Saturday, August 13, 2011

Queen Anne and the derecho

  The hints of fall being right around the corner can be felt in the air. While I can, I am savoring tomatoes as often as possible.. starting with my favorite breakfast sandwich.
Queen Anne tomatoes thrived for me this year when many of the others struggled.
  Toasted bagel with cream cheese, thick slices of tomato, seasoned with onion powder, a pinch of salt and pepper. YUM!! A family favorite, my husband also has been busted repeatedly scarfing this down.. and he constantly professes his dislike for fresh tomatoes. Queen Anne's seem to be the exception to the rule. They are mild almost sweet. While I personally love a tomato that is acidic, smacks you in the face with flavor, I understand that's not everyone's desire.

 What you might notice missing.. are the seeds. The plant this tomato came from has been putting out some hefty fruit, and the blush is also more pronounced at the blossom end. Any tomato my husband happily eats fresh is a keeper. So the seeds were removed and set aside to ferment.. as I pray they didn't cross with the yellow pear. I have enough of a stash from this variety to last me several decades, but I can't help grabbing up more.

Standing out on the front porch, making my husband hold the plate so I could actually capture the tomato's color.. he says "look at the sky!"
 I glance up.. and take a picture..
"Oh wow... pretty!"  I heard myself say.
 "Didn't you just feed the chickens?" he asked.
 I grabbed one of the sandwiches and inhaled it as I fled to the backyard. Just as I was speed waddling agilely sprinting across the lawn.. and half way to the feeders, the sky let loose. 
   Meanwhile, my husband sat down on the bench and snapped a shot of the neighbor's from the porch.. while he ate the other half of my sandwich. When I came back he shot me a huge grin, handed me the empty plate and announced the camera was dry. I fought the urge to channel all 3 Stooges. The rain had stopped, the sun was back, the pellets were squishy (but oddly the birds were loving them like that) and it could have been worse.
  The first wave of rain passed pretty quickly and it was a mild summer shower. I snapped a few shots of the flowers in the yard.  

Shortly after this, wave 2 hit fiercely. Winds strong enough to slam me into the side of the house and almost knock me off my feet! No joke.. chickens were sliding across the cement patio. The door was violently blown open dousing several antique table ends and a couch with sideways rain as I tried to shut it. Drenched in a New York second, I ended up huddled in the corner attempting to protect the birds from the onslaught with the only thing I had... myself.

 Sometimes, 15 minutes can feel like an eternity. The inside of the temporary coop was soaked, patio chairs were launched into the yard.. but I managed to keep most of them safe and maybe 6 of the chickens got drenched. The rain let up, the birds raced to the yard to hunt for worms. I slogged into the house the way only someone in super cold wet jeans can.

 I had to rummage for some dry clothes as mine were all wet. "Need to make a trip home to get changed." I muttered to my husband. It worked out well as he had to get more hinges in town.

  Dropping me off at home as he ran off to the boy's toy depot hardware store, he told me he took an interesting picture too.

   I totally forgot I had opened the windows. He thankfully, remembered as he saw the storm front moving towards us. When we got home, I made him his own tomato sandwich complete with bacon.


  1. MMMMM Bacon :)

    I wish my tomatoes had actually produced this year. Oh well there is always next year and I won't have the luxury of volunteers next year either.

  2. A lot of people had trouble with tomatoes this year. We did too, but due to volume and different locations, we didn't have a total loss. Pathetic amount when you look at it in terms of how much we planted.. but more than enough for our needs and as well we have been trading for other crops. I've pulled at least 200 pounds in tomatoes. I had planned to be a vendor at the farmer's market, but life had other plans.

    We've traded for peppers, eggplant, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggs, beets, venison, onions, mushrooms, zucchini..

    A lot of foraging this year too, my wild grapes are just ready to start picking. Puffball mushrooms should be coming up very soon.. and apples, pears, hen-of-the-woods. The chickens should start laying at the end of Aug. into Oct. 12+ of them will be attending freezer camp. They are of good size now.. but are still on japanese beetle detail and grasshopper removal.

  3. We have the same taste in tomatoes.:) Why did you not have as good a crop as expected? Ours is pretty pitiful in comparison to last season and other than getting such a late start I'm really not sure why the plants are still struggling. I have a feeling that the rainy weather leached some of the nutrients out of the soil. Loved the pictures.

  4. The tomatoes look really good. I like a bagel with sliced tomato, Parmesan,some garlic salt.

    My chickens live outside the year round and they survive pretty well. They are a hearty species.

  5. My apple trees did worse than my tomatoes. I mean nothing even hit the ground hardly not even one worm eaten apple made it past the little green stage that I saw. One tree never even bloomed really either. I hope it was just bad weather this year my new trees won't produce for a while yet and those two were the last left that were.

