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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!
This is a more general “veggie reviews”. Not going over specific kids of veggies, but just what veggies I will and will not plan on growing next year in the garden. Might help you if you’ve got a similar garden situation. For reference, my garden is 4 raised beds and one rocky, in-ground bed about the size of a raised bed. The in-ground bed hasn’t gotten a lot of water this year as we’ve had a drought (I give it some sprinkler time as needed), but the raised beds are watered by a soaker hose daily. I of course of have pictures of all of these plants, but don’t feel like searching for them! Use the search box at left to find out more about what I’ve done with each of these throughout the year.
Grew this year: royal burgundy, pencil pod, dragon tongue, maxibel bush, a couple others
No. As much as I absolutely LOVE fresh beans from the garden, I don’t think I’m going to grow them again next year, other than maybe a plant or two to snack on fresh beans from while outside. I haven’t had great results from the beans I’ve planted. They look scraggly and I don’t catch the beans until they’ve gone hard, or the beans are skinny and don’t taste great (heat, maybe?). And in order to really have enough beans to occasionally use as a side dish, I’d really have to have a whole bed of beans. Beans are readily available from local farmers, both Amish and non, so I think I’ll just get my beans from them next year. The ones I most frequently snack on, dragon tongue and royal burgundy, I may grow a plant or two of.
Grew this year: Wando and another variety I forget. They tasted and performed the same.
Yes! I so enjoyed growing my own peas this spring, and because they’re just a spring crop, you pull them and they don’t take up space the whole summer. Next year I will plant more peas and plan better where they go (to account for them being replaced with something else), but I will for sure grow them again.
Grew this year: tonda di parigi, danvers half long
Yes! I lost about half of my carrots this year because hornworms ate the foliage off of all the ones in my raised bed, so they stopped growing. Consequently, I didn’t get any of the little round tonda di parigi carrots I was so excited about! The carrots I planted in a large pot and kept in a more shaded area did very well, though, so I plan on doing that next year and using raised bed space for something else.
Radishes and beets
Grew this year: early scarlet globe radish, detroit dark red beet
Yes! I am also going to try to grow these again in the fall, and will be more conscious of sowing more next year in succession, so I get more than one crop. Both were very easy to grow, weren’t bothered by pests, and tasted great. Plus they are another spring crop like the peas that you get to plant something else in after they’re done (again, I will plan better for that next year). May try some more varieties of each next year.
Grew this year: sweet banana, cayenne, jalapeno, marconi, chili, habanero, fish, sweet red cherry
Yes! Though I’m not a fan of peppers on their own, I LOVE making my own salsa over the summer and these guys are a key ingredient. Unfortunately, I lost ALL the peppers I’d started from seed this year in the Great Plant Fry of 2010, so all the peppers I have were from a plant exchange or purchased as seedlings. Botanical Interests is having a free shipping deal this weekend (friend them on facebook for details), so I am planning on making a small purchase, and peppers are in the mix.
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
Grew this year: Di cicco and Long Island Improved
Ask me after the fall. Cabbage worms ate the hell out of them in the spring, then it got too hot too fast, so I pulled them and gave up.
Grew this year: Whatever kind @snarkyvegan gave me?
Yes! I’ve really enjoyed these weird little plants. I’ve already made a sauce that I used on turkey and last night on my portobello burger (hubby had jalapeno jack burgers) and very delicious bread that I need to share the recipe for. I’m going to try to save some seeds, but if not I’ll purchase more. These are tasty and there’s no way I’d find them if I didn’t grow them myself.
Grew this year: Black Beauty
Maybe. I’m not a big zuc fan and hubby doesn’t like them. I just bought these because Lowe’s was having a sale. They’re not producing like crazy (yet?), prob because they’re in the old garden and haven’t gotten a lot of water.
Grew this year: whatever Lowe’s had
Nope. Just like the beans, you have to plant too many to get anything worthwhile. I’ve gotten 3 so far and ended up composting them bc what do you do with 3 okra? Also the only thing I ever do with them is fry them, so frozen or random local is fine.
Grew this year: the seed that came with the compost
Maybe. I grew this one on accident and it’s kind of fun. Only one pumpkin on there and I don’t see more blooms, but again it’s in the garden that hasn’t gotten any water. I like my little pumpkin, but I don’t think it’ll make it to Halloween 😦
Grew this year: luffa from Botanical Interests
Maybe. I was SO SUPER EXCITED about this, but the dang thing still hasn’t fruited! I don’t get it. I had just grand plans for Christmas presents! So we’ll see. I’m giving you a chance, luffa.
