Friday, September 08, 2006

startin' to feel the tomato love

Get it? ummm...heart shaped

This is a Pruden's Purple, an heirloom pink beefsteak tomato I've had fairly good results with this year. Its taste has been described as similar to Brandywine, and if my Brandywines ever ripen I'll try the two head to head and see. It does have a good flavor, and being an early variety is a plus.

Actually this photo was taken three weeks ago, and I don't think I've had a Pruden's Purple since. It's been dry, and the cooler nights have slowed down the ripening process. I haven't even canned any tomatoes yet, and we're a week into September! I am getting a few Sub Arctic Plenty, my best producer by far this year, but I haven't decided if the flavor is worth it. They sure don't hold a candle to Stupice, which is equally early. I have a few Stupice plants, but I think they must need more water because they aren't doing as well as Sub Arctic Plenty.

I was going to take some garden photos last night to illustrate this long-overdue gardening post, but everything looked so dull and listless, waiting for the rain. We did get a sprinkling this morning, but it wasn't even enough to settle the dust on the road. My garden-watering hose is currently stretched out to the horses and chickens out front, because our lawn tractor we used to haul water has died. So watering the garden means moving two hundred feet of hose first. That, and the ever-shortening evening hours have kept me from watering this week. I'm trying to get a late crop of lettuce and kale going, but the seeds won't germinate when it's so dry.

I pulled up all of my onions last Sunday and got a fairly good crop that might last us until around Christmas. I seem to have trouble growing large onions, however. I planted them from sets. Maybe I should try seeds? How about walking or bunching onions? Any onion experts out there?

The zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are conspiring to take over the entire east side of the garden, as is a pumpkin or winter squash vine. I am blessed with summer squash this year and the other day we had the most delicious fried yellow and green zucchini. We've also been grilling zucchini, onions, garlic, and store-bought green peppers and mushrooms.

I am finally starting to get snap beans and pole beans! They were started fairly late, then about half of one bed of purple-podded bush beans got wiped out by some fungus. Then came the drought...but now they are flourishing. By the way, I did not order purple-podded bush beans, I ordered Roma beans. I can't remember right now who I ordered from, or if it was their error or mine. Oh well. Speaking of errors, remind me to never again buy Amish Paste tomatoes, one of my favorite heirlooms, from the otherwise-excellent local garden center. For the second time in three years, what I thought was Amish Paste has turned out to be something else, and not even a very tasty something else.

Mentally strolling along in my garden, we come to the cucumbers. An abundance of delicious Divas, my favorite, albeit hybrid, slicing cucumber, and lots of pickling cukes that like to hide until they get to be large, yellowish, seedy monsters. Note to self: unless you plan on selling cucumbers at the Farmer's Market (along with everyone else), one, or at the most two Diva cucumber plants are MORE than enough for our family.

Now for the garden surprise of the year. My former garlic patch now hosts two very large Yellow Pear tomato plants which are starting to produce ripe bite-size tomatoes. These sprouted themselves from last year's Yellow Pear plants. I would not dare direct-seed all of my tomato crop in late May, but this is the first time I've seen a successful volunteer tomato in my garden.

Although they took forever to germinate, and germination was somewhat spotty, I will have some parsnips this year for the first time! In the same bed is a good number of medium size rutabagas and one colossal rutabaga. Next door are the carrots, which also had uneven, spotty germination and are not quite ready, but I will get a decent sized crop.

I'm getting on a roll here, and there are several more things I want to talk about, but I think it will have to wait until tomorrow. I'll have to cover things up tonight; scattered frost is likely, which means I can count on frost here.


Laura said...

I always have smallish onions, too. I'm no expert, but I did conclude this year that I should try seeding onions in flats again and this time set them out far earlier. They grew fine at the start and then halted (crowding, or lack of light?), and took a long time to get going again after I set them out. I ended up with tiny onions from the transplants (mostly used them for greens) and smallish onions from sets. One good thing about the dry spell, it's curing my onions right where they are, neglected in the ground!

Sandy said...

I grew Pruden's Purple for a couple of years. The taste was good. Lately, I have been sticking to smaller tomatoes for some reason.
Do you grow Blue Hubbard squash there? It does well here in Maine, and stores so easily.

Floridacracker said...

I have a few stupid plants too ...huh, what ...

...oooohh, S-tu-p-i-c-e ...

...never mind.

Molly said...

I planted Prudens Purple and Brandywine this year. I've harvested a few of each from inside the greenhouse where, even during the hottest weeks of summer the nighttime lows are frequently in the upper 40's. I just harvested a brandywine from the outside bed. While the flavor of each was great they just don't set fruit well enough in my chilly garden.
I don't know of any frost-resistant tomatoes but next year I'm going back to my eurasian and siberian favorites. Gregori's Altai is a fantastic cool/short season beefsteak. Moskovich, Urbikani, there are others that are reasonably cold-tolerant.