So this is a very interesting little fruit. Also called Morelle de Balbis. Mother Earth News did a great article about it so heres a copy/paste from them:
"The Morelle de Balbis, or Litchi tomato, has been grown as an ornamental curiosity in American gardens since the 19th century, but only recently has it gained attention as a novel-tasting food. Its dark red cherry-size berries, with the distinctive flavor of sour cherries and a hint of tomato, can be used in a wide variety of culinary applications — from fruit tarts, preserves, jams and sauces, to sorbets and wine. Plus, it’s easy to grow and frost resistant. The Litchi tomato comes to us from South America, where it has been an important part of indigenous cookery for hundreds of years. Because the plant itself is covered with thorns, it is sometimes used as a hedge plant to discourage animals from wandering into vegetable gardens — not a bad idea. The fruits ripen dark red and are round and somewhat bullet-shaped, tapering to a blunt point. The interior flesh is yellow and full of tiny flat seeds that are arranged much the same way as seeds in a cherry tomato. Thus, when eaten out of hand, the raw fruit has the mouth feeling of raspberries. The actual flavor is tart and refreshing, quite similar to a sour cherry, for which it can be used as a relatively good substitute in pies." (Mother Earth News)
Sebastien LOVES the Litchi Tomato. He has been trying to get me to grow it for 2 years. He uses it to make Clafoutis and Ketchup (I think). He sent me enough seed to sell on my seed site for this year but I am definitely growing it next season., I have to admit, I love the appearance of it. I think they are beautiful. As you know, I'm always on the lookout for unique and interesting things. The Litchi tomato is definitely interesting. Although it related to tomatoes, it's catagory is S. sisymbriifolium, therefore you do not have to worry about it crossing with your heirloom or hybrid tomatoes.
If any of my readers have grown it, I would love to hear your opinions and maybe recipes for it. The photo above was taken by Sebastien Prunet and used with his permission.
I have really been slacking about getting this list done but here it is for 2012!!!!! There are 2 that I despised but wont bother talking about because they were not stable varieties nor is there seed available commercially. Please...keep in mind as usual, this is ONLY my opinion. The Losers or AKA Waste of Garden Space:
The first big disappointment I grew this year and will never show up in my garden again is:
Every single one of the Dwarves I grew from the Dwarf Project. I know that saying this will not make me popular in some circles but I"m willing to risk it for my followers. The following is what I grew and grown in France by Seb with a very similar report as mine. Wild Fred Mr. Snow Summertime Gold Summertime Green
Some were grown in pots and some were actually put in the garden. All produced poorly with small fruits. Although the tastes were average, they still left me confused and disillusioned. Not at all up to the hype you hear about them. The Mr. Snow in the garden, grew to 7 ft. Not sure how that fits the dwarf catagory. Sebastien had almost identical results in France. He also was disappointed. Saying all that, the growers that work on the Dwarf project are amazing. They have put tireless effort and years into these varieties. This is in no way to diminish their work. Just trying to be true to my findings. If you've thought about growing any of these, move on.
There were other disappointing tomatoes but honestly I believe they were crossed seed so I will spare them the bad review. If I was sure they were 100% not crossed I would be more forthcoming in my critique of them. The All-Star List:
The first one is:Marmande Garnier Rouge. This is a French, 1970ish selection of Marmande kept by a private collector for years. The most beautiful tomato I think I have ever grown. Super producer. Never quits pumping out tomatoes until the first frost. The taste is excellent with a more firm meaty interior with plenty of juice. Very tomatoey taste.
Banjan Rumi. A small, beefsteak looking yellow orange tomato from Afghanistan. This little guy was amazing. You get a much better taste then you are expecting from a small tomato. VERY juicy and sweet. Got many good reviews on it from all of my volunteer tasters.
Blackberry. A purple/black heirloom from Kentucky. What I liked about this black was not only it's production and sweet taste but it seems to genetically be programmed to not scar or crack which can be a problem with many of the blacks. The appearance factor pushed it above some of the other blacks that are equally as good in taste.
So these are the ones that either stood above or below all the others. There were many that were very good but didn't have that little bit extra to make me grow them again or rave about.
Hope you all find this helpful and had a great season!
