Largest Tomato I’ve Ever Laid Eyes On! Kellogg’s Breakfast

No kidding, would you look a the size of that tomato! Compared to the dog anyways.

Kellogg Breakfast & Scout

This is a photo sent to me by one of my customers. Janet Y. It is a Kellogg’s Breakfast, one of our customer favorites. the second picture shows the scale with a ruler. Almost 5 inches! Wow! I see BLT’s in her future. Plus it is only the first part of August. Ours are just now starting to color up.

Kellogg Breakfast

The story goes like this: Ironically enough. this tomato is not named for the breakfast cereal developer of fame, Will Keith Kellogg, but for a humble gardener, Darrell Kellogg, a railroad supervisor in Redford, Michigan. He received his seed from a friend in West Virginia where it originated.

Sweet and meaty, he liked the tomato so much he saved the seed and began to breed the variety. A brilliant orange and nearly blemish free, they can grow to weigh a pound or more.

Kellogg’s breakfast tomato was voted one of the best tomatoes by Sunset magazine.

Pink Passion Dwarf Tomato and Why Tomato Shoulders Stay Green or Yellow

pink-passion-73017---6

Pink Passion

This is the first picking of tomatoes from one of my Dwarf Tomato Project plants. It is called Pink Passion. A bit blurry, I apologize. Some are slightly heart shaped, pinkish red with yellow, greenish shoulders. They range in size from golf ball to softball. The plant seems to be suffering in this heat, high 90’s.

Tomatoes like heat. To a point. It can cause their flowers to dry up and fall off. It can also cause the green-yellow-orange shoulders. Lycopene, chlorophyll and carotene are all pigments present in tomatoes and work to give them their color.

Lycopene is the pigment that gives the fruit it’s color red. Chlorophyll gives the plants their green color, Carotene gives them their yellow or orange color.

The optimum temperature for lycopene production is between 65 degree and 75 degrees. After 75 degrees, lycopene production slows. The fruit’s exposure to direct sun dictates what happens to its shoulders. As sun strikes tops of tomatoes, temperatures in the fruit rise, inhibiting lycopene causing them to stay green.

Tomatoes may stay green due to chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color. Excessive heat prevents chlorophyll from breaking down. When subjected to hours of hot sun, chlorophyll hangs on.

Carotene, another pigment in tomatoes, produces yellow and orange. Less affected by heat carotene (yellow) shines through while lycopene (red) is inhibited, thus yellow shoulders.

The part of the tomato most protected from direct exposure to the sun will be the color it is supposed to be.

  • This is one of the reason I crowd my plants and grow them up. I try to space them about 2.5 feet apart and use massive tomato cages. Planted in containers, it is more difficult to give them extra leaf coverage. Try placing them where they will get shade in the afternoon when the sun is hottest.
  • It is also why I don’t prune. Leaf cover is so important in protecting the tomatoes. It also protects against sunburn, a white flaky patch.
  • There are also tomato varieties, usually heirloom, that naturally have green shoulders. I’ve seen them a lot in dark tomatoes such as Japanese Black Triefle and Cherokee Purple.

What Does a 2 Ounce Tomato Look Like?

krainiy-sever-quarter-3-tomatoes

From right to left: 2 oz, 2.6 z. and 3.6 oz.

Here are three Krainiy Sever tomatoes, recently picked. They are juicy and fairly dense. I placed them together with a quarter for scale. When I read catalogs and see “this plant produces 1 oz. tomatoes in abundance” I always wonder that that looks like.

Having grown tomatoes for at least 20 years, I can tell you their is a wide variance in the weight of tomatoes. It depends on how dense, how juicy, what the seed cavities look like, etc.

The Krainiy Sever is one of the dwarf series that I sold this year.They are a pretty standard tomato, not especially packed with flesh like a paste tomato or hollow like stuffer tomato.

Fair2011WithTomatoes (9)The biggest tomato I’ve ever grown was a Rose. It weighed over 3 pounds! This variety is very juicy and solid.

krainiy-sever-quarter-2-oz

2 oz Krainiy Sever

krainiy-sever-2.6-oz-12.6 oz Krainiy Sever

polar beautyquarter - 113.6 oz Krainiy Sever

Starting Seeds in March

This has to be the longest winter I can remember. In 2008 we had lots of snow but it didn’t stick around for 3 months as it has this year. We can’t even put up our third greenhouse yet due to snow on the ground! Did I mention it is March 3rd?

tomato-seeds-2tomato-seeds-racks

Above are pictures of our tomato babies, as yet unborn. There are approximately 5000 seeds in the various gray cells. We bottom watered them with almost a gallon of hot water for each flat on March 1st and then the were moved to the shelves under the lights. In about 7 days they will germinate. It’s actually quite exciting checking them everyday, most times twice a day, to see if they’ve raised their tiny, green heads.

tomato-seeds

This is a close up of some of the cells. I spent several hours every day spreading the tiny seeds in rows of 50 to 35 seeds in each cell. This year I even used tweezers to keep them orderly. Doing it over a couple days saved my back big time!