Grew this year: spacemaster and lemon
Yes! I adore cucumbers and the ones in the raised bed are producing like crazy. The lemon isn’t doing as well, so next year I’ll make sure to plant all cucumbers in a raised bed with plenty of room for climbing.
Grew this year: Baby greens mesclun mix from Botanical Interests, black seeded simpson lettuce
Yes! But next year I’ll plan it better. This is something else that gets pulled when it gets too hot, and this year it got so hot so quick I really only got one harvest before it started to bolt and get bitter. Next year I will plant earlier and more in succession to get more harvests, and I will also plan for them being pulled up by planting them in the bed with the other spring crops.
Grew this year: Black from Tula, Eva purple ball, speckled roman, better boy, early girl, sungold, russian rose
Let’s not be silly. Of course! I lost a bunch in the plant fry, but I lucked out and still ended up with a nice selection between stores, family, and plant exchanges. I’ll be doing separate reviews of some of these, but tomatoes will definitely get at least one bed in the garden next year as well.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Not too shabby for my first year of raised beds, I think!
I still have some fresh veggies.
HERBS (need to dry some more!):
•The genoa basil is kind of sort of hanging on. the opal basil still looks pretty good.
•The sage looks OK, but isn’t really growing any more. Should be back next year, though.
•The rosemary is mostly evergreen, so that’s cool.
•The lemon thyme is still nice and lush.
I pulled all the tomato plants, but I rescued some green tomatoes. Some of those are turning quite nicely. Please also note in the picture below how I TOTALLY ON ACCIDENT color coordinated things. How awesome am I? Also note that I can only claim the tiny tomatoes on the left. The apples, red tomatoes, and beet are all from good ol’ WalMart.
Peppers! The pepper plants still need to be pulled (just didn’t feel like it last weekend). They still have flowers and small peppers, but they’ll never reach maturity. I did pick a LOT of jalapeños last weekend. I may slice up some of them and add them to my freezer bag of peppers for winter salsa, but I’ve also been letting a lot of them dry. They’re kind of pretty to me – I want to figure out how to make a pepper string to keep in the kitchen somewhere. (Apparently that’s called a ristra? And wow, they look super hard to make (scroll down)).
Do you still have any edibles going strong (or well, going at all) in your garden?
So the other day I mentioned that our neighbors across the street came over to my hubby when he was outside and said that they would be on vacation this week and we should take as many tomatoes as we wanted to they wouldn’t go to waste. Also the other day you saw the nice stash of tomatoes I have from my garden and the CSA. I was planning on making some sauce and salsa today to freeze, so I figured I’d go over and pick some tomatoes to use for that. When I was done…
…I ended up with 4 giant canvas shopping bags FULL of tomatoes!! (Like, it was actually a bit of a struggle to run across the street with them.) I already called my aunt who lives nearby and she doesn’t need any, but will take some so her customers can grab some (she cuts hair). I’ll also give some to my mom and hubby’s mom, and maybe my CSA partner if they’re OK that long?? There are a variety of kinds – mostly large red slicer varieties, but also some roma/paste-types. some were labeled – will have to check next time I go. I figure I can probably get at LEAST one more bag full mid-week, then I can leave the rest to be ripe when they get back. I’ll also clean up the pile of rotted ones I made and put that in my composter.
I feel like all I’m posting lately is my CSA goods! Oh well. I just haven’t been doing much in my own garden lately, though I do hope to get the rest of the perennials in the ground next weekend with my hubby’s help. I’ve been heavy into tomatoes lately, which is fine. Between the CSA and my garden, I have a ton! I’ve lately moved on from salsa and have started making my own spaghetti sauce with actual tomatoes (I usually make my own sauce anyway so I don’t have to deal with onions or meat, but I used a can of tomato sauce and and a can of paste and my own herbs and seasonings. Using actual tomatoes is a very different taste – both are good, but this one feels very fresh and summery. Perfect with some angel hair pasta.). So before the CSA tour, a quick recipe.Jennah’s Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce
OR try Jennah’s EVEN BETTER Summer Tomato Sauce on a later post…
1. Chop and mince well (I use my small electric chopper – a food processor or blender would probably also work well) about a quart or so of roma and cherry tomatoes. Throw in some yellow and orange cherries if you can. If you are using very juicy tomatoes instead of roma, you may want to strain them a bit before adding them to the saucepan.
