Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020, A Year in Closing

We began our 2020 gardening season with controlled admission to the garden. Our community garden, a place where food production and charity work occurs, was deemed a necessary entity by the state of Washington. In small, socially distanced groups, we weeded, tended, sowed, and planted. It was incredibly disheartening for the group to forgo our annual spring meeting and work party, but we were elated to have access to our plots. 

As the season progressed, we gardened without gathering. We worked in our food bank and focused energy and resources to provide organic produce to our community. We are incredibly proud to be able to support Hopelink.

Every single gardener at MCGA plays an essential role in helping our garden run effectively. Honorable mentions are as follows.

Thank you to:

  • Our foodbank leadership and their efforts made this year a successful year of donations to Hopelink Redmond and Hopelink Kirkland. 
  • Our foodbank worker bees for tending and harvesting our crops with care.
  • Our produce driving team for your timely and dedicated deliveries.
  • Our ground crew for weeding, spreading hogs fuel, cleaning plots, picking up garbage, winding up hoses, and helping garden neighbors.
  • Our mentors for sharing their knowledge and time with others.
  • Our board for your leadership and time.
Thank you, everyone, for your membership in 2020 and, we hope to see you in 2021.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Tomato Profile: Japanese Black Trifele

The Japanese Black Trifele (meaning truffle) is not from Japan at all: it's from Russia.

One of the finest heirloom black tomato varieties we have grown, mahogany-colored, with a teardrop shape and, meaty texture.

Fruits average 2 ½” diameter and the plants are extremely productive. Very resistant to cracking. Indeterminate.

Provide support and remove side shoots and restrict the plant to one main stem. In late summer remove the growing tip to hasten ripening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Tomato Profile: Cherokee Purple

Craig LeHoullier, a retired chemist, is responsible for the Cherokee Purple tomato.  You will be surprised to know this beefsteak is not an heirloom at all!  Its dusky red color and sweet but savory flavor is a favorite among tomato growers.  Some even call the fruit, "smoky."
This super beefsteak easily produces fruits that are up to a pound. Give it lots of support as the fruit-laden vines may break under the weight.

Cherokee Purple on the vine.  Be sure to give this indeterminate grower lots of sturdy support.  I pruned off much of the foliage as blight hit the garden. 

The fruits are often the largest of all beefsteaks. As the fruit develops, look out for catfacing (scarring or dimpling, usually at the bottom end of the tomato)  and cracking.  Water evenly and regularly to avoid cracking.

 The fruits range in colors from olive, maroon, brick red, to brown.  They have been described as a "badly bruised leg."

Tomato Profile: Black Krim

Black Krim is a tomato that originated from Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea. It is a favorite of chefs everywhere.  It places very highly in tomato tasting and tomato trials. 
The indeterminate vine bears medium-sized, 8-ounce fruits.  Once ripe, the tomato is soft to the touch with olive-colored shoulders. This plant had fairly good disease resistance and is fending off blight in our garden. 

Ripe fruit can also be marooned-colored, so watch them carefully as they begin to ripen. 

 I have noticed the fruits are also blushing pink when they are ripe.  They bruise easily so be careful when harvesting. 

Black Krim resemble Cherokee Purple, but they are a smaller beefsteak tomato.  See Black Krim circled next to the Cherokee Purples. 

Tomato Profile: Green Zebra

Green Zebra was developed by tomato breeder Tom Wagner of Everett, WA. He was intrigued by breeding a tomato that was green when ripe.  This indeterminate vine is a medium producer of fresh, tangy tomatoes. The plant itself is relatively compact and did not get more than 3 feet tall. Disease resistance on this plant has mixed reviews.  I found it was the second of my ten plants to get blight this year. 

Whenever I can find Green Zebra, I buy it and plant it.  The fruit is lovely with chartreuse green stripes. When they are ripe, they are soft to the touch, and develop yellow shoulders. 

Newer varieties of Green Zebra blush red or pink when ripe. Be sure not to leave them on the vine too long after they are ripe or they may become mealy.

The fresh, tangy, and sometimes "zingy" really adds a unique flavor to salads.

 We diced up the Green Zebra and added it to a fresh garden salad.  These fruits are also excellent in fresh salsas. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Tomato Profile: Chocolate Cherry

Chocolate Cherry is a large cherry tomato that matures from green to olive and then brick red to milk chocolate brown. This indeterminate vine is very prolific, so a good sturdy, tall tomato cage is needed—the clusters of delightful and flavorful fruits delicious eaten fresh or roasted. I have been growing this variety as well as its cousin, Chocolate Sprinkles, for several years and prefer them over red cherry tomatoes. When harvesting these little gems, pick them as they begin to turn brown and let them finish ripening indoors. 


Tomato Profile: Ananas Noir aka Black Pineapple

 Ananas Noir is a beefsteak tomato developed by Belgian horticulturist, Pascal Moreau. This indeterminate plant boasts fruits up to 1 1/2 pounds.  Smooth-skinned and bursting with black, brown, green, red, orange, and pink hues. The flesh is sweet and meaty.  I found this gem at a local hardware store in Woodinville. Since the fruits are so heavy, a good tomato cage is essential. This plant grew to 4 feet tall. 

Fruits often weigh close to 1 pound or more.

This tomato was the first one ripe out of the 5 beefsteak varieties I am growing.

It does matter what light Ananas Noir is exposed to.  The stained-glass quality of the flesh is unsurpassed. 

This tomato is so refreshing, and tasty it is best eaten fresh. 

I used the tomato in a spicy Vietnamese noodle bowl for dinner.