Post Script: I forgot to add Honeydrop Cherry to my favorites list. This was by far, the best cherry tomato I have ever grown. Heads above Black Cherry. Super sweet and a very nice cantoloupe color. Comparable to Sungold but an open pollinated variety. If I didn't grow for seed, this would be the only cherry I ever grew for the rest of my life.
Now available...Hippie Zebra. I love the name! Quite a cool looking tomato. Taste is sweet and light. For those looking for a truely unique tomatoe for their collection.
This is is so special. Oncle Remi. Sent to me by my friend Gerard in Brittany France. His wife's uncle brought the seed back with him to France from Algeria in 1962. Their family has been growing it since then. Huge beautiful red slicers that are always crack free. Picture perfect and rich tomato taste.
Oh yessssssss. I've been buried in tomatoes for a couple of weeks now. Can't stop eating them. Already I can see which ones are real winners and which ones are a bust. Unfortunately, you will all have to wait for my All-Star and Waste of Garden Space review which should be up in a couple of weeks. This year for the first time ever I had a groundhog make a home under the garden. He was tunneling under my potatoes. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Had the neighbor set a live trap and capture him. No problems since.
All of the Sunflowers are in full bloom. I love them! They are such happy flowers. Always facing the sun so tall and majestic. It's like they stand gaurd over the garden. Lots of different Marigolds too.
I don't know about the rest of you but I've been eating BLT's non stop. This is the only time of year I eat them. My perfect BLT:
Toasted Organic bread
big thick slab of garden tomato
little bit of sliced red onion
piment d' Espelette
fluer de sel.
I forgo the lettuce but any crunchy lettuce will work. Something about eating a garden fresh tomato on a BLT with a glass of home brewed iced mint tea that screams summer. I look forward to this all winter.
Hope you all are enjoying your garden and daily Blt's! Coming soon: the 2012 tomato review.
I'm sure most of you know we here in my area are in a very bad drought. Thank God I'm on well water or I would be in serious trouble. I have the hose running morning to night. The only problem is, nothing really compares to rain water. The plants are struggling. The fruit growth seems stunted and many varieties are getting hit with BER or as the French like to call it... "Black Ass". Haha.
I posted a photo of some of the varieties that are doing well. Grinch cherry, Banjan Rumi and most of the cherries.
Just seems like it's the nature of the beast. You never know from one season to the next what Mother Nature will do. A couple of years back it was non-stop rain. Lost most of my crop to Early Blight. Still, in spite of the challenges of weather, I wouldn't change what I do for anything. When I lose a tomato plant I really mourn for it. The same way I celebrate the ones that hold strong and come thru. I am so emotionally invested in these tomatoes that I feel pain or joy according to what they do. I know this would sound silly to anyone that doesn't have a passion for growing but I know most of you feel what I'm saying.
On a side note, I entered a national tomato contest. (fingers crossed). I will post the photo after the results are posted...win or lose. Wish me luck.
I hope most of you are enjoying a great season with few problems!!! Stay tuned..........
I'm floating a trial ballon here. Please give your opinion. I was thinking about offering 2 or 3 (only) select memberships to the SSC. (Raising money for much need equipment). I haven't thought it out completely but it would give those members access to my complete seed inventory (not just what's online) and X amount of seed a year. They would also get advance notice of what's going in the store and consulting on what's the trending tomatoes and peppers. Monthly updates on what I'm chasing and advance notice of my yearly review. Thoughts please. You can leave comments or email me @ Terry@Secretseedcartel.com
For the time being, the inventory is limited from last year's stock. In September I will be updating and adding 70 new varieties of tomatoes, peppers and flowers. I also will ship internationally because I believe in sharing with everyone! My new contact info is: Terry@Secretseedcartel.com Please use that email for any questions. I look forward to doing business with anyone looking for the best and rarest seed available.
The 2 up and coming must have tomatoes. Mini Kumatos and the Spanish RAF tomato aka Pata Negra tomato.
The RAF tomato is famous all over Spain. Also known as Pata Negra (Black Paw). It is not a hybrid and is originally thought to be of French origin. They are the most sought after tomato in Spain. Cultivated in Bajo Andarax and Campo do Nijar in the Province of Almeria. It is resistant to fusarium. Green and striped with red. Deep grooves and ripens from the inside out. Ask anyone that has eaten one and they will rave about its sweetness. Of course, I have it growing in the garden this year and will have seed available in October.