2. Chop up (in chopper or by hand) a handful of oregano and basil. A little lemon balm too, if you have it.
3. Put it all in a sauce pan and add about 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil. Also about 1/4 cup of white wine, if you have it. Also add: about 1/2 cup of sugar, salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon?) and a bit of pepper.
4. Add 1 small can of tomato paste and stir (without the paste, it tends to be too runny and won’t stick to any noodles). Cook on med-low covered until it starts to bubble, then turn it all the way down to low for about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally (you’ll need to mix in that paste once it starts to warm up).
5. Enjoy! It’s best after being in the fridge for a day or so, but also great right away. Lmk if you try it!
And now for the tour of Even’ Star Farms, my CSA. The farm is very pretty, but I will say it’s not “neat.” Certainly they have better things to worry about than cutting the grass and (gah) trimming, but it is a bit hairy (it’s also organic, so no evil things to get rid of weeds, I suppose). Not that I care, just sayin’ sometimes I want to bring over my lawnmower and tidy it up, as is my nature as a neat-freak. I’d also just love to stroll around the place because it’s sooooo tranquil and gorgeous. Most of it is edible farming, but they also have several areas of cut flowers and just decorative flowers (sometimes they include cut flowers with CSA membership stuff, reportedly) which I haven’t explored as much, especially up closer to the house, which you pass when going to pick up your goods (people DO live there, after all!). Such a pretty place, though! Farm pick-up members just drive up, park, walk to a room in the barn, and pick stuff up! I was a little confused this Thursday because the door I usually use was bolted, but I figured out that we were supposed to use the back door.
I like the sunshine helenium much better now that it’s bloomed, but it still needs to be moved in the fall. It’s too damn tall and it will crowd out the daylily near it. I’ll have to find something else interesting to plant in that spot.
It is kind of cool that they’re all different, though. I think I’m still partial to the more painted on look of the mardi gras, but the sunshine is very pretty.
And now on to the veggie garden. Sorry for the kind of crap pics (view full size and magnify to see better), but I always take these in the evening when I get home from work, and by then the sun isn’t quite right for the best pics. Have to remember to take some earlier ones on the weekends. Everything in the veggie garden is doing well. We’ve had a bit of rain lately, so I haven’t used the soaker hose in a few weeks. I’m not sure how the advice to pick off lower leaves of tomato plants below the first set of flowers has worked out – supposedly it makes the stems stronger, but some of mine are still floppy (great, now I’ll get MORE searches for that!). I know that part of the reason for that is that they could use a bit more sun – hopefully if we do the new raised bed nearer the deck, I can start alternating the tomatoes yearly to that bed, where they will get more sun. The lack of sun also means they are a bit tall – which means that they are starting to outgrow all my cages – triangle cages (love them), standard tomato cages, and trellises with bambo. Oh well – I’ll make it work. I’m already miles better than last year.
They are still producing fine – between the tomatoes and peppers, I probably pick about 5 or 6 veggies a day. Not too shabby! And the herbs – my god the herbs! Would you like any??? It’s great though – I’m giving them away, and when they start to wane, I’ll dry or freeze them and have plenty for all winter long. Also – check out the GIANT cactus zinnia! I had no idea they got like this. Def going to (more strategically) plant more of these next year.
In this garden is: rosemary, marigolds, cactus zinnia, pimento peppers, banana peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes (hanging), roma tomatoes, big boy tomatoes, golden tomatoes, various other heirloom tomatoes, common sage, sweet basil, opal basil (in pot), cilantro (in pot), lemon verbena.
And look what I scored at a local nursery’s tent sale! Two large terra cotta pots (one large enough to grow tomatoes in) with small cracks – one for $7 and one for $3. Also 2 creme brulee heucheras (which I’ve wanted! Now I ummm have to figure out where to put them) and a yellow big sky coneflower (yeah, I have like 40 coneflowers on order from Springhill, but ummmmm I got this one, too). Might check back later on when they tend to put more of the decoration-type stuff on sale later in the year. I got a bunch of smaller pots last year at their tent sale for like $1 a piece.
And just for my hubby, who asked me this morning before getting his wisdom teeth out why I posted the crappy picture of him from the pub in my last post – a GOOD picture of him from the bar (and a not great one of me). It is HARD to find a good one of the two of us when either 1- I miss you when taking a 2-person self photo or 2- We are both in the picture but you are making a retarded face on purpose. Got it?? ❤
On a related note, I need to start blogging about general bitching about things as well as gardening. That is really my forté. We’ll see if it happens. In the mean time, I am picking up another CSA delivery tomorrow and am going to try to sneak some pics of the place…ssshhhhhhh….
