December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays From The Johnsons

Happy Holidays from the Johnsons:

card_2012_screen.jpg

The back of the card:

Published by Sudeep Johnson
Doggie Paw Cards, Inc.
www.doggiepawcards.com
Many thanks to Paddington the little white dog, without whom there would be no card.

Here is last year's: Holiday Card From The Johnsons

September 13, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes

This is a great dish for those extra tomatoes you may have.

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Small tomatoes leave uncut.
Medium - large size cut in half.

Put in bowl with sliced onions and a small amount (to taste) of fresh chopped garlic cloves and toss with olive oil.

Use a baking pan with sides so juice does not spill into oven.
Roast at 400° for 45 minutes in a convection oven. Time varies per oven - so check once in a while.

Note:
You can freeze what you do not use.

August 31, 2012

Guide to Heirloom Tomato Varieties

In the race to plant tomatoes in the Spring and actually get edible fruits that can be used in everything from sauces to salads, I have often over looked one very special category - taste! What is the point of growing beautiful abundant plants with gorgeous round perfect fruits if they taste awful or just plain taste of nothing?

How do you know which ones to plant? Well you could try looking at the labels on the seed packets - haha - yes I know - if you read these they all are wonderful! So in an attempt to be partial and fair, a group of gardeners got together on Aug 10th at the height of tomato madness and tasted lots of varieties. You may notice that there are some conflicting results in the taste category and that is because we had some conflicting ideas about taste. But mostly we were agreed.

Here are the results.

The Great Tomato Tasting Event – August 10th, 2012

STANDARD CLASS

Variety: Julia Child (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Big round light red fruits. (Not huge)
Growth Habit of Plant: Abundant fruits but as it is a determinate variety, they overwhelmingly ripen at once. Fruits came early and plant seems to be on the way out at this date (Aug 10)
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Bit mushy. Sweet. Too sweet. Skin is tangy – flesh is sweet. Stays on the tongue.
Liked overall.

Variety: Early Girl (Sudeep)
Heritage: No
Look of Fruit: Deep red fruits when ripe. Medium sized well formed fruit.
Growth Habit of Plant: Healthy, indeterminate, not abundant but full. Fruits still forming at this date.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tangy, delicious, sweet. Skins are tough. Amazing.
Liked overall.

Variety: Beef Cherokee (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Pinkish bottoms w/yellowish top halfs. Spine lines, red flesh.
Growth Habit of Plant: Scraggly plant. Determinate. Hard to tell if they are ripe because of color. Plant looks sick.
Would you grow this variety again?: No
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Mild slightly woody. Good to cook with. Fruity. Mushy. Has an aftertaste that stays. Good.

Variety: Beef Magnum (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Beautiful, round, huge fruits. Very red. Great round shape.
Growth Habit of Plant: Not robust but adequate. Not a huge amount of fruits but some continuing to set at this date. (Aug 22) Determinate.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Full taste. Too mild & wet. Very good taste. Solid, large enough to fill a bread slice or hamburger bun. Great all round. Not too acidic tasting. Mild. Some found them too mild while others really liked them.

Variety: Early Girl (grown by Ann)
Heritage: No
Look of Fruit: Dark red fruit, larger than average for this variety.
Growth Habit of Plant: Well developed branches and compact deep green leaves . 42 “ tall, 28 “ wide and contained in a square cage. Fruits stay longer on the vine than others without ruining.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Very bland & watery. Skins tough. Very mild and not too tasty. Good for soup. Mild & pleasant.

Variety: Green Zebra (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Small to medium yellow green fruit with dark green stripe. Very different to look at.
Growth Habit of Plant: Sparse and not too many fruits.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tangy with strong flavor. Unique. Sweet & tangy. Flavorful. Love it. Excellent for salads.

Variety: Cherokee Purple (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Medium sized, dark colored fruit
Growth Habit of Plant: Big fruits, lots of plant with lush habit.
Would you grow this variety again?: ?
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Watery, mushy & bland. Less ripe is better. No pizzaz. Tasty at first then flavor goes away. Others disagreed and felt the flavor stayed.

Variety: Paul Robsen (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit:
Growth Habit of Plant: Sparse plant, not too many fruits. Susceptible to blossom end rot.
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tough skins. Very flavorful. Tangy. Everyone likes this one. Strong taste. Very tasty.

Variety: Krim Black (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Spines, large fruits, chocolate-burgundy color
Growth Habit of Plant: Rambling growth with heavy fruits. Determinate.
Would you grow this variety again?: No
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Mild & juicy. Good sweet – texture too soft. Slice holds together. Sweet after taste.

CHERRY CLASS

Variety: Krim Black (Diedre)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Spines, large fruits, chocolate-burgundy color
Growth Habit of Plant: Rambling growth with heavy fruits. Determinate.
Would you grow this variety again?: No
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Mild & juicy. Good sweet – texture too soft. Slice holds together. Sweet after taste.

Variety: Sun Sugar (Ann)
Heritage: Plant from Costco - unsure
Look of Fruit: Cherry. gold
Growth Habit of Plant: Not bountiful but adequate for small families
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Great – some tangy, some sweet. Strong flavor

Variety: Juliet (Linda)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Oblong – large for cherry
Growth Habit of Plant: sprawling indeterminate
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Firm & sweet. Good cooked, better than raw.

Variety: Pachino (Linda)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Round, large for cherry
Growth Habit of Plant: sprawling indeterminate
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Tangy not sweet. Clay taste more like Roma. Not for salad.

Variety: Sun Gold (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Small round orange
Growth Habit of Plant: Robust, tall, plenty of fruits, early & seems to be indeterminate
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
To die for. Eat for ever. Wonderful. Candy.

