Music – “Homegrown Tomatoes” from The John Denver Collection, Vol. 1: Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver. Released: 1997
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Since moving to my new residence a little over a year ago, I have wanted a vegetable garden, much like I had at my previous home. Finally, this spring, I managed to find a sunny spot between fruit trees and decided to grow just tomatoes and peppers.
As many gardeners know, the tomato and pepper plants available in most garden centres and nurseries are pretty standard: Big Boy, Early Girl, Tom Thumb, etc. and the same is true of peppers. Here in the southwest, in addition to the plain old sweet green pepper, there are several varieties of chiles: Big Jim, Sandia, and the like. However, this year, I wanted to go a different route, so I began sending for seed catalogues while the water in our fish pond was still in its hard form.
I had never grown tomatoes or peppers from seed before, so this was a new experience. I even outfitted myself with a small portable greenhouse, which I have placed in front of a nearly floor to ceiling south window, so plenty of light is available.
I was fascinated by the plethora of seeds available now: heirloom, untreated, organic, non-hybrid, non-GMO, etc. I was like a kid in a candy store looking through the catalogues. In the end, I chose a variety of ones, based mostly on whim and the desire to taste something a little different, and in some cases, possibly, “offbeat”.
From “Seed Savers Exchange”, I picked “Fatalii Pepper”, apparently the hottest pepper they offer, from the Central African Republic.
My tomato selection from them included “Silvery Fir Tomato”, “Tasty Evergreen”, “Nebraska Wedding” and “Crnkovic Yugoslavian”.
The “Territorial Seed Company” offered a variety of tomatoes, from which I opted for “Red Robin”, “Golden Treasure”, and “Koralik Organic”.
In addition, I am anxiously awaiting their shipment of a plant called “Ketchup n’ Fries”, a truly unique plant with “Potatoes and Tomatoes harvested off the same blimey plant!”, first introduced in the UK. Who would have thought!
Lastly, from “The Good Seed Catalogue” from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I selected “Chinese 5 Color Pepper”, and several varieties of tomatoes: “Litchi”,
“Green Giant”, “Mushroom Basket”, “Pineapple”, and “White Currant”.
All sound intriguing and promising.
So, currently (or “currantly”), I am tending to my tiny charges, nurturing and fussing over them and following all of the advice from the seed companies and garden sites. Of course, I planted far more than I have room for, but allowing for damping off (I’ve already lost a few to this), weaklings, etc. I should have a pretty good selection to go into the garden, when the time is ripe (pardon the pun).
Perusing through all of these wonderful seed catalogues, I was astounded by the incredible variety of seeds available to the home gardener today. When I was growing up, the only seed company I had ever heard of was “Burpee”, and my Dad used to take me with him on the trek to visit their store, which was located about an hour from where we lived. It seemed to me that the stock was fairly limited: you purchased “tomato” seeds, “zucchini” seeds, “cucumber” seeds, and that was pretty much it. Among the catalogues, from which I made my selections this spring were some pretty exotic names for tomatoes: “Emerald Apple”, “Woodle Orange”, “German Lunchbox”, “Umberto Pear”, and “Purple Russian”, not to mention “Orange Zinger”, “Mountain Magic”, and “Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye”. Next year, I might be more adventuresome and try “Aunt Ruby’s German Green”, “Hillbilly Potato Leaf”, “Chocolate Sprinkles“, “Mexican Midget” or “Red Zebra”. And that’s just tomatoes, however you pronounce it!