Once they get their first set of true leaves, I will transplant them into 3.5″ pots and they will go out into the greenhouses.

One very important tip when starting seeds: Use a sterile seed starting/germination mix. It will help tremendously in not getting damping off. Nothing is worse than seeing them lush and healthy one day and watching them fall over the next. Very sad. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting tomatoes or petunias in a greenhouse or inside your family home. Since I started using a sterile mix I haven’t had damping off. You can get it at NW Seed and Pet and possibly other big box stores.

Mucho Nacho Jalapeños and Emerald Fire Jalapeños -A Germinators Dream! (at least this year)

Every once in a while you meet a plant that you really like. This year, mine is the Mucho Nacho Jalapeño and the Emerald Fire Jalapeño, Peppers are notoriously hard to germinate, especially the superhots (Carolina Reapers, Ghost and Trinidad Scorpions) and the hot (Tabasco, Habanero, Serrano, Hungarian Yellow Wax etc.) to mildly hot (Jalapeños, Numex Big Jim, Anaheims, Poblanos etc.) Some of the hot peppers can take up to 4 weeks or more to germinate and then if you get 50% you think you are doing pretty good.

 

mucho-nacho-jalapeno2Mucho Nacho is a new one for me this year. It is supposed to be hotter, fatter, longer, more prolific, well, you get the picture, than a regular Jalapeño. It was the first one to germinate and it was very happy, vibrant and healthy. Lush. I can’t say enough about it.

emerald-fire-jalapeno

The Emerald Fire was a close second. Germination on both of these were close to 90 – 95% which is really good. Nice strong stems, beautiful true leaves, easy to handle when transplanting into 3.5” pots.

For those of you who germinate your own seeds in a greenhouse you can understand how happy I was to handle these guys. Some plants, especially flowers practically require magnifying glassed and tweezers!

jalapeno-green-pepperMucho Nacho Jalapeños – 68-70 Days

An impressive Jalapeño from Mexico, large, 4” fruits are fatter, thicker, heavier, hotter, and up to a full inch longer than regular Jalapeños. They start off green and mature to red. Vigorous and prolific, they set heavy loads about a week earlier than is typical of Jalapeños.

ad8bf754-f0b0-446d-992d-573a80710745_1000Emerald Fire Jalapeño – 90 Days

These hot peppers are good for salsa, pickling, grilling, and stuffing, Extra-large, thick-walled, crack-resistant peppers, plump and delicious. Emerald Fire is very prolific and there will be enough peppers to share with your friends and family!

Winner of a 2015 All-America Selection, Emerald Fire is compact enough for patio containers, but may need some support to hold up all the peppers! Easy to grow, standing up to heat, humidity, and refuses to crack. Long season but worth the wait!

Super Hot and Hot Peppers Planted

Trinidad-Scorpion-Hot-Pepper

Yesterday, I planted my super hots and hot peppers. The super hots are: Trinidad Scorpion, Chocolate Trinidad Scorpion, Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper and Peach Ghost Pepper. The plain old hot peppers, the one that destroy-your-tastebuds-but-don’t-take-your-face-off are: Tabasco, Serrano, Cayenne, Hungarian Yellow Was, Thai and Habanero. The next peppers are still too hot for me; they are Jalapeno, TAM Jalapeno (customer request, supposedly a milder Jalapeno) Padron, Anaheim, Poblano,Chinese Five Color and Golden Greek Pepperoncini.

Super hot peppers are notorious for poor germination and long time coming up. That’s why I start them sooner than the sweets. Hot peppers like Habanara and Cayenne also require longer germination times.

I always use a germination mix which is finer than regular potting mix and supposedly sterile which cuts down on things like damping off, a fungal disease. Nothing is worse than seeing the babies raise their pretty green heads and the next day wondering why they all fell down. And died. Very sad.

They are under lights in our dining room, nice and toasty warm. I bottom watered with hot water to get them started. Once they come up I will use warm water.

As i look out at the white beauty, I marvel that I am able to start seeds so early. We use ordinary space heaters to keep the greenhouse warm.

Be on the look out for more posts describing the peppers. Gives you something to look forward to…warmer temps, green grass, daffodils and crocus….

