Black Beauty Tomato, Worth the Wait

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.22.31 PMThe color alone is a good reason to grow this tomato. The skin is a solid blue black that is a stunning contrast in a salad of yellow and red tomatoes.

What makes it black?

This tomato has a very high anthocyanin content. This is the same antioxidant found in blueberries and blackberries.

All tomatoes were slow to ripen this year, but Black Beauty was very slow. I kept testing to see if the skin gave a little to indicate it was time to pick and finally, yesterday, it was.

When I cut into the it, the meat was green, blushed red.  The taste was rich, savory, slightly acidic and complex. I liked it.

At the National Heirloom Exposition, Baker Creek’s Dave Kaiser, a tomato connoisseur, called Black Beauty the best tomato he had ever eaten. It’s good all right. And I love the wildly different color for adding pizazz to a plate.  

But I’m not calling it the best. I’m holding out for a truly great tomato.

Any  recommendations?

Composting Lecture in the Garden

MarciaMartin

Marcia Martin, master gardener, started our summer lecture series with a lively and informative talk about composting last evening.

The Pitney Meadows Community Gardens is composting its plant debris and will be collecting plant matter for composting in bins placed between the shed and the barn.

More lectures are planned.

On August 16, a class on Using Herbs to Make Our Food POP! with Kim London, chef and PMCF Board Member. Come hear how a local chef uses herbs to enhance favorite dishes.

Later in August, Murray Penney will lead a class on tomato growing. The date for this class is August 23rd. The lecture will be followed by a tomato taste testing with Chef Rocco Verrigni.

On Aug. 31 – Your Garden is a Sensational Success…. Now What?  Pattie Garrett RD and Nicole Cunningham, RD will discuss familiar and some unfamiliar ways to prepare and preserve your bounty. There’ll be taste testing and recipes to enjoy.

All lectures start at 7 p.m. and will meet at the Pitney Meadows Community Farm. No registration necessary.

 

 

Today in Our Community Garden

It’s good to be back from vacation. Thank you to Margie I. for everything she did this past week. In spite of mid-week concerns, the garden looks wonderful and much was accomplished.

The issues that came up like the Septoria leaf blight and oriental beetles on leaves are common for this time of year and the weather we have had. And the cultural practices all ready outlined during the week are precisely what we should be doing.

Practices such as removing the diseased leaves, mulching under the plants (straw is in the shed), watering from the bottom are all good advice.  Washing your tools afterwards is prudent to prevent spreading of the fungus.

Pumpkin PatchScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.44.54 PM

Today, gardeners created a pumpkin patch. Thank you Joanne K. for sharing the Jack-o-lantern pumpkins she started on July 5th.  They should be ready to harvest right about Halloween.

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.45.43 PMAnd thank you to Ed S. for roto-tilling and Margie, Kate, Chris, Anne, Jeanmarie, Sarah, Susan, Joanne, and Heather who raked, transplanted, and moved wood chips around the young plants to suppress weeds.

Take a look when you visit the garden.

The pumpkin patch just beyond the sunflowers.  This is a good location as some of the insects troublesome to pumpkins will be lured away from the pumpkins by the cheerful yellow of the sunflowers. This gardening strategy often used and, in this case, the sunflowers are the lure crop.  There are other plant relationships like this, such as nasturtiums planted near watermelons and other cucurbits to deter chewing insects. Or marigolds, especially  fragrant ones, planted near and around squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumber plants to keep beetles away.

Hot PeppersScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.47.23 PM

There were hot pepper plants that didn’t find a home this past week, so we created a barrier planting at the Northwest corner that we hope will keep any unwanted animals from entering the garden. FYI – There was one plant in one bed that may have been nibbled. It could have been a broken branch. We aren’t certain.

While I look into solar fencing, the peppers will create a “barrier.” If they don’t, there are recipes online for a spray we can make from hot peppers that keeps wildlife away. We win either way. Of course, we can use the hot peppers to eat, too.

Jim F., pictured above, planted over 250 pepper plants. Thank you.

Tomatoes

The garden was buzzing today. Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.45.16 PM

Our Saturday morning gardening 101 class was about how to trim, train and care for tomato plants. We removed all leaves and branches at the base of the plants up about 6 inches from the soil line by cutting the branches off with a clippers or scissors. If any were infected with Septoria leaf blight they were thrown in the trash and the scissor/clipper cleaned.

Anyone who wanted to had the opportunity to practice trimming up tomatoes on the community garden plants we are growing for our tomato taste testing potluck. And then, with a little experience, they took care of their own plants in their own plots.

We also made certain the tomato stems were well supported and tied so they weren’t rubbing against the sides of the cages. This can cause damage to the stem. Our farm is windy and this could happen in a day, so keep an eye-out in your own plots. If you need to see what was done, look at the plots with tomatoes and marigolds that are close to the barn for an example. Those are the tomato taste testing plots.

I will be in the garden again on Monday from 8 to 11 and plan to fill the five new beds with soil and the pathways with gravel. Come if you can. I appreciate your help. Thank you, NatalieScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.46.36 PM.png

 

Tomato Taste Testing Potluck Plan

 

For several years, I held a tomato taste testing garden party. Guests would try different varieties, compare the attributes and select the one they liked best. The following year, I grew the “best” along with new choices and repeated the event.  Everyone loved to be in on the fun.

So why not do it again? This year, I spoke with chef Rocco Verrigni, one of our supporters, and he’s on board to help host a tomato taste testing potluck when the tomatoes ripen. How great is that!

There are more than a dozen different varieties of tomatoes in the community gardens for our future dining pleasure.

Following is a brief write-up about six of the tomatoes. I’ll write about the other six in the near future.

Fourth of July – one of the earliest varieties of non-cherry tomatoes. Matures in 65 days or less and produces many fruits. Flavor is considered better than average. Some people commented online that the skin is thick. We can see what we think.

Black Beauty – Very dark in color, almost blue-black heirloom. It is meaty, fleshy and reportedly very tasty.  Online commenters said this was a great tasting tomato with a rich, smooth earthy flavor.

Berkeley Tie-Dye –  I can’t wait to you see this heirloom. In photos it looks tie-dyed with dark wine red and green stripes. The flavor of the 8 to 12 ounce fruits are reportedly very sweet and rich.

Abe Lincoln –  Mother Earth News said, these “tomatoes are large, meaty, flavorful heirloom tomatoes. There are many exceptional heirloom tomatoes, but ‘Abraham Lincoln’ consistently produces huge crops of extra large, meaty fruit.”

San Marzano – This is a well-known and well-regarded Italian cooking tomato. Long fruit filled with thick, dry flesh and few seeds make this a good choice for sauces or canning.

Defiant – This tomato has three things going for it right off the bat. It ripens early, it is disease resistant and the flavor is good. If you research this one, you’ll find it is resistant  to late blight, early blight, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt. Impressive.

Brian Wilson from Trak Rentals you’re invited to the potluck. Thank you so much for the use of the auger to get our raised beds in place.

Special thank you to Murray Penney and Robert Curry. They started these tomatoes early in the season and provided transplants to us and all the community gardeners.