About elzbthc

I am a Graphic Artist and The Tomato Lady in the Spokane Valley, WA. I love creating beautiful things, horses, quilting, traveling, sightseeing, cooking, entertaining, and reading among other things.

For A Chef’s Kitchen (or at least they say these are their choices)

Chef’s Choice is a series of tomatoes that are known for crack resistance. good flavor, prolific harvests and smooth firm flesh. Each color has it’s own characteristics. In some trials each plant produced 30 or more fruit. Indeterminate vines reach 5 feet and have a good disease resistance package. Are they really a Chef’s Choice? I don’t know the answer to that. However, I am happy to grow them this year.

Chef’s Choice BiColor

Producing large 10 -12 ounce flattened beefsteak fruits with beautiful pinkish-red stripes inside. Sweet with great flavor and texture. Each plant can produce about 30 fruits per season. Indeterminate, main season

Chef’s Choice Black

This is a beefsteak tomato with a dark green/brown/black hue. Vigorous, healthy plants were early to set and have a meaty interior with great flavor. This hybrid boasts prolific yields. Indeterminate, main season

Chef’s Choice Orange

Rich, heirloom flavor, these bright orange 9-12 oz. fruits are perfect fresh or cooked. This hybrid-heirloom, adapted from the tasty but late ‘Amana Orange’ will quickly become a favorite. Very prolific. Disease-resistant plants resist cracking. Indeterminate, main season

Chef’s Choice Pink

Large, 12–14 ounce pink beefsteaks are very prolific. With a fine balance of sweet to acid flavor, they are great for soups, stewing, or sauces. Indeterminate, main season

Chef’s Choice Purple

Fans of Cherokee Purple will fall in love with this exceptionally flavored heirloom hybrid. Attractive, flattened globe shaped, 9 to 10 oz. fruits are firm, smooth and truly purple inside and out. Indeterminate, main season

Chef’s Choice Red

This globe shaped beefsteak tomato is firm and fleshy with a beautiful red color and dark green leaves A heavy producer. It offers great foliage protection against the summer sun. Superior disease resistance. Indeterminate, main season 

Chef’s Choice Yellow

 Gorgeous, 10 oz beefsteak-type, fruits have a sweet, citrus-like flavor with just the right amount of acid and the perfect tomato texture. Plants produce loads of golden yellow fruits. Indeterminate, main season

Growing Lettuce in Containers

I have been growing lettuce in containers for several years now. Why you might ask?

  • Lettuce is pretty, some lettuce varieties are as colorful as flowers and their leaves come in so many shapes and sizes. While it can star as the thriller in a container, it is also nice as a filler, complimenting the colors of other flowers. I’ve always believed that edible gardens can be functional and beautiful.
  • I hate slugs, Yes, I know that they have a purpose in the garden other than destroying your vegetables, but I really don’t want them in my lettuce. So far, I have suffered no slug damage to lettuce in pots.
  • You can locate your lettuce closer to the house for ease of harvesting
  • When you harvest your lettuce, if you planted petunias or pansies or other flowers in the same pot, they will fill in the blanks
A colander is a perfect container for a salad garden. Terrific drainage!
White alyssum is set off perfectly by the red lettuce. The center red, Pomegranate Crunch, looks like a rose, at least I think so. Prizehead on the far left and Ruby on the far right fill out the rest of the planting.
Red and green lettuce in a blue colander
Here we have a purple alyssum called “Rosie” along with a white alyssum and a red romaine in a hanging pot with the tomato called “Tumbler” taking center stage
This is one of my favorite looks, a variegated nasturtium in the “Alaska” series planted with a “Prizehead” lettuce tucked inside the leaves. You could even include some of the edible nasturtium leaves into your salad bowl.
Parris romaine lettuce and pansies in a long container with a white picket fence.

Tips for Successful Container Lettuce

Location: As with all lettuce, place container in lots of sun. It can do afternoon shade and morning SUN.

Containers: As with any container garden use containers that have good drainage and that will accommodate the amount of plants you are using. Consider the size of the lettuce at maturity. Jadeite and Mayan Jaguar are mini-romaines and can be planted alone in a smaller pot. Elf Ears and Better Angel can be huge plants when full grown and will need more space. Add some flowers such as petunias and you can up the size of the pot. Colanders, stock pots, wooden pots, any kind of pot with proper drainage will work fine. You may have to put a hole in the bottom. Also remember that a larger pot will need less watering.

