~photoblog of a WNY zone 6 gardener

Friday, December 26, 2008

Buffalo-Niagara Tomato Tastefest

I'm a hostess to the Buffalo-Niagara Tomato Tastefest. It is held the Saturday after Labor Day every year on Grand Island. This year we had 96 different varieties of tomatoes.
This is just some of them!

Prizes are given out to winners of various categories. The winners this year are as follows:
Best Tomato went to Stump of the World!
It was grown by Mark Korney. Hilde also grew it, but I made the executive decision that Mark's tasted better.
Second place went to:
Tie between Earl's Faux and Dice's Mystery Black.

Sweetest Tomato went to Sungold.
It was grown by Richard Price.
Second place was a tie between Hugh's and Rinaldo.
Rinaldo was grown by me. This one also got a vote for Best Tasting. This is surprising since it is a paste! (that I and many others got from Bully a couple years ago.)

Tangiest Tomato went to White Rabbit.
It was grown by Julianna(Sorellina.)
No second place, the rest were all single votes.

Prettiest Tomato went to Eva Purple Ball.
It was grown by Hilde Reineck.
Second place went to Plum Tigress.

Ugliest went to Voyage.
It was grown by Tristan Morris our youngest tomato grower there!
Second place went to an ugly cat-faced bumpy unknown.
It was grown by Ginny Barber.

Biggest went to Mexico at 2lbs 2.2 oz.!
It was grown by Mark Korney.
There were quite a few other big ones like Tom's Yellow Wonder and Rose Beauty, but I didn't record who's actually came in second.

Smallest went to Mexico Midget.
It was grown by Mark Korney.
Second place went to Remy Rouge.
It was grown by me.

Craziest Tomato Lover went to Hilde's mom.
She came all the way from Norway!
Second place was Toby Rotella, my father, of Key Largo, Florida.

We have a wonderful time rain or shine. Besides tomatoes, lots of great food is eaten!

If you are interested in attending, please email me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amazing Gardening Coincidences

Part of front walk bed in late spring. The baby tree trunk is in the background.

This is a copy of an old posting of mine from Tomatoville:
I got home from work this evening, and I went to sit down to eat and see that tomato seeds from Yugoslavia(can't remember which new part) are on the table. A gentleman originally from there that works with my husband went back for a visit. My husband asked him to bring back tomatoes for me in the store pkgs. from there. So I got 3 packs of St. Pierre, a French tomato?(if you about this tomato, please give me some info,) in the original pkgs. from there. Ok, that is not that weird. Hold on it does get wierder.
Now I have just picked up these pkgs., and I'm examining the foreign words, and the door bell rings. My husband answers and then he is yelling for me, and I'm annoyed because I just want to look and eat! There is a guy at the door wanting to know where we purchased our new apple tree and how much did it cost.(Our old one died in the local freak October snow storm.) It is grafted with a few antique varieties. My husband doesn't remember the mail order company. I tell him and then he is asking if I have a catalog, so I get up and go look for one, and I finally got to the door.
There are actually 2 men, one about 40, one about 70. The younger man is apologizing for the older man who can't speak much English. The older man is pointing at the apple pictures saying with a thick accent, "Yes, yes." as if to say that he does want a tree like mine. He must of made the younger guy stop. My husband say to the younger man, "Where is he from? Yugoslavia?" To which the older man says one of the new parts of Yugoslavia. Then I say, "I just got tomato seed from there!" The older man says, "tomatoes?". Then the young man says, "Don't get him started on tomatoes." I went back in the house and got a pack of the St. Pierres, and hand it to the older man. He smiled and said the word Paradajz(tomato?) from the pkg. The younger guy says the older man has a huge vegetable garden. I then point telling the older man I have a garden in the back. He looked like a happy little kid, and just starts heading back! So we took a garden tour.He kept pointing and saying, "Beautiful!" in his thick accent. It was fun.
We came back out front, and the younger man thanked us and told the older man to give the seed pkg. back to me. I told him no, to keep it. Then they left.
When we got back inside, my husband looks at me and says, "How weird was that? What are the chance of that happening?"
It was incredible odd.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hibiscus Fireball

