Tag Archives: heirloom

Wordless Wednesday

Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth

May Day!

To me, May 1st is a the beginning of the growing season, the get outside season. The mantra is “Never Waste a Day of May”.

We’ve had several meals with asparagus so far this year. The purple asparagus are producing more and bigger stalks. They are big, tender stalks that turn green when cooked. Infact, I am planting a few more crowns this year.

I paid for 2-year roots, Jersey Knights, but I don’t believe that is what I received. There are several female plants and the stalks are skinny. They have been growing for three years.

Read more about Asparagus on my hub pages and find great recipes on my Pinterest page: Asparagus Everything or just checkout my Pinterest.

Last night we had a salad of “thinnings,” mixed lettuce, baby chard and, arugula, a few radishes and green onions. How to grow and cook Swiss chard. Or checkout my gardening pages at Hub Pages.

Chive flowers are just a day away. Photo pbh

Chive flowers are just a day away. Photo pbh

The chives are about in full bloom. That means get the vinegar bottles washed and ready. Take advantage of the earliest herb garden offering, make several containers of chive vinegar.

Mixed Herb Vinegar – Put the pink chive blossoms in a quart jar and fill with white vinegar. I use white wine vinegar. Top the jar with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the lid from coming directly in contact with the metal lid.

In two weeks, taste and see if it has the right flavor. If it is too mild, cover and wait for another week. Strain out blossoms, cap and store. Chives are flavor layer number one. We will add more herbs as the season progresses.

The two small bottles in the middle are simply chive vinegar. Chive blossoms are beautiful but not here for long. photo pbh

The two small bottles in the middle are simply chive vinegar. photo pbh

Make more than you think you will need. The delicate pink colored vinegar is very good on it’s own. I use a lot of this right away on tender young salad greens. You get just a hint of chive flavor mixed into a light salad dressing.

Keep a few small, decorative bottles on had for gourmet gifts. Include a salad dressing  recipe card.





• Tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets:

  Gold Medal (75 days indet) Bicolor, yellow with streaks of red inside. Winner of several tomato taste contests. Early for a big tomato, sweet, low acid, 1 pound).
Pineapple (85 days indet) Bicolor yellow with red streaks produces big beefsteak type  1 and 2 pound tomatoes.
Omar’s Lebanese (80 days indet) Whileit has won size records, I’ve never got those giants in my garden, though it is prolific.
Hillbilly or Flame (80-85 days indet)
are planted in water saver 5 gallon buckets. All four of the above tomatoes promise 1 pound tomatoes. Read more: Best Home Garden Tomatoes: Hillbilly or Flame Tomato. 

Bison (65-77 days det) tomato is in a 5 gallon bucket over at Neighbor Dorothy’s house. Promises to be a heavy producer.

Though, bucket tomatoes usually under produce in size and quantity. The taste is true in flavor, tasting  like the ones grown in the garden or in a container.

• Tomatoes in containers (giant planters)

Great White is in a container along the patio wall.

80-85 days. Large, 1-lb giant, creamy white fruit, this tomato is superbly wonderful. The flesh is so good and deliciously fruity, it reminds one of a mixture of fresh-cut pineapple, melon and guava. One of our favorite fresh-eating tomatoes! Fruit are smoother than most large beefsteak types, and yields can be very high. Introduced by Gleckler’s Seedsmen. – This description from Baker Creek.

•  Raised beds in garden soil

All are heirlooms requiring sturdy support or staking. Good ole’ garden soil tends to produce the biggest and most tomatoes of  the 3 locations.

Black Krim (80 days indet) is one of the most popular black tomatoes.

Heirloom whose big leafy vines produce lots of slightly lobed deep purple/”black” fruits whose juicy, rich red flesh offers sweet and delicious flavor.  Described by Renee’s Garden.

 Carbon (80 days indet) is my favorite black tomato. The fruit are beautiful, lightly lobed and blemish free, heavy producer of  8-10 ounce tomatoes.

Persimmon (80 days indet) is new to me. 1 pound tomatoes are promised, meaty texture and mild flavored. Orange.

Costoluto Genovese ( 80 days indet) looks like an old fashioned, deep red Italian tomato because it is. Beautifully lobed rich, deep tomatoey flavor, great for canning, pasta sauces, and lovely on a plate of sliced heirloom tomatoes. Been around since the 19th century.


 = my favorites

Tomato seeds from:

Baker Creek

Renee’s Garden

Todays Harvest Basket October 12, 2012

Riesentraube cherry tomatoes, weighing about a half an ounce or 3/4 an ounce. Earlier this season they were averaging 1 to 1 and 1/2 ounces. I pulled up this tomato vine today, ending the tomato season for the year.

The beautiful bicolor Copia tomato was producing half pound fruits in my garden. Other gardeners bragged about one pound fruits. I will grow these again because they are meaty and have few seeds.

