Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yes... I miss my garden already. I'm working on my 2010 growlist. This next season I think I am going to cut down on the number of varieties and increase the ones I do grow.
Here's the ones I am solid on:
Green Giant
Liz Bert
Spudakee purple
Chocolate Stripes
Marmande Garnier Rouge (very excited about this one. Thanks Gerard!)
JD's Special C-Tex
Goose Creek
Still have a long way to go before I finish the list. Plus, I have to leave room for some growouts I am doing for others. I keep thinking "pepper starts are only a month away" Woot Woot!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You've got to be kidding me

Really????.........Someone put a gun to my head. Now there's a new one. The Goldew pepper?
It took me 3 years to find the red one, now I have to hunt down the gold one???
Here's a copy paste from the Gourmet Food Mall on it:
The new “GOLD” standard from South Africa! Just introduced into the US market in 2009, Peppadew™ GOLDEW is the result of 10 years of growing trials in South Africa. Like the original Peppadew™ pepper, Peppadew™ GOLDEW has that mouth-watering sweet and tangy flavor…minus the heat. Try them in green salads, chicken and tuna salads, stuffed with cheese, or on top of fish, chicken or pork. The possibilities are endless, and they will add pizzaz to almost any meal!
If anyone has anymore info on this can you please email it to me? I am just too tired to from the first chase. Secret Seed Cartel.....get to work!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So........Here's what I'm saying. I believe this is the real deal. Took me 3 years to find the seed. Yep's our little buddy the Peppadew. I expect many pats on the back for this one from all of you!! Shouldn't I win some kind of award for this? LOL.
Being cautious, I will say that I did save seed for them and If you're one of my buds, email me about the secret seed cartel and being a member.

French Peeps.....

si vous avez besoin de ces graines, elles sont à la disposition de vous également

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Nothing to do with tomatoes but worth sharing. I've always been a big Queen fan. I admit I miss Freddie and all of the great music they put out...As I'm getting older I'm appreciating classical acoustic guitar more and more. No one was happier than me when I was tipped off to this un-believable CD. A classical guitarist by the name of Carlos Bonell has done a CD of all Queen tunes. Even if you're not a big Queen fan you can appreciate this one. You can hear him do "Love of my Life" on youtube here:
and "Who Wants to Live Forever" here:

I rarely go out and buy an entire CD but I did with this one. It is so awesome. Two of my favorite things combined, Queen and classical guitar. Reminds me of a Reese's cup....ha!
I'm sure some will disagree but in my mind Queen was one of the greatest talents of all time. One of the saddest days of my life was when I heard that Freddie Mercury had died. I knew something rare was gone forever. One of the benefits of living close to Cleveland is being near the rock hall of fame. I admit I take that for granted. I've only been there one time and that was when they inducted Queen. It was so cool to see but sad at the same time. As they trotted Freddie's mom on stage with Brian May and Roger Taylor anyone that didn't tear up didn't have a heart. closing, I just wanted to share something cool with you. Gotta share the good stuff!
You'll want to see Freddie doing one of the songs live:

The greatest rock n roll frontman ever!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saving Seed with Oxiclean

Most old time growers still save their tomato seeds using the old-fashioned method of fermenting them. The negatives to this is the amount of time it takes (days) and the smell. If you have ever had the pleasure of smelling a rotten tomato than you know what I'm talking about.

I use the Oxiclean method. Totally safe for the seeds, does not effect germination rates and takes about 40 minutes. As simple as it gets.

1. Cut your tomatoes and squeeze seeds into a marked plastic container or cup.

2. Add about equal amound of water.

3. Add 2 Tble. of Oxiclean and stir.

4. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

5. Before straining stir then pour into fine mesh sieve.

6. Rinse well. Put back into container and fill with water again. Let sit for 5 min.

7. Pour into sieve again and rinse.

8. Put seed on labled paper plate and allow to dry for 1 week or more. Until dry. Store in jar.

Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Review: Winners and Losers

This was by far the worst tomato season I have ever had. Too cool, too much rain and disease problems. That made me un-able to rate some tomatoes due to poor conditions and crop failure. But...... I was able to form an opinion on some of them. You know the rules: to be an all-star it has to have a 10 in all areas. Taste, appearance and texture. Here's the all-stars and waste of space maters from this year:
Liz Bert: A potato leaf purple developed by Keith Mueller. I loved this one. The taste for me was right up there with Carbon. Even with so much rain they resisted splitting and scarring.

