What is this blog and/or any mention of The Ever-Growing List? Explanation.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Official 2015 Tomato Variety List

Indigo Rose - Read more about the "Purple tomato" here.

Carry-overs from 2013 & 2014

Big Rainbow
Orange/yellow/red marble. Large. 85-90 days. Origin: The Gods. Flavor profile: perfection & worth the long harvest wait.

Black Krim
Dark red. Medium. 80 days. Heirloom. Origin: Russian. Flavor profile: rich, sweet.

New for 2015

Cosmonaut Volkov
Red. Medium-large. 60-75 days. Open-pollinated heirloom. Origin: Dniepropetrousk, Ukraine. Flavor profile: Rich, deep with a balance between sweet & tangy.

Indigo rose
Dark purple/red. 1-3 ounces. 70-80 days. Huge amounts of anthocyanins in skin. Darkest tomato. Flavor profile: More of a novelty, newly released (2012) variety, so there's not much info on the flavor profile available. I guess I will have to find out for myself!

Jersey Devil
Ruby-red. 5-6 inch long. 90 days. Pointed & pepper-like. Few seeds. Good for sauces/paste. Is an ancestor to the "Jersey Giant."

Yellow. Giant. 75-95 days. Red starburst in center. Flavor profile: super sweet, fruity.

Violet Jasper
Violet-purple w/green marbling. 1-3 ounces. 70-75 days. High-yielding. Origin: China. Flavor profile: mild.

Red Ponderosa (Crimson Cushion or "Beefsteak")
Red. Huge. 85 days. One of the original "Jersey tomatoes." Flavor profile: Everything.

Nectar Hybrid
Red. Cherry variety/small clusters. 65 days. Flavor profile: Ultra sweet.

I have a variety of tomato seeds in my seed box, so I may throw in a couple of different ones when the time comes. For now, this is my list. Seeds bought and ordered (or pulled out of storage)!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Garden: Planning

It feels like I was just pulling out the remnants from my vegetable gardens a month ago! Fall came and went so quickly I barely had time to notice! That was, at least, until I started to get that gnawing in my soul for dirt, grow-lights, and the waiting game. It's that time of year to plan for the sowing season!

After a debacle last year with my seeds not getting here in time (a month late), I figured I might get an earlier start in 2015. Order ahead of time, just in case. Right? Right!

Every year I write up a list of the different varieties of tomato I want to try, then whittle the list down until I have a group that's fairly balanced. Usually it consists of a cherry/small/cluster tomato, a plum tomato, an heirloom beefsteak, a hybrid, and then a balanced variety of oddballs in size, shape, texture, and purpose (sandwich, canning, salsa, sauce, etc.).

2015's list-of-tomatoes at the moment breaks down like this (has yet to be whittled down):
Big Rainbow
Black Krim
Nectar Hybrid
Violet Jasper
Big Mama
Cosmonaut Volkov (the name alone almost guarantees a place for 2015's peat pods!)
Indigo Rose
Watermelon Beefsteak
Beefsteak Red Ponderosa/Crimson Cushion
Jersey Devil
Marianna's Peace

Aside from sugar snap peas, string beans, and other staples, this year I plan on starting some peppers, as well. I've been missing them in my gardens!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 Tomato Review

Detailed pictures of varieties & garden time-lapse coming this weekend!

The seeds (brands/descriptions/links).

Sowing to Harvest
Sowed indoors: February 22nd
Transplanted: April 19th
Transplanted outside for hardening: May 3rd
Planted in garden: May 18th

Harvest: Early August (slightly later than usual)

Harvest sample
(L to R: Certified Organic, Great White Wonder, Brandywine, 4th of July, Rutgers, Big Rainbow, Sweeties)

As with last year, I conducted a taste-test with the help of my dad, and these were the results.

1.) Big Rainbow
  • For the second year in a row, Big Rainbow was the CLEAR winner. We probably shouldn't have started with these, as it immediately set the rest of the varieties up for failure and our taste-buds on a downward spiral.
  • Orange/yellow/red (can vary) outside; swirled insides w/perfect texture.
  • It is a perfect, sweet, meaty tomato--the kind of tomato you're going to give someone who doesn't like tomatoes if they give you ONE chance to change their minds. 
  • Almost like a candy, delicious. As with last year, even sweeter as the season goes on.
  • Sizes can vary from small & round to... gigantic mutants.

