A Bowl of Tomatoes

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One year, many years ago, I went on vacation with my husband and some friends to Cancun, Mexico. We adventured from our hotel via taxis one afternoon and stopped at a mini local market. I was so into the market, looking at all the handmade items, jewelry, knickknacks, and I then saw beautiful hand-made pottery type bowls in super colorful patterns on the inside of the bowl with a wonderful terra color to the outside of the bowls. I bought one immediately, and the man selling them did the sign of the cross with his hands after I paid him cash, and he said a prayer right in front of me. He was so thankful for my purchase. I remember thinking, wow, I wish I could buy at least 5 more of these gorgeous bowls, but they wouldn’t fit in my suitcase!

Here is the bowl filled with various tomatoes and peppers from my container gardens this year. Aren’t the colors of the bowl and fruit just amazing? It is a good way for me to display the fruit as a reference for next year when I grow the starter plants from seed again. That is my main goal usually is to show what the fruit looks like, and comment on how they tasted.

This year, again, I’ve said has been a very humid and very wet summer in Connecticut. My plants didn’t do as well as last year, but alas, I got enough fruit to give my opinion on them. If only they grew better, I would have a lot more to eat, and so would Steve, my husband.

What is this Pepper?

Okay, who out there can help me? I obtained seed packets which are a mix of chili peppers. When I sowed them, I thought, “Wait, how will I know which is which when I go to sell the starter plants?!” Because it is a mix, I won’t know until I try these out and see them grow and produce peppers.

I ended up with 3-4 patio pots of the pepper plants on my deck and had to wait and see. One plant produces the pepper shown above, it turns black from a green color. One day, I tossed one on my grill whole, roasted it, and we tasted it. It was very yummy! Then I did that again a month later with some more of the black ones, and they were a lot hotter than the prior picked black peppers. The heat turned up the longer they stayed on the plant.

The Green Ancho Poblanos Peppers

This one above, is on a different plant (not the same as the ones that turn black). Look at the top – how it kind of indents. I has a different shape than the ones that have been turning black on the other pepper plant on my deck. I was able to find this green one described as:

Ancho Poblano represent the golden mean of the pepper universe. They’ve got some spice, but you can easily chomp right into them. They’ve got some genuine pepper flavor, but it’s muted a bit by the heat. They’re great fresh, cooked, pickled, dried, or blistered in fire when fully ripe. They grow abundantly on bushes that reach nearly three feet tall. Plant early, though, if your goal is to maximize the number of ripe pods you get; they do require a fairly long growing season.

I agree, they have some heat. At first I questioned if they were Habaneros cause the seed packet contained some of those as well, but I thought, that can’t be possible. The Habaneros I purchase in grocery stores are not nearly as large, but these green ones are hot. My husband is the taste tester, and it is always comical to see him take a big bite, chew, and then the expression on his face! At first, he was like, “Oh, they are mild,” then a few chews after, he says…, “OH NO, they are HOT!!”, and he then spit some out. LOL.

Habaneros (green stage – to turn yellow)

This week, I finally spotted a pepper that is the size of the Habaneros on another plant on my deck. I thought, “Ah-ha! Here it is!” Steve hasn’t taste tested it yet. It is supposed to turn yellow so I will let you know. So basically, all the seeds in this packet are a mix. It also includes a red pepper (small oval long shape) that starts green, and I think this is a Serrano pepper.

Serranos Hot Peppers

Well, I am thinking these are Serranos, but I’m not 100% positive. Steve still has yet to taste these. I think I will make some salsa this weekend with tomatoes and some of these peppers to give them a try. These red peppers are abundant on a small plant in a pot on my deck. The plant looks like a Christmas tree with all the green and red peppers right now.

Thus, again, the confusion lies in the fact the seed packet has a mix of Pica Chile various species of hot pepper plants. It has been fun to witness what is produced, but the only downfall is I don’t know what I will get but I will definitely start these mixes again from seed next year for people who enjoy the adventure of seeing what types of hot peppers they will be able to use in their cooking from their plants!

The Bowl from Cancun with a Mix of Tomatoes and Peppers

Starting from my logo on the left, lets go clock wise! At the clock noon position, is a Goldie (obvious from the golden yellow color), Ancho Poblanos (green pepper, mild to hot) 1 pm, Habaneros (green small sitting on-top of some red Matchbox peppers and Tiny Tim tomatoes), a Mandurang Moon tomato at 6 pm, another green Ancho Poblanos, and then the black peppers (name unknown) at the 9-10 pm position of a clock. There are others in there, such as Paul Robeson tomatoe and a StoneRidge, and a Cherokee Purple.