 

Chinese Five Color – a customer favorite, hot but not too hot, so they say. I am a wimp!

pepper chinese five color

Delicious Pumpkin Pie With Lower Sugar

This a delicious pumpkin pie recipe that uses splenda and a little bit of brown sugar. It’s very good and hard to tell it’s low sugar. I roast my own pie pumpkins.

30175_easy_pumpkin_pie.jpg

How to roast pumpkins: Buying cans of pumpkin is easy but in my opinion you never know how long that pumpkin has been in the can. It is incredibly easy to raost your own. Pie pumpkins are better for baking than the ones people use for jack 0’lanterns. They are smaller, less stringy and sweeter.

To roast a pumpkin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half, scrape seeds out (you save them for roasting), place pumpkin halves, cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet covered in foil. By placing them upside down, they don’t dry out (form a crust) and they steam.Bake pumpkin for about 30 – 50 mintues, dependent on size of the pumpkin, until they are easily pierced through the skin  with a fork. They sometimes look like they are collapsing. Let them cool. I scrape the pumpkin straight from the baking pan into the blender.

Here’s a tip: pour in the half and half (3/4 cup)and then place enough pumpkin that the liquid rised to the 2 3/4 cup line on the blender. 

I love this recipe because it is so simple and doesn’t dirty up every dish in the house. Put all your ingredients into the blender, blend and pour.

Ingredients:
1/2 Package pie crust
2 Cup mashed pumpkins
3/4 Cup splenda
1/3 Cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamom
2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Pinch Salt
3/4 Cup half and half
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Note: You can use 1 tablesppom of premade pumpkin pie spice instead of mixing your own

Instructions : Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fit piecrust to pie plate. Mix all ingredients in a blender, pour into pie plate. I put the pie pan on the oven rack and then fill, it keeps spills to a minimum. Bake 50 – 60 minutes or until set in the center

Update on the Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert Squash in My Last Post

I tried the smallest Uncle David”s Dakota Dessert squash and it was really good, First I roasted it with nothing on it to get the flavor. The first bite was a little vegetal, the next, in the thicker part of the piece was dry and slightly sweet. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t get full flavor since it was the smallest and least developed off the bunch.

pumpkins and squash 2016 - 3.jpg

Once I tasted it for unadulterated flavor, I threw some butter, brown sugar and spices; mace and allspice on top. You could also use apple pie spice or nutmeg. I put the dish back into the oven, at 350 degrees until it melted. Oh boy was it good!

Winter Squash Harvest 2016

pumpkins-and-squash-2016---2.jpg

Check out all my squashes! This is what we harvested after our first frost.New England Pie pumpkins (although two of them got a little ahead of themselves and grew a bit bigger than they should have, but I am sure they will be as delectable and sweet for pies as their smaller brethren), Aunt Reba’s acron squash and Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert squash. Whew, what a name. For those of you who wonder where I got my seed, I found a new seed company called Fedco . Frdco Seeds Can’t wait to try these. I like my winter squash sweet and dry so here’s hoping they are as good as their descriptions.

pumpkins-and-squash-2016---4.jpgThe pie pumpkins were not all the way orange but are turning. They also took over the garden, even running up into a pile of pots we had on the side of the shop.

pumpkins-and-squash-2016---3.jpgUncle David’s Dakota was almost as exuberant. However, I am pleased to say that Aunt Reb’s, as advertised, was not about to take over the world. It stayed in a 3 to 4 foot area, behaving very politely to it’s neighbors. don’t we all wish our own neighbors were as well behaved!

So, you couldn’t feed the neighborhood with this harvest but there are only two of us now and it is enough. My husband would rather have a root canal without out anesthesia than eat winter squash so it’s all on me. Yummmmmmm/

What a Fabulous Idea: The Apple Dust Especially

This is from the blog site: One Tomato, Two tomato. Thanks to the blogger. Apparently you can do this with the skins taken off tomatoes when you are slipping them in order to can them. What a great idea!

Dried Apples and Apple Dust

I am constantly creating new healthy items that are easy to pop into lunches or have for snacks.  Since it’s the middle of winter, my local apple orchard isn’t exactly open.  But my coop had several bags of “seconds” organic apples for only 99¢ a pound.  Time to fire up the dehydrator.

My latest endeavor is apple dust and dried apples.  I got the idea for apple dust from drying leftover tomato skins from canning.  The skins are dried in the oven, then pulverized, and used to sprinkle on pasta, pizza, rice and beans.  Why not do the same for apple peels?  My dust (more like bran) had a lovely pink color from the apple varieties I used and a light apple flavor.  The best part of the dust is the kick of fiber, antioxidants and nutrients found in apple peels.  Don’t let them go to waste!  I like to add apple powder to yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes and muesli. The actual dried apples were pretty good, too.  They barely lasted a week in my house.