Soil: I can’t say this enough, NEVER use garden soil in a pot. EVER. Choose a quality, well draining potting soil.

Water and Fertilizer: Keep your container from drying out. Fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Since you are watering frequently, this leaches out the nutrients faster than if they are planted in the ground, You will need to fertilize once a week or every two weeks depending on the amount of watering you are doing. Dilute the liquid fertilize to ¼ or 1/2 strength. You can also use a dry fertilizer such as Osmocote. Whichever way you go, ALWAYS read the directions on the package.

Harvesting: Leaf lettuces can be used as :”cut and come again” lettuce, Just remember that you will get about 3 cuts before the plant starts to decline.

‘Lettuce’ Look At Unusual Types Of, Well, . . . Lettuce!

I am in love with lettuce. It’s good for you and comes in a multitude of colors and, shapes and sizes. who knew there were so many kinds. Most people , i they think of it all, figre there are 5 types of lettuce. Whqt they see in the stores is red leaf, green leaf, iceberg, romaine and sometimes butter lettuce.

A couple of years ago I started perusing some of my favorite catalogs and was amazed at the variety. I grew starts and sold them along with my tomato plants. It was well received. I held a “Salad Bowl Workshop” for some of my customers and showed them how to plant i various kinds f pots such as stock pots and colanders. I twas so much fun and the ladies learned how to use lettuce AND flowers to make beautiful containers, both functional and edible!

This year I’ve started approximately 35 kinds of lettuce. I am going to showcase a few of what I have to offer. Can you image making a salad with these combinations? Masterful! My faves are Mayan Jaguar and Tom Thumb. I will showcase more in my next blog post.

Angel’s Ear – Deer Tongue (formerly known as Devil’s Ear)
Buckley – Oak Leaf
Magenta – Summer Crisp
Tom Thumb – Mini Butterhead
Speckled Amish – Butterhead
Pomegranate Crunch – Romaine
New Red Fire – Loose Leaf
Pablo – Batavian / Crisphead
Slo-Bolt – Loose Leaf (Takes heat better than other lettuces)
Elf Ears – Oak Leaf
Lollo Di Vino – Lollo / Loose Leaf / Red Leaf
Mayan Jaguar – Mini Romaine

A Smattering of the Cherry Tomatoes I’m Offering This Year

This beauty is called “Blush.” Sweet and fruity, yellow blushed with reds and oranges in a tidy little packet. Elongated, bite-sized morsels. Indeterminate, mid-season.

New to my collection, “Bumblebee Sunrise.” You will love the sweet, fruity taste of these oblong fruit which weigh barely an ounce. Some show a “beak” at the blossom end. Swirls of reds and oranges make this a lot of fun. Indeterminate, mid-season

Also new to my collection, “Bumblebee Pink.” Pink fruits are striped with yellow and are crack resistant. Great sweet taste and very pretty in a salad. Vigorous vines produce continuously over a long growing season. Indeterminate, mid-season

We love “Candyland Red!” It grows well in a pot and produces lots of yummy little fruit. These are currant tomatoes and smaller than regular cherry-type. Expect more than 100 fruit from every plant. The tomato plant has a nice tidy habit. Indeterminate, mid-season.

Honeybee, This yellow cherry tomato produces huge clusters, of 1” fruit, sweet and juicy! Well branched and extremely prolific. Semi-determinate mid-season

Chocolate Sprinkles is a lovely roundish with a pointy end. Well, sort of. Have you noticed a pattern going on? With the exception of the Candyland Red, they all have stripes, dashes or a blush of some sort. What can I say? I like unusual tomatoes, the only caveat being that they need to have good flavor.

“Whistle While You Work” as You Pick These Dwarf Tomatoes

Last year when I tried to convince people to try a dwarf tomato, I think they thought they were small tomatoes. Not. Yes, some can be smaller, but a lot of the ones I carry are slicing size. The plant is more diminutive than the 8 foot tall varieties I grow.

Dwarf Beauty King
A productive variety that produces over a long season. Extraordinarily beautiful, medium sized tomatoes in yellow and red shades and have a rich, sweet flavor with a hint of citrus. One of the many crosses from the Dwarf Tomato Project.

