Sunday, June 25, 2017

Record Tomato Harvest

This morning I enlisted Bernie's help, and we picked tomatoes.

On the tray in front, the variety is "Gladiator" a new variety this year, raised from seed.  On the left, in the low basket, is "Early Girl." The rest are "Shady Lady."

51 pounds, 10 ounces.

In one picking.

That's the most ever. Last year I think the heaviest day brought in 28 pounds. On the other hand, last year I had a number of unproductive loafer vines that just didn't produce worth a damn. This year I went with the big guns (plus Gladiator) because we have a use for some tomato sauce in the future.

Aren't they a bit pale to be picked, you may ask. Not at all, really. They will finish coloring up just fine sitting on my counter.  The ones below started out picked just as blushy as the ones on the table.
They are just as flavorful, too. But the reasons I pick them just as they start to blush are three-fold: one, the sun can cook them on the vine in the afternoon heat; two, if they color up, the bugs bite them and birds peck them; and three, if they get too ripe on the vine, they soften up and the weight of the other tomatoes on the vine crushes them. Tomatoes are not only delicious, but fierce.
Here's what I mean about bug bites:
These are Gladiator tomatoes, a paste-type variety with a thin skin. All they have to do is start blushing, and bugs nibble or sting them. They can still be used for sauce, but they look ugly and can rot quickly once the skin is breached.

Incidentally, the description of "Gladiator" from Burpee's Seeds says it's a patio or small garden tomato. That would be only if you don't want to see your patio or small garden until next fall -- all of the plants are wide and taller than I am.

I do have another variety in the yard, a San Marzano that was on the verge of being thrown out at the nursery; I'm a sucker for orphan tomatoes and just brought it home and tucked it in with the sunflowers and overgrown onions. If it produces a fruit, I'll be glad to taste it.

From left to right, Gladiator (8 oz.), Shady Lady (8 oz.), and Early Girl (6 oz.)

 High time for a BLT, I say.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Too Hot

All gone.

For the first time in years, I planted snapdragons this past winter. Here in Central CA, snaps are "winter color." Not this year, though, as we had so much cloud cover and rain that the plants just didn't want to bloom.

Once April rolled around, though, they were beautiful, and grew tall and blossomed and smelled delicious.

June, and a heat wave. I mean HEAT WAVE, with temps in the hundreds for a week. Right now, as I type this, the weather report is that it is 107 out.

I expect heat like this at the end of July, but not in June. Especially since I just stopped wearing winter clothes about 10 days ago.

Even the plants were not expecting it. Bernie's peppers are cooking on the stem; my container corn is withered and trying to tassel too early, and all the snaps have given up. Pansies, too, are suggesting that they are ready for the compost bin.

By this time next week, temps are supposed to be back to a seasonal level. But I wonder how many more plants we're going to lose by then.