Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tomato Times

I have a lot of catching up to do so this might be a lengthy post. This tomato season is turning out so much better than I thought it was going to. Nothing but rain for the first 6 weeks or so. I was just about at the place where I thought I was going to lose everything to blight if it kept up and it stopped! I'm actually having to water now which is a good thing. I would rather have dry than rainy.
I will be at the 2015 Michigan Tomato Fest on Aug. 22nd.  If you are around this area, please come and meet me!! I plan on bringing a limited amount of seed of some of my new releases so be the first to have them!! Thank you Karen Golden for inviting me. Looking forward to it!
La Vie en Rose

Moonshiner's Ball
Finally, I will release the seed for La Vie en Rose tomato. This is a cross that came out of my garden several years ago. Sebastien sold plants in the spring in France and he said the people were in love with the name. He sold every one of them! I am so proud of this tomato. Not only is it gorgeous but the taste is phenomenal. An SSC exclusive. I know this tomato is going to be a Rockstar in the garden. Unfortunately, the sister tomato to this, Moonshiner's Ball, will be delayed another year. I didn't get the seed from my grower in Australia in time to get the F5 going. I don't like to release seed until it's at F5. Here's a little photo of Moonshiner's Ball due out next season. Both tomatoes have the same parentage.

Owen's Purple
I have started picking ripe tomatoes now and of course I have some reviews.  I have always had the tomato Carbon as my favorite black/purple. This is the standard I use to judge all others. Up until this season I had never had a black I liked better. Well..... this season I do!! It's called Owen's Purple. Holy tomato!! So unbelievably good. This will now be my new standard for blacks. I will have the seed listed within a few days. I expect this one to sell out so get it while you can! I am growing another Black/purple that is also excellent called Black Magic. Not quite as good as Owen's but pretty nice. Then there is a new cherry tomato called Carbon Copy. Of course it's a cherry version of Carbon, If you like that one I would recommend you try this one, Sweet and productive.

Carbon Copy
There will be more reviews as the season goes along so stay tuned! I would also like to announce that breeder/grower Blane Horton will now be listing on our site Secret Seed Cartel. For those of you that aren't familiar with Blane he is an extremely talented breeder from Mississippi. He has come out with some of the most stunning tomatoes I've seen in years. If you follow the SSC Facebook page you can see some of his tomatoes there. Welcome aboard Blane, glad to have you. 
Also, I know have an Instragram account for the SSC where you can see all the up to the minute tomato pics. You don't have to be a member to see the photos. Everything is under  Secretseedcartel.
Stay tuned for more up-dates and hopefully I will see you at the Michigan Tomatofest!
In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about how we choose to treat others. Always be kind even when you're faced with meaness. There are a lot of mean people in this world. Just feel sorry for them,. It must be so miserable to be carrying around so much bitterness that you choose to be un-kind to people. Remember, it is our choice how we treat others. It's also our choice how we choose to respond to ugliness. Kindness trumps ugly any day of the week. Stay sweet!!!!!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Runner Beans

I've been wanting to do a post on Runner Beans for quite awhile. I've always grown them for their decorative value in the garden. I would build teepees and let them grow up and flower. Not only were they beautiful but I used them as a barrier crop between peppers and tomatoes. I usually would pull out the camera and get some good bee or butterfly photos as a bonus! The thing is here in the U.S. we only grow them as a decorative bean for the flowers. In Mexico and some European countries the dried bean is not only eaten but prized. The English eat the runner beans as pods.
It is Phaseolus Coccineus whereas Pole Beans are Phaseolus Vulgaris. It is believed they originated in the mountains of Central America. Most produce red flowers (think Scarlet Runner Bean) or white flowers. Although there are various other colors of salmon, purple etc....
The French call them Haricot d'Espagne. In Mexico and Central America they go by Ayacote or Ayocote. In Spain, It is called Judia Pinta.
The seeds of Runner Beans are huge. I personally love the multi-colored ones pictured here. They're like little pieces of art. Some are solid colored depending on the color of the flower.
My goal this year is not only to grow them for their floral beauty but I am growing a special one to eat this season. It is called Judia de la Granja. P.Coccineus
It is a Spanish bean from the town of La Granja de San lldefonso. The name translates: Bean from the farm. It dates back to the 1721 to the construction of the palace of La Granja. Originally it was used to feed the livestock of the workers that came to build the palace. At some point someone decided to cook it and the rest is history. Today it has it's own festival on August 25th. It is usually cooked in clay pots with pigs ears, fresh pork, chorizo onions, garlic and salt. I have never eaten the La Granja stew myself but it's legendary.
You can order the cooked beans in jars online or dried beans at high prices. As usual, I prefer to grow them myself. Here's a link for a recipe for the stew, in Spanish so you will have to use a translator.

