Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's Plant Some Heirloom Tomato Seeds for our Garden

Last June I was out garage sailing, and I noticed that a daisy flowered plant was cascading down a hillside with pretty purple flowers and a few ripe seedpods, so.... I think.... hey, seeds! So I took a seedpod, dry and ready to plant, and thought... mmmmm, I wonder if these will germinate? And I wonder what they are. Well, friends, I did plant those seeds, and by August they were a few inches high. Pretty little green leaves and I wondered, what is it? So late in September I got a few blossoms. Oh My! They were big lilac and purple daisies, as you can see in the pic here.
Turns out these are Osteospermum fruticosum,  or commonly, Trailing African Daisy. You can look that up. So, my advice, as a gardener from a long long line of gardeners, plant those seeds and see what comes up.

I am now gardening in big containers and little ones too. But I don't like using gross recycled pots and buckets to grow food in so a good cheap alternative is to find food safe plastic labeled #5.
A neat way to get a big big pot to grow big big plants is buy a Sterlite plastic bin with the recycle number 5. It is about 5 bucks, or less, and I found them at Target and at Home Depot, and um, the thrift store. This type of polypropylene plastic is Food Grade and deemed safe, so I use them to grow organic plants for eating, fruits and vegetable. You can also find Food Grade 5 gallon buckets, with a number 5 too.
While I'm all for recycling any container to grow ornamentals, I would not plant something I was gonna eat in an old computer case, an old oil can or a something odd and nasty, but cute! Click here for more info on plastics that are food safe and can be recycled.

When I grew heirlooms for sale, I always had Mortgage Lifter, Mr. Stripey and Brandywine and of course, Cherokee Purple and a few others. But now I'm trying some (new to me) varieties.  Here are the Organic Heirloom tomatoes I'm growing this year.    These are from Tomatofest Seeds, organic seeds from a Northern California company.

Hazel Mae, because it is a large fluted yellow and red tomato, I mean, right! And that name.
One that I'm trying this year I've always wanted to try, is Silvery fir tree. It will have lacy ferny leaves and lovely red tomatoes. Sounds lovely and I can't wait to see this beauty.

Black Prince for the short season and the dark dark red/black color. This one has extra tomato-chemical, lycopene, and should be delicious like all the Russian tomatoes.

My all time favorite tomato is Cherokee Purple. Deep, red-purple, and with a smoky taste and just enough sweet/tart. I'm growing Cherokee Chocolate this year and it's a plant that is a baby of Cherokee Purple, so I expect it to be quite delicious.

2 other ones I'm trying for the first time this year are Indigo Rose, that is a favorite of the new crop of "celebrity chefs" and people who wish they were. There is a whole family of these dark almost black tomatoes that are about salad size up to small beefsteak size. 

When I was growing up a fella named Oscar lived at my parent's hotel, the Rex Hotel in Yountville. Oscar grew the most fantastic gardens behind his cabin and he tended the flower beds around the Hotel. It was a pale yellow, almost white tomato, larger than salad size. He saved the seeds from year to year and I've always wondered what its name was. Maybe it's this heirloom (new to me), Burpee's Garden Peach tomato. "Velvety skin, rich flavor, and 3" - 4" size". Sounds right ...We'll see.

I am so excited to get growing!