The Backyard

The Backyard

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Glad to Be Back in the Garden

Last fall, the thought was I wouldn't have a garden this year with the anticipated training that would consume my time to prepare for the now finished 7-day stage mountain bike race. But alas, you can't keep an organic gardener down - you need a little pleasure mixed in with all that pain so I stuck some seeds and plants in the beds in between rides this spring. My idea of "some" seeds and plants is 400+ onions, 50 sweet potatoes, 13 seed potatoes, 60 broccoli plants for the hog (he ate all of them!) swiss chard, kale (the hog went after this after the broccoli was pulled), butternut squash, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, black krim and russian prince black heirloom tomatoes, roma tomato, early girl tomato, fox heirloom cherry tomato, nardello pepper, bell peppers, cantelope, radiccho and cannelli beans. Now mid-June and home two weeks from the Epic, the spring planting is complete and I expect a full harvest this fall. There was no slacking due to a little bike race! Yesterday and today was spent weeding, mulching, plant-feeding, and planting the final seeds for the summer. I managed to snap a couple shots while doing so.

 of my favorite plants in the garden. Yes - in the garden. It attracts a plethora of beneficial insects and of course the monarch caterpillar (only food it will eat). And did you ever smell a milkweed flower? Heavenly.

And these are the potatoes -- sweet and red.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Love Thy Tomato

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of trying a variety pack of heirloom tomato seeds. The results were these incredibly sweet, unusual tomatoes that made me realize there's more that meets the tomato-lover's eye and I gave a review of those luscious edibles I grew that year. See it here. Yesterday, I receive a post in Facebook about a new book out called Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. Numerous reviews are already out there that talk about this book and modern industrial agriculture creating a monster that doesn't compare to a "real" tomato. Time gives a good review with an excerpt from the book on modern "slavery" in the tomato fields of Florida. USA Today journalist, Janice Lloyd, interviews the author, Barry Estabrook, who shares his idea of a quality tomato (hint: Brandywine). From that interview the author states: "I visited winter tomato fields in Florida where tomatoes are picked green and sent to warehouses and gassed with ethylene until they acquire the rosy skin tone of a ripe tomato. I also talked to many experts about how flavor has been bred out of them over the years so they can ship easily, maintain a perfect appearance and have a long shelf life." I'll share my own take on the book once received and read (I'm a little old fashioned and just like I enjoy an old-fashioned heirloom tomato, I like a hardcover book with pages to turn. Keep your modern electronics, please!) In the meantime, please read my review of the heirloom tomatoes and head out to your local nursery and buy a couple. The nurseries are good at marking heirlooms appropriately so you can't miss them. There's still time to plant a few and you'll never buy a grocery store tomato again.