Saturday, August 11, 2007

First Experiences With Home Grown Tomatoes

(this post doubles as a garden update, which I'm sure you are absolutely dying to hear about)

We have five tomato plants in the backyard. It's a good thing we planted five, because we have decided that some of them will definitely be weeded out via unnatural selection (a.k.a. JunkFamily's decision process). Recently, we have been able to enjoy the first fruits of our tomato plants.

I know that the biggest and healthiest looking one is an Early Girl cultivar, which is a hybrid. This is the one with the big green tomatoes on it, or fourth from the left. For those that are not informed, vegetable hybrids are usually sterile, or at least will not propagate seeds that will grow up to look like their parents. However, tomatoes from that plant have been a nice size (for our backyard) and fairly unblemished. They tasted like vine-ripened tomatoes that you get from the supermarket, except they were bigger, which is a big plus.

The rest are of the Super Marmande non-hybrid variety. We will only be saving seeds from the right-most one. So far we've only consumed one tomato of that variety (from the aluminum foil covered pot), and it was slightly disappointing because it was very small...about twice the mass of a cherry tomato, but smaller than a Campari. (we're assuming the small size is because it's not in the ground) However, it had a wonderful flavor. BTW, I don't know if my scale is all messed up, but my standard for tomato flavor is based on the flavor of a store bought cherry tomato (please let me know if I need to re-tare my scale). Other tomatoes might have a hard time living up to this, but can make up ground by coming close to the cherry tomato flavor while being much bigger than one of those.

Harmony made salsa using some of our tomato harvest. I am pleased to announce that this turned out great, and next year we are looking forward to getting more salsa ingredients from our backyard, such as hot peppers and cilantro.

On a side note, today I spotted this running around on the patio concrete:

(sorry for the shadowy picture; it did not want to remain cooperatively stationary)

It is known as a velvet ant, which is actually a type of wasp. It has a very painful sting, which is part of the reason why it was squashed shortly after taking this picture. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that. First, it crawled onto the dirt, where I stepped on it with my foot. Upon removing my foot, the critter was still squirming around trying to run away. So I repeated about two more times, each time with the same result. I then pinned it down with my foot and had Harmony give me the trowel, which I deftly used to chop it in half. Still the front section continued trying to crawl away. This was when I scooped it onto the concrete and smashed it with the trowel. So. They are very tough, and they also make a high-pitched squeaking noise when annoyed or mating (I'm assuming it was the former rather than latter).

And BTW, the bombastically brash bold marigold is, unfortunately, not one that we ourselves planted from seed. That was a whimsical purchase from yesterday's excursion to Home Depot. Keen eyes will spot another marigold in the bottom right corner of the picture, which we ourselves did grow from seed.

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