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Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts

Monday, May 22, 2017


This is the first chocolate tomato harvested this year.  If the birds do not get to them before we do, there should be many more, along with other types of heirloom tomato goodies. I fell in love once with a tomato called Cherokee Purple,  An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; it has a beautiful deep dusky purple-rosy red color and sweet flavor.  And so I began to learn more about heirloom plants in general, and especially tomatoes. I love them for their stories, for their names, and for the adventure of growing them. They are not as hardy as the recently hybridized tomatoes. In addition to these 2, this year we have Brandywine, Louisiana Pink, Eva Purple Ball, and Kosovo plus a yellow heirloom I failed to tag. No, we don't have a large garden, only 1 or 2 plants of each. Joe, Ben, and my daughter in law Kristen do most of the work, and I get to pick a tomato or two and enjoy the benefits. Nora, at 3, already loves harvesting cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers with her mom. 

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Garden Gifts

Fall gardens on the South Texas Gulf Coast are sometimes even more productive than Spring plantings, but not this year.  Tomato plants are big and leafy, with only a few small green tomatoes.  Peppers are still growing, but barely.  A combination of unusual wet cool weather has all but stalled any further setting of blooms. My youngest granddaughters have just spent some time here, and prove that though the gathering may be small, the joy is large.  There are a number of reasons I choose to garden, and these grins are one of them.  These little girls have helped me in a number of ways, and I am thrilled to pass on the joy of harvest to them.  This week, as we have cut herbs and gathered peppers and chopped and cooked together, our Thanksgiving has been much more than a meal.  It is a celebration of the happiness of being together, working together, and gathering all the family around Grandma Terrell's old oak table.  The table is now mine, and I am now the grandmother, but I probably won't ever call it Granmary's table.  The girls, however, will, and I am glad. I am thankful for those who have gone before, and these who will go beyond.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gardens and Granddaughters

As you can see, Jordann is really getting into gardening these days.  She loves picking the tiny clusters of Wild Cherry tomatoes that have taken over the herb garden.  She and her sister, Maddie, also love popping a tomato in their mouths for tasting while they pick!  These plants have come up volunteer all over the garden this year, and although I have pulled up many of them as soon as they appear, there always seem to be more. The tomatoes are only half as big as most cherry tomatoes, and are great for tossing into a salad, but the plants are so sprawling and invasive they are crowding out everything else.  So, this weekend, I will be pulling them out and getting the raised bed ready for fall vegetable and herb planting.  This is clearly a lesson that applies to other parts of my life:  just because something is pretty,  interesting, fun and flourishing doesn't mean it is the right choice or the best time for me to let it continue to use up my time and energy.  I am always learning from my garden.    

When Jordann comes back to our house for another visit, she may notice the jungle of tomato vines is gone, replaced with something else that is good to eat and fun to harvest.  And I know that she will be just fine with that. As in the picture below, Maddie and she will take a basket and gather what grows in the present.  I learn that from my granddaughters - that loss and change do not always mean sorrow.  That new things are good, too. And that doing them together is the best of all.       

I love what my garden and my grandchildren teach me.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

One of the great advantages of living on the South Texas Gulf Coast is that we have two growing seasons!  It is true that Spring gardens often get burned with summer heat that comes on fast, but Fall gardens can be so rewarding.  I planted new tomato plants about a month ago in containers that were shaded part of the day.  Now that cooler temperatures have arrived, they are setting fruit.  Squash and cucumbers went in a few weeks ago as well.  This weekend, I will plant some Kale, collards, bok choy, and lettuces.  If we have a typical mild winter, they will still be thriving until next Spring.  One year we had an unusual snow day early in December and I have photos of the greens frosted with snow which only seemed to give them second wind!  I love planting seeds.  When my granddaughters are here, they like to plant their own rows.  Our garden may be small, but it adds so much pleasure and of course, good nutritious food for our table.  I will add a plug for Baker Creek Heirloom seeeds, my favorite seed catalog.