Granted, some of the fruit doesn’t look perfect, some cracking from too much moisture this season (lots and lots of rain storms), and all that – but overall, they still taste amazing.

Hot Matchbox Peppers

This one is definitely a Matchbox hot pepper (pointy tip) in a different pot and not from the “mix of variety seed packet.” It is from a separate packet and I’ve grown them before, they are super compact, perfect in small pots, and product lots of hot red peppers, starting from green color.

Cherokee Purple

I’m pretty sure this is the Cherokee Purple. It looks very similar to the Paul Robeson tomatoes. Paul Robeson are orangey purple green beefsteaks, and I am taste testing both. Both the Cherokee and PR’s are just amazing. My only disappointment is I wish I had more of the plants on my deck or in a garden. I did restrain myself this season, I can only keep up with so much watering, I thought. Then it poured like heck this summer. Things got over watered by nature.

Paul Robeson Tomato

The PR’s are noted to resist cracking and have exceptional flavor. They just look very similar to the Cherokee and sometimes I forget which I took a photo of later when I start to blog and post about them.

Goldie

Speaking of tomatoes which resist cracking, I would say by observation this season, Goldies fit that description as well. They are blemish free and absolutely perfect looking yellow golden tomatoes. I wrote about them in my prior post this month. It is an heirloom and sweet golden flesh. They do melt in your mouth. Oh I hope next year will be better growing season cause I want these again for sure!!!

The Mandurang Moon tomatoes are about the size of cherry tomatoes and a pale yellow. I thought when I cooked with them in a sauce, it intensified the flavor of this tomato. They are also perfect, no blemishes, and firm. The plant stays shorter with stalky center stems and leaves that look like potato plant leaves. I blogged about these earlier as well on this site.

The bowl with a mix

Others in this bowl are some Tiny Tim tomatoes (super compact plant) and some StoneRidge. More on those later.

It is interesting to note that even though I felt like my plants suffered, I still was able to enjoy the fruit – enough for two. We add one to sandwiches, roast a couple to put next to steaks from the grill or corn, and add some to salsa’s, whatever. It was just enough to test the varieties and take notes here so I will remember come spring 2022 when I do this all over again!

Thank you and enjoy your weekend. It is supposed to cool down tomorrow after a very humid day today!

Cathy Testa
Written Aug 27 2021
Container Crazy CT
Located in Broad Brook/East Windsor, CT

860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

I sell starter plants in the spring time, I install container gardens and patio pots for clients, I dabble in holiday items such as succulent topped pumpkins in the fall, and fresh greenery wreaths and kissing balls in the holiday winter season. I ponder what is next, what should I continue but I do know, I really LOVE growing the tomato plants from seed, so that is a keeper on my to-do lists! Thank you for visiting, Sorry about the typo’s or grammar errors, I have to rush out to water before the humidity kicks in! Cathy T.

Time to Talk Tomatoes

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This year (2021) was not the best tomato year for me in regards to my plants. At first, they were massive, perfect, free of blemishes or issues, and then we had many repeat rainstorms with abundant rain falls and winds strong enough to bend a metal patio umbrella pole in half on my deck. Most of the tomatoes ripened slower than usual and stayed green for a long time. But some did start to ripen enough for me to to have a few tomatoes and start taste testing. On my list are the following new types I grew this year from seed.

GOLDIE TOMATO

Goldie Heirloom Tomatoes

When my husband sliced one onto a plate last night before dinner, he shook his head with approval and said, “These are good.” I replied with “Yes, and I sure will grow these again next season, hopefully with better weather.”

Reasons I love these Goldies are: They are blemish free (except they seem to have a bit of a sunken stem center but a friend shared her fruit photo from the plant she got from me and has the same look, so this is normal), they are a wonderful large size (perfect for sandwiches) and I LOVE the bright yellow color. The intense yellow color looks amazing with other colors of red or purple hued tomatoes and dark green basil leaves on a plate. This is an heirloom to keep on my growing list for next year. The fruit is sweet, soft, and has a nice texture. I still have seed packets available and if interested in buying some packets, reach out – at least you will have them in your seed stock pile for next season, or you may purchase the starter plants from me next year. I am definitely growing these again.