Chocolate Stripes: Wow! What a winner. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but the plant was disease resistant, huge producer and perfect texture. Definitly has the sweetness of a black. Perfect balance of meatiness and juicyness.

Jewish: A really nice red. Not beefsteak shaped but more bomb shaped. Almost all of them were huge.
Very productive, very meaty just enough juice without being watery. Not very acidic tasting. More of a sweet, mild flavor.
Orange Minsk: A big size yellow/orange from Minsk. I got my seed from Andrey.
Good producer, flawless appearance. Very meaty. Mild but firm. I would say I liked it as well as KBX. It's more of a mid-season so if you like KBX you would like this one and it's earlier too.

JD's Special C-Tex: Well, I finally found one I love as much as Carbon. Very nice purple/black. Firm, sweet and flawless appearance. Resisted disease much better than some of the other blacks.

Absinthe: Another Alan Bishop tomato. A GRW that rivals Green Giant. I had given up hope of ever finding another green as good as GG but Alan has done it!! Two years in a row one of his tomatoes is on my all star list. This tomato is soooooo good. Perfect balance of juice and meat. The gel really is the color of Absinthe.

Waste of Space:

Zelyone: "sorry Andrey :( "....... A russian GWR. It produced well and had a nice appearance but I couldn't get past the taste. Very sour to me. I kept trying them as the season progressed but it never improved.

OSU blue or P20: Ok, only if you want to grow this as a curiosity. It is a total waste of garden space if you are limited. It's cool to show people the blue tomato but taste wise....forget it. Plus they are very small.

Roger's Best Black: This one was a huge producer of early blacks. Tastewise it was very sub-par compared to other blacks. It had serious scarring problems too. I don't think I ever picked even one that didn't have concentric scarring.

Yellow Cookie: Ok...this was a heart shaped yellow. Almost no seeds at all in them. Very meaty but mealy and mushy. Tons of scarring and cracking. I just couldn't get past the texture.

Now there were a lot of what I call good tomatoes that are worth growing again but not OMG good. It's possible under better growing conditions they might have made the all star list. Here's a review of some of them.

Claude Brown's Yellow Giant: This by far is the most huge yellow tomato I have ever seen. One slice almost covers an entire dinner plate. Nice, mild yellow flavor and not mealy. If you like the mild yellows, it's a good one.

Olive Hill: This one was a very good producer of large pink beefsteaks. Mild flavor and near perfect appearance.

Heatherington Pink: I really did like this one. More flavor than Olive Hill but not as productive.

Gary'O Sena: Another Keith Mueller purple tomato. Really good but not quite as good as Liz Bert to me.

Frank's Large Red: (The pic is a few greens ones) This is by far one of the biggest red tomatoes I have ever grown. When you first taste it, it hits you with sweet but then it has this old timey tomato flavor. Reminds me of how tomato juice tastes from the store.

I wanted to comment on Fritz Ackerman and Marlowe Charleston too: You know last year I grew both and they were regular leaf plants. I absolutely loved the ones I grew last season and they both made my all-star list. Then I find out they are supposed to be Potato leaf. So I chased down the PL seed for each one and grew them both this year. The PL version of each was was nothing like the RL versions from last year. They are entirely different tomatoes. Maybe the RL ones I grew last season were crosses but they were superior to the PL varieties I grew this year. So....if you want to grow either one of these varieties I would suggest the RL variety.

Now I'm going on hiatus..ha...See you all in a few weeks. That is if I ever come back. I don't think I would mind living in France for the rest of my life. I can grow tomatoes there too...right?

