... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Amazing tomato!!!

Almost unbelievable – I picked this little yellow guy back on August 15th! I’m sure it was at a hard green stage when I picked it, so it probably will be very much lacking in flavor, but still… how many home-grown tomatoes will last for half a year without any special storage?!?!

I remember the picking date because our first killing frost came on August 17th . When I heard the weather prediction warnings two days earlier, I went out and picked all tomatoes, ripe and green, and put them down in the basement. The temperature down there is pretty consistent with the rest of the house – 67-68°F year round. So it’s not like some special storage conditions. Basically it’s room temperature. I decided to go ahead and cut it open before it shriveled or rotted (or got eaten) like the rest.

The flesh was very thin and the seed cavities had big air pockets in them, but the seeds themselves looked mostly good and the gel around them was pretty juicy also. Before squeezing the seeds into a little plastic cup, I had to see what kind of flavor this 6 month old tomato would have. Well, I can’t say it would’ve have been the BEST ever salad tomato or slicer for a sandwich, but would you really expect that? Surprisingly…  it did have a nice tangy “umamitomato flavor and was juicy enough that it would have been at least acceptable. Amazing!

Overwintering Peppers

The overwintering “select” peppers are still doing well. I’ve been keeping them in this wagon for easy moving. Most of the time they’re right inside the basement doors where they get some sunlight through the basement door windows. Here they are enjoying a warmer day outside.

I’m hoping to harvest a lot of seed from them in 2016. And because these are all mild peppers, and they will be growing in relative isolation, all of the seeds should produce milds from this point forward. Up until now, I’ve typically had more than 50% hots. It’ll be very nice not having to play “hot pepper roulette” in the future as I taste test down the rows.

Blue Eyed Grass - winter foliage

Here’s a current picture of a dainty little clump of “Blue-eyed Grass” (Sisrynchium angustifolium) that I planted out front a few years ago. I like how this native member of the Iridaceae [the Iris family] has kept relatively green and bushy throughout the winter. It’s not quite as green as something like Mondo grass, but still has decent potential to be explored as a grassy looking groundcover.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2015 naked seed pumpkin project progress

Lotta pictures and when I uploaded them the blog application decided to rotate a bunch of them willy nilly, so don't be surprised by the weird camera angles. Anyway, I decided it was about time to cut open some of my pumpkins that have been waiting in the basement. I want to get their seeds dried down for 2016 planting. These are from my hull-less seeded pumpkin project so I have to be careful not to leave them too long or I'll have seeds sprouting inside the pumpkins. These are now quite a few generations down the line from an original cross of 'White Scallop' bush squash and 'Styrian Hulless' naked seeded pumpkin. The first five are my favorite picks from the 2015 population - numbered 1 thru 5 with a Sharpie marker. I also cut open 6 and 7 because number 4 had shells on its seeds and I wanted at least one more good seeded one. Glad I did, because number 6 had an unusually thick flesh which was pretty cool.

Here's a comparison of the flesh color and thickness. The lighting wasn't very good so they all look a little bleached out. Note the thick flesh, I'd mentioned on number 6.

 My favorite overall is number 1. Stark white skin (which came from 'White Scallop' squash) and yellowish flesh. High count of plump little hulless seeds. 

 Bummer... number 4 had hulls (hence the white colored seeds).

Number 5 looks a lot like the 'Styrian Hulless' ancestor. It also has a serious flaw. The seeds have a strong tendency to sprout while still inside the pumpkin. This is something I've been selecting against, so I'll most likely never plant any seeds from this one.

Number 6 with its interesting thick flesh. I should've known by how heavy this guy was! This is a trait I'd like to keep in the population. So since it also has a high number of plump seeds, I'll probably use this one in the future plantings.
 Number 7 was another dud - with shells on the seeds.
 When all the seeds were safely drying back down in the basement. I put 1, 2 and 3 in the oven and baked them for almost 2 hours. Then I scooped out the flesh and processed it in the food processor.
I put 8 cups in the freezer (2 cup portions in each sandwich bag) to freeze and still had enough puree to be the base for two loaves of squash bread.

I don't generally follow any recipe anymore when I make bread, but this is essentially just white bread made with pumpkin puree in place of the water.