so new to starting my own seeds instead of buying plants from Garden Shops is opening a whole world of varieties for me. So although I have gotten my feet wet with a few Open Pollinated/Heirloom types that I absolutely adored,we are going to discover many wonderful varieties here together!
I admit I am new to OP/Heirlooms, but I am not totally new to vegetable gardening. I helped my parents in their garden as a child and as a teenager I worked at a large greenhouse and learned a great deal about vegetables as well as Annual and Perennial flowers and herbs.I have been growing in my own garden for over 16 seasons now. At first I limited myself to a few tried and true varieties of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Then a few years back I received an e-mail from one of the seed companies and it was offering for the first time a cherry tomato called "Black Cherry" ...I had to have those seeds. Never before had I seen tomatoes in shades other than red and gold, and I was so excited about a dark , dusky , almost black tomato in my garden. It was a bit confusing when it came down to deciding if they were ripe or not. The ripe ones were not nearly as black as the ones in the picture I had received, but once the ripeness issue was cleared up, it was pretty amazing. These little cherries had such a wonderful smoky , salty , tomato-y taste to them, that hooked me. It became clear that growing tomatoes would never be the same for me again.
Fast forward a few years to the 2007 growing season, and here you find the start of our journey of hopefully many tomato seasons of new tastes and wonderful discoveries. The 2008 season is slowly making its way towards us, and has so much promise. The seed catalogues are finding their way to my mailbox, and ,my list of wants is growing by the day. I already have a seed box stuffed to the gills with seeds, but could a few more varieties hurt??

One of the varieties I am looking at is called 'Opalka' it is a paste variety that I have heard some folks say is better that the 'San Marzanos' that I had to have, and which are considered the ultimate paste/sauce tomato by some. Now after hearing how good these guys are right out of the garden, and how they make a sauce that is so totally mouth watering, I am going to be reserving a bit of my seed money to buy a few seeds. I wont be planting them in the 2008 garden , as the spot for my paste varieties has been promised to 'Principe Borghese' and 'San Marzano' but they will definitely get a place in the 2009 garden.

Another variety I have been hearing about is 'Big Zac'. Now this is a hybrid type, and I am trying to stay away from hybrids, not because I don't like them, only because I am trying to save my own seeds. This one however sounds like fun, it is supposed to have the potential for bearing huge tomatoes...and when I say huge, I mean 4 to 5 pounders. There is a method for getting those humongous fruits that I probably wouldn't apply, but some folks have said they are getting 2-3 pounders off of this guy without even trying. Hey, I would be happy with a 1 and a 1/2 pounder myself.There are a few alternative heirlooms with the potential to bear 2-3 pounders out there, but I will hold off on talking about them until after I get a few more catalogues in and do a bit of web searching on them, One of them might be the one for me instead of 'Big Zac'....who knows, there is still 6 weeks until I start my seeds.

Next Time...a few of those Huge fruit bearing Heirlooms

Jan 4, 2008

A Peak at Peppers

I really like growing my own peppers. Yet for some reason I don't really ever talk about them the way I talk about tomatoes. I wonder why that is.

I think today I am going to change that.

Just like my new found experience with growing tomatoes from seed, 2007 brought me that same experience with peppers. It had the same amount of ups and downs, but in the end I had a great experience and find that it was well worth it.

I first received Chili pepper seeds from a lady in Spain whom I had become friendly with online. They came to me amusingly enough as whole peppers, as she wanted me to have the seeds but didn't have the time to dry them for me.That was actually a good thing, as I was able to sample each of the 3 varieties in advance. The peppers sent were called 'Lemon Drop' a variety that I believe is pretty easy to find and way HOT. It only had maybe 5 seeds in it, and out of those 5 I managed to germinate 3 and lost all 3 in a horrible hardening off accident. So other than my taste test of the original pod, I don't have much to go on, except that I really wanted to grow it. The next was called 'Boule de Turquie' a nice small, round ,thick fleshed , medium hot type. It didn't do much in the way of production for me, but that may have been because of where it was planted. The third is an mystery type that she received from her neighbour, it was quite tasty,a heavy producer and made some nice hot sauce.

Next came a care package with the seeds of 2 sweet pepper varieties, Reus Long Parial and Greuso De Plaza 2 types that are both supposed to be sweet red peppers.At least from what I can find about them this is what I gathered.They were good, medium producers,for me, but they did spectacularly for my Mom in her garden. Neither of us had a long enough season to let them get red. Well maybe I could have, but I can never control myself when it comes to picking peppers.

I will grow all 4 of these peppers again in my 2008 garden, along with some Hungarian 'Paprika' peppers. I would like to do a few 'Tabasco' peppers as well, but that is still up in the air for the coming season, they may have to wait until 2009.

Plus, for anybody who is 'in the know' pepper-wise, I am still looking for the right pepper for CHILIES RELLENOS so let me know what you use, or have heard may be a good variety to use.

Jan 3, 2008

A New Year of Gardening and Goodies

Happy New Year

I feel really badly that I have been so absent from this place lately. I guess the Holidays just caught up to ...and bypassed me last month. I hate to say it though, I don't think I will be much more of a presence here in January either, as I got a late start on my Amaryllis and my houseplants just seem blah to me right this very moment. I promise you, as soon as my Amaryllis show some signs of life, I am sure to be here every minute of the day with blow by blow action shots of them doing their Winter thing.

Right now we are in the midst of an Arctic blast, the temperature finally climbed to a balmy and highly tropical 14°F with a wind chill of -1°F,however by next week we will be back up to the upper 40° and lower 50°s (but that too wont last long). That's New England for you. At any rate, this seems to be the coldest day so far this Winter. So of course that would be the day I pick to start getting my seed starting corner of my home universe in order. For the last 3 months it has been Holiday central in that room, but now with all the big cardboard and Rubbermaid boxes tucked back into there respective corners I have been able to get out all of the recycled plastic containers that I have saved up to use as little seed starting green houses. I can already envision them full of tiny, lush, green, tomato, pepper and eggplant sprouts. Oh and that earthy smell that comes with all of that baby plant goodness....I can hardly wait. I am specially excited about the new seed catalogues that should start showing up shortly in the mail. I already received a few, but the ones I am really waiting for will be sent out this week. Oh boy, like I need anymore tomato or pepper seeds. Well sure I do, what would life be like without a roomful of seed packs?!?

As soon as the seed catalogues show up I will let you know what sounds fabulous this season. I promised myself to stay away from hybrid tomatoes(not that there is anything wrong with them) but I am interested in a type of huge red one that I keep hearing about..... I will talk more about when it gets closer to seed time.
For now I've got to run, but I promise to be back as soon as I can with seeds and Amaryllis and all of the green-ness that a person can handle!!