Totally Tomatoes

Photo by Darko Skender

Photo by Darko Skender

It has happened again!  The seed catalogs came to my house and I couldn’t resist looking at everything that was new and wondering if some of my favorites were still around.  Well, maybe I looked a little too hard and a little too long.  I started thinking of all the things I could do with the tomatoes, and other vegetables, I wanted to grow.

I couldn’t help myself; I might have gone a bit overboard. However, I will share with you five (how can I pick just five?) of my most favorite tomatoes:

  • Fourth of July– This is a Burpee exclusive.  It is true to its name. Some growers swear that they pick their first tomato on the 4th of July.  I won’t say I do that every time I’ve grown this tomato, but it is the earliest tomato that I pick and it has more flavor than any other early tomato.
  • Oregon Spring– This is a variety introduced by Oregon State University and is great for cooler summer temperatures. Even though we have hot days, our nights can be cooler and most tomatoes and other vegetables like warm nights.  Great flavor and taste.
  • DX-52 (Hamson DX-52-12) This is an introduction from Utah State University and should be a staple for the northern climate and area. I grew this tomato when I was in Idaho and had great success.  Good for canning.  This year I had to get my seed from a garden center in Utah. The name doesn’t offer much insight, but the real treasure is the fruit itself.
  • Delicious-This is an older beefsteak variety.  It truly offers a one slice tomato sandwich option. However, I never could stop at just one sandwich though.  Wonderful flavor, great size and about a week to ten days earlier than other beefsteak varieties.  Funny thing about this variety, was the deer decided they like this variety too, it was the only one they would eat off of the vine.
  • Sweet Million-This too is an older cherry variety, but still my favorite.  Even though it is prone to cracking, if not picked quickly, I find that it has better flavor than the Sweet 100 variety.  However, if you see me trying to give cherry tomatoes away on the street corner, I am planning on growing 4 different varieties of cherry tomatoes.
  • (bonus) Big Mamma-This variety is again a Burpee exclusive.  It is a Roma variety, great for salsas, very meaty, and not a lot of juice compared to others. And the name is very fitting, twice the size of your regular Roma varieties.
  • Others not to be forgotten: Celebrity, Fantastic.

Most gardeners would probably stop at fewer tomatoes than this in their gardens… Not me.  In fact this is just the beginning. I will be growing about 8 more varieties to see how they perform in our climate. That is just what I will be starting from seed.  Who knows what other varieties might find their way into my garden from some garden center I happen to stop by.

I don’t know what it is about tomatoes, but I have always enjoyed a good tomato.  As a child, it seemed that we were planting, growing, and covering a hundred tomatoes each year.  Funny thing is I have vivid nightmares of growing up and having to help my father cover (and then uncover) the tomato crop that was in the family garden, protecting them from the pending frosts of fall.  He was determined to keep tomatoes on the vine as late into September and even into October as he could.  Now it seems that I possess the same tomato gene as he does.  I even found one of his old favorites and planted it last year.

I realize that tomatoes aren’t for everyone, and not everyone might be as crazy as I in growing so many different varieties. Oh but the rewards of a wonderful tomato sandwich, cucumber and tomato salads, homemade salsas, and of course a slice of tomato on a hamburger right off the grill.

With the news reports indicating that the current tomato crop has been damaged, due to the weird and abnormal weather and temperatures, summer can’t come quick enough bringing the wonderful flavors of the harvest.

Photo by Arcelia Vanasse

Photo by Arcelia Vanasse

I have started my seeds (tomatoes and peppers) growing, pretty soon I will actually start working the soil out in my garden preparing it for an early crop of peas.  Yes, we have had a cold hard winter, not a lot of snow in my area unlike others across the country, but the cold that chilled us to the bone.  As the days are getting longer and warmer, it brings comfort to know that Spring is around the corner.

What are some of the Tomato varieties you like to grow?  Please feel free to leave what you like so others can share.

Eradicating Weeds in the Garden

One of the biggest sources of frustration for a gardener is our nemesis, the weed. Weeds seem to grow wherever they want, whenever they want. It doesn’t seem to matter if anything else will grow in that location or not. Invariably, a weed will grow and do it well.

So what are some options for getting rid of those pesky troublemakers? Of course there are many chemical solutions for weeds, but if you are looking for something a little more organic, then have I got a video for you! This week’s video is full of some really great ideas to get rid of those pesky weeds once and for all. And the video even explains why weeds grow and how we can inadvertently make things worse for ourselves. And who wants that to happen, right?

Now that you have seen the video, which techniques will you use in your garden? Do you have other solutions for getting rid of those nuisance-causing weeds? Leave me a comment and share.

Does Hydroponic Mean Organic?

When planning an organic garden, many people will ask about hydroponic gardening. It is often perceived that if the plants are not being grown in soil, that they must be grown organically. This is a misconception. Organic gardening and hydroponics really are not the same, although you can grow your vegetables hydroponically and organically. Just be aware that the vegetables you buy in the store may say they are hydroponic, but that doesn’t mean that organic principles were used to grow them.

Today’s video will get to the bottom of the hydroponic/organic myth and help you to understand what makes them different.

Remember that if you choose to grow your tomatoes and other vegetables hydroponically, you can still use organic methods in your greenhouse. You can use organic pest control and fertilizers to help your plants grow. You do not have to choose to use any non-organic pesticides to have a successful garden.

What are your thoughts on organic gardening and hydroponics? I’d love to hear them.