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Market, To Market

We grow a few vegetables and have pomengranate, Meyer Lemon, Fig, and Satsuma trees, with starter Avocado and Olive trees. The past two years, we have purchased a CSA share which means we have local organic produce and eggs during their delivery seasons.  But today, I am thankful for the abundance of Farmers Markets that are new to our area.  At the site of the old Imperial Sugar plant in Sugar Land, every Saturday local gardeners, bakers, chefs, and craftsmen are there with fresh vegetables like sweet Japanese eggplant, colorful peppers, squash, okra, tomatoes, peaches, fresh bread and pastries, Texas Wagyu beef, freshly made pastas, olive oils, and a variety of condiments.  It is satisfying to support local efforts, and the results are tasty when I bring our bounty home to cook.  I have another reason to be happy - tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the 60's, so I don't even have to brave the blistering Texas heat to shop. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Headed for Fall, Remembering Summer

At the beginning of the summer, when the herb and vegetable garden was producing plenty to pick every day, Maddie and Skye loved helping with the harvest.  One day they asked if they could have a farm stand in the front yard.  They had the sign all ready to go:  Tomatoes were 50 cents each, bunches of Basil were advertised at 10 cents, and mint for 2 cents per handful.  Peppers were 30 cents, and underneath the large "OPEN and SALE!"   lettering was the enticing "1 Free Water with each purchase!"
A couple of neighbors helpfully shopped from their market, and they happily counted their proceeds as they chattered about how much more fun that was than a lemonade stand.

Now, at summer's end, I think about our long hot Texas summer with record breaking drought and am thankful we had those weeks of bounty before the garden said "no more."  I pick up the sun hats they wore that afternoon, and move the little round table to a spot until they are ready to use it for another project.  And as grandmothers do, I carefully put the sign in a good place for keeping. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Squash Baby

Sometimes a vegetable hides under its foliage until it is beyond edible.  Jordann found this yellow squash  and obviously loves it, warts and all!  Seeing her cradle it reminds me of a zucchini I displayed in the same fashion a few years ago.  I come from a long line of farmers. When I was Jordann's age, we often used surplus cucumbers and squash from the garden to make a menagerie of animals with toothpick legs and button eyes.  I still create with these fresh treats, but now it is in the kitchen. Today's produce prices at the supermarket are making me expand my list of vegetables to grow in the coming season.  Tomatoes are in and finally beginning to grow as temperatures come down from triple digits.  Soon we will plant collards, swiss chard, and bok choy which winter well here. When possible I find heirloom seeds and plants to use.  I am thankful for my garden, and I delight in seeing my children and grandchildren becoming gardeners, too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jacksonville,Texas: The Tomato Capitol of the World

Joe and I both grew up in Jacksonville, Texas.  Recently a number of facebook threads of conversations as well as a website have provided pictures of years past in our hometown.  I like this picture because it shows a line of women packing tomatoes in the tomato sheds for which Jacksonville was famous.  My mother, Opal Terrell Teal, worked packing tomatoes in the 1930's.  The picture is not of her, but I can see her, discarding imperfect tomatoes as "culls", which were sold at reduced prices, and wrapping the select tomatoes in tissue paper as the conveyor belt rolled them down the line in boxes to be shipped.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Palette of Tomatoes

A favorite gardening project, growing tomatoes has taken wings the last couple of years.  Not only are we growing more tomatoes, but most of them are heirloom varieties.  I am intrigued with being part of  sharing history and story.  Heirloom vegetables are grown from seeds passed down by many generations in a family and shared.  Last year, our family voted one heirloom our all time favorite.  It is one of the very first known "black", or deep dusky rose colored tomatoes, and is called Cherokee Purple. It was named in 1990 by. Craig LeHoullier  , who received seeds of an unnamed cultivar in the mail from J. D. Green of Tennessee. Mr. Green indicated that the "purple" tomato  was given by the Cherokee Indians to his neighbor "100 years ago".

We love the color and taste of this tomato, and enjoy thinking about others who have liked it enough for over 100 years to share it with others and save the seeds.  We have at least 2 dozen tomato plants.  Some of the other heirlooms are named Black Plum, Brown Berry, and Purple Russian.  Did I hear you say you thought tomatoes were red?

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Is Your Name?

It is a cool cloudy day following our rains yesterday, so I planted the pepper plants Joe and I bought a few days ago. 19 of them!! Green and yellow Bells, Gypsies, Anchos, Habaneros, Cayennes, Mucho Nachos (giant jalapenos)  and Chili Pequins (tiny, but 8 times hotter than a jalapeno)...all levels of the Scoville scale.  We already have tomatoes setting fruit.  I like planting heirloom varieties.  This year we put in Paul Robesons, Tliacolula Pinks, Black Cherries, Money Makers, Cherokee Purples and Juliettes.  The only hybrid plant I put in is a Better Bush.  It may give me a more predictable harvest but I love the different shapes and colors of the heirlooms.  Truth be told,  I love the names, too.  Whether it is a rose or a vegetable, the name calls me first.