Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Sized Pink Tomatoes and Purple Beans!

Matron at Down on the Allotment posted a very creative vegetable olympic rings logo, and asked which veggies in your garden are worthy of the olympics. She asked which ones are FASTER, HIGHER or STRONGER than any others? Well I'd like to add BIGGER to that list and nominate my Glick's Brandywine tomatoes and my Chinese Red Noodle Beans.

My brandywines are more than a pound each!

This one weighed in at 1.8 pounds - a monster!

They are not supposed to weigh that much so I don't know what happened. They sure are big and delicious!

Even crazier than that are these Chinese Red Noodle Beans:

These beans are two feet long!

Look at them growing on the trellis compared to the Kentucky Wonder Beans next to them.

I measured them and they really are 24 inch pods!

It was hard to measure them accurately because our kitten Maggie kept playing with them and pulling the beans away.

I'm not really sure how to eat these Chinese Red Noodle beans. I'm going to try some smaller 18 inch pods in stir fry or simply sauteed. The only problem is that Maggie may eat them all before I can cook them. :)

Glick's Brandywine and Chinese Red Noodle Beans; Veggies of Olympic proportions!

Great post idea, Matron.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Cherry Tomato Rainbow!

The cherry tomatoes are all producing well now. I always used to grow only red cherry tomatoes. Last year I added orange and really liked them, so this year I decided to add many more colors and grow a Cherry Tomato Rainbow!

Okay, okay, I realize that the colors don't exactly match the Crayola versions. My yellow tomatoes are more of a pale orange, my black tomatoes are more of a dark purple and my white tomatoes are more of a pale yellow, but aren't they pretty cool anyway?

Going left to right up the rainbow we have Sun Sugar as our orange variety, Gardener's Delight (my favorite red cherry), and Aunt Ruby's German Cherry as our green variety. I highly recommend all three of these tomato varieties. Sun Sugar and Gardener's Delight used to be the only two that I grew.

Sun Sugar is probably the sweetest tomato there is. My kids like to eat them when they are still yellow before they ripen all the way. At that stage, they are really sour like those war-head sour candies. Last year my youngest daughter aptly named them the Sweet-Tart Tomatoes. You get really sour or really sweet - your choice.

Last year I added Aunt Ruby's German Green tomatoes to my list of favorite odd heirloom tomatoes. The bigger Aunt Ruby's Green is a late tomato, but these Aunt Ruby's German Cherries mature early and taste and look just like their bigger cousins. Yum!

Next we have Egg Yolk tomatoes. My daughter picked these from the Baker Creek catalog just for the novelty. In Baker Creek's pictures, they look exactly like egg yolks. My Egg Yolks just look like yellowish cherry tomatoes. They do have pretty good flavor though.

The next one is one of my new favorites, Black Cherry. They are just like miniature Black Krim tomatoes!

Lastly, as our white tomato we have Italian Ice - the only hybrid in the rainbow. I have Kimberly from Life of a Garden blog to thank for these. She saw that I was growing White Tomesol and Great White heirloom tomatoes and thought I would like to try a white cherry tomato, so she sent me some seeds. It does add to the rainbow nicely. Its flavor is, well, different. It almost doesn't taste like a tomato. I'll hold my judgement until I get to eat a few more. I'm also excited to try those White Tomesols.

I am growing two each of last year's favorites, Gardener's Delight and Sun Sugar. For the other colors, I only have one plant each. Eight cherry tomato plants will produce an almost infinite amount of cherry tomatoes! They are growing nicely on my tomato trellis.

With all of this good tomato eatin', life is just a bowl of cherries!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How can you tell when the corn is ready?

How can you tell when the sweet corn is ready? When the raccoons eat half of it!

First of all, thank you to all who commented on my last post and especially those who voted on which post they would like me to write next. The winners were the potatoes in a garbage can update and the extra high raised bed trial details. Even though there weren't very many votes for my corn efforts, I have to write this one first because it is more timely.

I put up a six foot tall fence around the corn bed and I knew that wouldn't keep the coons out entirely. I was planning to fasten a roll of floppy chicken wire to the top of the fence to keep them from being able to successfully climb over it. I headed out to the corn with my roll of chicken wire only to discover that they had struck the night before:

I was too late. Look at how they diligently ate every kernel! So now, instead of taking the time to put on the chicken wire, we decided to pick the remaining ears of corn.

The raccoons ate over half of the ears but we still got a nice basket full. I'm happy with that especially considering the poor start this corn had.

Look how beautiful they look!

That last closeup doesn't really show the bi-color aspect of this corn. This is the Japanese Bicolor corn - Mirai 301BC. I first wanted to grow this early last year when I wrote a post about this Mirai corn from Park Seed.

This is a better picture of the bi-color aspect:

I have to say, Park delivered on its promise. This might very well be the best sweet corn I have ever eaten. Next year I hope to find a spot far enough in the yard to grow another variety (probably Silver Queen) along with Mirai for a true taste test.

As for this year, the Mirai was delicious but I failed in part in my battle against the coons. Before I leave you, let me at least show you how I wanted to keep them out but was too slow. First of all, I was going to aim my Scarecrow at the corn. The scarecrow was on the night of the attack, but it was guarding the beans against a groundhog attack.

Secondly, I was going to use the chicken wire like I mentioned earlier. I went ahead and fastened a portion of the wire to better show you what I had planned. This is what it would look like:

The chicken wire is fastened only at the bottom to the top of the fence. It stays floppy at the top with no support so when a raccoon attempts to climb it, it folds down on him which essentially dumps him off. Allow me to demonstrate with my daughters stuffed animal:

The leopard raccoon climbs the fence and reaches the chicken wire. When it continues up the chicken wire, its own weight causes the wire to bend down over it.

Not this time Ricky!

I'm pretty sure this would work well but I'll have to wait until next year to confirm it. I hope this idea can still benefit someone else this year.

I will soon be writing the raised bed post, a rainbow of cherry tomatoes post, and I will soon be dumping over the potato can to see how well that worked. Stay tuned and thanks for your patience.

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