Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Plant Starting and Variety Show

We have started the process of planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and many other plants at GFF, so we are thinking about vegetable varieties more than ever.  One of our goals is to grow a multitude of varieties in order to provide some insurance that we will get crops most year and also in recognition that everyone has different tastes and preferences.  We are also committed to selecting open-pollinated types whenever it is feasible, with many of our selections being heirloom or heritage strains.

Since we grow so many different varieties of produce, we have been working to provide you with some descriptions on our website so you can see what we are growing and why.  If you are CSA member or produce customer, this can help you determine what you might want to select from our table for eating.  If you are a person who grows your own and wants to make the best choice for your own garden, then we hope these descriptions will also help you.

If you want to see more, please visit our website and our vegetable variety pages.  Please remember that we don't have infinite time to put material out there for everything.  At present, tomatoes, peppers and winter squash are updated.  Others are in various stages.

Here are a couple of samples from the website.  These pages and the blog give us an opportunity to share some of what we learned and let you see some of our photos.  Slowly, but surely, we're getting a decent library of these put together.  Enjoy!

Tasty Evergreen
Tasty Evergreen tomato
Resists Cracking
Disease resistance
Days to Maturity
Fruit Per Plant
Typical Harvest Period
Aug/ Sept
Size of Fruit
.73 pounds
These tend towards a brownish, yellow/green when ripe and maintain a green gel in the interior with white/green flesh. The taste is quite good, giving a refreshing zing to a summer sandwich, especially if you like mayonaise. The taste helps one to think cool thoughts on a hot day. On the down side, they tended to have deeper cracks on the shoulders that led to rot problems at ripening. Fruit size is highly variable and the shape is rarely perfectly round. The taste treat is enough to grow a few of these on the farm. We find that picking them before they get too ripe gives us a better shot at harvest. Unfortunately, they do not ship well and are difficult to deliver. 

The picture above is from the very dry 2012 season. Like many tomatoes, they liked this weather better than some of the wetter, cooler ones we have experienced on the farm. We are getting better at growing these, but we are still not convinced that we should grow much more than five or six plants. They are still finicky and we get discouraged by the number of fruit that start to show rot spots up by the stems in some of the creases. We get the feeling that they like being picked in warmer weather, so we're wondering if an earlier start might actually result in more marketable fruit. As it is, these are enough of a taste treat that we'll offer fruit that have some blemishes just so people can have the option of taking them home and enjoying them. Results with Tasty Evergreen are far better than those we get from Aunt Ruby's German Green, but that's our farm. We encourage you to try both head to head to choose. Taste for this tomato is, in our opinion, tangier and much more interesting.

Jimmy Nardello's Frying Pepper
Jimmy Nardello's Frying Pepper
Our 2007 Veg Variety of the Year.  Jimmy Nardello's looks alot like a hot pepper, so you'd better set them on a different part of your counter so you don't confuse them.  These are fabulous sweet peppers that get even better when cooked.  They freeze well, they dry well.  Plants easily produce twenty plus peppers per plant.  Fruit shapes can be curled and knotted.  Sizes later in the season are smaller when they turn red simply because there isn't time for them to grow bigger.  Harvest begins peaking mid-August and continues until the plant dies (usually October).  Excellent response to the high tunnel environment with increased uniformity in fruit size and shape.  Taste *may* be slightly better, but that's hard to measure as we may have been letting our enthusiasm get the best of us. We unabashedly will encourage people to buy these at market when we have excess beyond our CSA need and easily gain converts. All we can say is that it isn't hard to promote something that really is this good.

Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato
This IS an acorn squash. It just has a cream colored skin. Size can be slightly bigger than standard green acorns such as Table Queen, but not much bigger. These vines are very hardy. Dry year - no problem, just get them started as seedlings. Wet year - it can do that. Cool year - ok as long as you get them in on time. Hot year - it doesn't really notice. From a production standpoint, we can't do better for an acorn squash. We also like the taste of these better than standard green acorn squash. We find them to be a little less stringy. We've had them store into January, but don't expect it. It would normally be safe to save them into December. Vines crawl around a bit, but not much more than average winter squash. Easy to pick - in part because the color makes it easier to see them. We don't lose much of these to pests or other problems. We have noticed that if the stem comes off flush with the skin, you should eat that fruit sooner than those that maintain their stem.

Boothby's Blonde
boothby's blonde cucumber
The key to having productive Boothby's vines? Keep them picked. Pick the fruit when they are anywhere from 2 to 5 inches in size and before they start to show deep yellow or orange coloring. Don't peel them, just wipe them off and much away. Taste is milder than many cucumbers. After convincing people that they were cucumbers and getting people to taste them, they have become a CSA Farm Share favorite along with True Lemon. The good news for us is that Boothby's is often more reliable than True Lemon and a bit easier to pick since the vines are less aggressive.

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