Thursday, September 16, 2010

big beef

well not so big this year, but a good producer. hybrid vigor and expected tomato flavor. good one to have. sometimes gets mealy at times, but not too bad.

grade = 3


another good producing hybrid that i will have in the garden year after year. standard tomato taste and production was very good inspite of 2010 weather challenges.

grade = 3

cherokee purple

a great heirloom that i will grow every year. purple flesh, with a bit of green shading up near the top. juicy, well flavored mid-size tomato. production was less than stellar this year - but we all know why. this will be on tap for many years to come.

grade = 4

super fantastic

for most of the remaining red tomatoes, i gotta tell you - taste is pretty consistent across the board. its expected, they are hybrids and are bred for consistent production with other admirable attributes, which make them a winner in adverse weather years like we had in 2010.

this is super fantastics third year, and will be in my tomato posse - just because i know i can count on it for production - and this year was a good test. although fruit size was smaller than expected, it still had a lot of them. good standard tomato flavor. a keeper

grade = 3

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

mr stripey

thought this would be a larger bi-colored tomato. turned out pretty much to be redundant to black zebra. moderate production, no noticeable blossom rot issues. fine taste, but no better than black zebra. sorry mr. stripey, black zebra wins.

grade = 2

sweet gold

a yellow cherry tomato that was planted to compare to sungold. typical cherry production, but didnt seem as prolific as sungold. taste wasnt bad, in fact quite good - but not as good as sungold. late season production seemed to taper off sooner than sungold. if i hadnt already been a sungold fan, this would be in the winners column. in light of sungold - it pales in comparison.

grade = 2

early girl

my go-to for early production and this year it was the earliest tomato. medium/smallish in size, 3-4 tomatoes per cluster. typical hybrid tomato taste. main strength, early season producer and given 2010 weather, it did a good job. continues to produce throughout the year.

definitely should be on the list every year - if only for getting an early tomato.

grade = 3

gregori's altai

marketed as an early russian heirloom. wasnt too early, but had heirloom taste and qualities. pink colored tomato, bigger than mid size. not a prolific producer, but given 2010 weather, that might be a different variable.

a bit of cat facing, didnt see any blossom end rot. solid taste. overall, not bad, but given small number of fruits on the plant, dont count on it to provide much.

grade = 2.5

Monday, September 13, 2010

black from tula

planted to compare to cherokee purple. similar in flavor, color and size to cherokee purple. possibly slightly more roundish and offers a cute 'belly button' on the bottom end. did see a slight propensity for end blossom rot, but not too bad. must pick when ripe or it quickly goes over ripe with a watery bottom end. prone to catfacing, but that and cracks dont really slow me up or become a hinge factor in my decision. if i had to choose between tula and cherokee purple - purple wins.

grade = 3

black zebra

a favorite from last year, and still a favorite. doesnt seem to have the bit of saltiness that last years plants had, but the weather could be a factor. near perfect size and prolific producer. i love the bi-color skin. seems to avoid cracking. still a real winner.

grade = 4


sure looks and tastes like your typical red hybrid tomato. nothing great or bad about this variety.
grade = 2

insights on the tastes of some tomatoes

this kicks off, what will be, a non-scientific, biased and subjective review of the tomatoes i grow. i do this mainly so i can have a report of a particular variety going forward. i hope to give enough detail to make each tomato standout or fail on its own merit, but i expect most tomatoes to pretty much taste like - well, a tomato. so unless i clearly state that 'this tomato stinks' most will be just that - average, no outstanding attributes, no real drawbacks. i am keeping in mind that the weird weather in 2010 impacted tomato production and when the plant finally produced.

tomatoes will be graded on a scale of 1-4:

1 = bad, will never plant again

2 = ok, just doesnt standout, not good, but not bad, i'm agnostic about it, average.

3 = good, a solid performer, better than average.

4 = great, definitely a must have in the garden.

so the first tomato we run through is Sioux.

its a smallish tomato that is borne in clusters of 4-6 tomatoes. plant was vigorous. taste is typical hybrid tomato flavor. a nice looking tomato, with no evidence of cracking or end blossom rot. it was bred in the 1940's so not real old heirloom, clearly a hybrid. nothing to make me want to grow it again.

grade = 2

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2011 garden layout

well, the 2010 garden hasnt even been ripped out yet, but i believe i have the bed layouts for 2011 dialed.

some challenges i had this year:

1. the two sisters plan - sharing corn and squash in the same bed, didnt work as anticipated, and i really have enough room, so i probably will not try that again anytime soon.

2. corn didnt produce as expected (2 years in a row, same ultra super sweet hybrid), so i am going to go back and use pa's favorite and try silver queen and a variety keith uses and see how those do. also, i will plant an entire bed at one time, the staggered bed didnt work as i expected - now the weird 2010 weather may have had something to do with that but i will change it up and see how 2011 rates. yes, we may see too much corn at 1 time - but i would rather have that challenge, instead of too little corn at one time.

3. 25 tomato plants is still too much, i am backing off to 21 and that frees up an entire bed, so i can land squash in its own bed - again (see challenge #1).

4. i think i have my rotation down so i will not have a nightshade relative in the a bed year after year. i squeeze out 1 tomato and plant bell peppers as companion planting (bed 8) and that arrangement moves to the left in 2012 (to bed 2). so each bed will have a 1 year hiatus from the nightshade family (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes).

5. 1 summer squash plant is enough and i found a variety that is kind of shaped like an acorn squash, and matures quick like the long summer squash, but is the right size for the family.

6. thank goodness for tomato hybrids, the wacky weather really slowed down the heirlooms, just now getting a cherokee purple - which is on my must have list, but black from tula, seems comparable. overall i have an abundance of tomatoes - now - but boy did it take too long.

7. i have pretty much decided that sun gold is the ne-plus-ultra for cherry tomatoes and will no longer look for a superior variety, that will free up at least 1 spot for another tomato. 1 caveat - if farmer fred finds something in the future, i *might* be convinced to see if sun gold reins supreme. :)

8. hybrids and heirlooms will be roughly split 10 of each.

so heres looking at 2011 and hoping for a good year.

5 gallons baby....

today was honey extraction day. as i learned my first year of beekeeping -oh so many years ago, you gotta do it when its warm, or you will pay a dear price in labor to get at your honey.

2 hives produced surplus honey - the first serrano hive and the folsom hive. the rest are just cruising into early fall with, what i believe to be is enough honey to survive the winter. one more look into the hives in a few weeks to confirm, shuffle some frames to prep for winter and a dosage of essential oils to help ward off the varroa mite and hopefully we will see a good number of the hives make it into spring 2011.

between the two hives i had about 4 honey supers and once extracted and strained, we have a 5 gallon bucket that is brim full of the magic gold elixir that takes millions of bees to produce.

lets hear it for the girls! without the hard work ethic of those worker bees (all female - btw) and we would not have the abundant honey harvest we got this year.

in the attached picture, you see just 2 of 40 frames that held our 2010 harvest of el dorado counties finest honey.