I bought this this spring at a local nursery. I really didn't need another hibiscus. Where was I going to put it? Plus the tag showed red flowers. I'm not much for red flowers. Call me crazy, but they are not my thing. The foliage though was so pretty. It is cut like a maple, and dark. I couldn't resist and put it into my cart.
Late summer I realized it was money so well spent. Firstly, a new deck was built so of course a new flower bed was made. I had room for now plants! After planting mid-summer, it grew vigorously, and produced many blooms for a newly planted hibiscus. The blooms are huge! I didn't realize they would be so big. And the color ended up being a very pleasing deeply saturated red and not the brighter red of the tag.
If you see it for sale at a local nursery, I definitely recommend this beauty.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cottage Gardens Daylilies

The Pink in front is Dallas Star
In July I finally decided I wanted to see Cottage Gardens Daylilies out in Medina. I called my friend Hilde who was more than up for the short trip. We made a day of it stopping for cherries on the side of the road on the way there. On the way home we went to get popcorn made on the side of the road in at Bye's in Olcott, and then we stopped at Gordie Harper's Bazaar restaurant/flea market in Newfane.
It rained all morning, but stopped by the time we got to Cottage Farms. I realized this ended up being a good thing since some daylilies don't endure raindrops as well as others. When we pulled we were in awe. I had no idea the place would be so big. I felt like Dorothy at the field of poppies. I just wanted to get out of the car and run!

Looking Back Towards the Road
Looking back towards the road.

We thought the big field of daylilies was it, and it definitely was more than enough, but there was a whole nother garden! The house garden. It was beautiful, a mix of newer daylily cultivars and perennials.
Ben Adams is the cream daylily up front

I ended up taking home Gentle Rose, Blueberry Breakfast, and Impish Charm.
Gentle Rose(I think, lol)
Gentle Rose at the field

Blueberry Breakfast
Blueberry Breakfast at home in the garden

Impish Charm
Impish Charm just brought home looking a bit tired.

I'm already looking forward to next year's trip!
I took many more pics. You can see them by copying and pasting the link
(I still need to figure out how to make the link clickable.) Update, I figured it out!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wall Street Journal

Heirloom Purple Podded Peas

I was in the WSJ this past May about growing unusual vegetables. My cyber-gardening friend Jeanne from SC(who also appears in the article) had the writer, June Fletcher, contact me. I talked with her for some time. Though the article has some mistakes like I've grown Prudens Purple for years or I don't search out ugly tomatoes(I'm searching for great taste regardless of looks,) it was still in a good spirit and it was fun to see my name in the WSJ.
Here's the article:

Click Here! click here

WallStreet Journal
Pushing the Envelope on Vegetables
Friday May 16, 2:46 pm ET
By June Fletcher

The view of the vegetable patch will be decidedly odd this year: Get ready for maroon carrots, yellow watermelons and pink-and-white striped beets.

Garden centers, catalogs and seed companies are promoting strange, splashy edibles not only to intrigue veteran gardeners who always seek the unusual, but also to inspire a new generation who -- until recently -- hadn't shown much interest in getting their hands in the dirt.

The push comes as long-dormant interest in vegetable gardens has begun to revive, spurred by foodie fascination with the new and exotic, rising produce prices and headline-grabbing scares involving contamination of commercially grown vegetables. Added to that is the growing movement to eat food grown locally, both for freshness and to cut down on the greenhouse gases emitted by shipping.

The amount of money U.S. consumers spent on vegetable gardens rose 22% in 2007, to $1.4 billion, from 2006, according to a survey conducted in January for the National Gardening Association, an industry-sponsored group. Another poll, conducted in February for the Garden Writers Association Foundation, found that 39% of gardeners planned to grow edible plants this spring, up from 32% a year earlier.

Though the odd-vegetable trend has been around for several seasons, more unusual crops are appearing in catalogs and garden-oriented Web sites this year. Gurney's, a mail-order purveyor, is promoting a purple-red Brussels sprout called Falstaff. Competitor Burpee has a white cherry tomato called Italian Ice and an heirloom Chinese radish, dubbed the Radish Watermelon, that looks like a white baseball with a bright pink center. Park Seed rolled out purple Pak Choi, golden beets and Big Rainbow yellow-and-red splotched tomatoes that grow to two pounds apiece.

For longtime aficionados of the quirky, such as Remy Orlowski, the plants add elements of visual and gustatory surprise to her landscape. This spring, the 44-year-old nutritionist has been weaving red okra, purple-podded peas and a spicy, splotched and twisted plant called a fish pepper among the flowers in her Tonawanda, N.Y., backyard. She also added two odd tomatoes -- Carbon, a deep maroon, and Pruden's Purple, which is actually pink -- to the 40 varieties she already grows.

