Friday, October 26, 2012

2012 tomatoes, first varieties.

Show Day has been and gone, and many Hobartians are rushing out to get their tomatoes in, but beware, frost may still strike. If you do plant now, and you live in a frost prone area, grab yourself a lace curtain from the opshop and use it, draped over some stakes to protect your plants from light frosts.

The first of our tomatoes are ready for planting, and have been hardened off exposed to all the windy, cold rainy weather we've had. These will be at Farm Gate Market with us this Sunday, the 28th of October, and there are quite a few more coming over the next couple of weeks, and chillies, capsicums and eggplants galore on the way.

We grow our tomato seedlings without any pesticides, in recycled pots, using our house made potting mix, which contains composted pine bark, Renew Biological Fertilizer, Tasmanian dolomite and blood & bone and certified organic seaweed and fish based fertilisers.

Deutsche Fleiss German heirloom, easily grown, high yielding variety. Red, 3-5cm fruit that look deceptively like a supermarket tomato but are one of the tastiest salad tomatoes I’ve grown. Fruit are firm and store well. Staking variety, tends to grow low and bushy.

Eva Purple Ball Productive German, Black Forest heirloom with mid sized, pink/red fruit. Climbing variety.

Jaune Flamme A French heirloom with small, opaque, orange fruit. Unique dense texture makes them great fresh, cooked or dried. Staking variety.

Kotlas Early, cold tolerant, Russian heirloom. Sweet, mid sized, red fruit with green shoulders. Staking variety.

Tasmanian Yellow Yellow, beefsteak type, medium/large fruit. Sweet, meaty fruit. Climbing variety.

Debaro Medium sized, red, egg shaped fruit with smooth skin, to 4cm across and great flavour. Productive.

Silver Fir Russian heirloom, bush variety with lacy, silvery foliage well suited to growing in containers. As it is a bush variety, fruit ripens all at once.

Roma Classic cooking tomato, egg-shaped fruit with few seeds. Semi bush variety, benefits from some staking.

Stupice Czechoslovakian heirloom, cold tolerant, with abundant sweet 2-3inch red fruit. Hardy, delicious and productive. *Our most productive here, early, delicious and cold tolerant.

Wapsipinicon Peach Named after a river in Iowa this American heirloom is said to yield thousands of 4-5cm, delicious, yellow, fuzzy skinned fruit. Climbing variety.

Camp Joy Hardy, productive, large, cherry type tomato. Really well balanced flavour. Climbing variety.

Stor Gul Swedish heirloom. Produces epic, 100mm, yellow/orange fruit. Vigorous plant up to 2m. Delicious and beautiful.

Tigerella Gorgeous green-red tomato with orange stripes. Small to medium fruit, tangy, firm flesh and incredibly tasty.

Tommy Toe Classic small cherry tomato. Productive and tasty. Staking variety.

Principe Borghese Classic Italian, egg shaped variety. Bred for sun drying but also great fresh or roasted. Prolific, staking variety.

Granny’s Golden Globes (pictured here with Wild Cherry) Low growing cherry tomato. This little gem comes up like magic in my Mum's garden each year. It produces masses of tiny, yellow fruit with thin skin that burst in the mouth, or can be picked in trusses and roasted. Holds fruit until late in the season, pull spent plants and hang in a dry place for continued harvest.

Harbinger English heirloom, produces well in cool weather and for a long period, green fruit is said to ripen well off of the bush. Medium sized, red fruit. Staking variety.

A little of last year's harvest

The remains of last year's tasting, if only I could find the notes....

Pickling cuke seedlings at Farm Gate
on Sunday too.
The first of three tomatillo varieties
coming to market this Sunday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kids in the garden

One of my best mates is the kitchen garden coordinator at the school our kids go to. She is a super inspiring gal.

Her job is funded for 6 hours, but she puts in many, many more. She liases with teachers and the P&F, drives for miles with a huge trailer, gorgeous toddler in tow, to find compost, manure, pizza oven bricks and more, then lugs what she's found around the school, organises other parents to help, sorts out how the program she wants to run fits with class teachers and the curriculum, and does millions of other things. And the garden is looking great! Following the tenures of two other passionate gardening mothers, our school grounds are getting soft edges. Kindy kids are leaving class with bunches of parsley  sticking out of their bags, there are old boots hanging on strings outside one class with daffodils growing out of them, a scarecrow with soil and seeds in her pockets that my girls check for signs of life as they pass. Children have ownership of the grounds as they watch things that they have planted grow.

My friend has done wonders, and somehow fits it all into an already rich and full life.

She astounds me.

Today she came and rescued some plants from my reject pile and while we sorted plants and her beautiful little one played in the propagating sand and snoozed in the potting bark, we chatted about plants that kids enjoy in the garden.

My friend's pic of her little one relaxing in my potting bark.

My girls have access to a huge variety of plants, and watching how they interact with them is exciting.

The sweet tooth is always nicking carrots, wiping the soil on her jeans, then eating them, still dirty, on the spot. She steals strawberries from potted plants I've protected from birds and nurtured for my market stall minutes before I pack them. Cheeky. She eats purple broccoli from the school garden every day and loves to leave offerings for the fairies, picking mint, pineapple sage and other fragrant leaves and tiny flowers. She arranges them like a dinner party on the dining suite from her dolls house, hoping the fairies will come in the night and leave her tiny letters.

The other one is interesting to watch. She searches through the garden for food like a little finch scavenging seed. She makes recipes in the kinder veggie patch, rolling parsley inside cavalo nero (her favourite kale) leaves to make little snacks. She seeks out intense flavours, unripe blueberries, over-ripe alpine strawberries, anise hyssop flowers and chickweed.

Working hard sowing borage.

They both help me sow seed, write labels, weed, tidy up, barrow compost, harvest and cook. They care for, and play with, chooks and pigs. They know where food comes from, and they talk about it with their friends. Last night while we were picking dinner the littlest one learnt the differences in smell and taste of Italian parsley and Chinese celery leaf. She told me which of our three kinds of broccoli she preferred for dinner, and chopped a mountain of mushrooms from a friend's mushroom compost stash to cook with her harvest for dinner. And she was so proud.

This is real food security. Teaching kids to grow and cook for themselves, and sharing with them the true value of food, and the rich experiences that can be had when you spend time in the garden.

Literacy, numeracy, botany, chemistry, entomology, nutrition, economics (I'm happy to pay for slug collection or weed pulling) sustainability, self discipline and probably dozens of other things are learnt in an incidental and practical way. This same interaction with food gardening doesn't need a plot as big as ours. It can happen with a box of potatoes grown on a patio, herbs on a windowsill or, if you're lucky like our kids, and many others in Tasmania, at school.

Growing, gathering and marketing her own King Edward spuds.
Teddy saving seeds.
School harvest!
Rhubarb, angelica and tomatoes for market.
Feathers for kinder craft.
Helping gather for market.
Feeding the pigs and chickens with a playmate.

Potted strawberries on the Christmas lunch table.
Gardening can be anything, but most of all it's fun!
Here the little one is modeling her hero,
George the veggie man from Margate.

We'll be at Farm Gate this Sunday the 7th of October, an extra off schedule market, with eggs, pumpkin, seed spuds, a cornuicopia of edible potted plants, fresh greens and herbs. See you there!

PS....another inspiring friend's thoughts on learning and sharing in the garden can be found here: