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RUSSIAN ROSE TOMATO

russian rose tomato

Russian Rose tomato

Got seeds from: @betweenthelimes
Planting info: I started this from seed and it is now planted in the raised bed reserved for tomatoes. It gets the best possible conditions in my yard: raised bed with the most sun, and the one that is first in the soaker hose line so it gets the most water.
Beauty points: I wish I had taken a pre-slice picture of the first one I picked. It was gorgeous and huge! Size varies from huge to medium, but I don’t think there’s been a blemish on any of them. You can pick them when there’s still some green striping in the shoulder so they don’t go bad on the vine.
Taste: Mild and sweet, not tangy. Better with salt. But the consistency…the first bite I took I thought it was disgusting because it was all meat! Hardly any juice or gel at all. So at first I thought it was gross, but then the second bite I took, I liked it. Because I really like the part right by the skin most on all tomatoes, anyway.
Other considerations: The meatiness of this tomato means it holds up to slicing very well. So to me, this would make a great sandwich tomato, or could be used for tomato salads etc where you want the tomato to be able to kind of stand up to some punishment and still be a little cube or slice of tomato.
Will I grow it again? I think so. I’ll have to either save seeds or purchase some, but I really like the consistency of this one. It’s almost like a roma/paste tomato, but a slicer version. I like it!

Well, it’s June 27 as I’m writing this, and much has changed in the raised beds.

Bed 1 is basically unchanged. I’ve gotten 3 Early Girl tomatoes so far, with more on the way. Also a good handful of sungold tomatoes. Russian Rose and Better Boy are big and green, and I had to pull the only 3 Speckled Roman tomatoes so far because the had end blossom rot. I poured some spoiled milk on them, so hopefully that’ll add some calcium. The marconi peppers that are tucked in among the marigolds and zinnias are working on blooming and I’ve had many yummy mugs of hot tea using the pineapple and julep mint from the pots, and stevia from a pot on the next garden’s edge.
bed 1
sungold

Bed 2 got weird. It was supposed to be the pepper bed, but it’s not really any more. Once what I thought was peachy mama pepper seeds I had saved turned out to be pear tomato plants that I STILL SWEAR I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I GOT THE SEEDS FROM, I had to move some pepper plants because they were too crowded. So now that bed contains the mysterious pear tomatoes, some ground cherries (some of which are oddly slipping out of their dresses!) – I’ve eaten 3 or 4 so far and I like them!, carrots that got eaten by hornworms (most of which I just pulled), a few random tomatoes I got from a plant exchange, and a couple chili peppers. Tip: the ground cherries are ready when the husks turn brown and they either fall to the ground or pull off the plant without any pressure.
bed 2

ground cherry

immodest ground cherry


pear tomato

a wtf pear tomato

Bed 3 did have the peas, but I pulled those a few weeks ago. In their place, I planted some heirloom tomatoes my uncle gave me. This is now the real pepper bed, as this is where I moved the sweet red cherry, hot banana, habanero, jalapeno, and cayenne peppers I had to move from the other bed. At the far right are lots of different kinds of beans, most of which were shared from several other garden bloggers/tweeters. Next year I will plant more beans. This is enough to pick to add to a stir fry with other veggies, but not enough to really have beans as a full side dish (especially when you have a habit of eating them off the vine when you’re gardening!). Once the tomatoes really take off, I can’t wait to use those and these peppers to make my first fresh salsa of the season. One of my favorite things about summer!
bed 3

Bed 4 looks a little rough. I REALLY need to pull the black seeded simpson lettuce, but I’m procrastinating. I only got like 3 lettuce harvests this year, because we really didn’t have a spring. It went straight to 80°F it seems like, and the lettuce bolted and got bitter quickly. I pulled the mesclun long ago, but heard the simpson stayed good longer. Haven’t picked any since, though, since it’s been consistently in the 90s for a long time. In the place of the mesclun I planted some royal burgundy bush beans that needed a home and 2 green tomatillo plants that are still very small (but fruiting). There are 2 spacemaster cucumbers and one GIANT luffa. If I grow the luffa again next year (planning on drying them and using them as part of xmas gifts maybe), it’ll definitely be getting a bigger trellis. On the left behind the bush is a pot that has some non-hornworm-eaten carrots that I need to harvest.
bed 4

The old veggie garden is doing well, despite the fact that it gets watered rarely and we have had VERY little rain here (we haven’t had to cut the grass in like…3 weeks?) and it’s been hot as balls. The volunteer tomatoes are doing well but could use some better staking. I have one lone okra that is ready to pick, but what on earth do I do with one okra? I picked one zucchini already and have gotten lots of herbs. The dill and cilantro are flowering (oops) along with a volunteer cosmo, but they’re attracting lots of good little bugs. The mystery curcubit that I thought was a yellow squash is looking distinctly watermelon like. Which is both exciting and scary. Is it a green striped squash or watermelon??? I need answers!! Note that I had to grab a random trellis I wasn’t using to make a weird little ladder for the mystery plant so it didn’t squash out (HA!) my sage and other plants. Seems to be working OK so far.
old garden

watermelon or squash

watermelon or squash?


several gardens' harvest one day

Not too shabby for my first year of raised beds, I think!

I am currently blogging from my deck (and future-posting to Monday morning) – which would be a lot more peaceful if my neighbor wasn’t doing some sort of work on his car that requires a lot of engine revving. Ugh. Anyway – I skipped dance tonight because I just wasn’t feeling it and figured I’d make a nice dinner for the hubs. Which of course means that he is getting home late tonight. Dear readers, do not take your local deputies for granted! Anyway…so I will blog to you all while the carrots wait and the cornbread mix is stuck in the fridge.

The raised beds are all planted! There are a few pepper plants I’m waiting on that my mom kindly got me today to replace the ones lost in the Great Plant Fry of 2010. Luckily, yesterday my mom called and said that my Uncle Wally had dropped off some tomatoes, and she brought me a few plants. I bought my uncle (who is also my godfather) a couple packets of heirloom tomato seeds with his xmas present because he’s a farmer (literally – he made his living as a tobacco farmer for many, many years. Now he’s retired but he and a friend grow a bunch of stuff each year for themselves and the local produce auctions. His sweet potatoes are outstanding.) So he totally saved the day! One of the varieties is Black from Tula (they may all be that, or some may be cherry lemon – they’re unmarked) – one of the varieties I also bought for myself that I was very upset at losing (a couple very questionable ones survived.

tomatoes

It was windy. And yes, I use the stupid popcorns as container mulch sometimes.

So I will eventually either pot those up or plant them in place of some of the cooler season crops (peas, broccoli, radishes, etc). Annoyed that the pic is blurry. My camera is doing weird things lately, and it had set this as a vertical pic, so when I flip it the focus is off.

Here are the raised beds, all planted up!

bed 1

Bed #1

Bed #1: Speckled roman tomato (mine from seed), early girl tomato (Amish), 2x better boy tomato (local greenhouse), 2x sungold tomato (mine from seed). Also some marigolds (the single flower kind – might add some more) and 2 pots of mint on the edges. And a box of perennials I divided that I am giving away/trading. I love those triangle tomato cages. They look neat, are sturdier that the standard ones, and fold flat for storage. I will eventually add a big fat bamboo stalk (free from friends) for extra support.

bed 2

Bed #2

Bed #2: 2x Peachy mama peppers (mine from seed saved from CSA), sweet cherry pepper (Lowe’s), awaiting cayenne, jalapeno, and habanero peppers my mom got me from a local greenhouse to replace the ones I fried, one half row of danvers half long carrots and one and a half rows of tonda di parigi carrots – which I think are finally showing a little progress? And to the right, radishes and beets. In the pots are Salvia (finally found it at Lowe’s!!) and strawberries.

bed 3

Bed #3

Bed #3: Peas! Peas might just be my most favorite veggie, so I’m excited about these. Little Marvel and I don’t remember the name of the other kind. Note: The ones I advance started by 2 weeks are the same size as the ones I direct sowed. Just direct sow peas! I have turned over tomato cages and bent the ends together, then pinned them down into the dirt with landscaping ties for the peas to grow on. Doesn’t look half bad, I think. Then long island improved brussels sprouts and some kind of broccoli – winter sowed both of those. Then 2 rows of various kinds of beans: golden wax, dragon tongue, maxibel bush, etc. Flanked by 2 decorative pots – daises and derby and daisies and alyssum.

bed 4

Bed #4

Bed #4: Luffa, lemon cucumber, spacemaster cucumber, mesclun mix, lavewa spinach, one purple orach spinach, and black seeded simpson lettuce. I still have to add some twine or something to the bamboo for the stuff to climb on. I’ll probably also get some marigolds or something to add some color to this bed. In front are 2 azaleas in pots (just getting ready to bloom), some sweet peas slowly growing, and 2 giant pots of oregano that I want to divide and plant in smaller pots (it’s taking up a good tomato-sized pot!). Plus some lovely black plastic to hopefully kill some weeds so we can fill in that spot with more driveway rocks. Over on the left are some assorted trees from the Arbor Day foundation (my mom got them for me – leaving them in pots until they get bigger) a small pot of cilantro (which I don’t like, but I grew it last year and it came back) and a pot the size of the large oregano pot with danvers half long carrots (seem to be doing well – better than the direct-sowed ones at this point). This last bed butts up against the side garden, which is the garden that extends down after the right side of the…

old garden

...Old Veggie Garden

And last but not least, the old veggie garden! (Wow, I need to weed the driveway over there!). The evergreen rosemary and perennial sage are still there (the lemon verbena kicked the bucket). From the right I have sowed seeds for dill (in the back), lemon basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, sweet basil. Then I have the mystery “came with the compost” squash? or zucchini? or cucumber?, one lemon cucumber (from seed), 3 okras (Lowe’s) and one zucchini (Lowe’s). Also a bunch of marigolds that either self-seeded from mine last year or came with the compost. I’m letting most of them be and will see what happens (there are lots in the raise beds, too). Over on the right, some strawberries.

No Herbal Almanac today, since I’m outside. So….what does your veggie garden look like right now?

I scanned through some more recent photos, but I couldn’t find an that exemplified the “green world” theme for this month’s GGW contest better than this photo of a seedling that I featured on St. Patrick’s Day.

bean seedling

I really like the way this bean seedling turned out, with the slight blur of the front of the peat pot showing. One of my commenters when it was first posted noted that it looked “Hurculean” lifting up all that dirt, and I have to agree. Seems to be a photo of the green of the world prevailing over all the brown.

This bean seedling is now planted outside with all the others. The cucumbers and squash I finally put outside on the deck yesterday to begin my rather harsh hardening off process (meaning there is no process – I generally just put them out, water them well, and hope they make it!). Today those are looking a bit worse for the wear, probably because they’re in peat pots and just not staying warm enough. I think I’ll either bring them back in or go ahead and plant them when it warms up a little more today (it’s only 60° and overcast – too cold for me!).

Yesterday I cultivated all my raised beds into rows. I kind of love it – it looks so much neater. In the past I’ve not done rows, because I had to cram stuff where it would fit in my one bed. But rows are better for keeping track of seedlings sown, plus it just looks nice. I’ll have some pics of that one my just-sown carrot, spinach, and mesclun mix seedlings start to emerge. Among the things already planted, the peas are doing great and just about to start climbing their trellises, and the beans look respectable.

The broccoli and brussels sprouts are still small (pictured below – those were winter down starting in late Jan/early February – the milk jug/orange juice cloches are off now), but look very happy. The soaker hose on a timer waters them all at 6AM and 6PM – seems to be working great.

L-R: peas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans

Herb AlmanacAPRIL 18: Make a borage salad to encourage good spirits and courage. Use the new borage seedlings, violet flowers, dandelion leaves, and new lettuce.

[I’m only growing lovage, not borage, but that actually sounds pretty good!]

Lots of photos, a few words.

early stardrift - tiny!

crocus and phlox

I love the colors of these violas. Perking back up after the winter.

Alice investigates the seedlings.

almost full (THANKS, MOM!!)

side garden + old veggie garden (in foreground)

Quince

Props to my hubby for the cute paths between the raised beds. The bamboo in this pic came from friends who have a ton of it growing behind their house. Bad for them, good for me!

paths

Very disappointed in my tulips this year. Only 4 from the 20 I planted in the fall came up (wtf?!). And all of them (those and my old ones) have only really lasted a day or two because it was hot when they bloomed. Lame. I need better tulips that will do better for me year after year. Suggestions?

tip toe through the tulips

candytuft and 2 types of creeping phlox - also a reseeded dianthus/pinks

flowering dogwood at the edge of our property

…more to come on my winter sowing efforts and some mystery seedlings in my raised beds.

Herb AlmanacAPRIL 11: Predict the weather by emerging new leaves: Oak before Ask/We’ll have a splash/Ash before Oak we’re in for a soak.”

