Archive for May, 2008

Garden Fever

Mother’s Day is here, and it’s finally ok to plant tomatoes! And everything else tender… so of course, not 24 hours after getting them in the ground, it is now snowing. Or about to snow. It’s already raining viciously, some kind of super-cold sleet-like stuff. There’s nothing like running about the vegetable garden after work in your office clothes, covering things with upside-down yogurt containers, old buckets, tupperware, and whatever else might double as a small temporary dome while winter gets its last hurrah.

But of much more interest, to me at least, is the long list of great heirloom and unusual vegetable and herb names now gracing my garden:

Minnesota Midget Canteloupe, Giant Heirloom Rhubarb, Cosmic Purple Carrots, Purple Artichoke, Lime Thyme, Margarita Mint, Chocolate Mint, Pineapple Mint (imagine the tasty mojitos), Pineapple Sage (a ridiculously prolific and fragrant plant that nobody should try to do without), heirloom collard greens and butternut squash and a white acorn squash, Green Striped Cushaw Squash, and the tomatoes: Silvery Fir Tree, SunGold, German Heirloom Striped, Old Ivory Egg, Grandma’s Paste, Mike’s Wild Cherry, Black Cherry, Galina’s, and Carbon (a black tomato, could you guess?). There are just two repeats from last year, SunGold and the German Striped. Both were too incredible to pass up for a second round this year. The Carbon is now taking the place of the Cherokee Purple, a gorgeous, delicious deep burgundy-green tomato that just didn’t quite bear enough fruit and also had some annoying problems with cracking: the search for the perfect black tomato is on. The Old Ivory Egg, a cream-colored tomato the shape of an egg, is my replacement for the pretty, but less than spectacular Russian yellow tomatoes I put up with last year. I’m going with three cherries this year: red, gold and black – they’re so easy to eat, so prolific, and so early that they alone make all the gardening seem worthwhile, as if it wasn’t worthwhile in its own right. Grandma’s Paste took the place of a standard Roma tomato, which needed so much pampering last year that I lost handfuls of fruit before I correctly gauged the amount of water and supplemental calcium it would take to get a decent Roma out of it. I decided to take the plunge and go ALL heirloom this year – no hybrid backups. We’ll see what the season bears!



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