Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Gordon Graham Tomato

Twenty-one years ago Gordon Graham, an American painting contractor, grew a tremendous tomato weighing 7 pounds 12 ounces (3.52kg). It was as big as a lawn bowls ball and as heavy as a newborn babe. The Guinness Book of World Records certified that it was the world's largest tomato. And no one has grown a bigger one since then, although thousands have tried.

When the huge tomato plant had reached 14 feet, it blew over in a storm but kept growing. The plant reached a fantastic length of 53 feet 6 inches (16.31m.) and had just the one huge tomato growing on it.

Graham's humongous tomato gained national publicity after a TV crew visited his garden and taped a sequence that was shown on the CBS network. He also became the man to beat in Miracle-Gro’s $100,000 tomato-growing contest, but the closest competitors didn’t even come within a pound of Graham’s formidable fruit. The contest has since been discontinued, so now your only hope is to get your tomato listed in the Guinness book of records.

I have a child of Gordon Graham's world record tomato growing in my garden! Just the one plant, a direct child from a seed of Gordon Graham's world record tomato. Through great fortune and trading with a friend and fellow tomato enthusiast, I was able to obtain a few of these seeds. Only one germinated, but one is enough, if all goes well. Needless to say, I really baby this tomato plant!!

If it does well and I can get tomatoes from it this year, I will have these seeds for sale on my site this year. If all goes well. So many things can happen to a single tomato plant in a garden!

I considered growing it in a pot, but I'm notoriously forgetful and might forget to water it during a heat wave. No, it's better off in the garden than in a pot, surviving my tender mercies.

After the terrible blossom end rot we experienced with our tomatoes last year, I planted them all in my good lasagna wine garden this year. I dug in lots of old sheep manure (store bought) a little lime and one Tums per plant. The same person who gave me these seeds, told me that a Tums will give the tomato plants the calcium they need to prevent blossom end rot. It's cheap and easy, so why not? I'm going to sing to them this year too. (I sing in the garden all the time anway, but hey, I'm from Tennessee! :-)

So, keep watching our tomatoes this year! We might have some fabulous seed for sale in our store this fall!

Blue Corn

This year I am growing blue corn also called Hopi maize! What I have is called 'Six Nations Blue, Long Eared Variant'. It's not really a new thing. Blue corn is a very old heirloom, grown by the Hopi and Aztec natives for hundreds of years. Isn't it amazing how the old things are coming back and they're better than the new generation foods!

Heirloom organic blue corn has 20% more protein, less sugar with a lower glycemic index. The blue colouring is due to the presence of anthocyanins in the corn. These are the same health promoting compounds found purple berries and red wine. It is ground into flour and used as feed for animals. It doesn't have the sweet, tender taste that we are used to in the new corn hybrids. Is that a good thing? The new hybrids are all sugar.

20% more protein is amazing! So much better for egg production in chickens, meat building in pigs and cows, milk production in dairy! It's also better for us! With less sugar and more protein it can be part of the diet of someone with blood sugar problems.

Here are some more facts that I have discovered when researching blue corn:
Blue corn has 20% more protein and 8% less starch. It has more lysine, zinc and iron than today's yellow hybrids.

Cooking with blue corn:
Blue corn meal is milled dry blue corn. Blue corn masa harina has been roasted before milling.

Blue Corn Pancakes
Yield : Makes about 25 small pancakes
1½ cups blue cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
Unsalted butter, for the griddle
Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, milk, and butter and mix thoroughly. Cook the pancakes on a hot, buttered grill or skillet, using 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. Keep the pancakes warm in a low oven until ready to serve.


Blue Corn Cornbread
Original Recipe Yield 1 - 9x9 inch pan of cornbread

1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x9 inch baking dish.
Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Sift 3 times.
Stir the eggs and milk into the cornmeal mixture. Place the butter in the prepared baking dish, and melt in the preheated oven. Mix hot, melted butter into the cornmeal mixture. Transfer cornmeal mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Bake on center rack in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges of the cornbread pull away from the sides of the dish, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

If all goes well, I will have these heirloom, organic blue corn seeds for sale this fall!

