Friday, August 21, 2009

Giant Syrian- A GREAT BIG Tomato!

For all of you tomato lovers out there, I'd highly recommend this variety. This was recommended to me by one of my colleagues at the ER, and it is a fabulous tomato! We ate our first one last night (and today) and it was huge. I am quite certain this is the largest tomato I've ever grown- we estimate that it weighed between 3 and 4 pounds (we don't have a kitchen scale, so we compared it to dumbells weighing 3 and 5 pounds). We ate half of it last night for dinner, and I ate the other half today as my entire lunch- and I was stuffed. This is one LARGE tomato! And the taste, well that is just fabulous- great texture, fresh tomato flavor, the right amount of acidity- excellent flavor. My husband actually liked it better than the Cherokee Purple (the tomato of tomatoes according to many people in the tomato community) we ate the night before. And at that size, I was really pleased at its flavor, as well as its disease and crack resistance, and the plant's overall production. We've probably got another 20 pounds of tomatoes on that vine! Wow! Can't wait!

Here it is, the star of the week, the Giant Syrian Tomato (and you can see why it gets its name):
Another photo of the tomatoes we harvested yesterday (some only because they fell off the vine while picking others)- it is not as impressive here because you don't have the perecption of just how tall this tomato also was, but you can see its size compared to some fairly sizeable brandywines and other beefsteaks (incase you can't tell, the tomato in question is on the bottom left, heart shaped one- top left was also the same variety that fell off the vine prematurely when picking this monster).
Here's to many more Giant Tomatoes!! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cherokee Purple- the Envy of Tomato Culture

We ate our first Cherokee Purple, the long awaited tomato- topping growers' lists for quality and flavor everywhere. It was excellent, had a very fresh zippy taste to it. Very large, nice texture and flavor, and pretty color. I do hear that its production is sub par, but I'm all for quality over quantity. Overall an excellent tomato- I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Todd County Amish

We tried our first Todd County Amish tomato tonight. It was huge- probably almost 2 pounds! Very meaty, few seeds. The flavor was just average, I'd have to say, but not bad as a fresh sliced tomato. This may be a decent one for canning with how meaty it is. Here it is next to the Prosperosa Eggplant we also ate for dinner. We are sure getting our share of fresh veggies here in our Minnesota garden! Cheers!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Tomato!

I have made 15 quarts of pickles already. . . plus given away and eaten a bunch of cucumbers already! And they're still going like gangbusters!

The really good news is that we finally had our first tomato! August 15th, nothing like having early tomatoes ;) (just kidding). We have had a really cool, dry summer so far, so I can't blame them too much for being late, but I did start them a couple of weeks early. Then again, most of the varieties I'm growing are late season varieties, and they did have a hard time getting the growth they needed earlier this spring.

Anyhow, I picked a small, ripe Earl's Faux tomato from the garden this afternoon and we consumed it within about 5 minutes of leaving its vine. We had never tried this variety, so I was anxious to see how it was. The Earl's Faux tomato is a pink tomato with some variation in shape and striations (not perfectly round). When we cut it open we discovered a very meaty, fleshy tomato- hardly any seeds or juice at all- would be a great sandwich tomato. Its taste is quite sweet, and pretty mild as far as acidity. We liked it! Yum!

I want to keep a chart on each tomato so I can compare for future years and decide which varieties to grow. There are several ripening tomatoes out there of almost every variety, but I must say, the Todd County Amish tomato that is ripening (pink currently) looks amazing. I hope it tastes as good as it looks! So happy it's finally tomato season in Minnesota- Cheers!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Giant Cucumbers

I had been waiting to harvest some of these next cucumbers until I tried the pickles I made 2 weeks ago so I could make changes to the recipe or decide the fate of the next harvest. Well, the pickles were delicious! So I left the cukes on the vine just a bit longer so that I would have a bit bigger, plumper cukes to use for pickles. Well there's a fine balance in cuke size as they do grow rapidly, and sometimes cucumbers are too big to make pickles from. Today I picked 13 cucumbers, 1 posperosa eggplant (which we had for dinner, pictured below sweating before grilling- yum!), and about a pound of haricot verts.
I'm planning to make more pickles with these cukes, I've got 6 quart-sized jars sterilizing as I type. I'm going to start with the smaller cukes, and as I get to cutting up the larger ones, monitor the seed size/texture as I am suspicious that these giant cukes will have more developed seeds, which isn't desirable for pickles. So, here come a few more quarts of kosher dills! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Garden is Growing! A Photo Update

My garden has been growing like crazy lately. We got a lot of rain a week or two ago, and now everything has just been growing beyond control. So, I thought it was time for a photo update, since it's been a while. Things have really grown since the last update. . . So here goes!
The garden:

Bed E (eggplant, haricot verts, snaps, marigolds, one rogue onion, and Giant Cactus Zinnias in the back):

Bed T (parsnips, snaps, chilly chili peppers, edamame, and State Fair Zinnias in front. Tomatoes left to right: Cherokee Purple, Earl's Faux, Brandywine, Kellogg's Breakfast in front):

Bed C (big early bell peppers, chives, chilly chili peppers, carrots, marigolds, snaps. Tomatoes left to right: Giant Syrian, Todd County Amish, Big Beef, and Lemon Boy in front. Note the curly leaves on some of the plants- I'm not sure what this is, but I'm going to do some investigating):

And some of the individual crops- cukes!

Edamame- these have been basically taken over by the aphids, so I'm not sure if this will actually produce anything for us humans to eat, but we'll see.

Prosperosa Eggplant- SOOOO beautiful and just about ready to eat!

I thought I had planted Serrano Chilies here but maybe I got my crops mixed up? I'm not sure, but they look pretty similar to the bell peppers I'm growing:

Zinnias- Giant Cactus variety- love them!

And finally, the stars of the garden, the tomatoes:

Big Beef (always a staple- great producer and nice size fruits! too bad we're getting a lot of blossom end scarring this year, but I think they'll be good nonetheless):

Brandywine (mmm, my mouth is watering just looking at them):

Todd County Amish (big hearty tomatoes here!):

And Giant Syrian (I'm hoping these taste as good as they look- I can see why they're a favorite!):

I think it will just be another week or two before we get fresh home grown tomatoes, as the Big Beefs look like they're getting ready to turn on us. Of course I don't have anything written down about when we had our first ripe tomatoes last year, but in 2007, we had ripe tomatoes before July was out, granted they were store-bought plants, but we can't be too far behind! Cheers!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pickles!

We've had enough cucumbers now that we have male flowers, that I've been making pickles! I made 5 quarts last week, and I still had 7 cukes left over. Now I've got 3 more cukes in the fridge, and about 10 sitting on the vine waiting for a job.

So here are a few pictures illustrating the process- cutting the cukes and gathering the ingredients (nevermind the mess on the counter):
And the finished product. I followed a recipe for Kosher Dill Pickles, so we'll see how it turns out. The recipe was a bit confusing as I couldn't tell which quantities were "per jar" and which were for the whole recipe. Also, I'm using sweeter yet hybrid cukes, I think, which really are meant for fresh eating rather than pickling. They are supposed to be best at about 2 weeks, but ready to eat after 24 hours. I bet they're probably fine by now, can't wait to give them a try- I love pickles! Cheers!