This summer, I’ve joined a local CSA. I’m splitting the subscription with a friend. This week was the first summer harvest, and I went and picked up the first box today! It’s really well organized. They send out an email each week telling you what you’ll be getting (exact names and everything!) with a few suggestions for prep or storage. They also have a great looking cookbook written by them that they’ll sometimes refer to with the box (ie next week they are supposed to be giving us stuff that will make some salad dressing in the book).
Note that what’s pictured is only half of the box, and a few of the things are one-offs to give us a taste of what’s to come.
- new potatoes
- carrots w/tops
- grape tomatoes
- a bag of basil (didn’t take any of this since I have more than enough of my own!
And now, a couple questions. Are these green tomatoes? Don’t be a smartass. Like, I mean I know they are green and are tomatoes, but are they that will forever be green and are, as such, ready to pick and somehow be eaten? I don’t know how to tell! It’s one of my mystery hybrids. Help!
And question #2 is: Why do calatheas hate me? I gave up on one, but this other one has been doing well in my office for a few years. I keep it moist like it likes and have it in standard office lighting. Now all of a sudden, the bastard is turning yellow on me! I’ve already cut off the brown/yellow a few times but it continues to spread down the leaf. Gah why do they hate me? Well if this one doesn’t make it, no more calatheas luring me from the plant rescue rack at Lowe’s!
Do not plant zinnias right beside the basil. They look freaking the same.
Below is a shot of the garden on Friday, 6/2/09. I’m future-posting this to Sunday, so as we speak I may be in the garden doing something to it. The magic of teh internets! Every single tomato plant, including the ones I started from seed, has tomatoes on it except the 2 smallest ones in pots in the driveway (planted very late) and the large one in the pot in the driveway whose blossoms keep falling off probably because of the ants. It looks like I’m going to have a shit-ton of roma tomatoes this year – I had no idea they were about as profilic as cherries. Not a bad thing, though! I like romas – not too gooey. Also please note the *freaking adorable* windchime I got from JoAnne’s Fabrics a couple weeks ago at 60% off. It has little buckets and watering cans!! My mom actually got the same one as a gift this spring. They have another one with little shovels and cultivators, too. I’ll def be trying to hit the store up again (they usually go to 75% off before everything is gone) and might have to get one of those. Last year I got 2 of those shepherd’s hooks you see and the trellises the tomatoes on the back right are growing on for crazy crazy cheap.
My black-eyed susan is now blooming. So pretty – a nice big leafy plant that is also covered in blooms for a lot of the summer. Can’t ask for much more than that. It’s the state flower of Maryland, so you see lots of random and wild varieties growing on the side of the road.
First of all, if you haven’t done so yet, enter my contest!!
OK, now that that’s out of the way…Happy Bloom Day! I missed the last bloom day because I was in Hawaii (!!!), so lots of fun updates. Today I bought some coreopsis (moonbeam, limerock ruby, and a variageated 2-tone one I forget the name of). I used 2 to fill in some spots where I planted the carnations a bit far apart and to cover up the fading carnation blooms (foliage is nice all year). Hopefully this pairing will work out. The third one went in a pot that will soon be featured in the “my fave pots” series.
I also moved a few herbs that had been potted into the place where I pulled the bolted lettuce, and finally pulled the pansies in the front beside the steps – replaced them with some orange gazanias and dusty miller (we’ll see if I like it). So here’s the list, more or less…
- asiatic lilies
- easter lilies (about damn time!)
- stella d’oro daylilies
- fragrant returns daylilies
- happy returns daylilies
- harlequin flower (but I have yet to see one in full bloom – do they bloom and fade all in one day??)
- mardi gras helenium
- arizona sun gaillardia
- all the annuals, or course
- spiderwort (sweet kate and standard)
- the mystery pink rose
- a few dianthus still
About to bloom:
- white, pink, and red coneflower
- rudbeckia – black eyed susan, cappucino, cherry brandy
- sunshine helenium
- frans hals and mystery dayliles
Has baby veggies:
- cayenne peppers
- banana peppers
- roma tomatoes
- big boy tomatoes
- 100 super sweet cherry tomatoes
- mystery heirloom tomato #1
- royal burgundy bush beans
Has flowers but no real veggies yet: (all the rest)
- jalapeno peppers
- 5 other mystery heirlooms