Planting for 2011

Most of the planting has been done for this year! I still have some tiny seedlings too small for the garden yet, but on the whole, most things are out there. The seedlings that I still have potted are mostly herbs and baby grapevines for the upcoming vineyard and a few perennials.

We have cut back on the vegetables we are growing, wanting to use that time and space for other, more interesting things. We've added a lot more berries this spring and more herbs too and will soon be installing a vineyard for our new 'Valiant' grape vines.

Here is a comprehensive list of what we have planted this year. I am sure there are a few things that I have forgotten. I will be writing future posts throughout the summer to introduce you to a few rare and new things on this list.

Hopi black (our favourite)I planted 14 of these plants!
Hopi pale gray
Turk's cap
Sweet dumpling
Upper ground sweet potato squash (Grows in the poorest soil and conditions!)

Our Portugal beefhearts
San Marzano
Ailsa Craig
Rev Morrow long keeper
Gordon Graham original world's largest tomato seeds (Only 1 plant growing)

Yellow wax beans bush
Kentucky Wonder yellow pole beans
Scarlet runners
Stringless blue lake green pole
Gold of Bacau yellow pole
French Duet pole
Dow Gauk yard long green
Gradma's Mushroom beans pole

Bells red, orange, dark purple
Mixed mini bells
Giant green bell
White Habanero hot
Red cheese sweeet
Lipstick Sweet
Jimmy Nardello
Corbaci sweet

Only the bells are big enough for the garden yet. Hopefully I will get peppers from the others this year. We need some heat! I want them for seed sales!

Others: (Up and growing)
Sweet peas
Blue native organic corn (For ginding and fodder. Has 28% more protein!)
Tobacco Virginia Gold
Cantaloupe (14 of these plants. Wine!)
Giant watermelon (Only 3 came up :-(
Large globe onions
Ground cherries
Lemon balm
Lavender Muntead
Stevia (Only one came up)
Impatiens glandulifera

Planted but not up yet:
Haskap honeyberries
Hostas mixed
Sea Buckthorn
Black currant
Jacob's ladder
Rugosa roses
Purple leaf sand cherry
Amaranth intense purple
Amaranth red
Chichiquelites (Garden huckleberry)

Perennials and herbs still growing in our gardens: (not ornamentals)
Haskap honeyberries
Black mulberry
Black elderberry
Saskatoon berry
Black Currant
Green onions, scallions
Garlic Chives
Lemon Mint
Red Bee Balm
St.Johns wort
Wild Evening primrose
Red clover
Lappa Burdock (Close relative of the artichoke. Taste like them too!)
Heal all
Yarrow white and red

Many of the medicinal herbs at the end of the list are not grown in the kitchen herb garden, but are planted in a space to themselves, where I leave them to do their own thing most of the time. The grass and weeds don't seem to bother them. They actually do better if left alone to grow wild, so I don't coddle them.

This is a fairly comprehensive list. As you can see, we have little room for much in the way of plain old ordinary vegetables! No zucchini this year. We just don't eat it often enough to grow it. No garlic either. It is always on my list of things I want to grow, but in the fall when it needs to be planted, I am busy and tired of gardening. Maybe this year, in October, I will plant some. No potatoes or carrots. Both of these grow on local farms nearby so are cheap and plentiful in the fall. No sweet potatoes this year. I grew them last year but decided that they weren't worth the time and effort.

Today's Harvest

Spinach and asparagus! I know it's not much but it's still spring here.

I have been cutting the rhubarb and freezing it. I'm hoping to get enough this year to make five gallons of rhubarb wine!

We do have many flowers in bloom now too!

Things are growing!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rhubarb Blooms

My rhubarb is blooming! I have been waiting for this. :-) What comes with blooms? SEEDS! I will have hardy rhubarb seeds for sale this fall!

It's ready to start cutting now too. I'm going to start today, chop it freeze it and then make wine out of it when I have time. I also plan to make pies, cobbler and maybe jelly and so forth. I have a lot of rhubarb!

Looks like the strawberries are also blooming! Hmmmmmmm... Those don't look like strawberry blooms to me. Who put forget-me-nots in the strawberries!