Thanks to my hubby building them and my mom helping me fill them with topsoil and compost, I now have 4 gorgeous raised beds. We even had plenty of dirt left over for hubby to fix some spots that needed grass seed from delivering the shed and running electric to it. Planted in the raised beds so far:
-spinach (doesn’t seem to be doing much)
-carrots (beside the bed in a pot, actually)
-beets
-radishes
-wando and little wonder peas (growing on trellises and 2 upside-down tomato cages with the points turned under)
-broccoli
-brussels sprouts
-dragon tongue, maxibel bush, and gold rush bush beans that have been outside for a few weeks anyway (they were too big for the indoor grow lights – I hope I haven’t planted them too close together)

The broccoli and brussels I winter sowed back in late Feb/early March when I started my seeds. They are both cool season crops so I figured they’d be good for winter sowing. It seemed to work well, so I plan on doing more of that next year. I have them all planted out now, but still covered in cloches made from the jugs they were in (for now).

Incidentally, has anyone ever tried getting the big dollar store glass vases and such to use as cloches? Actual cloches are SO expensive and milk jug ones are not that attractive in a front yard garden – just considering possibilities.

Today (Sunday), along with some painting (we got new windows! so we’re touching up trim and some other paint in the house), I hope to get the soaker hoses buried. I obviously should have done that BEFORE planting stuff, but…I didn’t. Oops.

PROBLEM: So there are a ton of little seedlings growing in the raised bed dirt. Argh. I assume they’re probably evil, so I am pulling them out. A few of my marigold seeds from last year have pulled through in the old garden which is fine (plus maybe a few tomatoes – we used the dirt we bought to top off that bed, too), but this is not that. Any ideas?

mystery seedling 1

mystery seedling 2

I double pinky swear promise that I will post this weekend. It’s been crazy lately. Lots of crap at work, lots of garden chores, new toys, and home improvement. I have so much to share! Like this for example:

Those are all full now and have stuff planted in them and a few seeds sprouting! I’ve been busy. I promise. (Sidenote: I got a new Droid HTC Eris and damn – doesn’t it take good pics? Kind of impressed.)

So if I don’t post a blog this weekend, you have my permission to…leave an angry comment or something.

I was going to post a bunch of pics of the new raised beds, then I realized it’s time for bloom day. What with all the work on the veggie beds, I haven’t been taking many pics of blooms. The candy-striped creeping phlox is blooming, the pansies are blooming again, the primrose pictured in last week’s Wordless Wednesday, and there is one crocus that has bloomed so far. I don’t even have a good pic of that, but one is below (it kinda got smushed with all the rain the past few days, too). Still waiting on daffodils and tulips.
crocus

And now…the raised beds! Hubby did most of the work while I was at work last week, and he even took pics. Here are the specs:
-2×10 boards of pressure treated lumber (we did our research – it’s safe.)
-Just to be extra safe, we lined each one with heavy plastic on the inside
-4 beds that are each 8ftx4ft
-paths in between will be 2ft wide with a bit of wiggle room – we’ll put stepping stones and some gravel in there

before

Before....


(See BEFORE from another view here.)

...2 sides built....

one built!

...moving along...

...wrapping with plastic...

While hubby was digging the rest of the holes (we had to re-level everything etc – we are feeling super old and sore right now), I decided to rake up the “side garden.” At first I was just going to toss the leaves into the woods (our composter was full), but then I thought hey, they’re already partially rotted. Why don’t I toss them into the bottom of the raised beds to add a little something before we get the dirt and compost? So I did. Brilliant!

tadaa!

Now all we have to do is schedule the topsoil and compost delivery (we thought we could pick it up, but the trailer we were going to borrow isn’t nearly big enough), buy rocks and stepping stones for the paths, and PLANT! Should be able to get all that done in the next week or two. One of these beds is probably about the same size as my old/other veggie garden (which I will maybe use for herbs now? Undecided…)- so I’m getting a LOT more space!

And later on, we took apart the composter and emptied it and I put that compost on top of the old veggie garden (didn’t take any pics). It was mostly potting soil, and I need to break things up smaller when putting them in from now on (I made a pile off to the side that I’ll use for larger stuff). But there is some other goodness in there – partially broken down eggshells, and I couldn’t see hardly any identifiable pieces of food, and lots when in over the summer so that means it all broke down. This year I vow to be better at composting!

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