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cooking Greasy beans

I'm getting a lot of requests from people asking "how do I cook greasy beans". So......I am just going to do a little post about it.
You would cook them no different than you would any other "green bean". They do have a string so you would need to remove it first.
I personally like to cook my green beans with smoked ham hocks, ham bone, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and some ham base.
So, when you want to cook up your greasy beans, just cook them the way you normally would do it. I haven't gotten my crop yet, their still growing but from all I hear, they taste fantastic. Here's a couple of pics I took today. My NC pink tip greasys and a pic of their flower.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Crop Failure

This is the first time I've ever had to say it. Crop failure. As most of you know there is a blight epidemic this year. Looks like I am going to have to pull and burn all of my plants. I've been fighting it for a couple of weeks but it just keeps spreading. I'm so bummed I can't even write anymore about it. Guess I will just cut my losses and go see the French peeps after all. Here's a few links about it. Cornell University also has a weekly update on tracking it around the country.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kumato displays

Black Garlic display

So while I was in Toronto, I visited a couple of grocery stores. One was just a normal store and one was a gourmet store just opened my chef Mark McEwan:

I found displays of Kumato's there and took a few pics. One sign said it was the #1 tomato in Canada. It is now becoming available in the U.S. under the name Rosso Bruno.
The Mark McEwans store had it on display with Black Garlic, the newest, hottest chef item.
As far as the new McEwan store, I wasn't impressed. I guess I am spoiled by West Point Market which is one of the top 10 gourmet stores in the country. There was no comparison. The only thing that impressed me was that I found the Black Garlic there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greasy Beans

I seem to be getting a lot of hits on the blog from people searching for info on Greasy Beans. This is my first year growing them too so I've tried to collect as much info on them as possible.

Greasy beans are green beans that lack the normal fuzz that is on the outside of a bean pod. Because they lack that fuzz, when you cook them they take on a shiny appearance that makes them look greasy.

They seem to be indigenous to Appalachia, mainly Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. They have names like: Cherokee long Greasy (from the Cherokee indians), Lazy Wife Greasy, Robe Mountain Bean and Ora's Speckled bean. Some of the histories are very fascinating.
Greasys are so prized in the mountain south that an Appalachian bride's trousseau would traditionally have included a few seeds from her family's unique strain of beans. Such devoted guardianship has produced an unmatched diversity of greasy beans in the North Carolina and Kentucky highlands, with more than 30 known varieties still cultivated on small patches of mountain land.

This year I am growing two varieties. Pink Tip Greasy (from N.C.) and North Carolina Speckled Long Greasy Cut Short.

These beans do need to be "unzipped" or un-strung. In today's world, demand is high for stringless beans thus contributing to the decline of these old family beans. When we grow these beans and save seed, we are preserving our history too. As most of you know, my passion is really with the heirloom tomatoes, but there are many vegetables that need protected and preserved. If you love gardening, help continue the legacy of our ancestors and grow these very special varieties.
Greasy's are very hard to find. Sustainable Mountain Agrigculture Center is where I finally found my seeds. Along with preserving Southern Appalachian heirloom bean varieties, they are experts on the greasy bean.
My friend Maria at also has a family greasy bean she is growing and selling.

It makes me sad to think of the heirloom beans that might become extinct including many varieties of family Greasy beans. The old timers are passing away and if a family member doesn't continue growing their bean, it becomes lost along with all of it's history. Saving heirloom and family vegetables is right up there with me as saving an animal from extinction. Once something is lost, it's lost forever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Today in the garden

Just a reminder to any growers that want to compete in their county fairs. Now is the time to be checking their websites for applications. Good Luck.

North Carolina Cut Short Greasy Bean seedling (left)

My black Chick pea seedlings(right)

Here's a pic of the oddest things I have ever seen in my garden. It's a sunflower coming up and it's cotyldons are pure white. I have never seen that before. You can see two more under it, one is maroon and one is green. That is normal. It seems like a freak of nature but I'm not sure. Has anyone else seen this or can you give me some info... You can email me.

And some of the roses. L-R: Chicago Peace, Heirloom and Pope John Paul II. Think I'm getting better with them folks.