RAF Tomato Pata Negra
The other is the Mini-Kumato. A cherry version of the Kumato/Rosso Bruno tomato. I have seeds for it but will probably not grow out until next year. Promising little tomato. I might try and start seed and see what happens before winter so check back........
I have been working for a long while on getting a seed site up that will offer all of the rare and unusual seeds I chase down all over the world. I now have a web designer that will have it up and running by June. I'm calling it the Secret Seed Cartel. My goal is to not only offer seed that has no commercial source, but to offer seed that is not available in the U.S. I also intend on selling to all European countries. Something that most seed companies here in the U.S. do not currently do. I want the Europeans to have the same access to varieties that we have. I want this site to be the best of the best. I will work hard on providing the best seed I can find for all of us to share.
In time, I am also going to have up and running a site for hard core tomato heads. Merchandising items for all tomato enthusiasts. I know there are many seed sites but I plan on filling the current gap where there are no sources for a lot of seed and to be a friend to the Europeans that look for varieties outside of their catalog. Stay tuned..........
There are so many reasons I encourage people to commit seed crimes that I don't know where to begin.. You may ask "what is a seed crime?" A seed crime is when you send crop seed to another country where it is forbidden. A seed crime might be saving your own seed from your own harvest. A seed crime might be growing a vegetable that the government has forbidden. It can be as simple as sharing seed to a pepper that a corporation owns and being in peril of a lawsuit. I know it sounds crazy but every example is true.
Most of my readers are familiar with my quest to free the Peppadew. I think I have done a mighty fine job if I may say so myself. Should it be illegal to grow a Peppadew? Not hardly. Unless a corporation owns the rights to a F1 hybrid, I believe everything else is free for all. I have done my best to not just preach but to be active in what I say. If you're growing Peppadews in your garden, I'll just say "You're welcome". :-)
Next I want to discuss the European catalog. In the European union (and Canada I have heard but not verified) they have a catalog which lists all government approved crop seed. You are forbidden to "sell, swap, gift or exchange" any seed not listed in the official catalog. If you would like to list your families heirloom tomato for example, you have to pay for the privilage to the tune of about $6000 USD. Really. I'm not making this crap up. The damage here, many old family heirloom varieties will be lost forever. All commercial seed companies sell the same varieties more or less. No competition there except for pricing. So ridiculous. The Europeans are also at a disatvantage in that they cannot get seed for varieties from other countries. American heirloom crops or any other country. The government controlling what they grow and stealing their money in order to grant them permission to grow maybe their own family tomato. This is one reason I love to send seed to Europe. Yes, there is a huge underground of growers that seek seed outside of the catalog. Can you blame them?
If you have friends or family in Europe, I encourage you to be a seed criminal and mail all the forbidden seed you can to them. I don't think the U.S. will extradite you for your "crimes". Some of you might ask "Why should I care? I don't live in Europe". My best answer is that sometimes you have to defend the rights of others to protect your own rights. If this insanity comes to the U.S. (we all know the current administration would like to model Europe), we will be well prepared correct?
I was going to move along to the subject of GMO seed and how Monsanto is trying to control the worlds seed supply but I think that might be another post all unto itself. If you think GMO seed is a good thing, read the following link about the epidemic of Indian farmers commiting suicide over it. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/wave-suicides-among-indian-farmers-060910878.html
1. Church 2. Blaby 3. Tres Cantos 4. Giant Belgium 5. Zelyone 6. OSU Blue or P20 7. Yellow Cookie 8. Roger's Best Black 9. Mr. Snow Dwarf 10. Summertime Gold Dwarf 11. Summertime Green Dwarf 12. Wild Fred dwarf
Tomato All-Star List
1. Goose Creek 2. Green Giant 3. Absinthe 4. Carbon 5. KBX 6. Champagne cherry 7. Black Cherry 8. Liz Birt 9.Chocolate Stripes 10. Fritz Ackerman Rl 11. Marmande Garnier Rouge 12. Blackberry 13.. Honeydrop cherry
Saint Fiacre was a holy hermit to whom people came in droves to learn more about the Christian faith. Concerned about their lack of food and shelter during their visits with him, he built a hospice and farmed the land to supply their needs. His hermitage is located in Seine-et-Marne, France. Feast day, Sept. 1st.
Prayer to St. Fiacre:
Saint Fiacre, intercede before God for all gardeners, that their gardens may produce well and be a place of peace and meditation. Amen