This makes them perfect for large containers, especially if real estate is at a premium. They will grow larger in the ground but sometimes that’s not an option. All of these tomatoes are from “the Dwarf Tomato Project” Check out this link for more information.

Dwarf Caitydid
New variety, developed by members of the “Dwarf Tomato Project”. Vigorous, rugose, regular leaf, tree-type compact plants. Produces lots of medium to large, smooth, oblate-shaped, yellow tomatoes with red swirls. The flavor is well balanced and delicious.

Dwarf Purple Heart
Dwarf Purple Heart is a regular leaf dwarf variety that produces heart shaped medium to medium large fruit that ripen to a dusky rose purple hue. Wonderful flavor is well balanced and intense, and prolific.

Dwarf Golden Gypsy
Dwarf Golden Gypsy is a mid-season potato leaf dwarf with heavy yields of medium to large smooth oblate yellow fruit in the 8 – 10 oz range. Pale yellow flesh with an intense and sweet, refreshing flavor. Plants reach about 3-4 ft by the end of the season.

In this picture, notice how sturdy the stems are and how ruffled the leaf is. This plant only stands about 3 1/2′ to 4′ tall.

You will also notice that none of these are red (although are a lot of dwarfs that ARE red). For those who say“if a tomato isn’t red, it ain’t a tomato” you are truly missing out.

Dwarf Fred’s Tye Dye
Dwarf (tree-type) plants with rugose regular leaf foliage produce medium sized round purple tomatoes with jagged gold and green stripes and the deep crimson flesh of black tomatoes. 5-6 oz. Rich, intense, and balanced flavor. I grew these last year and thought the taste was very good. Good for a large container. 3 – 4 feet tall mid-season

This is Gonna Make Your Day!

I finally got 6600, give or take a few, tomatoes transplanted. I had a lot of help from friends and family. I can’t be on my feet more than a couple of hours at a time and even at that, every step is painful. But it needed to be done.

I published the website and updated it with the new varieties I have and the ones I either couldn’t find seeds for or they just didn’t get planted.

I am going to showcase as many of the new ones for you.that I have time for (remember that have to take naps!)

Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Red – a customer request
Seeds of this un-named variety were given to Gary Ibsen of Tomatofest. This tomato. named by Gary for Clint’s participation in the Carmel TomatoFest, is an open-pollinated, tall plant that produces lots of 2”, deep-red, tomatoes with bold, complex flavors. Its fruity sweetness is perfectly balanced with plenty of acidity. Firm and juicy. Indeterminate, main season

Julia Child
Gary Ibsen, owner of Tomatofest, also named this variety in tribute to his friend, famed cook and educator, Julia Child. The tall, potato-leaf plant produces lots of 4”, deep-pink, lightly-fluted, fruits that has firm, juicy flesh and robust flavor. Indeterminate, main season

Israel
Regular leaf plant produces heavy yields of 10-14 oz., pink, round, oblate, juicy, beefsteak tomatoes with big, rich, complex, old-fashioned tomatoey flavors. A good choice for a sandwich or salad tomato. RARE. Indeterminate, main season

Armenian
Heirloom originally from Armenia. A tall plant that produces large, 1-lb., lightly ribbed, yellow and orange beefsteak tomato with some red marbling. Unusually strong flavors for a bi-colored Indeterminate, main season.

Middle Tennessee Low Acid
This plant produces abundant yields of 1-2 lb. pink, beefsteak tomatoes with excellent mildly sweet flavors. For folks who can’t eat tomatoes with any pronounced acid. Indeterminate, main season

Like them? I told you it would make your day!

What I Did This Winter (I wouldn’t suggest it as an option for vacation!)

So this is my story: (No pictures as that would mean I need to brush my hair)

I just got out of the hospital 10 days ago. On 1/20 I had my knee replacement replaced due to an infection. I came home Friday afternoon and by midnight was taken back to the hospital by ambulance from a bad reaction to morphine. Couldn’t breathe. Ended up in ICU in an induced coma, intubated, had a mild heart attack, they put 5 stents in my chest. Spent almost 4 days in ICU. Kidneys were injured etc. 

I am getting stronger everyday but still tired. That’s probably the heart. Amazing the planning it takes to make a trip to the bathroom. I have to have antibiotics every morning for the next 5 weeks through a pic line in my arm that Steve has learned to hook up for me. That’s for the infection in my leg. 