Not kidding

OMG!!! I just found out that my blog is being watched by a company in South Africa... I can't afford any lawsuits right now or ever so I might not be posting about the Peppadews anymore. If I know you and you want to know something about the grow-out, Email me. If I don't know you, I won't be able to answer your questions. Sorry.
P.S... You heard the term "this garden's illegal"..Well......

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I'm taking this as a good sign from the Universe. I found a total of 3 horseshoes in the garden. The weird part is that I have been working that ground for years and never found 1 let alone 3.
I just need one more for a full horse. I'm going to hang 1 of them in my house to remind me that maybe I'm very lucky. I heard that if you hang one you hang it with the open end up so the luck doesn't run out. I'm not really superstitious but don't want to take any chances so that's the way I'll do it.

Got a new pair of garden mud boots compliments of my ex. He left them so I took them over. Haha. Kind of big but they'll work. They look so girlie with my shorts.

I got most of the mulching done. Thank God!! All the babies are growing like crazy. My brother is coming over to help me make 40 more CRW cages this week. Seems like every year I have to make more. Like I always say....part of the sickness.

Congratulations to my baby girl (on the left). She graduates H.S. today. I'm so proud of her for so many things it's hard to list them all. She is the kind of daughter we all hope and wish for. She's going off to college this fall and that will be hard for both of us I'm sure. My son's going to be living near the campus too so for the first time in 24 years I won't have a kid at home. :( Weird. I love you Lydi girl!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Duane's Official

My bud Duane got his official certificate showing his record breaking tomato.
Hahaha.... You should see the set-up of tomatoes he's growing this year to break his own record...He's shootin' for a 6 pounder..
My little black chickpeas are coming up!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Choptag Spring '09

I got to hit Choptag Sat. for the plant swap. I'm used to Cincinnati being so much warmer than Cleveland, I wasn't prepared for how cold it was. No jacket. Was getting ready to put my flannel pj shirt on when Barbee gave me her jacket. LOL. Thanks sister! Of course Earl was there with his awesome smoked pork. Wouldn't be Choptag without it. Thanks Earl for the Tenderness pepper plant. I can't wait to try that one.
Some of the usual suspects showed up. Jerry and his wife, Gary and his friend Cathy, Susan and I finally got to meet Barbee. She is way cool.
Of course I spent most of my time hanging with my tomato hero Gary. I embarrass myself how much I gush over him but I can't help it. Of course he gave some of his special plants. I love to grow the stuff he gives me.
Earl gave us all a lesson on pot rolling. Hahaha... not that kind of pot. How to make seedling pots out of newspaper. I think I will try it next year.

I came away with more tomatoes than I ever need but that is usually the case. Had a lot of fun with everyone. Barbee, you are so much fun. I'm glad I got to finally meet you. Next time I'm in Cincinnat we will have to meet up.
Susan, enjoyed talking to you. You are so nice.
To the 2 non-posters on Tomatoville (you know who you are), better get crackin' and start typing on the forum. :) Hope to see you all this fall and have a great season!

More pics on Tomatoville if you want to see them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chickpeas and Choptag

Today I had a great day in the garden. I planted 6 rows of Turnip greens, black chickpeas, Basil, Flat leaf Parsley and Cilantro.
I never knew there was such a thing as black chickpeas. I was in one of the local nurseries and saw the seeds. They were from Seeds of Change, one of my favorite seed suppliers. I bought some to plant and did a little research on them. The black ones are called Kala Chana. From what I'm reading they have a very different taste than the normal white ones we are used to. Nuttier, earthier and stronger flavored. Apparently they have been grown for over 6,000 years in the Middle East. Also found out there are red chickpeas and also green. Wow.. I had no idea and I'm in love with chickpeas. I eat them like crazy in salads and I eat Hummus like I'm Arab. LOL

I'll have to update you later in the season on what I thought about the taste.
Headin' out for Choptag tomorrow morning. I love getting together with some of the growers. Will get to see Gary Millwood (my hero) again. I'm sure I will be coming home with more tomatoes than I really need. It's just part of the sickness. I'll make sure and post some pics from Choptag!!