I have another one I want to grow this year if I can isolate it enough called Black Coat. It's dated pre 1654. German botanist Michael Titus mentioned it in cataloques Plantarum as early as 1654. Its a rare runner with scarlet orange flowers and large black seeds.
I've been researching Runner Beans all winter. I think I've been bitten by the bug. Of course I've ordered more varieties than I can grow this season but I definitely want to try the seeds in a dish this year and what better than one that has it's own festival.

All tomato seeds are up and being potted up. I will post a grow list ASAP. Probably the one I'm most excited about is the West Virginia Penitentiary tomato. Tried to get seeds for this one for several years. Grown back in the 50's in the WV prison farms. Big Pink slicer. Stay tuned for pics this summer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cabin Fever

Super Peppadew
So as most of you know the blight visited the garden in a big way last season. I've put it behind me and I'm planning for this season. Big plans for this year! So let's discuss!

One of the things
 I'm excited about this year is the Super Peppadew. My friend in Wales that I like to call the Pepper King had one of his Peppadew plants produce extra large size fruits. You can see in the photo the difference between the normal PPD and the Super PPD.  Let's all cross our fingers that the seeds produce the same results here.

Also on the list for this season are La Vie en Rose and Moonshiner's Ball. These are the two sister crosses that came out of my garden several years ago. This will be the last growing season before the seeds are released. I'm soooo proud of these two tomatoes. Not only gorgeous but delicious!! Look for the seeds in the Fall of 2015. (the blight delayed the release in 2014). 
Moonshiner's Ball
Also coming to the garden this season are two very rare Basque beans that took me months to locate and get over here to the U.S. I'll mention more about the varieties closer to planting time. Foodies and chefs will be very excited about these and bean collectors as well. Took a lot of work on these two. Also adding to the list of hard to locate items are some new Basque peppers and a new Italian frying pepper. Hopefully we'll have a much better growing season and all these things will be available at the end of the season.

La Vie en Rose
I'm still working on my grow list. It's evolving daily as I add and delete almost hourly. I'm expanding the garden yet again this year. I think I'm getting too old for this. Thank God for the growers I have out there that help me out. Speaking of that, I can still use 2 more so anyone that might be interested can email me at:
I've got some new Blues on my list although I still look at them as curiosities more than eating tomatoes. A lot of people want them so I'm going with the flow. Are there any blues out there that any of you consider actually flavorful? Just curious.
I did finally get my hands on the West Virginia Penitentiary tomato from SSE. It's been freed!! I'm so excited about this one. I know there's a lot of breeding of new tomatoes going on but I'm still most passionate about endangered and the old old heirlooms. This one is quite rare and is one of the old prison tomatoes grown by inmates when they had prison farms that grew their own food and also sold some of their produce to locals. It's interesting reading if you google the Prison Farm systems back in the day.
So I try and leave you with something to think about and today it's just cabin fever. Saying spring is around the corner is lame so I won't say it. Get under your electric blanket with your coffee or tea, start or work on your grow list and remember, winter can't last forever and until spring at least there's