Sweet and mild red cheese peppers. Use them like you do bell peppers. They make cute little stuffers.

Read my Hub Pages review of Copia tomatoes. Best tomatoes from seed: Copia heirloom

Copia, bicolor, full, juicy tomatoes. Thin skins, few seeds and generally yellow with red streaks.


Copia tomatoes do not grow or look the same. These slices all came from the same tomato vine, picked the same day.


My Garden Bloggers Food Day

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day shows off all the blooms in my garden on August 15 2011. Even more than blooming, this month is about what happens after the bloom. The produce, fruit or seed that is created after the flower.

Rosa Bianco eggplant, tomatoes, Clairimore zucchini

I am trying to stay ahead of the of the zucchini production by picking them small, like the two little ones on the right. The blossoms are still attached to these Clairimore variety. The bigger ones became chocolate zucchini cake or zucchini and black walnut cake with lemon glaze.

This year, is not a good year for my garden. I couldn’t water enough to keep up hardy production.

Rosa Bianca Eggplant

Rosa Bianca Eggplant, a mild italian eggplant

The garden plants are stressed and more suseptible to insects and disease. Flea beetles are eating up the plants faster than the plants can produce eggplants.

I only got in a couple of pickings  of green beans before a gang of bug thugs moved in and trashed the bean patch.

I’ve planted a few more beans, hoping to get in a late crop of  haricots verts (skinny and tender French

Flea beetle damage. The little tiny holes in leaves and roots.

green beans) And a couple more cucumbers and squash to replace the ones killed by insects. It’s just a gamble to see if they produce before a killing frost. The space was empty and I had extra seed. We shall see.

Tomato plants did not set blooms because it was so hot. So, I will have a smaller than anticipated harvest. I’ll make some tabouli and a batch of gazpacho. Plus, I have enough to share with neighbors.

I won’t have enough to can or put up as salsa. But I did have enough for a couple of taste testings with the nine different varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  I’ll eventually review them all in my HubPages. There is a lot of good tomato information.

Best Home Garden Tomatoes: Paul Robeson

Best Home Garden Tomatoes: Royal Hillbilly

Next year, I’ll grow a few of the best tomatoes from this summer. And, I’ll grow some heirlooms I’ve never tried before.

The real reason I grow thin skinned, rich flavored, juicy heirloom tomatoes is simple:


Sourdough bread, crisp lettuce, oven baked thick sliced bacon.

Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches and

Insadada Caprese

Heirloom tomatoes, mozzerella cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

Insadada Caprese.

Fried Green Tomatoes (or not)

This Paul Robeson tomato could have stayed on the vine another day or two if the vine hadn't broken off.

A friend, clearly not a gardener, asked for this recipe in the summer.

“Are you nuts?” I said.

“No self respecting gardener sacrifices a good tomato to make fried green tomatoes in the summer!”

Fried green tomatoes are fall food. They are what you do with tomatoes that haven’t ripened by the first killer frost of the season.

This friend was an Eastern Transplant, not familiar with Midwest or Southern culture and cuisine. I also had to introduce him to tomato sandwiches this year. “You mean without bacon?,” he said with trepidation.

When vines are too heavy with multiple tomatoes, it is better to pick a few while still green, rather than risk a broken vine and losing all the tomatoes.

Prepare fried green tomatoes like you do fried Okra. Slice, dip in a milk and egg wash and then in cornmeal or flour.

Uncle Ed says, “Well you know how to fry catfish, don’t cha? Well it’s the same thing, dip the tomato slices in milk and eggs. Then pat fish fry mix (four, cornmeal, salt, pepper) on both sides”. Then deep fry, pan fry, or, oven “fry”

A heavy tomato vine, loaded with tomatoes, broke off in a storm.

The cafe in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is modeled after Irondale Cafe in Birmingham, AL. Novelist Fannie Flagg said her great-aunt operated Irondale Cafe for almost 40 years.

If it weren’t for the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, I believe this recipe would have remained a Southern delicacy. Just like fried pie.

There are two reasons a home cook prepares Fried Green Tomatoes.

  1. At the height of summer tomato production, some tomatoes are removed from the plant to keep the weight of the tomatoes from breaking the vine. (Not that I am bragging, but I had to do this twice this summer.)
  2. At the end of the tomato season, just before the first frosts hit the garden, all tomatoes are picked. Any tomatoes with a hint of color will be left to ripen slowly on the counter. Then, “waste not want not” happens. The most popular way of using up green tomatoes are fried green tomatoes, and green tomato relish.
sliced tomatoes

Insalata caprese (literally, the salad from Capri)

If I can have this: garden temperature juicy ripe tomatoes in a Tomato and Mozzarella Salad,

I’ll choose it everytime over fried green tomatoes.

