Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tomato Tuesday- Wacky and Wonderful !

Does my hair appear a whole lot grayer this year? Yes, I know, I know.  I haven't been to the hairdresser for a cut for months and it is a frizzy mess. But the gray?  I am convinced that it is the weather this year that is turning it gray. I am a farmer.  I depend on good weather.  This is not good weather.

Who likes this cool, damp rubbish people are forced to call weather? Not me, not my hair and certainly not my thousands of sweet little tomato plants who are yearning for the sun.

There are always things beyond the control of anyone who works for a living.  Computers go down, new competition comes to town and costs go up.  But to have your livelihood depend on the whims of the weather is one of the downsides of farming. Especially these days when it just seems a little wackier than ever.

Which is a disjointed segue into the topic of wacky tomatoes.

Wacky hair, wacky weather and wacky tomatoes.

If you come out to the farm on the May 21-22 weekend, you will find some intriguing varieties.
They are just plain fun to grow because they are so different.  It is an anticipatory growers' high - waiting for the shapes, stripes and plant features to develop.

Michael Pollan

Unripe Reisetomate

There are tomato varieties whose fruits are not exceptionally unusual...but the plants are.
Micro Tom, an open pollinated variety, but not an heirloom, is a super-mini type tomato.  It only grows 6-8" tall, and produces very sweet and small red fruit. It will do just fine in a small pot for the season, and then in the fall just bring it in your house, pop it on your windowsill and expect a little bit of winter fruit. Micro Tom certainly won't satisfy any great cravings for tomatoes, but it really is a fun little novelty plant.

Another very intriguing plant is Stick.  It grows like one...a straight single stem, with rosettes of leaves at 6-8' intervals, and nice little red tomatoes on top. If you don't stake this one, down she goes.

Angora leaf tomatoes are something quite different.  They have a white fuzz on their leaves, and many also have a bit of peach fuzz on the fruit- like Roughwood Golden Tiger.  This very rare tomato is just all around cool. Angora leaf and oval fuzzy fruit, which is red in colour with gold stripes. Add great flavour and you have a winner.

Lutescent is another odd tomato.  In the garden, it looks like an unhealthy plant as its' foliage is yellow-green, not the deep vibrant green which signifies a healthy plant.  The blossoms are an unusual white in colour, and the tomatoes ripen from white-not green- to red.

Variegated is another interesting plant, which has lovely small red tomatoes, and of course variegated foliage.  Very pretty!  Silvery Fir has very pretty lacy foliage and produces a very good and early small red tomato.

Peach tomatoes are amongst my favourite varieties..  I love Red Garden Peach, and would definitely say it is without question  one of my most highly anticipated fruits of the season.  It is just so sweet , juicy and flavourful. Its' downside is its' upside though. It is fragile and needs to be eaten quickly.  I am happy to oblige.

Brad Gates from California has an amazing array of "created" heirlooms...that is varieties that are created by crossing two heirloom varieties and growing them out until they grow "true to type".  Michael Pollan is one of his more recent creations.  How fabulous to have a tomato named after you!  And what a fabulous tomato - prolific, beautiful and very unique.
There are tomatoes named after boars and hogs bearing stripes, fuzz and flavour galore. I've got a lot of them, and it is a very cool collection.

Tom Wagners' creations are equally stunning.  Tom, the legendary breeder of Green Zebra also came up with some other fabulous fruit.  Green Sausage, long green with yellow stripes,
T2, T4 and T5 are unique shaped reds with gold striping, with T4 being one of the truly weirdest ever.  It is a small pink fruit with green stripes and a waxy, nearly rubbery feel. But it is good!  Weird but good!

Stuffers  like Gourmet Yellow Stuffer, Green Bell Pepper (yes,it IS a tomato), Striped Cavern and Pink Zapotec Ribbed can add a nice little"je ne sais quoi" to an otherwise boring meal.

And for more weird appeal in the garden, there is always the very funky and unpredictable Reisetomate.  This lovely red acidy tomato appears like a bunch of cherry tomatoes fused together, and truly every fruit on the plant is different.  It really is fun to watch them develop.

And there are many, many more here on "Tomato Days".

And if you come ignore the hair, pray for the weather (well-maybe for the hair too!) and watch for the wacky tomatoes.  Have a bit of fun in your garden!


Buttons said...

I love your hair. I have pure white hair and most times being a farmer with a hat on I never even comb it.
This weather is not helping the farmer that is for sure. I love your tomato varieties. You always make me want to try different things, That is great. B

Iz said...

Love you hair - it's like mine!
I wish we could be there on the long weekend - your whole basket of tomatoes in the picture look so delicious. (And, I know this to be true)

Cellarguy said...

At least you've got hair. Some farmers pull it right out.

Question about the open pollination and the many species and crosses: If I were to bring these tomatoes home to my garden, how far apart would they have to be, so that they grow true? If I plant them too close together, will I get a new heirloom variety next year?

And if so, should I call it Linda's Hairloom?

Linda said...

Thanks, Buttons for the comments. Yes, another female farmer would understand farm hair!
Hi Iz..Gary will be making up the boxes this weekend for the mail outs, but I will wait on yours.If we are this cool, you must be downright cold. And your hair really does look better than mine. Remember I used to be "fancy"? No more, no more.
Thanks for the chuckle of the day Cellarguy...Linda's Hairloom Heirloom! Love it! But oh my goodness, what would it look like?!
Yes, you have to be wary of crosses....generally with potato leaf and currant types in particular. I did write a bit about it in a post...
Tomato Tuesdays, Excellent and Early on April 5th
Thanks all for reading.