Friday, April 14, 2006

Tomatoey Goodness & the Pepper Conundrum

Last year, in my 3 foot by 16 foot garden plot, I grew 10 kinds of tomatoes (Big Boy, Big Mama, Fourth of July early hybrid, Brandy Boy, Burpee's Burger, Health Kick, Sweet Tangerine, Sweet Baby Girl, Sun gold, plus some Yellow Pear plants that came up volunteer from the year before), plus 6 pepper plants (hot lemon & poblano), basil, a single watermelon, arugula in the spring, and a failed attempt at beans. Apparently, 10 varieties of tomatoes is too much in such a small space. So, after much deliberation, a little hemming and hawing, and more than a few subtle suggestions from my wife, I have agreed to cut down on the number of tomatoes I try to fit into such a small space. This year there will be... only 5 types of tomatoes (but 7 plants!): the Burpee's Sampler (Big Mama, Fourth of July, Burpee's Burger, and Health Kick), plus 3 plants of the Burpee's Supersteak GIANT hybrid. Oh, and we'll probably have yellow pears again, but I'm debating whether to let them grow this year. So - maybe not quite the tomato overload, but still a lot of tomatoes. I can't help it - they send out the catalog in winter with pictures of scarlet tomatoey goodness on the cover. So that's the tomatoes.
Why so many different tomatoes, you may ask? Because I can. Because the tomato that's perfect for burgers is not at all the tomato you want to chop up for salsa, and neither of them is the tomato you want to put in your salad. And because I love the color of them on a bright green bush, and the smell of the tomato plants that gets on your hands, and being able to bring in basketfuls at a time that make it look like I just hit the jackpot at the farmer's market.
Then there's the whole pepper thing. Last year I did the hot lemons, which had a very clean hotness to them - I liked it a lot but they were hotter than I'd usually be able to eat without consequences, and there were way more of them than I could ever use. I ended up making hot pepper relish with all the leftover peppers (which filled the house with a spicy vinegary aroma that I loved and my wife did not). But then I never really used the pepper relish either. Hmf. So I needed something not quite as hot, that I could use in salsas and such without killing everybody. Jalapenos and Serranos are good, but I've done them both before, and I wanted something colorful and new. Thus: the Mariachi hybrid (3 plants). Plus, because I wanted some colorful sweet peppers too, I'm getting 3 plants of the Blushing Beauty. which, again, will probably be too many peppers, but at least I'll be making a milder (read: more usable) and extremely colorful batch of pepper relish to use them all up come September.
Plus, basil so good I can eat it straight, spicy arugula better than any lettuce in a salad, a new batch of herbs to cook with, hopefully newfound success in beans, and the return of the extremely productive zucchini. I can't wait for August, when this stuff'll be in full production mode. For that matter, I can't wait till I get my plants in a couple of weeks and dig them in.


Do-Man's Anklebitters said...

Nice Tomatoes Dave. Another good variety is the Hierloom. They caome in all shapes and sizes ans are seriously the best tomatoes you will ever have. After eating your own garden tomatoes kinda makes all other's not that great. I will have to send you a link to my friends garden blog she is the queen of gardening.


Do-Man's Anklebitters said...