2.) Brandywine
  • Dusty pink in color
  • Medium size
  • Sweet and sour
  • Absolutely beautiful insides; meaty, okay texture.
2a.) Sweeties
  • Varied from size of grapes to golf balls
  • Delicious, sweet, pop-'em-in-your-mouth flavor. 
  • These are the way to go. Love them.
3.) Rutgers
  • Good, plain tomato.
  • Mild.
  • Small, round.
4.) Certified Organic Beefsteaks
  • Sour, nothing particularly special. 
  • All plants produced very small tomatoes the same size as the Rutgers variety. Plants given away to others yielded the same results.
5.) 4th of July
  • I wanted to love these just based on the name alone!
  • Produces BEAUTIFUL consistently round, vibrant red fruits.
  • Taste wise, a mediocre tomato which didn't place with the best. 
  • What really placed this so far down is, wait for it, the unbelievably mealy texture. I didn't even finish my test slices.
  • Good candidate for sauces and stews.
6.) Great White Wonder
  • Pale yellow
  • Very large!
  • This was my pride and joy for the growing season (aka my "oddball" variety, as my dad would call it). I had tried one earlier in the season, and it had a delightful, light, very mild taste. However, when the full crop came and it was time to taste test, the taste of these can't even be explained. Not good.

Unranked is the Giant Belgium Pink. I had a whole entire row planted, which produced plenty of foliage... and not one (edible) fruit!

Next year, from this crop, I will again grow Big Rainbows and add the Sweeties. Nothing else particularly stood out like the BR and Black Krim had from 2013.

Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Garden: Update

While I had lofty goals for this year's tomato garden, it was probably a good thing that half of the seeds I ordered never arrived in time (and 2 months late), as, currently, my garden wouldn't have been large enough to host 12 different varieties. Even after giving away at least half of my army, I still have about 20 plants left, which I will most likely do with as I did last year, which is put them in front of my house with a "free tomatoes" sign.

Sharing, indeed, is caring.

Actual 2014 crop:
Certified Organic Beefsteak
Great White Wonder
4th of July
Giant Belgium Pink
Rutgers (while it didn't score well in my "top of the crop" for 2013, I had extra seeds around...)
Big Rainbow

Sowed indoors: February 22nd
Transplanted: April 19th
Transplanted outside for hardening: May 3rd
Planted in garden: May 18th

I await the first pick!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Official 2014 Tomato Variety List

Being that the middle of February (seedling sowing!) is in just a couple of weeks' time, it was time to weed (pun intended) through my tomato-seed wishlist and narrow down the candidates. After some research, I've come to a final list of tomato varieties I've purchased and intend to try for this 2014 season. There's a mix of traditional reds and experimental blues, whites, and bi-colors.

New for 2014
Brandywine - Heirloom, beefsteak, red.
Giant Belgium Pinks - Heirloom, dark pink.
OSU Blue Tomato/"Smurf" tomato - The blue tomato! Pricey seeds, only 5 in a pack. I am excited to see if I get anything out of these seeds. I hope so!
Pineapple Tomato - Heirloom, bi-color.
Black Sea Man
Watermelon Beefsteak
Forth of July - An early variety tomato, which I am looking forward to. The usual waiting time for tomatoes between the end of June and the end of July is torture.
White Wonder (Heirloom) - A white tomato; I'm intrigued!

From 2013
Big Rainbow (I can't wait to eat these. They're like candy right off the warm Jersey vine!)
Black Krim

I've opted not to start peppers this year, which will free up a lot of time and space for tomatoes. I've become deeply fascinated and interested in the various species of tomatoes and how different their tastes and textures can be. One day I'd like to try to cross-pollinate and come up with my own! One day! For now, I'm determined to have an insanely awesome mostly-tomato garden all summer long.

How many times can I say the word tomato? TOMATO!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bathroom Before & Afters!

I've been working on my house for a couple of years now, trying to DIY everything. It's a very satisfying journey in many aspects, but you rarely feel as if something is complete-complete. However, my bathroom transformation is basically done, sans finding some good artwork!

Sometimes I stand in the hallway and take it all in with this little voice inside of my head going, "Yes! YES!" I replaced what needed to be replaced and kept what could stay (for now!). I recently put down the new floor (TrafficMaster Allure, Pacific Pine) and replaced all of the hardware, which pulled it together. Feels good.

Here are some before (circa 2010) & afters.



Before (*eye twitches*)




Couldn't afford a new cabinet/mirror... no problem, just covered the crappy side with some contact paper and created an entirely new look for about $3.

Frosted window film for privacy, A+. My house gets rather dark, so keeping heavy curtains off certain windows really opens up and brightens areas. There is a frosted contact paper (which I did try), but it's cheap & looks pretty awful. Upgrade to Artscape quality window films; you won't regret it! I have another of their patterned films, and it's beautiful.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2013 Tomato Review

I've not a lot to admit to when it comes to the way I've chosen my seeds the last few years. I'd grabbed whatever looked decent and had a reputation for putting up a decent fight in my zone. It's not hard to grow tomatoes in New Jersey, after all, so it was easy to sow the usual and reap in the delicious, delicious rewards. But hey, what about a little risk, eh? It was time to branch out.

After doing some research, video-watching, and review-reading, the experiment eventually came down to these varieties: Rutgers, Better Boy Hybrid, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Big Rainbow, and Mortgage Lifter, all of which were from Ferry Morse Seed Company. I planted other varieties and vegetables, too, but for now we'll concentrate on these.

The Seeds
I have nothing but the highest praise for these seeds and will be purchasing from Ferry Morse from now on! The germination time and succession rates were the best I've experienced bar-none. Every single one of my peat pods had two or three strong tomato sprouts within a relatively short span of time, which is quite impressive.

It wasn't long before I thinned them out (you can see some of the sorry siblings whose lives were taken for the good of their brethren below) and put them in cups under some lighting. Even if you don't have fancy lighting, just a basic lamp like this *does* help. This one came out of one of our sheds. I'm pretty sure it hadn't been used in the eight years since I've been here.

You, uh... you can't see it, but they are mostly arranged by how each plant was named: presidents, founding fathers, constellations, fictional characters, friends, and inventors! Benjamin & Franklin were 2 of my favorites! Respect your plants.

By the time they were ready for transplanting, I had 140 tomato plants. I gave about 80 away to other people, planted in my own gardens, and put some in my front yard for the neighbors to take. It was a success, as they took all of my extras. And now they have yummy tomatoes, as well. I love that! Sharing is caring, folks!

Transplanting was as it always is minus the addition of red plastic mulch, which is said to possibly produce higher yields. It's still a bit controversial, but I thought... why not give it a shot?

Very soon after outdoor transplantation, still early.

I'd say it did produce more than my usual amount. As for specific numbers, I just didn't pay that close of attention. The tomato supply was aplenty this year... well, that is, before the groundhog got in.

I lost half of my crop to that groundhog over the course of three days. THREE DAYS! Annihilator! But I suppose groundhogs have to eat too, and there was plenty to share!

And then, the first harvest!

My favorites from best to worst: Better Boy (delicious, traditional, split resistant, weighty), Big Rainbow (sweet, split resistant, weighty), Rutgers, Black Krim (meaty, interesting, good balance of sweetness), Cherokee Purple, and lastly was the Mortgage Lifter. They all have their own definite and distinctive tastes; some you'd be more partial to than others. Of course, these are all tomatoes used for different purposes--some great for sandwiches, some for salads, others for sauces and chutneys.

I was most impressed with the Big Rainbow fruit. The last one I've pulled from my garden looked like a peach upon opening, and it tastes nearly like one, as well! It's the kind of tomato you can bite into and not have any sort of sour reaction. My early Big Rainbows were quite small and always purely yellow or orange, but they tasted like candies fresh off of the vine.

I will likely grow Big Rainbow, Black Krim, and Better Boys next year, but I will move on from the others to experiment with new varieties next year.

Bonus: Monsieur Mustachio Tomatooooe and his family (Ms. Tomatooooe, Peregrine, and Snippet, respectively) made an appearance!


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