September 2013

Cattle FAQ'S by Honor Show Chow

April 2013

Our scrumptious cherry tomatoes are the taste of summer. Our favorite is Sun Gold for its unbelievable sweetness. You can’t eat just 10! These prolific producers start early and go the distance. They’re a 57-day plant and their fruits start ripening in mid-July, just in time for to stave off tomato impatience. While Sun Gold is our earliest tomato, we also like our Black Cherry and the red Sweet Million and Super Sweet 100s. The Black Cherry is a small version of the heirloom Cherokee Purple with a sweet, dusky flavor. For those who like a little art with their tomatoes, we’ll also have red and yellow cherry tomato pear plants. All these plants grow large and produce oodles of fruits.

Our big tomatoes come in a rainbow of colors with distinct flavors and textures. We offer both hybrid and heirloom varieties. The question of which to plant is often debated among tomato growers. Both have their assets.

Hybrid tomato seeds come from combining the best traits of two or more parent varieties. We like them because they tend to bear more consistent fruit with less cracking in all types of weather. They are generally red and have a longer shelf life.

Our hybrids include the popular Better Boy, Celebrity, Burpee’s Big Beef, Early Girl and the yellow Lemon Boy.

Heirloom seeds, on the other hand, typically have been passed down for generations and are open pollinated: they reproduce their own seed, which can be saved and replanted. We like them because of their large variety of colors and tastes. They take a little longer to ripen than hybrids because the fruits are larger, but you can’t beat the taste. Our various heirloom plants produce white, red, orange, yellow and purple fruits. Each has a rich tomatoey flavor.

Many heirlooms have their own history. Some like Black Krim and Caspian Pink were brought into this country in the 1880s by Russian immigrants. Others are homegrown, like Mortgage Lifter. A radiator repairman (“Radiator Charlie” ) in West Virginia introduced that variety in the last 1930s. He sold the plants for $1 each and they were so popular he paid off his $6,000 mortgage.

Our herbs add spice to the dinner plate. We offer basil, cilantro, dill, parsley and thyme. The Genovese basil we grow is among the most productive of the more than 150 varieties available. It makes great pesto. Our four-packs of basils include purple ruffles, anise, cinnamon and lemon varieties. We like them in our stir frys and salads.

Our squash and cucumbers produce lots of fruits sand are easy to grow. We have the gorgeous bright yellow Sebring zucchini and the medium green Spineless Beauty. While spineless is not a virture, in people, it is in squash: Your hands will never itch. The 7-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch medium dark green fruits grow on open plants with spineless petioles and are easily harvested. Stir fry these varieties together with a little garlic and onion, topped off with cheese, and you’ve got a delicious meal in minutes.

For cucumber lovers, our vining Marketmore and Zapata varieties offer good salad slicers and picklers. Both have strong disease resistance. The dark-skinned Marketmores typically run 8-by-2 inches; the Zapata 3-by-1-1/2 on long vines.

Don’t forget the peppers and eggplant: We have the Alliance bell pepper that gets huge and ripens from green to bright red. Our Flavorburst ripens to a bright yellow. Our sweetest pepper is the Carmen, a long tapering fruit that also ripens to red. Terrific for snacking or stir frys.

Our Pingtung Long and Black Beauty eggplants are also heavy yielders. Pingtung produces gorgeous 10-inch-long purple fruits that are terrific in stir frys; Black Beauty’s teardrop-shaped fruits are just as long, but much wider and are a treat on the grill, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with basil.

If there’s a variety you’re particularly fond of that you don’t see, ask Nicol or John. We may be able to special order it at no additional charge. We aim to please!