Saturday, August 14, 2010


Last year we only planted one German-stripe plant. I saved seeds from several tomatoes from it because I loved how they taste. We planted a whole row of them this year. Most plants were true to type but we had one lucky variation. A whole plant of the most fabulous tomatoes I have ever tasted.

They taste like peaches and vibrate with day-glow iridescent pink and yellow. We have dubbed the tomato Dayglo'melay. We will plant an entire row of them next year. I will save seeds from the best of those and possibly offer seeds for sale. Yeah they'll be cheap, mostly to cover the shipping.

I have eaten so many of them this year. I would normally have a mouth full of canker sores. I usually eat cherokee purple to excess and they have a much higher acid content. Not these babies.

Tabitha has also discovered the perfect canning tomato. We occasionally watch *Lidia's Italy* on the cooking channel on PBS. She is always raving about San Marzano tomatoes. We grew some of them and are extremely impressed. They are not a good salsa tomato nor taste good sliced but add a little heat and they are amazing. They cook down very quickly and make thick rich tomato paste. We also grew an organic version but they failed almost immediately. *shakes fist into the air* They suffered from the blight the earliest and worst. Even the copper spray didn't stop the death. So we are on the hybrid band wagon for the time being. I might try and save some seeds from them anyway. What is the worst that can happen? Poor/no germination or never set fruit might happen. But, I might get lucky and have my own seed. The book gardening when it counts states that most of the newer *heirloom* varieties came from hybrids from the fifties.

My parents sent Kassi a bunch of Iris rhizomes. They are labeled and organized for Kassi to grow them for sale. Four varieties will be ready next year and dozens will be ready in a couple of years.

We planted half of them in the raised beds by the peach tree. The other box of longer term plants are still in my closet. We need to get beds ready for them and it is too hot out to do that kind of work.

Bob is loaning us four fencing panels for a dog pen for Astrid. I know, that doesn't sound like me. It appears that she will go into heat before the boys are ready. Plus we'd like her to not get bred her first heat. So we'll put her up during her heat until the boys are ready and she has had a few heats.

Tucked under the fence panels are four twelve foot long telephone pole sections. They are going to be a play tower for the kids. It will overlook the garden and paddocks. It will be like a guard tower. I'm thinking a zip-line careening into the forest.

The broiler chicks are growing like crazy.

This is my new door design. It requires a pipe bender to make but it is really elegant and simple.

I also put an improved handle on this tractor.

It is inspired from mikes tractors that I am borrowing. We are very pleased with his tractors. They turn on a dime and squeak next to fences more easily than mine.

I also had an epiphany regarding the water fountain for this new tractor. The pipe connects to the bottom of the bucket with a homemade bulkhead fitting and a sock as pre-filter.

It goes straight down to the water fountain using a bit of old hose so it will hang correctly in an incline situation. The whole thing clicks apart and removes from the tractor quickly and easily for dumping, cleaning or repair.

Having the water fountain connected to a flexible hose has the added benefit of easy dumping of the bowl when it gets fouled.

I also added the new style doors to the old tractors.

We zip tied billboard-vinyl-tarp to the doors. So far we are very pleased.

These birds are looking so healthy.

We also turned the sheep loose in the paddocks. They promptly used the dog pass through and went to the upper field. They like being where the dogs are. The dogs love them, respect them and genuinely seem to enjoy protecting them.


Ron said...

Those are some interesting-looking tomatoes. Our compost pile yielded some large summer-squash-looking things that, in every other aspect, were like spaghetti squash.

Chicken tractor improvements look great. I'm considering conduit for a new one...


Anke said...

Those tomatoes look so pretty, I would definitely be interested if you offered some seeds for sale.

Kristin said...

I've read that horsetail is a very mild anti-fungal (from Weeds and What They Tell by E. Pfieffer). I'm considering trying it next year, soaking the tomato roots in it at planting as you did with the cucs and neem. Also trying a hybrid tomato that is supposed to do better against this southern wilt, Monte Carlo. Very interesting about the 1950s era hybrids. Of course, they are all hybrids. Some are just unstable (F1) while some consistent.

Nice chicken waterer!

Sherri said...

Tilling broccolli residue under, and letting it decompose, adds special microrhizae that colonize around the virus that causes the blight in solanums and allows one to grow tomatos where they get blight bad. I tell my gardening class students to try it, and the ones that do are shocked how easy it is , but then that it is so effective, only green leaves all season...Even they local farms do it and find it lasts longer than methyl bromide fumigation.

Selden said...

Hi Karl...
I wish you would post an exploded drawing of your chicken waterer. It looks simple and elegant and as if it would work perfectly. I would love to copy it. Thanks!

Taylor said...

Wow- what an amazing tomato!

Here's a tip that I just learned this year from my PhD plant pathologist father (he worked in tomato genetics while getting his degree, so he knows his stuff):

Tomatos actually DO cross polinate even though they are self-fertile (thanks to bugs and bees), so if you want to be absolutely certain of a plant retaining its own genetics, you need to isolate it away from your other tomatoes.

He has two tomato plants that he is saving seed from this year (a neat story about a plant he rescued from total loss- one of the last that his major professor created almost 30 years ago!), and he has them in pots on the other side of the house from his garden- about 500 feet away.

If possible, you may want to try rooting a sucker and isolating it from the other plants in a pot. This late in the season, you may have to bring it indoors at the end, but you want it to go from flower to fruit without it being able to cross from other plants.

It may not be necessary, as many of your seeds will probably be true to their mother plant, but it sounds like such a remarkable plant that you may want to be certain!

Congrats on getting an excellent variety!

tabitha said...

Taylor- The way I understand it, beefsteak first (double) fruits and potato-leafed tomatoes do cross. Varieties with retracted styles do not. There is plenty of debate on the subject, but I am pretty sure Karl simply saved a first fruit last year, as German Stripe is an old beefsteak heirloom. Bagging blossoms is simple enough, though- no need to isolate by distance. This year we saved secondary and tertiary fruits from the best examples of the 'new' German Stripe. I hope we get good results!

Karl's wife Tabitha

karl said...

ron, thanks you might be interested in my father-in-law's tractor design, especially the wheel mechanism.

anke, it wont be until after next year when we test the seed on an entire row and select from that best. christmas 2011

kristen, our hybrid san marzanos are doing the best of all plants.

sheri, broccoli? neat, we might try that next year.

seldin, see this post

taylor, think tabitha hopefully answered your concern. thanks for commenting.

Ron said...

Yes, especially interested in wheel mechanism. :)

Please do post or send an email of how those wheels are put into place. I have plenty of bikes I could use, and would be grateful for ideas.


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