Friend’s Photo of a Goldie Tomato
Perfect Complextion! LOL!

The Goldie tomato plants are indeterminate and grow to about 6 feet high. The packets indicate they become “richly orange gold” but we had picked them on the golden yellow side. I noticed a green one I placed on my window sill just yesterday is starting to turn yellow already in one day.

CHEROKEE PURPLE TOMATO

The next amazing heirloom I grew from seed, which is a winner for taste and beauty in my book, is the Cherokee purple. It grows a purple-hued tomato with green shoulders. These started to ripen before the Goldies, and the seed packet indicates they are an early-producer. The fruit turns a blush deep purple and shoulders stayed green which is normal. They are super pretty when sliced and placed on the plate!

Cherokee Purple Tomato

Again, I wish my plants performed better because we would have had a larger harvest, but at least, I am able to “taste test” these for next year’s growing. It is also an indeterminate plant like the Goldie, and grows to about 5 feet tall. You definitely need good supports on the plant for the wonder fruit. If I was a restaurant owner, these would have to be in my kitchen garden. They are gorgeous.

Cherokee Purple Tomato
PAUL ROBESON TOMATO

PAUL ROBESON TOMATO

The Paul Robeson Tomato, named after a famous African-American opera singer, linguist, athlete, and civil rights champion, looks very similar to the Cherokee Purple tomato. It has an orange-green color with purple streaks or patterns. It is a beefsteak size. It resists cracking (which seems to be the case with the Goldie and Cherokee Purple as well) and also is an a tall grower, reaching six feet high. I have one on my counter right now and will taste test it today. The seed packet indicates it has a intense sweet smoky flavor.

Because the season’s growing was impaired, I don’t feel I am getting the true taste of these, because if we had a sunnier warmer summer, I can only imagine how much more intense the flavor would be. I started to ask people who bought plants from me how their plants are doing. Some said amazing, some said, not so good due to weather. However, I also asked, should I grow them again next year? And they all resoundingly replied, “Heck Yah!” This made me happy because I grew a real lot of tomato starts this season and I don’t want folks to be discouraged.

If you love tomatoes home grown, you can’t help but try again and again every season to grow them. It is addicting and you need to be an optimist, or one that can sooth their disappoints with a glass of vino! LOL, JK. But sometimes I think, can I handle another year that wasn’t as expected? Can I do it again? Well, let me tell you, just one tomatoe answered that question to be yes. The flavors can not be beat on these homegrown heirloom tomatoes. Hands-down. Unless you are able to find a big grower locally, you will not find these types of home grown taste in a typical grocery store.

OXHEART TOMATO

I only grew a few of the Oxhearts this season and sold them to friends as starter plants, and I didn’t keep one for me. I kind of regretted that in ways, but then again, I have only so much room on my deck. So, a couple who did grow the plants from me gave me one Oxheart last weekend when we met up for a kayaking day. I was so happy to take it home and saved it for a sandwich.

OXHEART TOMATO

These Oxhearts are heavy, nearly seedless, soft to the touch, and really unique and amazing to eat. I mean they just taste so amazing, and for as long as I live, I will never regret growing and eating some of these. I have an Uncle up north in New Hampshire, and he has the most amazing vegetable gardens you have ever seen. I sent him a packet last year and said, grow these. He has been measuring his fruits from his Oxheart plant raving about the sizes. Wait till he tastes them!

NEXT YEARS VARIETIES

I know I will repeat the tomatoes noted above for next year. I will probably get tempted to order another new heirloom seed stock but for now, I have plenty to get my juices flowing in early spring of 2022. I will post again on the other tomatoes I started and grew and a few hot pepper plants soon. In the meantime, today, we witness rain again – all day, but you know what, it will water my new grass seed in a part of my yard, so that is good!

As I’m typing this – there goes the fire sirens in Broad Brook. This means something is happening. Lightening is flashing by my window and the thunder is booming. I better post this before I loose power at the house!

Cathy Testa
Tomato Grower
Container garden Installer
Holiday Decor and Gifts
Blogger
Kayaker
860-977-9473
containercathy@cathytesta

http://www.WorkshopsCT.com
http://www.ContainerGardensCT.com
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com (you are here now).