If it wasn’t for the bad drug interaction I would have had a major heart attack at some point and probably died. I guess there can be good in all bad things. I never knew I have a heart problem. Go figure.

So last year, we did really well in plant sales. This year, no way I am going to be able to do the same volume. I have to accept my limitations and that’s a rough one for me. I have more friends than I knew I had. You should see the Facebook posts. I am humbled 

So this is what I have been doing for the last three weeks. I am glad to be home and am taking time in between naps to work on the tomato business. Timing could be better!

Don’t worry, I am making progress and I have many people who want to help volunteer to plant.

Tomato Identifying as a Pumpkin! From The Tomato Lady’s Garden to Yours

This is one of the last Greek Rose that we picked from our garden for this year. They are lovely and very large and delicious. This one was so big, it seemed to be identifying as a pumpkin! This one is just for fun! Happy Fall!

A Couple of My New Favorite Tomatoes

What a summer it has been. Cold then hot, hot then cold, little moisture, lots os smoke from the fires. It’s a wonder my stuff even grew. I did have record productivity though. Not sure why but I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

I grew some new tomatoes this year along with the usual suspects.

My 2020 list:
Cherry Tomatoes

Sungold
Fruit Punch
Velano

Dwarf Tomatoes
Chocolate Lightening
Sweet Sue
Golden Gypsy
Purple Heart
Mr. Snow
Rosela Crimson
Rosella Purple

Paste
San Marzano Redorta

Early
Siletz

Heirloom
Gold Medal
Greek Rose
Dester
Dagma’s Perfection

Black Beauty
Thorburn’s Terra Cotta
Copia
Lucid Gem
Taxi

Other
Lemon Boy
Mosccw

All of them did pretty well, I will try to share more later. My faves this year were Gold Medal, Greek Rose, Dester, Dagma’s Perfection and Lemon Boy. From those five varieties, I picked many that weighed well over a pound.

Greek Rose

The Greek Rose reminded me of an oxheart, more meaty and less juicy with a fluted top.

Dester

Dester was a very late to ripen tomato but when they did, yummm! Very sweet and big.

Dagma’s Perfection

Dagma’s Perfection was also a hit. Large and very sweet and very proflific.

Gold Medal

The Gold Medal, which I have grown before was exceptional, sweet and golden with red marbling. I will certainly grow all of these in my garden agaiin.

Lemon Boy

Lemon Boy – we had a customer several years ago who grew nothing but Lemon Boys. I couldn’t figure out why and now that I’ve grown them, I understand why. Prolific and sweet. Tasty on a sandwich.

Hot Temps and Your Garden

If you live in the Inland Northwest and you’ve seen a recent forecast then you know we are in for some really hot temperatures. That means we have to be extra vigilant in our watering practices.

For container gardens, I water once a day, usually in the early morning. For small pots, sometimes I need to water twice a day. That is why I encourage everyone to use the biggest pots you can find, smaller pots mean less soil volume and more drying out. Add some hot wind, it is even worse.

In the garden, we have a drip system setup (soaker hoses) and right now, we are leaving it on 24/7 when possible. No danger of overwatering since it “drips”. That being said, I see my plants like squash, with large thin leaves, wilting. sad looking but it happens every year now. They are well watered but the sun is very intense. I used to think I was doing something wrong. hey perk back up when the sun heads towards the horizon. I don’t remember this happening when I was kid but you get older and your mind goes!

Another thing you should be prepared for is the flowers drying up and falling off. They aren”t being pollinated. Optimum temps for fruit set is 65-80° F. As you get hotter, less fruit can be expected. Some tomatoes are more prone to this, that is one of the reasons it is harder to grow tomatoes in the summer in places like Florida and Arizona.

Another tidbit: temps under 55 degrees when the fruit is forming can cause misshapen fruit or catfacing, especially on heirloom varieties.

There are some heat-tolerant varieties such as HeatmasterSolar FireSummer Set, and Phoenix which can form fruit even as temperatures climb. Click on the link for a good article by Bonnie Plants on growing tomatoes in heat.

I hope everyone is having a great and prolific summer despite our crazy weather! we have been picking squash, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Our larger tomatoes are starting to color up and we’ve picked 3 mid-size Yukon Quests already. My husband also made his first BLT!

Yukon Quest