Tomatoes – Better Late!!!

It has been my experience, tomatoes planted late are far superior to early or standard planted. As the temperatures start to cool down, you get better flower set and consequently better fruit.

I prefer to cage my tomatoes for better foliage cover to reduce the chance of sun-scald. Heirloom tomatoes have superior taste and texture. However, the plants can exceed the size of the cage!! Next year I plan to grow the plants on 5 foot centers to allow for easier harvesting and increased air circulation.

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BTW, the plant to the left of Papa is a variety called Granny Cantrell. This beloved heirloom has quite a following. The plant to the right is Daniel’s, which produces very large pink red fruit and appears to be well suited for our Missouri Ozarks climate.

The above variety has the unusual name of “1884”. The plant was discovered after a flood in West Virginia in 1884. This beauty weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces. BLT sandwiches are written all over it!!!!

Kellog’s Breakfast is the name of this bright yellow/orange sweet confection. Boasting a good balance of sweetness and acidity with few seeds make Kellog’s Breakfast a highly desirable choice.

The expanded list of tomatoes grown are:

  • 1884 – large pink/red beefsteak
  • Black Prince – small purple/red 2-3 oz
  • Black from Tula – medium red/purple, meaty/few seeds
  • Coyne – red Roma type, large 4-8 oz
  • Daniel’s – large pink/red beefsteak, many over a pound
  • German Johnson – medium pink/red beefsteak, one of the parents of Branywine
  • Granny Cantrell – medium/large pink/red beefsteak, plants are huge!
  • Hannah – medium/large, pink/red oxheart, meaty, few seeds
  • Hazelfield Farm – pink/red, medium beefsteak, well adapted to hot/humid
  • Kellog’s Breakfast – large yellow/orange beefsteak, sweet and meaty
  • Mary Robinson German Bicolor – large, red/yellow, beefsteak
  • Omar’s Lebanese – large pink/red, may exceed 3 pounds
  • Pineapple – large, yellow/red, very sweet and juicy
  • Pink Boar – pink with green streaks, small 3-4 oz
  • Rutgers – small, orange/red old fashioned for canning, juicing
  • San Marzano Lungo #2 – 3-4 0z Roma type for sauce and paste

It never ceases to amaze me, how traditional tomato eaters are about the color of their tomatoes. As one man said to me “If it ain’t red, I ain’t going to eat it”. However, when they try the different colored tomatoes, they often change their mind.

For the Ozarks, start your tomato seeds the second week of May and plant your seedlings the first of July. Your tomatoes will start coming in by late August through October. BTW, for you market gardeners, late tomatoes command a higher price by late September/October due to limited supply.

Plant late, I promise you, you will not be disappointed!

Papa

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Thumping a Watermelon for Ripeness

You go to the store to pick out a watermelon, so what do you do?

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Here is my method.

I start thumpin’ the melon with my thumb and index finger or rap it with my  knuckles.

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If I hear a high pitch sound the watermelon is probably under ripe. Plink

If I hear a low pitch sound or dull thud the watermelon is probably over ripe. Plunk

If I hear a pitch between the two sounds the watermelon is probably ripe. Plank

Try this method and watch the other shoppers make amused faces.

Yes, it works.

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Let me know how this method works for you.

Papa

What’s Happening?

Introducing our newest family member – Oakley (who doesn’t like her picture taken!) She is quite the lady and has started learning the skills of country life.

 

We like our birds!!!! A small showing of our “regulars”.

 

Hoop house growing! The spinach and cabbage remain delicious!

 

Let’s not forget Miss Kitty, our tomato transplant supervisor. As quick as the transplants were re-potted, she would playfully paw them out of the pot. She is a very curious kitty!!

 

Papa presenting at the Wabash Valley  Master Gardener Spring Conference in Terre Haute, Indiana. The topic , “Starting a Seed Saving Garden”. This wonderful group of dedicated Master Gardeners is very active in their community. Kudos to all your community service projects!!

Wabash Valley Master Gardeners

 

Spring  flowers are cheerful! It is a delight seeing colors once again! Real “eye candy” for the soul.

 

Papa

Papa is Published!

What a pleasure! The Heirloom Gardener magazine has published three of my articles. The 2016 Spring edition has highlighted the Etiuda orange bell pepper, Red Express red cabbage and Hilton Chinese cabbage.

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I am currently writing two more articles which may be in the Summer 2016 issue. I look forward to writing more articles for various other venues.

If interested, the magazine may be purchased online, Whole Foods, Home Depot and Barnes and Nobles.

Stay posted!!

Papa

How May I Help You?

I want to thank all of you who have responded to my posts. I genuinely want to hear from you! No question is too large or small. I want to hear from you!! Please make use of my 40 years of horticultural experience!

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Miss Kitty in the squash harvest October 2014.

2015 Texas Master Gardener Conference

It was an absolute pleasure serving and presenting at the 2015 Texas Master Gardener Conference in Belton, Texas. Kudos to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company for sending me as an ambassador and teacher. I enjoyed attending and making new friends who have a passion for all things gardening.

Saving Heirloom Seed was my presentation this afternoon. The Master Gardeners were very attentive and had many questions. What an appreciative group!

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