These are heirloom tomatoes, Red: Paul Robeson and Yellow: Gold Medal


Double your tomato production

Try cloning tomatoes

tomato stem

Clip tomato branch. Remove flowers to encourage root growth.

To extend the tomato season, consider cloning your favorite tomato plants. The new plant will produce tomatoes just like it’s parent.

Here in the heartland, zone 6 we are about half way through the summer growing season. I think I have about two and a half months left before our first frost.

If you haven’t planted tomatoes yet, ask a gardening friend for a cutting of their tastiest plants. As I stake my tomatoes, I zometimes break off unruly stems that won’t be supported by my tomato stakes.


This heirloom started out as a cutting. The plant produced as heavily as the parent plant.

Put that broken tomato plant branch, or cutting directly in the ground at least six or eight inches deep. Place a stake beside the stem. The big tomato stake or cage will stand as guardian over your little cloned tomato plant. Since this new plant has no roots yet, you MUST keep the soil well watered. At first, the cutting or broken branch that you stuck in the ground, will be limp. Don’t give up. Keep watering the planted stem at least twice a day. Shading your cutting will reduce the stress as your new tomato plant starts making roots.

Cloning plants will get you tomatoes faster than starting from seed at mid season. It is too late to start tomatoes from seed.

I broke off a branch of a Carbon tomato plant about a month ago. The black heirloom tomato plant is named Carbon and I am happy to have more of these large, rich tasty tomatoes.

Starting warm season plants midsummer, means that fruits will be developing during the cooler, end of summer weather. Be prepared to cover or protect the heat loving tomato plants during cool nights.

Spinach, Spring Green

Herb Companion Blog


Spinach Seeds for Your Spring Garden

Grow spinach this year for fresh salad greens. Photo by faria! Courtesy Flickr

I am growing a vegetable I used to hate: If your introduction to spinach was from a can

of that salty gray-green plant matter, you understand. Not even Popeye could change my mind.

In 2006, an Escherichia coli bacterium (E. coli) outbreak in spinach was followed by more food contamination incidents. In 2007 a company recalled bags of its spinach after finding salmonella during testing. And in 2010, spinach potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes was recalled. Seed sales tell us that record numbers of people are purchasing vegetable seeds. More and more, we want to know where our food comes from. Food contamination is rarely a problem if the food comes from our own backyard. You can supplement a lot of family meals by growing spring greens, like spinach, beets, turnips and lettuce.

I’m growing spinach (Spinacia oleracea ‘Bloomsdale Long-Standing’) this spring. In fact, those first few leaves of these glossy greens never made it to the kitchen last year. I ate them in the garden. (They were that good.) A fan of heirlooms or not, this is a good spring greens choice that has been around for more than 100 years.

Bloomsdale heirloom spinach, a home garden favorite for over 100 years

For this cool-season crop, save a few seeds from your spring planting and sow again for a fall crop. Expect a heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, glossy dark green leaves. If you grow lettuce, you can grow spinach; its soil and light requirements are similar. Greens are a cool-season crop that love full or partial sun. Put a few radishes in with the spinach to serve as row markers. Gardening Tip: Try a couple of spinach varieties to possibly extend the season and see which one grows best for you. It might not be the same choice every year.

‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ spinach is slow-growing, slow to bolt and has better-than-average heat and drought resistance. It will usually grow a week or two longer than other spinach varieties. It grows more upright than most spinach, keeping the leaves cleaner or less gritty.

Try This: Let your kids or grandkids help you plant a container of salad greens. Spinach, served fresh in salads or cooked in quiches and souffles, is a delightfully different thing than canned spinach. It supplies vitamins A, C and the B-complex, calcium, and proteins. Try this easy Spinach Souffle Recipe from Burpee.

spinach quiche by Pille - Nami-nami Courtesy Flickr

If chives are up, use it in your spinach salad. I suggest that you use spikey chive leaves instead of green onions, or break apart blossoms and sprinkle the flower petals on the salad.

You can buy spinach seed, Spinacia oleracea ‘Bloomsdale Long-Standing’ from many seed sources. Mine is from Burpee Seed and I have always had good luck with their seeds.

Tigger, the melon

This is Tigger, the melon. I mention it now because I am getting a lot of comments on Facebook about it.

I’ve never grown this midget melon before, but the seeds were free. So I am sharing with five other gardeners. I can do this because there are more seed than the 25 seeds the package promised.

Each melon is a single serving

Here is what I know.  I’ve seen the seed advertised in Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and Territorial Seed Company.

The plants are heavy producers of baseball sized, white fleshed fruit. What caught my attention is these fragrant fruits are only about a pound when mature. That’s about all the cantaloupe-type fruit I want. Watermelons, pumpkins and cantaloupe rarely make an appearance in my garden because the sprawling plants take up a lot of garden space.

Because they are so small, I may try to grow them on a trellis. The seed packet says 80 days, Tigger will ripen about the same time the garden explodes with tomatoes.

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