Mrs. Orlowski says she always is on the lookout for "weird and ugly" tomatoes -- especially newly rediscovered heirlooms -- both because she wants to rescue varieties that may be on the brink of extinction and because she thinks they taste better than store-bought ones. But she and her husband, Gary, who works in a hospital-supply firm, sometimes encounter resistance when they try to give away their excess produce to co-workers. "It can be off-putting to some," she says of the odd variations.

Indeed, hitting the right note with unusual plants can be difficult, says , chairman and chief executive officer of W. Atlee Burpee & Co. of Warminster, Pa. While peculiar plants can be profitable to their sellers -- they're usually initially priced 10% to 20% more than old favorites -- they can take years of breeding to produce, and the market's reaction is unpredictable. Burpee's best-selling new vegetable last year was Golden Mama, a yellow-fleshed, egg-shaped tomato designed to make paste. It cooks down to a golden-yellow sauce instead of the unattractive grayish-brown glop that other yellow tomatoes typically produce. But some of Burpee's other recent introductions, including Purple Dragon Carrots and All Blue potatoes, were "flopperoos," says Mr. Ball. "The sight of blue is unappetizing to many people," he says. "I couldn't give them away."

And some unusual veggies require that gardeners do a bit of coddling. Ferry-Morse's new "Health Smart" vegetable collection includes exotic Hakurei Hybrid turnips, touted for their vitamin-rich tops and mild-tasting white flesh that can be chopped raw into salads, as well as Nutri-Red carrots, promoted as high in the nutrient lycopene. However, the company's Web site warns that the turnips need to be harvested when they're between 2 inches and 3½ inches in diameter or they become woody, while the carrots can crack if they're watered too much.

Still, some gardeners enjoy a challenge. Jeanne Hertzog, 58, a retired police captain who owns a pet-sitting business, grows both traditional and off-the-wall vegetables in her nine-acre Lexington, S.C., yard, as well as in nearly 80 patio pots. She likes to experiment with growing techniques -- she once grew an heirloom tomato upside down through a hole in a hanging bucket -- as well as bizarre plants, such as the Egyptian Walking Onion, which puts out small bulbs on the ends of stalks that fall over and take root, running rampant through the garden if not kept under control. Although the unusual veggies can be a lot of work, and they don't always measure up to standard ones in flavor -- a "chocolate" pepper she grew had an off taste -- she says their strangeness is part of the charm. This spring, she started an "odd, odder, oddest" seed swap on an online gardening forum, and received seeds for Cinnamon Basil, Green Zebra tomatoes and Apple Green eggplants. "I'm always interested in something new," she says.

Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist for the National Gardening Association, says some people grow odd veggies simply to be on the cutting edge. Other, environmentally motivated gardeners are trying to resurrect long-forgotten native plants. Mike Robins, a 27-year-old Burtonsville, Md., graphic designer, has planted an old Indian staple, Apios Americana -- also known as the Hog Peanut or groundnut -- in a patio pot this spring. The rangy vine was so prized by 17th-century colonists that they punished Indians who dug its starchy tubers with the stocks or whipping. But the bulbous tubers take two years to reach edible size, so Mr. Robins will have to do a lot of watering and fertilizing before he can harvest them. "I have no idea what they taste like," he says.

Eccentric edibles have been converting some die-hard veggie-spurners, like Michelle Reynolds, into fans. Last season, on a lark, the 36-year-old Quincy, Ill., homemaker grew blue potatoes -- which she mixed with red and white ones for Fourth of July french fries -- as well as white oval cucumbers, "rainbow" carrots in red, orange, yellow and green, and tiny, pastel-hued "Easter Egg" eggplants. The veggies were such a hit with her two preschoolers -- particularly her 5-year-old son, Timmy -- that she plans to plant more this spring. "He likes the pretty colors," she says. And she adds that she likes the way they taste, too.

Write to June Fletcher at june.fletcher@wsj.com

Favorite Garden Blogs

Favorite Tomatoes

  • Humph - Green
  • Stump of the World - Pink, my absolute favorite
  • Little Lucky - Small Yellow Bicolor
  • Prudens Purple - meaty Pink
  • Carbon - Black


About Me

My photo
Plantaholic, from annuals to perennials, from tomatoes to roses. You name it; I love it! I often get very busy with my business and life and don't post as often as I would like.