  6. Okay now I want to know more about fermenting the tomato seeds. Not that I plant any tomatoes- I really can't grow a tomato to save my life. But I know nothing of this. Please enlighten me:)

  7. @ Mr. H - Most of the tomato plants got a late transplant and into pretty sad soil (overworked clay). Then the wave after wave of bugs (flea beetles, japanese beetles, horn worms, leaf hoppers).. and then curly top virus. The survivors are in the garden behind the house in town.. in a pretty darn shady area (1/2 day of sun.. if that) so shelter from the late afternoon sun/heat kept them setting fruit. Just over a dozen plants, but they are giving it all they've got. Crazy weather.. I think it helped actually. Couldn't keep tomato cages up as the winds just ripped them out. The tomatoes proceeded to go into overdrive sending out roots galore. Big messy tangle. Planting the very deep also helped as we only watered the garden twice. That meant blossom end rot in the beginning until they set deep enough roots to not be stressed.

  8. @ Arsenius- I love that combo too! I've been chucking a ton of the pear tomatoes (and carrots, onion, garlic, and chili peppers) in when I make a roasted chicken. The gravy is so good.

    What breeds do you have of chickens? How do you deal with worming them? (I am suspecting our of having worms.. not surprising with all the wild birds visiting and the fact they are foraging.)

    @ PP- the weather did do a number on fruit trees. The blooms in many areas got nailed in open planted areas (flat land) followed by the messed up rain. Too much and then too little. Very stressing. Fungus and other blights seem to be going hard too. Grab out that shovel and hit up those sheep pies for your compost heap. Sheep manure is higher in potassium than other manures.. potassium is key in helping plants fend off stress and diseases.

    @ Peterson- the gel coat around tomato seeds contains a natural germination inhibitor. There are several ways to remove the seed coat.. the natural way is by essentially rotting it off. Scoop the seeds from the tomato and put it into a container with a lid.. add any juice from when you cut the tomato too. Cover and wait. Every other day or so you can swirl it around a little. Mold will form across the top and it will REEK like hell. lol Time to clean the seeds! Add water to the container, swirl it a little.. wait a few seconds and pour the gunk off. repeat repeat repeat. Seeds without an embryo usually float, as does the fleshy bits. Once cleaned, lay out the seeds on wax paper, or a coffee filter to dry. Spread them out as best as you can. (Not on paper plates or other asorbant paper products.. or the seeds will cement themselves to it.) Allow to dry in a spot with good air flow, and out of light for a few weeks. Goal is about 8% moisture content (seeds will break in 1/2 and not bend. when folded in half, if a seed bends, it is still too "wet".) Only select fully ripe fruit from healthy plants.

    I'll do a post on it with pictures later. I had 6 batches going and had to finish them up before I could get pictures.

    Once you have it down.. it is easy to get carried away! Especially when you get the knack of starting them from seed.. suddenly nursery plants are not so enticing.. and then you realize from just a few tomatoes you can get enough seeds to essentially not need to buy them again for the next 20+ years..
    Stable strain tomatoes (open pollinated, heirlooms).. preferred as hybrids can offer seriously mixed results.

    lol I'll stop now.. will post on it soon I hope!

  9. Now I am super intrigued! Can't wait to see pictures.

  10. Oh.. my husband can't wait for me to finish it up!! Sealed containers.. an item that may just save your marriage. lol

  11. What a crazy storm you had, but such vibrant, fiery reds and oranges on those blooms in between the storms!

    I don't ever buy nursery plants anymore! I can't imagine paying $4+ per plant! (in our area that's how much they are, and not even organic!)

  12. Same prices here regarding nursery plants. It kinda takes the fun out of it for me to buy transplants. That and I keep thinking.. those 4 tomato plants or 10 seed packets of new tomato varieties (which would also be about 200+ plants).

    Although trees, those I would prefer as transplants. Still the curiosity of what a seed will produce.. it is my undoing.. even if I have to wait a decade.

  13. I finally had a chance to grow out this tomato from the seed you shared with me! It is a lovely tomato, although not as vigorous in growth as the other varieties I'm trying. The Purple Cherokee that is next to it is over-taking the spot. I grabbed the few seeds I could from the fruit, and am hoping it did not cross with any others. Thank you, and I hope all is well!


    1. The Queen Anne's I tend to work a lot of compost in and then sink the plants really deep. They're an older strain- not as heavy on production but are my husband's favorite. I LOVE the Cherokee Purples & Black Krim.. and black plum. They're hideous and so tasty! They are rather massive plants lol.
      I got the garlic chives established- already expanded it!- and had great success with the cilantro (got seeds off of them for next year.) The kombucha (?) really liked that squash a lot. It crossed with something though and I am rather hooked on it. Will see this year what the seeds from that cross throws. My chickens got at the scarlet runners. Such a gorgeous plant! The dang chickens knocked over the trellis and ate the flowers. I'll be getting more because they are just to beautiful to go without!

      Ty ty Janice!