Variety: Blond Kopchen (Sudeep)
Heritage: Yes
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Tiny pear shaped yellow to orange fruits
Growth Habit of Plant: Masses of fruit in huge sprays. Very early to set. Still producing in early Sept
Would you grow this variety again?: NO
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Bland. Nothing. Woody. Yuk! What a shame as the plant is so productive.

Variety: Sun Gold (Carol)
Heritage: Not sure
Look of Fruit: Cherry. Bright orange
Growth Habit of Plant: Sprawling – takes over a huge space – long branches have to be staked and held so that fruit is supported
Would you grow this variety again?: Yes
Taste & Feel of Fruit:
Very sweet! Love it. Great in cold veggie salad. Also works in hot food instead of regular sized toms.

Below: The gardener tasters each lunch before tasting.

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Below: The tasting begins.

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July 31, 2012

Tomato Contest 2012

Once more the intrepid gardeners of Redwood City California got together for an informal Tomato Tasting - July 29th.

There were two categories this year with one being "cherry" tomatoes, and the other being "other." The winner from last year, Stan Konrad, walked away the big winner again this year - in both categories! At one point there was a "taste off" between Stan and Ann Gahagen, and upon second testing, Stan won. The million dollar question is "how does Stan do it?"

Going on past experience, the contest was a bit more organized this year. The contestant list was digitized on an Excel spreadsheet, so as contestants arrived, they typed in their category, name, and variety, then they placed their ID label on a dish along with their sliced tomatoes. As they waited in the living room, their labels were replaced with ID letters, and then the dishes were placed on the testing table.

Contestants tested the "other" category first, and then moved on to the more flavorful cherry tomatoes. This was learned from last year when it was realized that the flavorful cherries can take over the slightly less defined taste of the larger varieties.

Dining followed with homemade tomato soup and garlic bread, followed by salad with communal tomatoes, chicken teriyaki kabobs, and then dessert - an apple tart the size of a pizza!

Right before dessert, the winners were announced and pictures taken. Everyone seemed to have a grand ole time test tasting, dining, and chatting.
Below is pictured Stan and Ann - both winners.
testing_12.jpg

Can anyone answer the million dollar question from above? What is it that makes a tomato taste really good?
This year I personally have wonderful tomatoes of all varieties. Large ones, small ones, fabulous shaped ones in fact you name it I have it and they are great. BUT - and you knew it was coming - I don't think I would be able to win any prizes for taste. Even the Sun Golds that I planted, the very same that Stan always won with in years gone by, are not the fabulous tasting little fireballs that I expected or wanted.
Is it too much water? Not enough heat? too much/not enough compost? I have yet to find out. In the next two weeks I will be addressing my own large variety of tomatoes in a small taste test so ya'll come back now!

April 10, 2012

Seedling Care

Here is great informative article to help you start off with strong seedlings. Strong seedlings = strong plants = fabulous veggies!

Good luck.

http://groworganic.com/organic-gardening/videos/seedling-care

March 27, 2012

What Fruits Are In Season

Click on the image below to go to this fun interactive map!

What Fruits and Veggies Are In Season? Courtesy of WEBstaurant Restaurant Supplies

February 21, 2012

30,000 year old seeds viable

Very interesting article about the viability of some very old seeds found in a squirrel stash in Siberia. Brings Jurassic Park a little bit closer to home!

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/20/MNKU1NA41R.DTL&tsp=1

Not sure about mammoths though.

February 16, 2012

Farms Need Winter

Why farms want cold winters | Grist,

First, the deep, killing, subfreezing cold of winter typically eliminated many damaging insects and pathogens.

... Beyond killing the baddies, proper cold serves another important purpose: For perennial crops, shorter days and sustained low temperatures bring a cycle of dormancy, a deep, almost anesthetized sleep, during which growth is temporarily halted.

Go read...

December 29, 2011

Throw Away Xmas, Throw Away Society

I always think that here is something very disturbing about seeing a Xmas tree sitting at the side of the road waiting for the trash collectors. This year I spied one on the DAY AFTER Xmas day. See below.

throwaway1.jpg

I was driving out of my house on the morning of Dec 26th, and I saw this miserable looking tableau staring me in the face. A poor tree all alone in the midst of a pile of rubbish.

So why does this upset me so much? I think because of all the hoopla leading up to the special day, which over sentimentalizes the large eyes of the children in their holiday wonder looking up at the fairy on the beautifully decorated and flocked tree. The waiting for the wonderful time of the "Holidays" as they are called. The anticipation of all that is good and generous and right with the world.

And then....the very next day, not even a week, or even two days, the whole thing is thrown outside and all the wonder is immediately gone again until the next year when the Christmas machine starts up again.

It is a symbol of our throw away society where certain coffee chain workers have to toil all through the night after Thanksgiving, so that the store can turn from "orange" to "red". Then once again we go from "red" straight into "pink" for Valentine's Day. BTW I have already seen some Valentine's Day advertizing and it is only the 29th of December.

Yes it is a statement once more on our shallow meaningless ideals, where we are all "kindness to humankind" on one day and then the next it's off to another subject. Forget the homeless, forget the disenfranchised, ooh look, pink and shiny!

Below another sad statement on the throw away Xmas. A holiday tree in the back of the trash truck.

throwaway2.jpg

Why can't we just be with things for a while? Why can't we think about what we can do to help mankind instead of flitting off to the next thing. You can't help mankind in 5 minutes once a year.

End of rant.

December 24, 2011

Holiday Card From The Johnsons

XCard_2011sm.jpg

Our little white dog Paddington does a "ballet" with his back legs, and this card shows him doing a holiday Nutcracker ballet.

Here is last year's.